Saturday, October 31, 2015

Guest post: "A Day in The Life of One-Thousand Voices" by Fantasy Author J.J. Sherwood

Me: My day begins as any writer’s day begins: I wake up.

Ishmael: Drop everything you are doing, people. This is going to be good. …And for those of your who didn’t catch on: that was sarcasm.
Me: …And then I immediately have to deal with delightful characters like Ishmael.
Ishmael: That was also sarcasm.
Me: Aside from voices like his, I fortunately have four cats who are the cutest little buttons in the whole wide world!
Ishmael: Metaphor.
Me: …Are you going to do this the entire time?
Ishmael: If the mood strikes.
Me: …Anyways. Four adorable cats. I have to feed them when I get up or they’ll follow me around as a little clowder and beat each other up. They’ll also pull my hair.
Ishmael: Literally.
Me: But as soon as their little bellies are full—despite their insistence that they are not—I can get to work. Well, after I make certain that a chair with a box is ready beside my own chair so that the youngest of the four can sit beside me and sleep.
Jikun: Or so the rest of us don’t have to sit on the floor.
Sairel: I don’t think you’ve ever been in the room when she’s working… Zauviir always gets the chair.
Zauviir: Obviously. I’m the best.
Me: On any given day, I have to crank up the white noise video on youtube to drown out external… and internal—
Darcarus: …she’s talking about us now, isn’t she…?
Me: —distractions. I sometimes enjoy listening to soundtracks like Batman or Baldur’s Gate, or works by Thomas Bergersen, but generally, it’s the white noise of an 11-hour looped fan bit.
Ishmael: Incredibly stimulating. …That was—
Me: Sarcasm again. Yeah yeah, I get it. Then I dive into writing. Or editing. Lately, it’s been editing for the Steps of Power second novel, Heroes or Thieves. I currently strive to edit about 25,000 words a day. Which may seem like a lot, but in the scope of a 180k+ novel that I need to edit at least 12 more times before its release on February 1st, 2016, it never seems like enough. (That’s 60 pages in 6”x9” book form, btw). I try to finish up in the late evening so that I can spend some time with my husband—
Darcarus: We all know what that means.
Me: …And then I jump back to work for a little while more before I play an hour or so of League of Legends with friends and family. Writer first. Gamer second.
Evrae: Bad gamer, as it is.
Me: No one asked you. And THEN, I finish off the day as any good fantasy writer should do: I enjoy third dinner at 2am. Third dinner… You don’t do that? Imagine buttered, crispy grilled cheese on sourdough bread with a side of almond, salted, and peppered asparagus and a sweet apple with fresh, natural peanut butter… How much do I weigh, you ask?
Gidius: Don’t worry, one day it’ll all catch up with her and the world will have justice.
Title: Kings or Pawns (Steps of Power, The Kings: Book I)
Genre: Fantasy
Author: J.J. Sherwood
Publisher: Silver Helm
Purchase at Amazon
About the Book:
Kings or Pawns is the first novel in the Steps of Power series. It takes place after two very significant events in the world—the continental division between the human and elven races after the betrayal and death of Aersadore’s hero, Eraydon, and the recent Royal Schism that has left the elven nation’s politics even more corrupted than was prior. The new elven king, Hairem, is determined to overcome the council’s corruption and restore the elven lands, but he has far more to contend with than just the politics within the capital: an assassin has begun killing those loyal to him, a rebelling warlord threatens the city from without, and an unknown beast devastates the king’s forces at every turn. There are multiple points of view—the youthful and na├»ve king Hairem; the mute and spunky servant girl, Alvena; the mysterious and arrogant foreigner, Sellemar; and the cynical, dry-humored General Jikun.
About the Author:
JJ. Sherwood was born in Tucson, Arizona on New Year’s Eve—and has always had a flair for the dramatics. JJ began writing in kindergarten and her first work was completed by the age of 5: a riveting tale of a duck attempting to climb into an apartment during the pouring rain.
Unfortunately this book is not in print, but it served as the first spark that spurred on a lifetime of creativity. JJ continued writing throughout her school years and escaped the horrors of short-story writing in college, ready and eager to write meaty, character-driven novels. With over 250 well-rounded characters developed from her nearly 20 years of roleplaying, JJ dove straight into the rich history of Aersadore, ready to let her puppeteers pull her creative strings.
JJ lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her spouse, parrot, bearded dragon, and four cats who look far too similar.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Interview with L.D. Beyer, author of In Sheep's Clothing

Title: In Sheep's Clothing
Author: L.D. Beyer
Release Date: August 2, 2015
Publisher: Old Stone Mill Publishing
Genre: Political Thriller
Format: Ebook/Paperback

One man holds the reins of power. One man vows to protect him. One man vows to destroy him.

Caught in a game of chess he didn't know he was playing until it was too late, the President makes the only move he can, plunging Washington and the nation into chaos. Stunned and reeling, Vice President David Kendall takes the oath of office and tries to heal a nation in mourning. But what the new president doesn't realize is that things in the White House aren't always what they appear to be, and sometimes what looks like the best option may turn out to be the worst. When one fatal decision triggers consequences he never envisioned, President Kendall finds himself caught up in the same game that cost his predecessor his life.

Although there was nothing he could have done, Secret Service Agent Matthew Richter is haunted by the death of the man he had vowed to protect. When his girlfriend dumps him and his boss tells him that his job is on the line, he thinks his life cannot get any worse. He soon realizes how wrong he is when he finds himself fighting to save another president from the deadly forces that he has unwittingly unleashed.

This new release by L.D. Beyer is a fast-paced, action-packed political thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
In Sheep's Clothing is available for order at  
amazon add-to-goodreads-button3    

Q: Please tell us about In Sheep’s Clothing, and what inspired you to write it.

A: I write what I like to read.  I love thriller and suspense novels--medical thrillers, legal thrillers, historical thrillers, political thrillers—particularly ones that are full of intrigue and ones with a lot of action & adventure.  Brad Meltzer, Vince Flynn, Steve Berry, David Baldacci, Brad Thor—these are some of my favorite writers and they are a great source of inspiration.  When I read, I want to escape and to live vicariously through the characters, even if only for a short while.  I want to root for the good guy and hate the bad guy.  And if the tension is just right, I keep turning the pages because I need to know what happens next.  This is the journey I hope to take readers on with my books!
My newest release, my first book actually, is a political thriller titled In Sheep’s Clothing.  Secret Service Agent Matthew Richter has already lost one president.  Now he’s fighting to save another from the deadly forces he has unwittingly unleashed!

Q: What themes do you explore in In Sheep’s Clothing?

A: In Sheep’s Clothing is about power and politics, the corruption of power and the extent some people will go to obtain it.  It’s about the extreme measures one man must take to protect the person who holds the reins of power when powerful forces align to bring him down.  One man holds the reins of power.  One man vows to protect him.  One man vows to destroy him.

Q: Why do you write?

A: Most of my career has been spent in some fairly black and white fields.  Finance, and earlier on, accounting—these are fields that typically do not reward creativity.  Writing is what I do to find balance in my life.  It’s a right brain, left brain thing.

Writing is cathartic and the journey of writing is its own reward.  It’s really cool to start with a blank page and watch as the story develops and takes shape and as a character’s personality crystalizes over time.  While it’s a great feeling to complete a novel, the journey of writing is rewarding in and off itself.  Through the research I do, I learn many things I didn’t know, I meet many interesting people and I can see my writing style becoming more refined along the way.

Q: How picky are you with language?

A: It depends.  Dialogue should be real and people rarely use proper English when speaking.  So I’m not hung up on language conventions in writing dialogue.  At the same time, though, descriptions of scenes need to evoke images in the reader’s mind, so language is crucial for this.  I keep book-marked in my search engine and the app is on my phone.  When I’m writing, I’m constantly checking meanings, looking for the right synonym, and trying to find a better way to convey a particular thought.

Q: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?

A: It’s funny that you mention this.  I was discussing this very thing with another writer last night.  It’s really cool to start with a blank page and watch as the story unfolds, sometimes taking twists and turns I never expected. Even the characters tend to develop and evolve on their own.  After giving them a nudge, they tend to go in directions I never envisioned when I first began typing. I know that sounds like I’m merely a play-by-play reporter, sitting on the sidelines and describing the action as it happens before me.  It’s not quite that remote but the story does tend to take on a life of its own. 

Q: What is your worst time as a writer?

A: Frankly, when life—my day job, family priorities—gets in the way.  Sometimes it’s tough to carve out the time to write and to make meaningful progress.  But these things tend to ebb and flow so I’m learning patience.

Q: Your best?

A: There is no better feeling than when I complete a novel, when I write that last sentence.  It’s the culmination of a journey and I’ve just crossed the finish line.  This is the point where I have something I can finally share with my early readers—my trusted confidants who do the initial editing and provide initial thoughts on the story.  In reality, the journey isn’t quite over, because there’s still a lot of work to do on the editing front.  But a big part of the creative journey is over.

Q: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?

A: My family is my number one priority.  So it would have to be something dramatic with my family that would force me to give up writing.  But I can’t see myself giving it up completely.  I can always put it to the side for a while and pick it up later.

Q: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?

A: It was this past week!  I had no idea what to expect when I released this book.  Everything I read on writing and publishing told me it takes time to build an audience.  But just 6 weeks after release, In Sheep’s Clothing reached #4 on the best seller list for political thrillers in Kindle ebooks!  It’s ranked right up there with books by Vince Flynn!

Q: Is writing an obsession to you?

A: No, I wouldn’t say that.  Writing is something I do because it’s pleasurable.  On the weekends, I enjoy cooking.  I enjoy finding a new recipe, or checking to see what we have in the fridge and whipping something up.  There’s something cathartic about the creative pursuit.  While the end game—writing that last sentence or coming up with a dish that my family has never tried before—is definitely the best part, the journey itself is also pleasurable.

Q: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?

A: Indirectly they are.  To one degree or another, we are all a product of our environment. I am an avid reader of thriller and suspense novels from authors like David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Michael Connolly, Mike Lawson and Brad Thor.  I’m certain In Sheep’s Clothing was influenced by these and many other fine authors. But in many subtle ways, it was also influenced by my own experiences: the places I’ve lived, the events that took place, both in the broader world and in my own back yard.  From a scene perspective, I tend to write about locations that I’ve been in, places I’ve lived, and cities I’ve visited.  I’ve lived in over a dozen different cities and I’ve lived through many historic moments going back to the racial tensions and turmoil of the 60’s, the Viet Nam war, the Kent State shooting, Watergate, the attempted assassinations of two presidents—Ford and Reagan—the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, a rash of kidnappings, hijackings and terrorist attacks, rapid advances in technology…all of this was happening around me and I’m sure it has influenced my writing. 

Q: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?

A: I’m not sure I see it that way.  I write because it’s pleasurable, because the journey itself is its own reward.  But there may be another distinction between how Ray Bradbury and I see the world.  Ray Bradbury writes science fiction.  With no disrespect to Mr. Bradbury or to science fiction fans—I enjoy picking up a good science fiction novel now and then—I write about things that are perhaps a bit more plausible.  I don’t see writing as an escape from the world—I see it as a way of trying to make sense out of the world around me.

Q: Where is your book available?

A: Right now, it’s only available on Amazon.  

Q: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?

  LDB-portrait1 L.D. Beyer spent over twenty-five years in the corporate world, climbing the proverbial corporate ladder. This meant a lot of time away from his family, extensive travel, a half dozen relocations, and the opportunity to live and work in Mexico for several years. In 2011 he decided it was time for a change—he was tired of moving every few years, he wanted to spend more time with his family and he wanted to chase his dream of being a writer. LD Beyer is an avid reader and although he primarily reads Thrillers, his reading list is somewhat eclectic. He believes a few hours with a good book beats a few hours in front of the TV any day. LD Beyer lives in Michigan with his wife, three children and a dog named Tope (pronounced Toe-Pay), which he adopted in Mexico. He enjoys cooking, hiking, biking, working out and fixing just about anything that breaks in the house. With 3 kids, a dog and an aging house, he always seems to be fixing something! For More Information Visit L.D.s website. Connect with L.D. on Twitter and Facebook    PUYB Tour Schedule A
 October 26
Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping
October 27
October 28
Interviewed at As the Pages Turn
October 29
Book featured at Harmonious Publicity
October 30
Guest blogging at The Dark Phantom
November 2
Book featured at Please Pass the Books
November 3
Book featured at What Is That Book About
November 4
Book featured at Bound to Escape
November 5
Interviewed at I'm Shelf-ish
November 6
Book reviewed at Books Food and Me
November 10
Interviewed at Literal Exposure
November 13
Interviewed at Review From Here
November 16
Book reviewed at Book Babble
November 17
November 19
Book featured at Around the World in Books
Book reviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt
November 20
Book featured at Chosen By You Book Club

The Botox Tour by Dr. Gabrielle Francis

The Botox Tour

By Dr. Gabrielle Francis

This tour started out as a big frustration for me.   The artists had no interest in any of my wonderful Naturopathic advice or remedies that would improve their health.  Well, they liked the passive things such as massage and stretching before going on stage.  But changing the diet and using natural remedies was really not their thing.   That is not until they realized how well the natural therapies
could work to help you heal from plastic surgery.

The tour had convenient breaks for the artists to have the necessary anti-aging cosmetic surgery support.  This was the answer to years of self-destruction and the war against gravity.  Botox, facelifts, tummy tucks, lip injections and the list goes on…

“Hope I die before I get…old.”
-The Who

  I supported the post surgery experience with remedies to decrease bruising, decrease inflammation and swelling, and to help the integrity of the connective tissue healing.   Natural remedies are quite good for this.   I also did lymphatic drainage massage and other soft tissues therapies. 

 I was elevated to genius status when one of the artist’s plastic surgeon told him that he had never seen someone heal so quickly from plastic surgery before.  “What ever you are doing is working brilliantly.”   The good news is that this opened him and the others up to the fact that, “Hey, the snake oil really works!”  

By the end of the tour I had them on anti-aging diets and supplements.  I was also doing acupuncture facelifts for the spots that the Botox had failed.  I really didn’t mind how they came around to believing in Natural Medicine.   I am just happy they did.


Dr. Gabrielle Francis has been practicing natural medicine for more than thirty years.
She is a Naturopathic Doctor, Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, and Licensed Massage therapist. Dr. Francis currently practices in New York City as The Herban Alchemist.  She also operates Backstage Alternative, which is her natural medicine road show that provides chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, nutrition and herbal remedies to performing artists on tour. 

Dr. Francis received her formal medical training at National College of Chiropractic and at Bastyr University. She has extensive training in Alternative Cancer Therapies, Environmental Medicine, Functional Medicine, Mind-Body medicine, and Bio-Identical Hormone therapies. Following her formal medical education, Dr. Francis travelled extensively to various parts of the world studying medicine with indigenous healers in countries such as China, India, Thailand, Bali, Brazil, Morocco, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, Belize, Mexico, Egypt, and Mali. 

For More Information

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Writing Life with Donald Joiner, Author of 'The Antioch Testament'

Donald Joiner, a Georgia native, is a veteran who served during  the Korean War era. He is a retired public school superintendent who a lifetime student of history having once been a history teacher. He is a father and grandfather and has been married for fifty-two years. He has also authored two previous books about antebellum churches in Georgia.

His latest book is, The Antioch Testament. 

Thank you for being a guest on As the Page Turns, Donald, and congratulations on the release of your latest book. Tell us, what’s inside the mind of a historical fiction author?

DJ: You better get it right. There are many historical fiction readers out there who pride themselves on knowing much about the various historical eras. The author may be writing historical fiction, but he can count on his readers knowledge about the historical times surrounding the characters in the novel. If he gets dates wrong or mishandles historical characters or events, the reader will be sure to share this information with others and cross him off the ‘must read’ list.

What is so great about being an author?

DJ: The sense of accomplishment when you have completed the story. It makes all the long months’ and years’ efforts seem finally worthwhile. Your characters have been developed and have completed their performances and the author’s times of frustration and ‘writer’s block’ are at an end.

When do you hate it?

DJ: When you go for extended periods without inspiration and your mind is blank. When you have no idea how to continue with the story and are tempted to abandon some or all of what you have written. And then there’s the marketing process which requires you to fulfill some functions you are uncomfortable with.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

DJ: Reviewing the section of the work recently completed to climb back in to the story, perhaps doing some editing of yesterday’s work. Reviewing the notes you made for the next section, then finding the right words to begin. Sometimes I already know how that section will end so I begin at the end, then work backwards toward the beginning.

Do you think authors have big egos? Do you?

DJ: Perhaps ultra-successful authors have big egos. If so, they’ve earned them. It helps to have some measure of ego in order to face the frustrations and impotent periods that are so frequently present in writing and in weighing and responding to criticism and editorial advice. 
I don’t think I have a big ego, but then I’m not (yet) an ultra-successful author.

How do you handle reviews?

DJ: Take comfort in the good reviews even when they’re not completely accurate. Try to honestly analyze bad reviews for they represent how some readers actually perceive your work. If you can be objective, you can then decide whether the reviews are valid. 

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

DJ: I’ve learned that you can’t force inspiration. Sometimes it’s helpful to work on other sections of the book, either rewriting or editing. I’ve found that often inspiration returns while you work on other sections. At other times it’s better to go do something else completely divorced from your writing.

Any writing quirks?

DJ: I prefer it to be completely quiet when I write. No TV, radio or people talking to me. A phone call can be completely distracting, causing me to lose my train of thought which might not return for a long period. 

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

DJ: No. I think you write because you believe you have something to say. There’s a satisfaction in completing your work that is unrelated to money. Of course, it’s always nice to have your satisfaction with your work endorsed and sealed with an infusion of cash, but your work is your baby and its completion is a reward in and of itself.

What had writing taught you?

DJ: I have a much greater appreciation for those who write than I did before becoming an author. It’s hard work! You’re either up in the heaven of inspiration or down in the pit of frustration because inspiration has deserted you. But nothing equals the feeling of satisfaction you have when you complete your work for you had something important to say and you said it!

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

DJ: Be prepared for rejection. What you write is important to you, but it might not appear so to the casual observer. Never submit a manuscript to a potential agent or publisher unless it has been professionally edited. Write, write and re-write! You’ve got to convince others (potential agents or publishers) that what you’ve written deserves their attention. If you elect to self-publish, be on your guard.  Evaluate self-publishing companies rigorously. Some will say or do anything to get your money. There are ratings and reviews of these companies on the Internet for your convenience. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Interview with Daniel R. Mathews, author of The Unseen Kingdom

Can you tell us what your book is about?

The Unseen Kingdom is a twisted Lovecraftian tale that begins a week before Halloween and culminates on Halloween night. It features a tight-knit group of five adolescent teens who are forced to confront their own individual fears and weaknesses to survive the otherworldly horrors that suddenly intrude on their lives. The boys need to explore the twisted landscape of R’lyeh at night, while using their school time to find an explanation for the ghostly children haunting them, and the bizarre affliction that is sweeping across the town’s populace. They know they’re running out of time, but madness may overtake them before they can unlock the riddle of The Unseen Kingdom.

Why did you write your book?

I think any fiction writer hopes to entertain readers with their stories and prose. However, it’s safe to assume that in some instances, the author has a message or moral they wish to convey. I had both of these goals in mind when I wrote The Unseen Kingdom. In particular, my stories are meant to provide positive, courageous role models for gay teens. I wanted to write an action-oriented horror story that focuses more on the teens braving the circumstances of the plot than their sexuality. Although, it’s fair to say just as in real life, their sexuality is a factor too but isn’t the predominant topic of the book. I wanted to depict a group of teens who are otherwise ordinary kids trapped in extraordinary circumstances. It allows me to chart the many paths and challenges a boy faces in becoming a young man.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters? Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

None of the characters in the book are based on real people. However, they represent composites of people I’ve known in the past with anecdotal and idealistic constructs. They’re completely from my imagination, yet hopefully you’ll be able to identify with one or more of the characters.

The main character of The Unseen Kingdom is thirteen-year-old Tommy Wilson. He’s an energetic, mischievous boy with a strong love for his parents, friends and horror movies. Unlike the other boys in the novel, he probably leads the most normal life. However, he’s coming to grips with his growing feelings for his best friend Brian and the natural anxiety that comes with those desires. As the strange occult happenings threaten his friends, Tommy begins taking extraordinary risks to save those he loves.

Brian is Tommy’s best friend and is an unusually mature, intelligent, level-headed boy though he has his moments. Brian has fallen in love with Tommy but is waiting for some sign that Tommy feels the same way. However, Brian is still dealing with the death of his father, who served as a soldier in the second Iraq war. This could serve as a serious stumbling block in their relationship, as the war seems to be coming home.

Kevin is Tommy’s next door neighbor and has a somewhat complicated relationship with him. However, lately Kevin has been thinking of Tommy as something of a younger brother. Kevin is suffering at the hands of his physically abusive father and is riddled with guilt over the disappearance of his mother. He’s a boy who had become deeply depressed and suicidal, that is until Tommy finds himself in danger. Now, perhaps Kevin has found a reason to keep fighting.

Our last two major characters are Jacob and Carlos. Jacob has been slowly recovering from PTSD stemming from his abusive father, who is now in prison for domestic abuse. Once a victim of anxiety attacks and a constant crisis of self-confidence, he’s found strength and comfort in the arms of his boyfriend, Carlos. However, his slow recovery is threatened when he receives a grim warning from the supernatural forces suddenly haunting him.

Carlos is the oldest and most athletic of the five boys. He leads something of a double life, as his parents know nothing of his relationship with Jacob. However, as the school jock and all-around “cool dude” some of his teammates and friends are aware and accepting of his sexual orientation. Carlos is suffering from a crisis of faith and identity. He feels increasingly ostracized from his Catholic family and questions his beliefs. However, Carlos stays strong for Jacob’s sake but perhaps he’s not giving Jacob enough credit.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

I had outlined the plot and the major scenes about two weeks prior to starting the project. Once the writing began in earnest, new ideas naturally developed over time. I would add these new elements to the original outline, to ensure a consistent narrative flow.

I do believe I create something of a mental outline when I sit down to continue writing. I glance at the outline, and typically reread what had been written the previous few days, then conduct a revision. Once the revision is complete, I proceed with the plan I concocted in my head. Sometimes the character will overrule my ideas, much like an actor proposing a change to the director of a movie.

In the same way, sometimes I end up dropping an idea for a scene or plot point, either to reduce the length of the manuscript or because it detracted too much from the overall plot or main characters.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Yes, the overall setting is important to the plot, though geographically speaking it could have been written to be almost anywhere. However, the story takes place in H.P. Lovecraft’s version of Massachusetts. The town of Plainville is situated between Innsmouth and Dunwich, not far from the Miskatonic River.

There are quite a few “mill towns” in southern New England, especially along the Atlantic shoreline and the major rivers. Many of these cities and towns underwent a major economic boom in the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, thanks to the textile industry and then two world wars. However, the textile industry moved overseas and there was no longer any use for these mills. These towns withered away with their abandoned mill buildings coming to symbolize decay and economic hopelessness. Accentuating this symbolism is the swamp that surrounds Plainville. The swamp is filled skeletal remnants of trees, reaching out of the pallid water like giant hands, ready to drag you to the endless bottom. What better setting for a coming-of-age horror story where the town’s children are trapped amongst the decay and hopelessness that physically surrounds them?   

What do you want the readers to get out of reading your book?

I hope that readers will find the story both engaging and entertaining. I especially hope that my younger audience will walk away from the novel appreciating that gay kids have the same hopes, dreams, fears and challenges that every other adolescent faces growing up. Gay teens can be courageous, heroic and they can overcome any obstacle thrown at them. Being gay and having homosexual feelings is normal, and LGBT characters can be relatable and compelling in any kind of genre fiction.

About The Book

Title: The Unseen Kingdom
Author: Daniel R. Mathews
Publisher: Lost Legacy Press
Publication Date: September 19, 2015
Format: Paperback - 562 pages / eBook  / PDF
ISBN: 978-0990710721
Genre: YA / LGBT / Horror / Science Fiction

Book Description:

A group of friends must band together to defeat an ancient evil in Daniel R. Mathews’s terrifying debut, The Unseen Kingdom.

In a small New England town, thirteen-year-old Tommy Wilson’s biggest worry is coming out to his close-knit group of friends. All of that changes, however, when the boys discover a dream portal to R’lyeh—home to the Titan god Cthulhu himself.

Inhabited by monstrous creatures and eerie children who have appointed Tommy and his friends their new “apostles,” R’lyeh becomes a horrifying yet darkly fascinating world that proves to be increasingly real.

Meanwhile, the town’s population is suddenly overrun with a mysterious epidemic that threatens everyone. As the boys struggle to cope with what is happening, Tommy comes closer than ever to discovering the dark secret that lurks within R’lyeh itself—but will the price prove to be too costly? And, can the boys unlock the link between the secrets of R’lyeh and the devastation of their town’s population before it’s too late?

A truly unique work of fiction, The Unseen Kingdom is an LGBT coming-of-age novel skillfully infused with edge-of-your-seat horror, resulting in a wildly entertaining novel that will leave you guessing until the very last page.

Book Excerpt: 

CH A P T E R 1

The dust covered yellow school bus rumbled down the cracked asphalt road, shaking the children inside. Tommy’s body was inclined back against his seat, his feet planted at the top of the green vinyl covered seat in front of him. He alternated between glancing at his best friend Brian and peering out the window at the blur of the fading autumn colors along the road. Kevin was sitting rather imperiously at the back of the bus, grimacing down at his cell phone that he removed from his pocket every couple of minutes.

Unable to resist commenting, Carlos leaned across the aisle. “Alright, what’s the deal, Kevin? You got a hot date or something?”

Kevin’s face flushed slightly. “Uh…yeah! Jealous much?”

Despite his retort, his hands were shaking. Sunlight streaming through the windows revealed a rather puffy ring of black and blue flesh underneath his right eye. Tommy spotted the clumsy attempt to hide the bruise with makeup. For an instant, the two boys’ eyes met but Kevin cast his eyes downward, looking ashamed. He looked at his phone again, and Tommy knew why.

A smirk curled across Carlos’ lips as he quipped, “Yeah, right. Your left hand isn’t a date!” A chorus of chuckles emanated from the kids sitting in front of the group of boys.

Kevin turned to face him and punched the boy in the shoulder with a dull thwack. Before he could say anything, Kevin leaned back in his seat and said, “Just FYI, it’s my right hand.” The children in earshot giggled at Kevin’s assertion.

After rubbing his shoulder, Carlos looked back at Kevin. “Seriously, dude, what’s up?” Tommy looked over at him and discreetly touched his own face, to draw Carlos’ attention to Kevin’s bruise. After Carlos had realized what he meant, the group became quiet.

Kevin put his phone away, leaned back against the window facing his friends and forced a smile. “The only problem I have is your ugly face.” Carlos flipped Kevin off, and poked Jacob who was giggling at his expense.

Tommy glanced at Brian and smiled. When he returned the smile, Tommy looked down, his face brightening. Carlos and Jacob nudged one another and pointed at the pair. Carlos was dozing in the sunlight, while Jacob leaned against him listening to music on his headphones, watching Tommy and Brian with bemused interest.

Kevin shook his head and grinned knowingly back at Jacob. Tommy caught the boys’ conspiratorial glances and turned his head to the side. He felt he was the punch line of an inside joke sometimes, but wasn’t quite sure why. His curiosity was interrupted by his cell phone vibrating in his pocket. He dug the phone out and read the text message from his mother.

“Yeah! It’s here!” Tommy exclaimed as he pumped his fist in the air excitedly.

His voice rousted Carlos from his slumber. “What’s here? Another My Little Pony?” he asked.

“Your birthday was last month, dork. No, my Halloween costume,” Tommy responded matter-of-factly.

Kevin spun his hand around in a circle. “Uh, and...”

“It’s a surprise!” Tommy said with a mischievous grin, staring into Brian’s grey eyes.

Carlos huffed with annoyance. “Dude, if you wear the same costume as me again this year I’m going to kick your ass.”

“You’re still going as the red Master Chief, right?” Tommy asked with sudden concern. Carlos nodded affirmatively. “You’re going as a Templar, right, Brian?”

Brian responded affirmatively, “I got some chain mail, and Mom bought me a historically accurate tabard and helmet to go with it! Now if I could use Dad’s old sword, the outfit would be perfect.”

“Even with the sword, I’m still going to own you,” Carlos said confidently. He looked over at Kevin. “You decide on an outfit yet?”

Kevin shrugged, breaking eye contact with the others. “I don’t know if my father’s going to let me go.”

“He’s gotta! There’s going to be ten thousand dollars in prizes. This is going to be the best Halloween ever!” Tommy said exuberantly.

“And, you know, nobody does Halloween better than us!” Brian proclaimed proudly.

“Alright...alright. I’ll come up with something, I’m sure,” Kevin assured his friends.

“What about you, Jacob?” Kevin asked.

Jacob smiled. “It’s a secret.”

“I’ll take care of this,” Carlos said, poking him mercilessly in the side, causing him to squeal. The bus driver cleared his throat loudly, glaring at the boys through the rear view mirror.

“Quit it!” Jacob protested, his face turning red enough to mask his pale freckles. “I’m going as a vampire,” he surrendered begrudgingly.

“God, another sparkly vampire!” Carlos teased.

“No way, dork! A real vampire!” he retorted. Tommy and Brian laughed and applauded.

Tommy leaned back and peered out the window again. The bus sputtered to a stop, letting a few children out. He sang under his breath, “Eight more days to Halloween, Halloween. Eight more days to Halloween, Silver Shamrock.” Brian’s reflection in the window beamed at him while Carlos and Kevin simultaneously rolled their eyes.

As the bus rounded a bend adjacent to the swamp that surrounded much of the town, Tommy caught a glimpse of a boy wearing filthy blue denim overalls and a wool beret. However, the boy disappeared behind the veil of swirling white smoke left by the bus’s exhaust. There was something inherently disquieting about the boy.

The bus ride grew progressively quieter as the bus approached the end of its daily journey. His eyes widened when he saw the same boy from earlier emerging from behind a row of wild hawthorn bushes. This time he made direct eye contact with the mysterious boy. A wicked smile danced across the child’s otherwise emotionless face, causing Tommy’s body to shudder involuntarily. There was something terrible in the child’s visage, forcing him to look away from those hollow, soulless eyes that invaded his consciousness. Tommy looked up to see the bus driver staring intently at him through the rear view mirror. The rest of the group had fallen into their own little worlds, lulled into virtual slumber by the constant droning of the engine and swaying of the bus. He sank down in his seat, trying to avoid the bus driver’s penetrating stare. He glanced over at Brian, who was playing with his phone.

Tommy felt some relief when the final stop was reached and it was time to offload. Carlos, Jacob and Brian were already halfway down the aisle before the bus reached a stop, leaving Kevin and Tommy as the last passengers to disembark. As Tommy descended the stairs, the bus driver reached out and grabbed his hand. “You’ve seen them, haven’t you?” he asked.

A startled Tommy gave the bus driver a bewildered stare as he struggled to withdraw his hand from the man’s tight grasp. “Seen who? What are you talking about?” he asked, growing fearful of the man’s narrowing eyes.

“The children of the Great Unseen have revealed themselves to you, and now it’s your turn to hear HIS call,” the man whispered in a raspy voice. He tried to back away as the man’s eyes darkened, much like the boy he had seen earlier.

“You’re hurting me!” an increasingly flustered Tommy stammered, trying to pull away from the man’s grip.

Like a passing summer storm, the man’s face brightened, and he released Tommy’s wrist. “Well, what are you waiting for, boy? It’s Friday night. You got the whole weekend ahead of you. Now git!” He smiled warmly at the astounded boy. Tommy stepped off the bus, confronted by Kevin and Brian.

“What the hell happened?” Kevin demanded.

Tommy could do little but shrug his slender shoulders. “I don’t know. He was mad about something; it didn’t make any sense. Whatever it was, he got over it quickly.”

Kevin watched with concern as the bus disappeared down the road, before turning his attention to the dilapidated two-story greyish white house in front of him. “Well, I can’t stall any longer,” he said with a sigh.

“What are you doing guys doing tonight?” Tommy asked.

Kevin shifted his weight. “I think I better stay in and work on homework.”

Brian said, “I promised Mom I’d clean up around the house tonight, but I’ll have the rest of the weekend free after my homework is done.” Tommy looked a little dejected, but at least this afforded him some time to check out his Halloween costume.

“We’ll see you tomorrow morning, right?” Tommy asked Kevin expectantly.

Kevin forced a smile and gave him a playful push. “Yeah, Bro, I’ll see you guys tomorrow. We’ll go into town or something.” Tommy and Brian said their good-byes and the boys parted company for the day.

Tommy’s house was a little larger than Kevin’s, painted a similar weather-beaten white although clearly more care and maintenance has been put into his house than Kevin’s. He bounded through the front door, his eyes scanning the entranceway and hallway for any signs of his package. He poked his head into the kitchen, spying the nondescript brown box sitting on the table between his mother and father.

He made a beeline for the package before his mom intercepted him. “Not even an acknowledgment of us being in the room?” she mockingly admonished him, wiping the curly locks of blonde hair from his face.

“Stop, Mom! Hi, Dad!” he blurted out as he reached for the box.

“So, remind me why you needed to spend six months of your allowance for this?” his father asked while Tommy tore open the package excitedly.

“It’s a surprise for...” Tommy cut himself short. “I mean, I’m just looking forward to Halloween.” The boy delved into the contents of the package, procuring large sheets of fine brown fur wrapped in translucent plastic.

“Is there something you’d like to talk to us about?” his father asked softly, casting a glance at his wife.

“You know, you can talk to us about anything,” Tommy’s mom said soothingly.

Tommy pulled out the lower jaw of the werewolf costume, running his fingers along the jagged teeth as he looked up at his parents with confusion. “What are you talking about?”

“Well, we thought maybe you’d like to talk about someone,” Tommy’s father said.

Tommy thought for a moment, unsure where his parents were going with this line of questioning, though admittedly he felt embarrassed as a sloppy grin crossed his face imagining Brian’s reaction when he sees the costume. Before he could assemble the pieces in his mind, he blurted out Kevin’s name.

“Kevin? What about him?” his mother asked, casting a confused gaze over at her husband on this unexpected subject.

“I think his dad beat him up last night. He was wearing makeup to cover up a black eye, but he didn’t have it yesterday,” Tommy said, looking out the kitchen window toward Kevin’s house. “I’m worried about him,” he added.

“That’s a serious accusation, Tommy. Has Kevin given you any indication of this?” his father asked, looking troubled.

Tommy shook his head. “No, but he acts afraid to go home. Every day on the bus you can see him start shaking the closer we get.”

“That’s a worrying sign, Tommy, but we need to know the whole story. Kevin is lucky to have you as a friend. I think the best thing you can do right now is be there for him, and let him know that when he’s ready to talk, you’ll listen,” his father instructed.

“Is there anything else, anything Kevin’s said that would make you feel there’s trouble with his father?” his mother interjected.

Tommy thought for a moment. “Kevin’s mentioned his dad drinks a lot. I think that’s when he gets in trouble.”

His mother rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Isn’t it always?” she whispered to no one in particular. “Your father is right, Tommy. Let know Kevin that you’re there for him. There is a counselor at your school trained for this kind of thing, so Kevin has options if he’s in trouble.”

“Couldn’t you talk to his dad, make him stop?” he asked his father.

Tommy’s father leaned back in his chair and sighed. “It’s not that easy, kiddo. Nobody likes to be told how to raise their child, and I’m afraid if we stick our noses into his business, he might take it out on Kevin. It would be best if the school became involved in this.”

Disappointed, Tommy knew this was a problem that couldn’t easily be solved. He pulled out the remaining mass of soft brown fur and the upper jaw of his werewolf costume. “Some assembly required,” he moaned, pulling out a plastic bag full of plastic claws.

“I hope you’re not expecting me to do all the work,” Tommy’s mother warned.

“Uh, no, of course not, Mom!” he replied, his bright, blue pleading eyes belying his underlying intent.

“Well, if you like I can take the measurements and help you get started this weekend,” his mom offered diplomatically.

His face brightened. “Thanks, Mom, that’d be awesome!”

“Alright, go get started on your homework. Dinner will be ready in about an hour,” she concluded, sending the Tommy and his costume out of the kitchen.

His father shook his head and laughed. “I have a feeling this is going to be an unforgettable Halloween.”

Tommy bounded into his room, and spread all the individual components of the werewolf costume across his bed. The macabre mass of soft fur, jaws and claws melded naturally with the horror movie posters hanging on the far wall, above the shelves filled with rows of horror movie DVDs and a couple dozen similarly themed novels. He plopped himself down in his wooden desk chair and rummaged through his backpack for his homework assignments.

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About The Author

An avid reader of science fiction, horror, and fantasy, Daniel R. Mathews is a novelist and nonfiction writer whose books feature LGBT youth braving danger with honor and dignity, including his personal memoir, The Demons of Plainville, and debut horror novel, The Unseen Kingdom.
For the past two decades, Mathews has worked as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified ground instructor, meteorologist, and a member of the web development and Internet technical support community. He currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.

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