Saturday, February 28, 2015

February Roundup

Despite colds, cold weather and general winter misery, it's been very busy around here!  

Under Julia has been featured on Underground Book Reviews as a Pitch Perfect Pick.

Check out Pitch Perfect Picks here.
Like Underground Book Reviews on Facebook here.

Also, Livin' la vida Latina is hosting their VIVA LA RAZA book giveaway starting March 1.  Enter to win one of seven books by Latino authors:

Owen Parr – Due Diligence
Sylvia Wright – Misplaced
Tony Levario – The Last Pachuco 
Lizzie Eldridge – Duende
Simon Vincent - Waypoint 90 - In the Chambers of the Sea
Mary de la Pena - An Immigrant American Hero
Lauren Scharhag - West Side Girl & Other Poems

Best of luck, and as always, happy reading!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vampires and Starr girls:an interview with multi-genre author Dani Hoots

1. Tell us about the book you want to promote.  What inspired you to write it? 

I currently have two novella collections for sale. The first is A Falling Starr Trilogy that follows a girl who has no memory of her past. A year goes by and she is suddenly chased by some men and is taken to another planet by a guy she just met. He tells her that this is where she is from and she tries to solve who exactly she was on this planet, why there are people after her, and why she can’t remember any of it. The individual novellas are available as ebooks and the collection is available in paperback. My inspiration for this series was actually two songs: “A Spaceman Came Travelling” by Chris de Burgh and the music video “Take On Me” by a-Ha. Something about these two songs triggered this story in my head when I was in high school and my dream of being taken away by a space traveler to the stars.

The second novella collection, A World of Vampires, follows different vampire myths and legends from around the world. In the first paperback collection, I talk about the Wyandot Native American tribe’s Hooh-Strah-Dooh, the Scottish Baobhan Sith, the Romanian Strigoi, and the Chinese Jiangshi. Each takes place in a different point in history and in a different area on Earth. It’s a bit of different take on vampires, having done research in different myths and legends instead of making another modern version. Each novella is available as an ebook and the first four are available as a paperback. There will be a total of twelve in the series. The fifth will be out in late February. My inspiration for these stories is just the fact that there aren’t too many historical takes on vampires, but mostly modern recreations.

2. How much of the books are pure fiction and how much are rooted in real events, or even autobiographical?

For A Falling Starr, the book is mainly fiction, other than almost all that is in Portland are real places (the only place that is not is the crepe place at the Saturday Market). But none of the things that happen are real since it is science fiction.

As for A World of Vampires, the characters themselves are not real, but the historical aspects are. For example, in “Hooh-Strah-Dooh,” it takes place during 1930s Boston and one of the main characters is part of the Irish mob. He isn’t real, but the things that happen during that time are and some of his friends are real Irish mobsters, such as the Wallace brother of the Gustin Gang.

3. Which of your character(s) do you identify with the most?

Good questions! A lot of my friends say that I am exactly like Angela Starr in A Falling Starr, but I tend to disagree. I think she is a lot nicer than me. For each character, there can be little aspects of me that I add, just so I identify with them better, but not really exactly me.

4. Why did you become a writer?

Because I love stories! I love researching things and learning more about the world. I also love to help distract people from their everyday lives and worries. Traveling around to conventions and meeting people is a big plus as well!

5. What’s your writing routine like? 

I try to write as much as possible. If I’m not writing, I am definitely thinking about a story in my head and figuring out all the details. I like writing anywhere, but I do love my nerd study, although it’s a mess right now and needs to be cleaned. I usually type everything out now instead of hand writing, but if I am working at a convention, then I will bring a notebook to write in. I listen to music that has the same tone of my story I am writing, but my favorites to listen to are Rammstein, Oomph!, Schoolyard Heroes, SJ Tucker and Memphis May Fire.

6. Do you stick to just one genre, or do you write in multiple genres?  Why?

I am beginning to write in a lot of different genres, actually. I write science fiction, fantasy (urban, historical, etc), romance, young adult, horror and historical fiction. I love expanding what I write and going beyond my comfort zone and just see what’s out there for me to enjoy. The romance series I am working on now is called My Broken Heart series. The first novella Hanami will be out in late March.  I also have a horror novella called Gretyl that is free for download on my website.

7. What’s your favorite medium—novels, short stories, flash fic, etc.?  Why?

I like novels and novellas just because they have a little more substance in the way of characterization, but that doesn’t mean flash fiction and short stories don’t have awesome characters.  I just like more words to get to know my characters.

8. What are your favorite books/authors?

My favorite books are Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn, Foundation by Isaac Asimov, April in Paris by Michael Wallner, Something From the Nightside by Simon R. Green. The list goes on!

9. What books are you reading right now?

Currently, I am reading Another by Yukito Ayatsuji and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.

10. Are there any emerging authors that you’re excited about?

I loved Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter and hope she writes more young adult fiction, but also my friends in my writing group I hope have great luck with their novels since they are all very talented!

11. Do you have a work-in-progress you’d like to tell us about?

I have way too many WIP to talk about, but I would like to mention two in particular. I have a novel called The Quest that I currently seeking publication for. It is about a girl who is ripped away from her family and becomes the Emperor’s Shadow, a deadly assassin. She follows all of his orders until one day she runs into her long lost brother. He wants her to help him find the lost planet of Sanshli where he believes they would be able to destroy the Empire and bring the Second Republic back into existence. Her loyalty is to the Emperor, but the more she finds about Sanshli and her past, the more she begins to wonder what she is doing is right.  

The other project I want to mention is about a comic called Hel’s Labyrinth I am working on with a friend of mine. It is about a girl who is swept into a deadly circus labyrinth that is controlled by Hel herself as she tries to start Ragnarok. She must defeat the different the different levels of the labyrinth in order to stop Ragnarok in time. We are hoping to get the first one out this summer, so if you are interested, please follow me on Facebook or Twitter as we will have a Kickstarter for this project soon!

Links to Purchase A Falling Starr

Links to Purchase A World of Vampires

About Dani Hoots

I am an author, blogger, photographer, artist, traveler, and lover of learning new things. If I am not working on a project or homework, I am probably reading a history book, studying the German language, or finding a new recipe to try at home. My interests include European history, astronomy, environmental advocacy, human osteology, urban planning, and DIY projects. Currently, I am pursuing my masters in urban and environmental planning student at Arizona State University and planning to move to Seattle to work in the environmental advocacy field and to write fiction. I live with my amazing husband and two rowdy kitties.

Connect with Dani

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Shadows: The Return Has Begun - YA fantasy by Alouy Martinez

Destiny is about to change. What lurks in the shadows may change the destiny of six young lives forever. That is, if they can survive at all. The Shadows: The Return Has Begun, the heart-pounding young adult debut novel by Alouy Martinez, is a tale of mystery, suspense, action, and romance that charts the perilous course of six young characters as their fates unfold, and their true identities are revealed as the formidable entities known as The Shadows. Dramatic, dark, and alluring, this enthralling work of fiction goes where no vampire or werewolf novel has ever gone before. The Shadows: The Return Has Begun shares the points of view of the six young characters as they journey together to Paris, France. They are Ashlenn Vandenhoff, Melinda Wadsworth, Darcy Roswell, Christopher De Groot, Kaden Worthington, and Justin Fraser. In Paris, each must grapple with his or her own inner demons. However, it soon becomes chillingly evident that someone is in bloodthirsty pursuit of them all. They soon thereafter realize their destiny as The Shadows, beings created over two thousand years ago to restore order to the unbroken rules of The Heavenly Laws. Upon their demise in 486 AD, a prophecy was born as they took their lives into their own hands. That prophecy marked their return. However this time, destiny won’t control them. At the onset of the novel, Ashlenn is having visions of her parents’ death, but she chooses to ignore them. As the novel shifts perspective from one character to the next, plots diverge, then intertwine again. Similarly, each of the characters in The Shadows brings into light his or her most hidden moments, only to face a destiny that may be even more terrifying yet. Will they overcome forces that are primed to wage deadly battle against them all? And can they face their own demons as they do? The Shadows: The Return Has Begun creates a new legion of deadly foes that rages through every gripping page of this wildly inventive, gripping new novel.

Chapter 8 - The Return

The darkness made it impossible to distinguish where everyone stood, but I quickly spotted Melinda’s golden hair and from there my eyes adjusted to see the others. Kaden and Christopher were still on their knees, but no rope was tied around them. I ran toward Kaden, dropping with a thud that almost sent him on his back as I hugged him.
“Are you okay?” My voice sounded low and flat.
“Is he okay?” Melinda shouted. “All hell breaks loose and all you have to ask is if he’s okay!”
“It’s not her fault.” Kaden pulled me up. “It’s nobody’s fault.”
“Ha, figures—it’s nobody’s fault—when you and Ashlenn knew exactly what was going on.”
There was a brief silence, and then Justin looked at us both and asked, “What is she talking about?”
Melinda cleared her throat. “I saw them passing notes earlier; one of them said something like, ‘We should tell Ms. Smith,’ but did you?” We stood silent and she continued, “Of course you didn’t, but I should’ve known this was coming.” She stopped and directed her eyes at me. “But no, you wanted to ignore your stupid dreams, didn’t you? Well, guess what, Ashlenn, my mother is…all because of you.”
Her words cut like knives, knives that I felt deeply because it was true; in a way it was my fault. I should’ve done something. I should’ve trusted my visions, but I didn’t, and now I had to pay the consequences.
Melinda dropped to her knees with Darcy by her side. They both cried. I wanted to cry, too, to release the anger, the pain, everything that was bottled up inside of me.
It hurt me seeing them like this. It hurt me that because of me everything was lost, our lives, our families, our friendship. “I’m sorry.” It’s all that I managed to say as tears blurred my vision. Even though the words couldn’t fix anything, I dropped on all fours and screamed them as loud as I could. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry for everything! I’m sorry!”
Kaden grabbed me by the waist and pulled me up. “It’s not your fault. It’s nobody’s fault. How many times do I have to say it? Things happen, and just because some stupid dream came to life, it doesn’t mean it’s her fault.” He gazed at the others and said, “Aren’t we a family, too?” Nobody answered. “Well, we should start acting like one because we are all we have.”
Nobody dared to say anything. Instead, we all stood there, soaking up each other’s misery, the ghosts that hunted us, the unbearable pain of loss and regret.
“Well, not that I want to break the dramatic mood or anything, but where the fuck are we?” Justin asked.
Yes, where are we, I wondered, and most importantly, how did we get here?
I gazed down at my necklace, but it was gone, not even a burn or sign that it had been there remained.
“Where’s your necklace?” Christopher asked as he too noticed it was gone.
“I don’t know,” I said as I watched his eyes fill with hatred. “I must have dropped it when it brought us here.”
“Oh! Did it really? Or did one of your dreams tell you that, too?”
I backed away, but he started walking my way.
“Hey, man, chill out,” Justin stepped between us, but Christopher shoved him to the side like a rag doll. Kaden, who was already in front of me, took the blow before it could strike me.
They both rolled on the ground, hits and kicks flying from side to side until Kaden pinned him down.
“Snap out of it,” Kaden yelled at him.
“She killed my parents! How can I let that go?” he screamed.
I didn’t know if it was his words, or that he wanted to punch me, but I walked right up to them, and told Kaden to step aside.
“Get up.” I offered Christopher my hand, but he only stared at it. “Fine, don’t. But if you’re going to blame me for something I didn’t do, be a man and say it to my face. Don’t go around trying to solve everything with violence, and you know what? If you want to hit me, hit me. Because you don’t know how much I blame myself for what’s happened.”
I didn’t know I was crying until Christopher stood up and pulled me to his chest. He sobbed and told me he was sorry, but the guilt still remained there, a silent enemy that wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Christopher’s arm was bleeding, probably because of Kaden, or the men who attacked us, but as one of my tears dropped to his wound and mixed with his blood, shadowy lines coiled around it. The moment the lines hit the ground, the wind became hollow, or at least that’s how it seemed, and sand erupted into the air and froze.
“Blood and love shall set them free,” a voice echoed through the night, seconds before the earth spilt in two.
“Now what?” Melinda shrieked.
Christopher and I stepped away from each other, looking at the ground as a circular concrete tomb raised us all in the air. Sand was falling all around the sides of the crypt, revealing a six-pointed star. Around and inside the star were symbols that seemed to blaze with fire, or magma, yet no heat radiated from it, only small, red embers that danced into the night.
I tried to move, but my body was stiff and rigid. I looked around me and noticed that everyone else was having the same problem. Suddenly, we became suspended in the air. My hair swirled around my shoulders as we were moved by some invisible force to each of the star’s points. From the center of the star, a thick black mist dissolved into the air. From this mist, six figures began to form, each of them hovering before us. Their bodies never merged into one form, and they kept changing into different wisps of air, but their faces were completely visible showing their gaunt cheekbones and the open mouths of tortured souls.
I knew I should’ve been scared, or at least surprised to see them. But there was something in their eyes that made me feel safe.
The air turn cold, and for an instant I felt as if the world had gone rigid, unyielding against the laws of nature. Voices whispered around us, chanting in a language that wasn’t familiar to my ears. Yet the sounds were enthralling, alluring, like the sound of thunder, rain, wind, and life filling the atmosphere.
My body went numb, and before my eyes I saw my life passing by. Each memory was succeeded by a new one, images of my past life, the person who I used to be, and the person who I would become. For a while I could feel my body going at full speed through a vast meadow. My feet burned on the ground, on water, on air, on earth. I was free, free from the problems of reality, from the nature of the human body. I was alive, and I was dead. I was in a place where one’s questions were answered with the truth, and where pain and sorrow were only recollections from a life no longer mine.
Unfortunately, this vision vanished away, leaving behind an excruciating emptiness in my heart. One of the shadows was standing before me, her eyes gazing at me with passion. Traces of long brunette hair began to show, her eyes were hazel like mine, and her nose, mouth, and forehead matched mine as well. It was as if I was looking at myself in the mirror, except she appeared to know who she was, what she wanted, and where she was going. She was the part of me I could never reveal, the beauty, the passion, and the love that would make any person turn and gaze.
I watched with astonishment as her body shivered back to the dark silhouette. Her scrawny hands reached toward me, sending an excruciating spasm throughout my body. As she touched me, she ignited into screams; all of them did, loud enough to make anyone’s ears ring. Her ghostliness didn't scare me; it only made me aware of every movement that she made. Then everything grew silent; there was no sound, no air, no pain, and no anxiety that consumed me, only the dark. I could feel my soul becoming strong and vindictive as the hands of the woman held me tight.
Her cloak of dark mist wrapped around my waist, floating gracefully up in the air. She whispered something in my ear that awakened the wisdom in my soul. My eyes became sensitive to every activity that encircled us. She kissed me on the mouth, pushing her breath down my throat. The pain and the anxiety that had vanished a while ago came back, hitting me like a punch. My life was ending, and memories began to flash in my head. My mother’s tears, my father’s last words, and the torturous pain of their deaths. I could sense the spirit of the woman possessing me, becoming part of me. Her thoughts, her feelings, and her past life became my own.
I was that woman; she was my past life, my present, and my future. She was…no…I’m a Shadow and this is our return. It’s the return of a war that for centuries had been kept in the dark, a war where those who had spilled their blood for secrecy would once again spill their blood to try to stop us.
When everything ended, I fell down onto the crypt; my body was fragile and unaware of my surroundings. I could hear the wind roaring through the sky followed by a loud explosion that smashed the tomb beneath us. After that, I felt my body fading away into a bright light. I covered my eyes as the light became more intense and strong, but then someone stepped in it, a small silhouette of a woman.
Mom, is that you?

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About Alouy Martinez

Alouy Martinez is a creative writing major at Sul Ross State University.  In high school, Martinez won several art contests and was a member of the National Honor Society.  The Shadows: The Return Has Begun is his debut novel and first major project, both in the media of writing and art.  He was born in Hobbs, New Mexico.  When not in school, he currently resides in Presidio, Texas.

For more about the author and his book, visit:

Thanks for reading!  Please feel free to leave questions/comments for Alouy below.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Aware": a scifi short by David S Reynolds

Jenkins’ biggest problem was not the huge hole that had been carved out of the hull of her ore runner by the uncharted chunk of rock in space, nor was it fighting off the insanity of being alone and stuck in space. Her biggest problem was working with a robot that she hated.

“Shit.”  The voice was almost inaudible.

Jenkins looked across her navigation reports to the operations station where Christo was bent over his screen intently muttering to himself.  “What is it?”

Christo didn’t reply at first.  The only noise was the slight hum of the exodrives pushing the ship forward at faster than light speeds.


Christo finally looked up.  “Cut the drives!”  Jenkins saw terror etched deeply in the face that now looked at her.

“What?  There’s nothing out-”

“Do it!” Christo yelled, cutting her off.

In all the years of pushing ore across the stars Jenkins had never heard Christo lose his cool.  She hit the emergency stop without even thinking about it.  The ship shuddered out of exospace as the stress of the sudden deceleration threatened to rip the reinforced hull to shreds.  A horrible vibration rattled the deck accompanied by the muted sound of metal tearing.

The silence after the violence was deafening.  The crew of Ore Runner Teresa knew that even in an emergency stop, the ship should hold together.  What they heard and felt was not normal.

“What was that?”  Jenkins asked, breaking the silence.

“Something hit us.”

“Impossible.” Jenkins replied, “Nothing was on the scope.”

“Then the scope must be broken, because we are losing atmosphere.  Send a repair bot to check the scope while I do a hull scan.”

“Aren’t those damn things supposed to keep on top of the scope?  That’s why we bought ‘em.”

Christo ignored the mutterings of his partner.  Jenkins had never liked the idea of robots on the ship; she didn’t trust them like she did humans.  Sometimes Christo himself wished for more people to man the ship, even if it was just to have someone other than Jenkins to talk to, but the truth was people were expensive.  Not just in wages, but also in food, air, and weight.  The three repair bots weighed as much as one average human, didn’t eat anything, and could do jobs that were too dangerous for humans.  Like repair the tear in the hull he just found.  With a sigh, he sent a command to bots two and three to head to the airlock to start repairs.

Jenkins peered over Christo’s shoulder.  “Find somethin’?”

“Tear in the hull.”  Christo replied pointing at the display, “I bet it was just a crack caused by hitting something but got bigger with the emergency stop.  Did the bot report back on the scope?”

“Ya.  Looks like some sort of overload.  No info on what caused it.”  Jenkins looked in awe at the hole in the side of the ship.  “Lucky you caught that.  If it had gotten any bigger it could have caught in the slipstream and ripped us open like a can opener.”

They watched as the repair bots made their way across the hull to the breach and started working.

“Admit it,” Christo said “even you would rather have robots doing that than be out there yourself.”

“I guess so.”  A light started blinking on the navigation panel drawing Jenkins’s attention.  “Looks like the scope is back on line.”

Just as Jenkins started back to her post to check the readout a siren screamed out a warning.  Jenkins ran to the panel and saw that the warning was too late.  Something was about to hit the ship and she could do nothing about it.

“Hang on!” she shouted to Christo just before the stray meteor smashed into the hull causing the ship to lurch out of control.

Purchase “Aware”

About David S Reynolds

David S Reynolds lives in Tucson, AZ with his lovely wife, a crazy dog, and a demanding cat.  He splits his time between teaching GED classes, taking photos, flying model airplanes, writing short stories, and riding his motorcycles around southern Arizona.

Connect with David: 
Twitter: @davidsreynolds1
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Thanks for reading!  Please feel free to leave questions/comments for David below.  If you like sci-fi, check out Vanessa Finaughty and T.C. Southwell.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Serin Prophecy: New Fantasy by Bryan O'Neill

About The Serin Prophecy: The Chronicles of Kari
On a world known as Serin, a brazen young girl named Kari was fed up with her dead-end job as a barmaid. She drank away most of her nights, dreaming of fame, fortune and adventure beyond the confining walls of The Hollmig’s Den.  

She thought she was forsaken by the gods. Little did she know the gods had plans for her. Kari learns she is a just one of many pieces needed to solve The Serin Prophecy; a prophecy that could destroy her world.

On a world known as Serin, in the Kingdom of Navaya, a majestic castle stood against a roaring sea on a rocky coast. This city, named Korvia, was the seat of power in this land. Deep in its great halls, a man walked with a feverish gait.

"We are running out of time," Alcor said to the boy following him. His words echoed as they entered the library. Close behind him was Kale, his student, a man barely into adulthood trying his best to keep up.

"What do you mean running out of time?"

"Something happened again. The guide stars are changing. Something is very wrong."

"What's happening?"

Alcor climbed a ladder looking for a particular book. He ran his finger down the dusty texts stopping at a thick unremarkable book. He took it from the shelf then threw it down to Kale.

"Check the back of the book. Tell me if there is a map there."

Kale thumbed quickly to the page.


Alcor looked at the book with Kale.

"That star! That's the one."

"What about it?"

"It's dimming."

"Is that a problem?"

"It's dimming faster than it should."

Kale's face went white with fear.

Purchase The Serin Prophecy: The Chronicles of Kari

Genre:  Adult Fantasy
Date of Publication:  May 18th, 2014
Publisher:  FastPencil
ISBN-13:  978-1-60-746689-5
Number of Pages: 88

Author Bio
In his youth, a love of cinema forged Bryan into a lover of fantasy and science fiction. Later, books became the polish to the rougher edges of his mind. He thought about writing a screenplay but shelved the idea to create The Serin Prophecy series instead. He plans to continue his work on the fantasy novels (The plan is a six book series with other novellas focusing on important characters). He was recently recognized in USA Today for a nonfiction work called Original Plots: The Unified Field Theory of Storytelling. In his spare time he loves to camp and go to conventions. He currently lives in Indianapolis, IN.

Connect with Bryan

Thanks for reading!  Please feel free to leave questions/comments below.  If you like fantasy, check out these authors: Richie Earl, Vanessa Finaughty, G. Russell Gaynor, Dana Journey, Katy Krump and David Temrick