“A New Universe Awaits” by @wmschlichter #spaceopera #scifi #amreading #books

First there was Buck Rogers, then came Ripley. Now, we introduce you to Commander Reynard and the characters of The Silver Dragon Chronicles, a new space saga by William Schlichter, author of the No Room In Hell series. To celebrate the release of Enter the Sandmen, book one of The Silver Dragon Chronicles, we turn our blog over to William Schlichter because…

Enter The Sandmen by William Schlichter

A New Universe Awaits… by William Schlichter

Modern day horror/thriller authors derive inspiration from the masters of the phantasmagoric throughout the literary and film world. When I write stories of the undead, or even explore other supernatural creatures, pointing out a source of inspiration seems easier to define. Night of the Living Dead—the definitive work to which all things undead are measured—is the primary origin for most zombie works. I am no exception.

When it comes to my sci-fi fantasy world, it’s not as easy to pin down an all-inspiring force as it might seem. My earliest childhood memory was watching Star Wars at the drive-in. I did fall asleep before the Death Star exploded. Blasphemy, I know, but I was three-and-a-half years old. Now while my friends wanted to be Han or a Jedi, I had grander ambitions. I knew from witnessing the majestic space epic. I played with the action figures—no one collected them then—but they did not always remain Han and Luke. My imagination flowed into my own galaxy far far away.

My father further spawned my sci-fi interest. He would tell me I should watch this movie or that television show. One I clearly remember was Battle Beyond the Stars. Little did I recognize The Magnificent Seven remake—in space. My parents introduced me to Doctor Who and others, but also to actors like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

Enter The Sandmen by William Schlichter

One aspect of many Eastwood films, especially those where he directed and starred in, was this growth of the surrogate family—people who may not ordinarily belong together and become inseparable, like the character Josey Wales. The same can be seen with Star Trek’s Kirk and Spock. Kirk and Spock became brothers and both joined Star Fleet. I find those themes rewarding, and many of my characters in The Silver Dragon Chronicles have lost family and their entire culture because of warfare. Non-writers might think, “Oh, that’s easy. You don’t have to develop a world for these characters.” But several of the characters try even harder to hold onto their alien culture, which requires more detail to expand on their character. Creating backstories for societies never seen or hardly discussed takes time, but enriches a character and the overall novel universe. The more I write and work with them—even on side stories that may never see the light of print—develops a stronger, more believable character.

Well-rounded and developed characters are what keep us reading as we explore the hero’s journey. I could toss out literary jargon I learned as I earned college degrees, but whether the hanging curtain’s blue because I had some deeper symbolic meaning, or I just thought curtains needed to be labeled a color and I picked blue, is not as important as if I create characters the reader cares about.

All stories boil down to the characters and how they deal with a situation. This is where tropes come into play. How does a character deal with the same situation the reader has seen in multiple books? How do they handle it differently?

In No Room In Hell: The Good, The Bad, and the Undead, I wanted to explore how intelligent people would deal with dead rising during an apocalypse. In The Silver Dragon Chronicles: Enter the Sandmen, Commander Reynard is the trophic Buck Rogers, John Crichton and, to an extent, Ellen Ripley—all of which are characters blown from their natural element and placed in a situation where they are outsiders by time and space. Crichton and Rogers were already pilots and scientists, but what if they weren’t? What if they were just placed in the situation fresh out of high school? Even if receiving training in future technologies, how do they deal when the overwhelming larger universe’s now thrust upon them?

Star Trek eliminates poverty, hunger, money, but would addiction be able to be suppressed? How do people in the future deal with loss—real loss of loved ones? When war is a constant looming threat and human life has little meaning to other more superior alien races, how do intelligent characters deal?

Many characters during the course of the Silver Dragon Chronicles will deal with the question of how far they are willing to go to prevent a war, and if they will do what is just over what is lawful. Rampant prejudice toward humans looms over the crew. War means the destruction of planets and forever on the horizon looms a darker evil no one has a way to combat.

Those are just some deep buried themes throughout the course of the series. On the surface it’s a sword and spaceships adventure with humor, sister issues, planet hopping and more aliens than were in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

About Enter The Sandmen

The universe will never be the same

Thirty years after the Battle of the Twin Suns…

Smuggling weapons to rebel forces seeking to overthrow the Federation proved successful for the Silver Dragon crew. As war encroaches on the known galaxy, the crew’s personal agendas surface. Amye Jones especially seeks to escape her own sultry past, face her drinking abuse and deal with her perfect sister’s taunting.

Directed toward their next secret mission for Admiral Maxtin, the crew discovers there are sinister forces hidden in the universe, seeking to destroy them.

Enter The Sandmen by William Schlichter

Enter the Sandmen by William Schlichter is available now in trade softcover or eBook

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Why Does #Steampunk Matter? By Guest Blogger @ARMeyering

Are you a fan of steampunk? And what exactly is it? Guest blogger and award-winning author A.R. Meyering, creator of The Dawn Mirror Chronicles (and who specialized in Victorian/Neo-Victorian Literature in college) delves into the importance of steampunk and why it matters.

Fans of this genre will enjoy her latest release The Hunter’s Bond, as well as the other novels in The Dawn Mirror Chronicles.

Why Does Steampunk Matter?

Steampunk, put lightly, is a fringe genre. Images leap to mind—elaborate DIY gizmos, outlandish costumes, and that eccentrically brilliant handful of people who crave historical fantasy come to life. During my study of Neo-Victorian literature during college, a professor once described steampunk as a genre that boasted “machines that exist far before their time, all which are on the brink of falling apart.” It was a throwaway line during a lecture, but I personally found it to be an illuminating description of the genre.

As of late, steampunk has been creeping further and further into popular culture, flavoring otherwise unrelated games, music, and movies with its eye-catching designs. Where fans may have learned to recognize it for its token gears and antique flair, I regularly see curiosity in those who wonder what the hell steampunk actually is. Just glue some gears on it and call it steampunk, right?

The Hunter's Bond by A.R. Meyering

What Is Steampunk, Anyway?

Steampunk, in its simplest form, is any type of fiction that features two distinct elements: anachronistic technology and a 19th century aesthetic. That’s really just a fancy way of saying highly-advanced inventions in a Victorian (give or take a few decades) setting. At least that’s how it began to be defined after it was coined in the 1980s by science fiction author K.W. Jeter. I believe the beauty of steampunk is how many die-hard aficionados you will meet who will whole-heartedly argue these points. For all intents and purposes, however, steampunk is a flight of science fancy centered on this time period during which steam-powered machines seemed to be the way of the future.

Steampunk has many fascinating offshoots, such as cattlepunk, a similar genre set in the wild west of the United States, dieselpunk, a mid-20th century variant, and clockpunk, where the trademark cogs so often associated with steampunk might actually feel more at home.

The amazing thing about steampunk, to me, is that it feels like it belongs to the fans more than many other genre of fiction. The spirit of steampunk is ingenuity blended with imagination—it’s that surviving spark of nostalgia mixed with the brave urge to burn recklessly into the future. Steampunk is its own type of music; it’s a warm community of retrophiliacs, of people who create magic out of spare parts, of inventors and artists and dreamers. However, for all its whimsy, there is an undercurrent of darkness that runs throughout it—an unflinching social critique that highlights the monstrosity of the 19th century.

History Happens in Patterns

And no matter what we do, we are doomed to repeat it. 19th century British folks, particularly the Pre-Raphaelites, were somewhat fixated on romanticizing medieval Britain through art and literature, despite its undeniable brutality. I suspect that our modern day Neo-Victorian subcultures look back on the 19th century with the same sort of confused, aching belief that we have lost something special to the past, that we can idealize it to be cleaner and rosier than we want to believe it was, and that we can amend its missteps with our modern outlooks on life and society.

Essentially all of us will look back on the economic and social inequity of 19th century Britain and agree that it was shocking, to say the least. Who wouldn’t recoil when faced with the realities of the lower class struggling to survive in the industrial revolution? At the horror of British imperialism? At a world where the atrocities of slavery were commonplace? Who wouldn’t take issue with the fact that aristocrats earned around 1,200 times as much as soldiers? Of the devastating spread of disease and the reality that it took until the year 1875 before the government stepped in to protect the health of the masses—resistance to this reform came largely from the factory owners who would be taxed to pay for it. And this hardly grazes the surface of the abject suffering that the majority of people lived through in the 19th century, all while a handful of well-to-do families built up the facades of grandeur and austerity that popular culture readily associates with this time period. All while these same well-to-do families rationalized their behavior through flimsy, racist pseudo-science and the nearly unchecked ambition to guard their ill-earned wealth.

Starting to Sound Familiar?

For all of its flaws and eccentricities, I believe that Steampunk’s historical context features a great potential for meaningful social critique. Instead of trying to ignore the unfortunate truths of the past, they can be addressed and discussed. Steampunk is a bizarre sort of abstract microcosm of our own society, all wrapped up in a quirky package, and it matters because it is a way we can recognize the glaring flaws of bygone times­—flaws that are still very much a problem in today’s world—without the interference of our contemporary egos.

It matters, also, because it simultaneously fixates around just the sort of hopeful spirit that ushers in the anachronistic, before-its-time brilliance that leads to a better world. I say, let’s keep dreaming about clanking, aether-run airships en route to the stars because it shows us not only where we have been, but where we are going.

About The Hunter’s Bond

A storybook life ended in one bloody night…

Left injured, alone, and penniless, noblewoman Beatrice Langford can only think of exacting revenge on the ones who took everything from her. After getting a job as a barmaid from tavern-owner Miles Creedy, she soon discovers his dark secret. Following Creedy into the underworld of crime and vigilante punishment, she is tempted by an opportunity to learn skills deadly enough to carry out her vengeful plan. Beatrice may need to sacrifice everything in order to succeed, including her humanity.

From award-winning author A.R. Meyering comes this prelude to the final installment of the steampunk fantasy series The Dawn Mirror Chronicles.

The Hunter's Bond by A.R. Meyering

The Hunter’s Bond by A.R. Meyering is available now in trade softcover or eBook

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Chasing Vengeance with Author @DreaDamara

Fans of spy thrillers will enjoy Drea Damara’s latest offering Chasing Vengeance, mission one in the Trinity Missions series. Read on to learn about the author’s experience stationed overseas and her inspiration for this novel.

Chasing Vengeance by Drea Damara

“The Birth of the Trinity Missions” by Drea Damara

I’ve never felt such miserable, suffocating heat and stench as I did in Iraq and Afghanistan while wearing all of my military gear. It left me constantly dreaming and wishing for snow and fresh air. So when I imagined what I would do after the war, I envisioned chasing an enemy through the snow. I couldn’t picture doing anything else at the time—it’s what I thought I was meant to do; what I had to do. The only peculiarity which struck me was dreaming about snow and wishing for a less wretched battlefield.

Chasing Vengeance by Drea Damara

One night my colleagues were standing around discussing what they would do after the war: buy a fancy car, travel, apply for a particular job. One of them chimed in, “I want crickets,” which made all the guys laugh. He wanted to sit in silence on his back porch, in peace, and listen to the sound of crickets at night. I knew then that all I wanted too was crickets—to live in peace, and that was okay. I packed up the dream of hunting a new enemy in the snow, came home to the crickets, and began to write the missions that had kept my mind entertained during all those sleepless nights overseas.

People in a combat zone are like worker bees in a hive. Everyone has their own role to focus on, sometimes blinding them to how everyone’s actions are interwoven into a bigger picture. Intel workers have to keep that bigger picture constant in their minds with every move. The physical dangers are often less taxing than those of infantry soldiers, but the mental pressure of keeping those soldiers alive by solving puzzles is a constant torment.

There seems to be a stereotypical portrayal in literature and film about espionage heroes being tough CIA agents or former Navy SEALs. The intel community encompasses all walks of life: the physically weak and the mild mannered along with the mighty. I wanted to show the true diversity in Chasing Vengeance, to show indigenous people who take great risks fighting against their own countries, that women are involved and highly capable in this field, and to never discredit the elderly who’ve been in the game long enough to know things the young could never possibly understand.

These people aren’t glamorous. The work is not glamorous. It’s frustrating. As an intel collector, you’re usually all alone, left with only your wits and judgment. Someone is always trying to kill people of any nation. People in this field are aware of that. They never receive accolades. Rather, they are haunted by the secrets they’ve seen and can never reveal, jaded by the harsh realities of the darkest forms of mankind.

This combination constructs a band of comrades who are what I have deemed “all alone together.” There’s never just one hero, because no one will ever be a hero. Chasing Vengeance has three main protagonists for this very reason. In writing this, I wanted to create a fresh spin on the espionage/thriller genre while also mirroring reality.

About Chasing Vengeance

Never reveal your secrets…

Trinity, an intelligence organization known only through whispers, specializes in covert action. Heading up this modern-day operation is founder Gerry Strakner and his team of skilled misfits. The key to staying alive lies within their code: never divulge your greatest fears or darkest secrets. But sometimes the past refuses to stay buried…

While his organization is under attack, Gerry must let his favorite operative, Caria, fend for herself against a vicious arms dealer. When he learns that she is caught in the crosshairs, his only hope is he’s taught her enough to stay alive.

Now Gerry must call in an old favor to save Caria. Ivan Skavinsk, a reclusive mercenary, is the one man skilled enough to infiltrate the playing field of assassins. But which side is he truly working for? Does loyalty have an expiration date or will deception burn everyone within its reach?

Chasing Vengeance by Drea Damara

 

Chasing Vengeance by Drea Damara is available now in trade softcover or eBook

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Merlin’s Knot by @MarkAndersenTales #ModernFantasy #Arthurian #MythsAndLegends #amreading #bookdesign

Merlin’s Knot by Mark Andersen is a modern-day fantasy set in Houston, Texas and is the first book in the Merlin’s Thread series. Perfect for fans of Merlin, King Arthur, and the weaving of legends set in modern times. Designing the cover for this novel was very design intensive and will be the subject of a future blog you won’t want to miss.

To purchase in either eBook of trade softcover, click HERE

About Merlin’s Knot:

Where in Texas has King Arthur gone?

Merlin the magician sleeps for fifteen hundred years…until his mystical connection to the mind of legendary King Arthur awakens him. Finally, the time has come to find the lost king and return him to his ancient destiny: saving the Britons in their hour of greatest peril.

The quest leads Merlin to Houston, Texas, where his link to Arthur becomes hopelessly tangled. The snarl centers on Alfred, a laid-off engineer suffering his own existential crisis. After Merlin coerces his help, they follow their only clue to a suburb called The Woodlands.

As they unravel the secrets of Arthur’s present life, returning the king to his own time becomes harder. Now Merlin must find a way to reconcile free will with fate—and repair history’s tapestry.

Read a sample chapter by clicking HERE.

Merlin's Knot by Mark Andersen

Cover design for print and eBook

Merlin's Knot by Mark Andersen

Our print wrap design for the trade softcover

Merlin's Knot by Mark Andersen

Our custom-designed print interior for paperback and eBook

Merlin's Knot by Mark Andersen

Our custom-designed print interior for paperback and eBook

Merlin's Knot by Mark Andersen

Our matching eBook design because readers deserve to experience the same book design no matter which format they prefer to read

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Love Paris? It’s now on sale… @JulietteSobanet #romance

Love Paris? Then don’t miss this exclusive sale!

Now through April 26th  Meet Me in Paris by Juliette Sobanet is on sale for only 99 cents and £0.99

Meet Me in Paris by Juliette Sobanet

Purchase this title on Amazon by clicking HERE

And, as a special thank you, Juliette’s first poetry collection I Loved You in Paris is on sale for FREE everywhere through April 29th.

I Loved You In Paris by Juliette Sobanet

Purchase this title on Amazon for FREE by clicking HERE

 

Special Message From Juliette:

And for any of my readers who leave an honest review on Amazon for either Meet Me in Paris or I Loved You in Paris, just send me a message on Facebook with the link to your review, and I’ll gift you a Kindle copy of one of my other books ~ your choice! (And if you already have them all, the next one is on me!) Reviews are so, so helpful for authors, and I wanted to give back to my readers who take the time to leave them. So thank you!

 

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Chasing Vengeance by @DreaDamara #spythriller #espionage #amreading #coverdesign

Designing the cover for Chasing Vengeance by Drea Damara was a special treat because we love anything spy related. If you are a fan of Bond or John LeCarre, don’t miss the Trinity Mission series!

eBook now available for preorder at the special introductory price of $2.99. Click here to preorder.

Chasing Vengeance by Drea Damara

Available in trade softcover and eBook on Saturday, May 28th, 2016

About Chasing Vengeance

Never reveal your secrets…

Trinity, an intelligence organization known only through whispers, specializes in covert action. Heading up this modern-day operation is founder Gerry Strakner and his team of skilled misfits. The key to staying alive lies within their code: never divulge your greatest fears or darkest secrets. But sometimes the past refuses to stay buried…

While his organization is under attack, Gerry must let his favorite operative, Caria, fend for herself against a vicious arms dealer. When he learns that she is caught in the crosshairs, his only hope is he’s taught her enough to stay alive.

Now Gerry must call in an old favor to save Caria. Ivan Skavinsk, a reclusive mercenary, is the one man skilled enough to infiltrate the playing field of assassins. But which side is he truly working for? Does loyalty have an expiration date or will deception burn everyone within its reach?

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April Book Giveaway—Minstrel and Money & The Human Condition #HistoricalFantasy #FinancialPlanning

Now through April 30th, you can enter to win signed print copies of these great reads at BHCAuthors.com. This month features Minstrel, the award finalist, historical fantasy by Marissa Ames and Money & The Human Condition by Douglas Obey, an excellent nonfiction book, which explains how money works as well as offering tips for money management and financial planning.

Minstrel by Marissa Ames and Money & The Human Condition by Douglas Obey: The featured April Author/Book Spotlights at BHC Authors for April 2016

Click HERE to enter to win through April 30th, 2016

About Minstrel

The Tir Athair series introduces medieval fantasy to a wide audience, bringing intrigue, adventure, and a little romance into a highly accessible and engaging saga.

A troupe of entertainers rides into town on the eve of a kingdom’s fall into chaos. The good king has died and twin princes grapple for the throne. Forced into servitude, the players witness deceit that enslaves people from the king’s guard all the way down to a young washerwoman forced to live three lives. When Riordan takes the crown, his twin indentures the minstrel into recording the kingdom’s true history, a decision that condemns both Liam and the prince to a death sentence.

Minstrel details the start of a civil war, through the eyes of a minstrel whose life of poverty becomes a much more dangerous game.

About Money & The Human Condition

Make your money work for you…

With so much at stake—family security, financial growth and retirement—it is concerning that most people have little to no understanding of financial matters, investments or how the economy works. Nor do they believe the basic concepts behind financial growth are anything they need to know. They simply look at their 401K report quarter after quarter, note the changes and wonder, “How did this happen?”

Why in the most capitalistic society on earth, do we Americans understand so little about how money works? A fascinating dichotomy, really, and one rooted in both western culture and human nature. Understanding this will help you master the art of making money work for you instead of continuing to work so hard for it. What’s so fascinating is that it is more about the study of human behavior than finance and money, hence the title of the book, Money and the Human Condition.

Purchase Minstrel or Money & The Human Condition in eBook or paperback on Amazon. Minstrel is also available in audio format on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

LOVE TO READ?

Visit BHCAuthors.com for new author spotlights and our book giveaways each month.

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