RELEASED! Dead Sea Games: Kidnapped on sale now.
It’s long overdue and took a good chunk of my remaining sanity to get right…but it’s HERE! Dead Sea Games: Kidnapped is now available for purchase/download at Amazon. Get your Kindle out and go grab a copy. You won’t find a more entertaining post-apocalyptic zombie serial set in NYC with a protagonist named Deathwish ANYWHERE.
AMMC Anthology: A Minion’s’ Minion’s Christmas
Marissa Ames (author of Mistrel and Darion), Laura James, Ruth Long, and Nick Johns, are putting together a nice anthology of fantastical Christmas tales for holiday consumption. As soon as I heard the theme, I knew I had to involve my two pickiest, yet Christmas-loving, readers. My two youngest minions jumped at a chance to help craft an original story with a magical Christmas theme. They spun tales of danger and spells and talking trees and guard dogs so fast I could barely write it all down in time. It’s not the stuff I usually write, but I loved working with them so much I wanted to share the result with everyone. With a little embellishment from their writer father, I present to you an original family tale of a fantastical Christmas:
A Minion’s Minion’s Christmas
By J. Whitworth Hazzard, with E. Hazzard and A. Hazzard
The stockings were hung; the lights all twinkling. Christmas eve came quickly for Mom and Dad but slowly for the two excited children pacing about the tree. Their faces illuminated by the dancing lights of the the evergreen tree set into the bright red stand.
Daisy the Danger Dog played around the two bright, rambunctious children, happy to be part of the family. The little girl hugged the dog about the neck, while the little boy fretted over the space under the tree.
“Will there be enough room?” Edward asked. “Santa brought big presents last year.”
“Yes, silly,” Anna chided her twin brother. “Santa knows what he’s doing. He wouldn’t let Mom and Dad get a tree without enough room under it.”
Edward looked skeptical, “How do Mom and Dad know what Santa is going to bring?”
“I don’t know. They just do!”
A grump of a middle-age man–thin but athletic, ruggedly handsome, charming, and humble—stumbled down the steps with a wrecked tube of wrapping paper and complained, “God d@#$, tape. Why are we always out of tape?”
Mom sat in her rocking chair, playing on her phone, sang out softly, “Little ears.”
“Right. Where is the pancake-flipping hobo-licking scotch tape?” The roll of wrapping paper slipped out of his arms as he spotted the two youths. “What are you two doing up? Santa is on his way. Scoot up to bed. NOW!”
The two little rascals groaned and schlepped up the stairs, dragging their feet more dramatically with every step. Edward and Anna retired for the night to their specially-built Christmas campout tent and promptly fell asleep.
The last chime of midnight from Grandfather’s clock woke the sleeping children. Edward and Anna crept from their tent and stole downstairs to peek at Santa’s bounty. There were new and shiny presents under the tree to be sure, but a mysterious and horrible sensation stole over the children.
Something was very wrong.
Daisy the Danger Dog was growling at the tree. The tree turned in its stand and came to life. A nasty smile formed in the branches at the top of the tree, right below two bright red glass ornaments, and the tree spoke:
“Greedy children, you have two of each present. One evil and one good. Choose wisely and read the spell in the book I shall reveal to make them come to life.”
Two magical hallways opened in the living room, and at the end of each stood a pedestal with a golden book.
“What should we do?” Edward fretted.
“Open the good presents, silly.” Anna put her hands on her hips, frustrated with her brother.
Edward snapped his fingers, “I know! I can invent a machine to tell the good from the bad. I’m going to be an inventor when I grow up.”
“Great idea!” Anna hugged her brother and then reality snapped her to the moment. “Wait. We don’t have time to invent a machine. We can get Daisy to sniff them and tell.”
The children brought each present to the scrappy basset hound for inspection and growled or barked at each one in turn. The ones she barked at were ripped open with speed while the ones she growled at were thrown back under the tree in the “EVIL” pile.
When all the presents were opened, a veritable army of Skylanders action figures and Bratz Monster High dolls stood before the children. Edward and Anna were giddy with excitement at their great fortune, for Santa had never, ever brought this bounty to the “technically”-good tots before.
“Let’s read the spell and the toys will come to life. We’ll have playmates forever!” Anna said. Edward picked a hall and rushed down towards the golden book with Anna in tow.
“Who’s going to read it?” he asked.
Anna beamed with pride, “I will. I’m a great reader.” Anna opened the golden book and read the magical incantation aloud. “Isis Mentos Oogety Huffly PUFFLY!”
A fierce wind blew through the secret corridor and the toys beneath the Christmas tree came to life. Anna and Edward ran down the hall and scooped up their toys, ready to play every game they’d ever dreamed of with their new best friends.
But the starry-eyed youths were in for a nasty shock, as the toys began to play with them; biting and scratching. Edward and Anna yelped in pain and shooed off the malevolent toys, kicking them into a corner.
The tree began to laugh; a deep evil sound that made the children’s blood run cold.
“You read the evil spell book. Mwuahaha. In just fifteen minutes the sun will rise and the toys will be evil FOREVER!”
“Oh no!” Anna cried. She wrung her hands and hugged her brother. “We never should have listened to that tree.”
“Yeah. That was pretty poor decision making on our part,” Edward deadpanned. “I know! Throw all the evil toys into the hallway and then we’ll read the good spell book. Quick!”
Edward and Anna scooped up the nasty gnashing toys and threw them into the evil hallway. They ran to the good spell book as fast as they could and read the spell book. “Isis Mentos Boogety Huffly Puffly!”
The wind picked up and a golden glow surrounded the evil tree and toys. The hallways started to close and Anna pulled Edward back into the living room just as the magic corridor snapped shut, sealing the evil toys away forever.
Daisy the Danger Dog barked at the tree, but it was de-magicified now. The two children crept off to bed as the sun’s first rays peeked in through the window and fell into an exhausted slumber. When Mom and Dad came to wake them to open presents they groaned and fell back asleep.
Dad took a sip of coffee and bumped fists with Mom, “I told you it would work. More sleep for us!”
Lisa Shambrook’s ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ Relaunch
Today I’m featuring an author interview with the talented and always friendly Lisa Shambrook. Lisa recently relaunched her book ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ with the help of Blue Harvest Creative and I was completely intrigued by the idea of breathing new life into projects that we think are done. If you’re a writer, you know how nearly impossible it is to get that perfect combination of cover art, format, editing, social media penetration and market trend all at once. Maybe it’s time to dig in the drawer and see what projects you finished before the timing was right. Go grab a copy of Lisa’s fantastic emotional novel at Amazon and let’s ask her how she did it….
-In three sentences, what is ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ about?
When she dies Freya knows she needs to move on, but is caught within her mother’s grief and the discovery of terminally ill Old Thomas. Finding she can affect the lives of those beyond her heaven she fights to reach her mother and wants to help Thomas realise his final dream. It’s a tale about overcoming consuming grief and fulfilling our deepest dreams.
-What prompted you to relaunch the book?
I always had a little niggle that it wasn’t as perfect as I’d like…I published it before I had any idea what I was doing, then discovered social media! After seeing a couple of friends’ books revamped with new covers, I called on Blue Harvest Creative to see if they could reformat the book and make it pretty… It took their advice, reedited, redesigned and relaunched!
-A lot of authors have mixed feeling about trying to revisit old projects. What was it hard going back to the source material?
Actually it was cathartic, I now feel it’s the best it can be with the resources available to me. I cut a chapter that was pure author indulgence, which added nothing to the book, and felt much better! I’ve learned a lot.
-What’s been the best part of your experience with ‘Beneath the Rainbow’?
Right now, it’s seeing a beautiful package that finally matches the beauty of the book I wrote. I want to do my words justice, and these days that means editing, packaging and marketing count just as much!
-Now that the book is relaunched, what’s your next big writing project? Sequel? Series? Something new?
I’m editing ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ the sequel to my debut novel. It’s set seven years on, looking at a new story promoting familiar characters from the first book. The third book will be this year’s NaNo project, this time set seven years on from the sequel, and will focus on Freya’s sister and her struggles to come to terms with life in the shadow of a dead sister.
-Are there any other books, short stories, novellas, or anthologies you’d like to pimp…err…promote while you have the reader’s attention?
I’m featured in ‘Once Upon A Time a Collection of Unexpected Fairytales’, ‘The Dark Fairy Queen Writerly Bridal Shower’ and ‘My Friends and I’ a musical and writing collaboration. Otherwise my fiction is accessible to all on my blog!
-Other than ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ what writing project are you most proud of? And can we read it?
I won a Flash Fiction contest with ‘The Apothecary’s Art’ of which I’m very proud. (You can read it here: http://thelastkrystallos.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/dirty-goggles-apothecarys-art.html ) and my blog has all my Flash Fiction, a vast array of genre and stories…which anyone can read anytime. Otherwise, I’m proud of my children’s dragon fantasy adventure series, but that’s going through a major overhaul, so not out there yet!
-Since this is a zombie blog, you have to answer the requisite question. Do you have a zombie plan? If so, what is your plan for dealing with the rise of the undead?
My zombie apocalypse plan is to allow my daughter, Bekah, who’s a special effects make-up artist, transform us all into gory zombies so we fit in…then we’ll move out to my parent’s top-of-the-hill smallholding and set up camp…and hopefully survive!
About the author:
Born and raised in vibrant Brighton, England, Lisa’s lyrical writing is emotional and imaginative. She concentrates on description and colour, and hopes her readers will easily visualise the narrative. Her debut novel ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook.
A wife and mother, Lisa draws inspiration from family life, faith, memory and imagination. After having her first of three children, Lisa has lived in Carmarthen, West Wales, another town rich in legend and lore.
Lisa loves family time, walking the family’s excitable German Shepherd, beaches, scrap-booking, photography, art and last, but not least, writing…she says “There is nothing better than escaping and immersing yourself in a good story!”
You can follow her blog at www.thelasykrystallos.blogspot.co.uk
Fall Flash Festival : TRICK OR TREAT?
Fall means a lot of different things to me. It’s a magical, transitional time of the year chock full of festivals and holidays. Here’s one little take on what it means to someone like me…
TRICK OR TREAT?
By J. Whitworth Hazzard
“Full circle, from the tomb of the womb to the womb of the tomb, we come: an ambiguous, enigmatical incursion into a world of solid matter that is soon to melt from us, like the substance of a dream.” -J. Campbell
“Dad!” Emily stomped her foot at the threshold.
Her Tinkerbell costume, all green leaves and bright sparkles, looked bare to my eyes. The setting sun would turn the wind loose after dark and her fairy wings would do little to warm an eight-year-old’s skin on the most important night of the year.
“Trick or treating doesn’t start for another fifteen minutes,” I grinned. “We have plenty of time to find you a jacket.”
Emily pouted and swung her princess pumpkin over her head. “Fairies don’t need jackets. Please, we’re going to be late.” The glitter in her self-applied makeup had run all over her face. A few specs had even managed to find their way onto her new front teeth. She was too cute to be mad at. I remembered what it was like to be that excited; the infinite possibilities of youth.
“Then their Fairy daddies don’t let them go out to get candy.” I pulled out an old green hoodie out of the closet that would keep her warm and fit under the costume.
Emily crossed her arms tightly and scowled. We bellowed at the same time, “Mom!”
Summer appeared, as if by magic, with a monstrous bowl of candy and tutted the both of us. “For heaven’s sake, Jay, it’s fifty degrees out. She’s not going to freeze.”
“Fifty degrees. Exactly my point. I can’t afford to take three more sick days because fairies don’t wear coats.”
Summer smiled and leaned in close. “Do you remember when I dressed up as a cat in College?”
The smile came unconsciously. I remembered that Halloween fondly, though there wasn’t much to the cat costume. Some furry ears and a little fishnet weren’t exactly transformative. Every time we went to that bar—once in a blue moon those days—Kim made me drive by the old one-bedroom apartment. We had more fun in those eight hundred square feet than two adults were legally allowed to have. But, careers and credit cards and the whisper of babies-to-come crept up on us and drove us out.
“It was forty degrees that night,” Summer whispered in my ear. “She’ll be fine.”
“You were drinking vodka to keep you warm,” I smirked. “Should I keep a flask handy for her?”
“Just go have fun, old man. I’ll warm you up when you get home.” The wink. The smile. I couldn’t help but blush as I pushed Emily out the door, her hoodie safely in my hand. Just in case.
“Come on, kiddo. Pop’s waiting for us,” I said.
We walked, hand in hand, past ghouls, goblins, and witches until the new suburban McMansions gave way to the smaller, tidier houses of our parent’s generation. Emily dashed playfully through the piles of fallen leaves as she raced to hit every doorbell. I stood on the street, wondering where her energy came from; trying not to think about the nagging pain in my knees. At forty-two, the scars added up quickly, internally and externally.
“Grandpa’s house is next,” Emily shouted. “My grandpa lives here.” The ninjas she told in passing seemed not to care, but it didn’t phase her in the least.
We jumped together over the cracks in the sidewalk by the old oak tree. I let go of her hand and watched my daughter run through the darkness up the same sidewalk I did as a child. My bedroom was a study now and the roof sagged by the front porch, but little else had changed. The paint would need touching up again soon and Dad would need help clearing the gutters before winter. I worried about him more than I let on with Mom gone, especially around ladders.
“Oh my,” Pop’s voice bellowed from the front door. “The most beautiful fairy in all the land is on MY porch. What is your name, little fairy?” He bent down low, bushy white eyebrows covered the twinkle in his eyes.
“Granda…” Emily hugged him and giggled. “It’s Emily. Come on, hurry! You’re going to miss watching me trick or treat.”
“Okay, go get two candy bars from the bowl while I get my jacket on.”
Emily took off into her Grandpa’s house, leaving me standing on the porch facing my own father. The wind turned and whipped leaves over the plastic pumpkins. I felt the bite of the coming winter on the tips of my ears.
“You let her wear that without a coat? It’s cold out,” Pop scolded.
The old man smiled at me. There was no age limit on parental wisdom, or ribbing. I watched his now-delicate hands struggle with the zipper on his winter coat and moved in to help. He shooed me away and took one look at my windbreaker.
“Is that what you’re wearing? Take that off. I’ve got a proper coat in the closet here,”
Marissa Ames’ Reading Challenge: Dead Sea Games
My lovely and talented friend Marissa Ames runs a reading challenge every month on Facebook. I was ecstatic when she chose Dead Sea Games for this month’s challenge. To help out, I’ve made both episodes FREE on Amazon today and tomorrow (Oct. 1st and 2nd, 2013) to give everyone a chance to participate at no cost. Please help spread the word.
Click on the sidebar to get the books — – –>
The idea is simple: Read the books, review the books, win prizes (possibly).
You can find the complete event and rules HERE on her Facebook event.