DISCIPLE continues...

Friday, February 28, 2014

DEAD MAN'S DRIVE by Michael Panush

Michael has been reviewing Disciple (I just sent him the ARC for Part IV) so I was glad to offer him a gust post here! His retro-urban-fantasy zombie tale is perfect for another historical world-building interview!

Why did you decide to set your zombie story in the 1950s?  
The 1950s and Horror Stories are a peanut-butter and chocolate sort of pairing. Horror movies started getting big in the 1930s, with the Universal Monsters, but they continued growing in the 50s. Plus, you had EC Horror Comics (and the accompanying moral panic that destroyed them), Atomic Sci-Fi Monster movies, and Cold War paranoia. All of this nasty paranoid stuff, appearing in Drive-In Theatres and Comic Books, kinds of contrasts with the sanitized, clean, and wholesome view of the 50s that we have now – white picket fences, Leave It to Beaver and so on. I feel that Horror Punk bands like The Misfits and The Cramps rely on that juxtaposition, mixing up 50s Kitsch and Monster Movie Cheese to create an interesting paring. That's really what I was trying to do with this story.

But Rot Rods isn't just a series about zombies – crime plays a big role as well, and I think the 1950s was a special time for crime writing. This was the era where Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Jim Thompson and others truly created Hardboiled Noir fiction. The story is set in Southern California, which I think is an important place for crime fiction. There are so many sleazy elements that a writer can incorporate when you're dealing with that place and time – the Zoot Suit Riots, WWII and Japanese Internment, Howard Hughes, LA gangsters like Jack Dragna and Mickey Cohen, the Black Dahlia Murder, Golden Age Hollywood – that can really enrich a story. James Ellroy covered a lot of that in his LA Quartet, which was a major influence for me. I really hope that Dead Man's Drive and the other Rot Rods novels can help capture the feel of this sleazy, unique time and place.

What were your main research sources for getting the setting and technology right?
I did lots of research of Wikipedia, looking for details about different models of cars and watched a lot of period movies. Reading a lot of James Ellroy books seriously helped. I even found a list of Hot Rod slang words online. Unfortunately, most of them were so weird that I couldn't put them in without confusing the reader. I used 'badge bandits' which was slang for cops and seems pretty self-evident. But I'm mostly going after 1950s Southern California as it appears in the imagination of the popular culture, not as it really is. Watching movies and reading crime fiction seemed to be the way to go with that.

Also, I have a lot of family in LA and I visited it a lot. I'm living there right now, actually. I don't know if that really helps, though, as LA is completely different now from what it used to be. But my grandparents live in this kind of quiet, suburban area apart from LA itself, and that's sort of inspiration for the fictional town of La Cruz, where the story takes place.

What's one fun detail that you especially liked getting into your story?
I had a lot of fun with Roscoe, my main zombie character, eating. Roscoe doesn't eat like living people. Instead, he gobbles down food to regenerate his body after it gets damaged – something that happens a lot. I enjoyed thinking of the delicious/sort of nasty grub that he's always devouring – a lot of high-carb Fifties food that was popular then but isn't so big now. I remember telling one of my co-workers that my book is about a zombie that rides a hot rod and is always eating chili dogs. That was pretty fun.

What sort of zombies did you decide to use -- traditional voodoo, virus-infected, some other type? 
Roscoe's not a mindless, shambling, flesh-hungry zombie like in a Romero movie. He's an intelligent guy who just happens to be dead. He doesn't need to go the bathroom, and he can't sweat or cry, but he can still sort of feel pain, and he can do a decent job of running. When the story starts, he doesn't know who he was in life or how he died – and that mystery fuels part of the story. He discovers the truth, and it involves magic and a curse. The villain, the industrialist Reed Strickland, also uses tons of mindless zombies as his henchmen and goons. These are just mindlessly animated corpses. Roscoe has a bit of a crisis of conscience when he sees the mindless zombies and imagines that's what he could have been.

And what's up next for you?  
Next up from Curiosity Quills is El Mosaico, Volume 3: Hellfire. My El Mosaico series is about Clayton Cane, an Old West bounty hunter who was stitched together from the body parts of Civil War soldiers by a mad Confederate scientist. In the first two volumes, he travels the west as a bounty hunter in a series of short stories. Hellfire is a novel, where he settles down and becomes the sheriff of the eponymous Texas town of Hellfire. It's good stuff and I hope you check it out when it's released!

Dead Man's Drive on sale at

Monday, February 24, 2014

WERELORD THAL by Tracy Falbe

When Tracy was setting up her Werewolves in the Renaissance blog tour, I knew exactly what I wanted her post to be about -- research! world-building! Naturally she did not disappoint! Check out the discount coupon and the free 4-chapter sample below, too.

The Holy Roman Empire is Full of Rebels
By Tracy Falbe

My love of Renaissance history deepened while researching my novel Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale. After carefully pondering exactly which setting to choose, I selected Bohemia in the year 1561 when lovely Bohemia was in the midst of two centuries of upheaval.

What was the problem?
The Holy Roman Empire with its capital in Prague was firmly on the side of the Papacy. The actual people of Bohemia, including the nobles, not so much.

Why was there widespread discontent?
Deepening corruption within the Catholic Church, especially with the sale of indulgences, had undermined people’s faith in the holiness of their holy leaders. The printing revolution triggered by Gutenberg greatly aided the spread of dissent. Literacy increased. The Bible was translated into vernacular languages, and people increasingly wanted to experience their own spiritual beliefs without a priest as intermediary. Scripture was the source of guidance, not the priest. It is the beginning of a societal desire for liberty instead of blind obedience to a God-ordained order, which defined the Middle Ages.

What was Bohemia’s role in all of this?
By the 1560s Bohemia had already endured a long, bloody, and valiant history of resisting the Roman Catholic Church. In 1415 the famous priest and professor at Charles University in Prague Jan Hus was executed as a heretic. Until then he had been enormously popular in Bohemia for his criticisms of the Papacy. In his view the ultimate authority was in the Bible and not the rules made in Rome. He was also against indulgences, an outrageous albeit profitable practice of letting people buy forgiveness for sins. The Papacy continually used and abused this tool to raise money. Jan Hus is considered one of the precursors to Martin Luther, who did succeed in upsetting the tyranny of Rome over Europe.

After a scandalous betrayal by future Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, Hus was burned at the stake. Bohemia exploded into open rebellion. Many people altered religious practices and priests were attacked and driven out of parishes.

From 1419 to about 1434 the Bohemian rebels repelled five Papal crusades until finally peace was made with the more moderate rebels. This war was an early example of gunpowder firearms like the hand cannon being used in European warfare. The Bohemians were famous for their armored carts and wagons that they devised. Jan Zizka was their famous military leader and is revered to this day as a hero for his boldly innovative tactics.

Once the Hussite Wars were over, Bohemians ostensibly became good Catholics again, but the original controversies persisted. The Protestant Reformation exploded onto the European scene in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses in which he complained about Church corruption. Printing technology had taken hold by this time, and the rebellious sentiment spread rapidly. Many German principalities in the Holy Roman Empire rejected Papal rule.

With rebellion spreading the Catholic Church dug in at Bohemia. The capital of the Holy Roman Empire was established in Prague. The Jesuits driven by their duty to bolster Catholicism entered Prague and established a college in 1556. And in 1561 an archbishop returned to Prague where the seat had been vacant since the Hussite Wars over a century earlier.

Although Bohemia was Catholic on the map, discontent simmered. The noble class resented the increasing exertions of imperial authority headed by the Hapsburg family as it tried to establish strong central rule with the help of the Roman Catholic Church. By 1618, the horrific Thirty Years War that ravaged much of Europe started in Prague. The incendiary incident was the infamous Defenestration of Prague when the Protestant nobles of Bohemia threw representatives of Matthias II, the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor out a window in Prague.

How is this social discontent portrayed in Werelord Thal?
I drew many of these elements into the narrative of Werelord Thal. Many references to books and printing are made. Information, including propaganda, is everywhere. The discontent of the nobles is illustrated through the character of Lady Carmelita Hrabe. Her fancy parties serve as cover for meetings of Protestants in Prague. Next I include the Jesuits in the story. The character Brother Vito is leading a mission into Prague to hunt heretics and support his order’s mission of stamping a Catholic view upon the educational system. The plot of the novel revolves around witch hunting, which was a tool used by both sides to terrorize the population and impose compliance to narrowly defined views of how people should be.

Back cover
Thal is wanted for Devil worship and shape shifting but still boldly walks the streets of 16th century Prague. Jesuits hunt him. Mercenaries fear him. Musicians sing his praise, and women are captivated by his alpha swagger.

Born of a witch and a sorcerer, he is summoned when his desperate mother casts the werewolf spell before facing torture and execution. Burdened with her magical call for vengeance Thal seeks the men that killed her. His hunt is complicated when the Magistrate’s stepdaughter Altea Kardas crosses his path. Horrified that her community is burning women to death, she can confide her doubt and fear only to Thal.

He desires her greatly but knows he will bring ruin upon her. Across Bohemia and beyond people who are different are labeled heretics in a restless world hobbled by tyrannical ignorance. The Renaissance has thrown the Holy Roman Empire into turmoil. Printed books are spreading radical ideas. Firearms are triggering a new age of warfare. And the human spirit is shaking off obedience.

Thal embodies the ancient magic of the pagan past. He challenges a world conquered by a spiritual system that denies the flesh and forgets the Earth. And he awakens within Altea recognition of these truths. She believes any risk is worth loving him until she becomes the bait in a trap set by Thal’s enemies.

Tour discounts! 
Ebook: $3.99 (kindle, epub, or pdf) Available worldwide from Brave Luck Books

Paperback: $12.99 (6x9 trade paperback 356 pages)

Also available at
AmazonNookSmashwordsiTunesKobo • AllRomance

Or sample the first four chapters for free!

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Back cover
War is coming. Kate Carpenter is only a peasant girl, but she’s determined to help defend the kingdom and its bound saints against the invading empire. Her healing magic earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the master healer; now she must prove herself ready to stand in the front lines and save lives.

She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though. This is no time to be distracted by romance — the empire’s monstrous army will tear through anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical founts. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.

Disciple is a gritty fantasy romance in six parts. The parts have all been written, so no worries about me taking a ten year hiatus or keeling over dead tomorrow.

New to Disciple
Disciple, Part IV is arriving March 1st -- sink your teeth in to the first three parts all at once and you'll be ready for Part IV. The Half-Omnibus also collects all of the appendices, maps, and character indexes from the first three parts.

Now on sale at
Amazon • Nook • Kobo

Check out Part I for free!
(intermittently - free MOBI available at Smashwords)

Get reminders and news about all my books by joining my mailing list! Watch my Twitter or Google+ for blog tour stops all February! Enter to win a free copy of the Half-Omnibus at my tour stops.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 7, 2014

SWORDPLAY by Katharina Gerlach

Welcome to Swordplay by Katharina Gerlach! Who better to explain the world of the Gendarmerie Magique than the characters themselves?

Who are you? Can you please introduce yourselves?
Druidus: "Ladies first."
Sabio (simultaneously): "This is Moira Bellamie, daughter of Lavant Bellamie, yes, the Lavant Bellamie."
Moira: "You can't define me by whose daughter I am, Sabio. I'm more than my genetic setup."
Sabio: "Sorry, dear. I know you're a terrific observer and an all round nice person."
"Nice doesn't quite describe it." Druidus gins. "I should know best, shouldn't I?"
Moira thumps him on the arm but smiles.
M: "My partner Druidus. Sabio matched us. Maybe he thinks I need protection."
D: "More likely he thinks I need supervision. We're his responsibility as Commissaire Magique, after all."

Sabio, please tell us something about the world you're living in. How does it work and what's the role of magic?
S: "Well, our world is not too different from yours. The major difference is that where you use electricity, we use magic. Every human, animal and plant is suffused with magic and most use it subconsciously. Those with greater talents can either work in factories producing everyday spells, or they can study the Mastery of The Art where they learn to control spells without using safety triggers."
"Don't forget the nerls," Moira interrupts. "They're soooo cute. Some of them are even smaller then the head of a pin."
D: "They are really handy when it comes to manual labor. A lot of the levers and things needed to run the machines are too small for our hands, so we leave it to the nerls."
S: "They get paid in magic, but the system is rather complicated. Let's start with the basics…"
D: "No you don't, Sabio. Moira and I want to go home before midnight."

Moira, why do you insist on working for the Gendarmerie Magique?
"I knew that question would be coming. Why can't anyone ask anything else? Why always wonder whether I'd be able to control magic well enough? Well, let me tell you something. I might not be very good with spells, and yes, I have nearly ruined a crime scene once, but I'm determined and a quick learner. I can do the same work as the magically fully balanced."
Sabio puts a hand out and holds her back. "That wasn't meant as an insult, you know? It was genuine interest."
Moira sighs. "Sorry. I'm a bit touchy when it comes to my disability."

Druidus, what was your first impression of Moira?
"Dream girl." Druidus shoots Moira a glance and grins sheepishly. "No, not really. When I first met her, she sat in a puddle of blood half out of her wits, trying to tell me something important. I can't really remember if I thought anything at all at that point. I had a job to do. But she is extremely beautiful. I know now."
Moira blushes but returns the tender look in his eyes.

What shaped your view of the world?
Sabio: "My great grandmother was a very curious woman who always needed to know how things worked. I learned a lot from her. She instilled the need to search for knowledge in me, I think."
(author comment: wow, I didn't know. Why've you never told me that before, Sabio. Ignore this. I didn't ask)
D: "Well, Moira was definitely shaped by her relationship to her father. It made it really hard to make her see my value."
M: "As if you're life has been all that much easier with your parents."
D: "At least I had everything money could buy."
M: "Money's not the same and you know it."
Druidus puts an arm around Moira's shoulder. "You're right as ever, my dear."

Sabio, are there different forms of magic? And what influences the individual's potential for using magic?
D: "Don't set him off with questions like that. He'll go on for hours if you let him."
S: "I'll keep it short. Promised. There are three forms of magic in our world that are intricately interwoven. One magic balances the other. If the balance is disrupted, the consequences are usually deadly. The three kinds of magic are connected in a circle of change. One kind is turned into the next through the process of photosynthesis. It is then used by humans and changed back to its original form by the nerls. But as Druidus so eloquently put it, If I'd get started on the details you might as well get a few more writing pads for your dictanerl."
M: "I agree that we don't get into this too deeply, although the stuff sabio knows is really, really fascinating."

Moira, I don't want to intrude again, but how do you cope with magic?
M: "Well, magic reacts strangely around me. Normally, spells are very predictable."
S: "At least the ones produced in the factories."
M: "But when I use them something goes wrong inevitably. Mostly, this leads to disaster but sometimes it can be a life saver, as I learned the hard way."
Interviewer: "But why does this happen?"
M: "I don't know. It's not that I'm doing things differently from other people; it's more an incompatibility of my aura with the magic around me. I'm usually trying to stay well away from spells."

Druidus, does magic play a major role in your life?
D: "Aside form the major role it plays in everyone's life? No. I'm using magic like every other person in this world. But my mother is an auralogist – that means she evaluates a human's aura to determine the magical talent within."

The story starts with a theft of valuable antique weapons in the National Museum. Do you have a special connection to museums or specific weapons?
D: "No."
M, S: "Yes, most definitely."
M: "My parents used to take me to museums when I was a kid. I have many happy memories related to them."
S: "I've done extensive research in some museums. It's often surprising what inspiration one can get from studying the old masters."

Sabio, how did you become Moira's mentor?
"That was entirely unplanned. I noticed she had an exceptional gift for observations. She noticed some really insignificant changes in one of the classic paintings, and I simply had to have her on my team. The more I got to know her, the more she grew on me. First, she was barely more than an interesting enigma, but she became a friend quickly."

Moira, what have you set your heart on?
M: "I will be a member of the Gendarmerie Magique whatever the cost. Everything else is secondary."
D: "Hey, even my love for you?"
M: "Yes."
D: "That's quite unfair, you know?"
M: "At least it's honest."
S with a wink to D: "Considering how many people I've met in my life, I think Moira is lying to herself a little there."
D: "That's reassuring."

Druidus, do you have a favorite scene?
D: "You mean in the novel? Of course I do, but I'm not at liberty to share a woman's secrets with the world."

If you would get one wish granted what would it be?
S: "That's a purely speculative question with no real answer for it. Since I do not get wishes granted, I do not know what I would really ask for should the occasion arise."
D: "Spoilsports."
M: "Didn't the elfqueen suggest she'd grant you a wish, Druidus?"
D: "I didn't like the pricetag attached."
M: "Well, I'd wish for Franka and Tord's baby to be healthy and thriving."
D: "I'd add health and prosperity for the parents. Wouldn't we make the perfect godparents."
All three laugh.

Thank you for answering all these questions.
M: "We thank you. It's been fun."
D: "Mostly…"
S: "And if you really want to know more about how magic works in our world, why not join me for a coffee? There's a machine just outside the blog-studio and the stuff it spits out is not half bad."

About the Book
CSI with magic but without the gore
Despite her obvious lack of magical talent, nineteen year old Moira Bellamie apprentices with the Gendarmerie Magique, the magic police. She puts all her effort into solving a burglary at the National Museum where antique weapons have been stolen, to keep the hard won job. Falling for her partner Druidus wasn't part of the plan. When more and more people are murdered with one of the stolen weapons, Moira must tame uncontrollable magic, or the people she cares for will die, her partner first and foremost.

For lovers of Fantasy and Mystery from 14 years up

eBook on Amazon: German • English
and Smashwords: German • English
other retailers will follow
Paperback in German or English on Createspace (Beware: postage), 
Amazon (no postage) will follow soon and can be found through the eBook pages

Giveaway for "Swordplay – A Gendarmerie Magique novel"

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Free Kindle Books

Feb 5th
Free Kindle Books.

Book Info

Every High School has their social outcasts. The band nerds, the math geeks, the chess club, the girl that chews her hair, but at Butler High, even the creepy nose picker in the chess club is more popular than Caleo Anima. No matter what he did, his pale skin, snow white hair, and piercing blue eyes always made him an easy target. He used to think that the only way things could get worse would be if someone found out that he was gay, but that isn't even the tip of the iceberg of problems after a mysterious stranger shows up and changes Caleo’s life forever.

Hidden amongst our society, a secret and magical race of people known as ‘Leeches’, have been engaging in civil war for decades. Both sides are desperately searching for a weapon with unlimited power that will give them the advantage they need to rule their world. This wouldn’t mean anything to Caleo, except for one problem...He is that weapon!

Forget making it through High School. Caleo has bigger problems! As the search for him goes on, the world is quickly crumbling around him. He's now fighting for his life and the life of what little family he has left. With the help of new friends, he has little time to try and master his newly found powers as he tries to figure out who he can trust, who is trying to use him, and who just wants him dead. One wrong step and being the awkward pale outcast will be the least of his worries.

Click here to claim your free copy on Amazon today only!

What if you knew the exact date and time the world will end, what would you do?

Sam Tucker was faced with that dilemma when he began getting visions of the Earth's demise. Luckily for him, he was able to save his family and as many people as he could before the tragic event occurred, and he did so with the help of unknown visitors. With Earth now destroyed, Sam, his family, and thousands of other lucky survivors must live the rest of their lives on a faraway planet in a Dome that simulates life on Earth. But Sam's mind can't seem to rest as a few questions arise. Why did the aliens save them? How did they know about Earth's sure fate? And exactly what are they hiding?

Emma Tucker begged for an escape from her boring life but never in a million years did she think it would come at the destruction of Earth. Living on a new planet and finding it difficult to get rid of her rebellious habits, Emma finds herself making friends with a member of the alien race and it soon develops into an unexplainable love; a love that is more dangerous than she could ever imagine. While her father is searching for his own truths, she has no idea that she is stumbling on a truth of her own.

Told from the point of view of both Sam and Emma, author Nova Sparks takes readers on a journey to discover love, fate, faith, truth, and the mystery of the DOME!

Click here to claim your Free copy on Amazon today only!

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Saturday, February 1, 2014


Back cover
War is coming. Kate Carpenter is only a peasant girl, but she’s determined to help defend the kingdom and its bound saints against the invading empire. Her healing magic earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the master healer; now she must prove herself ready to stand in the front lines and save lives.

She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though. This is no time to be distracted by romance — the empire’s monstrous army will tear through anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical founts. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.

Disciple is a gritty fantasy romance in six parts. The parts have all been written, so no worries about me taking a ten year hiatus or keeling over dead tomorrow.

New to Disciple
Disciple, Part IV is arriving March 1st -- sink your teeth in to the first three parts all at once and you'll be ready for Part IV. The Half-Omnibus also collects all of the appendices, maps, and character indexes from the first three parts.

Now on sale at
AmazonNook • Kobo

Check out Part I for 99 cents!
Get reminders and news about all my books by joining my mailing list! Watch my Twitter for blog tour stops all February! Enter to win a free copy of the Half-Omnibus at my tour stops.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
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