Summer of Bond

imageIt’s been more than 7 months since I started Astounding Books and I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun reading some amazing new talents and talking with all of you astonishing authors and readers. Our Facebook and Twitter pages have been growing at an amazing rate. I’ve enjoyed interacting with many of you and hopefully I’ve been able to contribute a little by promoting books when I could. But as the weather changes for the better here in Michigan I’ve decided to take a short sabatical for the summer. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the wonderful novels I’ve read, reviewed and sampled over these past months, it’s time to tackle a few novels on MY reading list.

imageI’m calling this “The Summer of Bond”. Years ago, on a trip to Traverse City Michigan, I discovered a small book shop and a rack of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. At the time I was astonished to find that the movies that I enjoyed starring Roger Moore were originally novels.  I bought three and finished one of them in the two hour trip back to the lake where our cottage was.  The other two novels didn’t last long.

It’s been nearly 35 years since that vacation, so I’ve decided to revisit those books and read as many James Bond novels as I can (In Order!) between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Of course I still have a slew of other books to get to as well, so we will see how far I make it.

First on the list is Casino Royale, followed by Live and Let Die, Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever. Click on the links to order or download your copies.
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It’s also time to do some fishing. I fish. A lot. And when the summer winds turn slow and the waters calm, there is nothing better than sitting back in my boat, a line cast out over the side and a book in my hand, wasting the time away. But have no fear, Astounding Books will return in September with more author interviews, more Spotlights on Astounding Authors, and of course more book reviews from independent, self published and indie authors.

You can join me in my Summer of Bond if you like.  I promise to review them and give you my thoughts after Labor Day. I would love to hear from you how you enjoyed them (or not?).  Astounding Books will still accept submissions, but please know that I won’t be looking to review any till this fall. In the meantime, subscribe to my blog to get any updates and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

Thank you all for being such loyal readers of Astounding Books!

See you in September!

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Spotlight On Astounding Authors

Summer is right around the corner. Do you have your summer reading list planned out? If not, make some room for one of our Astounding Authors! This week we are featuring two post-apocalyptic thrillers, an inspirational story about a young man adjusting to changes in his life, and a work of contemporary fiction involving Superman. PLUS! One of our novels is FREE!

As always, please let us know what you think. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Follow us on Twitter @AstoundingBooks and Facebook @AstoundingBooks.  Now to this week’s Spotlight on Astounding Authors!

imageAfter Oil
The Kingdom of Walden, Book 1
Author: Kristan Cannon
Publisher: KCEditions (Feb. 2016)
Pages: 514
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic
Twitter: @kristancannon
Facebook: Kristancannon
Website: Kristancannon.com

We thought we had nothing to worry about…
…We were wrong

The residents of the small town of Whitefish are no strangers to snow.  Used to being forgotten and digging their own way out, no one thought anything of it when, during one of the coldest winters on record, help just never came.  But, as fuel runs out and raiders press in on all sides, Derek, Sheridan, and Garrett realize it’s not just the snow they need to dig their way out of…

From Doctor to Queen…

Working in a busy ER, Sheridan Wither saw the best and worst of humanity–but now she finds herself leading the last bastion of civilization–with Derek as her Master Ranger.

…And from salesman to Master Ranger.

Derek Moss, a salesman nearing his retirement, and his wife find themselves far from home with little more than the clothes on their backs–and lucky enough to find themselves at least among friends on Sheridan’s ranch just outside of Whitefish.

Driven to find answers–and his own place in a new world–Derek forms the Rangers from similarly displaced citizens and leads them to find Garrett to bring back one, tiny but bright spark of hope to a fledgling nation… in the form of the solar field on Sheridan’s farm.

Find out what happens next in After Oil, a post-apocalyptic thriller from Kristan Cannon. CLICK HERE to get your copy today!

imageEleven Floors
Author: Robert Lampros
Publisher: CreateSpace (Oct 2015)
Pages: 64
Genre: Christian Literature
Twitter: @robertlampros
Facebook:  11floors
Website: Robert Lampros
E-Book Link: Click Here for Free e-book!

Eleven Floors is the story of a young man’s first year at college the year after his father passed away. He struggles to succeed academically and socially, while maintaining faith in Jesus Christ, and adjusting to life in a new world. With help from God, from his friends, and from Lynn, the woman he falls in love with, Charles hopes to fulfill his destiny.Get your FREE copy of ELEVEN FLOORS by Robert Lampros by CLICKING HERE!

imageOf Gods, Royals and Superman
Author: Tom Maremaa
Publisher: Pronoun (Dec. 2015)
Pages: 278 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tumblr: Tommaremaa
Goodreads:  Book Info
Tumblr: Tommaremaa 

The gods must be crazy. Do something great or they’ll kill you.

Meet Christopher Reed and Morgan Kinder, both young and brash college students, who come of age in many of the ways that Tom Jones came of age in Fielding’s classic novel. Both seniors at Dartmouth, one tossed out of school for behaving badly — very badly, even if he’s a Superman — the other, a woman who loves literature and works as an intern for a high-power New York publishing house on a quest to find the vanished author of a lost manuscript entitled simply When, 20:37, whose work is said to conjure up the dark side of American life and predict the future.

Their lives connect and disconnect, cross paths, then diverge, as the story and characters travel from the snows of New England to the catacombs of New York to the cornfields of Iowa and beyond to the sweet madness of California. Laughter and sorrow fill the pages. Life turns on its head. And the American landscape comes alive with a huge gallery of eccentric characters, oddballs and lovable madmen.

Can the cocky young Reed redeem himself by doing something truly great? Will his counterpart, Morgan Kinder, recapture what has been lost from the past, discarded or ignored, and in so doing, alter the world of literature as we know it?
Will each happen to change the other in Tom Maremaa’s dazzling, page-turning work of contemporary fiction? Find out by CLICKING HERE and ordering your copy of Of Gods, Royals and Superman TODAY!

imageThe Jigsaw Element
The Jigsaw Series, Book 1
Author: Kingsley McGlew
Publisher: Amazon Digital (Dec. 2015)
Pages: 160
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic / Sci-Fi
Facebook: Kingsley.mcglew
Website: KinglseyMcglew

In a post-apocalyptic landscape, one man searches for redemption.

Spencer is an Element, a decorated Military assassin who failed to achieve his last mission – Target Annabel O’Shantee – future leader of Cheerlong City. Seeking refuge in Malburn City under the disguise of an Insurance Investigator, Spencer is slowly drawn into the deceitful world of the Seahorse Clans as they battle for supremacy during the period of upcoming turmoil. As a malfunctioning Element, Spencer survives with no loyalty to those responsible for his creation. His one desire is to remove the computer chip that connects his thoughts to his unknown master. The narrative jigsaw moves from a disturbing reality to reliving past fragments to establish his role in the uprising. Spencer questions his life as a mannequin, one who is controlled by others.

The Jigsaw Element is a distorted future noir that scans the notion of what is the truth of identity. Order your copy of The Jigsaw Element TODAY by CLICKING HERE!

Worth Mentioning – with special guest author, J. Zachary Pike

We are pleased to have J. Zachary Pike visiting us today at Astounding Books as our guest blogger. Pike was once a basement-dwelling fantasy gamer, but over time he metamorphosed into a basement-dwelling fantasy writer. A New Englander by birth and by temperament, he writes strangely funny fiction on the seacoast of New Hampshire. His novel, Orconomics, is available now. 

An excerpt from the novel can be found below. Give it a try and enter to win a FREE digital copy of the novel on a Kindle Paperwhite! You can see more of his work at jzacharypike.com, or drop him a line on Facebook or Twitter.

On Writing by J. Zachary Pike

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I’ve found plenty of tips over the years for creating three-dimensional characters, and I’ve followed more than a few of the good ones. But I seldom see many tips for building interesting worlds, which I find odd. After all, a fantasy setting can be deep and fascinating or flat and uninteresting just as much as any character can. As I created Arth for my own books, I found it helpful to think of my world as another character, and in so doing try to make it as three-dimensional as possible.

The World is Flat

When a character is simple and stereotypical, they’re often described as flat and two dimensional. There’s nothing wrong with a two dimensional character in passing—simple characters are a critical element of storytelling. (Imagine how horrible the last book you read would be if the author delved into the past, motivations, and flaws of every person who appeared in the book.)

A simple, underdeveloped world can also come across as two-dimensional. Such a simple world might make a good stop for the interdimensional traveler / spaceship crew. Think of all the bizarrely gimmicky worlds that the original Star Trek visited, or the satirically stereotypical planets on Futurama. They make for some great gags or philosophical points, and they’re fun to visit, but you probably wouldn’t want to set a novel there.

How a World is Like Another Character

A character isn’t a person, and a fantasy world isn’t a place. They’re both constructs for telling stories and conveying themes. Your characters’ strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and redemption (should) all serve to shape your story and advance your plot. Creating a world is the same way: it’s a tool for advancing the plot plot. The easiest way for me to keep that in mind is to think of Arth as another character.

Here are some of the ways that helps me.

  • I try to give my world “flaws.” It’s easy to see if a character is too perfect, or too evil, or just too… flat. One key indication of a two-dimensional character is a lack of flaws (or redemptive qualities for villains.) But a world can be too one-note as well, and a good way to prevent that is to give it “flaws.” it a counter-themes, something that takes it in the opposite direction. One example from Arth is the balance between military and financial forces— on the one hand, the world is full of violence and constant danger, but at the same time a stable economy with advanced financial markets has grown not just despite the conflict, but because of it.
  • I use two-dimensional characters to create three dimensional cultures. Part of what makes our world so interesting is the diversity of perspectives and attitudes that you find in any group of people. If all of my minor characters are of one mind and purpose, or even clearly divided along predictable lines, my world would be missing out on some engaging conflict. II try to give the minor characters a variety of voices and perspectives, so that together they’ll create a picture of a more fascinating culture.
  • I think about my world’s character arc. A character that doesn’t advance or change over the course of a story is a dull one, and the same goes for a setting that isn’t impacted by the character’s actions. I try to outline the way my heroes’ actions will change their world, and what that does for Arth narratively.

Your mileage may vary, but it always helps me to think of my world as another character, If you’re thinking about writing fantasy or speculative fiction, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Book Excerpt from Orconomics: A Satire

imageLegend held that Andarun had once been the greatest city on Arth, in the early ages when it was the high seat of the kingdoms of the Sten. Then the Sten betrayed the rest of mankind and were subsequently wiped out in retaliation. The armies of Man were quickly driven away by a dragon, which was followed by hordes of Lizardmen, who fell to the Gremlins, who were slain by an Ogre tribe, and so on and so forth. By the time the Freedmen liberated the city from the rule of Ogmar the Mad, one could barely walk down Central Avenue without tripping over a priceless relic from a long-faded conflict. Of course, no one could even venture near a sewer grate for fear of giant spiders or Venomous Scargs or any of the other monstrous denizens that had never fully been expunged from the city.

Ironically, these ancient threats were key to Andarun’s rapid gentrification. Dangerous monsters and abundant treasure attract heroes. Wealthy heroes in need of gear attract merchants. Well-to-do merchants attract industry. Industry needs workers, who need developers for housing, who need builders and laborers, who need services. The ancient ruins beneath Mount Wynspar fertilized a blooming economy on its surface. Within an age, Andarun was again the greatest city on Arth, this time built atop the most deadly dungeon on Arth.

In Andarun, one could wake a nameless fear or two just by digging a wine cellar.

“The city’s built on big steps carved into the mountain back when the Sten were around,” Gorm told Gleebek as they made their way through Andarun’s crowded streets. “The lowest step is called the Base, and the top is the Pinnacle. Every step starts in the Ridge,” he said, pointing to the rough cliff face that cast the western side of the city in shadow, “and ends at the Wall.” He turned and pointed to the giant stone edifice that made up the eastern mirror of the Ridge.

“A zabba,” Gleebek said with a low whistle.

“Aye. The Wall and the Ridge cast long shadows down here on the lower steps. But Andarun rises to their tops, so up near the Pinnacle, where the uppity-ups live, the Wall ain’t much taller than a hedge. Good views, I’m told.”

“Da grongo?”

“Everything’s better by the Wall—the view, the light, the smells. Course, everything’s more expensive too. Makes Andarun almost like a map of society, ye see. The higher up the mountain ye go, the higher your status. The closer to the Wall ye are, the more money ye have.”

“Grong, da nub’root Hupsit—”

“So if we get separated, head down toward the Base and west to the Ridge. Eventually, ye’ll come here.” Gorm rounded a bend and gestured down an alley that was deeper and darker than most swamps.

“Ga’pab?”

“Welcome to the Underdim,” grinned Gorm. “They don’t get any more Ridgeward or Baseward.”

Interested in visiting Arth? There’s never been an better time, because right now you can win one of several free copies of Orconomics—including a digital copy on a Kindle Paperwhite. CLICK HERE Enter to win on my contest page. 

The Immortals Is An “Instance” Where The Tale Comes Out On Top

imageThe Immortals, Part One
Shadows and Starstone
Author: Cheryl S. Mackey
Publisher: Amazon Digital (Dec. 2014)
Pages: 85 (Novella)
Genre: Fantasy
Twitter:  @Writezalot
Facebook:  Writezalot
Website: Writezalot.com

A thousand years ago the gods known as The Four created the Immortals to protect and defend their world against an invader known as the Dro-Aconi—and then vanished. Left to fend for themselves, the three races of Ein-Aral and the Immortals banded together to save the world.

Ivo, Jaeger, Jadeth, and Emaranthe must protect a desert village and its hoard of Starstone. Can the companions battle inner demons long enough to defeat legions of enemies and keep the enemy from stealing the Starstone, or is this merely the beginning of an even greater quest?

I’m not going to bury the lede here: I’m giving Shadows & Starstone – Part One of The Immortals –  3 out of 5 stars. Cheryl Mackey has written an enjoyable tale set in a world filled with mystery, magic and intrigue. There is an amazing story here and the reader will definitely want to keep reading more stories set in the world of her novel, The Unknown Sun.

Mackey does a great job of world building, setting the tone and pace for her future stories. There is a lot of action and the story and character development move along quite nicely.

As a former World of Warcraft player (Level 80 Dwarf Hunter – “For the Alliance!”) the story and our heroic class-based band of warriors  felt very much like a raiding scenario, or what we geeks refer to as “an Instance”:  a mage with AOE, a druid-like healer, and two DPS Warrior Brothers battling progressively harder mobs or enemies till the fight culminates in an intense Boss Battle.

I very much enjoyed this story, however, it fails in some places, which is why I started the review with praise. I don’t want deter you from reading this series, but it did have a few issues.

The battle scenes are overly described.  The final half of the novella is essentially a slow motion fight scene where we see every drop of sweat fall slowly to the ground, every look and gaze made by our heroes, every furrowed brow slowly furrowing and weapons being slowly drawn, dropped, and picked up again. It’s like one of those slow motion fight scenes in a movie where the bad guy fires a gun and for what seems like ten minutes all you see is the flash from the gun, the bullet slowly leaving the barrel, the casing being slowly discharged and falling slowly to the ground as the bullet moves across space, (again slowly) towards the intended victim. It’s a cool scene, but sometimes it’s over used.

There is a certin obsessiveness with the description of the physical movements of eyes, other facial movements or responses. (furrowed brows, gazing eyes, upturned mouths, smirks, braids and hair movement, gasp, hisses, etc.)  Used occasionally, these physical movements tell their own story.  Used repetitively it becomes, well, repetitive.

In the end, Mackey’s story shines and THAT is the magic of the novella. The characters are richly drawn, the world is vast and mysterious, and the hints of dangers and evils to come kept me engrossed till the end.  I look forward to further exploring this world.

I was provided a free copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. I hope you take a chance on this amazing author and give The Immortals, Part One a chance. Again, I give this 3 out of 5 stars.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to interview Cheryl Mackey, (You can read the full interview BY CLICKING HERE)

Now get going and download your copy of The Immortals today by CLICKING HERE! 

A Few Astonishing Moments With Author Joseph John

Welcome back to The Last Cafe at the End of the Internet. Today we are sitting and talking with Joseph John, author of The Eighth Day, a techno-thriller set in New York City.

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Joseph John

An Army officer and combat veteran with seventeen years of active duty service, John graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY and attended flight school at Fort Rucker, AL. He remained in Army Aviation as a CH-47 Chinook pilot until 2013, when he transitioned to Operations Research and Systems Analysis.

The Eighth Day is John’s debut novel.  It envisions a near future where we’ve begun meddling with the human genome and taken evolution into our own hands. It will be published this week on  March 31, 2016.

Joseph John is currently stationed in Italy but through the magic of a vast array of satellites and The Master Control Program he joins us here in The Last Cafe at the End of the Internet. 

Astounding Books (AB):  Joseph, thank you for joining us today all the way from Italy. As we are in a cafe, tell us what are you drinking?

Joseph Johns (JJ):  A coffee. One brewed from a Keurig coffee brewer, to be precise. Or, even more precisely, a Van Houtte French Vanilla K-Cup with two packets of Splenda and a generous helping of Nestle Original Coffee-Mate creamer. I’m usually sipping on one throughout by day-job until I return home in the evening and slip into my author’s chair. At that point, I’m sipping pure, unadulterated imagination.

AB:   Ah yes, unadulterated imagination. We get that a lot here at the Last Cafe at the End of the Internet. Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you.

JJ:   Oh, man. That’s a tough one. Give me awhile to think about it.

AB: Not a problem. I’ll just take a short nap…

(Tick Tock. Tick, Tock. Tick, Tock…)

AB:  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

JJ:  Okay. Note that a significant amount of time has passed here. Here’s five things most people don’t know about me.

1. I am a second-degree black belt and certified instructor of Tae Kwon Do.
2. As a cadet at United States Military Academy at West Point, I spent over 200 hours walking the area (Walking the Area- Click to View), the most in my class.
3. On two separate and unrelated occasions, I was accused of trying to bomb both West Point and Fort Bragg.
4. I love to travel and go exploring on spontaneous adventures. I’m currently stationed in Italy and having the time of my life.
5. While deployed to Iraq, I served as the Protocol Officer for General David Petraeus.

AB:  What books or authors influenced you?

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The Three Investigators

JJ:  I think most red-blooded American males growing up in the 1970s and 1980s who enjoyed a good book read the Hardy Boys series. Props to ghost writers like Leslie McFarlane and crew. I was also into The Three Investigators series, created and written by Robert Arthur, Jr., and The Black Stallion series, by Walter Farley.

I read my first “adult” novel in the third grade: Cujo, by Stephen King. After that, I was hooked, and once I’d consumed everything by good ol’ Steve, I moved onto authors like Dean R. Koontz and Michael Crichton. I was also really into the Dragonlance series by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, as well as books in the Forgotten Realms universe—specifically The Legend of Drizzt by R.A. Salvatore. I think my stepdad’s father had almost all of Louis L’amour’s westerns—like 70 or 80 of them—and I read all of them, too.

So, yeah. I read a lot, and I had an eclectic taste for books and authors that influenced me. Even nowadays I’ll read anything, although I tend to shy away from series. I prefer a breadth of experience versus depth into a single author’s works.

That being said, I’ll still pick up a new book by Stephen King anytime and anywhere. Hell, sometimes I’ll even pick up one I’ve already read, like going back to a former lover for another romp in the hay because I know it’s going to curl my toes and give me goosebumps all over again.

AB:   The Three Investigators! Loved those books. The Alfred Hitchcock versions were the best. (Click HERE!). Right now I can’t get enough of the Marvel series on Netflix. What TV show or Movie are you currently obsessed with?

JJ:   Stories are my passion. Whether it’s movies, television, or books, it doesn’t matter. I love them. I love being captivated by a writer, losing myself to the story and its characters. It’s like, for that period when I’m staring at the screen or flipping the pages, I’m right there with them, experiencing their fear, frustration, anger, joy, failures, and triumphs. There’s nothing like a well-crafted story. You know what I mean. The kind that pulls you in and keeps you up all night, whether it be a Netflix marathon or hunched over your Kindle with eyes wide and heart pounding until the break of dawn.

The Walking Dead current tops my list of television obsessions. I mean, wow. The storyline, the character development—forget about it. Rick Grimes is both a hero and a son of a bitch. I love it. Honorable mention goes out to Supernatural (maybe it’s past its prime, but I’ve been watching it since day one, so I don’t care), Castle (of course I love a series about a bestselling novelist!), The Americans (the suspense is incredible), and Homeland (Carrie Mathison is flawed, twisted, and the perfect heroine).

Also, anything from the Marvel Universe—television or movie—and I’m all in.

AB:  What was your favorite toy growing up? 

JJ:  G.I. Joe. I had no idea I’d grow up to be a career Army officer, but I loved G.I. Joe. My best friend and I were very systematic about the way we played, too. I’m talking to the point of obsessive compulsive. None of this grabbing the guys and leaping through the air and traveling vast distances and doing crazy, unbelievable things like most kids would play. Oh no. Our Joes obeyed the laws of physics. They got turns, and each turn, they could either move a limited distance (measured to be realistic, of course), or they could fire their weapon, and as the bullet left the weapon, we’d line up the shot and chart the course to see if it was a hit or not.

imageAB:  My two brothers owned the large Aircraft Carrier that took up something like half our basement.  I hope you saved the boxes from those toys.

Joseph, thank you so much for taking some time away from preparing for the release of your debut novel, The Eighth Day, and joining us here today. Good luck with the launch and I hope you come visit us again soon.

To order The Eighth Day, Click HERE!  Be sure to come back to Astounding Books and let us know what you thought. You can follow Joseph John  by visiting his website: JosephJohnFiction.com, liking him on Facebook : JosephJohnFiction or following him on Twitter: @JosephJohn

A Few Astonishing Moments With… Cheryl Mackey

imageWelcome back. We are once again sitting in The Last Cafe at the End of the Internet, having a cup of coffee, and getting ready to bring you another great interview with an amazing author. This week we are spending a few astonishing moments with author Cheryl Mackey.

Cheryl lives in Southern California with her husband and 2 sons. Her books The Unknown Sun and The Immortals parts 1 and 2 are both young adult fantasy and available at Amazon.  She currently has a flash fiction story published online at The Prompt Magazine.  She has a MFA in Creative Writing and enjoys games, reading and, of course, writing. Her favorite genres to write and read are Fantasy closely followed by Space Opera and Dystopian.

imageAstounding Books (AB): Welcome Cheryl and thank you for joining us today. We are seated here in the Last Cafe at the End of the Internet. What can we get you to drink?

Cheryl Mackey (CM): Tea drinker here! Mostly iced tea. I prefer plain, boring black tea but I’ve tried various flavors.

AB:  What drew you to write fantasy novels over other genres? 

CM:   I was drawn to fantasy because it is 100% imagination. As a child I could escape into a world of my own making or one made by great fantasy authors. Anything is possible and I revel in the unique, odd, or magical. Without fantasy our world would be a whole lot more boring.

AB:   You’ve been very busy with publishing three novels. What’s up next for you?

CM:   Currently I am about a ¼ of the way through the third book in The Immortals series. I hope to have it out sometime this fall. I’m really excited about this book because it’s the book that answers the questions asked in the previous two. A fourth book will follow to bring the ultimate conclusion.

imageAB:   Growing up, who were the authors that left the biggest impression on you or later influenced you as a writer? 

CM:  I was influenced by a range of authors and genres as a child/teen. Isaac Asimov, JRR Tolkien, LM Montgomery, Madeleine L’Engle, Judy Blume, and more. Asimove and Tolkien taught me that the world is limitless in your imagination and Montgomery, L’Engle, and Blume taught me that girls can do and be anything too.

AB:   What was that first thing you wrote that you were either most proud of or vividly remember as being that one piece that will always stay with you as a young writer? 

CM:   In my 20’s, when I was too cowed by my family to ever believe I could follow my dreams, I wrote a modern version of the Beauty and the Beast fable. It sucked. It really was bad, but I had zero knowledge of how to even be an author then. When I went back to college for my MFA in Creative Writing in my 30’s I dragged that terrible manuscript with me and made it the focus. I used what I learned to make it better. I am still proud of it and it will always be special to me, but I’m not sure it will ever be published either. It’s…too personal, a gauge of my life as a writer, a stepping stone to my current success.

AB:   You brought along a photo. Tell us about it.

imageCM:   Family vacation in Las Vegas approx 1983. I’m the pig-tailed girl in the middle behind the toys. We were set loose in Circus Circus while our parents gambled (several cousins and my brother and I) and essentially cleaned out the place. That’s maybe a fifth of our haul. One of our many crazy family vacations we went on up until I was 18 or so.

AB:   What are you reading right now? 

CM:  I am a weird reader. I have 2 quirks that always freak people out. I reread favorites religiously and I don’t have a to be read pile. I read what I buy, one thing at a time, and I’ve just finished a great fantasy series by Landon Porter called Rune Breaker. I really really suggest fans of classic adventure type fantasy read the series.

AB:  I’m going to take a quick break to get more coffee. Go ahead and Interview yourself till I get back…

CM:  Cheryl, Why did you waste your 20’s worrying that your family wouldn’t approve of you being a writer?

CM:   Good question Cheryl…Because I was not convinced I could ever be one. I gained confidence in my 30’s and became an author. And I was right. They don’t approve… but I don’t care.

AB:   Ok, I’m back. It was a short line. Now some fun questions: Star Wars, Star Trek or Doctor Who?

CM:   That’s not fair! I’m a big geeky fan of all 3! Literally. I fangirl.

AB:   Who Shot First (Han or Greedo)?

CM:   Come on! Everyone knows Han shot first!

AB:   That will do it. Thank you again for joining us Cheryl in The Last Cafe at the End of the Internet and good luck on your next projects.

I hope our readers will check out Cheryl’s works. Her books The Unknown Sun and The Immortals parts 1 and 2 are available at Amazon (Click on the Links). You can follow Cheryl Mackey on Twitter: @Writezalot, Facebook:  Writezalot, Instagram: csmackey_author and on her webpage: www.writezalot.com

Spotlight on Astounding Authors

Spring is in the air…and so is a deadly virus that will eat you from the inside out! Slithering, gibbering things are existing in the peripheral of our vision and tales of a Gravedigger? That’s just a taste of what we have in store for you this week in our Spotlight on Astounding Authors!

There’s nothing our editors (which is pretty much just me) enjoy more than talking books with fellow fans. From our Astounding Authors to our Astounding Books, we welcome you to join the conversation, otherwise its just me talking to myself… which makes people stop and stare.  Head on over to Facebook, like us, then let us know what you think of our books. Facebook.com/astoundingbooks

imageAntidote
(The Antidote Trilogy Book 1)
Author: Taylor Hondos
Publisher: BookTrope (Sept 2015)
Pages: 148
Genre: Sci-Fi / Dystopian
Twitter: @ThondosBooks
Facebook: AuthorTaylorHondos
Website: TaylorHondos.com

Life sucks, and then you rot. No one knows how Dermadecatis is contracted, but its existence has changed everything for 18-year-old Lena, in this riveting debut from Taylor Hondos.

No contact with other people.

Masks must be worn at all times in public at all times.

Four months ago men, women and children alike began to rot from the inside out, and the world as we know it changed forever. Life goes on, but now everything revolves around the need to survive and find a cure for Dermadecatis, the disease that Lena Alona’s father discovered.

Unfortunately for Lena and everyone else who is desperate to survive, her father’s secrets died when he did.

Don’t miss out on the Antidote by Taylor Hondos, available now by CLICKING HERE!

imageMountains of Mischief
(Worlds of Change Series, Book 3)
Author: Gordon A. Long
Publisher: Airborn Press (January 2016)
Pages: 347
Genre: Alternate Reality / Fantasy
Twitter: @GordonLong
Facebook: gordonalongwriter
Website: AirbornPress.co

Nobody messes with a Dalmyn wagon train. That is the credo of Dalmyn Cartage, and their drivers and guards are up to the task of keeping it that way.
Until Aleria anDalmyn goes out on her first assignment as wagonmaster and runs into a simmering quarrel involving an ancient boundary dispute and forbidden Mechanical weapons. And a Ghost Beast from an ancient tale, which Aleria would prefer not to believe in until the mutilated bodies persuade her otherwise.

Trapped in the suffocating depths of a crumbling mountain fortress by an ambitious and relentless foe, Aleria struggles to survive as her small party gets whittled down and her confidence in her ability to do her duty fades. Even the sturdy presence of her guard Captain, Erlon, with his hand-and-a-half sword, and the handsome but diffident Kolwyn anLlannon, inheritor of the lore of the Old Ones, can protect her party if she makes the wrong move. And then there are the two unknown horsemen dogging her footsteps. Do they have contact with a traitor in her own camp? Who can she trust?

And where in her crowded life is there a time and a place for the love she craves? Find out by reading Mountains of Mischief by Gordon A. Long. Click Here to get your copy today!

imageTales of Blood and Sulphur:
Apocalypse Minor
(Short Stories)
Author: J. G. Clay
Publisher: Forsaken (2015)
Pages: 214
Genre: Horror
Twitter: @jgclay1
Facebook: jgclay1973
Website: JGHorrorAuthor.com

What happens when ordinary everyday people come face to face with the slithering, gibbering things that exist in the periphery of our vision? What happens when the future, far from being bright, is a dystopian nightmare where an all-powerful Church reduces the ordinary man in the street to walking organ banks? When, in the midst of human barbarity, a force more powerful than any human stalks it’s equally powerful prey? What happens when the Gods themselves turn sour, bitter and unforgiving? From the tropical idyll of a beach to the back streets of Mumbai and beyond, Tales of Blood and Sulphur grips by the arm with a skeletal grip and takes you to places where sanity is stretched to breaking point, where survival is not assured and where the monsters appear in our world in the blink of an eye. The blood runs wet, the sulphur still burns, the Tales are ready to be unleashed!

CLICK HERE to read the exciting debut from J.G Clay…Tales of Blood and Sulphur

imageGravedigger
Author: Michael-Israel Jarvis
Publisher: Booktrope (Oct. 2015)
Pages: 332
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
Twitter: @jarvisauthor
Facebook: Michael.israel.jarvis
Website: Michaelisraeljarvis.com

Dead or alive. Good or evil. Hero or fugitive. Valo needs a specific solution to a grave problem. The human Claimfold and prigon Torzsi draw apart. War is promised in the West. Worst of all, the magi of Nagyevo are meddling with the dead. Perin is an apprentice Gravedigger: uneducated, unwanted, unsure. He may be the answer Valo needs, if he doesn’t get killed before he works out what’s going on. But of course there’s the chance that fate hasn’t called him after all. The gods are nameless and silent and the best laid plans have a way of going badly wrong. Enter the spade and sorcery world of Valo.

Gravedigger subverts the expectations of that oldest of foes in fantasy, the dead that walk, in a fast-paced adventure through a world of culture, intrigue, magic and blood. Get your copy today by CLICKING HERE!