Thursday, August 14, 2014

Interview With SJ Parkinson - Sci-Fi Blog Tour Stop with Excerpt & Giveaway: Twinkle

Virtual Book Tour Dates:  7/31/14 - 8/28/14

Genres: Science Fiction

The richest man in the world wants to celebrate the July 4th holiday as never before. In a bid to get into the record books, a global fireworks show is staged from orbit. Satellites drop pyrotechnics into the atmosphere, thrilling everyone from the Arctic to the Antarctic with their rich colors and massive explosions in every time zone.

The next day, people around the globe begin to lose their sight. Governments crumble, society degenerates, and infrastructure falls into chaos. Humanity finds itself stumbling in the dark and losing all hope.

A few fortunate individuals retain their vision. Attempting to deal with the growing despair around them, they come together to discover the true purpose and origin of the affliction. They race to find a cure before the world is subjugated under an invading power.

Keith Hurst’s secure telephone rang, waking him from a sound sleep. He opened his eyes and looked at the LED clock on his nightstand. It said 3:12. As national security advisor to the president of the United States, middle-of-the-night calls were common. His staff did their best to filter out the less important matters until his morning brief, but there were times when an emergency forced sleep into second place.
Hurst grabbed the handset by the second ring. He had to wait for the encryption to handshake before he could say, “Hurst.”
“Good morning, sir. This is the night watch officer. We have several NSA intercepts from the following countries: India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia all placing their militaries on high alert. We’ve had sporadic reports of multiple air, car, and rail accidents, resulting in thousands of deaths. Many radio and television stations have gone off the air in those countries.”
Hurst snapped on his bedside light and sat up. “Accidents? Do we know the cause?”
“No, sir. The strange thing is, NSA claims many of the foreign military units that were signaled never acknowledged the alert. There also appears to be a major communication disruption with U.S. CENTCOM units in Afghanistan and our embassies in the aforementioned countries.”
“Are the comms being hacked, or is there some sort of natural phenomenon like sunspot interference?” Concerned about the call, Hurst looked at the empty space beside him. His wife had left him several years before, directly because of the election campaign and the late-night calls.
“No, sir. Not that we can see. The circuits are up, and the phones are ringing, but no one is answering.”
Hurst swung his legs out of bed. Has someone come up with a way to simultaneously disrupt communications with American bases, embassies, and headquarters, or is this some sort of terrorist attack? “Does NRO have anything on overhead imagery?”
“No, sir. No major troop movements in the CENTCOM area. In fact, NRO reports minimal movement overall.”
“I’ll be in the office in thirty-five minutes. I’ll want everyone in for an early brief for the president. Get the joint chiefs and SECDEF up to speed. Warn the Secret Service that we may be moving POTUS with short notice. If this is an attack, I want to stay ahead of it. See if we can get drone surveillance of any U.S. bases in Afghanistan ASAP. We need answers.”
“Yes, sir.”
Hurst hung up and hit the bedside crash button to summon his protection detail. This was no time for subtlety. He needed to be in the White House as soon as humanly possible.

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Science Fiction Books and Authors Interviews SJ Parkinson:

1. The blurb for your book Twinkle is very fascinating and original. How did the plot come together?

I once had an opportunity to scuba dive at night under a pier that had fireworks going off directly above. The lights underwater were soundless, looking strange and alien. Much later in my life I was working on an airplane refueling crew and inhaled gas fumes that left me half blind for a short time. The combination of those experiences inspired the original concept for Twinkle and I developed the story into what you read today. 

2. Do you have a music playlist for this book, or some songs that were in the back of your mind as you were working on it?

I always listen to music while writing my novels. I wear a pair of full padded headphones to block out distracting noises. However, I don't consciously translate what I hear directly into the words I put on the page. I have over fifty gigabytes of music which includes everything from 80's hits to Paul Van Dyk and everything in-between.     

3. Were there any scenes you deleted from the book?

Yes, the first draft of Twinkle that I circulated to my alpha readers came in around seven hundred pages. All of them reported that one of my characters was a little too intense and I ended up cutting him entirely. His influence distracted from the story and made the story more horror than sci-fi. In total, that resulted in about a dozen scenes being cut. His removal reduced the manuscript by sixty pages and let me focus the rest of the story much better. 

4. What is your best tip for those preparing for a real-life doomsday scenario? 

Groups survive better than individuals. You need to get yourself into a trustworthy group that has a diverse assembly of people. Engineers, farmers, doctors, cooks, mechanics, etc. The group dynamic allows an individuals weaknesses to be compensated for by others and long term survival of all improves as a result. Communities are always more resilient when facing disaster.  

5. What are you working on now?

My sixth novel is a return to the mystery-adventure genre. It’s the story of a thief in modern day New York City who is blamed for a murder he was not responsible for. The story revolves around him finding the real killer before the police arrest him. I’m also developing book four in my mystery-adventure Legionnaire series and another pair of science fiction novels that need a little more work before I can proceed on them. Even though my novels are fictional, I ensure the science behind the story is solid. I sometimes need to take liberties to make the story work, but I'm careful to explain what I did in the book afterword. 

6. Do you attend any science fiction conventions? If so, what are your favorites?

Science fiction has been a part of my life since I first read Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury as a teenager. I've been to three WorldCons and uncountable smaller events. I try to support the smaller cons by advertising my books in their programs. One issue I've seen over recent years are corporations running conventions as a business and I think that is wrong. Cons should be run by the fans and not those just looking to turn a profit. The WorldCons are my favorites as they bring together thousands of like minded individuals where everyone has a great time. The masquerade and dealer room/art shows are my usual haunts. 

7. What about book signings? Do you regularly schedule these? If so, where can readers find your event calendar? 

Given my schedule, they are hard to accommodate. I've only done one book signing so far. I had two hours and sold every book of mine in the shop which surprised both myself and the manager. I met many fans who were so supportive and encouraging. I can't describe the feeling I have seeing someone's eyes light up when discussing a character of mine. It shows me my characters are both convincing and believable. When they say "I love (insert character)," or "I really couldn't stand (insert character)," it shows I've done an effective job of immersing the reader in a realistic world. I never expected the international awards and solid reviews, but along with fan encouragement, they are a fantastic form of feedback that tells me I'm doing the right things.

About The Author:
Mr. Parkinson was an Air Force avionics technician, a decorated veteran of the Persian Gulf War, and several United Nations peacekeeping missions. He has lived overseas in numerous countries and travels extensively. His novels have been praised for their realism and have sold in fourteen countries, winning multiple international awards.
“I don’t incorporate overt sex, profanity, or extreme violence in any of my writing. I prefer the story to be the main focus and want my novels to be accessible by all.” -SJ Parkinson

Author Links:

One Lucky Winner Will Win All 3 Books in The Legionnaire Series and Another Lucky Winner Will Win Two Science Fiction Books – Twinkle and Predation – By SJ Parkinson.
The giveaway will run the length of the tour. Open internationally. Enter through Rafflecopter.

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Harrison Ford Sleeps with Jack Whitehall - The Graham Norton Show

Harrison Ford is so freaking hilarious. I don't think I've ever seen an interview with him that disappoints. He's just so entertaining. Here is an short interview. Prepare for the funny!

Harrison Ford Makes An Amazon Delivery - Webcast

This short webcast is so wild. It shows Harrison Ford in a UPS truck making a delivery for Amazon. The customer isn't aware that he'll be delivering her order. From space to UPS, it seems that Harrison can be found almost anywhere.


Star Wars VII - It's a Green Light

I read an article today on CNN that filming is scheduled to resume for the next Star Wars movie.

I remember hearing that Harrison Ford had injured his ankle on set, but apparently the injury was much worse than was initially reported. I mean, the guy had to have surgery, and now it's being said that he broke his leg. It really makes you wonder what he was filming, huh? I thought they had stunt doubles for dangerous scenes. 

Harrison Ford appears to be in excellent shape, especially considering the man is 72 years old. I just can't imagine filming a scene that results in surgery. That's horrible! 

It's a good thing for them that the movie isn't scheduled to release until December of 2015, but a bad thing for us. It's being reported that they are bringing back a lot of the original cast, and I can't wait to see where they are going with it. Out of all of them, I believe Harrison is probably the only one that really looks like he did years ago. It should be very interesting to see how it all turns out!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mystery/Thriller Feature: Calculated Risk Tour Stop & Giveaway

Virtual Book Tour Dates: 7/18/14 – 8/15/14
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Sci-Fi

Rafe McTavish, charming self-made businessman, owns the most successful private security firm in the galaxy. Estranged from his family since his wife's bloody suicide fourteen years earlier, he's honor bound to find out why his brother-in-law, CEO of the family mega-corporation, has jeopardized the company by purchasing a dilapidated deep-space mining station. Arriving at the station to investigate, Rafe takes on hostile miners, faces accusations of murder, chases a blackmailer bent on his destruction, and matches wits with a beautiful corporate-hating computer hacker, Kama Bhatia, who just may be the love of his life—if they both survive.

“I apologize for disturbing you outside our normal communication channels,” Kama said, acknowledging their unsecured line. “I wanted to let you know that I’d arrived safely. I would have contacted you sooner, but the station experienced communication issues.”
One almond-shaped eye twitched. “Issues?”
“Yes, but it didn’t prevent me from sending your… birthday present. It’s on a cargo drone headed for Earth orbit. It left here shortly after I arrived. I wasn’t able to check your present’s condition.” She held her breath.
Samir went very still. She expected frost to form on the view screen so cold was the displeasure in his gaze. He hated complications, and she’d barely started listing them.
“Inconvenient. I’ll see the package is retrieved.” He smoothed the front of his immaculate gray suit with long, thin fingers.
She plunged on. “Unfortunately, your present isn’t complete. Pieces are missing, and other collectors have taken an interest.”
His hand stopped in mid-stroke. “Other collectors?”
Kama swallowed. Sweat moistened her palms where they rested on the console. He really wouldn’t like the next news. “There’s also a problem with the grant work I’m to do here for Independent Mining. Seems EcoMech claims to have bought the place, and Leon Goldman came in person to take possession. He has Rafael McTavish in tow.”
The intensity of Samir’s stare rocked her back from the console.
“Is Mr. McTavish aware of your presence?” he asked in a deadly calm voice.
“We’ve been introduced.”
“It’s a large station. Enjoy those parts where Mr. McTavish is not found,” he ordered, his brows pulling down.
“Well, that’s the thing,” she said, her voice rising in pitch. “There’s a bit of a shooting war going on here, and he’s been taken prisoner by the miners.”

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About The Author:
K S Ferguson has already published one critically-acclaimed novella, Puncher’s Chance (co-written with James Grayson,) which appeared in the June 2006 edition of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, America’s longest-running science fiction magazine. She enjoys writing suspense and murder mysteries in futuristic and fantasy settings, and also writes fiction in the guise of technical manuals for unfinished software—otherwise known as help documentation.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Spotlight: The Enclave by H.M. Clarke

Virtual Book Tour Dates: 7/22/14 - 7/29/14

Genres: Science Fiction

Katherine Kirk lived only for vengeance.
Vengeance against the man who destroyed her home, her family and her life.
Sent on a babysitting mission to Junter 3, RAN officer Katherine Kirk, finds herself quickly embroiled in the politics between the New Holland Government and the Val Myran refugees claiming asylum.
After an Alliance attack Kirk and her team hunt the enemy down and discover that they have finally found the lair of the man they have been searching for…
And the captive who has been waiting patiently for rescue.
“What would you do to the man who destroyed every important person in your life?”

Gunfire flew from the cars behind and Katherine turned tail and leapt up the stairs.  Joshua was crouched waiting at the top of the last tier and had managed to get hold of a pistol.  Around them the NHSIO security from the front foyer was now positioned around the portico columns and returning fire to the attackers below.   The defenders controlled the high ground and the people in those cars had no hope of getting them now.
So why were they still attacking?
Katherine dragged Josh away from the stairs back into the foyer as more security personnel streamed past them.  No one spared them much of a glance but Katherine did not care.  Something was not right.  Inexperience (or stupidity), would be the only reason someone would even consider committing to a frontal assault on Federation House.  The place was just too well protected.
Are they Alliance Katherine?” Josh asked as she checked the magazine on her pistol.  Thirty HC rounds remaining.  Hopefully it would do.
The Alliance isn’t this stupid,” she shouted over the sound of fresh gunfire.  But I would bet a year’s pay that they are involved somehow.  “Whoever they are; I think we should retreat back to my brother’s office.  At least I can guarantee that we’ll be well defended there if anything untoward happens.”
Joshua nodded.  Katherine then noted the ease with which he held his weapon.  “You’ve had weapons training?”
I served with the Alliance Infantry.  Every citizen owes three years service.”
Katherine nodded impressed.  Leading families were known for finding loopholes to stop their members from meeting their obligations.  Nice to see the Val Myrans did not use it.  “Then you can cover my back.”
Both entered the stairwell at a run; taking the lifts would have been risky if the power went; and climbed several flights before Katherine was sure they were on the right floor.  As they climbed Katherine open a comm link to the Adelaide.  
Adelaide do you read me?” no one answered her and Katherine repeated herself another three times.  “Come on damn you – somebody talk to me!” she half shouted as they reached the landing she wanted.
Skipper?”  A burst of static broke over the comm unit.
Sue, is that you?”  Abruptly the static disappeared and the musical voice of Susan Mayer came over the wire.  
-interference is shocking, like someone is jamming-”
Sue, is Steve on the bridge?”  Katherine cut across her.
Yes Ma’am.”
There was a click and then Steven Tran’s voice came over the link.
Steve, I want you and two squads to suit up and get your arses over to Federation House ASAP.  We are under heavy fire and I think the idiots outside will break off if they see some extra persuasion coming up behind them.”
There was a pause and then, “Yes Ma’am,” and the link went silent as Steve cut his connection.  “Sue, has Tom returned to the ship?” Katherine asked hoping for an affirmative but knowing that not enough time had gone by since he had left from lunch.
No ma’am”
Katherine?” A new voice cut into the line.
Richard?  I thought you were taking shore leave – it doesn’t matter.  We’ve got an incident here and I’m afraid that it might splash over to the Adelaide.  Steve is bringing two squads here to me and I want whatever personnel remaining on board to protect the ship and the port in that order.”
How bad is it Kath?” Richard asked.
Ask me again in another hour, I might have an answer by then.”  She cut the connection and turned to Joshua.  She may be overreacting but there was something in her gut telling her that she was right.  But first they both had to get back to John’s office.
Ready.”  Joshua’s voice was firm and there was a look in his eyes that Katherine recognized, she had seen it enough times in her own crew when the situation was tight.
She palmed the stairwell door open and checked that the corridor was clear, then she and Joshua came out, pistols raised to line of sight.  They moved down the empty corridors seeing nothing out of place except for the obvious signs of a hurried evacuation of office personnel.
They wouldn’t be able to penetrate this far into the building?” Joshua flexed his fingers over the grip on his handgun.
Not from the frontal assault, but I have a bad feel-”
Katherine stopped speaking as the sounds of gunfire echoed down the corridor ahead of them.

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About the Author:
In a former life, H.M. Clarke has been a Console Operator, Public Servant, ICT Project Manager, Paper Shuffler and an Accountant (the last being the most exciting.)
She also has a degree in how to blow things up and then write about why it blew up. In her spare time, she likes to lay on the couch and watch TV, read and tell ALL her family what wonderful human beings they are.
She keeps threatening to go out and get a real job (Chocolate Test Taster sounds good) and intends to retire somewhere warm and dry – like the middle of the Simpson Desert. For the time being however, she is an Aussie in Ohio and dreams about being warm…

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Spotlight & Giveaway: An Etiquette Guide to the End Times: A Novella by Maia Sepp

Virtual Book Tour Dates: 7/10/14 - 7/24/14

Sci Fi (Dystopian)


Good manners never go out of style…do they?

There aren’t any zombies (yet), but the world is still at the brink of destruction: It’s 2028 and global warming has led to rising oceans, crazy weather, and resource scarcity. On top of that, someone just turned the Internet off. Seeing as how it’s humanity’s last chance to turn things around manners are, understandably, a bit frayed.

Bookish etiquette buff Olive O’Malley is busy microfarming her urban property and minding her own business (and her chickens) when the government comes calling. Their goal is to push the populace towards carbon-neutrality while keeping kvetching to a minimum, and they come with a proposal: transition Olive’s popular etiquette column to a radio show for the masses, and they’ll help Olive find her grandfather, who’s gone missing.

Olive doesn’t trust the hipster government officials who try to bribe her with delicious-but-probably-a-little-evil chocolate pastries, and declines their offer. (Politely, of course.) But they won't take no for an answer, and soon Olive is knee-deep in turmoil, eco-terrorism, and missing chickens. Now she has to untangle herself from their demands and figure out how to make sure her family (and her poultry) are safe before it’s too late.

Chapter One—In the Land of Victory

My superhero power is definitely not sleeping. When I was looking for a house, my realtor rhapsodized about this bedroom’s perfect southern exposure, about the tastefully herbaceous wall treatment and charming old-world feel. Right now my room could be more accurately described as a floral-wallpapered sauna, full of an impossible heat, like three Julys stuffed into one. It isn’t helping.
I watch the overhead fan stop again, gyrate, and then restart before I roll over, the sheets coming with me. After a minute I shift to the other side, flinging the covers away with a sigh. The fan finally grinds to a halt, probably the victim of a wiring problem I haven’t been able to pin down, although lately I’ve been thinking it might just hate me.
I relocate to the living room and angle the pedestal fan my way. God, it’s hot. I close my eyes and lean back on the couch for a minute, hoping sleep will take me. The sofa is a faux leather hand-me-down that’s supple after years of wear, smelling faintly earthy, soft against my skin.
Eventually I switch the TV on. Our cable hasn’t worked properly in months, the service so erratic it’s like the people running the company are legless, as my grandfather Fred would say—a charming Irish way of saying spectacularly drunk, even though my grandfather hasn’t seen Ireland since he was a child. My eyes land on Fred’s easy chair, a pale green monstrosity he could barely squeeze through the front door when I finally convinced him to move in with me. His pipe, his books, and his old-man slippers are still where he left them.
After flipping through a bunch of static, I shut the TV off and switch to the radio, which promptly announces it’s five-thirty in the morning. I ponder what to do next, discarding juggling, mind-reading, and origami, although I spend more time thinking about mind-reading than I probably should, considering I’m the only one here. Finally I pull my computer tablet onto my lap and turn it on. I write an etiquette column for a spunky arts and culture website, and my latest instalment is due on Friday; other people’s problems are always a delightful way to get my mind off my own. I start to page through the letters, which all start with Dear Olive. Dear Olive, I’m convinced my neighbour is milking my goat. Dear Olive, my neighbour’s windmill is keeping me up at night. Dear Olive, my wife is hoarding solar panels. What do I do?
Three crashing noises erupt above my head, each more ominous than the last. I wait for it to stop, but twenty minutes later I’m clinging to the side of my house, staring down a pair of raccoons who seem intent on defiling my solar array. For a long while it’s just the three of us, locked in visual combat, but it’s my roof and unless they start paying rent, they’ve got to go. Eventually they get spooked by the noise of the six a.m. domestic surveillance drone overhead, which would make this the first time I’ve ever been happy to see a drone. I watch as it starts its first pass of the morning. They’re smaller than the military version—sleek, modern, ever-watchful. Rumour is they’re even biodegradable, although that hasn’t exactly endeared them to anybody.
After the raccoons finally lumber off I pull myself onto the roof and take a look at the solar panel they’ve sullied, the wires connecting the array to my house almost stripped. It’s not easy to carry out rooftop repairs quietly at six in the morning, and it definitely wouldn’t be polite to wake anyone up, but I don’t want to be back up here tomorrow, either. If I leave the panel like this, they’ll come back and finish the job, I know it. They’re organized.
I look up when a new-fangled Town Car, still boxy and authoritarian but now electric-powered, turns onto my street. I watch it as it goes; there are almost no cars on the roads these days, and the sight makes a faint sense of unease pulse through me. I hope whoever’s in that car isn’t carrying bad news for one of my neighbours.

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About the Author:
Maia Sepp is an author of humorous contemporary and dystopian fiction. She left the tech sector to write about sock thievery, migraines, the future, and…the tech sector.
The Sock Wars is her debut novel. The first chapter of The Sock Wars was published as a short story/novel excerpt titled Irish Drinking Socks, and became a Kobo bestselling short story. The Sock Wars has been a top-100 digital bestseller on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the iBookstore, as well as a genre and Writing Life bestseller on Kobo. It is available in print and ebook formats.
Maia’s second novel is The Migraine Mafia, a story about a nerdy thirtysomething’s quest to come to terms with a chronic illness. It is available online everywhere in print and ebook formats. It has been a genre bestseller on Kobo.
Her latest is a humorous near-future dystopian novella, titled, An Etiquette Guide to the End Times, available now!

Author Links:

Enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card! The giveaway will run the length of the tour. Open internationally. Enter through Rafflecopter.