Guest Post: Richard Schiver

Today on the blog, horror author Richard Schiver is guest posting. His latest release, All Roads Lead to Terror, tells a story where the horrors of the past meet the brutality of the present.

Four boys taking their first hesitant steps into adulthood, will be tested at every step as they travel through a blasted land where the only hope is for a swift death followed by an endless sleep. Survival lay in the firepower they carried, coupled with their willingness to use it, and their ability to trust each other with their own lives.

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Creating the Cover by Richard Schiver

As an independent author with limited resources, what I’m able to save to put into my writing is used to have my work edited before it is released. As such I’m unable to afford the covers I would like to see on my work so for the past couple of years I’ve been designing my own, while teaching myself how to use Photoshop to create covers.

I’m pretty damned proud of what I came up with for All Roads Lead to Terror. I wanted to touch the potential reader on an emotional level while at the same time showing that the story within the covers was about leaving your childhood behind as one stepped into adulthood. Of course what better way of showing innocence lost than with an abandoned teddy bear. I tried several different routes, all with little success, until I staged the photo myself.

I picked up the stuffed bear from Goodwill for a couple of bucks. When I carried him out of the store he was in pretty good shape. Once I got him home it got a little interesting, even though I look like a grumpy old man, I can be rather emotional at times. I believe a writer has to be very much in touch with their emotions in order to properly convey the feelings of their characters on the page. It was this familiarity with my own emotions that stopped me at first from doing what I knew I had to do. It’s just a stuffed bear, I kept telling myself. That might have been but before he went to live at the Goodwill it was obvious a child had taken good care of him.

In the end I quickly removed his left leg and ear. A bit of black paint and some hard rubbing gave me the look I wanted for with his fur, a matted, unwashed appearance. Adding the sling was a final touch to show that though he had been abandoned at one time he’d been cherished by a child that shared its sorrow for a world turned upside down.

He has no name, yet. But his sacrifice has earned him a place of honor in my office, he sits on the top shelf of my bookcase, watching over my shoulder as I work, occasionally he will sit in my lap as I write, to help me connect with the emotions that I strive to bring to the page. He will also appear on every subsequent cover in the series.

He serves as a constant reminder of what I hope to achieve with The Dreadland Chronicles that will focus not on the brutality of the world in which they live, but the undying hope of the young as they struggle to rebuild a shattered world that has been left to them, and make a better place for those who will follow.

Buy Links:

Amazon US  Amazon UK  Barnes & Noble 

Itunes  Kobo  Smashwords 

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Bio:

Richard was born in Frostburg, Maryland, in the winter of ’58’ and currently lives eight miles away. A five-year stint with the military allowed him to see what he wanted of the world. Married with four grown children and eight grandchildren, he and his wife provide a home to four pets that are spoiled beyond rotten.

In addition to writing daily he works a full time job in retail, and piddles around in his wood-shop making one mess after another when time permits. Richard can be found online at:

Facebook  Twitter  Written In Blood

He can also be contacted directly at rschiver@gmail.com and would be delighted to hear from you. Sign up to be notified of publishing updates and new releases as they become available. He promises to never share your contact info, nor will he swamp your inbox with unnecessary crap. He’ll also toss in a free copy of White Walker when you sign up.

Season’s Readings Holiday Hop

In 2016, I’m thinking of writing another romance series, along with a paranormal mystery, and an urban fantasy tale. (Not sure how I’m going to do all of that, but hey…goals.) As such, I’m featuring on the blog today a romance bundle and giveaway from Mocha Memoirs Press.

Mocha Memoirs Press has a vision to provide an outlet for outstanding speculative and romance stories that often fall beneath the radar of traditional publishing houses. MMP seeks to provide quality stories that invigorate the reader’s literary palette like a good, strong coffee. Like great coffee houses, MMP offers a variety of flavors: romance, horror, sci-fi, steampunk, and more.

Support Mocha Memoirs Press and the reads of the season via Thunderclap.  And there’s a $20 Amazon gift card to be won in a Rafflecopter giveaway.

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Here’s a bit about MMP’s holiday romance bundle, Mistletoe Dreams by RaeLynn Blue, Laurel Cremant, and Drea Riley

There’s no time like the holidays for love—whether you are rekindling an old love, finding love in strange places or just expressing a love of the ages. Follow these tales of love, laughter and holiday spirit in Mistletoe Dreams…

Winter’s Guard by Laurel Cremant

Five years after a broken engagement, Vicky and James have met again. Forced to work together, Vicky hopes to show James that what they had wasn’t all broken. All she wants is time to prove that their hearts hadn’t lied five years ago—they may have fallen in love during a dark moment in their lives, but that doesn’t mean they don’t belong together.

A Trick of Frost by Drea Riley and RaeLynn Blue

Two days before Christmas with her ex-husband, Rick, harassing her parents, Jaycee Froste needs a gift to lift her spirits. She stops in at her favorite restaurant, and it brings more than a hot meal. Jaycee finds herself seated across from one of the most annoying and handsome men she’s ever met. She would even consider letting him taste her stew, if he hadn’t stolen her reservation. With the holidays upon her, Jaycee decides the thing she needs to lift her spirits is J.C., a man who offers her so much more than she ever could have hoped.

Naughty Klauses by Drea Riley

Jessica and Nic have always loved the holidays and this year they are most definitely going to be on the naughty list. When you’ve got eternity on your side, it’s nice to liven things up with a little spice. You’ll never look at Mr. and Mrs. Klaus the same way again…

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So check out MMP for reads and even as a place to submit your stories. Don’t forget the Thunderclap and sign up for a Rafflecopter giveaway.

I mean…you could spend that $20 on books!

Featured Author: Jeff Carroll

It is my pleasure to have on the blog today, Jeff Carroll: author, filmmaker, and hip-hop dating coach.

Yes, you heard that last one correctly. Jeff isn’t on my blog for his dating advice today, but you can find out more about that aspect of his career here.

I had the chance to catchup with Jeff and ask him about his writing, what inspires him, and what he’d like the future of speculative fiction to be.

ER: Thank you so much for granting me this interview. Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing style.

JC: I am a Gemini to the fullest so my stories have deep political subject told with a lot of action and fun. I’ve done a lot of things in my life from leading marches with Rev Sharpton to booking comedy shows with Kevin Hart. I’ve always been a movie fan. When I was 12 years old my cousin and I would see movies on 42nd street and recommend them to our local Harlem movie theater. Since movies are my first love my stories read like movies. People tell me all the time that they would love to see my book as movie.

ER: When did you start writing and what drew you specifically to speculative fiction?

JC: I started writing screenplays in 2003 after my mother had a stroke. I made two movies low budget B movie horrors, Holla If I Kill You and Gold Digger Killer. In 2007 after my second film Gold Digger Killer was released I wrote a tie-in comic book. I sold the comic book while screening my film at film festivals. Finally in 2009 I wrote the novelization of Gold Digger Killer. It was so liberating to write without having to be limited by my production budget that I decided to write another book. After writing the novelization of my movie I fell in love with writing. I even started reading more and learning a the different genres and Black Science fiction.

ER: What was the impetus for your story in The City anthology, “Dreamer’s Recall”?

JC: When I read the City bible outlining all of the elements I felt confined and felt that if I were there in the City I would want somebody to help me escape. So, as a story creator I wanted to tell a story where someone could have that possibility. Dreams have always been a form of escapism for me so that was the entry point for me to starting my story.

ER: How did you perform research for your characters and scenes or did you work from existing knowledge?

JC: I am not necessarily your grandmother’s sci-fi writer. I am a hip hopper. I grew up on movies like Krush Groove and Boyz in the Hood as much as I did Star Wars and Independence Day so I blend the energy of hip hop with the speculation of Sci-fi. With the characters of “Dreamer’s ReCall” I simple said what if there was a couple and one of them started having life changing dreams. I didn’t go as far as Love and Hip Hop but I did want to have something for Streetlit readers who’s stories have a lot of relationship drama.

ER: When using real events and people, how do you decide when to fictionalize and when to stay true to history?

JC: In my book It Happened on Negro Mountain I used the Mountain as my inspiration because it’s name was profound. Sci-fi is the genre which explores the “what ifs” and I use that use question to determine what person or event I fictionalize.

ER: For you, what makes a great tale? What do you like to read?

JC: I love adventures with happy endings. I love good triumphing over evil. I also like the escapism that Sci-fi provides. I like urban stories with a paranormal element. The writer which provided me with the most inspiration was LA Banks. I also like Steven Barnes but my favorite Sci-fi book is Zuro a Tale of Alien avengers. However after writing in the City I am fully turned onto CyberFunk and Afrofuturism. I am planning to write my story “Dreamer’s ReCall” into a novel.

Cover art for the collaborative cyberfunk anthology, The City, which features Jeff's story, Dreamer's ReCall.
Cover art for the collaborative cyberfunk anthology, The City, which features Jeff’s story, Dreamer’s ReCall.

ER: What scares you?

JC: A lot of things scare me. I’m not a sacredly cat because I fight through my fears. I am scared of sharks in the ocean. I am not scared of ghosts or demons. I am scared of people. Psychopaths and serial killers. I am also squeamish so my stomach can’t take realistic operations with lots of organs and blood. However, I was there for the delivery of my son.

ER: Of the works you’ve written, what’s your favorite? Of which are you most proud?

JC: I am proud of all of my writings. I’ve written a piece of myself and my family and friends into each of my stories. I do think my third book It Happened on Negro Mountain was my most unbelievable book to sell and it became the first of my stories to get a publishing deal.

ER: How can African American artists (actors, writers, filmmakers) succeed in speculative fiction circles? Do you feel your work has been received differently?

JC: I think we are at an opportune moment where opportunities for black creators are opening up. I think the main thing a black creator could do is hone their craft and put it out in the market for people to see.

ER: What’s your next project?

JC: I am currently writing a story I had for a movie into a novella. It’s about transgender serial killer in a CyperFunk world. I also have three manuscripts circulating for possible publishing deals so any of those could be my next book. I just released my first collection of short stories this past August called Sci-Fi Streetz.

ER: What’s missing in fiction? What shape would you like to see the future of speculative fiction take?

JC: When I first started reading Sci-fi there were a lack of stories I wanted to read but now there are more books than I can read. I still feel we are on the tip of the iceberg with manifesting our unique African America Sci-fi expression. I think when we fully developing our variation it will be as different as manga (the Japanese comic book form) is. I think black people have a unique worldview and cultural past which inspires our ideas and solutions to the problems and discoveries of the future. I even think we will have a common storytelling pace that will appeal to black people like the TV shows Empire and Scandal.

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ER: Many black authors of speculative fiction tell me they struggle for fans. What’s your advice?

JC: Thinking of the future is directly connected to your knowledge of the past and because many black people don’t know of the glory of African people they see the future as frustrating as the past. I remember watching Brother From Another Planet feeling that “Dagg, we are slaves in the future too”. Dystopian stories are big right now but for Black people the Black Lives Matter movement makes them feel like we are living in a Dystopian present day world. I think also that since white male writers dominated Sci-fi so much that Black Sci-fi is still new most black people. Once we get that hit book like The Coldest Winter Ever then everybody will know about Black Sci-fi.

ER: What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?

JC: Because I work full time finding the time to write and work social media are the hardest aspects of writing for me. The actual writing process presents its own challenges with each story.

ER: What do you do when you’re not writing?

JC: When I’m not writing I’m reading as much as I can. I make it a point to read Black Sci-fi but not exclusively. I try to read the latest Sci-fi books and I mix it up with old Sci-fi.

ER: Thank you for the interview. Is there anything else you like to mention?

JC: I just want to say that The City is an amazing project and I would like to thank Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade for creating such a glorious project. Inviting other black writers to share in their universe was a historical move. The City is the first of its kind.

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Thanks for the interview, Jeff!  Find out more about Jeff and his work on his blog, Facebook, and on Twitter.

Featured Author: Simone Salmon

Camille and the Bears of Beisa—Drafnel is a sci-fi/fantasy/thriller tale that has been compared to Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, Dune in its sweeping worldbuilding.  In addition, it has several urban settings, a matriarchal society, and a female protagonist of African descent.

Cover for Camille and the Bears of Beisa.
Cover art for Camille and the Bears of Beisa–Drafnel.

Sliding seamlessly between modern day Brooklyn, 20th century Jamaica, and the fictional world of Narvina, Drafnel chronicles Camille’s fight for knowledge and self-preservation. When those worlds clash, secrets unravel and hidden agendas are exposed.

The book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of3lw5XxmKM

Camille and the Bears of Beisa is available today on Amazon and my review is forthcoming. But here is an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Narvina, Nu-century 2055

Aknanka clamps down with all her might. Her teeth tear into Sephia’s wrinkled skin, digging for chunks of flesh. They only grind against bone. A fist smashes into her cheek, jerking her head sideways. Sephia yanks her hand away right before Aknanka chomps down again. Blood gushes everywhere.

“I’m not going anywhere with you!” Aknanka’s scream rages through the interior, punching a small dent into the door. It slams shut.

Any experimenting she needs to conduct today will be done right here. And without blindfolds. The metal restraints chafe Aknanka’s wrists as she wriggles around for freedom.

“Stop fighting, Dreamer. You make this harder than it has to be.”

“Bet you’ll think before trying that again, oh Wise One!” Aknanka’s aim is accurate. Bloody sputum soils the middle of Sephia’s tunic.

A med-bot enters the room and stitches the bandages over Sephia’s wound. The pale Elder clenches her fists. Her eyes blaze to match the blood staining the floor. The med-bot’s front panel flashes, absorbing the charge from Sephia’s quelled anger. Sparks bounce across the overloaded circuits. The bot spins over to the sealed porthole and then powers down.

“These gene markers will soon confirm our suspicions, Dreamer.” Sephia’s shoulders stiffen, tugging at the hood to expose her protruding frontal lobe. Her white skull magnifies in the dimness. Her lips never move.

Na-mum Camille warned Aknanka that the Elders would spare no sympathy once they discover her true kinsatah. She followed every painstaking instruction: the implants are undetectable, even from their host.

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Jamaica, 20th Century

The food on display and the brilliant dyes of the hand-loomed textiles hanging at the market made me homesick. The marketplace crowded with vendors selling varied crafts and wares. The frenzied pitch of the hagglers echoed under the tin roofs. Voluptuous women wearing multi-colored wraps balanced huge straw baskets on cornbraided heads, while children darted through stalls with jaws stuffed of toffee candy or juggled melting snow cones with syrup-stained hands. Fruits ripening in the heat sweetened the layer of jerk pork and chicken charring over coals inside huge metal drums.

At first Miss Mattie kept me close, but as the market became more crowded her clenched fingers slackened. I searched the aisles, worried about returning home empty-handed. Failing to find any spices, I started making my way back to Miss Mattie and then noticed a young woman with a basket tucked between her knees. Loose braids stuck out from under her head scarf. Kind hazel eyes invited me forward. Curious, I bent over to check out the samples. The woman pulled me closer and stuffed a piece of cloth into my waistband.

“A gift from the Goling family, Miss. Put it in safe-keeping. This has been my honor.”

Miss Mattie swooped in at my heels in a matter of seconds. She sniffed the air several times and shoved me away from the vendor’s stall. We left thirty minutes later, my impatience to unwrap the cloth’s contents shielded.

Unpacking the supplies, I started dinner. Then, while the meal simmered, I sneaked to my room and pulled out the puffed packet. Wrapped inside were five cinnamon sticks. My smile must have been a mile wide. I decided to add them to my hideaway after Miss Mattie left for church that Sunday.

As my guardian angel instructed, I wrapped a small piece under the ribbon tied around my braid. I noticed Miss Mattie’s immediate reaction. Her harsh tone gentled and she even allowed me to eat with her at the dining table. A welcomed change, my nerves were still on guard, unsure of how long Miss Mattie’s tolerance would last. Against my better judgment, I decided to ask about Caleb and Cassandra.

“Miss Mattie, do you think I can visit with my sister and brother sometime soon?”

Growling, Miss Mattie cocked her head and then swung around to face the door. Her eyes rolled back into their sockets. Her head snapped back as she sniffed the air.

“Why are you sitting at this table?”

I warned you, Grandmother. Leave the table now!

Miss Mattie’s neck protruded as her limbs extended. Fingers mutated into claws and hind legs ripped through her lower extremities. Wiry tufts of hair sprouted all over her body. Her face contorted and elongated as saliva slimed down enlarged jowls. My hand stifled the scream roaring through my head.

Get up and walk away slowly. Do not turn your back on it. Now!

Author Simone Salmon
Author Simone Salmon

Simone Salmon, a Jamaican born New Yorker, is the mother of two sons and a Jack Russell terrier. Simone is still working on her exit strategy from Corporate America, but in the meantime she writes novels, poetry and expands her multi-sensory perceptions.

She is a spiritual truth seeker who appreciates psychic phenomena and timelessness. Music of all kinds, warm weather, lounging on the beach, and experiencing the unknown are just a few of her most favorite things. Learn more about Simone on FacebookTwitter, her blog: Origisims, and her website. You can also find her on Goodreads, Pinterest, and her Amazon Author Page.