Category Archives: excerpt

Excerpt: The Perihelion by D.M. Wozniak

D.M. Wozniak is not nearly as interesting as the worlds and characters he creates, except, perhaps, for the fact that he has six children – three of whom are triplets. He lives in the close suburbs of Chicago with his wife Michele, five daughters, one son, and a massive labrador. He’s not sure if his home would be part of Bluecore 1C or in the Redlands.

For decades he has been reading speculative fiction novels by the likes of Gene Wolfe, Dan Simmons, Neil Stephenson, and Patrick Rothfuss, and somehow found the time to write one of his own. And then one became two.

A software architect by trade, his interests also lie in photography, independent music, and wasting money on his Porsche 911. Oh wait… forget that. He had to sell it.

If you enjoyed The Perihelion, check out The Gardener of Nahi. It’s just as confusing.

www.dmwozniak.com


The Perihelion

by D.M. Wozniak

Prologue
Bluecore 1C

I have seen more human tragedy than all of my oaks, creeks, and beaches combined.

Since you are a mortal, you may naturally think I am referring to occurrences that have happened in your brief lifetime — I believe your word for it is modern. You lack perspective, however, which is why you constantly repeat the same mistakes over and over again, as if they are your seasons. No. This madness started even before I was a Bluecore.

It started even before I had a name.

During the War of 1812, the Battle of Fort Dearborn was on my soil, in a grove of cottonwood saplings. At the time I was considered wilderness — one of the invading white commanders said my lands were “so remote from the civilized parts of the world.” Little did he know he would die at the hands of the natives that hunted my prairies for years, his heart being cut out and eaten, to absorb his courage.

You see? Things like that never happened ten-thousand years ago, when ice began carving me from the earth, like one of your prodigious sculptors.

Oh, but you might say in reply, “the wolf eats the heart of the white-tailed deer.” And you would be right. Thousands of years ago before you humans came into my lands, they did exactly that. But they ate the hearts to survive.

You mortals are special, in the sense that you have reason. You eat like animals, you copulate like animals; yet soon thereafter the similarity ends. And the dreaming begins.

About the same time that ill-fated commander’s heart was eaten, the natives started calling me “shikaakwa,” which means “smelly onion” in their tongue. I always liked that name, since it honored the illustrious leeks which thrived in my watersheds. It commemorated something that I have always freely given away.

Years later, when traders came from France, they took this name and changed it into their own tongue, because you mortals can’t simply take something and let it be. You need to change it and mold it. You are masters of the malleable. You need to make it yours.

And so the city of Chicago was born.

There was a great fire in 1871, where hundreds of you humans perished, and much of me was burnt to the ground. This, in and of itself, caused me no pain, except perhaps the folly which I saw unfolding, knowing there was nothing I could do to stop it. You built all of your buildings out of wood from my trees! What did you think would happen? Little did you know that before you settled my lands, prairie fires occurred as often as I required them. These were necessary to keep the overzealous in order — to give a chance at new life. Fire is the level-setter. It is the prime regenerator.

That’s one thing I will give you credit for. You rebuilt after the destruction, as I hoped you would. You traded wood for stone. You swapped your mediocre stupor with grand dreams. And for the first time, I was proud that you called me home.

For nearly two-hundred years, you prospered.

But then, something odd happened: you let your dreams get the better of you.

Somehow, you lost your way. Like the tall spires that you build, which scratch the heavens, you started believing that you were something else. In your selfish arrogance you started to create laws which did not abide in the nature of common sense. It would be as if I said to a cottonwood tree that she could walk, or if I told the white-tailed deer that he could slay the wolf.

I could say all of these things to make them happy, but I’d be lying.

The culmination of this pride came in the year 2069. By then you stopped referring to me as the city of Chicago. Instead, you took a hatchet to history and glued a number and letter together as my name: Bluecore 1C. You began fighting amongst yourselves, convinced that the other side was wrong. There were riots. You built walls to keep yourselves apart from one another.

You humans! Is the sea wrong? Is the prairie wrong? Or can they both exist in peace with one another? There is a time and place for everything, but when you change the center to yourself, nothing will be in balance.

And so now we are caught up to your own dizzying time. Why you mortals ever called it an attack I shall never understand. Who was attacking whom? Let me distill this to its essence: the technology which was taken from you simply did not exist even a hundred-thirty years prior. Do you even comprehend how short of a timespan that is? It is an afternoon in the sun for me.

Speaking of the sun, I wonder if you see the irony. Out of all days to lose your own self-directed sense of power, the all-giving source was right there. It was the perihelion, of all days, when this so-called attack occurred. Except you could not even see it, because you were all turned away from the truth. You had changed the center.

No. That’s not quite right. If I recall, there were six mortals among you that learned the truth before the end. In that darkness, they found something invaluable. In that silence, they heard a voice.

Perhaps it is true what you mortals say: In all tragedy, something good always comes from it.

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Excerpt: Nightscape Double Feature No. 1 edited by David W. Edwards

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David W. Edwards is the writer, director and producer of the feature film Nightscape and author of the novels Nightscape: The Dreams of Devils and Nightscape: Cynopolis. He attended the University of Southern California’s prestigious screenwriting program and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature while working for a variety of Hollywood production companies. He’s the founder and former CEO of a successful high-tech market research firm, and a former two-term state representative. He currently lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with his family.


Nightscape Double Feature No. 1

 edited by David W. Edwards

Chapter 1

The Moving Fortresses

28 November 1917

Outside Cambrai, France

The German A7V tanks rolled over the British defensive fortifications, mechanized landslides indifferent to the screams of the dying under their treads. The vanguard of sturmpanzerwagen numbered a dozen strong and was spread out enough to prevent easy targeting. Geysers of wet earth havocked the air around the armored vehicles as exhausted British gunners scrambled to find their range.

Since the beginning of the battle eight days ago, the British had managed a series of hard-won victories, pushing the Germans back from Havrincourt and crossing the Hindenburg Line. The British had then commandeered and fortified the trenches dug by their enemies. The Germans, stung by their humiliating eviction, had launched this sweeping tank assault.

Tanks were a relatively new addition to the battlefield. The British had first made use of its Mark I tanks at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette about two years ago. Although those early models had been slow moving and given to frequent breakdowns, leaders on both sides were quick to recognize the strategic advantages of the concept. Design advances in the interim had borne out their expectations. British Mark IV tanks had made surprisingly short work of the formidable defenses here at Cambrai, driving the enemy into a frenzy. The Germans had retaliated by deploying their own tanks in a desperate but disciplined bid to out

flank and outmaneuver their foes. The British had met them straight-on in the southwest corner of the wood, determined to bully the Germans into submission with their larger, more heavily armored vehicles.

Both strategies had proved hideously effective in racking up the dead.

British howitzers zeroed in and began taking their toll on the iron behemoths. One shell struck a tank squarely in the side. The force of the explosion kicked it over. Frantic voices leaked from the hull. The soldiers bottled up inside clawed at each other to escape the rush of flames. None did. The fuel and ammunition sparked and burst, leaving a smoking crater nearly a hundred feet in diameter. Charred remains scattered piecemeal over the entrenched British. Most of the defending soldiers ignored the gore. They’d seen much worse, here and elsewhere.

Several, however, broke ranks, scrambling away, screaming for God, their mothers, anybody, to save them. They splashed through the black, calf-deep trench water.

Staff Sergeant Quincy McNeil cursed and shouted, “Hold the bloody line by damn! Come back! That’s a direct order!”

The soldiers pretended not to hear. They continued their mad flight, tripping and stumbling over the bodies of their dead comrades. McNeil pointed his revolver at the nearest retreating back.

A strong hand pushed his arm down. McNeil choked back his anger when he realized his immediate superior, Captain William Davenport, had been the one to intervene. The captain thrust his chest forward and said, “The hell, Staff?”

“They’re deserting, sir!”

“And you’d waste precious ammo shooting them in the arse? Best save your ammo for the coming infantry! Look, man!” He waved toward the line of implacable A7Vs without risking a look above the parapet. “Those tanks are holding their positions! They know they’ve got us pinned with their machine guns!”

McNeil cursed again, wishing he knew how to swear in more than one language. This was a situation where cursing in the Queen’s English alone struck him as woefully inadequate.

Following that first tank hit, the remaining German tanks retreated just out of artillery range and, from positions of relative safety, raked the trenches with lethal gunfire. Any British soldier foolish enough to make a run for safety was cut down within a pitiful few yards.

To McNeil’s mind, it was a just punishment. “Why the hell wasn’t our artillery brought up to support this position, sir?”

The captain raised his voice in order to be heard over the yelling, gunfire and fitful explosions. “Because our esteemed Colonel Breen is more concerned about securing his command post. I sent word days ago for at least two dozen tanks. It was clear the Germans were going to make a push to retake this position.”

“Well, of course they were, sir!” McNeil said. His broad face was hectic with color and beaded in sweat. He hefted a perisher or trench periscope above the sandbags to survey the field. His small mouth twisted into a rictus of horror. “Blast and damn!”

“What is it, Staff?”

Lowering the perisher, McNeil said, “Infantry, sir. Those Huns are bringing up mortars, getting them in position, storm troops with machine guns and flamethrowers right behind them. Another five-ten minutes and we’ll be overrun.” He sleeved sweat from his low forehead.

“Maybe those scarpers figured the odds right, eh, Staff?”

“No better way to die than up against it, sir. Six generations of McNeils have served in Her Majesty’s army and I’ll be damned before I turn.”

Davenport grinned and clapped his staff sergeant on the shoulder. “You’re a good man, McNeil. I’ll be sure to put you in for promotion when we’re drafted into God’s army.”

“Can’t we pull back, sir?”

“To where? It’s a hundred yards to the next line and the way those tanks are firing, every man jack of us will be plugged straightaway.” Davenport checked his revolver to make sure it was fully loaded. His face was naturally pale so he couldn’t be accused of blanching in the face of duty. He had chipped plaster cheeks and a crooked nose with large black nostrils. A prim school teacher sort. “Afraid there’s nothing for it but to go down faces front and the Lord’s Prayer on our lips.” He brought his weapon chest-high and opened his mouth to order a suicidal charge over the bags.

McNeil caught the captain’s elbow.

Davenport frowned. “What, Staff?”

McNeil cocked his head like a foxhound on point. “Something’s coming, sir … planes, yeah.”

“Then they must be Richthofen’s. His damned squadron owns the skies over Cambrai.”

McNeil pointed and said, “Well, there’s some of our flyboys don’t know that, sir!”

Davenport trembled at the sight of three gunmetal gray Bristol Fighters streaking out from behind the clouds. The two-seater bi-planes were fast, agile and deadly effective.

“My sweet Lord,” Davenport murmured. “They must be either total madmen or the luckiest fliers alive. How the bloody hell did they get past Richthofen?”

The two men watched the planes pass over the array of tanks and German infantry beyond. A few Germans took potshots at the planes but it was an empty gesture. None of the rounds came anywhere near the screaming fighters. The planes were famously powered by Rolls Royce Falcon engines. The British marooned in the trenches relaxed their trigger fingers and allowed for a measure of hope.

The Bristol Fighters broke formation and peeled off in divergent loops to join again over the enemy. The first plane opened up with its forward Vickers machine gun, strafing the infantry. A swath of Germans convulsed under the unforgiving barrage. Blood misted the air. Those on their feet after the initial salvo weren’t upright for long. The gunner engaged the rear-facing Lewis: vip-vip-vip. Hot lead ripped into flesh and shattered bone. The dead and wounded turned the mud carmine.

The second plane went pell-mell for the tanks. As it zoomed in low, the gunner didn’t use his Lewis; instead, he tossed stubby, tear-shaped bombs. The plane came in so fast the gunner had time to drop only two. But his aim was spot on. Both struck home in successive flashes.

British broke into cautious cheers. The remaining tanks started back into the trees but were unable to get the necessary speed to avoid the plane’s second pass. Two more A7Vs were blasted to trifling scrap.

The third Bristol Fighter circled high above the mayhem, presumably on the lookout for enemy fighters. The German air ace Baron von Richthofen and his squadron of ravening killers had driven off the Royal Flying Corps days ago. If McNeil had told Davenport this morning that three British planes would come to his aid by afternoon, he would have thought the man barmy.

The cowed Germans scattered and ran for safety. Soldiers weighed down with flamethrowers abandoned their weapons to speed their retreat. The first Bristol Fighter dived at the fleeing men like a hawk stooping after choice field mice. The Vickers roared bullets. The rounds perforated a couple of discarded petrol tanks. Eight men disappeared in the ensuing fireballs so quickly they had no chance to scream or cry for relief. One took a full ten steps mantled in flames before finally, mercifully, collapsing.

The last of the tank crews abandoned their vehicles, clambering from their hatches to join the mass withdrawal. The second Bristol Fighter hurried them along with bursts of strafing fire and a couple of precision-thrown bombs. Another pair of tanks went up in plumes of fire.

The British, astonished and reassured, cheered with more and more confidence. Some isolated groups even assayed a celebratory song. And why not? A few short minutes ago they’d faced certain destruction and now here they stood, alive, wonderfully alive. Perhaps they would die tomorrow or the day after, but for now it was enough to live amid the receding battlenoise.

The Bristol Fighters formed up and came in for a joint landing on the denuded plot between the forward and support trenches. Captain Davenport and Staff Sergeant McNeil climbed up to full sunlight. Once the stout McNeil caught his breath, he gave out orders to his men: “Remain where you are and see to the wounded. The Captain and I will have a word with the lads, yeah. You’ll have plenty of time to thank em. Just hold your positions and keep your eyes peeled.”

The pilots and gunners shimmied out of the cockpits, flushed from the heat of their weapons. Davenport noted they hadn’t gone unchallenged. There were constellations of bullet holes across the wings and fuselages. The planes carried seven men in total. “The extra man must have crammed in with one of the gunners, Captain,” McNeil grunted. “Ballsy bastards.”

The lead pilot removed his leather aviator’s cap and goggles to reveal black hair trimmed to military standards and light blue eyes made small from effort. He was a wiry six foot three and moved with an easy, vigorous stride. He acknowledged Davenport with a smart salute. “Lieutenant Quigg reporting, sir.”

Davenport returned the salute while trying to hide his shock at the pilot’s youth. Despite his size, Quigg looked scarcely old enough to have graduated Sixth Form. “At ease, son. Which squadron are you with?”

“Begging the captain’s pardon, sir, you would be …?”

McNeil jumped forward, his face darkening. “Cheeky little bugger! The captain was killing Huns before you was breeched and you—”

The captain placed a stern hand on McNeil’s shoulder. “That’ll do, Staff. It’s well to be reminded of protocol now and again, and he’s more than earned the right.” He turned to Quigg and said, “Captain Davenport, Third Army, Eighth Eastern Division. And this fellow with the Chesterfield manners is Staff Sergeant McNeil.”

The staff sergeant barely registered his name. “Blast and damn!” McNeil blurted, staring at the pilot’s team. Now that they also had removed their caps and goggles one thing was clear: they were as young, if not younger, than their squad leader. “I got tinned meats older’n these lads.”

“Lads that fight and fly like men,” Davenport said. “Lieutenant, I take it you were looking for us?”

“Aye, sir. You should’ve received orders to assist my squad on a matter of great urgency.” He spoke in a firm but cordial Irish brogue.

Davenport was instantly impressed with the lieutenant’s demeanor. The youth didn’t so much as wrinkle his nose at the pervasive reek of piss and shit and rotting death. He might be a boy, but he had the self-possession of a canny old sweat. “I’m not aware of any such orders. But we’ve been out of touch with HQ for some time. Your arrival was just the hammer. I thought Richthofen had the air war decided.”

Quigg’s disconcertingly blue eyes shadowed over. “We left Duxford with a three plane escort but ran across the enemy some thirty miles west. Our escorts—they …” He shook his head then, recovering his voice, quoted from a popular Irish poem, “Our skies have many a new gold star.”

“Amen, son.” Davenport grimaced at the sentiment. He was inured to the larger carnage by necessity, but individual deaths still had the power to evoke raw emotions. The war hadn’t bled the feeling out of him yet. He started to lead the way to his command dugout. “Come along then. We’ll contact HQ and get this sorted.” He gave the pilot a sidelong glance. There was something familiar about the lieutenant’s name. Hold on, he thought. He recalled a Daily Herald story from a year or so past about an Irish lad with peculiar qualities nicknamed Strongboy … The realization forced a grin. “You wouldn’t happen to be …?”

“Aye, sir. That I am.” The pilot worked his jaw to suppress a shy smile. “Lieutenant Nolin Quigg of the Fifth Royal Irish Lancers. And these,” he said, gesturing to the youths flanking him on either side, “are the so-called Lost Boys.” He met the captain’s eye with a sobering look. “At the risk of sounding immodest, sir, we’re here to end this ruddy war.”

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Author Interview and Excerpt: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Today I am interviewing Silvia Moreno-Garcia, author of the new urban fantasy novel, Certain Dark Things.

◊  ◊  ◊

DJ: Hi Silvia! For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Silvia Morena-Garcia: I am a Mexican writer now living in Canada, English is my second language. My first novel, Signal to Noise, came out last year and was nominated for the British Fantasy, Locus, Aurora and Sunburst Awards. I am co-editor for the magazine The Dark and also co-editor for The Mexican Literary Review. I have been nominated for a World Fantasy Award for my work on the anthology She Walks in Shadows. Certain Dark Things is my second novel.

 DJ: What is CERTAIN DARK THINGS about?

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Silvia: Atl, a descendant of Aztec vampires, is on the run from a rival vampire cartel. She hides in Mexico City where she meets a street kid called Domingo, hoping to evade her pursuers, but they are hot on her tracks and now there’s a cop also looking for her.

DJ: What were some of your influences for CERTAIN DARK THINGS?

Silvia: I wrote the book as a love letter to Mexican noir and to the movie El Vampiro. I loved when Ninón Sevilla appeared in movies and lured men to their doom.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?

Silvia: I think sympathy is overrated. I mean, people watch shows about cannibal killers and that doesn’t sound sympathetic to me. Atl is a vampire inspired by Mexican folklore, so she doesn’t necessarily follow the “rules” of stuff like Dracula. She can’t turn people into vampires and she doesn’t give a shit about crosses.

Domingo is a kid from the streets of Mexico City. He’s smart and resourceful, and he’s in awe of Atl. There’s also Nick, the member of a rival vampire clan who is out for revenge, and Ana, a cop trying to survive in a corrupt system. Continue reading

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Spotlight and Excerpt: Eye of the Storm by Frank Cavallo

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Horror and dark fantasy author Frank Cavallo’s work has appeared in magazines such as Another Realm, Ray Gun Revival, Every Day Fiction, Lost Souls and the Warhammer e-zine Hammer and Bolter.

His latest novel, Eye of the Storm, was released in August 2016 by Ravenswood Publishing.

“In Eye of the Storm, I try to bring back some of the elements that I like from old time pulp fiction,” says Frank. “It is a throwback to old school adventure stories, combining the pacing and the feel of those classic tales with some newer elements that are not all that common to typical fantasy fiction.”

Frank’s previously published works include The Lucifer Messiah, The Hand of Osiris, and the Gotrek & Felix novella Into the Valley of Death. He is currently working on a new novel, The Rites of Azathoth, with Necro Publications, due out in February 2017.

Frank was born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications in 1994 and he earned a JD from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2001. He currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio, where he has been a criminal defense attorney for fifteen years.

Readers can connect with Frank on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to http://www.frankcavallo.com/


Eye of the Storm

by Frank Cavallo

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Excerpt and Giveaway: The Bloodbound Trilogy by Erin Lindsey

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Erin Lindsey is on a quest to write the perfect summer vacation novel, with just the right blend of action, heartbreak, and triumph. The Bloodbound series is her first effort. She divides her time between Brookyn, NY and Calgary, Alberta. She also writes fantasy mysteries as E.L. Tettensor.


*The pubsliher was kind enough to provide one (1) set of the entire Bloodbound trilogy by Erin Lindsey, to go along with this except! That’s all three (3) books!!!! The link and details for the giveaway are located at the bottom of the post, following the interview :)


The Bloodsworn (Bloodbound #3)

by Erin Lindsey

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Excerpt and Giveaway: A Star-Reckoner’s Lot by Darrell Drake

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Darrell Drake has published four books, with A Star-Reckoner’s Lot being the latest. He often finds himself inspired by his research to take on new hobbies. Birdwatching, archery, stargazing, and a heightened interest in history have all become a welcome part of his life thanks to this habit.

http://www.astarreckonerslot.com

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A Star-Reckoner’s Lot (excerpt chapters 1-3)

by Darrell Drake

I

There comes a time in every child’s life when even the disappointed stare of a much-loved, much-respected father is not enough to smother the stupidity of youth. This was Ashtadukht’s time.

She’d wandered off some time prior, her brother reluctantly in tow, as she was wont to do. It had occurred to her that doing so during a royal hunt would be dangerous; it had also occurred to her that it’d be thrilling. Caution had lost that battle, squashed beneath the tenacious curiosity of childhood.

So it was that this day found the siblings mired in an especially precarious situation, one of the sort that threatened the course of history.

“I think we’re lost,” said Ashtadukht. She gripped her brother’s arm and leaned into him. Having an illness that made physical exertion bothersome on the best of days never really stopped her. If anything, it only made her more intent on finding trouble—to challenge her handicap and overcome it. And the presence of her brother meant she benefitted from the reassurance of his carrying her back if she overexerted herself, as he’d done many times in the past.

“We are not lost,” contested Gushnasp. He accepted her weight without realizing it; it’d become second nature for the boy. “We are right where you want us to be. You are not fooling anyone.” He’d been dragged on these adventures often enough to know her aim, and more than anything it irritated him that she persisted in her lie. It was insulting. He wasn’t dull, and he didn’t need convincing to take care of his little sister. “You are—”

“Oh!”
“What?”
“Shhh! There’s something up ahead.” Ashtadukht hunkered down behind an old yew

and peered around, eyes gleaming with excitement. A feeling had led her to this spot, had expressed in what were unspoken but very clear words that she wanted to be here. The why never mattered; she never even bothered asking herself why.

Because he wanted to indulge her, and because he was the more circumspect of the pair, Gushnasp followed suit and squatted behind the trunk.

The thicket they’d been exploring gave way to a small clearing just ahead. The far edge was lined with low-hanging branches and dense shrubbery that stirred in the wake of some hoarsely grunting creature. Ashtadukht leaned forward. Her brother’s hand came to rest gently but firmly on her shoulder, a preemptory tether.

Out charged what Ashtadukht believed to be the largest boar anyone had ever seen, raking at the earth and shaking its head. The beast had shoulders higher than Gushnasp,

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