Sands of Sorrow to debut at Rocket City Lit Fest This Weekend!

The Cycle of Ages Saga is returning to Huntsville, Alabama, this weekend for the first annual Rocket City Lit Fest at Von Braun Civic Center. Jeremy Hicks will be there to debut Sands of Sorrow, the highly anticipated sequel to Finders Keepers. Come out Saturday or Sunday if you’d like a signed copy of either novel. Paperbacks will be 2 for $20 all weekend, so you’ll be able to buy both novels at a steep discount. There will be some promotional items available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Plus, 100 other authors, artists, vendors, and others will have booths and tables filling the convention hall. Panels will be held. Select readings will be, well, read. Hopefully, read well as well. 😉 And you can be a part of it all.

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For more details on Rocket City Lit Fest, click HERE.

From the Slushpile: The Devil & Klaus Kristiansen (Part I)

Let’s start October off on the right foot with a new blog feature, “From the Slushpile.” I’ve decided on this title as many of the stories that I will share in serial form here were either too extreme for the publishers (as in the case of our first story), did not work for the publishers/editors, or simply did not find a home in print for one reason or another.

I’ve held onto these for some time, even though they continue to get good reviews from select people who have read them. And I cannot afford to pay a cover artist for each story so I can place them on Kindle. As a result of being a broke guy with dark, eclectic, and often whimsical tastes in fiction, you will have the opportunity to read these on my blog in serialized form. All for free. Well, mostly free. I will ask for a small sacrifice of your time, attention, and if you’re being constructive or complementary, input while these tales reel out for your perusal. But be forewarned, not all of these stories made it to final formatting. There may be a few errors hiding in the text.

This story was written for Seventh Star Press’s Southern Haunts 2, although it was deemed too extreme for their PG-13 rating. I was asked to cut my drug references, sexual situations, adult language, and graphic violence. I doubt there would have been much of a story left at that point, so I pulled the submission. The submission guidelines called for a story about demons, based on a real life event in a real place. So I chose to fictionalize a story about an occurrence in Jacksonville, Alabama that I cannot fully explain to this day. Without further adieu, I bring you the beginning of “The Devil & Klaus Kristiansen.”

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The college party at the Wind Song Apartments, located in a real Hellmouth, a rather picturesque college town called Jacksonville, Alabama, stretched into the early hours of the morning. Until the flabby arm of Johnny Law saw fit to end it. As with so many events in my life, it started with revelry and ended in tragedy.

A few others and I sought the nearby refuge of our friend Klaus Kristiansen.  We clustered into his cluttered, cramped apartment to smoke the kindest of the kind and drink the stoutest of the stout. But most of all we talked.

As we became comfortably numb, time like topic became relative. Quite relative indeed. Our numbers dwindled as the sun crept toward the horizon outside of Klaus’s smoky den until only he and I remained. As we sat on the edge of consciousness, the conversation turned to the ephemeral, the heady stuff of dreams. We each shared our disparate visions for the future of humanity before discussing our own personal versions.

We saw ourselves as crafting our reality based on something we’d seen with our sleeping minds’ eyes. As a result of his dreams, King Klaus Kristiansen sought a path of conquest, using his inborn abilities to create a modern version of a medieval fiefdom that would allow him to reign supreme over lesser men. As an extropian and staunch believer in the power of the human spirit, I sought to help my fellow humans cast off the shackles of pyramidal control structures and evolve past the limited thinking produced by a society based on the specter of scarcity. He called me a fool. And I called him a fascist.

One might ask why I was friends with such a person, someone I knew to be diametrically opposed to most everything I believed. I’d listened to my medicine father’s songs and stories as he taught me the indigenous ways of my people, the ways of the pipe. Though I heard his cautionary tales of all the mysteries of creation, both great and small, I didn’t believe them at the time. It took confronting the forces of darkness and losing the battle for someone’s soul to make me a believer.

I’d met Klaus Kristiansen when he’d come to attend school in my hometown, a sleepy but sinful town nestled among the foothills of the Appalachians. The self-described Rock ‘n Roll Satanist claimed to be the grandson of an SS Colonel who helped Hitler develop the world’s first flying saucers. In short, Klaus was larger than life, an id, an ego, and superego wedged into leather pants two sizes too small. A man most would call crazy, or comical, if it wasn’t for the .40 caliber Glock stuck into his waistband.

As a keen observer of human behavior, Klaus fascinated and infuriated me, in the fashion of a noisome bee, unsure if it’s simply annoying or actually dangerous. He could be elegant, chivalrous, and noble one moment and selfish, sadistic, and cruel the very next. He vexed most people. But I took his offer of friendship as a challenge.

We had reached a philosophical impasse, as we often did in our debates. The conversation hit a lull. Blue smoke swirled in the stale air between us. And then a knock at the door cut the tension with the ease of a razor’s edge. Paranoia replaced my concern for my troubled friend’s post-apocalyptic vision for humanity’s future. Who could be knocking this time of the morning? Was it the police again? If so, we were going to jail.

Klaus shifted his black eyes from me to the door. As one hand slid his tray under the lip of the sofa, the other edged the semiautomatic pistol from its holster. Before he could draw the pistol, the Turtle entered in spectacular fashion. His Krameresque entry startled us more than his sudden rapping on the apartment door.

The Turtle–nicknamed for his smooth head and hunched back–made wild claims to various abilities, including but not limited to psychical and martial prowess. To us, he was simply a talkative, imaginative friend who happened to resemble a pink-skinned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. And this morning he provided the catalyst to jumpstart our flagging conversation. But Turtle became a catalyst of a different sort, for he too had been led by his dreams…to us.

“Guys, you won’t believe what happened to me last night,” he blustered, plopping down onto the sofa. Slender, almost waifish Klaus toppled over onto his side as the weight of Turtle’s bulky frame jarred the couch’s sensitive springs.

“You got laid,” I guessed, taking the sheen of sweat on his bald head as evidence of an evening of pleasant exertion. And as a virginal male, sex was always on my mind.

Recovering, Klaus quipped, “Only in his dreams.”

I laughed madly, and he joined me. The tension between Klaus and I evaporated as we shared a joke at Turtle’s expense.

“How’d you know it had to do with a dream?” Turtle shook his head in disbelief, his eyes bulging as he stared at us. “Creepy.”

“You’re creepy,” Klaus jibed.

“What had to do with a dream?” I inquired, too tired and too stoned to follow a madman’s riddles.

“What I came to tell you guys about. Though showing you might be easier.”

“Show us? What the hell are you talking about?” Klaus demanded.

“Exactly.” Turtle replied.

“Exactly?” I asked, flummoxed. Putting on my best British accent, I said, “That’s a bollocks answer, old chap. Spit it out before the Zulu overrun the bloody perimeter.”

“Hell!” Turtle exclaimed, almost shouting. “Well, a dream about hell anyway. And you guys were there. We were all there.”

“Thanks, man.” I retorted, sounding annoyed. “I’ve had a lot of people tell me I’m going to hell but didn’t expect it from the acid-dipped spawn of Flower Children.”

Turtle’s gypsy parents had travelled the length and breadth of the country during the Counterculture Movement.  His aunt and maternal grandmother had joined them, touring the nation from shore to shore on a tie-dyed school bus converted into a camper. The Turtle’s clan finally settled in the piney hills of Alabama before giving birth to our fantastic, if fanciful friend.

“And I’ve seen the Wizard of Oz, so suck it, Turtle,” Klaus added.

“You don’t believe in Hell?” Turtle asked. “But you’re a Satanist.”

“I believe in Hell as a metaphorical construct not a geophysical reality.”

“Yeah, what he said,” I seconded. “It’s a philosophy that involves not creating your own hell on earth. And the idea that you can only believe in yourself and your own power. It’s really an extreme form of humanism, a selfish, self-aggrandized one at that.”

“Damn right,” Klaus said. “It’s all about me. I create my own heaven or hell wherever I go, with whatever I do.”

“Something like that,” I said, “only you could be using that energy for the good of all mankind, instead of wasting it on pursuits that benefit no one but yourself.”

“Hippie.” Klaus hissed.

“Devil worshipper,” I quipped.

“Guys! Do you want to see what I was talking about? I can show you.”

Sighing, Klaus said with disgust, “Fine. Show me your version of hell, Turtle.”

And then he did.

*** TO BE CONTINUED ***

This story was written by Jeremy Hicks. It is his original content and cannot be used anywhere else without his expressed written consent. However, this blog may be shared, reblogged, etc. on social media for the purposes of promoting the author, his blog, and his other creative works. 

Any resemblance to persons living or dead, events real or imagined, etc. is entirely intentional. This is a work of fiction but draws on real events and references the real world at times. Any reference, product placement, or pop culture quote is not intended to impinge on any trademark, patent, and/or copyright; rather it is flavor text for the dialogue of characters raised within the context of our pop culture.

 If you don’t like these terms of agreement, go check yourself. You’re complaining about a #FREE story.

Sands of Sorrow Book Launch Giveaway

Does the subject line say #Giveway? Technically, excluding the bothersome but necessary hashtag, you’re correct!

Enter HERE for a chance to win a #FREE paperback copy of the Cycle of Ages Saga: Sands of Sorrow, the sequel to Finders Keepers, through #Amazon Giveaways.

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If you don’t win, you can still purchase Sands of Sorrow HERE.

If you haven’t read the first installment in the Cycle of Ages Saga, you can purchase Finders Keepers, HERE.

Please remember to share this with your friends and fellow readers. Thanks for participating!

May the Fates of Faltyr be kind to you, dear reader.

Author Interview: The Charismatic Kimberly Richardson

For my final author interview this month, I am fortunate enough to have snagged some of the valuable time of the charismatic Kimberly Richardson, my friend and the editor of the Cycle of Ages Saga. Let’s get down to business, Kim. I’m sure the readers out there are eager to learn more about you and your work.

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J:  Judging from our conversations and your stories, you have a vivid imagination. Where do you find the inspiration to fuel this creative fire and turn your wild ideas into amazing stories?

K:  I get inspiration by simply observing the world around me. The world is filled with magick and wonder; all one has to do is simply open your eyes. Even a simple conversation between two people in a coffee shop can inspire an awesome story – several of my stories began that way.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

J:  You’ve reached some manner of acclaim in a short period of time as a professional writer. In fact, two of your novels were considered for the Pulitzer list a couple of years ago. Could you tell us more about that experience as well as your other accolades/honors?

K:  Being enlisted for the Pulitzer was quite a learning experience for me; it felt wonderful to know that my work stood a chance to receive such an honour. I do plan to enlist again very soon! I was also a finalist for several awards as well as edited several anthologies that later won awards through certain stories.

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J: Which of your fantastical tales has generated the most feedback from readers? What was their overall response to it?

K:  It is spread across the board; I get feedback from people about everything! Generally, the feedback has been great followed with questions of when my next work will be available. Either that, or they ask me if I’ve ever committed any of the “incidents” that are in my stories. I consider that to be a compliment.

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J:  What writers have influenced you the most? And which of their books are your favorites?

K:  That answer is very, very long but I will say that roughly 100+ writers have influenced me. The list of books is too long as well. I take little bits from those who inspire me and add it to my own mixture. The mixture is always changing and blending to whatever I’m either reading or writing.

J:  If you could talk to any of these writers, living or dead, who would it be, and what would you discuss?

K:  Actually, I really wouldn’t want to speak with any of them, strangely enough. They are in my mind in certain ways and for me to possibly speak with them might shatter that “image”. I know that sounds lame but it is the truth. Let them continue being that certain “thing” in my mind and I’m happy enough.

J:  Doesn’t sound strange to me at all. After having my own mental image of certain celebrities shattered by meeting them in person, I tend to avoid those who have had the deepest impact on me. Nice to know that I’m not the only one who would hate to be disappointed in the humanity of my heroes and idols.

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J:  In addition to writing, do you have any other hobbies or creative pursuits?

K:  Photography, tea blending, traveling, cooking, hiking, mycology, attending ballets, opera and the theatre in general, reading books (of course!).

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J:  Could you tell us more about your experiences as an editor for Dark Oak Press and others? Do you prefer to write your own material or help edit and shape the work of others?

K:  They are equal in my world. When I first began editing for Dark Oak, I wasn’t sure of what I was doing. After many bruises, scrapes, cuss words and failures later, I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. With regards to my work – I still enjoy it. That will never die even as I continue my work as an Editor.

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J:  As a writer and editor, what advice would you give to aspiring writers who want to become published professionals?

K:  Don’t stop, no matter what. I can’t get any more blunt than that.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

Photo by Kimberly Richardson.

J:  What project are you working on currently? Without spoiling anything, could you provide us with a snippet from it?

K:  As of now, I’m working through the second round of edits for my Southern Gothic novel, Open A. The novel is about a Memphian named Graydon Fayette who is also a world renowned violinist. He is also a member of a very old family that more than just dabbles in the dark side.

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J:  Do you have any new or upcoming releases that you’d like to promote here?

K:  Open A should be out next year if not sooner. Tales From a Goth Librarian II was released this past February. Both are/will be through Dark Oak Press. I also have a short story called “The Master of Tea” that will be released in Asian Pulp through Pro Se Press this year.

J:  Thanks for sharing, Kim. As always, it’s a pleasure to hear more about you and your passion for writing and editing, as well as your other creative pursuits. I wish you all the best on your upcoming releases. Maybe we’ll be seeing you on the Pulitzer list again soon.

Author Interview: The Badass Bella Roccaforte

As most people’s thoughts turn to warm weather, bright flowers, and outdoor vacations, there are those of us who enjoy the Addams Family or Munsters-kind of life regardless of the season. I am one of those Autumn People, always with one foot on either side of the Veil. Paranormal writer Bella Roccaforte is part of our worldwide creative carnival as well. This legitimate badass is literary and quite lively, unlike some of her creepy crawlers and haunting hunks. I have the privilege of sitting down with her to find out what steered her toward the world of spooky fiction.

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J:  Let’s start with something simple. How long have you been writing? And what led you to “go pro”?

B:  In a former life, I was a professional musician and used to write poetry for as long as I can remember. But as far as writing stories, I started in December of 2012. My husband had been talking about writing a novel for as long as I’ve known him. So I challenged him to write for an hour and I would do the same. 

At the end of a week of doing that he asked how many words I had. I didn’t know, because I wasn’t paying attention to that. Turns out I had 30k words. When I asked him how many he had, he just told me that wasn’t important right now. He asked to read what I had written and after he did, he told me it was good and I should publish it. So I finished and here I am now eight novels later.

 J:  Whoa! That’s an impressive start. If you can type 30k words in a week, I should hire you to write my novels, if I could afford you. Broke Guys Productions is no euphemism. Hehehe!

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J:  What genre(s) do you prefer to write? Do you prefer to read those genres too?

B:  I prefer to write in paranormal. I’m having a blast with my latest series which is a paranormal romance. I’m not typically big on romance, but this story was scratching to get out.

I also love to read paranormal, pnr is okay, but I don’t need a lot of sexy to enjoy a story.

J: Personally, I’m fine with scary, sexy, or both, as long as it’s well-written and edited.

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J: Speaking of your reading habits, what are your five favorite novels?

B: Inferno by Dante Alighieri

The Beautiful Demons series by Sarra Cannon

Elfhunter series by C.S. Marks.

The Celestra Series by Addison Moore

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

J: Both 1 and 5 are great choices. I’ll have to check out the rest. You’re not the first person to recommend Elfhunter.

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J: What writers have influenced you the most over the course of your life?

B: Addison Moore and Sarra Cannon. I would not be a published author without both of them!

J: I feel similarly about those who helped me along the way, writers, editors, publishers, and artists. Part of why I started this series of interviews was to showcase them as well as others.

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J: Let’s turn back to your writing process. When you set out to create a new story, do you jump right in to the tale (pantster) or plan it out for ages beforehand (plotter)?

B: Gosh, this is a tough one because I usually have the basics down for the story in my head before I jump in. But as the words flow, they create their own little ripples in the story line. I have been known to come out of my office with wide eyes and say “Whoa, I didn’t see that coming!”

But I don’t create an outline, or write down the plot. My latest series actually grew from a series of paintings I had done. Originally, there were three paintings, now there are nine. But the original three served as beginning middle and end. The story has grown beyond that at this point.

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J: Are there common themes, topics, or tropes that you use or explore in your works of fiction?

B: Oh yes, I have all kinds of little Easter eggs or private jokes all throughout my work.

In the INK series, there are a ton of The Walking Dead Easter eggs. I have a character named Carl who’s always getting lost. Things like that.

In Paranormal Transmissions, many of the towns/cities they go to are named after the actors from The Walking Dead (I’m a huge fan if you can’t tell.)

In Moon Crossed (The Crescent Hunter Series), my “hero” is named Cole Jackson. Jackson is the name of the hero in Sarra Cannon’s Beautiful Demons series and last night I needed a list of casualties. Characters we’ve never really met that died in battle. At first, I was thinking I could name them Kenny (South Park), Rory (Doctor Who), Red (Red shirts from Star Trek), you know characters that always die. But I couldn’t come up with enough names, so I decided to go with a list of all my exes.

J: It’s nice to know that I’m not the only writer here who has killed an ex or two in fiction. Or loves #TWD!

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J: Judging by our previous conversations, it sounds like you have had a rough life, one that has helped build you into the badass you’ve become. What real life events have most shaped your writing?

B: Whoa, so yeah. If we were sitting face to face, I’d be making that face that Peta Mellark made when asked on stage if there was anyone special at home (Hunger Games). 

Okay, so yes, probably the one thing in my life that has shaped and driven my writing in one specific way is heartbreak. In the INK: Series, the two heroes are based on exes. They are both aware and think it’s pretty cool. I did have one of them apologize to me for being such an ass hat. 

Moon Crossed is the product of a difficult time when life had just fallen to pieces for me. I’m a people hoarder, and for whatever psychological issues, I have one of the coping mechanisms is to create an extremely tight knit circle of friends that I would kill or die for. The circle broke, we all fell away, and I felt like my heart had been dug out of my chest with a rusty spoon. Thus, the painting outlet, and subsequently telling a part of that story. I, of course, had to spice it up and throw in some romance. But all of the characters with the exception of the love interest/hero are based on my boys from The House of Brotus (our little cult). 

It has been therapeutic, but still on a level while going back and doing revisions and re-feeling some of those emotions, it’s so raw. Most of us have all reformed the circle, it would seem there was only one permanent casualty of the fallout.

J: Pardon to tough question, but I find that many writers tend to be survivors and fiction makes wonderful therapy for us. But it also showcases our pain as well as our hope for a better tomorrow. That can make it daunting to delve into such personal stories on occasion. Glad you’re working through it all and finding catharsis bit by bit with each tale.

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J: Do you find that your real life struggles make it easier or more difficult to put your characters through a fictional baptism by fire?

B: Depends on the character and the mood that I’m in. Sometimes it’s so nice to just rip someone’s intestines out and eat them while they watch. Other times I’ll be like, “I’m so sorry, but we really had to do that. It hurt me more than it hurt you.”

 In general, the heroine always gets the shitty end of the stick. I love to torture her to see how amazing she’ll be when she rises from the ashes.

J: What’s the common quote about fiction? Put your characters up a tree and then throw rocks at them. Writing 101. I think some of us enjoy the experience entirely too much though. Yes, I’m talking to you, G.R.R. Martin.

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J: What writing project are you working on at the moment?

B: I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the first book in the Crescent Hunter Series, Moon Crossed. I’m releasing it in serial format and three episodes are already available on Amazon. I’ll continue to release them weekly until April 15th.

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J: What upcoming releases do you have slated for 2015? When and where can we find them?

B: Moon Crossed #1 (Crescent Hunter Series) April 15 – Amazon and my website (BellaWrites.com for the paper back)

INK: Bold Strokes (Book 5) – Final book in this series. All digital retailers by the end of summer.

Three more installments of Paranormal Transmissions – supernatural/paranormal serial. All digital outlets and I’ll be releasing them over the course of the next year.

And who knows what else might come from my crazy brain. If you had told me three months ago that I was going to write a shifter romance, I would have said, “Shut up, I’m not.”

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Thanks for the lively, intriguing answers, Bella. I’ve come to expect no less from you. Good luck on your future endeavors and upcoming releases. Stay weird. Stay fun. And most important of all, keep writing!