Wednesday 30 May 2012

Guest Post: C. A. LANG

It's Complicated
I was sitting at a Starbucks working on a writing workshop I'll be presenting this summer and somehow staring at a man's gigantic belt buckle led me to this post. At the time, I was writing a section on prehistoric events in regard to fantasy worldbuilding. Note: I actually don't normally write at a Starbucks, but found myself out of town and with some time to kill. Just sayin'.

Prehistoric traumatic events work differently to recorded ones. In psychoanalytic terms, this traumatic kernel repeats itself throughout different civilizations. Nobody even knows what the original trauma was, whether a flood or meteor strike, and it gives rise to all sorts of repetitious, collectively-subconscious behaviours and ideas. Over thousands of years this traumatic kernel ends up sublimated, repressed, and disguised in mythology, religion, and language.

This is likely raising the hackles of hard SF writers and those with psych degrees, because psychoanalysis isn't all that popular right now. Neither is Velikovsky, and I'm apparently going that way with my thinking. I am not interested in hard SF nitpicking or the clinical value of psychoanalysis. I mention it because it's a hell of a lot of fun to use as a tool for writing fiction.

There is value to the way psychoanalysis approaches trauma. And when you're trying to hash out deep motivations for your characters, sometimes a little Lacan is the way to go. And who is to say Velikovsky wasn't correct about the psychological end of his catastrophic theory? Just because he was probably wrong about his scientific claims doesn't mean his ideas about the human unconscious are just as wrong. If something catastrophic were to happen with humans around--especially ones who lacked science--it would result in a severe tear in their understanding of the world. They would attempt to symbolize it and continually fail and seek to experience it again and assimilate it somehow . . . at least according to my basic understanding of psychoanalysis. That is the most interesting part of his theories. Trying to bring physics into it based on human psychology is silly, but as Leonard Cohen might say, that don't make it junk.

Blightcross relies on much of this psychological line of thinking. I used it for everything from Capra's occasional sketchiness to the mythology surrounding that world's source of oil, which ultimately is tied with one of that world's major religions. This was a huge part of my choice to write dieselpunk. I know it's all about the costumes and emphasizing one particular technology, but with airplanes and guns must come a shift in psychology as well. So in this novel, not only did I use psychology as a tool for my worldbuilding, but also the development of individual characters, and society as a whole. For me, dieselpunk fantasy is a way to explore the traumatic effects of humankind's first experience with the global genocide that guns and oil make possible. This kind of subjective state doesn't and likely can't exist in traditional fantasy worlds.
About C.A. Lang
C. A. Lang is a product of Nelson, British Columbia, and it shows. Growing up around Victorian architecture likely had something to do with his appreciation of steampunk, although we’re not quite sure why he felt the need to ditch the steam engines and go all internal-combustion on the genre. He has settled in Kelowna, B.C., where sometimes he can be found abusing a gigantic jazz guitar in public, hanging around certain wineries, and running obscene distances. (

Blightcross by C.A. Lang
Genre: dieselpunk

About Blightcross:
In a world rebuilding after global mechanized war, chaos and ethnic tensions rule.

City-states like Blightcross prosper under dictatorships built upon oil production. Refugees flock to the city-state to find work in the massive oil refineries. The black blood of Blightcross is replacing vihs-draaf, the magic of the Ehzeri people, but magic hasn't entirely disappeared...yet.

For fugitive soldier and thief Capra Jorassian, Blightcross is an opportunity to earn enough money for her freedom. Stealing an enchanted painting from the dictator's collection is nothing new. But the simple heist gets complicated quickly when Capra's childhood friend shows up, bent on bringing her back for court martial. Then her eccentric employer, the creator of the painting, is kidnapped, throwing Capra into a struggle for the survival of Blightcross, with only her enemies as allies.

Till Sevari, the mad dictator of Blightcross, wants the secrets of the painting, and he'll do anything to get them. But when the deadly forces within the painting spiral out of his control, Capra is the only one who can defeat them - by finding a power just as deadly, hidden beneath the lies of her own culture...

Blightcross breaks the boundaries of steampunk, using fantasy to explore the world of post-colonialism and the greed of oil dependent cultures.
Source: Info in the About Blightcross was taken from GoodReads at on 21/05/2012.
Buy Link(s):

Tuesday 29 May 2012


The Julius House by Charlaine Harris
Book 4 of the Aurora Teagarden mysteries
Read by Therese Plummer
Format: audiobook
Genre: murder mystery

About The Julius House:
Love at first sight turns into newlywed bliss for former librarian Aurora Teagarden— until violence cuts the honeymoon short.

Wealthy businessman Martin Bartell gives Roe exactly what she wants for their wedding: Julius House. But both the house and Martin come with murky pasts. And when Roe is attacked by an ax-wielding maniac, she realizes that the secrets inside her four walls—and her brand-new marriage—could destroy her.
Source: Info in the About The Julius House was taken from GoodReads at on 17/02/2012.

Listening to this book, I got to wondering why Roe is all of a sudden having a very eventful life. She lived for 30 odd years with nothing happening at all and now events seems to be exploding in all directions. So why now? Why hasn't it happened years before? Or at any point in time in the future? Other than now? What is so special about now that all these things are occuring? I hope that Charlaine Harris would address this issue in future books... it would be nice to have an explanation other than that it suited the story...

This book is not as thin on the plot as previous books were, however, Roe is getting stupider by the minute... so much so that I stopped listening to this series for now and am listening to JD Robb instead. It is starting to irritate me and the story telling quality does not feel as compelling as it did with the the Harper Connelly series. Would I recommend this series now? Not really. The first book was promising but by this book, this series seems to be going downhill instead of improving.

Empirical Evaluation:
Story telling quality = 3.5
Character development = 3.5
Story itself = 4
Ending = 3
World building = 3
Cover art = 1
Pace = N/A (6.25-hour listening time)
Plot = 3.5
Narrator = 4

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 cherries

RCT Library
Thank you to the RCT Library for letting me borrow this audiobook!!

FTC Disclosure:
This audiobook was borrowed from the library. No money received for this review.

Friday 25 May 2012


At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost
Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
Book 3 of the Night Huntress Novel series
Genre: urban fantasy
Format: paperback, audiobook

About At Grave's End:
It should be the best time of half-vampire Cat Crawfield's life. With her undead lover Bones at her side, she's successfully protected mortals from the rogue undead. But though Cat's worn disguise after disguise to keep her true identity a secret from the brazen bloodsuckers, her cover's finally been blown, placing her in terrible danger.

As if that wasn't enough, a woman from Bones's past is determined to bury him once and for all. Caught in the crosshairs of a vengeful vamp, yet determined to help Bones stop a lethal magic from being unleashed, Cat's about to learn the true meaning of bad blood. And the tricks she's learned as a special agent won't help her. She will need to fully embrace her vampire instincts in order to save herself—and Bones—from a fate worse than the grave.
Source: Info in the About At Grave's End was taken from GoodReads at on 26/02/2012.

So I was disappointed with Books 1 & 2. But I decided to plod on with Book 3 anyway because: One, I already borrowed this book from the library. Second, I could actually detect the addictive quality of this series from the first two books despite them being a disappointment. Third, some book bloggers said that this third book is the best of the series. So, I wanna see what this book is all about... like they said, curiosity killed the cat... having said that, it probably not my curiosity which ends up killing me but Cat's stupidity! Okey, okey, I'll probably get stoned with ripe tomatoes by fans of this series... wait!!! I'm not giving up on this series. I still have Book 4 to listen to... might get better with Book 4, you'll never know... Or I'll prove that I am just a sucker for punishment... Either way, you'll have to admit that the cover art, specially the paperback one, is stunning! As a marketing tool for this book that one aced all ratings. Plus, if you can get through the first few chapters without popping an aneurysm (due to annoyance of a holey plot), the story actually gets better. And then we are introduced to more kinds of supernatural beings and amazing powers... Have I told you that the Night Huntress Novel series have a wonderful world building?! Well, it does!!

But the plot... it got a few holes in it... I would think that they got Cat's mother in a secured place, right? Precisely because she is Cat's achilles heel. Because they are suppose to be good at strategy. Even I, can deduce that it makes sense to have your weak link covered, specially if you know that your enemy most likely knows of it too. Specially when your enemy's intel on you apparently is getting better... Only for any vampire to waltz in and nab her? So what is the point of being a kick-ass heroine if you are going to dangle your weakness in front of your enemies almost inviting them to take advantage... *sigh* holey indeed...

Final Verdict:
Fantastic world building. Good character development. Holey plot.

Empirical Evaluation:
Story telling quality = 3.5
Character development = 4
Story itself = 4
Ending = 4
World building = 4.5
Cover art = 4.5
Pace = N/A (8 discs/9.5 hours)
Plot = 2.5
Narration = 4.5

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 cherries

Thank you to the RCT Library for letting me borrow this audiobook!!

FTC Disclosure:
This audiobook was borrowed from the library. No money received for this review.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Guest Post: Marissa Farrar & Giveaway

Reality in Fantasy
Even fantasy needs a healthy dose of reality.

Like most writers, I am a voracious reader. As a teenager, I grew up on a fictional diet of Stephen King, Anne Rice and James Herbert. As I entered my twenties, however, I moved onto a wide range of other authors such as Jodi Picoult and Khaled Hosseini. The things I loved about each of these authors’ books—however diverse the genres—was that for the most part the storylines were about normal people put in extraordinary circumstances. They were all people I could relate to, people I could meet walking down the street, and this made their stories all the more believable.

When I sat down to write ‘Alone’ (Book One in the ‘Serenity’ series), I knew I wanted to write a vampire romance. I’d just learned that Mills and Boon had recently brought out their paranormal imprint, ‘Nocturne’ and thought, ‘yeah, I can do that’. We were living in Spain, I had a small child at home, and I’d decided it was time I earned some money from the hundreds of hours I poured into my writing.

However, within a few pages, I knew there was no way Mills and Boon would be interested in this book. My love of all things dark quickly crept in and the result was a gritty story of a battered woman’s emotional journey, and she just happens to fall in love with a vampire!

You see, for me, although I love the paranormal, it’s real life that makes a book genuine. It’s things not always being as perfect as they seem on the outside. It’s people experiencing real trauma, but growing within themselves and overcoming whatever life has thrown in their path. The most important things in our lives are the simple ones; our relationships with other people. Without those relationships, we’d be nothing.

I want my books to be about real people, the battered woman you might pass in the street, the man struggling to balance bills with a sick child at home. Most of my characters are just like you and I. They don’t have any special powers. They’re just normal people, who, put in extreme (paranormal) situations, are able to achieve things they never thought possible.

I hope my readers believe in my characters as much as I do. Because after all, however fantastical a novel might be, the characters always have to feel real to the reader. The reader must experience every second of pain, every tear of joy, every heart-stopping moment of terror, as though it were their own. This is the most important part of reality in fantasy.

Luckily, my readers do seem to appreciate my combination of reality and fantasy. There are three books in the ‘Serenity’ series now, and when book three, ‘Captured’ released, all three books ended up in the top 100 for Contemporary Fantasy on Amazon. Book four, ‘Dominion’, is due to be released in October.

I’d like to give away a signed paperback copy of ‘Alone’, the first in my vampire ‘Serenity’ series, to one lucky commenter. Tell me what your favourite fantasy creature is and why, by leaving me a comment below.

And for those who can’t wait to see if they win the paperback, ‘Alone’ is now free to download from numerous sites including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple.
Thanks for hosting me, Cherry!

Alone by Marissa Farrar
Book 1 of the Serenity series
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

About Alone:
Caught in a violent and abusive relationship, Serenity thinks there is no escape.

On the day she fears her life can get no worse, she meets a stranger, Sebastian, who shows her the possibility of a different future.

Only Sebastian has a dark secret; he is a vampire.

As Serenity’s life takes a terrifying turn, she finds herself drawn into a world she never knew existed; one of murder, love and immortality. She is forced to confront her own weaknesses to save both her own life and that of the vampire she has come to love. But in the end all that matters is; can she find the strength to be Alone?
Source: Info in the About Alone was from the media kit for this blog tour.
Buy Link(s):

Buried by Marissa Farrar
Book 2 of the Serenity series
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

About Buried:
Four years after the horrific murder of her husband, Serenity is living a new life and finally putting the terrifying events behind her. Though now a stronger person, her heart craves the vampire who gave her the strength to change her life.

Desperate to forget Serenity, Sebastian hides away in the underground tunnels of Goreme, Turkey, and has thrown himself into an existence of darkness and blood.

But rumours are abound of something unnatural existing, something with the strength of a vampire but that can walk in the light.

And a murderer is on the loose in Angeles Forest, someone who is killing with the ferocity of a beast. The killer is moving closer and closer to the city, searching for something...

Source: Info in the About Buried was from the media kit for this blog tour.
Buy Link(s):

Captured by Marissa Farrar
Book 3 of the Serenity series
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

About Captured:
Living in Jackson’s cold embrace, Serenity no longer remembers who she is. Repeat feedings have left her a mere shell of a person and she has no recollections of her past life, though the sense that she isn’t alone often haunts her.

Back in Los Angeles, Sebastian has never given up hope of finding her again. Their daughter, Elizabeth, experiences visions of Serenity’s new existence and together they track her across the country.

But finding Serenity might prove to be the least of their problems. When Sebastian seeks the help of an older vampire, Demitrios, the family find themselves in the fight of their lives.
Source: Info in the About Captured was from the media kit for this blog tour.
Buy Link(s):

Marissa Farrar
About Marissa Farrar:
Marissa Farrar is a multi-published horror and fantasy author. She was born in Devon, England, loves to travel and has lived in both Australia and Spain. She now resides in the countryside with her husband, two children, a crazy Spanish dog, two rescue cats and six hens. She has a degree in Zoology, but her true love has always been writing.

Marissa is the author of four novels, including the dark vampire ‘Serenity’ series. Her fifth novel, Underlife, a dark fantasy set beneath the streets of London, will be published August 2012.

Her short stories have been accepted for a number of anthologies including, Their Dark Masters, Red Skies Press, Masters of Horror: Damned If You Don’t, Triskaideka Books; and 2013: The Aftermath, Pill Hill Press.

If you want to know more about Marissa, then please visit her website at You can also find her at her facebook page, or follow her on twitter @marissafarrar.

She loves to hear from readers and can be emailed at marissafarrar [at] hotmail .co .uk.

Monday 21 May 2012

GuestPost: M. Anthony Phillips

How to pick the right topics and audience
I’m a new novelist with three books under my belt. Picking a subject to write about to me has to not only be something that is passionate to you, but also is marketable in an ever changing audience. My genre of choice is fiction because I love a great story. When I was a kid I used to stay up late at night with my father watching old movies. The experience stayed with me, not just because it helped shape who I am, but also because it gave my father and I a chance to bond.

I guess you can say every fictional story has an audience, but if you’re just doing a story just because a particular genre is the latest thing, and you’re not really passionate about the story, then it could come off as not being believable. What defines you as a person? What cartoons, or movies did you watch as a child? Do you find yourself saying “That would make a great story?”

It’s okay to jump in on the latest thing—children’s books are very popular, so if you do, become educated—buy a book and read it to your kids to see their reaction. If it doesn’t warm your heart, then maybe it’s not the one. Picking the genre you want to become a genuine author in is the easy part. The hard part is finding a core audience and how to market them.

If you choose to self publish your book, which is usually what happens to first time authors unless you’re a famous celebrity, send out a press release to announce your book. Do an online book tour that will reach a variety of readers, send out postcards to family and friends, post an add on your facebook page, start a website, and there are many other strategies as well. Eventually you’ll start to develop a hardcore following that will become avid supporters of your books.
M. Anthony Phillips is a native of St. Louis and studied writing and history at Harris Stowe University. M. Anthony is an avid historian and reader of fine literature of fiction and non-fictional books. This is M. Anthony’s third novel with a sequel to follow with hopes of becoming a full time novelist. M. Anthony resides in St. Louis and Los Angeles where he loves acting as a SAG member, practicing martial arts, writing screenplays, and living the life of a modern day renaissance man.

Isabella: Protector of the Last Dragon by M. Anthony Phillips

About Isabella: Protector of the Last Dragon:
An ancient Chinese celestial dragon–unearthed in the frozen mountains of Mongolia, miraculously survives and looks to locate a twelve year old girl whose the key to fighting the demons that chased him out of his kingdom, and to find his female mate.
Source: Info in the About Isabella: Protector of the Last Dragon was taken from the promotional tour information.

Saturday 19 May 2012

Guest Post: J.D. Revezzo

Lionesses and felines in Egypt and how a cat’s crime evolved
Thanks for having me here, Cherry.

A little over two years ago, a friend of mine, author and editor Patty G. Henderson (best known for her Brenda Strange Supernatural Mysteries) announced she’d released a charity anthology of cat stories. I’d always adored Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat so I thought the idea of wicked little felines intriguing, so I started working on it. The cat suggested my main character might do well to be a werecat of some sort, so I looked into mythology (as I’m wont to do now and then) and found the Egyptian cat Bast. But somehow, she didn’t seem dark enough for the Dark Things II anthology. I kept looking. Then I found the goddess Sekhmet, who took the lion’s form.

Why not, I thought? As a cat stalks an unsuspecting mouse (or whatever catches its fancy), the lioness could stalk a stray Egyptian should he or she become lost within the lioness’ territory. Lions roamed the outlying areas of the desert, and it is said they charged with the pharaohs into battle. (1) The Egyptians thought the animals so fierce, the weather might shy away. Lion sculptures were even set at the pinnacle of temples, gargoyle-like, to guard against lightning.

In their pantheon, the lion was a protector and companion to the god Ra. She accompanied him on his daily journey across the sky in his sun chariot. So, it was to Sekhmet Ra turned when he needed to teach humanity a lesson. In turn, she went on a rampage that nearly annihilated civilization. Ra mixed with pomegranate juice, and tricked his daughter into drinking. Whatever the recipe, the drink did the trick, and calmed her wrath.(2) To this day, festivals are performed in summer to—hopefully—keep the ;) kitty satisfied. Revelries filled with laughter, with dancing, and . . . beer.

This is the basis for my story presented in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes,

And don’t forget, all proceeds from Dark Things II: Cat Crimes will be donated to
The Cat House on The Kings, a no-kill cat shelter in California. For more information, see their website at:

How about some info on the anthology?
Dark Things II: Cat Crimes
A collection of tales featuring feline mayhem, murder and dastardly deeds. Vampire cats. Scoundrel cats. Daring cats. Killer cats. Cats you don't want in your worst nightmares and cats you might want on your side against evil. Authors include Mary V. Welk, Patty G. Henderson, Patricia Harrington, Jim Silvestri, Ken Goldman, Shanna Germain, Anna Sykora and dozens more. Intro by Robert W. Walker. All proceeds from sales go to several cat sanctuaries across the USA. Enjoy over twenty-one cat tails and support a cat charity!

Buy link:
Amazon for Kindle and paperback
Lulu (for Epub version):

And about my story,

“What Sekhmet Keeps.”
by J.D.Revezzo
Betrayed by a false lover, cat shifter priestess Onfalia Mau lost her lioness soul and freedom to her lover’s treachery and Sekhmet’s wrath. Now, after three thousand years, Donquar has returned with one thing in mind: to steal the goddess’s scepter. Onfalia knows that to do so means to unleash Sekhmet’s unholy, bloody Slaughter on the world and she’ll stop at nothing to foil Donquar’s plans.

Claws dimpled his skin, as if she sought attention. She nuzzled her head into his hand, and purred. Chibale tapped her on the nose. “Now, don’t try to charm me, kitty. I can’t keep you. Out.”

She purred louder and nuzzled his chest.

“Oh, hell.” He carried the cat into the kitchen and poured her the last of his milk. “I don’t mind black coffee, anyway. But tomorrow, we’re finding your owner.”

He dropped his jacket onto the chair, then set down before his computer. The cat leapt onto the desk as he went to work. When he misspelled the goddess’ name, the cat reached out a paw and hit the delete key back to the S-e-k. Chibale stared at her. “Did you belong to an English teacher?”

The search engine suggested Sekhmet, and he carried on with his work. The cat slipped into his lap as he read the first promising page.

Goddess of Lions. A daughter of Ra; represented the scorching power of the sun. “Lion. Sun.” He shook his head. “Never did understand these stupid stories. ‘When mankind rebelled against Ra’s domain, Sekhmet attacked, slaughtering thousands and drinking their blood.’ Sounds like a nice wholesome girl.” The cat shifted in his lap and stretched up, resting her paws against the edge of the keyboard. “You’re so interested in mythology, should I give you to Onfalia?” She looked at him, and he scratched her ears as he returned to his search.

Scepter, Sekhmet. “How does this tie into the stolen scepter? Any idea, kit?”

Two hours into his search, a headline caught his attention: Slaying uptown. Occult in Nature?

“So obvious.” The cat meowed and Chibale looked down at her, meeting her tawny eyes. “Oh, you think so too, do you?”

Festival to appease Sekhmet’s slaughter.

“Hopefully they won’t do the opposite, eh kitty?”

There you are. The birth of a little cat-like mischief.

About J.D. Revezzo
J.D. Revezzo has long been in love with writing, a love built by devouring everything from the Arthurian legends, to the works of Michael Moorcock, and the classics. Her short fiction has been published in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, The Scribing Ibis, Eternal Haunted Summer, Twisted Dreams Magazine and Luna Station Quarterly.

You can learn more about her works at:

Her site:

or if you wish, follow her on Facebook:

Or on Twitter:!/juliannewrites/

I hope you will enjoy “What Sekhmet Keeps”, and all the tales in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, and remember all the proceeds go to Cat House on the Kings, no-kill cat shelter. So, you’ll not only gain fuel for a few good, *ahem* nightmares, maybe you’ll help a kitty in need, too. Enjoy! And thank you, Cherry, for hosting my mischief today!
1. Tour

Monday 14 May 2012


Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris
Book 2 of the Harper Connelly series
Read by Alyssa Bresnahan
Format: audiobook CD
Genre: urban fantasy

About Grave Surprise:
Charlaine Harris is already a star and a New York Times bestseller with her vampire mysteries starring Sookie Stackhouse and her Lily Bard mysteries. This second installment to her new supernatural mystery series might just be her biggest hit yet. Grave Sight's Harper Connelly is back, and her ability to find the dead and see their last moments is in higher demand than ever...

A college class gets more than it bargained for when Harper gives a demonstration of her uncanny talent. Instead of just finding one body in an old grave, she finds two: the original occupant and a recently deceased girl whom Harper had tried, and failed, to find two years previously. To dispel suspicions about her own innocence, Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver undertake their own hunt to find the killer-only to find yet another body in the same grave.
Source: Info in the About Grave Surprise was taken from GoodReads at on 03/02/2012.

This book is better than Grave Sight! It seems like Charlaine Harris is improving in her writing style as she writes more books! If this trend continues, this series could be more addictive than the Sookie Stackhouse ever was! And I almost did not listen to this audiobook because Harper Connelly, the main protagonist, was too stupid to live (TSTL) in Book 1. However, she was not TSTL in this book. There were hints but nothing out and out stupidity like Sookie does usually! I can readily forgive "hints of stupidity", given that this book has such wonderful story telling quality and world building!! Now, I am sooo glad that I have Books 3 and 4 borrowed from the library as well! So be warned: this series is even more addictive than the Sookie Stackhouse series!!

I don't know whether I am just getting so used to Alyssa Bresnahan or that her narrating skills is actually good, but I find her voice not only easy to the ears but her reading is quite good. Diction is appropriate. Words distinct. And I was wondering how she and other narrators managed to change the timbre of their voice to make it sound male and female yet be the same reader. That must have been a real talent... unless they use a voice filter or something. Still, I like it. It makes listening easier. It makes distinguishing between characters easier. I would listen to other audiobooks by this narrator again.

Empirical Evaluation:
Story telling quality = 5
Character development = 4
Story itself = 4
Ending = 4
World building = 5
Cover art = 2
Pace = N/A (8-hour playing time)
Plot = 4
Narrator = 5

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 cherries

RCT Library
Thank you to RCT Library for letting me borrow this audiobook!!

FTC Disclosure:
This audiobook was borrowed from the library. No money received for this review.