Tag Archives: Sci-Fi

Review: Shattered Night (The Extraction List 4)

Shattered Night (The Extraction List 4)

by Renee N. Meland

Reviewed by JMD Reid

In a world where economic collapse has plunged even the U.S. into the third world, Riley, her boyfriend Cain, and her friends are returning from a mission to rescue Olivia from a life of forced prostitution in Italy. Thinking they found a safe place for Cain to recover from his injuries, instead, they find their new home under the control of the sadistic Keagan.

An old enemy of Cain, Keagan is eager to get revenge on the freedom fighter. Riley and her friends are going to have to find a way to survive in a town where all the weapons are in Keagan’s control. Can they buy enough time for Cain to recover before Keagan executes his plan of revenge?

Shattered night is the fast-paced conclusion of the Extraction List! This dystopian, young adult series is a wild read. The plot twists and turns as the fortunes ebb and flow for the heroes. Meland keeps you on your toes while the story keeps you reading.

This is the definition of a page-turner.

The characters are raw and real. The emotions punch you hard. This series is a must-read for fans of the genre!

Leave Me Lost is available from Amazon.

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Interview: Clay Gilbert

This week, I got to get to know a new indie author. Clay Gilbert is man who writes what he loves: horror, urban fantasy, and science fiction! He’s just released his seventh novel onto Amazon, The Kind Memory’s Children: Book One The Golden Road. And that’s just one of his intriguing novels!

First, let’s get to know Clay with some fun, quirky questions!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want with you.
The Bible, Moby-Dick, and Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Dune, that’s a good choice. My favorite science fiction novel, and there is a reason the Bible has endured the centuries whether or not you believe in god or even Judeo-Christianity. Lot of truth about reality found in there.

What animal best describes your personality?
Cats.
Interesting.

If there was one place in the world you’d love to visit, where would it be?
Oakley Court, near Windsor, in the UK, the location for much of the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Are you a cat or dog person?
Cat
I had a feeling after your personality answer!

If you could have a dinner with one historical person, who would it be?
Hmm. Maybe Frank Herbert or Robert Heinlein.
Frank Herbert had such fascinating ideas about the great man fallacy.

 

Now let’s get down to brass tacks!

Besides writing, what are you passionate about?
My Christian faith, and the Bible; music of all sorts, but particularly the music of the Grateful Dead; movies, and books.

What drew you to the craft of writing?
I started writing and reading early, and from the time I realized that there were people who wrote as a job, the way that my father went to his office every day, that’s the job I wanted. I published my first short story at the age of thirteen, in Scholastic magazine. They paid me $25. I never really looked back after that.
Awesome! I never shared what I was writing with anyone at thirteen. Too scared. That, and I couldn’t finish a story before a new idea caught my attention.

When writing a novel, are you a detailed planner or do you fly by the seats of your pants?
Thank you for not using the term ‘pantser.’ I don’t outline. I don’t plan in advance, much. At the same time, my process isn’t as random as what ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ suggests. I usually start with a character, or pair of characters, and let them tell me what the story is. In other words, the conflicts, situations, end goals, and the world my story happens to be set in are all centered around and suited for the people in the story. And I find that they know what’s best for the story much more than I would, if I were to force things. Outlining to me seems like trying to have control over something I don’t want control over.
Interesting take on it.

What has attracted you to writing across such diverse genres as science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror? Of the three, which is your favorite to write about.
I probably consider myself mostly a science fiction writer, although I do have a strong love for horror and urban fantasy as well. I just published a second horror novel, Cassie’s Song, the sequel to my vampire novel Dark Road to Paradise, and I plan on publishing two more horror novels next year, along with more science fiction. The Kind, Book One: The Golden Road is the first of a two-part urban fantasy, and while I like that genre, I don’t know if I’ll have more to say in that area once the second book, To Terrapin and Back Again, is published this fall. We’ll have to see.

Tell us about Annah, the heroine from your Children of Evohe Series. What makes her such an intriguing character to read about?
I sometimes refer to the first book of that series, Annah and the Children of Evohe, as ‘Jane Eyre’ in space. Like Charlotte Bronte’s heroine, Annah is an outcast in her world, and an independent thinker. Also like Jane, Annah finds love with a much older man—the human Gary Holder, whose ship crash-lands on Annah’s homeworld of Evohe, and whom she nurses back to health. Unlike Jane, though, Annah becomes a messiah figure to her people, similar to Paul Atreides in Frank Herbert’s Dune. And that was one of the things I wanted to explore when I started that series—why are there no female messiah-figures in fiction, science fiction specifically? What would it be like to merely want to fit in, and to have this sort of destiny put upon you? Annah’s interesting because she has a strong desire to belong, but the other things she feels called to do can’t help but divide her from her people in some ways. She’s also not some kind of flawless, perfect heroine. She has many strengths, but she also has fears and weaknesses and failings, and certainly doesn’t always do the right thing.
That does sound interesting. Nice foundation to build off of!

Eternity and its City sounds intriguing. What was the inspiration behind Eternity’s quest to lead it to freedom?
I wrote the original draft of Eternity between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college, or, in other words, between the ages of seventeen and eighteen, the same time period that passes for Eternity in the novel. I revised it a number of times, but it’s surprising to me that, in its published form, it’s still about 75% the book that seventeen-year-old me wrote all those years ago. The inspiration was twofold, really: I’ve also enjoyed dystopian books like Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’ s 1984, but I also enjoy coming-of-age stories like S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I wanted to write a dystopian novel in which the broad political struggle was more a metaphor for the growing-up process of adolescence. It was very immediate struggle to me when I first wrote the book, because it was pretty much my life, or how I experienced it, internally. Revising it, later, as a adult, I was able to refine the raw emotions and the inexperienced prose style of my younger self into a form that, if seventeen-year-old me could see it, I think he’d say that was what he meant in the first place. Next year, I’m writing a sequel called Islands of Light. It takes place thirty years later, and, like the original book, will attempt to function on two levels. What do the struggles of youth look like to an adult, thirty years on? And also, what happens, politically, when you win a war? We won, but do we become the oppressors now? What does that look like? I’m looking forward to going back to the City and exploring those issues.

What do you have coming up next?
So far, in 2018, I’ve published The Conversationalist, Book One: Out of the Blue, the first part of a sci-fi romantic comedy, Cassie’s Song, the second book in my vampire series Tales of the Night-Kind, and the first book of the urban fantasy The Kind, entitled The Golden Road. This fall, I’ll be publishing Book Two of The Kind, titled To Terrapin and Back Again, the second Conversationalist novel, entitled Mission to Mercy Prime, and the fourth Children of Evohe novel, Annah and the Arrow.

Last, do you have any advice for a new or aspiring author?
Write what you love, not what you think is going to sell. You must be your primary audience, starting out. If you write a story you are passionate about, other people will be, too. Write from passion, not fashions or trends. Write every day. Treat it like a job. Same time, same place, every day, for as much time as you can spare. Dismiss the idea of ‘writer’s block’ from your mind. ‘Writer’s block’ is made up BS that people use as an excuse not to do their work. If you had a stopped-up toilet, and the plumber showed up and apologetically said he couldn’t do his job because he had ‘plumber’s block, would you stand for that? Don’t stand for it in your writing, either. Set a goal. I try for an average of 20,000 words, or ten pages, a day. Whatever your daily goal is, don’t stop until you achieve it, and eliminate ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary.
That is some great advice that I personally agree with. Writing is my job, and I try to keep a schedule for it.

Well, thank you for letting me get a chance to talk to you! I wish you well on your writing!

Clay Gilbert says he’s always liked stories, and that from the time he knew there were people who told them for a living, that’s what he wanted to do. Clay’s work in various genres has been in print since his first short science fiction story, “The Computer Conspiracy,” was published in Scholastic magazine when he was just thirteen. Clay is the author of the science fiction series Children of Evohe, including the novels Annah and the Children of Evohe, Annah and the Exiles, Annah and the Gates of Grace, and Annah and the Arrow. He is also the author of the YA dystopian novel Eternity, the science fiction novel The Conversationalist: Out of the Blue and its sequel, The Conversationalist: Mission to Mercy Prime, as well as the vampire novel Dark Road to Paradise, and its sequel, Cassie’s Song, all published by Dark Moon Press. He lives and works in Knoxville, TN. His author blog can be found at http://portalsandpathways.wordpress.com/, and the official website for his Children of Evohe novels resides at https://childrenofevohe.com/.

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Interview: Tim Hemlin

AtMyDeskTIMI had the pleasure of interview Tim Hemlin. I’ve gotten to know his wife over the last year on social media, and she introduced me to her husband’s writing. The Wastelanders was a fantastic dystopic Sci-Fi novel. In fact, you can check out my review of his novel here! Now let’s get on with the interview!

First, let’s get to know Tim with some fun, quirky questions!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want with you.

Right away I’m going to cheat a little because my first choice is a handsome hardback composite put out by the The Library of America—Four Novels of the 1960s by Philip K. Dick. The novels include The Man in the High Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (which the movie Blade Runner was loosely based on) and PKD’s masterpiece, Ubik. Philip K. Dick is one of my favorite sci-fi writers and has been a huge influence on my work. The other two books I’d take are War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and The Complete Poems and Plays by T.S. Eliot. I’ve read Eliot since college and still enjoy his work. As for Tolstoy, I love his shorter works so maybe by being stranded on a desert island I’d finally get through War and Peace.

Nice. I thought about War and Peace for my answer. It’s long and I’ve never had the time to read it, so a desert island seems the perfect place!

What animal best describes your personality?

Bear. He’s strong yet introspective and he also has healing powers. And on occasion I’ve been accused of being grouchy . . .

If there was one place in the world you’d love to visit, where would it be?

I’ve always wanted to go to Paris. In particular, Paris 1922. I’d love to hang out with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Eliot, Stein, Picasso, Joyce, Pound . . .

Are you a cat or dog person?

I lean more towards dogs. I have two dogs—a Westie and a Shi Tzu—and a cat. The dogs are so happy to see me walk through the door in the evenings and they appreciate the attention I give them. The cat will bite my toe at night if I roll into his space at the end of the bed.

If you could have a dinner with one historical person, who would it be?

John Adams. Any man who claims “that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress” would make an interesting dinner companion.

I have never heard that one. It maybe my new favorite quote to one of my favorite founding fathers.

Now that we got the fun questions out of the way, let’s get down to the brass tacks!

Besides writing, what are you passionate about?

At the top of my list I’d say running. I’ve completed a number of marathons, half-marathons, 25 & 30Ks, and I’d someday like to tackle an ultra. Running is a type of meditation for me and in that way it compliments my writing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stuck on a story, gone for a run and come back hot, sweaty and excited because I’ve had a breakthrough. I also enjoy swimming, biking and fly-fishing. I guess when I’m not writing I like to be active, though I do read a lot. To paraphrase Stephen King, you won’t have the tools to be a writer if you’re not a reader.

The outdoors was never my thing, but I can get down a read a book with the best of them.

 What drew you to the craft of writing?

Since high school I’ve known I wanted to be a writer. I enjoy word play and for the longest time I wanted to be a poet. I even studied with Charles Simic and MeKeel McBride at the University of New Hampshire. Then I discovered the work of John Gardner (Grendel, October Light, The Sunlight Dialogues) and similar writers and gradually made the transition to writing novels.

When writing a novel, are you a detailed planer or do you fly by the seats of your pants?

Fly by the seat of your pants sounds so capricious, yet that’s mostly what I do. Robert Frost said no tear for the writer, no tear for the reader. I take that to mean a writer must invest himself in his work and be willing to bear his soul through his characters and the world they live in. I do this best when I give my characters the freedom to speak to me and show me what’s going to happen next in a book. If I don’t give my characters that freedom I often write myself into a corner and then have to backtrack to find out where I went wrong. That’s not to say I don’t have a general idea of where I’m going in a story, but even that can change. When I wrote The Wastelanders I felt sure I knew where I was going with it. And then the time-witch appeared and changed everything—for the better. She kicked that novel into another gear.

I recently learned the term “pantser” from Janna Kaixer to describe the more adventurous writers. I definitely only have the loosest of outlines when I write.

Your novel The Wastelanders is a sci-fi thriller. What attracted you to writing speculative, genre fiction?

The Wastelanders came about because of my concern for the environment. I feel it’s my duty, in the words of Dr. Jonas Salk, to be a good ancestor so future generations can enjoy nature as much as I have. Yet in the novel I also deal with power, political corruption and mass movements and cite often from that unique, American blue-collar philosopher Eric Hoffer. I like stories that mine for feelings and explore complex themes. There’s nothing like being immersed in PKD’s Ubik, Frank Herbert’s Dune or Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five (all big influences on my work). That’s not to say I don’t also enjoy lighter reads. The young adult novel I recently completed is less complicated than The Wastelanders in that it’s more direct. It’s a love story and a coming of age story that focuses on good versus evil, and I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent with those characters.

Your characters almost seem alive in your head. You live, breath, and die with them, and spill all the joy and pain onto the page.

Inspiration is such a fascinating phenomenon. Where did the inspiration for the Wastelanders come from?

You’re right; inspiration is a fascinating phenomenon. It’s the Muse handing you the key that unlocks the right door to that perfect world. I mean wanting to write a book because I’m concerned about the environment is one thing, but that’s a theme, not a story. Themes are just mannequins. Characters, plot, and setting are the clothes that dress them. So where did the inspiration for The Wastelanders come from? It came from Dune, from PKD, from Slaughter House Five, and from some of the idiot politicians we have today who manage to get voted into office. And just when I was about to lose hope in humanity, inspiration came from young love, from old love, and from the good heart of an enigmatic gunrunner.

The Time Witch’s sections definitely had a surreal, PKD vibe.

What is your favorite character from the Wastelander?

My favorite character is a toss-up. Bear is the enigmatic gunrunner who has prescient abilities and is indomitable. On the other hand, the time-witch took hold of my imagination and ran with it. I’m fascinated with the concept of time, time travel, and “bending” time. This all came out in her. It’s been pointed out to me that this is incongruous with sci-fi novels, though I strongly disagree. As Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Playing with time is a fun story technique. I’ve always enjoyed stories with those angles was happily surprised when I came across it in your novel. And transhuman abilities have always been a staple of Sci-Fi. No one questions Dune as Sci-fi with all its prescient

I understand you have a Young Adult novel in the works called Son of the Kitchen Witch. I would love to hear a bit about the plot.

Son of a Kitchen Witch is a coming-of-age young adult urban fantasy with a large dose of the paranormal, adventure and a touch of romance. Seventeen year-old Bobby Hawthorne has always known his overprotective mother is a witch. However, he never understood the depth of her powers until he learns the truth about his father’s death and the ancient group of fanatics determined to hunt down and kill every last witch on earth.

As if being a high school student isn’t already hard enough, Bobby and his best friend, Angelina Dellapicallo, struggle to understand the emerging secrets of white magic in the wiccan community, secrets strictly guarded by Bobby’s mother and her friends. The unexpected appearance of his spirited grandfather, though, sets in motion a series of events that sweep the young teens down a dangerous path, one inhabited by an ancient evil that threatens not only Bobby and Angelina but the wiccan community as well.

Pixies can’t stop the hellhounds . . . but they have sounded the alarm . . . and the magic users must respond . . .

Sounds like a fun read! I can’t wait to read it.

Last, do you have any advice for a new or aspiring author?

Write. Write. Write. It’s like a runner preparing for a marathon. You don’t just wake up one morning and run 26.2 miles. You put in those training miles first, and the more you put in the better (most likely) your race results. I don’t know if you recall, but recently you and I had an exchange about how bad our first efforts at novel writing were. Well, it’s those horrible efforts that never saw the light of day that lead to the books that are now out on the market. I’d also suggest picking up Stephen King’s On Writing or one of Natalie Goldberg’s books—Writing Down the Bones or The Wild Mind. They have great advice and good exercises for beginning writers. And read. I think it’s a cop out when writers say they don’t read because they don’t want to copy that author. Reading is part of a writer’s heritage. Own it.

To a new writer who has just completed a book I say get out of the house and go to a conference. Join a writer’s group. Get an author’s page on Facebook. Join Twitter. Join online book clubs. Start a blog. Mine is on Word Press at timhemlin.com. Review other writer’s books. Make an author’s page on Amazon. Look into the Indie scene. There are a ton of resources for independent writers. Use them. It’s a lot of work, but so was writing that novel. And don’t you want people to know about it and read it?

Some great advice! Write, write, write! That’s what everyone says, but it’s the truth. It’s been great talking with you Tim. He’s a great guy.

Now that we’ve gotten to know Tim a little bit, let’s check out an excerpt from Tim’s novel, The Wastelanders.

wastelanderSet in the future of America where climate change has driven the citizens of the US to live in “bubbles” cities protected from the harsher, outside air. They survive thanks to the Cartel, a huge company that provides water through desalination.

When the Water Cartel’s #23 desalination plant explodes, Deputy Bernie Hawke finds himself under surveillance by Home Sec authorities. They suspect he knows the whereabouts of his son, Joey, who a year earlier had gone missing from the civilized society of the bubble to the Wastelands. Believing Joey carried out the attack, the Home Sec agents show Bernie video of his son inside the city’s bubble. Convinced of his son’s innocence, Bernie puts his sleuthing skills to work and backtracks his son’s footsteps to a shady bar on the edge of the Rim, the land that borders the Wastelands. Bernie knows government agents are tailing him. What he doesn’t expect is an attempt on his life. Inadvertently, Bernie cuts down a Rim guard and once again finds himself interrogated by the irascible Agent O’Hare.

CHAPTER 11

Bernie Hawke shivered. He sat in the fussy little concierge’s fussy little office. Every instinctual bone in his body had told him to run. Only a Herculean effort overcame that urge. Now as he listened to the jowly O’Hare and dealt with iron-spine Crisp, Bernie was glad he’d not panicked.

O’Hare, who’d been speaking with one of his officers, pulled up a chair across from Bernie. The office held little more than a cheap metal desk, a handful of chairs, a black synthetic-leather couch and the flags of Texas and America. The obligatory picture of President Litz hung on the wall behind the desk. The rest of the walls were empty except for a pair of cutter mounts and the video-cams. Old-fashion ceiling tracks held the lighting which could be dimmed or brightened. O’Hare had tried them bright. Now they were dim.

I told the little pixie to find us a pot of good coffee even, by God, if he had to go back to the Bubble to get it,” O’Hare announced.

You know why I’m out here,” Bernie stated. His head swam from lack of sleep.

All in good time, lad. All in good time.”

Why are you here?” Bernie persisted.

O’Hare winked as though they were the best of friends, old warriors who looked after each other. Pure political bullshit, Bernie thought. Yet, curious. Home Sec had jurisdiction everywhere in the country—hell, they believed they had jurisdiction anywhere in the world—but this was Rim guard territory—the sub-czar’s domain. And Bernie had killed one of their own.

The fussy concierge entered the room with a silver tray and coffee service which was as incongruous with the setting as raincoats in the dessert. “Jamaica Mountain Blue,” he explained, hands shaking as he set the tray down on the desk.

O’Hare half listened as his men came and went.

Very rare, now that it’s only grown in bio-houses. And raw sugar. And cream. Anything else, sir?”

Aye, laddie,” O’Hare said while accepting a cup of coffee. “Who is it that allows this stinking brothel to operate outside of the Red Courtyard?”

The fussy little man paled.

Speak up, man, my coffee’s getting cold.”

Why, sir, we’re not a—”

Mind your words carefully,” O’Hare warned. “While my boys were printing the air we caught many an interesting shadow.”

Bernie watched the concierge swallow hard. The infrared-like dust captured energy images, downloading them to cell cams. In Bernie’s circles it was known as filming ghosts. Judging from the exchange between O’Hare and the concierge, it was obvious not all of Home Sec knew about this fine establishment. Someone allowed it to operate below the radar.

Aye, think about it, lad. I’ll be getting back to you. Be gone now. Mind the front desk.” O’Hare turned his full attention to Bernie as the concierge backed out of the room. “As you said, Deputy Hawke, I’m aware of your reason for being on the Rim, but why is it you’re in this stinking place?” The old cop gestured for Bernie to help himself to some coffee.

Bernie obliged and poured a cup, black. “Pure coincidence.”

I’m to believe that?”

What do the air-prints show?”

O’Hare stirred another cube of sugar into his coffee, tapped the side of the cup with the spoon and tasted. “Aye, it is good.”

O’Hare.”

Patience, lad.”

I haven’t had enough sleep to be patient.”

And why is that?”

Would you like me to spell it out for you?” asked Bernie. He sipped his coffee, too, but hardly tasted it.

Oh, would you be so kind?”

Bernie tossed out a finger with each point. “I came looking for my son. I have doubts that he was involved in the bombing. I wanted to hear his story with my own ears. I’ve not been able to locate him.”

Even in the wilderness?” O’Hare asked.

Yes, I did leave the trails. I walked the bayou. Anyone with half a brain would suppose a person trying to make it to the Wasteland would first travel the bayou.”

O’Hare took another sip and then asked, “You didn’t happen to meet anyone else out there, now, did you?”

Not a soul, unless you count the ’gators and mosquitoes.”

Yes, we’ve matched your cutter.”

Of course you have. And you’ve looked at the air-prints. Since emotion was high, you’ve detected images confirming my story. By the way, I thought printing old images was doubtful. Were you bluffing our fussy little friend?”

O’Hare set his cup down on the desk. “Not quite, lad. As you said, emotion runs high, here. And then when you combine it with an abundance of activity, they may produce a blurred ménage, but the intent is clear enough even for a Rim guard to understand.”

So what did looking at my cutter—time-matching it—tell you?”

Aye, lad, you fired in self-defense at your assailant.”

The heavy way in which O’Hare responded triggered a reflex in Bernie’s training. He knew the routine, the alternating between direct and circuitous questioning. O’Hare, playing again good-cop, came at him all folksy and from the sly. Bernie had expected Crisp at any moment to barge in and briskly take over. Now he wasn’t so sure. “Something else happened tonight,” Bernie said. “Isn’t the killing of a Rim guard bad enough?”

Normally I’d agree.”

But?”

Try the killing of two Rim guards, lad.”

Bernie leaned forward. “Two? Hey, I was only assaulted—”

O’Hare raised a hand. “Take a guess where they found the other guard?”

The woods.” As Bernie spoke he knew in his heart Joey had been involved in the killing. Damn if that didn’t nail the kid’s coffin. Of course, he didn’t express his suspicions to O’Hare.

Now, I’m willing to believe you’re incredulous reaction,” O’Hare told him.

Bernie said nothing.

However, the sub-czar has a different idea.”

The sub-czar?”

Disagreeable fellow by the name of Rex Fielder. I’d admit that to no one but a brother of the law.” He paused.

They think that since I was in the woods I killed the man,” Bernie said.

Aye, lad.”

All they had to do was look at my cutter—”

We both know that can be covered with a good cleaning.”

I haven’t had the time.”

We found no air-print evidence you did so in your room, that is true. And if you had been cleaning it, you’d probably be dead.”

Bernie picked up his cup but then set it down without drinking. “So what are they saying? That I resisted arrest?”

They might’ve, had they gotten here first and erased the air-prints. Fortunate for you, lad, we had you under the eye.”

Yeah, my lucky day. They’re saying something. What is it?”

According to the Rim guards mouthpiece it was an act of blood.”

An act of blood? You mean the two men—”

Brothers, lad. Brothers.”

Bernie stared dumbly off into space. Brothers? On one level it sounded perfectly logical. Joey kills the Rim guard during his attempt to escape and then his brother sets out to take revenge on…he shook his head. No, this was all too tidy.

What is it, lad?”

Bernie looked up. Crisp had entered the room as though he kept a baton sheathed in his ass. “It doesn’t make sense.”

O’Hare eyed him carefully. “Why is that, now?”

What time was the guard in the woods killed?”

A glint as though a burst of adrenalin entered his gaze. “The official time hasn’t been released.”

But the official motive for the attempt on my life has,” said Bernie.

It appears so.”

Crisp stopped behind O’Hare and stood in icy silence.

The time frame,” Bernie thought aloud. “The time frame is too close.”

O’Hare replied by pouring himself more coffee.

That’s why they haven’t—and I’ll bet won’t—release the time of the first guard’s death. It won’t align with the attack on me.”

Seems mighty coincidental the two dead are brothers.”

The attack on me was planned ahead of time,” Bernie continued. “What happened in the woods was a random act.”

Be careful, lad. You’re wading into dangerous waters. To charge the company with conspiracy—”

How else would you explain it?” interrupted Bernie.

An act of blood.”

The official word. Of course, you would eat whatever crap they put on your plate. But don’t you find the taste bitter?”

The coffee cup in O’Hare’s hand shook slightly as he took a sip. Rage flushed his cheeks and Crisp remained as rigid as the word of God. For a full minute neither said a word.

Come on, O’Hare, this isn’t an investigation, it’s a pill being shoved—”

Deputy Hawke,” the old agent cut in, voice low and harsh. “I’d suggest you mind your words. Unless you can offer evidence confirming this outrageous notion that’s found its way into your head then you’d be far better off accepting the results of the official inquiry.”

Bernie let out a short laugh, the kind accompanied by a faint grin. “Mind my words? Why? I have nothing more to lose, O’Hare.” An echo, he realized, of what he’d told Graham’s daughter at the pub. Instead of revisiting the litany he said, “What else can I lose? My freedom? Well, let me tellyou something, lad, I’ve been in a cage for a long time now, I just didn’t know it. Anytime a man’s afraid to speak his mind, he’s looking at life through iron bars.”

Crisp stirred and appeared ready to speak but O’Hare raised a hand. “A rousing speech, lad, the very kind, if spoken outside these walls, that might transform those metaphorical bars into the literal. Were that to happen how would you go about quenching the fire in your heart?”

Bernie said nothing.

O’Hare set his cup down and stood. “When you’ve had your fill of this surprisingly good coffee, you’re free to go.”

Free?” Bernie sounded suspicious.

Aye, lad. Self-defense in an act of blood is justifiable. You know that.”

What’s going on here?” asked Bernie.

The sun’s rising, Deputy Hawke. A new day. As my dear old mother used to say, ‘Looks like another hot one.’ She loved the heat, God rest her soul. But we know better, don’t we? We know how hot it can get, especially on the Rim. We know when to dive headstrong into it, and when to seek shelter in the shadows. At least I do, Deputy Hawke. I pray for your sake, lad, you do too.”

If you want to read more (and how could you not, The Wastelander is an amazing book), you can pick it up from Amazon.

And don’t forget to check out Black Silence, the short story the reunites the characters and may serve as an exciting prelude to the Wasterlanders upcoming sequel!

BlackSilenceA ghost from the past . . . A girl lost in the Wastelands . . . Bernie Hawke missing . . .

Can the enigmatic Bear join forces with warrior-priest Joey Hawke, and Caballito, the legendary descendant of the ancient Running People, in time to rescue them? Or will they fall prey like so many others to the black silence of the Wastelands?

You can pick up Black Silence from Amazon!

Tim is a marathoner, a former English teacher of 22 years who is now utilizing his master’s degree in counseling by working as a high school counselor.  However, it’s his passion for the environment that sparked his need to write The Wastelanders, a dystopian-clifi published in both e-book and paperback by Reputation Books. He also has a short story, Black Silence, introducing a new character, Caballito, who appears in the sequel to The Wastelanders available through Amazon.

Recently the Muse has kindly allowed him to tap into that creative magic and pen a young adult urban fantasy titled Son of a Kitchen Witch. a coming of age story with a good v. evil backdrop.  It is currently with his agent, Kimberley Cameron of Kimberley Cameron & Associates Literary Agency.

His current WIP is the sequel to The Wastelanders which should be completed in spring of 2016.

In the 1990’s Tim published a series of culinary mysteries through Ballantine Books and has recently gotten the reversion rights. He is planning on reissuing them through an elite new publisher, La Nouvelle Atlantide Press out of New Orleans. This series is set in Houston, Texas. The Neil Marshall series includes If Wishes Were Horses, A Whisper of Rage (nominated for a Shamus Award), People in Glass Houses, A Catered Christmas (the one he most enjoyed writing), and Dead Man’s Broth.

Tim has recently appeared on BBC UK The Big Film Review w/ Sudip Baduri film critic.

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Review: The Wastelanders by Tim Hemlin

The Wastelanders

by Tim Hemlin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

In the future, ecological disaster has struck the world.

51xGYBugSbL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The US has survived by building domes to protect their city and desalination plants to provide water. The great President Litz kept the country from sliding into chaos by bending the Constitution. The Cartel, the company that owns the desalination plants, is the greatest political power in the country.

Those that disagree with the direction of the US, who yearn for political or religious freedom, or have fled the rules of society  dwell in the Wastelands of the central United States. These Wastelanders are a diverse group of cults, opportunist, and criminals.

When Bernie Hawke, a former cop turned security officer, had a bad bout of food poisoning, his life was saved. Desalination Plant #23 in the Houston Bubble was destroyed and Bernie becomes the suspect. He was conveniently sick and, worse, his son Joseph had left the Bubble to join one of the ragged groups existing outside the control of the country.

Now Joseph is wanted for the terrorist bombing.

Bernie has to deal with the suspicious HomeSec while trying to discover if his son really is a terrorist.  As he searches, he stumbles onto a vast conspiracy that will change the direction of the country.

Tim Hemlin weaves the lives of multiple characters into his SciFi, political thriller. The plot twists and turns in a fully realized world. Tim has a varied and vivid cast, each with their own motivations and goals colliding together. If you’re a fan of Sci-Fi, thrillers, and a fast-paced plot, then you’ll enjoy this story.

You can pick up The Wastelanders for  from Amazon

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Review: The Universe Builder: Bernie and the Putty

The Universe Builder: Bernie and the Putty

by Steve LeBel

Reviewed by JMD Reid

 

What if God got a C- in Universe Building 101?

UntitledThis one sentence blurb captured my imagination and I had to buy this book. Steve LeBel has created a unique world were Gods work for the Company building universe for reasons. The reasons don’t matter, what matters is the fascinating why they build their worlds as they try and create new and interesting realities.

Enter Bernie. He’s wasn’t the best student in school. He has some difficulty with ethics (he foolishly believes higher life forms shouldn’t be snuffed out at the whim of their creators). But he is the son of the famed builder, so Ezrah (head of HR), with the urging of his secretary Suzie, decides to gamble on hiring young Bernie, assigning him to Shemal’s department.

Only there’s one problem. Bernie’s childhood rival and bully, Billy, is Shemal’s nephew, and Billy is looking to get payback on Bernie. As Bernie tries to build his first universe and pass his probation period, Billy begins to sabotage him to get Bernie fired.

With the help of his friends Suzy and Lenny, Bernie fights back against Billy’s attacks on his Universe. But unbeknownst to Billy, higher life had formed on his Universe and the inhabitants, led by Alcandor struggle to understand the cataclysm befalling their world.

Steve has created an absolutely interesting world. The Gods exist in a world not unlike ours. They go to school, they have jobs, they get married and have kids. But they also create universes and its fascinating reading about Bernie and Billy’s war as Bernie has to fix every problem Billy causes.

And while there war is going on, he explores how primitive people attempt to explain the events beyond their understanding as Alcandor’s people are afflicted by Billy’s attacks. The characters are great, and Bernie and Suzy have a cute relationship that grows so slowly as the dense Bernie finally realizes Suzy is more than just his friend.

You will not be disappointed by The Universe Builder. You can buy it for $4.99 on Amazon.

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