Ken Brosky – The Proving – book excerpt

Proving copy
YA Sci-Fi
Date Published: 1/5/2016
 
 

It’s been 133 years since the Specters invaded Earth. Like ghosts they haunt the planet, devouring anyone foolish enough to venture outside the last remaining protected cities. For some, venturing out isn’t a choice–it’s a necessary evil to prove yourself to your clan as you come of age.

But when a team of ambitious youth—New Adults—undertakes a mission deep in Specter territory, they discover a terrible secret. Everything they’ve learned may be wrong … and Earth is in grave danger.

 

 excerpt:

Suddenly, the area all around her began to glow, as if some sinister light was slowly coming to life. Thin pine and tupelo trunks were painted in a fiery red light, bright enough that each tree cast a bloody shadow. The creature was near. She ran left, thinking about her family and blinking away stinging hot tears. She hoped to see them again. She hoped to tell her husband and her daughter how much she loved them both. Her body, numb, expected death at any moment but she refused to give in. Ahead, she could see an end to the forest. And something else . . .

A fence! An old fence whose links were being pulled earthward by heavy vines with thick stalks and fat, crescent-shaped leaves. And beyond the fence: a dim pool of white light illuminated a squat building at the far edge of a barren lot. The building must be an emergency supply depot, no doubt running solely on stored energy from the solar panels attached to the roof, slanted up at the sky. The depot would contain emergency equipment and maybe some kind of weapon. It would have a communication system, too.

She could jump the fence. She could take one step on the constrained chain links and reach the top and hop over. She could reach the building. She could survive. She’d carried a child in her womb for nine months, seven days and an additional fifteen excruciating hours of labor. Her back had endured. Her legs had endured. This pain she felt in her shins now? It was nothing. It was an annoyance.

She could do this. She could send a warning.


 

The Proving is Ken Brosky’s newest YA sci-fi adventure. His first series, The Grimm Chronicles, ran from 2012-2014 and is available on Kindle. Ken received his MFA in writing from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

 

Contact Links

Facebook: http://facebook.com/theearthxchronicles

Twitter: http://twitter.com/kenbrosky

 

Purchase Link

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018EQLQ5E

Star Rider: On the Razor’s Edge by Heidi Skarie — book excerpt

star rider cover

Science Fiction / Visionary Fiction
Date Published: December 2014
 
 
 

Undercover operative Toemeka Ganti, code-named Star Rider, lives on the edge.

Her latest mission is to overthrow the despot of Jaipar, General Bhandar. His protection comes from sorcerer Samrat Condor, an interplanetary conqueror whose space fleet destroyed Toemeka’s home planet and killed her family years ago. And Condor isn’t about to lose his stranglehold on Jaipar.

Making matters worse, Toemeka must preserve her cover while secretly developing an oscillator, a shield-destroying device wanted by both sides. All this must be accomplished under the watchful eye of her boss, Commander Rochambeau, who is pressuring Toemeka to become his mistress.

Accompanied by her Coalition team and trusted partner Erling Fenian, Toemeka bands with the local underground resistance and Michio Kimes, a handsome spiritual warrior trained to fight sorcery. Together they must battle to free the people of Jaipar and restore its rightful heir to power.  

Excerpt

Something touched Toemeka’s leg.  Her eyes snapped open and she saw a vine curling itself around her ankle.  It twisted up her thigh.  Amazed that a vine could move, she touched one of its blue iridescent leaves.  “What an unusual plant, you are.”  Another stem twirled around her arm. She tugged at the vine, trying to pull it off.  It tightened its grip.

She heard Michio calling her name.  “I’m over here.  By the river,” she yelled.  She tugged harder at the vine on her arm as it climbed to her shoulder.  It wound its way around her neck and tightened against her windpipe.  Frantically, she grabbed the thick stem with both hands and screamed for help

Toemeka couldn’t breathe as the vine tightened around her neck.  Her lungs burned. Fear pumped through her veins and black spots flashed before her eyes.  The world spun.  A branch cracked, then Michio appeared and began slashing at the base of the stalk with his knife.  The plant let out an ear-piercing scream and squirted a stinging, putrid orange fluid on Toemeka’s arm.

Light-headed, she collapsed.  Michio pulled the vine from her throat, and she gasped as fresh air filled her lungs.  She distantly heard Michio ask if she was okay.  She opened her eyes to find him crouching next to her, looking worried.

A vine tentacle slithered around her waist.  She grabbed the stem and tried to rip it away.  “Get it off me!” she cried hoarsely.

Michio started to help her when he fell forward onto the ground. A vine had wrapped itself around his ankle and it dragged him toward waving reddish-orange tubes.  Michio hacked himself free, the plant screamed and sprayed more juice.  Scrambling back to Toemeka, Michio whacked at the vine that gripped her.  It shrieked as he chopped and slashed the knife into it.  Finally, it released her, climbed up a nearby tree and wound around its trunk.

 

star rider authorHeidi Skarie’s life as a writer began when she had a dramatic dream about a futuristic world at war. The vivid dream was like watching an action/adventure movie. Excited about the dream, she recorded it upon awakening. That night the dream continued where it left off. After six nights, Heidi had a hundred-page journal recording the series of dreams. This awakened her interest in writing, which continues to be one of her greatest passions today. Heidi is a visionary author who writes science fiction and historical fiction novels.  Her novels are a an exciting blend of action, adventure and romance, featuring strong, spiritually inquisitive heroines. Star Rider on the Razor’s Edge is her first science fiction novel. She previously published Red Willow’s Quest, a historical novel based on a past life, about a Native American girl training to become a medicine woman. 

Guest Post: Children of the Lightning by Annie Wong

CoLCover
Children of Lightning by Annie K. Wong
Publication date: September 27th 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Synopsis:

Secrets beget secrets. The curse that befell the Hollows clan has left them incapable of producing male offspring. To extend their bloodline, they have formed a covenant with the serpentine Ophidians, who give them children. In return, the Hollows must keep these monstrous creatures well fed, though the details of the procurement are so abominable that the truth is never revealed to the other clans. In their homeland of Matikki, they live like outcasts.

Through a series of chance discoveries, the secrets of the ancient curse unfold before a warrior named Writhren Hollow. Is her purely female clan the result of a lapse of divine providence, or are the Hollows themselves victims of an enslavement scheme?

If Writhren frees her clan from the covenant, she risks the wrath of the Ophidians and the future of her bloodline. If she keeps the truth of the curse to herself, she is a traitor to her own kind. Either way, she will suffer for what she must do.

This is not a story of redemption, but regret. This is Writhren’s story.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway
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More on the giveaway:

An award-winning series from Dan Simmons, The Hyperion Cantos features one of the greatest villains ever written and a storyline spanning hundreds of years across distant galaxies. In this epic space opera, humans are threatened by their own creations, including biologically engineered post-humans, artificial intelligence supercomputers, and their constant internal wars.  Amidst the violence and chaos, the protagonists search for life’s meaning through religion, poetry, romance, not to mention strife and battle.

As of June 2015, Syfy Channel is developing the first book, Hyperion, into a TV series, with one of executive producers being Bradley Cooper.

***

Top 10 List of author’s favorite fictional characters

Doraemon (manga) by Fujiko F. FujioDoraemon was the manga comics I read as a child, and I love that robotic cat from the future, equipped with a small pocket on his belly containing gadgets he could use to help his human friend, a boy called Nobita.

Sabriel from Sabriel, by Garth Nix – a teenager who must save her father and fill in the role of the demon executioner (or Abhorsen) until he can be freed.  I’d love to get my hands on a set of her bells and bandolier.

Shoggoth from At the Mountain of Madness, by H. P. Lovecraft – An excerpt from the book describes it as “… a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train – a shapeless congeries of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and unforming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter.”

It’s a monster who is also a slave.  What more can anyone ask for?

Slake-moths from Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville – giant moths that paralyze you with their hypnotic wings then feed on your dreams leaving you not dead, but wasting away as an empty shell.  Yum!

Mogget from Sabriel, by Garth Nix – an ancient Free Magic creature, dangerous and evil, bound by the power of a tiny bell around his neck, he takes the shape of a cat.  He is knowledgeable, playful and sarcastic and it’s impossible to tell if he can be trusted.

Curdle from Un Lun Dun, by China Mieville – a smelly, dirty, animated milk carton that is also a faithful pet.

Wolf from Wolf Brother, by Michelle Paver – a wolf who is given a point of view in the story, addresses his human companion (not his master) as Tall Tailless.  He is the best friend any boy could have.

The One Ring from Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien – Before Doctor Who’s TARDIS, and more recently, the evil mirror in the movie, Oculus, there was The One Ring, the object that was a central character in a story.  I wonder what the story would be like if written from its point of view.

Doctor Who – He is one of the most brilliant creations in the sci-fi fantasy realm, a humanoid alien who, at the time of death, can regenerate and return as a different “person”.  I find this endlessly transformational quality in a character fascinating.

Donna Noble – While we are on the subject of The Doctor, I’d like to add that Donna Noble is by far the best companion for him.  She may be an office temp before he met the Doctor, but she proves to be smart, and so funny.

AUTHOR BIO:

Annie K. Wong was born in Hong Kong and lives in Canada, in the west coast city of Vancouver, BC. She has a BA in AnnieBusiness Administration and Creative Writing from Houghton College as well as a Diploma in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia. Although she explored careers in advertising, television and office administration, the desire to write overtook her at the turn of the new millennium. In 2003 she earned a Post-Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College and has been crafting stories ever since.

Her current project is a fantasy series, the prequel of which is Children of Lightning.

Connect with her and receive freebies and updates about her book and other upcoming projects.

Author links:

Shadows Collide by Dan Levinson: Guest Post and Book Excerpt

Shadows Collide cover

Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Date Published: September 15, 2015
 
 
 

The Orion Psi Corps is in shambles, the dead still being counted. And though Orion’s retaliation has begun, Calchis isn’t finished yet.

 

New Axom City—that’s where Nyne Allen has taken refuge in the wake of his desertion from Orion. Soon it will become a battlefield, as familiar faces from both sides barrel toward a collision that will forever alter the course of history.

 

Meanwhile, in the Far East, Aaron Waverly learns the truth behind the red-robed man, and discovers a destiny that might one day spell the end of the world itself.

excerpt:

JANE DOE

Date Unknown

Location Unknown

The air was on fire.

As the blaze embraced her, she raised her hands, shielded her eyes; the billows of flame engulfed her as she screamed her defiance. The world blinked shut, like an eye closing, and when it opened once more, she saw faces, murmuring alarm. She tried to tell them they should leave her be, let her die in peace, her body still ablaze as if subsumed in the inferno. Yet before she could speak, wings of darkness enveloped her, carried her into oblivion.

When she surfaced again, she saw glaring lights.

She lay upon a gurney, moving swiftly through florescent-lit halls, the acrid stench of burned hair like a halo around her. Again, faces peered at her, their voices a low babble, distorted, as if through a tunnel. When a sudden movement jarred her, she howled, her vocal cords raw, like pulverized meat. Even the air rushing by tormented her.

What had happened?

She glanced about, eyes rolling, unable to move her head. A sign loomed above: Burn Ward. Another jolt shook her, and an animal sound escaped her throat as she lapsed again into unconsciousness.

She awoke in a white, sterile room, and for a moment thought she was somewhere familiar. But the hospital room was only an echo of a place she couldn’t quite recall, the memory slipping from her like sand through a sieve. She shifted in her bed, gasped, and only then looked down at her arms and hands, covered in bandages, the rest of her hidden beneath a thin, tan wool blanket. She could feel where those bandages compressed her flesh, chafed her raw throat, her belly, breasts, legs, and feet.

To her left, she saw a morphine drip, but could not reach it, the effort of moving her arm more than she could bear. She tried to cry for help, but now her voice came only in croaks and whimpers. She was trapped in her scorched body, no one to help her, while machines and monitors mocked her with ceaseless beeping.

A male nurse walked by the room, peered through the door’s glass pane, and she met his eyes, silently begging him for aid. He ran off, and for those next interminable minutes, each second seemed to her a test of will simply to exist. An inner voice told her to be strong, that she could make it through this, and she clung to it, the vague notion that she could endure all that she had. Mentally, she counted, One, two, three, four, five, those numbers like a life raft, though she did not know why.

At last, the doctor arrived—an austere, dark-haired man in a white coat, his eyes gauging her behind silver-framed glasses. She could read the pity on his face. “My name is Dr. Shipley,” he said. “You’ve been involved in a very bad accident. I don’t mean to alarm you, but you’ve suffered third degree burns over sixty percent of your body. Do you understand?”

She tried to nod while her mind processed. An accident? Of course. How else could she have ended up like this?

“How’s the pain?” Shipley asked. “I can increase the painkillers if you—”

“Hurts,” she rasped, her voice like sandpaper.

Shipley adjusted the morphine. “Your esophagus is damaged, from inhaling superheated air. I’ll ask a couple more questions, but keep your answers to one or two words. After that, no talking. Okay?”

She nodded again as the painkillers entered her system, making her woozy.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

She opened her mouth to reply, then closed it, the answer elusive. The pain had so consumed her that, until now, she hadn’t realized the details of her life were whispers and shadows lurking in unseen corners of her mind. She couldn’t remember her name, nor the accident, nor anything else. She choked back a sob, the force of it stabbing at her injured body.

“You don’t know?” Shipley asked.

Feebly, she shook her head.

“Well,” Shipley said, “given the trauma you’ve been through, it’s not unheard of. Unfortunately, when you were found, you had no identification, and your hands are too badly burned for us to take fingerprints. But don’t worry. When you’ve had the chance to recover, I’m sure it’ll come back to you.” He offered her a reassuring smile.

She knew he was trying to comfort her, and so restrained the urge to tell him to go fuck himself. Don’t worry too much? What kind of advice was that?

“Is the pain still bad?” he asked her. He fiddled with the drip again, and the room grew hazy, indistinct, before she could manage a word.

When she opened her eyes, the room was dark, all shapes indistinct save the colors on the monitor feeds. Burning, throbbing blanketed her. She rolled her head to the side, saw that the window shade lay slightly open, revealing the lights of an unfamiliar city—the greens and reds of traffic signals, the whites of far-off windows, the myriad colors of illuminated billboards. She had no idea where she was.

Despairing, she wept, and as the grief shuddered through her, it ignited her body anew, though she could do nothing to stem her tears. “Why?” she murmured. What sin had she committed that she was being punished so? “Why did this happen?” She didn’t care that she was not supposed to speak, for hearing her own voice reassured her; it was an anchor, even if it was a whisper.

And that was what she had become, she realized. A shadow of her former self.

A whisper.

***

The “Why” of Storytelling

Why do we tell stories?

It’s a fundamental question, with many answers: To share our words, our experiences; to achieve a level of recognition, career success, in a field that we love; to channel our own lives—our joys and sadness—into something transmutative and cathartic for our own souls; to, as Aristotle wrote in his Poetics, “through pity and fear [effect] the purgation of these emotions,” thus liberating us to lead a freer and more effective existence.

I feel there’s no greater goal than a “good story well told.” Stories extend far beyond the written word. There are stories in every piece of music, every painting, every film and fascinating movement of the passersby we observe on street corners, in cafés and local stores.

A good story resonates, echoes deep into our subconscious minds, eliciting a human connection beyond what words can convey. Robert Frost wrote, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” Why is that if we feel what we write, the reader feels it too?

I’ve always ascribed to the philosophies of Carl Jung and his theories of the collective unconscious, and my time both as a consumer of story, and as creator of it, has allowed me to feel its awesome tidal swells. The breadth and depth of the human race itself, the enormity of mankind’s experience, somehow echoes in us all. How else could characters who have never existed on any mortal plane move us so deeply? Bring us to tears, to anger, or make us feel an incomparable sense of hope? How could the very possibility of something that has never in fact occurred make us feel with such powerful conviction?

Story connects us, and I think a good story is a reflection of the most fundamental aspects of human experience: love, and loss; life, and death. It is no less true despite its immaterial nature.

“I like a good story well told,” Mark Twain once said. “That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself.”

We all tell stories, whether we are writers or not. When we come home from at work, put our feet up, pour a glass of wine, and tell our loved ones about our day, we are storytellers. When we dance to a beautiful piece of music, expressing our inner selves, we are storytellers. When we sing along to the radio, when we draw a picture, when we imagine . . . we are storytellers. For what is storytelling, but the articulation of all that we are, as individuals, and as a collective whole?

We tell stories because they illuminate the human condition. We do not exist in a vacuum. We are all connected. Stories seep down into the deepest layers of what comprise us as human beings. They move us without explanation. Somehow, they penetrate the thick armor we don each day to bear the world’s wicked barbs and prods, and lay us naked and vulnerable, whimpering, quivering, crying in both despair and exultation. They leave us knowing that no matter what hardship we endure, we are not alone. In this vale of tears, we all suffer. But our stories connect us, now, and forever.

We tell stories because they remind us of who we really are, and yet they also provide a conduit to tap into something greater than ourselves. They let us know there is something other than what we can see, or feel with our fingertips. We tell stories because they take us beyond all time, all place, to a realm that knows no mortal ken, that is both impermanent and yet eternal.

We are the stories we tell.

***

Dan_Levinson_author_photoDan Levinson is a NY-based writer of speculative fiction. Trained as an actor at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts, he also writes for the stage and screen. He grew up immersing himself in fantastical worlds, and now creates them. In addition to the Psionic Earth series, he is also the author of the upcoming YA fantasy novel The Ace of Kings, first book of The Conjurer’s Cycle.