The Ivory Staff: A Dark Fairy Tale of Kings and War by M Lachi — book excerpt



Book Synopsis-

Samiyah, a young peasant girl on a quest to find love and honor, wins a chance to attend the royal ball. Beyond her wildest dreams, she finds herself dancing in the arms of Prince Chad, heir to the throne. Yet because there brews a violent struggle between the brutal ruling-class and the oppressed peasantry, Chad and Samiyah’s growing, talk-of-the-town love spawns whispers of bloody uprisings and plots of swift usurpation.

Book Excerpt-

As I made my way to my master’s chambers, I paused from a top outer hallway and peered down to the open space of the main greeting hall. Never had the palace been under such duress. Men with slings and arrows hanging from chandeliers; men fighting with degas, boughs, bloody axes, stones and large branches, using dead bodies as shields; men with severed limbs using whips and chains; men with torches on horseback in the dining rooms; men fighting with wheelbarrows, baby carriers and kitchen cutleries; everyone fighting desperately until they fell upon their ill-fated destination: death.

One of the sling-shooting chandelier dwellers, a young Moudera boy, struck every guard or defenseman he targeted. He couldn’t have been any more than eight years old. He’d been taught Davidian shooting tactics, for he targeted big men and struck them directly between the eyes. Like finger-snapping, the boy decimated ten to twelve unsuspecting victims in a row, using bits of chandelier glass, killing his victims upon impact. He easily claimed more lives than anyone else in the palace, and he could have attained legendary numbers if the young assassin hadn’t died by his own tactics. As blood dripped from his eyes, he pulled out a gory piercing arrow from his back before falling from the ceiling to the floor.

M. Lachi is an author, songwriter and composer. She lives in New York City and enjoys reading, composing and catching live performances.


At Water’s Edge by S. McPherson: Author Interview

At Water’s Edge by S. McPherson:

S. McPhersonPublisher: by S. McPherson Books (November 10,  2015)
Category: Romance/Fantasy
Tour Dates: October/November, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-993360503
Available in: Print & ebook,  347 Pages

‘At Water’s Edge’, tells the tale of two lovers trapped in two different worlds. One world is Earth, and the other is Coldivor; a dimension full of magic and danger. When Dezaray Storm is mistaken for th
e most powerful sorceress of this other realm her life changes forever. She finds love in the arms of Milo Thor, but this love can also lead to her death and the destruction of seven empires.

‘At Water’s Edge’ is book one in the ‘Water Rushes’ series.

Tell us about this story.

At Water’s Edge tells the tale of Dezaray, a seventeen-year-old girl in England who falls in love with an eighteen-year-old boy from another world. A case of mistaken identity, lost portals and battling empires leads to an adventure between worlds, centred around love, loss and magic.

Dezaray; under the questionable care of her brother finds herself having visions of a boy she has never met – Milo, a teenager from another world with the ability to teleport. One night, when on the run for her life, Dezaray comes across a portal and when mistaken for the most powerful sorceress of this other land, she is pulled through it and immersed in a world of magic and empires, meeting the man of her dreams…literally.

But Dezaray cannot stay in this realm and as this other world, Coldivor, descends into war, in desperate need of their true sorceress, Dezaray realises that her journey into Coldivor will end in one of two ways; with her return or with her demise. But what about Milo?

They say love can cross oceans but can it cross worlds?

What’s your idea of perfect happiness? I think happiness is when you are one hundred percent comfortable in your own skin. When you still strive for more, making every day an exciting adventure but knowing deep down that there is nothing missing from your life, even if on paper it looks like there is.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? I think the lowest depth of misery is when you truly cannot see anything positive in yourself. When you actually manage to convince yourself that you are worthless. The brain is a powerful tool and we have to be careful with the ideas we let it build.

Why do you write? Because the places I long to see, the people I long to meet and the adventures I would love to embark on, for now only exist in my mind; unclear and disarrayed. Writing allows me to experience them. I delve in to every detail and just for a moment, I find magic at my fingertips.

What is your motto? If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got. Although now I’m also really trying to live by the words of J.D. Rockefeller. ‘Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.’

Who’s your favorite writer?

I will always bow down for the infamous Shakespeare with his wonderful way of turning a phrase and his delightful yet traumatic tales of love and woe however, (yes, however) J.K. Rowling definitely stole my heart with the brilliant Harry Potter series. I do love, love but it seems I love magic just as much…although perhaps they are one in the same. The desire to combine my two favourites; epic love with illustrious magic is actually what lead to ‘At Water’s Edge’, where the love story is just about the two characters and where the magic is so much more- stories unto their own mingled into one.

Praise for Chapters One-Three of ‘At Water’s Edge’ by S. McPherson:

“Loved the teaser! It pulled me in and made me want to read more. Your writing style is clean, uncluttered and brimming with tension. Well done!”

“You got a lovely and interesting story,  hope to read more from you.”

“I liked it a lot! While I was reading it, I was able to be drawn into the story easily by your words. A stormy night like you were describing sets the perfect scene for a suspenseful fantasy novel.”

“I really enjoyed reading your first chapter. It was gripping. The descriptions are well written.”

About S. McPherson:S. McPerson

S. McPherson is a young British expat living in Dubai and working as a Foundation Stage 1 (FS1) teacher. When she was younger S. McPherson travelled a lot with her family, though, no matter how often her surroundings changed, one thing never did. And this was her love of writing and dreaming up the impossible. After combining her two loves of teaching children and writing, S. McPherson self-published her first book; a rhyming verse children’s story titled ‘Shania Streep wanted to Sleep’. Thus fuelling her love of seeing her work in print and sharing her stories. This is S. McPherson’s first novel.



Follow the ‘At Water’s Edge’ by S. McPherson Tour:

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Oct 5 Tour Kick off & Giveaway

Through Eyes Of A Book Goddess Oct 6 Review, Excerpt & Giveaway

Sunshine Book Promotions Oct 7 Excerpt, Interview, & Giveaway

Cassandra M’s Place Oct 9 Review & Giveaway

Infinite House of Books Oct 12 Interview

Tome Tender Oct 13 Review & Giveaway

Binding Addiction Oct 15 Excerpt

Father, Writer, Logistical Wizard Oct 19 Review

Bookishly Me Oct 20 Review & Interview

Buffy’s Ramblings Oct 21 Review & Excerpt

Rockin’ Book Reviews Oct 22 Review & Excerpt

Pomegranate Radio Oct 23 Review

Books, Authors, Blogs Oct 26 Review

What U Talking Bout Willis? Oct 27 Guest post & Excerpt

Books, Books, & More Books Oct 29 Review

The Writing Desk Oct 30 Guest Post

Little Read Riding Hood Nov 2 Review, Excerpt  & Giveaway

Happy Tails and Tales Nov 4 Review & Giveaway

I Can Has Books? Nov 10 Review

Deal Sharing Aunt Nov 11 Review

Avenue Books Nov 12 Interview

Ashley’s Bookshelf Nov 18 Review

Alpha Book Club Nov 23 Spotlight

Teatime and Books Nov 24 Interview

A Room Without Books is Empty Nov 25 Review

Self-Taught Cook Nov 27 Excerpt

Universal Creativity Inc. Nov 30  Interview

S. McPherson

Book Tour: Reaper of Stone




by Mark Gelineau and Joe King


GENRE: Fantasy

NOTE: This book is FREE on Amazon for 5 days beginning the date of the book blast.



A Lady is dead. Her noble line ended. And the King’s Reaper has come to reclaim her land and her home. In the marches of Aedaron, only one thing is for certain. All keeps of the old world must fall.

Elinor struggles to find her place in the new world. She once dreamed of great things. Of becoming a hero in the ways of the old world. But now she is a Reaper. And her duty is clear. Destroy the old. Herald the new.


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The girl stared directly into Elinor’s eyes. There was no hysteria, and no more tears. Just sadness matched with a hard, cold determination. “For the murder.”

At the word, Elinor felt a cold inside her that had nothing to do with the chilling rain. “They were attacked by bandits.”

“They were not killed by mere bandits,” she hissed. “My father was a tempered razor of the Aegis School. He was a match for a dozen armed men. Perhaps more. That is no

exaggeration.” She stared into Elinor’s eyes with a fierce intensity. “The death of my father and Lady Lliane was no accident. It was an assassination.”

“Stop,” Elinor commanded. She looked around to be sure there were none of Piersym’s razors nearby. Two were outside, but on the far side of the tower. Elinor assumed that over the rain, they wouldn’t have heard what the girl said.

“You don’t believe me?” Tae asked, the hurt clear in her eyes.

Elinor moved close, until they were almost nose to nose. Her voice was quiet, but carried a sharp edge of intensity. “It is not about belief,” Elinor said, holding the girl with her gaze. “You must be careful what you say. Some things once said, cannot be unsaid.”

Tae looked confused and Elinor continued on. “If you make an accusation, you turn your home into a den of wolves.” She shifted her eyes in the direction of the Hearthfire razors on the far end of the parapet. “And these wolves will not allow you to escape if they believe you threaten them.”

The girl frowned, but shook her head defiantly. “But you said it yourself. You fought every day for what you believed in. How is this any different than the rendworms?”

“Because this is not a fight you can win, Tae,” Elinor said.



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Mark and Joe have been writing and telling stories together for the last 25 years. They share a love for the classic fantasy tales of their childhood. Their Echoes of the Ascended series brings those old epic characters and worlds to new life.



Twitter: @gelineauandking.

Buy link:

For our latest releases, join our mailing list:

Amazon author page:

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Joe –



The authors will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


Guest Post: Deceptive by M.D. Malai & C.S. Leigh


Contemporary Romance

Date Published: February 5, 2015

Twenty-one year old Liliana Dapprima was living her life exactly how she planned. She had an amazing job as an interior designer and lived with her best friend Violet in Toronto. But, everything changes when her father forces her to move to New Jersey to re-design his businesses in New York City. Upon her arrival in New Jersey, she finds out she must live with her old flame, Emilio Amante, who had completely tore apart her heart.

She must learn to live alongside Emilio as she tries to start a new relationship with the new man in her life, Lucas. And to make matters even more complicated, Emilio is Lucas’ boss.

Dealing with a love triangle is hard enough, but then Lily must also deal with secrets from and about her family. She is constantly lied to and when she gets attacked multiple times by a rival family, she wants answers and will go to any extent to get them.

Liliana has been living in a world where everyone and everything is not what it seems.

What will happen when tragedy strikes and secrets are revealed?

Top 10 Favorite Books & Why

1. Beautiful Disaster Series by Jamie McGuire – I love the way Abby and Travis have a love/hate relationship in the beginning, and how it evolves from a forced presences to an effortless love. The passion that they have for each other is shown not only from the way they love each other, but also in the way they fight. I can’t gush over them enough! -Melai

2. Immortal Series by Alyson Noel – I just love the big picture of the love story between Damen and Ever. Their forever love goes back hundreds of years, and the fact that Damen can find Ever every time she is reincarnated shows how much he truly loves her. – Melai and Leigh

3. Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins- The way that Suzanne Collins brings the dystopia world to life captured my attention from beginning to end. The journey that Katniss goes on from volunteering for the HG’s, to the very last word “real” is just beyond words to me. Suzanne writes a politically fueled book, but it includes a beautiful love story with Peeta, a love triangle, PTSD, and a teenage girl. It’s pure genius. – Melai

4. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling – It’s Harry Potter — enough said. Seriously though, between the story line, the descriptions, and the quest the heroes go on to conquer evil makes me wish I was a part of it. Where’s my Hogwarts letter? – Melai and Leigh

5. Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott- We both fell in love with Owen Harper and Kensington. Kensington has always had a perfect life and now it is started to fall apart, whereas Owen has grown up with a not so perfect life and Kensington has made it perfect. It’s a give and take and in the end they balance each other out and make each other better. – Melai and Leigh

6. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen- Darcy + Elizabeth = Greatest love story ever! Darcy’s silent love for Elizabeth only grows stronger, and it is reciprocated as Elizabeth learns everything that Darcy has done for her family was all for her. – Melai and Leigh

7. Cross My Heart Series by Katie Klein – While we both love the first book, the second book, Collateral Damage, would have to be our favorite. We get a side of Parker that we haven’t seen before and realize that there is more going on behind the scenes than what we thought. –Melai and Leigh

8. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – I loved that while the series was focused around Narnia, there wasn’t a story that was the same. They went on different adventures and fought different evils along the way. It’s one of the stories when a fantasy world was made by a person’s mind and this is something that I will strive for. -Leigh

9. The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers- We both love how Stephanie wrote such a compelling simple love story between a human, a vampire, and a werewolf. Bella loved both men at the same time, but ultimately Edward won out, BUT Jacob still got his happily ever after too. A win, win for both Vampires and Werewolf’s alike. – Melai and Leigh

10.  The Last Song by Nikolas Sparks- I really liked this book a lot. All of Nikolas Sparks book are fantastic, but there was something about The Last Song that I really enjoyed. The love between Will and Ronnie as well as everything Ronnie has gone through with her family makes her a stronger person and afraid the let anyone in. That was until Will came along and knocked down her barrier. – Leigh

Book Tour: The Cerberus Rebellion by Joshua K. Johnson


The Cerberus Rebellion

by Joshua K. Johnson


GENRE: Fantasy



War changes everything.

On the world of Zaria, Elves, magic and mythical beasts coexist beside rifles and railroads. The futures of two nations hang in the balance as rebels and revolutionaries trade gunfire with loyalists and tyrants.

The King of Ansgar, secure in his belief that his loyal nobles and fearful subjects answer to his every whim, seeks to gain favor with friends across the sea. But his decision to send armies thousands of miles away will test that fear, and loyalty.

In war, little is held back; in revolution, nothing is safe.



Magnus reined up his horse in front of the largest tent pavilion he had ever seen.

“And whose tent is this?” The gaudy purple canvas tent structure stood twenty feet at the center pole, at least twelve at the edge and was more than a hundred feet on each side.

“Your Grace, it is mine!” a short man announced and then bowed. “Sir Byron Alfson, of Harristown.”

“Ah, sir, you have me at a disadvantage.”

Magnus inspected the knight with narrowed eyes.

He had a mop of frail-looking brown hair tied into a short ponytail and a narrow nose that was flanked by light blue eyes. He wore a greatcoat that looked like it had been cut from the same fabric as his tent.

Harristown was one of the small villages that had sprouted up along the rail lines that ran from Agilard to Aetheston. The strange grape beer that had made the town famous gave its color to everything the town did. They had even changed their sigil to a purple field with a golden mug.

“This is quite the pavilion,” Magnus continued after a moment. “I didn’t know that the grape beer business had so much money to be made.”

“We do our best, Your Grace,” the knight said. “I hope my pavilion does not offend you, Your Grace. While it is my tent, I have shared it with many of the knights from Lord Tallet’s levies.”

“It does not offend,” Magnus lied. If he had his way, the knights would be sleeping in camp tents with the rest of his soldiers. But his advisors had warned him that not giving the knights and lesser lords their symbols of pride and authority could drive them away. He had been reluctant to accept the counsel, but in the end the tradition of tent pavilions and knightly feasts had been upheld. “Carry on, Sir Alfson.”

“Thank you, Your Grace.” The knight bowed again and disappeared into his purple monstrosity.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Joshua Johnson is the author of “Gunpowder Fantasy” The Cerberus Rebellion and the creator of the Griffins & GunpowderAuthorPhoto_Cereberus universe. When he isn’t working or spending time with his family, he writes novels, short stories and novellas.

He currently lives in Northern Illinois with his wife and young children.

You can visit his website at

Joshua will be awarding an ebook containing short stories set in the same world as the novel, The Chesian Wars to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway//

Book Excerpt: Picture Me by Amy Schisler


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by Amy Schisler


GENRE:  mystery



Melissa Grant has escaped the clutches of death, not once, not twice, but three times. While she considers this to be divine intervention, her assailant is sure that her luck will run out, and the authorities are suspicious that Melissa isn’t as innocent as she seems. Implicated in the murders of two of her closest friends, and running from both a hit man and the law, Melissa does what is thought to be impossible in the 21st Century – she disappears. Julie Lawson has no family, no friends, and no past. She spends her days photographing the country and her nights tossing and turning as nightmares plague her sleep. While passing through the town of St. Brendan, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Julie finds some things she hasn’t had in a very long time – a home, friends, and love. For the first time in two years, Julie can see her future, but she can attain it only by surviving a predator from her past. Eric West has a past of his own that he is trying to forget. His return to his hometown keeps his demons away until he meets Julie, and she stirs up emotions in him that he hasn’t felt in a long time. As he slowly begins to let go of this past, Eric tries to break down the walls that Julie has so tightly built around herself. Gaining her trust one small act at a time, and hiring the best investigator in DC to dig for answers, Eric opens the Pandora’s Box to Julie’s past which threatens all of their futures.


Julie hadn’t thought to bring a flashlight with her and now regretfully acknowledged one of the many pitfalls of no longer owning a smartphone.  As darkness fell, she picked up her pace, unsure of how much farther she had to go until the end of the trail.  Surely it was safe to be out here in the dark at night, right?  This was a small town, after all.  An owl hooted, and the hair on the back of Julie’s neck stood.  Once again, she felt that familiar feeling that jump-started her heart to begin thumping in her chest.  She was not alone.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Amy MacWilliams Schisler, of Bozman, has been writing all of her life for fun and as a freelance writer.  A graduate of University of Maryland College Park with a Masters of Library and Information Science, Amy has resided in Talbot County for 21 years.  She was employed as a school library media specialist at White Marsh Elementary and Chapel District Elementary and a reference librarian at Chesapeake College.  For the past eight years, she has operated her own computer tutoring service working primarily with senior citizens while spending as much time as possible writing. Amy was a contributing editor for the reference series Best Books For Libraries 2004 Edition and is included in Who’s Who Among American Women.

Schisler’s first children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, is an autobiographical work about spending a day harvesting the Maryland Blue Crab and is available in local stores and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum as well as on Amazon.  Sarah Book Publishing released Schisler’s novel, A Place to Call Home, in August of 2014.  A revised second edition was released in March 2015.

Picture Me, A Mystery was released on August 17, 2015.  The book follows the plight of a young woman as she journeys MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_PictureMeacross the country assuming one identity after another in order to stay alive.  When she lands in a small port town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and meets the man of her dreams, she lets her guard down and puts her heart and her life in danger.

A former librarian and teacher, Amy now lives in Bozman, Maryland with her husband, three daughters, and two dogs where she is very involved in her local community.  Amy is the leader of Girl Scout Troop 453, Director of Summer Roundup Girl Scout Camp, and active in her family’s church and school.

Twitter @AmySchislerAuth

Instagram: amyschisler

Amy has been featured on:

OmniMystery News

Southern Maryland News

Tea at Trianon Blog
Amy’s newest book is available on Amazon:

Amy will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Book Spotlight: Fandemonium by Rick Schindler



Rick Schindler

Genre: Adult fiction, fantasy, satirical novel

Publisher: Wattle Publishing

Number of pages: 400

Word Count:  125,000 approx.

Cover Artist:  L. Whyte  and Cover design: Wattle Publishing

Book Description:

Ray Sirico used to have it all. Once, he was the brilliant and outrageous Clown Prince of Comics, who reinvented the venerable superhero Skylord, and ranted and rollicked everywhere from TV talk shows to Hollywood premieres.

But that was in the ’70s and ’80s. Now it’s 1993, and Sirico is a drunken has-been. His wife has left him, his movie flopped, and his comics’ publisher is doing so poorly that its new corporate parent has come up with a radical marketing stunt: the Death of Skylord.

Still, Sirico has one last chance to recapture the limelight: Fandemonium, the nation’s biggest fantasy convention. But others are coming to the con too: Harmony Storm, the sex-crazed actress who broke up Ray’s marriage; his former collaborator Tad Carlyle, who now has his own company, and a troubled relationship; Fred D’Auria, a fanboy fleeing adolescent traumas, and corporate conspirators who are plotting to sacrifice Sirico’s greatest creation for motives deeper than even his fevered imagination could conceive.

Together, antihero Sirico and his superhero Skylord stand at the crossroads of comics and commerce, where quirky creators, fervent fans, conniving businessmen and preening celebrities converge. Deal-making, drug-dealing, lovemaking and truth-telling all collide at the riotous climax of a fateful weekend that leaves no one unchanged.

Fandemonium uses the colourful world of comics and fantasy as a microcosm and metaphor for media consolidation and the excesses of global mass culture. It is at once a hilarious satire of business and society, a portrait of an artist no longer young, and a sometimes poignant look at a universal challenge: to grow up, face the world, and put away childish things.


Chapter 1: The Dimension of Doom
Once words had flown free as birds from his fingers. Now it had taken days for just two to come crawling out like tiny snails: The end. Still, what wonderful words they were. How neat their symmetry on Sirico’s screen, how sweet their taste on his tongue as he spoke them silently like a prayer. This called for a toast. He raised his chin, emptied the tallboy down his gullet, and erupted a hearty belch. Yes, a promising start. He clattered on before his momentum could flag: The end of Skylord, who lies fallen at the feet of the maniacal Baron Brain atop the villain’s Tower of Fear as it stabs the heavens like an obscene gesture in the face of God! He could already hear Lenny howling about that one. Mustn’t offend the cherished beliefs of any inbred, slack-jawed yokel who might chance to pick up a copy of Skylord along with his chewing tobacco at the corner Shop N’ Go in Mooseturd Hollow. Well, tough shit. The end of life, as the Baron’s diabolical Chrono Cannon stains the skies with sinister energies like the chimney of hell itself! The end of hope, as the Soaring Sentinel faces his fateful final battle! Fakeful final battle, more like; just the idea of comics’ greatest superhero being killed was preposterous, even if Skylord was going to return miraculously from the dead after a few perfunctory months of suspended publication. Hell, Sirico could come up with a dozen ways for Sky to beat the Baron in the time it took him to pee. In fact, he decided, he would, just for exercise. He heaved himself out of his chair and lumbered through the kitchen to the bathroom. Through the cracked window over his toilet he could see the World Trade Center across the Hudson, silhouetted against the angry blush in the eastern sky. To distract himself from the pain as he tried to piss, he conflated its twin towers into the Tower of Fear in his mind’s eye and pictured Skylord lying atop it, helpless beneath the Baron’s shadow, the light fading from the gleaming Sunstone on his chest. But wait: What if the marvelous Mister Micro, too small to see, were to waft in on the wind like down from a dandelion to rescue his old teammate? Or if Riplash, Skylord’s former protégé, came slashing through from the floor below with his devastating Ion Whip? What about Skylord’s lost love, the Cheshire Cat? Invisible, intangible, she might even now be insinuating herself into the Chrono Cannon, sabotaging its infernal clockwork! Or maybe it was exactly now, in Skylord’s darkest hour, that the combined energy of mankind’s hope in him would rekindle the faintest glow in the Sunstone; a glow as golden as the urine that finally sputtered, then splashed triumphantly into Sirico’s mottled toilet bowl in a powerful torrent, like the psychic current streaming steadily to the top of the Tower of Fear from millions of souls around the world, fanning the tiny ember of light in the heart of the jewel into a nurturing halo that would brighten, blossom, and spread to surround the whole tower, transfiguring it into a blazing torch of glory that would pierce the Cannon’s baleful miasma and light the entire planet. And once again, Sky’s great golden wings would unfurl, and he would rise like a phoenix to victory! Inspired, Sirico zipped up hastily, heedless of the stain down the front of his jeans. He managed to make it all the way back to his desk before remembering yet again: Thanks to Colossal Comics’ new corporate parent, Skylord had to lose this time. He scowled at his screen and pummeled the grimy keys: The end of America’s most beloved hero, prostituted and debased for a sleazy sales stunt! The end of comics’ most revered writer, his creativity crushed by Nebula Communications’ all-consuming corporate cupidity! The end of every miserable fucking thing he ever— The phone was ringing.  Sirico brought his fist down on the keyboard and, with a piteous bleat, his screen went dark. He seized the receiver of his Limited Collector’s Edition Skylord Telephone, one of thousands left unsold after the movie came out. “Hello?” he demanded. “Hey, Ray.” It was Lenny, interrupting as usual just when he was getting somewhere. “How’s the script coming along?” Sirico jabbed the big purple button at the top of his keyboard and, with a dulcet chime, SKYSLAST.DOC magically reappeared. “Nearly finished.” With page one, anyway. “Great.” Lenny sounded so relieved Sirico almost felt sorry for him. “So you’ll bring it tomorrow?” “Tomorrow? Bring it where?” Without the receiver to hoist over its head, the Skylord figurine that formed the base of his phone looked as if it was throwing its hands up in bewilderment. Beats hell out of me, Sky seemed to say. Isn’t tomorrow Saturday? “To Fandemonium, Ray.” Lenny was whining like a whipped dog. “We talked about this, remember? Didn’t you get the stuff in the mail?” “Of course I remember,” Sirico scoffed, swiveling his chair to glance guiltily at the three-tiered wooden rack on his kitchen wall. His filing system—Bad Mail, Very Bad Mail, and To Be Filed—seemed to have broken down: To Be Filed was overflowing into a scrapyard of saucepans brimming with scummy water. The convention was this weekend? Yikes. “But I don’t want to drag this thing around a con. Besides, it still needs a few finishing touches.” A middle and an end, for instance. Lenny took the measured tone of a hostage negotiator. “Ray, you know how important this is. The death of Skylord is new management’s top priority.” “Death my pimply pink ass. He’s just going into suspended animation. Or falling through a wormhole into a parallel universe. Or staying at his timeshare in the Hamptons. I forget. Which cliché were you planning to dislodge from your rectum this time, Lenny?” Lenny sighed. “We’re working on it.” “You apprehend, do you not, that this is precisely the sort of hackneyed bilge I purged from Skylord’s magazines some two decades ago, thereby rescuing them from cancellation, generating millions in revenue for Colossal Comics, and not incidentally keeping you gainfully employed for lo these many years?” Through the line came a soft but gratifying moan that let Sirico know he hadn’t lost his touch. “What do you want me to say, Ray? You’re right. But these guys own our asses now, and there’s nothing we can do about it except try and give them what they want.” “Yeah, yeah.” Sirico spun back to face the window over his desk. Across the street, something in a brown paper bag was circulating among the Puerto Ricans loitering in front of Norberto’s Stationary. It was time for another beer. He headed for the kitchen with the phone to his ear while Lenny reminded him again how lucky they were to have lured the wonderful Tad Carlyle away from his fabulously successful new Fireburst Comics to return to Skylord long enough to draw this bogus death stunt. Sirico ran out of patience and phone cord simultaneously. “Lenny, Tad Carlyle was still picking the hayseeds out of his ears when I met him. He should be crawling on his knees over broken glass to work with me again.” He couldn’t make out Lenny’s reply because he was reaching for the refrigerator with his right hand while holding the receiver at arm’s length with his left. His fingertips were grazing the handle when there was a crash behind him; somehow his laptop had gotten tangled up with the base of the phone and been dragged off his desk onto the floor. “Oh, fine,” Sirico said, dropping the receiver. The computer, a loaner from Colossal that Sirico had not the faintest intention of ever returning, was splayed face-down, its screen dark. He returned it to his desk, plugged it back into the wall and pushed the magic purple button. The chime rang again, but off-key this time, like somebody striking a piano chord with their foot. Finally, SKYSLAST.DOC returned to the screen, only now with an interesting new strobe effect. Meanwhile, Lenny was still chattering like a chipmunk through the phone on the floor. Sirico was definitely going to need that beer. In the refrigerator stood one last tallboy, its plastic yoke drooping dejectedly now that its five siblings were gone and it had only a bottle of hot sauce and two shriveled lemons for company. Sirico popped it open and plopped back into his swivel chair with the phone. “…why this thing tomorrow is so important,” Lenny was summarizing. “You can have the rest of today to touch up the script, but you’ve got to bring it tomorrow so Henry—” “Henry’s going to be there?” “Henry will introduce you, then you and Carlyle will take questions—” “Wait a minute. I’m speaking at this thing?” “Dammit, Ray, I told you this. It’s all in the stuff they sent you. Now, I’m sending a car for you at eleven so you’ll have plenty of time to get settled before the panel. Try and be ready, okay?” By ready Lenny meant sober. “Okay,” Sirico replied nonetheless. “I’ve got to get to a meeting. For God’s sake, finish that script.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Curious now, Sirico put the receiver back in Skylord’s hands and began rummaging through the mound of mail. He didn’t believe it; now past seventy, Henry Cole hadn’t set foot in a comic book convention in years. And yet, stuffed in a manila envelope among all the FINAL NOTICES and PAST DUE—PLEASE REMITs he found a flyer proclaiming Fandemonium ’93: A Celebration of Comics, Fantasy, and Collectibles June 19–20, as well as the current issue of Comics Chronicle, which had a familiar vulpine face on the cover. Colossal Comics Founder Henry “King” Cole is Guest of Honor as Fandemonium Returns to New York read the caption under the photo, next to which was a picture of a sulking blonde— —oh God— —Harmony Storm, Galaxia-Five on TV’s “Star Station Sigma,” Also to Appear. His eyes filled with tears, through which the blonde’s pouting face dissolved into Lynn’s, flushed and frantic as she shook his shoulders. Oh, God, Ray. How could you? From behind her, a shrill giggle: Don’t worry, honey. He couldn’t. He had to guzzle down half the tallboy before his vision cleared. Sirico tore the front off Comics Chronicle, crumpled it, then paused. From the inner page, another once-familiar face was looking up at him. The picture was from seventeen years and eighty pounds ago, back when he’d conquered comics and was moving on to movies. His smile was cherubic, his eyes alight with mischief under luxuriant black curls, his jaw thrust forward confidently. Now balding, bloated, he barely recognized himself. He’d almost forgotten he’d once been attractive enough to rate a pretty blonde wife, appear regularly on TV, bed Hollywood starlets. Completing a triptych around his former self were golden boy Carlyle and hangdog Lenny. Endless Night Panel, the caption read: Fandemonium to Feature Artist, Writer and Editor of the Comic Book Event of the Decade. Sirico had to go back to his chair and sit down. They were talking about this decade. This was his chance to get everything back, to become that beatific cherub again. He groped through the envelope’s other contents: directions to the Olympia Hotel, a registration form he was supposed to have sent in, a letter: Dear Mr. Sirico, We are pleased to confirm your appearance blah blah blah enclosed, please find convention schedule along with your— —honorarium— —and inside the letter, a check to Mr. Raymond J. Sirico for the sum of three hundred dollars. As Skylord himself would say: Suffering suns!
Something was wrong with Henry. Lenny couldn’t put his finger on it. Then he realized:  everything was wrong with Henry. His hair was too poufy. His skin was too tan. His potbelly was missing. He smiled too much. His clothes were the wrong colors, bright pastels. He wasn’t smoking a cigar. This was not the Henry Cole Lenny had worked a dozen nerve-shredding years for. The clincher had come when Lenny put his hand out to be shaken and Henry tried to get his arms around him in a clumsy embrace instead. There could no longer be any doubt: since retiring as active head of Colossal Comics a decade ago, Henry Cole, né Heinrich Kohlberg of Brooklyn, had become Los Anglicized. Now, as he beamed at Lenny across the conference table, a second, inverted Henry glowed eerily in its cherrywood sheen. The reflection reminded Lenny of the Netherverse, the dark mirror dimension where evil counterparts of the Colossal heroes dwelled. But which was the real Henry, and which was his  evil twin? Still smiling, Henry leaned back in his contoured chair. Lenny watched his gaze roam from the superhero statuettes posturing in illuminated display cases across the front of the room to the Skylord pinball machine blinking in its far corner. Then his eyes shifted to the wide windows onto the box canyon of midtown Manhattan, the proscenium across which his cast of costumed characters had strutted and fretted these past thirty years. Finally, Henry looked at Lenny. “So, how have things been?” Lenny tugged the unfamiliar collar button at his throat. This was the man who had hired him, fostered his feeble talent, raised him from proofreader to writer and, finally, to editor-in-chief before he’d moved to Hollywood to manage Colossal’s film and television projects. He’d entrusted Lenny with the glorious fantasy kingdom he’d built out of paper and ink and lent his very name, and in return Lenny had let it be conquered and annexed. “Well—”
“Good morning, Let’s get started then, shall we?” Just as Lenny was about to pour out his soul, Alec Tilton and his Nebula minions were invading the room. As always, Lenny tried not to hate Alec on sight. He tried not to hate him for his sleek Saville Row suit, which made Lenny look like a hobo. He tried not to hate him for his wasp waist, which made Lenny feel like a hippopotamus. He tried not to hate him for insisting on his ritual Friday morning meeting when he knew everybody had a million things to do before the con this weekend. And, as always, he failed. Alec took the head of the table while his pinstriped underlings bustled around him, distributing stapled sheaves of color Xeroxes and setting up the computer and projection screen. Ever since the merger, every meeting had to have a computer in order to run PowerPoint, a software program that spewed jargon like action items and company milestones in blazing colors. As this was going on, Lenny’s editors were straggling in. Clearly they were trying to comply with Alec’s recent memo on office attire, but in their fraying sport coats and antique neckties they made a sorry contrast to the natty Brits. While they shambled to seats on Lenny’s side of the table, Alec’s personal assistant, Miss Crompton, poured him a cup of tea. Maybe all of 23, she was a tender young piece of crumpet, Lenny couldn’t help thinking, even with her body lost somewhere inside that severe suit, even with her pale hair pulled back so tight he almost expected it to snap like piano wire. Nobody knew her first name. No one had had the nerve to ask. Alec pressed his red eyeglasses into place with his middle finger and consulted the watch tethered to his vest. “Right, are we all here then?” They weren’t. As he snapped the watch shut, Jack Gladwell sauntered in wearing a pyrotechnic Hawaiian shirt and sneakers that might once have been white. Lenny couldn’t understand why Jack was still production manager under the Nebula regime, other than that he was very good at it. Henry grinned at Gladwell. “Well, look who just came from the luau Aloha!” “Aloha, boss. And a good morning to you, Miss Crompton.” Jack had arrived at her chair just in time to pull it out for her gallantly. The girl took it in confusion, her flush violent. “Mr. Gladwell, how good of you to join us.”


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About the Author:

Rick Schindler is an award-winning journalist and a lifelong comics fan and collector. He is an editor, writer and producer for NBC News Digital. Fandemonium is his first novel.




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Q&A Eclipse Reviews:

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?

Topless Hotties is the title of a piece of fiction I’ve been working on that is either a long short story or a novella. I hope it’s not a novella. It’s about a veteran journalist who has a knack for writing headlines. Full disclosure: I happen to have won some awards for writing headlines.

How long did it take you to write Fandemonium, from the original idea to publication?

The book evolved in fits and starts over 15 years. At various points I put it aside for years, rewrote it from start to finish, and even gave up on it altogether, or so I thought. It was represented by two different agents, under two different titles. It was rejected by many editors, some kindly, others not so much.

What genre would you place your book into?

Well, that’s one of the things that kept coming up in the rejection notes: Editors complained that it doesn’t fit into a genre. I think it’s a literary satire, a comic novel with serious overtones, but I guess that’s not a genre like “crime” or “dystopian young adult novel.” By the way, did you know there’s a Twitter feed called “Dystopian YA Novel”? It’s pretty funny.

What made you decide this particular type of book?

At the risk of sounding New Age-y, I’d have to say the book decided what kind of book it wanted to be.

Do you have a favorite character/s from your books? And why are they your favorite?

I can’t be the first writer to say this: That’s like asking me to choose my favorite child. How about if I tell you about my agents’ favorite characters instead?

My first agent, a man, liked oversexed actress Harmony Storm and wanted more of her, and disliked 12-year-old comics fan Fred, a lot. My second agent was a woman who hated Harmony and felt she was unrealistic. But she loved Fred and wanted him to be introduced earlier.

How long have you been writing? Who or what inspired you to write?

Not counting the novel set in Disneyland I started when I was 9 or 10, I guess my writing career began my junior year in high school when a short story I wrote for a

homework assignment got published in the school literary magazine and then won a New York Times award at a press day event. Validation is addictive.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be?

Since I was trying to write a novel when I was 10 or so, I guess the impulse goes back pretty far. But I was also very interested in science as a kid, and I was always attracted to computers. Maybe if I’d paid more attention to math in high school, I might have wound up writing computer code instead of novels.

Fandemonium is a complex narrative that includes many different types of characters. How did you come up with your characters’ names?

I’m pretty obsessive about names. If I can get a character’s name just right, their whole personality comes right along with it.

I grew up in Buffalo, New York, where there is a rich tapestry of ethnic surnames: Polish, Italian, Irish, Eastern European. For two years I want to a prep school run by a Hungarian order of priests. Maybe that’s why so many of the names I see in contemporary novels seem bland and anodyne to me in comparison.