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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter Two (Cary Caffrey)

Smoke rose slowly in the distance, black turning to orange in the early light of morning. Two more houses had burned last night. This last one even closer to theirs, less than a block away. The Anders house? She couldnt be sure.
Eve took a bottle of water from the crate, taking the smallest of sips before replacing the top and placing it carefully back in its place. Staring at the stacks of bottled water piled high in the corner of the garage she regretted having teased Jared so much. Shed called him paranoid, a conspiracy theorist, each and every time hed come back from the shops, adding to the modest stockpiles of water, dried food and tinned goods.
Now, as she heard the rumblings in her stomach, as she reached for the tin of tunafish, she was grateful for his preparedness.
They had food and water for two weeks. Perhaps three. Though Eve knew it was only a matter of time before people came. Looters. They were everywhere. Still, for the moment, they were home, they had food. They were safe. Even Cassies fever had broken, just as Jared said it would.
But how long could they hold out? Jared kept up his assurances. It couldnt be much longer, thats what he kept saying. The power would come back. It had to. He seemed so sureand hed been right about Cassies fever, hadnt he? Couldnt she trust him in this?
No, she couldnt.
Jared was an optimist. It was why she loved him. But she, Eve, was the practical one. Jared might believe the power would come back, that help was on its way, that the government was working diligently to restore services.
But Eve knew better.
At least, she feared she did. Dreaded it. And the longer the power stayed off, the more days that past with no official word, no explanation of why any of this had happened, the more Eve feared she knew exactly the reason why.
But, noit couldnt be.
Could it? They wouldnt. It was unthinkable.
Eve felt the familiar pang of guilt. After all these years together Jared knew so little about her. She was glad that he wasnt the kind to press and pry, though she hated keeping secrets from him. It was only natural he would ask questions, and when he did she would remind him she wasnt permitted to speak of the details regarding her work at the institute. Classified, darling, she would say with a wink. Jared would give a disappointed sigh, but then he would nod and smile, his hands raised in submission. And on those nights when his curiosity got the better of him, when he might ask one question too many, Evewell, she had her ways of distracting him and changing the subject.
Eve cursed as she reached once again for the garage light switch. Nothing. Nothing worked at all. Not the lights, not the water, not even the batteries from the solar generator worked. Even the face of her wrist watch, powered from the heat of her own body, stared blankly back at her, though she kept tapping it, half expecting it to come back online, reconnecting her once more to the world. If only she could get a connection, get some word, some confirmation of what was happening.
But someone knew. That signal came again last night.
Stepping carefully in the dark, Eve moved toward the workbench and the spot where she last remembered seeing the thing she sought. Kneeling, groping with an outstretched hand, Eve rummaged amongst the piles of tools, old computer parts and discarded telephones, all doubly-useless now, and cursed herself for not having the foresight to bring a candle.
What are you looking for?
Startled, Eve promptly banged her head on the underside of the workbench. Rubbing at the bruise, she turned slowly and faced Jared. She didnt have to answer. He saw what she held in her hand.
Yellowed, crinkled, torn in places, the ink faded, Eve tried to hold the old paper roadmap behind her back, hiding it from Jared, but it was already too late. He reached around and snatched it from her. Eve let it go, rather than letting the thing be torn. It was a miracle they even still had such a thing, that it hadnt been recycled long agoa paper map, a relic from another era, printed decades ago. But it was something she desperately needed. The GPS in her contact lenses hadnt functioned since the outage. If she was going to find her way toward the signal light, she needed that map. And if she was right, if what she feared was true, she knew exactly where that signal was coming from and who was sending it.
She reached for it, but Jared shook his head.
Cassies still not ready. She needs rest. Perhaps in a week…”
Slowly, Eve looked up and her eyes met Jareds.
Cassies not going, Eve said. And neither are you. Im going to find that signal. Im going to find some answers. Get some help.

For more about Cary Caffrey, click here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Catastrophe Theory: Chapter One (Joseph A. Turkot)

For the second time in the long dead night, the flicker came and went. Wide and bright and so quick that Eve almost didn’t have time to grab Jared so that he would see it. So that he would believe her this time. Because she was convinced he was ignoring it on purpose—that he’d seen it each time through the window and was pretending he hadn’t. Buying time for something. Stalling for hope. Hope that everything would just fix itself.
            When he saw the light, just the last bit of it—and he knew she’d seen him see it—he drew up tightly against her. Everything looked so far away. Even the sidewalk and the street and the dead cars right below them, and the black windows in every house surrounding theirs. With a nervous jerk, he nodded and pulled her down from the slope of the roof. Down to where the incline wasn’t so steep, where no eyes could watch them anymore—or whatever was looking out from dark windows, or the hill that rose to the east, a ridge of pine so high it touched the first strand of space dust.
    “We’ve got to go…” she said as he tugged her back to the window. “It’s a signal. Somebody that can help us.” But Jared just kept pulling her to get inside, all the way down to the edge of the roof until they reached the window. He kneeled down and grunted and it opened. Together they slipped into a dark room. They stood there by the only light they had—a candle dancing on the bureau and the mass of stars burning billions of miles away.
“How do you think we’re going to get her there? She can’t walk,” Jared said, his voice cinching up with anxiety again. There’d been too many gunshots over the past two days. But the nights...they had been worse. He had to stall for time.
He pushed the thought of leaving out of his head. Rejected his wife’s idea again before she could even speak it. Decided it was his decision. They’d stay. Cassie would get better like she always did, even without a doctor this time. And Eve would listen because he was the man of the house. And they would have to trust him. Listen to him on this one. It wasn’t safe to go out there. Not until the power came back on. Until the phones started working again. But he didn’t say a single word, and Eve looked at him so hard that he had to look away. Her eyes had bled their last patience and he knew it. The only thing hanging in them now was cold desperation, the last force she would use to move her husband to act before going out alone without him. She knew she had to get him to forget about their safety now. Because Cassie would die. If they didn’t move her, toward someone—anyone for help—she would die. And they both knew it.  
“I don’t know how, but we will,” she finally answered him, watching carefully his reaction. Each line of his cheek stretched with quick darts of his eyes—out to the window and then back, searching for the sign of the flash again. As if it would prove to him they really should go. An echo of the proof he already had—that he’d just seen. That there really was power out there somewhere. Someone had power. Someone was alive and could help them. Finally, when he wouldn’t respond, and her stare did nothing more to move him, Eve grabbed his neck and twisted it so that he had to see her eyes. She glared at him as she spoke. It scared him the way she did it—as if he was a stranger to her.  
“She’s not going to get better. Not if we stay here.” Eve tried to conceal the quaver in her voice as she waited for him to look away, dared him to. Anything to anger her further, so that she could take control without guilt. Her instincts had grown too sharp now. Too bold. But she didn’t have to wait for him to make a decision. The noise from downstairs was enough to do it for him.
Both of their faces twisted toward the door and into the hall, the direction of their shivering and sweat-drenched child. Her moaning came again, and the noise of her tossing  in the bed and burning up. Some kind of sickness that shouldn’t be happening at the same time as the power outage. An impossible nightmare.
“Okay,” Jared said. But his voice was so weak that Eve knew she’d have to do it on her own. And it wasn’t until she started out, grabbing the candle and moving into the hall, that Jared began with another excuse. The same line he’d used last night.
“Maybe the car will start,” he said. He followed quickly after her, arranging his plan in his head so that she would agree to stay put another night, but the ideas fell out of his gut when they stepped into the room. Battling against the bed, Cassie suddenly froze and looked up at them. She had heard them fighting again. It had gotten so much worse since yesterday. And all she wanted to do was get better so they’d stop. She knew it was her they were arguing about. Her mother wore the same look of calm she always had. Her hand came and went gently over her head and her arm and her forehead. And then, through the painful knock in her head, she noticed something new in her father’s face. An expression more anxious than she’d ever seen. Her gaze fixed on him, so long that she knew what it was. He was finally caving in to her—to her mother’s idea of leaving the house. To stop waiting things out—whatever they were—to see if everything fixed itself. It had only been a few days, but it had been enough for her. And now, for both of them.
“It’s okay, Daddy. I’m not scared to go. I can walk by myself.”
And with that, Eve knew there was enough now. Jared didn’t have a choice. It didn’t matter that the neighbors were dead. That there had only been the sounds of gunshots and screams and yelling and desperation out on the streets, and that they’d been lucky enough to hole up inside the house without anyone knocking or cracking a window. With each passing hour, and his insistence that the news would come back on, that the phones would start working again, that the car would start up, hope had waned down to nothing. First in her, but now in all of them. There was no information coming. No power. No help. They’d have to do it themselves.
“How did they die?” Cassie asked, trying to sit up. Eve bent down and pushed her back against the bed. From the nightstand she took a wet towel and put it on her forehead. She didn’t even bother to take her temperature again. It had been too high for too long. And she knew it—even if Jared wouldn’t admit it. Cassie had been sick before the power. But they’d neglected to take her to the doctor. To the hospital. To anywhere. They’d both decided to wait it out. Let’s see how she’s doing tomorrow, they’d said. She usually got better on her own. And now they were left with nothing. No way to get medicine. Antibiotics. Anything to help her. But there was power—someone out there had power. A generator or something. The long flash breaking through the black night, a lighthouse of hope, for two days in a row. Somewhere near the edge of town. Somewhere near where the pines rise up from the last roads of town.
Cassie gave up her questioning and let her mother try to cool her forehead. She couldn’t talk any more. Not enough to get her father to tell her. She would go and look through the neighbors’ windows for herself if she could, if it were any other day of the year. Because she never got sick, and it wasn’t fair. None of what was happening was fair. The moan came again, long and hard from her gut, the sound of the slow and rolling stomach pain. And the splinters cut through her head, slicing up all of her nerves, so that she had to fight to look at her father. His eyes twisted around the room, searching for whatever they could take with them onto the streets. How to arm himself to protect his family. “The neighbor, how did he die?” Cassie managed to get out one more time. She’d overheard enough to know that it was true. And even as she waited, trying to retain consciousness long enough for his reply, she knew right away he wasn’t going to tell her anything. And instead of answering her, he told her to close her eyes and relax because they were going for help now. But in his mind the images came anyway. The same ones he’d seen for the past two days. The reality check he’d forced himself to view over and over again through the window during the daytime, like torture. Sprawled on the kitchen floor, Doug’s dead body. The neighborly smile gone forever, and in its place a mashed nose and a single open eye. The cheek pale and fat and bulging underneath. Deciding that he couldn’t tell his daughter anything because it would only scare her more, he bent down and lifted her up without a word from the soaking bed. Her head fell back against his arm, soggy clumps of hair clinging against his arm. And then, numbing himself, as is wife had already done, to the idea of self-preservation, he nodded. It was all for her now.



Monday, July 21, 2014

And the Winner is...

Gayle Noble!

Thanks to everyone that participated. We hope you enjoyed The Hunt as much as we did.

The fun, however, is not over.

The progressive story begins this Wednesday. Each day, a chapter will be posted on this blog. All we're starting with is Gayle's title, trope and characters.

The Catastrophe Theory
Technology Catastrophe
Jared, Eve and Cas



We have no idea where this is going.


20 authors.
1 story.
Begins July 23.




Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Hunt


Three boxed sets come together in the ultimate scavenger hunt.

The Hunt
  • Tons of free ebooks and swag just for participating!
  • Begins midnight July 18th EST and ends 11:59 PM, July 20th EST
  • Twenty-three stops can be completed anytime during the contest
  • Each stop will have a brief a paragraph and question
  • Record your answers on this cheat sheet
  • At the final stop, enter you answers to maximize your entries

The Grand Prize
  • An autographed paperback from 22 authors
  • An ebook of A Taste of Tomorrow, What Tomorrow Will Bring and Shattered Worlds
  • A progressive story featuring the winner's characters and title

The Progressive Story
  • 20 authors will come together to write a dystopian tale
  • The grand prize winner will name the characters, the book's title, and story trope
  • Each author will write a chapter to be published on social media
  • The final chapters to be hidden until publication
  • The grand prize winner will receive an advanced copy
  • The book will be made free to the public

The Dystoptimists
Twenty-three authors offer ebooks and swag just for participating
  1. Joseph Turkot, The Rain
  2. Cary Caffrey, The Girls of Alcyone
  3. Jason Gurley, The Man Who Ended the World
  4. Deborah Rix, External Forces
  5. Katie French, The Breeders
  6. Deirdre Gould, After the Cure
  7. Sarah Dalton, The Blemished
  8. Jenni Merritt, Prison  Nation
  9. Megan Thomason, daynight
  10. Shalini Boland, Outside
  11. Chris Ward, The Tube Riders
  12. Susan Kaye Quinn, Open Minds
  13. David Wright, Yesterday's Gone (Season One)
  14. Scott Cramer, Night of the Purple Moon
  15. TW Piperbrook, Contamination Zero
  16. Zoe Cannon, The Torturer's Daughter
  17. Samantha Durante, Stitch
  18. Saul Tanpepper, Gameland: Book 1 - Deep Into the Game
  19. David Estes, The Moon Dwellers
  20. Shelbi Wescott, Virulent: The Release
  21. Tony Bertauski, The Annihilation of Foreverland
  22. David Normoyle, The Narrowing Path
  23. Elle Casey, Apocalypsis Book 1: Kahayatle

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tony Bertauski


1.      DO YOU EVER WRITE IN YOUR PJ’S?
Yes. And I hate it.
 
2.      WHERE AND WHEN DO YOU PREFER TO DO YOUR WRITING?
Back room with lots of windows. I used to play music, but I get more done if it’s just the birds singing and the neighbors cutting wood.
 
3.      DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER JOB BESIDES AUTHOR?
Day job, I’m a college horticulture teacher. Writing is a hobby, a part-time passion. No plans to change it.
 
4.      WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Breathe.
 
5.      WHAT TALENT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO HAVE?
Omnipresent supergalactic oneness.
 
6.      IF WE HAD A CUSTOM THAT ALLOWED US TO EAT OUR CHILDREN, WHAT KIND OF SAUCE WOULD YOU USE?
Ketchup, the miracle condiment.
 
7.      ARE OUR ELECTRONIC DEVICES STEALING OUR SOUL? AND IF SO, DO YOU MAKE 
OFFERINGS TO YOUR TOASTER?
I offer white bread and the toaster gives back crunchy, brown bread. Never doubt a true miracle.
 
8.      IF YOU COULD BE ANY FAMOUS PERSON FOR A DAY, HOW MANY PAPPARAZZI WOULD 
YOU KILL?
Twenty-five. That number jumped into my head, it must be right.
 
9.      DO YOU THINK THE UNITED STATES IS SECRETLY A MIRROR UNIVERSE OF CANADA, LIKE THE STAR TREK EPISODE, WHERE THE UNITED STATES IS THE EVIL DIMENSION?
Wait. Are you saying Canada doesn’t already belong to the US?
 
10.  HAVE YOU SEEN MY SHOES?
No. Then again, I don’t notice when my wife gets her hair cut. (For the record, I don’t think trimming off the split ends should be considered a haircut.)
 
11.  HAVE YOU EVER BEEN FRIGHTENED OF A COLOR? WHY?
Pastels. They make me feel funny and sleepy.
 
12.  HOW IMPORTANT ARE NAMES TO YOU IN THIS BOOK. DID YOU CHOOSE THEM BASED ON SOUND OR MEANING?
Almost all of my books have names with special meaning, some foreshadowing a big twist. In The Annihilation of Foreverland, Reed’s name was symbolic of his ability to tolerate suffering, bending in the face of gale forces but never breaking.
 
13.  WHERE DID YOUR TOMORROW SPRING FROM? IN OTHER WORDS, HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CRAZY WORLD?
Sometimes, I can’t remember how the story started by the time I get to the end. The Annihilation of Foreverland started with the premise of identity. I wanted to write it as a YA book, in a way that slowly unfolded as well as questioned who we are and explore our fear of death, and what we’re willing to do to avoid it.
 
 
14.  GIVE YOUR BOOK THE BECHDEL TEST
·         IT HAS TO HAVE AT LEAST TWO (NAMED) WOMEN IN IT
·         WHO TALK TO EACH OTHER
·         ABOUT SOMETHING BESIDES A MAN
I failed because there’s only one female in The Annihilation of Foreverland. However, the sequel (Foreverland is Dead) passes with flying colors since its mostly female characters that rarely talk about men.
 
15.  WHAT SORT OF BODY COUNT ARE WE TALKING HERE?
The bodies die, but not necessarily the characters.
 
16.  DO YOU WANT YOUR TOMORROW TO MAKE IT BIG, AS IN JK ROWLINGS-BIG? WHY OR WHY NOT?
Believe it or not, no. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to make enough cash to pay off this house and send my kids to college, but I’ll pass on fame and fortune. Anonymity is a blessing.
 
17.  YOU CAST YOUR CHARACTERS FOR A MOVIE. WHO MAKES IT?
In The Annihilation of Foreverland, I only casted two characters in my head while I was writing it. The Director is Jeff Bridges and Mr. Jones is Antony Hopkins. It was like watching a movie as I wrote.
 
18.  HAVE YOU WRITTEN IN ANY OTHER GENRES BESIDES YA DYSTOPIAN?  WHAT DREW YOU TO YOU THIS GENRE?
I’ve been fascinated by consciousness, identity and what this all means since I was young. I would read my grandfather’s science fiction books with elements of artificial intelligence and wonder what happened when they died? I suppose that’s why all of my writing deals with the big mysteries of life in one way or another. In a way, I write for my own exploration, in a sort of thought experiment approach, pulling apart our identities, exploring what makes us who we are. If I lost my memories, would I still be me? If I had my body parts replaced with synthetic replications, at what point would I not be me? Do I even need a body? What am I?
A few years ago, I figured I’d write a romance novel. Since all of my books have a romantic element, I thought it would be fun. Halfway through the novel, I found myself thinking more and more about the next project—a dystopian idea. So 40,000 words in, I scrapped the romance novel and got back to what I love.
 
19.  HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START AS AN AUTHOR?
I wrote a couple of textbooks in landscape design and was the bi-weekly garden columnist for the regional newspaper when I began writing stories for my kids to read. My son couldn’t have cared less because he hates reading (still does) but I couldn’t stop. Once indie publishing came along, my career as a fiction writer began.
 
20.  ANY MOVIE, ANY BOOK...WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE ANTAGONIST?
A great antagonist is as important as the protagonist. I’ve always loved a character that, despite their heinous actions, no matter how despicable, you just can’t seem to hate them as much as you should. I thought Heath Ledger captured that ultimate paradox with The Joker.
 
21.  WHEN YOU GO TO SEE A MOVIE, DO YOU TRY TO READ THE BOOK FIRST?
Move first, book second. It never works the other way around. And if the movie is good, the characters are more vivid when I read.



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Monday, July 14, 2014

Katie French


HOW DO YOU OVERCOME WRITER'S BLOCK?
I’m starting my sixth novel and I kept thinking the doubt would get better. Instead, it has gotten worse. Now people are depending on me to finish a series and make it as good as the last book. I have an agent I don’t want to let down. I have money I’m depending on coming in from book sales. Doubt is bigger and uglier than ever. Good thing I have Kanye West-type self-esteem. Too bad I don’t have his sweet sunglasses. In the end, I just force myself to keep going. I choose not to believe in writer’s block.

IS THERE AN AUTHOR THAT YOU WOULD REALLY LIKE TO MEET? Hugh Howey. (Can you hear my crazy fangirl squealing from there?) Not only is he a hunk, but he is the indie writer’s champion. I have a mega writer’s crush on him and I know I’m not alone. All my indie author girlfriends have a line up going as to who gets to meet him first. Okay, now that I’ve thoroughly outed myself as a teenage-type stalker, I’ll move on.
 
DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER JOB BESIDES AUTHOR?
By day, I am a high school counselor for at-risk teens. I love my job, but it is also very emotionally draining. I think it gives my writing a deeper insight into the young adult mind however. I get to hear their inner-workings on a daily basis and that helps me tune in.

ANY PETS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT, SHARE A PIC ?
I have three pets: an elderly Shiba Inu mix, a brand new, rescued puppy and a one-eyed cat with Herpes. I’m kind of the Florence Nightingale of household pets. It also explains why my house is never clean and my children look like they’ve rolled on a dog groomer’s floor. 
 
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN TROUBLE WITH THE AUTHORITIES?
I’m a very timid rule-follower, so I fear the police as much as I used to fear my elementary school principal (tons). My last brush with police was when I was a teen, driving some of my cheerleader friends home from a basketball game and I ran a red light. I got pulled over while my friend was changing out of her uniform in the back of my car. You’d think that a half-naked cheerleader would be enough to get me out of the ticket, but sadly no.

DO YOU THINK THE UNITED STATES IS SECRETLY A MIRROR UNIVERSE OF CANADA , LIKE THE STAR TREK EPISODE, WHERE THE UNITED STATES IS THE EVIL DIMENSION?
I pretty much think all life is secretly a Star Trek episode, but preferably Next Generation Star Trek and not Deep Space Nine Star Trek. I still get chills when I hear Patrick Stewart’s voice. Plus, I live thirty minutes from Canada and every time I go there Canada always seems like the more positive version of the US . Not that I dislike the U.S. Go ‘Merica!

WHY DIDN'T HURLEY LOSE ANY WEIGHT WHILE ON THE ISLAND ?
OMG I know, right? Well, if you are a good LOST fan (I was absolutely addicted and may still need therapy), you’d know there was an episode where they showed Hurley hording the Darma Initiative food that the drones dropped, so apparently you weren’t paying close enough attention. 
 
 
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THIS STORY?  I love this story. It illustrates how the best ideas come when you aren't looking for them. I was in my car alone (which doesn't happen often due to having two children) and the Rihanna song came on the radio. She sang, “Want you to make me feel like I’m the only girl in the world.” I got to thinking, “Wow. The only girl in the world? I don’t think that would be as romantic or sexy as Rihanna’s song makes it out to be.” My mind unraveled from there.
 
WHO SHOULD NOT READ YOUR BOOK? Squeamish people. People who like neat, tidy little stories. Boring people. 
   
ARE ANY OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS FROM THE LGBT (LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER) COMMUNITY. There is a whole group of intersex people in this world call benders. They’re hermaphrodites, born instead of girls because synthetic fuel poisoned the world (something similar to what pesticides do to amphibians). It is creating some interesting relationships in the third book of my series. If you’re neither male nor female, or rather both, does it matter who you love? It’s a question Riley, my main character, will have to face.
 
WHAT SORT OF BODY COUNT ARE WE TALKING HERE? In the first book about a dozen people die. In the second book at least fifty are killed. The third book is looking even more gruesome. But, hey, this is dystopian fiction. We’re talking about destruction of whole societies. There’s going to be some that don’t make it.
 
YOU CAST YOUR CHARACTERS FOR A MOVIE. WHO MAKES IT? This is exciting to think about. However, I am terrible with young actor/actresses names, so bear with me.  For Riley- How about Vanessa Hudgens with a pixie cut and baggy clothes? It would have to be an actress with a really beautiful face, because she’d have to spend a lot of her time dressed like a boy.
Clay - This is a hard one. Sexy, rugged cowboy with dark hair and blue eyes. Hmm. How about Liam Hemsworth? He’s nice on the eyes.



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