Book Review – Rise of the Forgotten by Jason J. Nugent

The brothers, Eron and Timo (Nagi) are reunited only to be torn apart in the earliest stages of war. Eron desperately searches for his lost love, Mina while Nagi is going nearly mad looking for his wife and children. All while being hunted down by the evil ADF. Other members of Eron and Timo’s family emerge from the mayhem in the most unexpected of ways.
Having read the first book of this series, I was eager to dive into the second. I’m happy to report I found it even more delightful and engaging. Jason has rounded out his main characters very nicely in this book, giving them much more depth.
Rise of the Forgotten is a fast-paced read full of hope and despair, love, hate, suspense, death and some very unexpected twists. It’s probably the best work I’ve read by Jason so far. I am so looking forward to reading the third book in this series!

Four out of Five Ravens. 

Author Interview – Jason J. Nugent

Welcome to the June edition of my monthly Author Interview blog. This month (or at least this weekend) it’s all about Jason J. Nugent, author of two short story collections and a brand-spanking new YA Sci-Fi novel called The Selection.

Pamela: Welcome, Jason and thanks for agreeing to being placed under a white-hot light bulb in an otherwise pitch-black room. Tell me a little bit about how you became interested in writing. Have you known since an early age or is this something new you’ve recently started to get involved in?

Jason: I wrote sappy poetry as an angst-filled teen. Once in college, I wrote stories in English class. Instead of pursuing a degree in creative writing, I chose History, going on to earn a Master’s Degree in Early Medieval History. I always wanted to try fiction but was too scared to. About eight years ago, I had a good friend convince me to give NaNoWriMo a try. I failed miserably! I tried the following year and failed again. I then “won” at my third try. That was all the motivation I needed. I proved to myself that I could do it and decided to make writing a priority. I started writing all kinds of flash fiction and short stories, almost all with strange or dark twists.

Pamela: Whether by choice or by fate, we’ve both gone the self-publishing route. What have been your biggest challenges and your greatest rewards as an Indie Author?

Jason: My greatest challenge—by far! is finding new readers for my work. There are so many  Jasonchoices for readers today and to get them to spend their money on a relatively unknown quantity is difficult. The greatest reward has been meeting other writers who enjoy what I write and share it with others. The indie community, in my experience, has been super supportive and always helpful. Having those advocates means everything to me. The first review I received was from writer and blogger Mike Wolff. I had no idea who he was at the time, but he gave (Almost) Average Anthology an excellent review. I’ve come to know him since then and we support each other all the time. He’s a great guy and knows his stuff. Without writing, I would never have met him or Aaron Hamilton, or Thomas Gunther, or the crew from Inklings Press (Stephen and Brent), or the excellent writer Maria Haskins, or yourself. I can list a ton of other excellent writers I’ve met and they’ve all been encouraging.

Pamela: I see you are part of a Science Fiction game development team. That’s pretty neat. Can you tell me more about ‘The Status Quo Project’, your role, and how you got involved in it?

Jason: Yeah, this has been an amazing experience. Status Quo is a game where there are seven races, seven planets, and three factions. There is combat in space and on the planets. It’s going to be one heck of a game!

statusquoI was introduced to “Cheshire,” the lead project manager for “Status Quo” through Alex (I always knew him as Dolphi) a gaming buddy of mine. He knew I wrote stories and he put me in contact with Cheshire. I was given a test assignment of writing bounty hunter missions for one of the planets and it went over so well, I was given another planet to write bounty hunter missions for. I nailed that and was offered the opportunity to write ALL the missions–three factions worth and civilian missions–for an entire planet. I did almost all of those missions so when you play the game and end up on the planet Arthas, almost every mission you do there was written by me. I still can’t wrap my head around it! The team Cheshire assembled to work on this game is amazing! I cannot wait for it to come out.

Pamela: April was a busy month for you. Your YA Sci-Fi novel, “The Selection” was released and you had a short story appear in Sci-Fan magazine. Was making the transition from short stories to a novel a difficult one for you?

Jason: Thanks! It was a pretty good month for me! The transition from short stores to novels wasn’t too difficult. I enjoy the longer form as it allows me to explore a character in greater detail. I’ve got four NaNoWriMo “wins” under my belt which helps me plan and write a longer piece of fiction. If I need a break from the novel, I’ll write a short story or revise one I’ve written so I can keep the writing going while not burning out on any one project.

Pamela: There’s an old adage that writers should ‘Write What You Know’. Can you explain how someone who’s studied Early Medieval History extensively uses that to bring life to your work as a Sci-Fi author? What sort of research is involved in all that? It must be tremendous.

Jason: Yeah, historical research can be daunting for sure! I think studying history allows me to bring a sense of realism to my writing. When I studied Early Medieval Ireland, I had to research people and incidents in depth to get at the answers I wanted. I feel that’s helped me to make my stories relatable, no matter the setting. I want you the reader to feel at home even if you’re on a planet thousands of light years away with strange creatures.

Pamela: What can we look forward to from you next and where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Jason: I’ve got a short story coming out in August in an anthology titled “Twilight Madness.” It will be an ebook and paperback release from Schreyer Ink Publishing. I’ve started a sequel to “The Selection” and I’m looking to rework an earlier novel as well. You can find out all about me at jasonjnugent.com. While there, feel free to sign-up to my mailing list and you’ll get a free ebook copy of my first collection of dark fiction short stories (Almost) Average Anthology.

Thanks, Jason! I really enjoyed learning more about you. Best of luck with The Selection and with its sequel.

Next month we’ll learn more about … The Sisters of Slaughter!

Promo-Sale! “The Selection” by Jason J. Nugent

For a limited time, grab the thrilling young adult sci-fi adventure novel “The Selection” from author Jason J. Nugent for only .99!

Humans colonized the planet Kepler 186f after Earth’s near total global collapse. Soon after, supply missions ended leaving the colonists to themselves, renaming the planet Anastasia and building a new society far different than Earth’s.

As population imbalance threatened stability in the settlements, a horrific and brutal institution known as The Selection was created.

Centuries later, haunted by the screams of his dead older brother, eighteen-year-old Eron fears the unknown terror waiting for him and all boys his age in The Selection. He has thirty days to survive to Victory Point and reunite with his crush Mina. He will have to endure brutal circumstances and forge unlikely alliances if he’s to survive The Selection.

Time is short. Threats are constant. Survival means life. Failure means death—or worse.

Between June 9th and June 11th, you can get this action-filled story for only .99! Go to mybook.to/the-selection today before time runs out!

Jason Jason Nugent was born in Cleveland, OH in 1974. He moved to rural southern Illinois in 1992 and lives there today with his wife, son, and mini-zoo of three cats and two dogs.

He is the author of two collections of dark fiction short stories: “(Almost) Average Anthology” and “Moments of Darkness” and the young adult sci-fi novel “The Selection.”

Jason has written for Sum’n Unique Magazine and game missions for an independently produced video game titled “Status Quo.”

He writes regularly on his (Almost) Average blog.

Movie Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Rated R – Psychological Thriller starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. – Directed by Dan Trachtenberg

If you haven’t seen Cloverfield, go and do that first. Although you don’t NEED to have seen it to enjoy this sequel, it will help give you a better overall feeling for what’s going on.

After an argument with her boyfriend, Michelle (Winstead) packs up and leaves town. While on the road, her car is struck and crashes in a roadside ditch. On waking, she finds herself hooked to an IV, wearing a knee brace, and chained to the wall. She soon meets her captor, Howard (Goodman) who is just another crazy, conspiracy-theorist prepper who’s gone to the trouble of building a fallout shelter in his back yard, which is where they now are. A third member of the group, Emmet (Gallagher), confirms what Howard is saying, that something, and he’s not exactly sure what, has happened, but something that has resulted in the surface being uninhabitable for at least two year.

Howard is full of crazy talk, but just how crazy is he? If he’s not crazy, then some very, very bad things are going on topside. If he is crazy then some very, very bad things are going on underground because Howard isn’t being completely honest about elements of his story and explanations. Either way, it’s all good for us viewers. 10 Cloverfield Lane is full of suspense and it’s going to keep you guessing until the bitter end at just exactly where Howard stands on the Sane to Insane scale.

This is my kind of movie, the psychological thriller, and it lives up to that genre exceptionally well in my opinion. I love how it incorporates elements of the original Cloverfield, yet it still holds up well as a standalone story. The acting was well done and I was very impressed with Goodman’s portrayal of a nut job!

Five out of Five Ravens!

Author Interview – B.W. Morris

As part of my New Year’s Resolution to reach out to more of my fellow authors and stop being such a hermit, I will be presenting you with a monthly author interview. The majority are of the horror genre, but I’ll slip in at least one YA and one Sci-Fi author just to mix it up a little bit.

For the month of March, I bring you an interview with B.W. Morris, a YA Author whose first novel, Six Pack: Emergence, comes out later this months. And no, Bob and I  are not related – at least as far as we know we’re not.

1. Every writer has a story on how it all began for them. When did you first begin to realize you had a knack for story telling and as there someone that influenced\encouraged you down the path of being a writer? bobheadshot
Well, I’ve always liked writing. And I’ve always been a creative person, but I don’t think I realized it as much as I probably should have. When I was younger, my imagination tended to wander about, but as I got older, I realized the gift I had for writing, I thought more about writing for the school newspaper and that’s when journalism entered my mind. But after I entered that field, I found that I had a knack for creative writing, which I explored in my spare time. Further into my adult years, I became more true to myself of who I really was — a comic book geek.
So as I watched multiple TV shows and movies in the superhero genre, I came across a series called Young Justice and really liked how the storylines were woven together and how the characters developed and interacted with each other. I had ideas brewing in the back of my mind about my own superhero team, but wasn’t sure about a setting or what challenge they would face.
Then I came across The Hunger Games… saw the first film before I read any of the books, but once I read the book, I was drawn into the story. I went back to thinking about my superhero team up, thought about the dystopian environment in which The Hunger Games is set, and that’s when I realized I had a story idea.
So I sat down on several occasions, writing about character ideas and plot points. A few months after I settled into a new job, I put together a first draft, sent it to a friend for feedback and got some positive remarks (and plenty of critiques about what I needed to do to get better). That’s when I finally realized I had that knack for story telling, too. From there, I explored more ideas about the writing process, editing, critique groups and other things, and it grew from there.
I think I always had the knack for storytelling… I just needed to embrace my inner geek, my overactive imagination and put both to good use!
2. They say author’s often put themselves into at least one of their characters in every book. Is this something you’ve experienced? If so, which of your characters do you feel most resembles yourself?
All six of my principal characters have a little bit of me in them, but the one who most resembles myself is Tyler. He’s curious, he likes to read, and while he has leadership skills, he’s reluctant to apply them. But I did take my other personality traits and put a little of each into my other characters… Jessica has my stubbornness, Brad has my skepticism, David has my shyness, Stacy has my “try to keep perspective” vibe and Linda has my impulsiveness. And, yes, when you combine those traits, it makes for an odd personality, but that’s what I’m like.
3. Authors tend to also be avid readers. What kind of books do you enjoy reading and who are some of your favorite authors?
I really liked Suzanne Collins and her work with The Hunger Games series. She’s so good at pulling you into the story, making you sympathize with not only Katniss Everdeen but a few of the supporting characters, and she’s great at building tension and suspense. Stephen King was somebody I first read in college and have recently gone back to reading and he has some very good work… I hadn’t read The Stand before, but when I came across his “original cut” in a used bookstore, I bought it and found myself drawn in. Plus I was impressed with how accurately he described Boulder, Colorado, a city I grew up near (I grew up in Longmont) and visited many times. Douglas Adams was somebody else I liked… his wit really comes through in his writing. And I still remember the books by Judy Blume and S.E. Hinton when I was younger… in fact, I still have my copy of The Outsiders that I bought through a school book club. I’m sure I might have a copy of Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing hiding somewhere, too!
SixPackEmergence1400x21004. Once you’re done with the Six Pack Series, do you have any ideas for something different further down the line?
I have an idea for a spinoff book from the Six Pack Series, but I don’t know if I’ll do that immediately after it (I’ve planned a trilogy for Six Pack, though I’ve thought about follows up to it, but that’s further down the road). Because I have an idea for a mystery that keeps coming back to me. And I’ve had a couple other ideas cross my mind but they haven’t stuck with me for long. Perhaps I need to start writing these things down more often!
5.  The general train of thought is that to be a writer you should be writing 1000 words a day. I personally find that impossible to accomplish. How about you? What’s an average writing day for you and is there any one place you prefer to write in.
I write for a weekly newspaper and those stories can be anywhere from 500 to 1,500 words, so in a sense, I’m getting in that amount! Seriously, though, when it comes to fiction writing, my mindset is to get an entire chapter or scene finished in one sitting, which can go as little as 2,000 words to as much as 4,000 words. On the other hand, my work schedule means that sometimes I can’t sit down to write something for a planned book every day, so it tends to average 1,000 words per day on some weeks. I also try to schedule my first drafts for the spring and summer months when I have more evenings and weekends available. The fall is when I sit down and watch Denver Broncos games each Sunday and winter is when the holidays come along and I’m covering a lot of basketball games for the local paper, so I try to focus on editing previous drafts in those months.
As for where I prefer to write, because I sit at a desk in my office all the time, when I’m at home I sit down in front of the coffee table on the floor in my living room to write. It’s true the TV is in the living room, but I don’t watch much TV and tend to focus more on what’s going with the characters on any shows or DVDs I watch. I find that sometimes helps with learning how to develop characters, as much as reading books will teach you.  And, yes, my preferred writing spot is most unusual, but then again, I may be a most unusual person to begin with!
6. Where can readers find out more about you and where can your work be made available?
My blog is at relaxingwithsixpack.blogspot.com. My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/bwmorrisauthor/. My Twitter handle is @sixpackwriter, though I’m not on that account often because I have a second one that I use for my job and that’s linked to my smartphone. I also submitted a short story to the Kansas Writers Association anthology last year and hope to do one this year. You can learn more about last year’s anthology, Kansas Dreams, here: https://www.amazon.com/Kansas-Dreams-Sonny-Collins-ebook/dp/B01KKYKMSK. As for my upcoming novel, Six Pack: Emergence, it’s set to be released March 28 through Clean Reads and available through Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Nook and iTunes. Clean Reads is revamping its website, but you can check my blog for more details about the first book in the series.: http://relaxingwithsixpack.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-six-pack-and-underground-network.html

Author Interview – Jon Frankel

As part of my New Year’s Resolution to reach out to more of my fellow authors and stop being such a hermit, I will be presenting you with a monthly author interview. The majority are of the horror genre, but I’ll slip in at least one YA and one Sci-Fi author just to mix it up a little bit.

For the month of February, I bring you an interview with Science Fiction-Noir author and poet, Jon Frankel. I’ve known Jon for a number of years, but never made the time to get to know more about him as a writer until now. So, without any further delay, let’s get to it!

Pamela: Tell me a little bit about how you became interested in writing. Have you known since an early age or is this something new you’ve recently started to get involved in?

JonFrankelJon: I guess for as long as I can remember I’ve been a writer. I didn’t think of myself as a writer until my senior year of high school, when my poetry teacher, John Perlman, said I was a poet. But long before that I was writing stories and poems and planning novels that I never wrote. I collaborated on comic books, co-authored a play, stuff like that. I started as a poet, but was also writing short stories that I hoped to turn into novels. When I was 28 I decided to write an experimental literary novel based on a story and utterly failed. I was reading Charles Willeford’s Pick Up, a hard boiled noir novel of the early 60s, and realized I could write one of those. I turned to another short story and banged out a 140 page near future noir. That became Specimen Tank, my first novel, after years of revision.

Pamela: I know you work in a library so you must be a fan of the reading as well as writing. Do you read the same sorts of things that you write about and who are some of your favorite authors?

Jon: My reading and writing are intimately related of course, but I read much different stuff than I write. I love nothing more than novels of the late 19th and early 20th century, especially from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I really read pretty indiscriminately though, lots of non-fiction, history and philosophy, and novels of all types and all periods, as well as poetry of course. A list of my favorite authors would be so long! Djuna Barnes, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, Ralph Ellison, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Bohumil Hrabal, Jaroslav Hasek, Robert Musil, Charles Willeford, Elizabeth Hand, Raymond Chandler, Edmund Spenser, William Blake, William Shakespeare, China Mieville, Philip K. Dick, Marianne Hauser, DH Lawrence, Thomas Mann, Joseph Roth, Anna Kavan…..

Pamela: Like you, for a while I wrote under a pen-name. Why did you choose to use a pen-name in your earlier works and what made you decide to start using your real name instead?

Jon: My first book was a really violent, nihilistic near future noir. I guess I was embarrassed my family would see that all my talk about being a poet and writer had resulted in that. Sort of like if you were studying to compose symphonies and joined a thrash metal band. It was so long between the publication of my first book and my next (20 years!) that I had in the interim established a tiny, but searchable, online presence as Jon Frankel. It was a tough decision to retire Buzz Callaway, especially since GAHA: Babes of the Abyss, is a really violent, nihilistic far future noir. With literary stuff.

Pamela: Tell me a little bit more about your poetry. What inspires you and do your poems share a common theme or are they pretty much all over the place genre-wise depending your mood and the inspiration?

Jon: I think I’ve written the same poem over and over in some ways, but my methods have evolved a lot over the years. I used to write highly improvisational, stream of consciousness poems with strong rhythms and a lot of assonance, but no regular meter or rhyme. I read deeply and wide in the poetic tradition, and always have, but my work was very much New York School if not Beat. Language poetry and the various experimental, avant-garde schools of the 60s-the present really left me cold. I’m a romantic, if not a Romantic, at heart. A number of years ago, as I ran out of gas as a poet, I started to wonder why I didn’t write in meter and rhyme. Slowly I began to experiment with that (and I’m really not great at regular meter, rhyme I can manage) and found I was getting inspired to write, using methods opposite to those I was accustomed to. This essentially meant I could re-explore everything. Which is really exciting. I’m 56, and feel like I have a new sports car, the formal poem. I love to write short, cryptic, intricate rhymed pieces. I think my most basic concern is alchemical, sublimation and metamorphosis, and my methods are playful. The biggest pitfall for me is pompous, pretentious, glaring big statements. But I really hate timidity in poetry. No one reads it, so why not go for the big kahuna?

Pamela: I know you just had a new release back in September 2016. Tell us a little bit about “The Man Who Can’t Die”.  Can you give me the quick, elevator pitch for it?

MANcover Jon: The elevator pitch has always defeated me! Maybe if we were riding to the top of Sears Tower or something, with a stop for a second elevator of the 50th floor. MAN is a really complicated story, about a scientist who invents a drug that cures unhappiness, but kills 10% of everyone who takes it, and a man who wants more than anything to die, but can’t. It takes place 180 years in the future, and the world has been utterly transformed by global warming, and America is a corporate dictatorship. The characters are searching for freedom, but lack the vocabulary and concepts to articulate it. It has beautiful cars, fast women, ray guns, hovercraft and a sexual paradise. It’s a bulging valise of noir and sci fi romance. Sex, drugs and rock and roll as they say.

Pamela: Where can people find out more about you and keep up-to-date your writing?

Jon: I have a website, lastbender.com. My publisher, Whiskey Tit Press, also has a website. I’m on Facebook, too. My poetry is on lastbender.com, as well as essays, reviews and articles about cooking and food. One thing everyone notices in my fiction is the abundance of food, cooking and restaurants. On my website, the most searched thing I’ve written is on how to roast a wild boar ham!

Thank you, Jon. It was great getting to know more about you and your work as a novelist and poet.

Folks, if you want to learn even more about Jon, check out these websites.

Jon Frankel’s WEBSITE
Jon’s Publisher Whiskey Tit Press

Book Review – Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

Instead of going through and reviewing each of the books individually, I’m going to do a simplified, overall review of the series as a whole. You and I will both be glad I did.

I started reading “The Gunslinger” Book 1 of 7.5 in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series back in August 2015. As the pages went by, so did the months, until eventually I wrapped it all up last month by jumping slightly backwards to read what King places as Book 4.5, “The Wind Through The Keyhole”.

There’s so much here! King has truly created a world eerily familiar while at the same time completely different than our own. A future date is never specified for the time that the Gunslinger, Roland Deschaine, comes from, but it’s at least a few hundred years from now, if not a thousand or more. The world has changed, it’s ‘moved on’ as is worded in the books. Well-populated cities are few and far between. Machines and the electricity to run them are even more rare. We, you and me, or those closer to our timeline, are known only as The Old Ones. We are the faceless, nameless creators who pretty much screwed everything up at some point in the distant past.

Enter Roland, the Last Gunslinger, whose only mission in a long and troubled life is to reach the Dark Tower. He will do anything, go anywhere, kill anyone, in order to reach that destination. Roland is a highly trained killing machine and he does it all 19th century American Southwest cowboy-style, with a pair of ivory-handled revolvers that once belonged to his father. But, he can’t do it alone. He needs his posse, his ka-tet, to share in the adventure. And this is where the time travel comes in.

Through a series of free-standing, hovering doors scattered here and there along Roland’s route, he starts pulling people through into his own time. The first is heroin addict, Eddie Dean from 1987. Not to be confused with the Texas-born country and western singer of the same name. Next, comes Odetta\Detta Holmes aka Susannah Dean who is ripped from the year 1964. Again, try not to get her confused with the Civil Rights activist, singer and songwriter from the 1960s.  Last but not least we have eleven-year-old John “Jake” Chambers, who is rescued from an abandoned and seemingly possessed house in 1977 and brought into Roland’s ‘when’. The final member of the ka-tet is the billy-bumbler, Oy. A sort of long-necked dog that talks who very quickly wins over our hearts as Jake’s tried and true friend and loyal companion.

Obviously, if I spent somewhere around eight months reading this series, I must have enjoyed it. Very true. It contains a little bit of every genre out there; sci-fi, western, horror, fantasy, adventure, and yes, there’s even some romance going on. I really think it’s a must-read for any Stephen King fan. He does some pretty awesome writing here and yet…

For as much as I was impressed and for as much as I grew to love Roland and all the members of his ka-tet and their bond and adventures, I also found myself feeling disappointed with it. Some scenes felt like fillers and cop-outs. It was like King felt he needed to make this thing as thick and long-winded as possible so let’s add in this and that and the other thing and tie it all together in some obscure way that sort of makes sense. I questioned these scenes and their purpose in the grand scheme of it all; for example, the entire “Wizard of Oz” portion. Why? I honestly can’t recall for the life of me what this was all about. Why did we go there? Why did the dog need ruby slippers? And if King was going for some sort of how many other book references can he smash into this series theme, the shoes should have been silver as they are in the L. Frank Baum books. It all felt too contrived to me.

The other element I didn’t care for at all was the way King included himself in the end of the series, like some omnipotent God. I am King, the Great and Powerful. You are nothing without me.  If I die, you die. It seemed so self-glorifying and self-righteous and honestly, on some level, more filler to make this series much longer than it needed to be. Just get to the point already. Let’s get Roland and his ka-tet to the Dark Tower and let’s see what’s in there.

And once we finally do get there, all that time and build-up will be worth what Roland finds at the top, right? Um. Not so much. King should have spent less time blathering on about connecting this series to “The Wizard of Oz”, or “The Stand”, or “Salem’s Lot” and more time on this ending. It turned my whole perspective of the who, what, and why of Roland and his quest upside down.

Am I glad I read it despite what I felt was a horrible and disappointing ending? Yes, very much so. There’s a lot in the series to love and admire and at one point I found myself crying, yep. King wrung the tears out of me. For a writer to be able to get you so in love and involved with his fictional creations, you know he’s done an amazing job of drawing you into their lives and caring. Damn you, King!  Damn you, for being so awesome even if you disappointed me a bit at the end.

It’s not your typical King story. It’s not pure horror by any stretch of the imagination. Non-King fans will like this just as much as those who have been with him since the beginning.

I’d love to this is 5 Ravens, but… that ending.

4 out of 5 Ravens.