Posts Tagged ‘excerpt’

All you measly humans, fall to your knees! Scream in awe and horror! Get out the beer and ice cream! In less than three weeks, Rose has attained ten reviews on Amazon!

Well actually, eleven reviews. Across Amazon’s American, Canadian, and British sites, the majority of which are on the American. But I’m making a big deal out of it anyway.

So if you have no idea what I’m going on about, well first off, you must be very new here. Welcome to the blog and to the Followers of Fear. I hope you have a scary good time with us. Second, Rose is my fantasy-horror novel which was released three weeks ago by Castrum Press. It’s my first book with a publisher (I’ve self-published previously), and is the result of about five years of work, starting in college as a senior thesis. For what it’s about, here’s the back cover blurb:

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.

Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.

But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.

As Rose struggles to understand what is happening to her, she must navigate Paris’s lies and secrets; secrets that Paris will do anything to protect.

I’m over the moon that so many people have read the book and left reviews. Not only are reviews great ways to give writers such as myself feedback on what worked and didn’t work, but it’s also a great way to let other readers know if a book is worth their time. And apparently a lot of people think this novel was worth their time.

And what reviews, too! Author of the Portia Adams mystery novels, colleague and friend Angela Misri posted this on Amazon Canada:

Rose is one of those characters (like Carrie in Stephen King’s book) who pulls you into the story, wrapping herself around you, making it impossible to stop reading.

Being compared to Carrie. I consider that an honor.

On the British version, this anonymous Amazon customer left this review (which has been shortened to avoid spoilers):

This is my first encounter with Rami Ungar, and, I must say, it was an enjoyable one. The story gets you hooked right from the beginning and it doesn’t loose much steam all the way through. I liked the rhythm of the story – it’s alert, spot on, with very few dead moments. If you like slow burning, atmospheric novels, then this is definitely not gonna be up your alley.

The story itself isn’t something new, but it’s well written and very easy to follow. If you’re not a native English speaker, you will read this book with flying colours, as the author tends to use a simple and concise wording, avoiding obscure idioms or long poetic metaphors.
The story is not extremely gory like in a Serge Brussolo one, nor is it a contemplative one, like in a Michelle Paver one -I’d say it’s somewhere in the middle, with a few good twists and surprises. Characthers development is quite good, and by the end of your reading you’ll really root and feel for Rose.

And on the American website, the reviews have made my heart warm, my horns sharp, and my wings unfurl. Here’s what people are saying:

This book starts with a surreal quality (I mean, human-plant thing, hello!), but even in the midst of that bizarre stuff it’s easy to follow. The protagonist, Rose, is turning into a rose. I kept thinking, “Oh, the poor woman!” And then the story turns into something so scary that I kept holding my breath as I was reading.

The tension between Rose and Paris (and between other characters, too) kept me turning pages.

There is a disembodied laugh in the second chapter that ignites a mystery, and the mystery isn’t solved until almost the end of the book. It’s sort of a B-story, but more like a layer of the main story. I loved this added complexity to the plot.

The fight scenes are excellent! They are well-written, easy to picture, and full of excitement.

And then there’s the twist that I should have seen coming but totally didn’t. Fabulous fun.

The book has a fem-lit overtone having to do with how men are supposed to treat women in relationships. Rose’s thoughts got a little preachy on the matter, so I took off half a star for that.

There are a few typos, like calling Chrissy “Christy” later on, and Paris comes out “Pairs” once. But the typos are few and far between and didn’t affect my reading experience. I didn’t take off any stars for this.

Rose is a fun, scary, and crazy-imaginative book. I super enjoyed reading it. 4.5 stars!

–Priscilla Bettis

Rami Ungar’s Rose is frightening from the first sentence. He creates a world of steadily deepening terror, built not just on power, but on deception and mind games. Ungar is a smart writer who isn’t afraid to leaven the darkness with wit, and the book’s plot gallops along beautifully. No wonder so many reviewers call it a page-turner. It’s irresistible to see what will come next, and always a surprise.

–June Star

This short novel starts off as if in a bad dream. Unfortunately for our main character, Rose, everything is all too real. The ancient spell that saved her life also changed her body from human to a trans-humanoid-rose. Getting back her memory and trying to remember her love and relationship with her savior, Paris, is the least of her worries. The real threat is yet to come and what will Rose do to overcome it?
The book was a page turner for me and one I didn’t want to stop reading. I liked the challenges that Rose faced. Rami was clear with his settings and situations. His characters had depth. The Japanese gods and demons concept was refreshing and deliciously twisted.
I like that this is a stand alone novel. (I am sick to death of series.) It’s a good read and I would read this author again.

–a girl is not no one

This is a solid novel. It’s always entertaining and surprising. The premise reminds me of Kafka and the book never fails to deliver the ups and downs of the protagonist while moving a solid plot forward. Enjoy!


I could go on, but I doubt you would keep reading if I kept tooting the proverbial horn.

Suffice to say, I am so thankful for so many people leaving their reviews on Amazon (and on Goodreads, but I’ll post about that another time). It means a lot to me that you’re enjoying Rose and are willing to spread the word about it. I can only hope that more people will check out the book soon and maybe give their own thoughts on the novel.

If you’d like to check out Rose on any of these sites, or just read a short excerpt, I’ll post the links below. And as always, thanks again for following and supporting me. I couldn’t do it without you. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares!

Rose Excerpt

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK


Well, today’s a very special day. Of course, it is my birthday, and I think that’s a very special occasion (feel free to disagree, but don’t expect me to thank you for disagreeing with me). How old am I? Older than 21, and that’s all I’m going to say on the matter (identity theft is rampant these days, after all).

But there’s another reason to celebrate today. Those of you who’ve been here a while might remember that, three years ago, I released a thriller/horror novel by the name of Snake. It was inspired by various different works, such as the movie Taken, slasher films from the 1980’s and 1990’s, and James Patterson novels (I was devouring Alex Cross novels during my first year or two of college, until they got repetitive and boring). It was a fun story to write, allowing me to explore my darker side as well as write a different sort of protagonist than usually shows up in fiction. I still love this story and its characters, and I hope to someday revisit them in a sequel.

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

How far will you go for love and revenge? When a young man’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the powerful Camerlengo Family, he becomes the Snake, a serial killer who takes his methods from the worst of the Russian mafia. Tracking down members of the Camerlengo Family one by one for clues, the Snake will go to any lengths to see the love of his life again…even if it means becoming a worse monster than any of the monsters he is hunting.

Sounds dark and dangerous, doesn’t it? And the reviews seem to agree:

I really enjoyed this book. When I selected “dark” for the mood, it was almost a toss up with suspenseful. You knew early on who the mafia killer was, but the question of how he was going to find his girlfriend and rescue her was suspenseful. I ended up choosing “dark” because of the level of violence our main character used in getting to the girlfriend. But he was a complex character. Even though he definitely had the dark side to him, there was a surprisingly good side to him, too. You don’t really see this until later on in the book. So early on, you might think this is an unredeemable character. But one of the most intriguing characters are those who aren’t what they initially seem, and for this reason, I enjoyed this character. The pacing was just right. It wasn’t rushed, and in no way did I ever feel it dragged, which is awesome for a book that was over 500 pages in paperback.

This book is violent, and it contains sexual situations. Some of it can be cringeworthy. So I wouldn’t suggest this for young readers. I’d recommend this only to adults. If it was a movie, it would be a strong R. There’s also swearing. These things don’t bother me as a reader, but I know it bothers some, which is why I mention it. But if you don’t mind these elements, I think you will enjoy this book. It’s a great thriller.

–Ruth Ann Nordin, author of The Reclusive Earl

Rami Ungar makes a promise to (the reader) in all his writings: he WILL scare you, and if he does “his job is done.” Snake will scare you. I am a huge Stephen King fan, so this should give you some idea of my tolerance level for gore, death and mayhem – I was scared. Rami takes you into places you would never have believed possible, and manages to pull his hero (and eventually his heroine) out of them against all odds. If you like to be scared. If you LOVE to be scared. You should read this book.

–Angela Misri, author of Jewel of the Thames

I’m someone who really enjoys horror stories/darker reads, and because of this I am very picky with my ratings of these types of books. I’ve seen most plots and plot twists, so I’m not taken by surprise very often and I am VERY stingy with positive reviews since the type of stories I like usually all have a similar plot.

That being said…I LOVED this book. I’ve seen this type of story before, but the way Rami Ungar crafts a cliché plot into a suspenseful, brutal, and rhythmic story puts Snake into a category all of its own. If you’re squeamish, you have been warned that there are some really graphic scenes in this novel.

If you’re a fan of dark plots, this book is a 100% must read.

Chasley T.*

If this has at all made you want to check out Snake (or if you just want to give me a nice gift for my birthday), you can get an e-book or paperback copy from the following links below. And if you like (or hate) what you read, please leave a review and let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers, and the more reviews I get, the more people who might consider reading the book find it. I’m also including a link for an excerpt, in case you want to have a read before you buy. You’re welcome!

That’s all for now. I’m off to celebrate my birthday with a scary movie (review coming later today, hopefully), and then have German food with my sister and mom. I hope you enjoy reading Snake (or any of my books), and wish you a good one. Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

Available from AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Read an excerpt here.

*Removed from Amazon because Amazon thought the review was spam or something. How rude!

VR CS front cover

As promised, I’m doing a whole lot of prep and promo for Video Rage. I think I might be putting out a new VR-related post every Sunday up until the book comes out. By the time June 1st roles around, you’re probably either going to be very excited for this book, or you’ll be sick of me talking about it. I’m really hoping it’s the first one.

Anyway, this Sunday I’ll be doing as promised and posting an excerpt from the first chapter of VR. If you’re curious as to what my writing style is like when I’m writing fiction and not blogging, this is a pretty good way to get a sense of it. It takes place not too long after the end of Reborn City, and tells us what the Hydras have been up to since the end of the first book.

If, at the end of this excerpt, you find you like what you’re reading, you can pre-order the e-book version of Video Rage from Amazon. If you would like to read the first book before you do that, though, you can read an excerpt for that here and then find RC  on Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & NobleNook, and Smashwords, with more sites to follow in the next couple of days (if all goes according to schedule).

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the excerpt. Happy reading. I’m off to conduct interviews with some of the characters of Video Rage (for the character interviews from Reborn City, check out the Interviews page). Have a good one, my Followers of Fear!

August 1, 28 AB (2056 AD)

On Interstate 70 to Denver

The sunbaked concrete and metal shimmered in the hundred-plus degree heat, while the many cars and trucks reflected light off their chrome bodies like blinding beasts zooming down the highway. As truckers listened to country and rock music and children played video games on the backs of their parents’ car seats, some occasionally looked out to see a marvel of the modern world on the road. Five black hoverbikes, each with two people straddling the seats, zoomed between vehicles as they floated a few feet above the ground. Those who saw them marveled, paying no attention to the riders, who would’ve warranted their own attention if the drivers knew who they were.

Zahara Bakur, age fifteen, caramel skin, brown-eyed and until recently blonde, deftly maneuvered her hoverbike between an SUV and a motor home. Twisting the throttle, she slipped in front of the motor home and checked to see where the other four bikes were. Fox and Iori floated between two cars while Kevlar and Rico appeared from behind a semi. Not too far away Alto and Owl were trying to get in front of a minivan going too slow in the left lane, while Rip and Miguel were—

Zahara blinked, unable to find them. Where did Rip and Miguel go? At once she felt the familiar biting fear, the sense of impending doom. Where did they go? Her heart was hammering. She was about to give the signal to alert the others when the hoverbike appeared a few cars ahead, shifting from behind a boat to the next lane over. Zahara sighed with relief as Rip and Miguel fell back a bit and rejoined the rest of the group. For a moment there, she’d feared the worst.

Up ahead, Miguel raised his right arm and pointed his index finger towards the sky. From behind Zahara, Ilse called out “Finally!” and raised her arm to signal the others that a rest stop was up ahead. Iori raised her arm a second later, followed by Owl and Rico’s arms as well. When Miguel saw that all the arms were raised, he let his fall back to his side and tapped Rip on the shoulder. A moment later, their hoverbike was listing to the right-bound lane, getting in line for the exit. Zahara banked to the right as well and fell in line behind them. A squeeze on the shoulder from Ilse a moment later told her the others had gotten into the turn lane as well.

As they turned into a large parking lot with a fuel station and a large indoor food court, Rip led the Hydras around the parking lot and to the pumps, pulling into the first available one he could find. Miguel and Rip slid off the bike, the former joyfully stretching his limbs while the latter pulled off his sunglasses and went to examine the pump.

As Zahara waited for a space to open up, Ilse slid off the bike and said, “I’m gonna head to the bathrooms, sweetie. Ya want me to grab ya anything on the way back?”

“Could you just see if they have any veggie burgers?” Zahara asked as the driver of a pre-War Mercedes slid into the driver’s seat and turned the engine on. “That’s as close to halal as we’re gonna get.”

Zahara had just taught the Hydras the other day about the diet observant Muslims ate. Although they said they understood it, Zahara thought that the others found the whole concept a little mystifying, especially the prohibitions against pork and alcohol.

The Mercedes drove off and Zahara slid into its spot, switching off the engine and swinging her legs over the seat. Taking off her helmet, she shook her hair out, letting it free for the first time in several hours. Since they had left Reborn City, all the Hydras had been taking pains to disguise themselves so as not to be recognized. Zahara had let her hair go back to its natural brown color and had even cut it so that it just barely brushed her shoulders. Personally, she was glad she wasn’t a blonde anymore, something she’d only put up with because her mother thought it would help her fit in. And besides, it made blending in easier.

Zahara felt eyes on her and glanced to see Rip looking at her. As soon as she looked though, Rip turned back to the pump console, selecting what sort of fuel he needed. Seeing him only reminded Zahara that she wasn’t the only one looking different. Not long after leaving Reborn City, Rip had dyed his hair to what he called his original hair color. It was actually a nice shade of brown, warm and soft like a teddy bear’s fur. She actually thought Rip looked better with it, especially now that he was letting his hair grow out of that military buzz cut of his. And of course Rip never said it himself, but Zahara got the feeling that he liked it better too.

Turning back to the console, Zahara selected the “Credit Pay” option, and then inserted her trick card. The thin piece of plastic, which contained a virus in its computer chip, fooled the computer in the pump’s console into thinking she’d given the machine a legitimate credit card, and unlocked the nozzle for her. She didn’t like using the trick card—it somehow made her feel dirty—but desperate times called for desperate measures, and these were certainly desperate times.

Zahara looked at the Hydras, the ones that had stayed behind to refill tanks, and saw that each one of them looked guarded, like they were expecting an attack at any moment. As she knew all too well, every single one of them had good reason to look that way. Just a few hours after they had bolted out of Reborn City on the stolen motorbikes, a bulletin had hit the Internet that the Hydras were being classified as Class A terrorists by the Parthenon Company for blowing up their Worldwide Headquarters.

Of course, the Hydras knew the story was a lie. 011, the insane super-soldier that Parthenon had created with an advanced mutation formula, had blown up the Parthenon building when he had used his strange explosion ability in a room full of hydrogen gas. However, the rest of the world didn’t know about 011, who the Hydras really were, or that Parthenon had been experimenting with human test subjects to create super-soldiers like the Hydra leaders. And since Parthenon was the reigning government in several cities across the continent, they had the ability to create a story that suited their purposes and no one would contradict it.

And according to the official story, the Hydras were originally just a normal street gang, but the addition of a radical terrorist into their ranks caused them to turn to terrorism in the name of a sick religion which wanted to expand its influence across the world. That radical terrorist was supposed to be Zahara, who made the perfect scapegoat because she was a Muslim, and therefore, in the eyes of the world, she was born dangerous and hateful.

Since the bulletin had gone out, the Hydras had had to be very careful about being seen in public, especially on the highways where they were sitting ducks for any law enforcement, military groups or bounty hunters wanting to catch Class A terrorists. Aside from hair changes with Rip and Zahara, Owl wore sunglasses most of the time to mask his yellow eyes. Each had changed their appearance in small but significant ways. They had even erased their Hydra tattoos using a tattoo-removal gadget that Max Frimms had given them back in Reborn City.

But the biggest change of all was in terms of clothing. Once wearing black had been considered sacred to the Hydras. Now, they would wear any color but black. As Rico had said on the night the bulletin had gone out, “The bikes are already a huge giveaway. We gotta do ev’rything we can so we doan get caught.”

Not that Zahara minded. The summer was hot, and it felt good to be in a grey cotton T-shirt and white shorts, even if the shorts did go above her knees. And the others seemed to like it too, even if they did seem a little hesitant to try on new colors.

There was a beeping noise and Zahara pulled the pump out of the fuel hatch. As she did, she felt something cold and wet on her neck and gave a surprised squeak. Turning around, she saw Ilse holding a can of soda and two bags with a dancing burger-man above the logo.

“Got yo’ burger, sweetie.” said Ilse, handing Zahara one of the bags. “An’ by the way, did anyone tell ya yo’ really cute when yo’ surprised?”

“Cut it out, Ilse!” said Zahara, pouting. “I’m nervous enough as it is.”

“Sorry, babe,” said Ilse. “Just lookin’ to let off a little stress. Come on, let’s get goin’ an’ have some lunch.”

As the others finished fueling up their bikes, they drove out of the fuel station and to a shady little copse of trees next to the food court. Sitting under the shade, the Hydras ate their lunches as parents tried to keep their kids from running too far away and dogs chased after Frisbees. A couple of times Ilse and Zahara tried to start a conversation with the others, remarking on the heat or that boys were wearing sequins on their clothes these days. Mostly there was silence, and after a while they stopped trying and decided to focus on eating, which made it easier to watch the crowds anyway.

As they finished their lunches and started heading back to the hoverbikes, a large black SUV pulled into a stop next to Alto’s bike. Several college kids wearing University of Toledo shirts tumbled out of the SUV’s doors, laughing and shouting as they gathered around a girl with a tablet.

“Come on, let’s roll,” said Rip, revving the engine. “We can make the outskirts o’ Denver by nightfall.”

“Let’s move quick,” said Miguel, eyeing the students from the SUV. One of them had just looked at the Hydras and had said something to the girl holding the tablet, who was now looking something up as fast as her finger would let her surf. All the while the others were looking up and staring at the Hydras on their motorbikes.

Before the girl with the tablet could finish her search, the Hydras zoomed out of their parking spaces, leaving the teens from the SUV choking on their dust. As they drove away, Zahara glanced back in worry. She wondered if perhaps the teens had identified them. And if they hadn’t, how many close calls would they have before someone actually did find them and identify them?

I’m telling you, I have been wanting to see this movie since I first heard of it, and it was killing me inside that I couldn’t see it when I was in Germany…or right after I got home. I was a fan of the books when I was a kid, and some of them even scared me so bad that I needed to take breaks from them. They were my King before I got into King. It really hurt me physically not to indulge in my childhood nostalgia and go see this film. But tonight my dad had some free time, and he was like, “Want to go see a movie?” So I said yes. And suffice to say, I was not at all disappointed (and neither was my dad, thankfully).

Based on the beloved series of children’s horror books by R.L. Stine (who by the way is Jewish, from the neighborhood I grew up in, and went to Ohio State. Coincidence? Probably), Goosebumps stars Jack Black as the author himself, living a reclusive lifestyle in the small town of Madison, Delaware with his teenager daughter Hannah. When Zach Cooper moves next door and becomes attracted to Hannah, he starts investigating the mysterious family next door and accidentally causes the monsters from the Goosebumps books–who are very real–to be released from their manuscripts and go on a rampage. Now Zach, Hannah, and R.L. Stine have to get the monsters back in their books before they tear Madison apart.

Let me just say, this was a movie with a lot of love and hard work put into it (unlike some other films taking advantage of people’s childhood nostalgia I could name). The story is very well written, and even has some twists in it that I didn’t see coming, and I pride myself on usually being able to see the twists in scary movies. The humor is also very good, keeping the mood of the movie light without getting too ridiculous or stupid. And the actors are just great. Jack Black plays Stine as a misanthrope who finds some way to steal every scene he’s in, while Dylan Mimette (who I’ve always liked whenever I’ve seen him in other works like Scandal or Agents of SHIELD) as Zach is funny and sarcastic and likeable, the kind of guy I’d like to hang out with.

The only characters I really had problems with are Champ, Zach’s friend, and Hannah, R.L. Stine’s daughter. Champ is comic relief, and while he’s funny as an awkward teen who just inserts himself into Zach’s life because…maybe he’s lonely and hopes the new kid is too slow to learn to avoid him? I don’t know, but the moments where the humor is a little much do come from him mostly, and he doesn’t contribute much to the story otherwise. As for Hannah…she’s just really there to be a love interest. And unlike River Song from Doctor Who, who was created for that very purpose, there’s not much to her beyond that role she plays. Her actress, Israeli Odeya Rush, is fun and gives off a snarky teen vibe, but that only does so much for the character.

Of course, I can’t forget the monsters. That’s the main attraction, the reason people who grew up with the books came to see the movies, because that’s what they remember most. Now obviously, in a movie that’s an hour and forty-five minutes and has to spend time developing characters and getting to the main conflict of the story, you can only spend so much time on each and every monster, which means a lot of them only appear in big group shots, but even in those you see a lot of work went into them. And for the monsters they focus on, they are great. Yeah, a lot of them are CGI, but even then they’re fun to watch. They make you believe they’re there and that we should be scared of them.  And Slappy the dummy, who leads the monsters, is like a little mini-Joker. He’s not the best villain I’ve seen on film, but as a talking dummy who enjoys causing chaos for chaos’s sake and to get back at Stine, he does the job well.

I could go over some other thoughts I had about the film, but I’ll leave that for the YouTube critics who around next Halloween will be putting out videos going over this movie with a fine-tooth comb. I think instead I’ll just wrap up by saying that this is a fun and wacky horror-comedy, earning a 4.1 out of 5. It may not get kids to read the Goosebumps books if they haven’t read them before, but it’s fun for the whole family and if you know the Goosebumps books already, you’ll enjoy seeing them on screen.

By the way, having the characters from my stories come to life is something of a dream of mine. I always feel like a parent to my stories and the characters within though, so I think if they did come to life I’d have a very different experience than R.L. Stine in the movie did. In fact, if I were to write a story about what that experience would be like, it might start something like this (#ExcerptSunday, anyone?):

The author heard his alarm go off and opened his eyes reluctantly. He wanted to go back to sleep, but today he really couldn’t afford to sleep in, even if he had the day off. So still feeling sleepy, he rolled out of bed, turned off his alarm, and headed to the bathroom. A few minutes later, teeth brushed and freshly shaved, he stepped into the hall, thinking about what he was going to wear and all the errands he was going to run today…when he noticed a tiger in the hallway.

The author froze. Even with his glasses still in his room, he knew what he was seeing. Tawny coat, black stripes, big face with whiskers and yellow eyes. There was no mistaking it. There was a tiger in his house. Am I dreaming? he thought. Am I still in bed?

The tiger padded towards him, its breathing heavy. Before the author could think how best to react, it stood up on its hind legs, placed both paws on either side of his head against the wall, and licked his face. The author, dumbfounded and amazed, could only laugh as the rough tongue scratched gently at his cheek. What is going on? he wondered, pinching himself to see if he was dreaming.

The tiger stepped down and rubbed its head against his stomach. And suddenly the author realized that this wasn’t a tiger, but a tigress. And even stranger, he knew this tigress. He knew her very well. After all, he was her father.

“Lizzy?” he said, hardly daring to believe. The tigress regarded him with intelligent eyes before turning around and padding down the stairs. The author wanted to call after her, but then something black streaked out of his room and past his face. He jumped as the black thing briefly stopped and formed a familiar body in the air before rushing down the stairs. Confused, the author went to his room, and saw someone had laid his clothes out for him.

For a moment, the author did nothing. Then he whispered, “Is this really happening?” Then, “Do I dare believe it?” Quickly the author threw his clothes and glasses on and rushed downstairs, where the biggest surprise of all awaited him:

The black shadow he’d seen earlier and the tigress were there. So was a wolf and a leopard. And scores of children, children he knew to be much more than they appeared. And a masked man dressed all in black, talking to a woman with green skin and pink hair. And a man with a gas mask, and a Grim Reaper, and a raven-like creature, and a hairless cat who sidled up to him and said, “Surprised?”

The author picked up the hairless cat, feeling like he’d ingested some amazing drug without realizing it, and said, “Very. How is this possible?”

The cat didn’t answer, but instead purred loudly and climbed onto the author’s shoulder. Moving through the sea of people and creatures, who all greeted the author with smiles and warm words, he made it to the kitchen, where a teenage girl in a witch’s costume made a plate with a Belgian waffle on it and a mug full of black tea float from the counter to his normal seat at the table. Sitting down, the author thanked the witch and dug in. It was delicious.

“So,” said a man in the doorway, whose face and body were half-transformed into a familiar-looking demon. “Today’s your day off, and we’re all yours till tomorrow morning. How about you blow off the errands and do something fun? Huh?”

The author thought about it as he took a sip of tea. He was aware of so many eyes on him, hopeful and expectant. And then a devilish smile came to his face. He knew just what they were going to do today.

It’s Friday, so you know what that means: it’s #FirstLineFriday! And it’s our tenth #FirstLineFriday in a row, to boot. Wow, hard to believe ten weeks have gone by (five of them here in Germany, I think). Thanks everyone for reading these posts and giving your feedback on them. It’s really appreciated.

For those of you who don’t know, #FirstLineFriday is something that originated in a writers group on Facebook that I’m trying to spread through the blogosphere. What you do is you label a post #FirstLineFriday, then you post the first or first two lines of a potential work, work-in-progress, or published work and ask for feedback from your readers. This week’s entry comes from the short story that I mentioned a couple posts back, the one that’s quickly turning into a novelette. Here’s how I start it off:

Let me just start out by saying that besides computer programs and exam essays, I’ve never been very good at writing, so my apologies if my attempt at memoir narrative sucks.

Funnily enough as I was writing this, I was thinking to myself, “Exact opposite of me.”

But what do you guys think? Critiques? Errors? Let me know.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Tomorrow I’m finally going to Munich, which means I’ll probably be out all day and won’t come back to blog about my experiences till Sunday. I hope the wait isn’t agonizing for you until then.

Until next time, have a pleasant weekend!

Reborn City

I’ve been advertising my novel Reborn City a lot lately (and doubtless I’ll be doing some of that here too), but I thought this was interesting enough that it deserved a blog post.

Near the end of RC, I introduced hoverbikes, motorcycles that, instead of wheels, hover in the air much like the hoverboards seen in Back to the Future Parts II and III. The way they hover is through magnetic plates that act against the magnetic forces in the earth, allowing them to hover. The thing is, neither hoverboards  or hoverbikes exist, so for now they’re still just science fiction.

Or are they?

Last month, tech company Arx Pax unveiled its own hoverboard, which does apparently hover a few inches off the ground. They are currently funding research and construction through a Kickstarter campaign which at this time has surpassed its original goal of two-hundred fifty-thousand dollars and made over four-hundred thirty-six thousand dollars. Backers have the option of getting their own Developers Kit or “White Box”, which allows them to create their own hover devices. Check out their campaign video.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it? Apparently the science behind it also revolves around magnetic forces, though not the same kind that the hoverbikes in Reborn City use. What the Hendo Hoverboard does is manipulate magnetic fields, which creates flux, or changing magnetic fields. In conductive surfaces like metals, it creates current, and according to a law known as Lenz’s Law, the current will create its own magnetic field which will act in opposition to the original flux. With enough flux, the magnetic fields will repel each other and, in the case of the Hendo Hoverboard, cause it to levitate (thanks to the Nerdist channel for explaining this to me. Click here for their video explaining the concept of the Hendo Hoverboard).

Now, the Hendo Hoverboard does have its limitations. It can only work on certain circumstances, it’s loud, and it has a short battery life. But part of the hopes of its creators, as expressed in the video above, is that people who buy a Developer Kit will be able to make breakthroughs and develop the technology further. With technology progressing in amazing new ways each and every day, and with people in high school developing amazing new programs or devices (like this kid who developed his own smart gun) we could be seeing new developments in this field within the next decade or so, enough that Wikipedia might stop calling hoverborads a”fictional device”.

And since Reborn City takes place in the year 2056, or about 41 years from when those first developer kits get shipped, there’s plenty of time to fine-tune the technology and find new applications for it, including in creating hoverbikes. Perhaps even utilizing the design that I made for the ones in Reborn City.

Below I’m including an excerpt from RC featuring the first appearance of the hoverbikes, which will also feature in the sequel Video Rage. If you’re interested in checking out RC, it’s on sale through Friday on Amazon and Smashwords, and there’s still a giveaway to participate in for a free copy. Hope you like what you read, Followers of Fear. And I’ll try to stop myself from talking anymore about RC till Friday, but I make no promises. HYDRAS!


When they were all safely inside, Harvey closed the door and pointed to a row of crates sitting under a single, unlit light bulb. The crates, five in all, were large and rectangular, and were marked with big red letters that read HEAVY BULK OBJECT.

            “D’ya guys want help openin’ ‘em up?” asked Harvey.

            “I got it.” said Rip. Extending his claws, he went to the crate closest to him and cut through the nails holding one of the sides to the rest of the crate. The wooden side fell with a loud clatter, revealing the hoverbike inside. It looked like a regular motorcycle, except it seemed more box-like and instead of wheels had two half-circle panels at each end. The entire thing had been painted black, even the handles and panels.

            “Huh.” said Rip. “I thought it’d be mo’ showy.”

            “Them rich kids prob’bly wanted to do the paint job,” said Fox. “Give it their own gang colors an’ shit.”

            Iori scoffed. “Never say ‘gang’ an’ ‘rich kids’ in the same sentence.”

            With Harvey’s help, Rip lifted the hoverbike up and out of the crate. The key, a small plastic rod with an electronic laser identification tag at the end, was wrapped around one of the handles with a small metal chain. Unwrapping the chain from the handle and setting the key in the ignition, Rip tried to start up the engine.

            There was a loud rumbling sound from within and the hoverbike rose a foot and a half into the air, bobbing slightly where it stopped. From beneath the panels there was a faint blue glow, probably from the magnets, Zahara guessed. Everyone around Zahara gasped and stared at the hoverbike.

            “Wow.” said Ilse. “’Kind of ‘em to put the gas in ‘fore we needed ‘em.”

            “Y’all mind if I test it out fo’ ya guys?” asked Harvey.

            “Be our guest.” said Rip, gesturing to the bike.

            Harvey swung his foot over the hoverbike and sat in the seat. It dipped slightly but other than that did not react to the new weight that had been added to it.

            Harvey sat there for a second, looking like he was trying to get his excitement under control. “Alright.” he said. “Now how the fuck d’ya drive this thing—?” Harvey twisted the throttle and the hoverbike sped forward. He lost his grip and fell off the bike, landing in Rip’s arms with a loud grunt. Both of them fell to the ground, neither really hurt but both looking shaken. A few yards away the hoverbike had come to a stop, hovering serenely as if nothing had happened.

            “Shit.” said Harvey.

            “That bastard’s gonna take some practice.” Rico observed, looking at the bike.

            Zahara was still staring at it, not really listening to the others. She had seen what Harvey had done and thought that if he had just twisted the throttle slowly and hadn’t tried to move too quickly, he wouldn’t have fallen off the bike.

            I have to try it out. she thought, feeling like she was being drawn to it. I just have to know if I’m right. Before she realized it, Zahara was striding towards the bike and swinging her leg over the seat.

            “Zahara?” said Alto, and Zahara knew without looking that all the others were watching her. “What’re ya doin’?

            “Babe, are ya crazy?” said Ilse. “Ya can’t just get on the bike an’ expect t’ get it right on the first try when we haven’t even tested it out—!”

            But she ignored them. Bending over the handlebars, she twisted the throttle slowly. The bike sped forward, going at a pace that was slower than what had it had been going when Harvey had gotten on but still pretty fast. Feeling the air whipping around her, Zahara timed a turn and spun to the left as the wall neared. Navigating the maze of boxes and crates, she reappeared in front of the Hydras, braking with ease.

            Only when she looked at the others and saw their mouths hanging open did she realize what she had done: she had ridden a hoverbike without any previous practice and made it look easy. She looked at all of them, then at the bike, then back to the rest of them again.

            Finally Miguel closed his mouth and said, “Well, whaddya know? The chica’s a gangsta after all.”

            “Yeah.” said Owl. “The riding-a-hoverbike-like-it’s-easy-as-pie type of gangsta.”

            “Wow Zahara.” said Ilse, and Zahara felt herself glowing with pride and accomplishment.

Two months away.

Two months away.

It’s hard to believe. So much time has passed by, but you lose track of it and then these things just sneak up on you. I’m a little in shock. My youngest sister Liat is fourteen as of today. I remember when she was an itty-bitty baby, and now she’s a teenager with a really dark sense of humor. What happened in fourteen years?

But in all seriousness, two months from today my second novel Snake will hit the digital bookstores, where people can download it to their e-readers or order a print copy should they choose to do so. It’s been a very exciting process getting Snake ready for publication, and I’m looking forward to putting it out and hearing what people think of it.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Snake, here’s the blurb I’m using to advertise it:

How far will you go for love and revenge? When a young man’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the powerful Camerlengo Family, he becomes the Snake, a serial killer who takes his methods from the worst of the Russian mafia. Tracking down members of the Camerlengo Family one by one for clues, the Snake will go to any lengths to see the love of his life again…even if it means becoming a worse monster than any of the monsters he is hunting.

Sounds interesting, right? Either that or kind of twisted and creepy. I’ve gotten both reactions before. Anyway, I hope you’re looking forward to reading Snake as much as I am looking forward to you reading it. And if you want to read an excerpt from Snake, you can click here and do so. Or you can scroll down a little and watch the book trailer for Snake. I promise you, it’s veeery creepy.

Have a good day, my Followers of Fear! I know I am, and so is probably my sister. Happy Birthday, Liat. Don’t go too wild on your birthday, okay?

Reborn City

I didn’t get to do this with The Quiet Game (I forget why), so I’m doing it with Reborn City. Guess what:

Yes, seven days! Reborn City will be coming out November 1st in both print paperback and e-book formats. It’s been a long process, but it’s finally almost time! And I could not be more excited. Well I could be but I’m pretty sure it would involve illegal drugs, so I’ll stay at my normal levels of excitement.

You know, it’s been over four years since I first sat down and started writing Reborn City. I had an idea for a novel–possibly one with a sequel or two–on the way home from the library while listening to a CD with a lot of rap and rock music. I stopped by a Dairy Queen for a treat and started thinking about how to develop this idea, which had street gangs at the center of it and a sci-fi twist. Then at my sister’s birthday, after the cake and presents had been put away, I started writing some notes down in a journal. Then I started researching, and typing a manuscript, and then after many breaks and a lot of painstaking work over the course of two years, I finished the manuscript. Another year and a third of editing, eight months spent emailing chapters to my dear friend Matt Williams and making more adjustment based on his suggestions and the final copy was done. Finally I created a cover on CreateSpace (which you can see above) and I sent it all off to the copyright office.

A few months pass by, a book trailer comes out, and now we’re finally at the end of this long journey. I’m hoping for wonderful things to happen with this book. I’ve poured a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into RC, and I hope people really like reading it. It’s not as scary as some of my other work, so that may appeal to less fear-loving readers. And it’s sci-fi dystopian fiction, so considering today’s market that’s good to have.

But there’s more to it than that. The novel tackles some powerful themes, like racism and Islamaphobia, drugs and gang violence, and a number of other issues. And I’m hoping its those themes that will resonate with readers and help them fall in love with characters, rather than some dashing heroine and a couple of good-looking guys rebelling against a government that’s pure evil (how many franchises did I just describe there? I think I got Twilight in there too).

So without further ado, I’m going to give you guys a treat in honor of RC coming out. The first treat is the RC book trailer, which is right underneath the next paragraph. Immediately following the video is an excerpt from Chapter One of RC, for all your reading pleasure. I hope you like the video and the excerpt and that you’ll be interested in reading the actual book afterwards.

Also, if you haven’t already read them, please see my interviews with Zahara Bakur, Rip, and Jason Price, three very important characters from Reborn City. They’re very amazing people…though two of them did threaten to kill me for various reasons.

Reborn City, former Nevada

28 Anno Bombus (2056 CE)

June 28

Zahara and her family had decided to eat out at a restaurant in North Reborn that served kosher meat, the closest they could get to halāl. “I know it’s for Jews mostly, but it’s a very nice place and the Jews were very nice to us in New York.” Zahara’s father, Emir Bakur had said when he’d suggested it. “They know they don’t have to fear Muslims anymore. And the Chaplinsky family in 4F was nice enough, right?”

However Emir had taken a wrong turn on the still-unfamiliar streets and highways and they had somehow ended up in West Reborn. The sight of the place gave Zahara chills, and it just wasn’t the reports of gang violence: the area had a grittiness that Zahara didn’t like. The cold brown houses, the rusty lamp poles, the cracked, light-grey concrete. West Reborn looked unkempt, uncared for, like the city had kept up the other areas of the city but had forgotten about this one. The only buildings that looked in any good condition were casinos, bars, and strip clubs, displaying three-dimensional holograms of cash prizes and sexy women drinking beer while looking at passerby with bedroom eyes. The sight of them disgusted Zahara.

In the front of the car Emir and Aaliyah were arguing, trying to figure out how to get back to where they were going. Zahara closed her eyes and tried to let the music from her filepiece filter into her right ear. Surrendering to the small device, she wondered if she’d ever get out of this city and get back to New York where she belonged. Somehow, Zahara had a feeling she would never come to like Reborn City, no matter how much she lived here.

After a few more minutes of her parents arguing about which direction, Zahara opened her eyes again, prepared to tell them they should just check their phones for the directions. Her eyes widened as she saw an arm swing up from the sidewalk and throw a rock at the windshield. The glass cracked as the rock rebounded off the windshield and into the road. Aaliyah and Zahara screamed as Emir braked the car and jerked at the steering wheel. The car skidded to a screeching halt, the nose pointing towards the middle of the road.

Zahara saw her father unbuckle his seatbelt and before she could stop him, stepping out to inspect the damage. “What in the name of Allah—?” he said, but stopped as he heard the click of a jackknife being opened. He turned around and saw two men, one of whom was holding a long, deadly-looking blade. Leaning forward in her seat, Zahara could make out the details of the two men: both of the men had a ruddy tan complexion, were wearing green clothes, and had looks on their faces that said they did not like making new friends. On the neck of one Zahara could make out what looked like a tattoo of a pitchfork with a sombrero hung over the right prong.

One of them, who was large and muscular, spoke to Zahara’s father. “Hand over yo’ fuckin’ money an’ yo fuckin’ car.” he said with a Spanish accent. “Ya got that?”

“Sure!” said Zahara’s father, holding his hands up defensively, looking so unlike the corporate lawyer he was. “Just take it easy, okay? Just take it easy—!”

“Hurry the fuck up!” said the other man. “Who ya think yo messin’ with, estupido?” This man was thin and gangly and had a strange leer on his face, like he would rather punch Emir than talk to him.

“Okay, okay!” said Emir, backing back up to the door and turning off the engine. Zahara’s mother Aaliyah saw this and as her husband stood back up out of the car, unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the car door.

“Mother!” said Zahara in English. Aaliyah looked behind her to where her daughter was sitting on the edge of her seat, fists balled in her lap, chewing her lower lip. “Don’t go out there!” Zahara hissed; Zahara rarely used English with her parents and she was only using it now because she didn’t know if these two men in green were fans of Muslims or not. Either way, it was not a good time to find out.

Zahara’s mother looked at her daughter as if she’d gone mad. “I don’t have a choice, Zahara.” she said in Arabic, pushing a loose lock of hair back under her hijab. “Our car is being stolen.” She opened her door and slid out of the seat. Zahara watched with disbelief as her mother closed the car door. Did her mother think things would go peacefully?

Suddenly the skinny gangster stared at Zahara’s mother and pointed at her hijab. “Hey Manny!” said the skinny gangster. “Check out the headscarf. Musulmàns!”

The fat gangster, Manny, stared at Zahara’s mother, then turned back to Emir, his expression livid. “So, you thought you’d get the jump on us, huh?” he said, thrusting the knife at Zahara’s father. “Fuckin’ terrorist! Let us jack ya car an’ explode us too?”

Zahara winced. Fuckin’ terrorist. She had been right, these two men hated Muslims.

“No, that’s not it at all!” said Emir, looking terrified as the skinny gangster pulled out a gun. “Please, you have to believe me—!”

“Shaddup!” yelled Manny, stabbing Emir in the belly. Emir went rigid as the knife plunged into his belly, then collapsed as Manny pulled the blade out. Blood poured out of Zahara’s father, pooling around him in a big red circle.

Aaliyah screamed in horror, staring at her husband as tears flooded down her cheeks. “Emir!” she cried. “Emir—!”

The skinny gangster pulled out his gun and shot Aaliyah in the forehead; her eyes rolled into the back of her head as Zahara’s mother fell lifeless to the ground. Zahara gasped, trying to keep her tears and screams inside herself. If the gangsters saw her they’d kill her too. And maybe…just because she was a teenager and a girl…they’d do other stuff to her, too. Zahara shuddered to think of what they’d do to her if they did that too.

Manny was kicking Emir’s lifeless body casually, making sure he was dead. “Think they’d play us, did they?” he said to his companion. “Fuckin’ terrorists.”

“Yeah, well they’re shittin’ in hell now.” said the skinny gangster. “Shows what happens when ya mess with Diablos.”

“Yeah.” said Manny, looking up from Emir’s body. “Come on, let’s go—wait a minute.” Manny’s piggy little eyes fixed on Zahara in the backseat of her parent’s car. Zahara squeaked as Manny took two steps towards her. “Yo, Che. Come check this out.” Manny called to his friend, followed by something in Spanish. Zahara nearly froze up as she realized she’d been discovered.

Quickly Zahara unbuckled her seatbelt, threw open the car door and ran, throwing her filepiece as a distraction. Manny and Che jumped back as the filepiece hit the ground, probably thinking it was a grenade or something. By the time they realized their mistake, Zahara already had a head start on them. They set off after her, angrily yelling in Spanish at her. Zahara turned around, saw them catching up, and ran faster, determined to get away.

As Zahara ran, bumping into people and flying past holograms, she began to cry; her parents were dead, she was miles away from any familiar place and with no familiar people to help her. The heartache she was feeling was so intense that she could just keel over and die, but she wouldn’t die here, and she would not let herself be caught by the gangsters chasing after her. She’d get out of West Reborn, find the house (she still hadn’t thought of it as “home” yet), and then she’d call New York and get help. Or maybe kill herself. Either way, she had to get out.

The gangsters were only a few feet behind her. But a few blocks ahead there was a police station. Maybe, if she was able to get there, she’d be safe. She could tell the police what was going on, they’d arrest her parents’ murderers, and then she could go back to New York—

Suddenly Zahara tripped on a shifted slab of concrete and fell. Thrusting her hands out in front of her, Zahara cried out as she scraped her hands and knees. She tried to stand up again but then someone grabbed her shirt from behind and yanked her up. Zahara stared into the faces of Manny and Che, the Hispanic gangsters who had murdered her parents. Che grabbed Zahara’s arms and twisted them into a painful armlock.

“Hello, Little Miss Terrorist.” said Manny. “Thought ya could get away so easily. Thought the po-po would help ya out. Wrong!”

Both of them laughed cruelly, and Manny brought out his knife, holding it close to Zahara’s jugular. The blade gleamed with the blood of Zahara’s father still fresh on it. Che and Manny laughed harder at the expression on Zahara’s face. “The po-po are just pussies.” said Che. “Fuckin’ pussies. They couldn’t catch us an’ throw us in the clink, an’ they would never help a fuckin’ Musalmàn. Besides, even if they would, them assholes can’t see us. It’s dark out, ya know.”

Manny pressed his face close to Zahara’s, grinning wickedly. The foul smell of his breath wafted over Zahara’s face, making her want to puke. “And the nearest streetlamp is right ovuh there.” he added, cocking his head in the direction of the lonely streetlamp.

With a great effort Zahara twisted her head away from the knife. “Somebody help me!” she screamed.

“No one’s gonna fuckin’ come to your rescue, Little Miss Terrorist.” said Manny, pressing the blade to Zahara’s neck; a little bit of Zahara’s blood trickled onto the knife, mixing with Emir’s. Zahara whimpered as Manny pressed his face even closer than before, so close she could see the pupils in his beady eyes. Behind her Zahara could feel Che’s hot breath on the nape of her neck.

Suddenly Manny’s free hand swooped down and grabbed the button on Zahara’s pants, undoing it in an instant. His hand reached into her pants and began feeling around.

“No, please.” said Zahara, tears spilling from the corner of her eyes. “Please don’t do this—!”

“Shaddup!” said Manny, looking up from what he was doing; Zahara felt the blade of the knife dig a little deeper into her neck. “Ya shaddup an’ try ta enjoy it. Maybe aftowards we’ll let ya kill yoself, got it? But no bombs; ya might hurt someone.”

Che giggled as Manny worked Zahara’s pants off, exposing her white underwear. As he did Zahara felt the fight go out of her. She was going to die and painfully too and at the hands of her parents’ murderers. She’d never see her friends again, she’d never see her parents again, and like the two men had said, no one was going to help her—

“What ya mothas doin’?” said a voice. Zahara looked away from Manny as a figure dressed in a black hoodie and jeans stepped into the lamplight. Manny paused and then stood up, pulling the knife away from Zahara’s neck.

As he did Zahara felt her energy disappear. Black edged into her field of vision as Zahara strained to discern the face of the newcomer. But the darkness took her and Zahara couldn’t see his face. The last thing Zahara thought before she fainted was that she would’ve liked to see the face of her potential rescuer.

That, and how embarrassed she was that her pants were lying uselessly around her ankles.