Category Archives: contemporary fantasy

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, the Intro.

THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP. It’s a hoppy thing. (See what I did, there?)

What is a blog hop? Among other things it is a way for readers to discover new authors. The path to publication has always been a tough one to navigate, and even when it is attained it is usually not that fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Getting seen and read after being published is growing tougher by the minute. There are so many good books out there you’ve never known existed, so many amazing authors who are just not getting the attention their skill warrants. Bookstores are closing and publishers aren’t promoting new authors the way they did in the past. Despite all of our hard work, many deserving authors are simply falling through the cracks. It rests with us, fellow authors, and us, fellow readers, to discover the talent that lies in the big blue beyond.

My place in this little hop is to tell you a bit about my book, Resonance, and to direct you to more authors who deserve a chance to be read and appreciated. Pop back in next Wednesday for my Q&A about Resonance, and for links to five other deserving authors.

So, Resonance is my book. It is a dark urban fantasy with lots of demons and magic, and one very reluctant punk hero whose name is, you guessed it, Resonance. It is currently for sale exclusively through Amazon. Print versions are in the works.

A huge thanks to one of my first-ever writing friends, Sidney Williams, for tagging me to participate. He is a talented author whose work you definitely should be reading. Give him some clicky love and check out his book, Midnight Eyes, from Crossroad Press.

See you in a week.


RESONANCE cut scene #3

This scene is from the first incarnation of the novel.  It made it through one or two editing rounds, and then I cut it out, mostly for brevity’s sake, but also because I didn’t like the tone it set for Res and Wyatt’s relationship.  But, it’s an amusing read on its own.  It takes place just after the Massawangee Cypress Swamp Stone trial when Resonance is talking to the necromancers about her mother’s growing interest in Doug, and dissipating trust in her daughter.

*************

     “I’m sorry.  If there’s anything I can do,” Wyatt said.

      “You can give me a paycheck,” Resonance said.

     “I’m sorry, what did you say?”  Wyatt’s eyes widened.
     “You know what I said.”  She gave a cool shrug.  “I’ve kinda been telling Mom I’ve been coming here for on-the-job-training for the past two weeks.  I told her it was without pay, which she flipped over, but then I told her it would be given to me in back pay after the three month probation period.”  She paused to gauge Wyatt’s reaction–which took the form of a bulging vein in the middle of his forehead. “Soon, though,” she continued, biting back a smile, “she’s going to start harping on me about bringing home a check, so I thought you could just write me one.  Eight hundred ought to cover it.”
     “I–don’t, I…” Wyatt stammered.
     “Come on, I won’t even cash it.  I just need to show her something to get her off my back.”
     “I can’t just… Why didn’t you…?”  He turned an accusatory stare on Quinn. “Did you know about this?”
      Quinn looked nonplussed.
     “We haven’t been talking too much lately,” she answered, voice flat, eyes daring Quinn to speak.  She shrugged again.  “It’s no big deal, really.  You don’t have to do it.  Of course, Mom might come knocking on your door, demanding to know why I haven’t gotten paid.  She would, you know.  She thinks I’m a drooling idiot.  Even worse, she’ll accuse me of funneling it all up my arm and turn me over to some rehab clinic in upstate New York, which would severely hamper my saving the world and all.”
     “Are you always this manipulative?”  Wyatt asked, the first hint of a smile crinkling the corners of his eyes.
     “Pretty much.”  She flashed a wolfish grin.
     “Why don’t you just get a job?”
     “Please.  I can barely look at people, let alone work with them.  Besides, you’d rather have me here, memorizing all of your family journals and magic books and becoming your personal reference set, right?”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Wyatt said, shaking his head.  “You are a little extortionist aren’t you?”
“If I was that bad, I’d make you give me cash.”
“Thanks so much,” Wyatt replied dryly.  “If your mother has questions”–he sighed audibly–“tell her to call me.”
     

The Contest Winners

Thanks to everyone for playing!  I considered all of your stories of rebellion with a sincere amount of gravity and reflection.  After a difficult choice I have decreed the three winners to be:

1) The Walking Man — For standing up against generational expectations, and sheer determination to stay the course.

2) Christina — For CIA-like antics that could have resulted in a field trip to jail had you encountered a more surly police officer.

2) Jenn Sommersby — For teenaged rebellion that truly resonates with Resonance’s own youthful backlash.

Winners, email me at averydebow(at)comcast.net and tell me which format you’d prefer your eBook to be delivered in: PRC (for Kindle), or ePUB (for Barnes and Noble or iBookstore).

Thanks again to everyone who played.  I had fun reading your little tales of badness.


Win a copy of RESONANCE!

Now that RESONANCE is officially settled in on Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and the iBookstore, I’m thinking I’ll celebrate with an ebook giveaway contest.  To celebrate the characters’–urm–colorful natures, I would like you to read the deleted scene below, and then tell me in the comment section about something you did as an act of rebellion in your younger days.  The three best (decided by me on whatever whim I so choose) will receive an eBook copy of RESONANCE in the file format of their choice: E-Pub (for B&N’s Nook store or iBookstore), or PRC (for Kindle).

It doesn’t have to be a masterful piece of prose, just tell me what you did and I’ll decide if I love it.  That simple.

********

Spider Flashback Deleted Scene:

Resonance had been a reluctant transfer student dropped in a lions’ den of scholastic and social overachievement, forced to play dead just to survive.  There was a big kid who sat near the back in her mandatory freshman music class, one of those boys who had no doubt started eighth grade normal-sized, but freakishly grew a foot in every direction over the summer.  His broad shoulders were the perfect shelter, forming a jersey-clad wall for her to hide behind, unheard and unseen.  Not even her classmates seemed to realize she was more than another empty chair at the back of the class.  Except him—the one with the mohawk.  He noticed.
It was his pattern to slouch into the room, fling himself into the chair diagonal to hers, and do nothing for the first half an hour.  Then, as regular as clockwork, he would turn and look at her, his eyes searching her face as if to be sure she hadn’t died or turned to stone, his constant sneer deepening enough with what he saw to drive her further into the shadows. A few seconds later, he would turn back around, and finish off the class with another ten minutes of apathy. 
One February afternoon, however, he did more than that.
Outside the classroom window snow drifted down, covering the grass and cars.  Resonance stared hopefully at the defiantly clear blacktop, absently mouthing the words to the week’s song.  Knuckles rapped on her desk.  She started, and looked up into the rabbity face of Mr. Bilke.
“Since you are so intent on the song today, Miss Murphy,” maybe you should grace us with a solo.”
Her heart dropped to her feet.  Her body felt numb, leaden, as every set of eyes in the room—all those gazes she had strived to avoid for so long—fixed on her.  “I– I can’t,” she squeaked.
“You can’t?”
“No.”
“Why?  Because you haven’t paid attention all year?”  The class snickered.  Fueled by their amusement, Mr. Bilke continued, “Because you hide behind your hair and pretend this class doesn’t exist?  That we don’t exist?”
Resonance prayed she would stop existing.
“I’ll do it.”  All of those burning gazes and curved mouths turned away at the voice. She retreated behind her wall into the soothing shade.  
“Very well, Andrew,” Mr. Bilke said, his tone one of utter astonishment.
“It’s Spider.” The chair ahead and to the right of hers screeched back and the boy with the mohawk curled out of his chair.  He looked back, threw her a conspiratorial wink and strode up to the platform.  Mr. Bilke moved towards his piano. Spider didn’t wait for the music.  He gave the class a cockeyed leer, turned, dropped his shredded jeans and belted out his version of the day’s song, shouting, “It’s-the-age-of-my-hairy-ass,” at the top of his lungs. 
Her teacher and classmates froze. Their paralysis was intoxicating.  For once, Resonance forgot to hide.  She craned her neck for a better look—and laughed.
Fortunately for Spider, Zero Tolerance had not made its way into schools, yet.  Two months later, after his in-school suspension was over, he walked back into the classroom.  Mr. Bilke seethed at his piano.  The students whispered and tittered, re-living the now infamous scene.  Resonance leaned forward and looked him in the eyes, her chin lifted almost defiantly.  The side of his mouth twitched upwards, and her face split into a grin.  He took the chair beside her.

*************
Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you did as a youth to shake up the Establishment. It could win you a novel! I will post the winners next Friday afternoon, so be sure to get your story to me no later than noon (that’s EST for you non-East Coasters out there).


Free Excerpt of RESONANCE–Right Here!

Kindle has offered up a free, embed-able sneak peek of Resonance‘s innards.  Now, I love innards, and there are a lot of them here (255 pages!) so I feel compelled to share them with you.  So, get started.  No clicky links, no downloading software, just move your eyes a bit south and you’re good to go!  Be sure to pop back in later this week for a contest where you can win a copy of the entire eBook.  Yep.  Even more innards, hundreds of pages more–free. Until then, read and enjoy:

KindleReader.LoadSample({containerID: ‘kindleReaderDiv61’, asin: ‘B004KAAADI’, width: ‘800’, height: ‘471’, assoctag: ‘kindleboards-20’});


RESONANCE cut scene #2

I have another fallen scene for you, today. This one used to be where the current Wyatt, Quinn and the Grim scene is. I liked it, very much, but I needed to replace it with a scene that forwarded the story as well as revealed more about the characters. So, this scene got the axe and the Grim arose in its place. Reading it again, I kind of miss this one.

*********

Wyatt seized Quinn’s arm, dragging him backward.

They stood at a safe distance, watching tiny forms materialize like mist from a garden hose sprayed into the summer air. With the haze came first the smell of flowers, heady and sweet. As the clouds gave themselves a shadow of form, the odor became the suffocating stench of earth, bone and blood. The infantile hazes lingered there, straining to form in the cloying scent of their graves.

“This isn’t possible,” Quinn said.

“Apparently it is,” Wyatt’s forehead creased into a frown. “These children’s astral corpses have always been different. They’ve been here for a very long time, trapped in their graves by some form of magic.”

“Still, astral corpses don’t just jump up out of their coffins to say hello.”

“I think our power called to them.”

“How? That’s never happened before and we’ve passed this site dozens of times.”

“Maybe it’s that change we’ve been feeling, some outside factor allowing them to contact us.” Wyatt gazed thoughtfully at the shades for a few more moments, and then sighed. “Whatever caused it, we have to try to release them, or at least put them back. We can’t leave them hovering here like this. I should have helped them a long time ago… Before something like this… Stupid to leave them there, tortured…” Wyatt trailed off, his face a mask of misery and self-loathing.

Quinn gave his uncle a modicum of privacy by turning his attention to the materializing spirits. He closed his eyes, quieted his mind, and connected with the spark inside that fed his ability. Instantly, his head filled with a clamor of tiny voices, all howling for his attention. The spirit children’s plaintive calls stirred a mixture of horror and pity within him.

“They want our help,” he said. “They’re angry.”

“They were unfairly treated when they were tethered to their graves, and now that they have our attention, they want something done about it.” Wyatt’s voice held the detached quality Quinn had come to associate with the practitioner aspect of his uncle’s personality. “They want their turn to live.”

Initially, he had found his uncle’s removed professionalism cold and uncaring. Soon enough, though, he learned it was the only way to survive the continual parade of grief that, if not exactly brought on by him, was reinforced by his actions as both an aspiring mortician and necromancer.

The spirits writhed in the shadows, arms beseeching them to draw near enough to bring them to life. He shuddered, chills wracking his body. The sun still beat down mercilessly, but, for all he could tell, it shone on a different planet.

For these children, it did.

“They don’t know their bodies aren’t around anymore?” he whispered, careful not to draw their attention further.

“No.”

Power prickled along his skin, but this time it was the familiar–if not particularly pleasant–magic of Wyatt. He moved to stand beside his uncle. Although he was not certain what his uncle was about to do, he allowed his power to surge to the surface.

His heart constricted as their tiny consciousnesses reacted, channeling the hope of life towards him. Their momentary glee filled his mind. Mommy and Daddy, play, laughter, friends, love. It sliced through his chest–a knife edged so sharp with longing it nearly cleaved his heart. Then, he followed Wyatt’s lead and sealed it off, severing the painful link of humanity between them.

The only thing they had left in common now was death.

It was a lie to say he and Wyatt brought the deceased back to life. They only re-delivered them to the grave.

Wyatt had begun chanting, low and steady. He added his voice to the melody of the Release–the incantation used when freeing a Raised spirit. For a moment, the specters became clearer, solidified by both their struggle to become material and their outrage at their perceived betrayal.

A cry arose among them, a horrific, screeching parody of their living peers. Over the din his uncle raised his voice as his hands spread in the air, casting his supplication to the Beyond.

As suddenly as it began, the noise ceased. The spirits dissipated without further struggle, vanishing like powder in a breeze.

They were left standing by the graves, both of them breathless from the effort, and on his part, wretched guilt.


The Worst Day of the Year — and an Announcement

Spider, here.
It’s started.  Already.  I’m gettin’ the calls for St. Patrick’s Day ink requests and I’ll be the only one workin’.  Man, I hate that day. Now, don’t go thinking I got a problem with the Irish, or those that think they’re Irish, or those that wish they could think they’re Irish. I don’t. I just don’t wanna have to do any fuckin’ four leaf clovers.
I swear, as soon as New Years is over, every fucker who wants a tat suddenly decides he’s fuckin’ Irish.  The closer to March 17, the more likely it is the dude’ll be too pissed to see straight, demanding I give ’em a shamrock on the balls or somethin’. Try tellin’ a drunk fuck you can’t do his ink because his blood’s thin and he’ll bleed all over the fuckin’ floor. The next thing you know, you’re rollin’ on the tiles as the dickhead screams about you denyin’ his heritage. Then, there’s blood on the floor anyways. And it sure as shit ain’t mine. Still don’t make it any more fun to clean up.
I tried switchin’ shifts early this year, but Trey’s already planned to be drunk in anticipation of sitting his black ass down and celebrating his “Irish” heritage proper, and my boss is the one who handed me the shit gig in the first place. So it’s gonna be me and the piercing chick (whatever her name is, piercing chick #7, I guess; they come and go like there’s a revolvin’ door) and I don’t think she’s gonna be much help.
I’m gonna tell ’em they gotta take a breathalyzer test by law and the machine’s broke.
I’m gonna lock the fucking door and make ’em show me what they want before I let ’em in. 
I’m gonna tell ’em I’m out of green ink. 
Fuck it. I’m gonna do the four leaf clovers. I’m just gonna charge ’em triple. They’ll all be too wasted to notice.
So, call to check my schedule.  I’ll give you a discount if you don’t want nothin’ Irish (no shamrocks, no Celtic, druid or pagan crap, no leprechauns, not even one of those ugly ass setter dogs). 
If want any of the above, you’d best be ready to pay, and feel some pain.
Now that I’ve got y’all all worked up, Avery wanted me to tell y’all that she’s got some book or nother coming out on Thursday.  Tells me it’s got some familiar people in it, whatever that means.  I don’t read much, but I guess y’all might.  So, there ya go.  I told ya about it.  You’ve been given official notice, so don’t let her give me shit about it, later.

Religion’s Dead–Or on Walkabout

Spider, here.
When I was a kid, I thought a monster was under my bed. I could hear him hissin’ and growlin’ under there. My ma told me it was the radiator and stop being such a retard. Didn’t convince me, tho. I knew. It was down there, waitin’. The next time it started hissin’, I yelled again. This time my ma came in with a baseball bat. She told me to shut up ’cause she was busy and if the thing came creepin’ up the foot of my bed like i said it was, to hit it in the damn head. I held that chunk of wood and knew there wouldn’t be any more noises after that. Just like I believed in the monster, I believed in that bat.
Later on, when birdie powder and bad boyfriends made my ma more likely to hit me with a bat than gimme one, my beliefs still were about that bat. It was solid. It would deliver pain–and sometimes save me from it. I did some things with that bat most of you’d turn away from. I did some things all of you would say I’m a bad person for. If I am or not, well, that’s not part of this, so I ain’t gonna get into it. It’d end up a big circle of a talk with no answer at the end, anyways. Might as well leave it.
In high school, right about when that bat started gettin’ me into too much shit, I found something else to believe in. A new student from Bal’more named Resonance. She looked to me like this surly girl who’d just as much kick you in the teeth as say somethin’, but the funny thing ’bout her was she liked to pretend she was invisible most of the time. She’d slink around the halls, duckin’ past whatever was in her way, makin’ sure she didn’t have to look at no one. But, every once in a while, someone would do somethin’ she couldn’t overlook and she’d pop out of the shadows and it was all fangs and fury for a good thirty seconds. Then, she’d disappear again.
She still likes to think I didn’t see her, didn’t notice her until she noticed me. That ain’t the truth. I saw her. I watched her, waited to see if she’d ever drop the invisible shit and just be, you know? Then I pulled some shit in class one day and she just–exploded. Not in a crazy, gun-toting, school-burning way, or anythin’. You know that Wizard of Oz movie, where everything is black and white, and then the chick in the house lands and, boom, it’s all color? That’s what it was. She turned to color. And everthin’ around her did the same.
After that, I didn’t need that bat. Life was alive ’cause she was. The walls were colored for her. Music was there so she could pull me into the pit and thrash around like we were forged from anger itself. The air was there just so her mouth could go on lettin’ out whatever the fuck it was she felt like sayin’. 
When the stepdad from hell started layin’ in on me, she’d tell me it’d be okay someday soon. And it was like I finally understood those people who stuffed themselves into their good clothes to pack the churches on Sunday. She spoke. I believed. She became my church. My religion. 
Now the church is empty. And I can’t go back. That bat’s just a hunk of wood. Even that monster can’t get ahold of me, now. My beliefs changed and all that lived before she walked in on my life has washed down the drain like dirty water. I’m clean. Born again. I embraced the color and then the world went all gray again. I saw the light, then the light upped and split.
Shit.

The Easy Thing of Breathing

Spider, here.
When people go away, the ones left always say, “I can’t live without ’em.”  It’s a feelin’, sure and certain, deep down.  It tells us that’s how things are gonna be. But, the cigarettes disappear from the box, the boxes vanish from the carton, and each day rolls into the next, an endless trudge of smoke and grief.  Even tho’ that damn feelin’ keeps gnawin’ our insides into slush, we keep pullin’ in the next breath. We stay alive. 
Life sucks, plain and simple. No matter how much we wanna lay down and die, it keeps beatin’ the shit out of us day after day. The only way to stop it is to blow your fuckin’ brains out. If that ain’t your cup of piss, then the sun keeps on comin’ up, the seasons change, and the days march ahead, draggin’ you along like the prisoner you finally realize you are. 
I didn’t think I’d make it thru Christmas. I thought time was gonna stop, the air would dry up, and I’d die on the floor of my apartment like a floppin’ fish stranded on an island of grungy laundry. 
And then it didn’t happen. 
I dunno how I feel about that. 
Still, the happy crapfest is over and I can breathe a little–for now, anyways. Her birthday is soon. She’ll be twenty-three. I got her present wrapped and waitin’, like I still got the one from Christmas. I guess they’ll stack up until I see the end of this thing, or it sees the end of me. I already found out that last one probably ain’t gonna happen, so they’ll just sit and collect dust for her–collect it in my place, I guess.

That Time of Year

Yeah, Spider here.  Still.  I ain’t lookin’ forward to Christmas much, even less than usual. With Res not around, it’s like, what’s the point, you know? Even tho’ I don’t remember much about Christmases with her; we’d start drinkin around noon on Christmas Eve and wouldn’t stop until just ’bout New Year. That part don’t matter. She was there. I remember that.
When I was a kid, Christmas wasn’t a big deal. Sometimes we had a tree. Sometimes we didn’t. Most times there were no presents. None for me, anyway. It’s like those people who make commercials and sing songs and write cards don’t get real life. They build up this dream picture of what should be goin’ on, snow and skating and stuff. For most people snow is never gonna happen. In D.C. it’s pretty damn close to never. They sing ’bout fires (and not the one every year at the crackhouse down the street) and chestnuts, and talk ’bout families hanging together and laughing and singing. For a lot of us, it just ain’t that way. Makes a little guy hate it when December comes. Makes a teenager hate the sight of a tree. Makes a man just want to drink ’til it’s all over.
That’s where she came in. Didn’t try to get me see the error of my ways–even tho’ she dug Christmas up until last year. Didn’t shove stupid hats on my head or bring a tree to my place to set up. She just hung and made it like any other day. I guess by doing that, she made it okay for it to be Christmas.
So, to all you fuckers out there standing around your fires and singing your songs, know you’re lucky. To the rest, the shop’ll be open. Come on in and I’ll give you the present you really want, the one your Mama will hate.
Merry Christmas, Res. I miss you, girl.