Sunday, July 30, 2017

Steel Empires Will Keep You Enthralled

Hey everyone!
I just had the pleasure of reading the first book in Steel Empires, a stellar series by J.L. Gribble. We met a few years back through Cleveland ConCoction and have kept in touch. I'm sad to say it took me this long to get to Steel Victory, book one in the Steel Empires series, but it was perfect timing. Gribble is about to release book 3, Steel Blood, so it's a great time to share my thoughts, along with an excerpt she provided just for you lucky folks.

So what do I think? 

Steel Victory, book 1 in the Steel Empires series, is great! It's a thrilling post-apocalyptic look at our world after war and nuclear fallout—then add mages, elves, vampires, were-creatures, human greed and politics, and you have a melting pot of emotions and racially charged volatility. It almost seems like too much just talking about the concept behind Steel Empires, but Gribble boils fantasy down to the core elements of humanity in all of us and it isn't difficult to follow in the least. 

Gribble's world flows like a recipe. With a little essence of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire, Steel Empires is setting the stage for something new and highly entertaining. I recommend that you read Steel Victory today.

What? My word not enough?

Fine then. Enjoy the excerpt, readers... Take the stage, Hanna. 

Since the elevator pitch for Steel Empires Book 3: Steel Blood is “Romeo and Juliet with werewolves and weredragons—with bonus feminism,” it was only obvious that the novel had to somehow include the quintessential “No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite my thumb, sir” quote!

###

The moment the sun set, they checked out of their hotel and returned to the shore district. Mikelos wanted to make sure all their belongings had been transferred from the ferry to the Qin ship. Victory wanted to see Mikelos’ face when he saw the Qin transport junk, still constructed in the old fashion. Qin’s navy had not suffered when elven magic set back the rest of the world’s military technology by almost two hundred years after the Last War.

She had already spotted the sails towering over the district warehouses, disappearing into the night sky. Mikelos had been too caught up with getting to the customs house for the official declaration that they were leaving Roman territory. But after they left the offices, the crowd clustered on the sidewalk brought them up short. There appeared to be an old-fashioned standoff occurring on the street before them.

Three men bristled in the middle of the empty road, two versus one. The first wore plain jeans and a shirt proclaiming him a supporter of a British rugby team. His accent pegged him as British as well. A native even, not the drawl more common in the British colonies north of Limani. He must be a member of the British trade delegation also scheduled to board the ship with Victory and Mikelos that night.

He wasn’t a werewolf, though. His posture radiated hostility and fierceness, but he carried none of the furry scent Victory associated with most werecreatures. She shouldn’t be surprised. Not everyone in the delegation could be nobility.

Mikelos, however, gripped her arm as he gaped at two Qin men opposite, marked by their tilted eyes and black hair tied in clubs at the nape of their necks. One wore summer-weight silk robes in deep scarlet embroidered with abstract swirling patterns in dusky rose, though the other sported more familiar Western-style slacks and button-up.

But the invectives now pouring from the robed man’s mouth surprised even her. They were directed at the Brit before him, who stood with fists balled. “— So why don’t you run back to your mangy lord and tell him he’d better show more respect for his superiors than you have shown me tonight.” He spoke Loquella with ease, with a clipped accent.

The Brit stepped forward once, crowding the space before the two Qin. “Earl Wallace will show your superiors precisely the amount of respect they deserve. If they are anything like you two scaly bastards, it won’t be much respect at all.”

“He’ll roll over and show his belly before the might of Governor Yu,” the Qin said.

The Brit laughed. “He’ll lick his arse before the might of Governor Yu.” He raised one hand and bit a thumbnail, then flicked his thumb at the robed Qin. He didn’t get the insult, but his friend did. The man in pants threw the first punch, snapping the Brit’s head to the side. But the Brit recovered at once and tackled his aggressor. They both crashed to the street in a mess of limbs, leaving the robed Qin shouting above them.

It was like watching a train wreck, exactly the sort of political bullshit Victory had been concerned about dealing with. But she had expected pointed jibes over state dinners and cocktail parties, not brawling in the streets. This was embarrassing for everyone. She passed Mikelos her overnight bag and waded into the fray, shaking off the standing Qin who tried to grab her arm when she passed.

At this point, the Brit kneeled over his attacker and alternated punching him in the face with each fist. Victory grabbed the back of his jeans and hauled him to his feet, tightening her hand on his waistband when he tried to rush forward again. The man on the ground groaned and attempted to staunch the flow of blood from his nose. Her nostrils flared as the aroma permeated the ocean-scented air around her, but she had already eaten that evening. She was too old and too disciplined for such a petty distraction.

She threw her other arm up when the robed Qin tried to approach. “Stop,” she said. She didn’t know whether it was the snap in her voice or her use of a two-hundred-year-old Qin dialect that brought him to a halt.

But Victory did know she wasn’t the reason the man threw himself to his knees, body bowed low and scuffing his robes on the dirty street, nor was she the reason for the gasp that rose through the surrounding crowd.

Victory risked a glance over her shoulder. She stifled her own gasp, instead schooling her face into a mask of studied neutrality.

A sinuous creature the height of a small horse padded down the street on claws the size of kitchen knives. Its iridescent scales shimmered every shade of green under the streetlamps, and its long snout sported both long whiskers and teeth. Its tall ears aimed front, and the intelligence in its eyes missed nothing of the scene before it.

Before him, Victory corrected herself. There were no female weredragons.

Tugging the Brit around with her to face the dragon, she bent at the waist in a show of respect. After her sharp jerk at the back of his pants, her captive followed suit. He grunted in surprise, but did not struggle when he saw what stood before them.

She kept herself low, waiting for the dragon to make the first move. The hair at the back of her neck tingled, but she resisted the urge to look up. She was not the aggressor here, and regardless of how the fight had started, she knew it would be in everyone’s best interest to keep it from escalating further.

Victory, survivor of the Last War, tried not to quake in her boots at the fear that the opening shots of a new world war had been fired by ignorant fools on the streets of a Roman city.

Present-day Victory was irritated over the whole situation. When flames didn’t shoot from the dragon’s throat, the muscles in her shoulders loosened. Present-day Victory could handle this situation.

The dragon spoke, breaking the palpable tension in the street. “My thanks to you, mistress, for keeping these pups in line.” His voice echoed on the sibilants, lending eerie secondary tones to his words.

Gasps rose in the crowd around them, from Romans more familiar with werepanthers and the occasional werebear. Werecreatures retained full intelligence when they shifted, except on the nights of the full moon, but couldn’t speak any human language in animal form. The dragons were the exception. It had been one of the benefits of working with Xian on scouting missions, all those years ago. She straightened, tugging the Brit along with her.

“My pleasure, sir,” Victory said.

“Do you mark fault with either party?”

“I was not present for the beginning of the altercation,” she said. “I withhold judgement.”

“Do any witnesses volunteer judgement?” The dragon surveyed the otherwise silent street, now packed with people spilling out of the shops and restaurants for the unfolding drama.

But they were all good Roman citizens, with no interest in the petty squabbles of foreigners unless it had a direct benefit to themselves. No one moved.

The light bent, and the air shifted, and in the space between one twitch of the crowd and the next, a middle-aged gentleman stood where the dragon had been. A final mutter of whispers echoed through the crowd, mostly about how the man had retained his clothing through his shift, but people started to disperse now that the spectacle of the dragon was gone. Soon, the only bystander was Mikelos, still clutching the two overnight bags.

###

About the book:
As her children begin lives of their own, Victory struggles with the loneliness of an empty nest. Just when the city of Limani could not seem smaller, an old friend requests that she come out of retirement for one final mercenary contract—to bodyguard his granddaughter, a princess of the Qin Empire.

For the first time in a century, the Qin and British Empires are reopening diplomatic relations. Alongside the British delegation, Victory and her daywalker Mikelos arrive in the Qin colony city of Jiang Yi Yue. As the Qin weredragons and British werewolves take careful steps toward a lasting peace between their people, a connection between the Qin princess and a British nobleman throw everyone’s plans in disarray.

Meanwhile, a third faction stalks the city under the cover of darkness.
This is not a typical romance. It’s a good thing Victory is not a typical vampire.

Buy links:

Thanks Hanna. I hope everyone enjoyed that small taste of book 3. I will be heading out to grab book 2 of Steel Empires next, but for those of you who missed book 1, you can grab it here on Amazon. Here's a little about J.L. Gribble. She's a very interesting writer and a fun-loving gal. Come by ConCoction and meet her in March if you get the chance. 

Fingers crossed that she'll be returning again now that I've said that, lol.

About the author:

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.


She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).



Weston Kincade ~ Author of the A Life of Death collection, The Priors, and Strange Circumstances

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hold the Presses! Major Character Kidnapped


 A Life of Death Trilogy on Amazon

Hey everyone! 
It's great that you could come visit. Something happened the other day that took me by surprise and I thought I'd share. Alex Drummond was kidnapped! Can you believe it? 

Turns out it was by a fellow author's character, Jet. A friend if you can believe that. Emmy Jackson of Detroit, Michigan, got ahold of me after the fact and explained what happened, even including a transcript of the events. Talk about unnerving. I thought I was going out of my head. I might have pressed charges, but Alex told me not to, said there wasn't a task force or court that would capture or convict a fictional character. What can you do?

Here are the events as I know them:


It’s a cold and rainy night; thankfully the car pulls up right on schedule.  It’s nothing like the usual for-hire car; for starters, it’s considerably older and larger. The long hood and trunk mark the big sedan as something from the 1970s; its lines would be more imposing if it weren’t painted sky blue with a white vinyl top.  Nevertheless, the engine grumbles confidently and the brocaded blue interior is warm and welcoming.  The driver is cloaked partly in shadow, female, with short dyed-red hair and an upturned nose.  She smiles.  “Evening. My name’s Jet, and I’m your driver tonight.”  The passenger door seems to close on its own.  “You look like a man with a lot on his mind.  You somebody’s main character?”

“I'm nobody's main character but my own. The name's Alex... Alex Drummond. You know... now that you mention it, there is this fat guy with a goatee and a cap who tends to follow me around scribblin' things. Always shows up in the damnedest places. Once he even appeared in the bathroom while I was showerin'. Had to kick his butt out. He's a bit eerie. Kinda freaks me out from time to time, and that's sayin' somethin'.”

“I get the feeling you’re not freaked out easily.  What do you do for a living?”

“Homicide detective.” Tips the brim of his fedora with a finger. “Nice to meet you, li'l Ms. Uber Driver. So Jet, where'd you get this spiffy ride?”

“Aw, I ain’t no Uber driver,” she says with a chuckle.  “But I know where you’re going.  The car’s special.  A little old man gave it to me, though he insisted it was always mine. Go figure that, it’s older than I am.  You don’t seem like an ordinary detective to me.  Why am I getting that vibe?”

The fare peers around the cabin, somewhat uncomfortable with the question. “You could say that,” he says, tight-lipped.

“So you have a knack for solving the hard cases.  I don’t mean it in a creepy way.  But, you know.  Like you were born with a special insight.  Something that gives you an edge over the average guy.”

Tensing, Alex glances at the driver as the car speeds off. “Y-you can’t… I don’t know what you’re talking about, lady.” His hand drifts beneath his coat, eyes widening when he finds his holster empty. He never leaves home without his gun—never.

“Yeah don’t worry about that, you won’t need it.  Think of this as a fever dream, and you’ll wake up wherever you wanted to go.  I’m not here to challenge you.  I just want to know why.  You know, why you’ve made the choices you have.  Why a homicide detective?”

Alex harrumphs. “Choices… those are dangerous. They can lead you down a ton of different paths. Anyone in my position could’ve turned out as an agent of misery or salvation.” Nodding, he adds, “The ghosts did it though, and my sisters. What would you do to help people in need? People who can’t help themselves?”

“When I meet folks like that, I never seem to have any idea what I’d do, until I’m already doing it. You sound way more grown up than me,” she adds with a grin and a wink.  “Some days I wouldn’t trust myself to take care of me, let alone anyone else. Do you think you have, I don’t know, a purpose?  Something like that?  Do you believe in fate?”

“Fate? Not so much. If fate does exist, it’s meant to be broken. You really wanna know what I do? I listen. I watch and see through the visions of the past. I speak for the silenced… the dead. You could call it a purpose, but really it’s a choice. It was either that or go insane.”

“I imagine that takes a lot out of you.  What keeps you going?”

“People need help. It does take something out of you… more than you would think, but who else is there? They speak to me as best they can, and I act for them.”

“Someone’s got to solve the unsolvable.  You don’t come across as the tortured-loner type, though.  I like that.  Tortured loner homicide detectives are a dime a dozen, you know?  Is there anyone else in your life? Wife, kids?”

City lights begin appearing through the car windows, flashing past, replacing the country hills and mountains of Tranquil Heights Alex is used to. Unsettled, he asks, “H-how…? Y-yes, I’ve got a family. What the hell’s goin’ on out there? Where are we?”

“We’re on Outer Drive, in Detroit.  It’s a shortcut, don’t worry about it. This road goes everywhere.  So, does your family know about your calling?”  She adds quickly, “That’s not a threat or anything, if they don’t.  I’m just asking.  I get the feeling they don’t, though.”

Trying to look away from the growing traffic speeding by outside, Alex sinks further into the cushioned cloth seats. In for a penny, in for a dollar, Alex thinks to himself. “Yeah, they know, and my partner Hector. I couldn’t survive if they didn’t. Too many lies…. Too much sidestepping explanations I’d imagine. I couldn’t do that to Paige, and it would be difficult with Jamie, considering... Besides, she’s known as long as I have. Helped me through the hardest parts when we were teenagers.”

“I think that’s pretty fabulous, actually.  Do you find that it helps having them back you up, rather than being Batman?”

Seeing no cause for concern, Alex replies, “Eh… yeah it helps, but it’ll give ya a heart attack at times too. A little of both. What I do, trying to bring justice to the dead, ain’t exactly safe. These people have gotten away with it for years, sometimes decades, and they aren’t ready to give up once I come snoopin’ around. Sometimes it puts a bullseye on my back and anyone I’m with. Probably why more people with the gift don’t advertise, like in the yellow pages or nothin’.” Alex wipes a hand over his sweaty face. “Is it gettin’ hot in here or is it just me?”

She reaches over and turns up the AC with a little smile.  “You ever met anyone else who does what you do?”

“A couple so-called fortune tellers.” Waving a hand dismissively, he adds, “No one worth their salt.”

“So, no arch-enemies, then.  If you had to choose, who or what would you say is your Moriarty, thematically speaking?”

“Moriarty… So you’re a Sherlock fan. Good to know. Well, ever since I was a teen there’s been a serial killer in Tranquil Heights. The beat cops and detectives have never been able to catch him because he only kills once a year, a ritual sacrifice on September 20th. Never seen a serial killer with such willpower. Been goin’ for fifteen years straight now, but I’m gonna catch her this year if it’s the last thing I do. Pretty sure who she is already.”

“Wow.  That’s a lot of dead bodies.  And a female serial killer, too?  You don’t hear about those every day.  So is this a vigilante thing, or are you working within the confines of your official job?”

Alex unconsciously pats his shoulder holster again. “I’m a homicide detective. I do what I can, but yes, it requires a little finesse. Psychometry isn’t upheld by the courts, you know.”

“So you do cross the line once in a while, then?”

“Not if I can help it. I don’t want these killers gettin’ off on a technicality. I try to do what I can to dot all the ‘I’s and cross my ‘T’s, but it’s not like they play by the rules. I just kinda adopted the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared. You gotta in my line of work or you won’t live long.”

“How do you want to see it end?  If you had your choice?”

“If I had my choice, this murdering S.O.B. would have been caught after the first victim. She’d be in prison for life, no chance of parole. And fourteen people would be alive instead of burnt as ritual sacrifices.” Alex grimaces at the thought. He has relived the murders, seen and felt them through their eyes.

“So I mentioned Holmes earlier—sorry, the detective thing always makes me think of him.  Here’s a funny question. Would you rather work with Sherlock Holmes, or John McClane?”

The question catches Alex off guard, but a smile creeps to his lips. “Never been asked that. So Holmes or Die Hard, right? Man, that’s a good one.” Alex scratches his head. “Sherlock is more my speed, trying to figure out the crimes. The difference is, I normally know who the murderer is—or at least what they look like—from the beginning. I just have to work backwards to find enough evidence to satisfy a court of jurors and a judge. Sherlock and I would get along just fine, but there comes a time when a little John McClane has to come out. Murderers aren’t the type to just roll over once found. They’ve got an agenda, a plan, and handcuffs and a prison cell with Bubba and a bar of soap aren’t normally part of it.”

She nods.  “I get you on that.  It sounds like you’re on the right track.  Is there anything that makes things hard for you?  What keeps you up at night?”

A shudder runs through Alex as countless memories flood his mind one after another, nightmares from the past. “Yeah, you wouldn’t believe how often I wake up in a cold sweat. Reliving death isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and a brain can only take so much. My stepfather, the Drunk, had his demons and hurt a lot of people. I relive my own horrid past at times, but other times I’m haunted by the victims. They say everyone’s got an ounce of humanity in them, but I can tell you, there’s a few who don’t. They relish inflicting pain. Dying at their hands again and again is just… gruesome.” Wiping the sweat off his forehead, he continues, “Just be glad they don’t haunt your dreams, too.”

“Sounds rough.  I can empathizenobody ever makes it easy for characters like us, do they?”  

“Nah, never.” Changing the subject, Alex asks, “So where abouts are you from and how’d you come to pick me up instead of the Uber driver?”

Jet laughs.  “I’m a Detroiter, born and raised. And I picked you up because I wanted to meet you.  I could explain, but it would take longer than we have.  We’re almost there.  Where were you going, by the way?”

Alex blinks, momentarily stunned. “Uhh… right. To the veteran’s hall for a big dinner. The boss is gettin’ an award or somethin’. My wife has my car since hers got a little… damaged.”

“Hope it’s not a black-tie event,” she says with a nonjudgmental glance at his clothes.

Alex grumbles, “Yeah, but I ain’t eating. Got stuck with managing security. I don’t think Lieutenant Tullings liked the way we took down the last baddie.” He shrugs. “Such is life.”

“Oh, man, that’s terrible.  Punishment dinners are the worst.”  Jet taps the car’s turn signal to the left and makes an abrupt, dizziness-inducing right turn.  The street she turns onto is instantly familiar, despite the completely unfamiliar surroundings on the road she called, “Outer Drive.”  They’re right in front of the veteran’s hall.  Looking behind the car, there’s no sign of the intersection they just turned at.  “At least you’ll be on time,” she says as though there were nothing strange about what just happened.  “Good luck, Alex.”


The door opens of its own accord and Alex stumbles out. He clears his throat and turns around, but the car is already moving up the block, the engine barely making a sound. “Th-thanks,” comes out as a whisper.

* * * 

Thanks for the information, Emmy. Really appreciate it. Just try and keep Jet in line next time, or at least let me know if she's planning something like this. I couldn't think of what to do next in the story I'm writing and had no idea why. Guess that's what happens when your lead character goes missing.



Author Bio:

Emmy Jackson grew up in and around Detroit and has traveled to every corner of the United States, but always goes back. The second book in his "Empty Cradle" post-apocalyptic urban-fantasy series, Shiloh in the Circle, debuted in 2013, following up The Untimely Death of Corey Sanderson.  Similar to Mad Max: Fury Road, both books have been praised for featuring strong female characters and themes beyond simple survival.  During the fifteen years he spent building the world of Empty Cradle, he often lived like one of the scavengers from his stories, rescuing and repurposing forgotten items.  He even spent three years living a nomadic life in an RV.  Emmy lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with a dumb but adorable cat and is working on the third Empty Cradle book when he is not building wasteland vehicle projects or turning broken cellos into lamps. 


To find out more about Emmy Jackson, visit his author site at http://www.emmyjackson.com.

Weston Kincade ~ Author of the A Life of Death collection, The Priors, and Strange Circumstances

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fantasy Books and Wind-Whipped Umbrellas

Wow! That's all I can say. The last few months have flown by in a flurry of wind-whipped umbrellas, much like our Memorial Day camping trip.

Jonah huddling with Athena
Last night our trip at Pymatuning was called on account of rain, wind, flooding, and a weather forecast that couldn't predict what the rest of the night had in store. We pulled up stakes with the rain whipping about and mud sloshing around our sandals. Die-hard campers would have stayed (and I salute them), but as our makeshift hobbit hollow began to crash down around us and the tent proved far less reselient than expected, we made the decision.

How does that relate to what's been going on in my writing?

Well, we haven't given up, and overall I call the trip a success. The fishing on Pymatuning Lake was good, the company grand, and the first night around the campfire spectacular. Needless to say, we will go back again. One small hurdle may have caused us to stumble, but like in the journey of my A Life of Death trilogy, in the end I will rise above with the help of friends, family, and fans.

The first two books in the series were published previously by Books of the Dead Press to glowing reviews, but the press downsized. My rights were returned early. However, this proved to be a blessing in disguise since I was gearing up to finish the final book in the trilogy, Sacrifices.

Now, 6 months later, so many things have come together that I don't have words. Claudia and Catie at PhatPuppy Art did an outstanding job with the covers to all three books in the trilogy. The pre-release of A Life of Death: Book 1 is climbing the charts, and we are still more than 24 hours from release. Initial comments from beta readers and reviewers are quite good, and many people I have come to know and call friends over the years are stepping up to help publicize the event. My thanks to you all.

Fellow author Heidi Ruby Miller even offered to post about the book release on her blog and will be offering her own thoughts on book 1 as soon as she's read it. More info to come about other wonderful spotlights...


While the release itself is just around the corner, May 31st, the A Life of Death release celebration will be June 9th, organized by the fantastic Maxine at BookLover CatLady Publicity. Later, a grand blog tour will commence (more details forthcoming).


Come join us. It should be riproaring fun with prizes, fellow authors joining in, and everyone simply cuttin' loose.


And to top it off, I'm currently offering a free ebook of Strange Circumstances to all who join me in this writing adventure I call life. Just sign up on my reader email list.


Weston Kincade ~ Author of the A Life of Death trilogy, The Priors, and Strange Circumstances

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Birthday Surprises at Cleveland ConCoction 2017


Last weekend I had a great time at Cleveland ConCoction 2017. It was the first year where I stepped down from the department head position and Melissa took over. I must say, she did phenomenal. Wey, who was co-seconding the department this year with me, and a buddy I've known since college by the name of Tavis helped out in Authors Alley over the entire weekend, making a tremendous difference for me and the other 25 authors in attendance.

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Skelly
The weekend started off Friday with a chance meeting in the Vendors Hall with Glen Cook, the Literary Track's guest of honor best known for his Black Company series. He and his wife were wonderful to chat with, a down to earth guy whose fantastic writing career has spanned more than 40 years.

A reading showcase with three other authors followed. I chose chapter 4 of To Kill a Priest from my Priors series. You may be wondering why. I chose it because chapter 4 is when Jedd, Madelin's godfather, astrally projects into the hospital room where she's been restrained. Once there, he helps Madelin escape the clutches of the government black-ops agency that killed her parents and abducted her, known as PASTOR. The people who attended seemed to receive it well along with the other authors' books, and the discussion that commenced afterward was quite good. The rest of the night was spent in Authors Alley, followed by dinner at the Sheraton hotel's restaurant with S. Andrew Swann, a phenomenal fantasy and sci-fi writer with 20+ books out. We discussed everything from writing to publishing, gaming, and even programming. Then Tavis, Melissa, a fellow volunteer, and I made a quick pit stop at some of the convention parties. They were entertaining and a bit loud. Afterward we settled down to chat over a drink in the upstairs lobby where it was a bit more quiet.

Saturday began slowly, after a late night, with a variety of birthday wishes interspersed from friends and strangers alike. At first it caught me off guard until I was informed that not only did I share my birthday with famed writer Douglas Adams, but an announcement had been posted on Facebook by con staff. It was quite touching that they cared so much.

Later on, the birthday surprises continued when I was called down to the con suite immediately. I showed up to more than 80 con-goers singing happy birthday and two enormous birthday cakes for everyone to partake, all during a Geek Watch One podcast. After cake was cut and handed out, I was pulled into a great interview with the Geek Watch One hosts and had a lot of fun discussing books, writing, gaming, and Cleveland ConCoction's Authors Alley. It was tons of fun. Listen for yourself. The interview itself starts 23 minutes in, but the entire event occurs throughout and it's a lot of fun to listen to. Even Aberon, head of Operations for Cleveland ConCoction, got in on the action.

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Skelly
The evening continued with a 9:00 pm panel on Why Villains Matter that was well attended. All of us authors had great fun discussing Darth Vader, Voldemort, and tons of other villains you often see in books and movies, and the attendees really got in on the discussion too. Following it, Tavis, Swann, and I got a bite to eat before Swann had to attend his next late night panel, then visited the Game Hall with Melissa. It was the first time I'd actually made it down to the Game Hall in my 4 years of attending/working Cleveland ConCoction. As a gamer, it was a pleasant reprieve to finally get the chance. We tried out High Noon Saloon, one of Slug Fest Games's products, in the Play to Win opportunities ConCoction's Game Hall offers. Slug Fest Games is best known for the game Red Dragon Inn, which I can attest is great fun. High Noon Saloon didn't disappoint. My character was thrown out a window, shot from a guy hanging off a chandelier, and ultimately killed at the same time as one of our new gaming friends Rob. High Noon is good and certainly a game I would recommend.

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Skelly
Sunday turned out to be one of my busiest. It started off with two back to back panels, Favorite Characters: Why Did They Have to Die? where I was moderating and Post Apocalypse-How will it End? Both were earlier in the morning but they were pretty well attended. Attendees had tons of questions and the discussions were quite good, especially since those were two of my favorite panel topics from the weekend. Afterward I returned to Authors Alley, signed quite a few books, talked with readers, and said farewell to the authors as they headed home.

Over the weekend I also got to sit down with gaming guest of honor Lee Garvin, who you might know from his work writing the Pathfinder and D&D 3.5 manual The Noble Wild and his latest incarnation, Tales From the Floating Vagabond. He is a wonderful guy, a fan of animals and sitcoms. It was great having him at ConCoction 2017 and wonderful to sit down and talk over a drink.

Until next year, everyone. I look forward to it.

See also:

Author J. L. Gribble's take on Cleveland ConCoction 2017

Weston Kincade ~ Author of the A Life of Death trilogy, The Priors, and Strange Circumstances

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The A Life of Death Trilogy and Cover Art

Welcome back! To all newcomers, it's great to have you. This is a wonderful time to visit here with all the changes that have been happening. I have a few things I wanted to mention, so onward!



The sad news I have to announce is that I am officially closing the doors to WAKE Editing. However, this is for good reason. Things became busy enough that I was forced to make a decision. You may have noticed that I haven't put any new novels out in the last couple years, only short stories and one academic article in the Ohio Journal of English Language Arts last August. I simply haven't had time to write more than that considering the time I spend teaching high school English and the time I put into editing other authors' novels, not to mention the time I spend volunteering with Cleveland ConCoction's Authors Alley. While I love the relationships I built with so many up and coming authors through WAKE Editing, I had to make a choice: my own writing or editing for others. I truly appreciate my fans and love writing my own stories. It's not something I can do without, so the choice was clear. WAKE Editing is closed to new submissions as of now and the site will soon be coming down.

On a much more exciting note, I am back to doing more writing. I have a few different projects underway that I will announce later when they are closer to fruition, but right now I get to announce something many fans have been asking about. The third and final book in the A Life of Death trilogy will be released in the coming months. The exact date is still to be determined, but I'll keep you posted. 
While the series was most recently in the hands of Books of the Dead Press, the rights to the first two books in the series were released back to me as of January 1, 2017, hence why they are no longer for sale on Amazon at this moment. However, that will soon be changing. 

In preparation for this new release of the entire trilogy, I contacted a wonderful cover artist whose experience speaks for itself, Claudia McKinney at PhatPuppyArt Studios. Claudia and her team have been responsible for many great New York Times bestselling book covers. Here's a bit about Claudia from the PhatPuppyArt Amazon page:
Professional digital artist/photographer specializing in book covers for best selling authors. To date I've done 430+ covers now in the Kindle & Nook marketplace, and booksellers worldwide. Some of the publishing houses include Random House, Llewellyn, Simon & Schuster. Several of my images have been featured in Vogue Italia. A few of the authors you may recognize - Kami Garcia, Amanda Hocking, Samantha Young, Karice Bolton, Aaron Patterson, JL Bryan, and Courtney Milan. My latest project is pre-production storyboarding for the major motion picture studios here in Los Angeles. 
You can contact me for more information at phatpuppyart@me.comMy Facebook Fan Page can be found here: http://facebook.com/phatpuppyartistOfficial. Site: http://phatpuppyart.com
Claudia and her team are wonderful to work with and create phenomenal covers. For authors out there, I highly recommend PhatPuppyArt

And for the biggest news of the day, the covers have been completed and I would like to share them with you. So, without further ado, here are the new covers for the A Life of Death trilogy, including the yet to be released third book, Sacrifices:


Book 1:
Murder. Abuse. And Retribution. Ghosts are speaking to Alex, but can he bring them justice?

Alex Drummond is a troubled high school senior with a checkered past, a broken home, and a surprising ability, psychometry. When he touches items murder victims held in their final moments, Alex relives the events in gruesome detail, seeing what they saw, thinking their thoughts, and even feeling what they felt. But who will believe a troubled teen, especially when the murders are so close to home and might reveal skeletons hidden for hundreds of years?

Join Alex as he struggles to find his destiny, understand love, solve the mysterious murders within his small hometown, and speak for victims who can no longer speak for themselves.






Book 2:
Visions. Murders. A Serial Killer Strikes. Ghosts are speaking to Alex, but will it be enough to stop these ritual sacrifices?

For Homicide Detective Alex Drummond, fifteen years of ritual sacrifices is far too long! Citizens hope this year’s sacrificial lamb won’t be one of their loved ones, but Alex's hands are tied when it comes to his psychometric visions. After an anonymous tip, Detective Drummond has a lead that takes him to Washington DC. Conscripting his high school friend Jessie Arturo, they set off to prove the suspect's guilt, but nothing is as it seems. In such a large place, unsolved murders abound like cobwebs under abandoned guest beds.

September 20, the serial killer’s anointed date, is only days away. Is Alex in over his head? Can he save an innocent life with the help of the ghosts of previous victims? And what will the cost be if he succeeds?






Book 3:

Family. Fatherhood. Gang Violence and Moonshiners. Detective Alex Drummond must juggle family responsibilities, duties, and ghostly visions to stop a mysterious killer.

When the world outside Tranquil Heights not only knocks at the door, but steps inside and sticks its head in the refrigerator for a nibble, the town will be forever changed… as well as the Drummond family. Chaos erupts when a gang takes over drug distribution throughout the region, forcing moonshiners out. Cremated remains of numerous victims are turning up in small piles. To make matters worse, Jamie’s own ghostly powers now rival his father’s, as does his stubborn nature.

One mysterious person seems to be behind it all, but can Alex teach his headstrong son to control his psychometric powers and find the murderer before the gang and moonshiners resort to all-out war.





In addition, there will be added bonus material in each book from some of the greatest writers in modern fiction. Even fans of the earlier versions of books 1 and 2 will have more to look forward to than just the final release of book 3, Sacrifices, if that isn't enough! 

If you are as excited about this as I am, feel free to share the joy! Enjoy and happy reading until next we speak! 

Look for the new A Life of Death trilogy in coming months. The release is tentatively planned for May, but check back for exact dates.

Weston Kincade ~ Author of the A Life of Death collection, The Priors, and Strange Circumstances