Category Archives: Guests
Interviews, commentary and news from guest bloggers.
Destiny’s Daughter by Anthony Sunderland
She is pitched straight into her first assignment. An alien craft has been shot down, and an alien, a ‘Greae’ captured by the military. The creature communicates telepathically with Dawn to warn her that a young boy is trapped in the blazing wreckage of the craft.After rescuing the child Dawn wanders off alone in search of the co-pilot. She finds it in a cave, injured and afraid. She sits down, hugs the creature gently, whispers, “I won’t let anyone hurt you.” Then snaps its neck.What is the dark secret Dawn is hiding from the FBI, what was the boy was doing onboard the alien ship, and what is the shocking truth about why Dawn murdered the alien? Can she keep her true nature a secret?The Destiny’s Daughter alien mystery series will follow Dawn’s adventures at the heart of the FBI’s elite alien hunters. They will investigate sightings and encounters with strange creatures, unexplained events, and experience terrifying adventures and confrontations.
Available for Purchase
’59 Valiant – Part Two by Anthony Sunderland
All contact with the two ships on the Icarus mission to Proxima Centauri has been lost. Twenty year old Janine Lewis hates her brother Sean for the accident that left her beloved ‘Uncle’ David Stirling, commandant of the space academy, in a wheelchair. She also despises him as a coward. When Sean refuses to re-enlist as an astronaut to search for their missing father, Janine vows to Join the academy, against her mother, Cindy’s, wishes.
418 days after the mission launch the Valiant returned to our solar system, badly damaged. The sole survivor died in the arms of the rescue crew before she could tell them what happened.
Janine’s search for her father looks doomed before it has even started. She faces envy from other cadets, as well as hostility and jealousy from lecturers and officers envious of her father’s reputation and fame.
A vicious fight with another cadet, and the continuing hostility between them threatens to have both women thrown out of the academy in disgrace.
Prospects for finding the missing ship deteriorate drastically after the search mission’s lead ship explodes on reaching light speed.
With Janine facing setbacks and abuse from all sides, Cindy vows to keep a terrible secret from her daughter.
Available for Purchase
Ishtar Rising (Book 4 of Sinnis) by Natalie Gibson
Tara Kay, or Special K as she likes to be called, has come back to her family home after the violent theft of her magical ability and surrender of her position with her order, the Daughters of Women. Her return is not so celebrated as she expected and she finds that without her skills, her home town is not only unwelcoming but downright dangerous. Her fear awakens her Guardian from his 5000 year slumber but his is not the only new face in town and they must defeat an unfamiliar enemy who possesses a powerful weapon. To to this Kay and her Guardian must wake old allies, create new ones and trust in the growing but fresh bond between them. Will Special K rediscover her magic in time? Can the family land she loves protect her? Does the goddess rise to save her chosen?
The Indiana Jones Moment and Dracula by James Lyon
Greetings from Sarajevo in the heart of the Balkans.
Whether you like them or not, you just can’t seem to avoid vampires these days. There are comic vampires (Johnny Depp, George Hamilton, Leslie Nielsen), classic vampires (Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee), sparkly vampires (You-Know-Who), and Gothic romance vampires (Anne Rice, True Blood, romance novels). We lack only tap-dancing vampires with top hats, tuxedos and canes. I wanted to put tap-dancing vampires in my new novel, “Kiss of the Butterfly”, but they refused to attend dance lessons. J
Here in the Balkans, vampires have an entirely different context than they do in the outside world. The reason is simple: this is where the creatures known as vampires originated. The word “vampire” entered western languages in the 1720s from what is today Serbia, from the Serbo-Croatian word “vampir”. Today, throughout the lands of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia), one finds that vampire lore is still present, and that in the villages in particular, many people still fear or believe in vampires.
I am an historian, and I had an “Indiana Jones Moment” many years back. That is the point in the movie where Harrison Ford is thumbing through some dusty old book and he comes across an interesting tidbit of information that sends him scurrying off on an epic quest. Well, my “Indiana Jones Moment” occurred in an archive decades ago, where I found a dusty old book with a reference to Dracula’s last military crusade in 1476, when he carried out a horrific massacre in the Bosnian mining town of Srebrenica. Then in 1995, Europe’s worst massacre since World Ware II took place in Srebrenica, with the murder of 8,000 men and boys. I began to wonder if there was a metaphysical connection to Dracula.
My “Indiana Jones Moment” prompted me to do two things: 1) start studying local Balkan folklore about vampires; and 2) buy an Indiana Jones hat. My wife drew the line when I asked if I could buy a bullwhip. But now that she’s read “50 Shades of Grey”, perhaps she’ll reconsider. But I digress.
Balkan folklore and history hold numerous mentions of vampires. Did you know there was a famous law passed in 1349 by the Serbian Emperor Tsar Dushan that forbade digging up graves and impaling the body? The penalty was the blood price in gold for killing a live person, and any priest who participated would be defrocked for 7 years. In the 1660s there was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer wannabee running around the Dalmatian coast in armor with a stake. In the 1730s, twelve people were put on trial for vampire related charges in the Adriatic coastal city of Dubrovnik – shades of the Salem Witch Trials!! Also in the 1730s, an Austrian army surgeon conducted autopsies of suspected vampires in Serbia. Even today, you will find reports of suspected vampires in Balkan media.
I tried to base the vampires in “Kiss of the Butterfly” entirely on characteristics
found in Balkan folklore and history. This means that they may be different from any of the vampires you have encountered up until now.
So to give you an idea of how they differ, I have put together a short 12 question quiz.
1) What shape and color are a vampire’s eyes?
2) What are a vampire’s teeth made of?
3) Where does a vampire’s power reside?
4) Which side of the body do vampires feed from?
5) How does someone become a vampire?
6) How do you kill a vampire?
7) What time of year are vampires most active?
8) Where do vampires like to hang out? (not the blood bank)
9) Where can you always find vampires on Good Friday?
10) What are the most common professions for vampires? (telemarketers do not count)
11) Can vampires have sex?
12) What is the relationship between a vampire and a butterfly?
The answers to all of these questions (and more) are in “Kiss of the Butterfly”. Although it would be unfair to give away all the answers (spoiler alert), let me note that vampires must always return to sleep in their graves on Good Friday. Therefore, if you must visit the grave of a loved one at Easter, make sure you take a sharpened Hawthorne wood stake (other types won’t work), a hacksaw, as well as matches and copious quantities of lighter fluid. And avoid any butterflies you see hovering around the graves. Just in case.
Now, where I can find a bull whip for sale?
About the Author
James Lyon is an accidental Balkanologist, having spent the better part of 32 years studying and working with the lands of the former Yugoslavia. He has a Ph.D. in Modern Balkan History from UCLA and a B.A. in Russian from BYU. He has lived in Germany, Russia, England, Massachusetts, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Utah, and California, and spent the better part of 18 years living in the lands of the former Yugoslavia, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia, and has worked in Macedonia and Kosovo.
He has traveled widely, from Africa to Latin America to the Middle East, and all over Europe. He currently works in Sarajevo and bounces back and forth to Belgrade. In his spare time he likes sailing through the Dalmatian islands and eating Sachertorte in Vienna at the old Habsburg Imperial Court’s Confectionary Bakery, Demel. He lost his cat in the forests of Bosnia and can’t find it. If you see a black and white cat that ignores you when you call the name “Cile II”, a reward is being offered…provided the cat hasn’t turned into a vampire.
Kiss of the Butterfly is available for purchase at Amazon
’59 – Part One by Anthony Sunderland
January 24th 2059: The exploration ships Intrepid and Valiant set sail on the first mission to Proxima Centauri. Finally the stars were within our reach. We would step out onto unexplored worlds, in our quest to reach out into the galaxy in search of exciting discoveries and new life.
Mission Commander Donald Lewis promised his daughter Janine that he would return from the nineteen month mission in plenty of time for her twenty first birthday.He never came home.Janine vowed to discover her father’s fate, no matter what it might cost her. This is a quest that will test young Janine’s courage and resolve to their very limits. A journey fraught with massive obstacles and terrible dangers at every turn.
Available for Purchase
Y1 by Sherrie Cronin
Zane is a twenty-four year old who just wants to be himself. He doesn’t believe in magic, and he’s gotten a whole degree in neuroscience just to try to figure out how he can alter his body the way that he does. Unfortunately, that degree has landed him in the sales department of Penthes Pharmaceuticals, and the more he learns about the company’s secrets the more uncomfortable he becomes.Good thing he has always excelled at blending in. Then upper management discovers him and his life gets far more complicated.A sales boondoggle in the South Pacific lets him learn that he isn’t alone, and that others have problems far worse than his. As his new friends flee those who would control their lives, Zane would like to help, and their freedom-loving philosophy of y1 calls to him.But first he has to deal with a murder charge, an unsavory boot camp manager, and serious repercussions from the fact that not everyone at Penthes likes him, or wants him to knows the mysteries that the company has worked so hard to keep hidden. In fact, it may take all the talents he has just to keep himself from going from a murder suspect to a murder victim.
Available for Purchase
About the Author
Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking that there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to study journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer.
She published her first and only science fiction short story in the November 1979 issue of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and waited a lot of tables while she looked for inspiration for the next story. When it finally came, it declared to her that it had to be whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.
The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to please calm down. He explained that in a fit of practicality she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and had spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it at least mildly entertaining and ridiculously well paying. The bad news was that the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.
Apparently, she was now Mrs. Cronin, and the further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved dearly, even though to be honest that is where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. “It’s about time,” were his exact words.
Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie’s head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her sternly that it had now grown into a six book series. Sherrie decided that she better start writing it before it got any longer. She has been wide awake ever since, and writing away.
Connect with Sherrie at the Y1 Blog
See XO also by Sherrie Cronin
Ishtar Anomaly (Book 3 of Sinnis) by Natalie Gibson
Camilla Lovejoy is barren because her natural healing ability cannot differentiate between a desired pregnancy and a unwanted parasite, but wants children desperately. Nanae is the Nephilim with healing talents that could enable Camilla to carry a child to term, but Nephilim cannot procreate. They turn to a friend and sometimes lover of the Daughters of Women, Israel. Izzy, as his friends call him, is happy to aid Camilla achieve her dream of motherhood. He loves Camilla but has always felt there was something missing in the traditional two person relationship. Now with Nanae in the mix he may have found the perfect solution. Can Nanae share his Sinnis with another man? Can Camilla handle her lovers loving each other? Will Israel survive the appetites of both? Will the hunger that Nanae battles constantly win and force him to destroy everything that he has come to love and need?
This is an extremely graphic novel with sexual situations for open minded adults, with not only m/f/m scenes but also m/m/f with a sprinkle of BDSM between two superhuman men and a pregnant petite.
Icefire Trilogy Book 3: Blood & Tears by Patty Jansen
The refugees are mostly members of the rebel group Brotherhood of the Light, supporters of the old royal family. They are injured, scared and hungry, and few speak Chevakian. The young Queen Jevaithi and her lover Isandor are amongst them, safe from the Eagle Knights for now.
Young Eagle Knight Carro is waiting in an old farmhouse with his fellow Knights for the order to invade the camp, capture the Queen and deliver her back to his father, where she will continue to live as imprisoned puppet for the Knights’ tyranny.
The Chevakians know none of this, and struggle to contain the refugee population, and the dangerous sonorics contamination the people have brought from their ravaged country, contamination that defies Chevakian efforts to contain it, and is getting worse, not better.
In their struggle for power, the Brotherhood and the Knights disturbed something from an ancient and magic civilisation.
The sorcerer Tandor knows what happened, but he is on death row in a Chevakian jail.
The southern woman Loriane is aware of the things that are required, but she is amongst Chevakians who can’t understand her.
The Chevakian proctor Sadorius han Chevonian could put the pieces of the puzzle together, but he is struggling to keep the peace, and besides, Chevakians don’t believe in magic.
Meanwhile, the massive, and malevolent, sonorics cloud drifts towards the city, hungry for revenge.
Skolthan – Witches, magic & mystery by Damaris West
Skolthan is a book about an island. In a sense it’s an island within an island within an island because an isolated community goes all out to defend a physical island (based on real life), while within and beyond that physical island is a place so wonderfully beautiful, tranquil and perfect that evil forces wish to get hold of it and corrupt it so that they’ll have destroyed the goodness at the heart of the universe itself.
I was inspired to write the book by the original island on which it’s based, which is Scolt Head Island off the coast of North Norfolk. It’s uninhabited, apart from a Warden looking after the birds, and you reach it either on foot at low tide, or by boat. It has golden sands and white-winged terns like I describe.
My protagonist Hilda is a reclusive alter ego who lives in a tumbledown house on the site of a bungalow where we spent family holidays until I was about 6, on the seaward side of Holme-by-the-sea. I remember so clearly the shimmering heat on the marsh, and finding everything interesting, mysterious and timeless.
The evil characters in the book reflect the fact that eccentric people are readily absorbed into a Norfolk village. My characters have the hypocrisy as well as the wickedness to want to take over the whole world for their own purposes which are essentially negative, much like Lucifer’s. There could be no more sinister job for a snatcher and sacrificer of babies than a midwife.
In the climax of the book, I wanted to show that in their effort to preserve good, the good people almost tip themselves over into evil. It’s not a happy ending exactly, but I think it’s an appropriate one.
I would hope that people would read my book both for its strong atmosphere and the power and mystery of its storyline. After all, the ‘good’ people are made up of a bunch of semi-impoverished coastal-dwellers, holders of a secret which they can impart to no-one else, not even their spouses. The equivalent of their combating the witches and warlocks might be the waving of a rather thin stick at the advance of a tank.
I wrote the book while I was working alongside my husband as Director of a Tuition Agency. I was determined to allow myself time to write, so I set aside Fridays for that purpose. They were not always respected, but I did try. We actually called those days ‘wobbly cat’ days because I did my writing on a laptop which required many attempts and much patience to get started; the customised start screen which I was trying to reach was a cat that sort of shivered.
Written just on Fridays, and including some drastic cutting and revision, the book took me 2 to 3 years. The most difficult part was definitely picking up the threads when I’d had a week to totally forget where I was.
The title ‘Skolthan’ obviously derives from ‘Scolt’. I wanted it to have an Anglo-Saxon or Viking ring about it because it’s on the East coast. The cover design is a composite of some of the elements of magic and mystery found in its pages.
I did a lot of research for the book, mainly for individual scenes so that I knew how to make elderflower wine, and how much would be left of a human body after it has been burnt. My evil forces are fairly original so I didn’t have to check them against anything, but I did do research about talismans, leylines, dream sightings and the like so these would line up with people’s experience of reading about them.
The main thing I learnt from the actual writing of the book is that it’s important for me to write where possible ‘in a rush’, so I don’t waste time picking up the threads of my thought. I also found out how much I enjoy writing about evil characters.
I would say to my readers: bear with the scene-setting at the beginning as it’s definitely going somewhere!
Review: “So if you love Witches, magic and all the rituals that go with it then this book is for you.”
About the Author
Damaris West (born Damaris Naylor) was brought up in Cambridge, but it is her family’s property near the sea in Norfolk, where they went for every holiday and all the weekends they could manage, which has inspired much of her writing. It was a row of four farm labourers’ cottages with three-quarters of an acre of land, and to her it was the Garden of Eden.
Following gaining a degree in Modern Languages at Oxford, she went on to train as a librarian and then as a Montessori nursery teacher.
After meeting her husband, Clive, she used her skills and knowledge to home-tutor pupils with ages ranging from three to eighty. When it became clear that demand for tuition exceeded what they were jointly able to offer, they set up a tuition agency which over the course of its operation achieved national coverage.
Damaris’ work so far consists of a large body of poems, short stories (some of which would be enjoyed by children), a collection of anecdotes about her life in Italy, and two novels – Queen Anne’s Lace and Skolthan.
Clive and Damaris now live in a rebuilt farmhouse in the Umbria region of Italy with their three dogs, all originally rescue puppies. As the main Italian-speaker of the family, much of Damaris’ time is spent on domestic and administrative duties to do with the house and its occupants, but she escapes whenever she can to work in the garden and orchard, and writes a daily blog about her life and the natural history around her.
Damaris writes for Any Subject Books (www.anysubject.com).
Connect with Damaris
From the primitive cottage where she lives a hermit-like existence, Hilda can reach a tidal island which gives her access to a beautiful world, a fragment of the one-time Garden of Eden.
She is almost unique in possessing the gift to pass through to this other world, but her gift puts her in danger from sinister forces that wish to use the island’s power to secure their own domination.
In a bid to rescue a mother and her unborn child, the intended victims of a horrific ritual with cosmic implications, Hilda and her friends must outwit a charismatic warlock (Hilda’s former husband) and the arch-witch Alice, embodiment of evil, who masquerades as a midwife.
Their mission culminates in an act which threatens to tip them over the edge into the same evil world which they are so anxious to destroy. Nonetheless, good prevails, but at a terrible price …
Available for Purchase
Kiss Of The Butterfly by James Lyon
In the year of his death, 1476, the Prince of Wallachia — Vlad III (Dracula) — committed atrocities under the cloak of medieval Bosnia’s forested mountains, culminating in a bloody massacre in the mining town of Srebrenica.
A little over 500 years later, in July 1995, history repeated itself when troops commanded by General Ratko Mladic entered Srebrenica and slaughtered nearly 8,000 people, making it the worst massacre Europe had seen since the Second World War. For most people, the two events seemed unconnected…
Amidst the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, a college student embarks on a journey into its war-torn lands. The narrative transports the reader from medieval Bosnia to enlightenment-era Vienna, from the bright beaches of modern-day Southern California to the exotically dark cityscapes of Budapest, Belgrade and Novi Sad, and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia.
Naively trusting the advice of his enigmatic academic mentor, the student unwittingly descends into a crucible of decay, destruction, passion, death, romance, lust, immorality, genocide, and forbidden knowledge promising immortality. As the journey grows ever more perilous, the protagonist realizes that he is being drawn into something sinister from which there is no turning back. He will be forced to confront an ancient evil that has been once again loosed upon the earth.
Meticulously researched and written, “Kiss of the Butterfly” is set against the backdrop of Yugoslavia’s breakup. It weaves together intricate threads from the 15th, 18th and 20th centuries to create a rich phantasmagorical tapestry of allegory and reality about divided loyalties, friendship and betrayal, virtue and innocence lost, obsession and devotion, desire and denial, lust and rejection. The book blends history and the terrors of the Balkans as it explores dark places of the soul, and is about the thirst for life and the hunger for death, rebirth and salvation. And vampires.
Vampires have formed an integral part of Balkan folklore for over a thousand years. “Kiss” represents a radical departure from popular vampire legend, based as it is on genuine Balkan folklore from as far back as the 14th century, not on fantasy. “Kiss of the Butterfly” offers up the real, horrible creatures that existed long before Dracula and places them within a modern spectrum.