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Profile: Christine Amsden, Author of ‘Madison’s Song’


“Writing has taught me the importance of self-confidence in becoming good at anything,” says Christine Amsden, who, in spite of having been diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision, has gone on to become the award-winning, bestselling author of the Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective fantasy/mystery series published by Twilight Times Books.

“My parents encouraged reading a LOT,” says this speculative fiction writer, who grew up gobbling up The Chronicles of Narnia, The Baby Sitter’s Club, andFlowers in the Attic. “I know they read to me too, but I was an advanced reader at an early age and preferred to read on my own when I could. I have memories of staring at picture books, making up stories about the pictures though I couldn’t understand the words.” At the tender age of 8, she wrote her first short story, about Cabbage Patch Dolls going to Mars. From then on, she wrote fairly consistently until 2003, which marked the beginning of her professional career when she attended a workshop with Orson Scott Card.

Amsden may be legally blind, but she hasn’t allowed that part of her life to stop her from becoming a prolific author, and nowadays she splits her time between writing, freelance editing, and coaching — with a keen focus on writing. She loves to write about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations, giving special attention to people and relationships, her way of making science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone. “I will continue to marry romance with speculative fiction because I simply love both genres,” states the author. “I love a good character story. I think character is more important than just about anything else, and a great character will have me reading any genre at all and loving it. I get a lot of people telling me that they like my books even though they ‘don’t normally read stuff like that.’ I think it’s because of the characters.”

In what she describes as her messy, cluttered desk, and with a special arm attached to her monitor to help her eyes and back, Amsden creates her stories rich in characterization and world building. Her latest book, Madison’s Song, a companion to her Cassie Scot series, is about a shy young woman who has suffered more than her fair share of betrayal in the past. A friend of Cassie (the only ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers), Madison now gets a chance to prove that she can be more than a plump, shy sidekick. When her brother’s life is in danger, she faces her greatest fear with head held high to save him. The story is equally about Scott, a werewolf who has fallen in love with a woman he doesn’t believe he deserves.

MadisonsSong_medAmsden’s writing style is straightforward and conversational, which is probably why most readers and reviewers describe her work as highly entertaining and fast paced. “I’m not the sort to hide the story behind flowery prose,” she says. “I like the words to get out of the way of the story.” She’s a fast writer as well, finishing the rough draft of the book in only two months, though she then put it aside for a year before revising it, a process that took her five additional months. Her writing process, though fluid, is different with each book. “My best story ideas are the ones that come to me while I’m doing something else, although this doesn’t excuse me from putting in my hours of conscious effort. No two projects that I’ve worked on have developed in exactly the same way, either. I like to try new strategies, mix things up, so life doesn’t get boring.”

Like the Cassie Scot series, Madison’s Song will also be available in audiobook format, which is how Amsden “reads” most books these days. “It was important to me, when I became an author, to make my books available to listen to as well as read, and not just for others with disabilities. Audiobooks are a terrific way to enjoy books for busy people whose reading time can be combined with a daily commute, or with housework.”

Like most authors, Amsden loves sharing her creative ideas with the world, something which can be understandably challenging. “Nothing is universally liked,” states the author. “I try not to read negative comments or reviews, but it’s almost impossible to avoid all of it. When someone ‘gets me’ I feel an almost euphoric connectedness to the world; when someone doesn’t, (in a really big way), it almost makes me feel isolated.”

The definition of success varies from writer to writer. For Amsden, it has changed since she started writing. “At one time (not too long ago), I had an unrealistic expectation of success that involved becoming a bestseller and making an upper-class living off of my books,” she confesses. “When the Cassie Scot series came out, I sold thousands of books but still didn’t make the kind of money that would let me ‘earn a living’ off of it. It made me rethink my definition of success, becauseMessyDeskby all measurable standards my books are doing well – I’ve got great reviews, I’ve won several awards, I’ve sold many thousands of books, and I’m making money. I feel most successful when I connect with readers who love my books. So maybe that’s what success is. I’d love to connect with more readers, sell more books, and make more money, but I’m becoming satisfied with who and what I am now. (Like Cassie.)”

At the moment, the author is waiting for her next book, Kaitlin’s Tale, to be released by Twilight Times Books. She’s also hard at work on a new series set in a completely different world and with a new cast of characters. Though it’s way too early to say much about it, readers can count on it being filled with romance and the paranormal.

A native of St. Louis, Christine Amsden now lives in Olathe, Kansas with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success, and their two beautiful children.


Touch of Fate (Twilight Times Books, 2006)

The Immortality Virus(Twilight Times Books, 2011)

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Twilight Times Books, 2013)

Secrets and Lies (Twilight Times Books, 2013)

Mind Games (Twilight Times Books, 2014)

Stolen Dreams (Twilight Times Books, 2014)

Madison’s Song (Twilight Times Books, 2015)

Connect with Christine Amsden on the web:

Book Review & $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway : ‘Mind Games,’ by Christine Amsden

MindGames_medMind Games is the much awaited third installment in the new adult mystery series, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. Talented author Christine Amsden keeps delivering a great story filled with interesting characters, romance, mystery, and the paranormal, lots of it.

In this episode, Cassie still doesn’t know why Evan broke her heart two months ago, and the mystery gnaws at her big time. She decides to keep busy and make herself useful at the sheriff’s department. She also meets charismatic mind mage Matthew Blair…much to Evan’s distaste. At the same time, Eagle Rock is teeming with hate from the religious community, a reaction to the recent murder of a much-esteemed pastor’s wife by what the people believe was a sorcerer. The town is about to snap, with tensions between the magical and non-magical communities.

And in the center of all this, is Matthew, whom Cassie finds irresistible. But can she trust him? According to Evan, no way. But then, Evan isn’t the most objective person when it comes to Cassie. Evan and Cassie have a history, as well as a secret connection, that keeps them bound in spite of themselves.

Will Cassie discover the real culprit or culprits behind the pastor’s wife’s murder, as well as the real face behind the anti-magical propaganda and demonstrations? Most importantly, will she wake up and see Matthew for who he really is…and find the courage to face Evan for what he did to her—when she finds out?

I love this series and thoroughly enjoyed this instalment! There’s something about Cassie’s voice that makes her really likable. She has a good heart and is witty, too. But best of all, she is just an ordinary girl next door trying to do her best in spite of everything that happens around her—which is usually pretty remarkable, as is often the case in paranormal stories.

Her relationship with Evan keeps evolving organically and there’s a major revelation in this book about their connection and the secret behind their rival families. Matthew is a great addition to this episode, adding tension with his charismatic personality and inciting sparks of jealousy from Evan. The conflict between the religious and the magical communities is also well done.

Mind Games kept me reading late into the night, wondering what would happen next. If you haven’t read any books in this series before, I urge you to pick up book one first, Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective. The books are best read in order. You won’t be disappointed.

Purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Connect with the author on the web: 

Website / Newsletter / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Google+

My review was originally published on Blogcritics

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*The giveaway begins on April 15, 2014 at midnight and ends on July 16, 2014 at midnight.



Known Devil is the third instalment in Gustainis’ Occult Crime Uniturban fantasy series. Though I had not read the first two books, this one was completely stand-alone and didn’t make me feel I was missing anything. I have, however, read other books from Gustainis in the past (Evil WaysBlack Magic Woman andSympathy for the Devil), and thoroughly enjoyed them. He is a fabulous writer.

In this exciting new series, Detective Sergeant Stanley Markowski of the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit,  and his partner, vampire detective Karl Renfer, try to keep law and order in a world where supernaturals — or supes — have come out of the closet and walk the streets with humans. Markowski’s daughter, a vampire witch, is eager to help and offer her expertise, especially because she’s attracted to Karl.

A new drug has hit the streets, Haemoglobin Plus — better known as Slide — the first drug that addicts supes, and as a result, a new wave of crimes has risen in Scranton. Stan and Karl are right on the case, interrogating both humans and supes alike, trying to find out who is behind the new drug: Pietro Calabrese, the Godfather of the local vampire family? Wizard Victor Castle, the unofficial head of the city’s whole supernatural community?  The Delatasso family? Or the new Patriot Party, who has  declared supes “abominations before the Lord?”

If you love urban fantasy a la crime noir, you’ll love this book. Gustainis is smart, gritty, snarky. I just love his sharp, witty descriptions. Take a look at a few:

“He had salt-and-pepper hair, wide-set brown eyes, and a thin moustache in the middle of a face that was no harder than your average concrete wall.”

“He stared at me with eyes that had probably looked dead even before he became a vampire.”

“The terrace outside the front door is open in warmer weather, for those who like sharing their food with the local bugs. I prefer to eat inside, where the only insects I’m likely to encounter have two legs.”

“I saw a puzzled look on his face — maybe because Karl’s grip, like every vampire’s, is colder than a banker’s heart.”

Gustainis is also a master at providing comic relief. I laughed out loud at times. Stan is a likable, sympathetic character, tough yet kind when needed. The world building, the setting, and all the supernatural details come through in a genuine, realistic way. I also enjoyed all the police procedural, showing once more, as in his other books, that Gustainis has done his research well.

The story moves at a fairly quick pace, propelled by entertaining dialogue and lots of action scenes. Particularly interesting is the dynamics between humans and supernaturals now that they have to co-exist side by side. But best of all, is the author’s gifted prose, a pleasure to read. Highly recommended for fans of detective urban fantasy!

Visit the author’s website.

Find out more on Amazon.

My review as originally published in Blogcritics.

Interview with Roland Allnach: ‘I learned that good criticism encourages a work to be better’

Roland AllnachRoland Allnach has been writing since his early teens, first as a hobby, but as the years passed, more as a serious creative pursuit. He is an avid reader, with his main interests residing in history, mythology, and literary classics, along with some fantasy and science fiction in his earlier years. Although his college years were focused on a technical education, he always fostered his interest in literature, and has sought to fill every gap on his bookshelves.

By nature a do-it-yourself type of personality, his creative inclinations started with art and evolved to the written word. The process of creativity is a source of fascination for him, and the notion of bringing something to being that would not exist without personal effort and commitment serves not only as inspiration but as fulfillment as well. So whether it is writing, woodwork, or landscaping, his hands and mind are not often at rest.

Over the years he accumulated a dust laden catalog of his written works, with his reading audience limited to family and friends. After deciding to approach his writing as a profession, and not a hobby, the first glimmers of success came along. Since making the decision to move forward, he has secured publication for a number of short stories, has received a nomination for inclusion in the Pushcart Anthology, built his own website, and in November 2010 realized publication for an anthology of three novellas, titled Remnant, from All Things That Matter Press. Remnant has gone on to favorable critical review and placed as Finalist/Sci-fi, 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards; Bronze Medalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; and Award Winner-Finalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards. Roland’s second publication, Oddities & Entities, also from All Things That Matter Press, followed in March 2012. It, too, has received favorable critical review, and is the recipient of four awards: Bronze Medalist, Horror, and Finalist, Paranormal, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; Award Winner-Finalist, Fiction/Horror and Fiction/Anthologies, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards.

His writing can best be described as depicting strange people involved in perhaps stranger situations. He is not devoted to any one genre of writing. Instead, he prefers to let his stories follow their own path. Classification can follow after the fact, but if one is looking for labels, one would find his stories in several categories. Sometimes speculative, other times supernatural, at times horror, with journeys into mainstream fiction, and even some humor- or perhaps the bizarre. Despite the category, he aims to depict characters as real on the page as they are in his head, with prose of literary quality. His literary inspirations are as eclectic as his written works- from Poe to Kate Chopin, from Homer to Tolkien, from Flaubert to William Gibson, from Shakespeare to Tolstoy, as long as a piece is true to itself, he is willing to go along for the ride. He hopes to bring the same to his own fiction.


Oddities & EntitiesQ: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Roland.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Thank you for having me.  Oddities & Entities is in fact my second book, following my debut, Remnant, which saw publication in 2010.  Whereas Oddities & Entities straddles the paranormal/supernatural/speculative/horror genres, Remnant straddled the science fiction/speculative genres.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

Both of my books appear courtesy of a small press, All Things That Matter Press.  When I started researching possible presses to submit my first book, there were still some significant barriers to self publishers and vanity publishers, in terms of greater market acceptance.  Being that I was starting as an unknown, I didn’t want to have any avenues closed to me, so I focused my search on small presses.  I went with All Things That Matter because my first books, as well as my second, are anthologies, and not that many presses were receptive to the anthology format and the genres in which I was writing.  To my good fortune my publisher was willing to entertain the way I chose to present my stories, and, much to my delight, I was off to publication.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

With Remnant the process took about five months; with Oddities & Entities, the process took a little longer, given that the manuscript was a little more involved than Remnant.  But, in both cases, the process was efficient, professional, and I’m very happy with the final product.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I have a vivid memory of receiving the acceptance letter for my first book.  It was during the summer, and I took my kids bowling with some friends of ours.  It was a tiring day because I had worked a midnight shift.  When I came home instead of going straight to bed I couldn’t resist checking my email one more time.  After peeling myself off the ceiling, calling my wife at work, and leaving my kids almost deaf with my hoots and hollers, I had to settle down and get some sleep.  Once I returned to my normally reserved veneer, we went out to dinner.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I have to admit that I had some gross misconceptions about the publishing world.  My initial impression when Remnant went to press was to think that I was on my way.  In my ignorance I thought there would be a baseline sales figure for any book, given the number of books sold in the United States.  I was soon to discover that there is in fact a built in sales number, and that number is zero.  So I had to get over myself, and the first thing I could think of to set my writing apart from the crowd was to send out for some market reviews from reputable reviewers.  I saw an immediate increase in my website traffic with each review, and the reviews were all quite positive.  That gave me the confidence to start submitting to award contests in a further attempt to set myself apart.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Foremost, I feel I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing itself, after having gone through the editorial process with two books.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I put a great deal of care into my manuscript preparation, but I learned that there is no substitute for a quality, objective edit of one’s writing.  I think all writers have an innate sensitivity to criticism, and I’m no different in that regard, but I learned that good criticism encourages a work to be better, in no different a way than a singer still goes for voice training and an athlete has coaches.  Looking forward from what I’ve learned regarding publication is the simple fact that ultimately the author is responsible for championing his or her book.  Yes, there are professionals out there to help, and there’s no substitute for one’s own grunt work, but promotion and exposure are never-ending considerations.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

It would have to be the sheer number of books that fill the publishing landscape.  I don’t like to think of fellow authors as ‘competition’ per se, because I feel we are all comrades in a common pursuit of reaching readers, but, at the end of the day, exposure is to a degree a competitive pursuit.  That said, what I find so gratifying is the number of people I have met who hold a genuine love for the written word, whether they wear tags as editors, publicists, or reviewers.  Yes, this is their business, this is how they earn their living, but for so many it is their passion as well.  As an author in this big world of publishing I find it comforting to know that there are so many people as dedicated to the written word as those of us who are compelled to write those words.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Well, of course, there’s always the self-satisfaction of saying, “Hey, I’m published.”  On a more serious note, and perhaps more from my personal perspective, is the realization that I’ve achieved something that lived in my head as nothing more than an elusive dream since I was sixteen and wrote my first short story.  I love to write because I find nothing more satisfying, and fascinating, than looking at a finished story and thinking that I started with nothing, and ended with something.  Seeing a work through to publication, regardless of whether it’s a short story, novella, or book, provides the final validation that yes, I created something, and it didn’t exist in this world until it came forth through me.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

In a single word: persistence.  My own story of being an author consists of twenty five years of diddling around with one story and book after another without any serious discipline to get something published.  It was easier to wallow in a frustrated dream than accept the measure of diligence necessary to see publication.  For me, the change came when I decided to view my pursuit for publication not as a hobby, but as a job.  That gave me the discipline to structure my time, to set aside a number of hours for market research, submissions, editing, and general self-education of the publishing world.  I know that any success involves a certain degree of good fortune, but I also believe that opportunities of good fortune are more likely to present themselves after a lot of hard work.  Success won’t drop into your lap out of the sky, because the world simply doesn’t work that way.  Remember that the easiest thing to do is give up, so don’t–be persistent, be patient, learn the trade, write the best material possible, and publication will come.

Read-a-Chapter: Oddities & Entities by Roland Allnach

Oddities & EntitiesTitle of Book: ODDITIES & ENTITIES
Genre: Horror/Paranormal/Supernatural
Author: Roland Allnach
Publisher: All Things That Matter Press



The untold



Before Allison knew the meaning of words or the context of visions, she knew the Curmudgeon. It was there, lodged in her earliest memories, the memories that imbed themselves deep in the psyche to shadow all future memories. When she lay in her crib as a pale and lumpy baby, she didn’t know to cry when it came in her room, when it passed through her walls as if their existence were some unsubstantiated rumor rather than studs, slats, and plaster. And though at any greater age she might have cowered and screamed, in her unclouded infantile mind there was no reference for fear or judgment, only the absorbance of what was. Perhaps the Curmudgeon knew this but, then again, perhaps not. As the years passed, it was a matter of little importance.

She remembered her first years of school. She was different; this realization was as stark as the full moon visits of the Curmudgeon were fantastic. When other children clamored to play in the sun and warmth, she found herself possessed by an ever-present chill. She felt most comfortable wearing black, without perceiving any conscious decision to that end. She preferr ed to stay inside, or in places of deep shade or shadow, and gaze out at the light. It wasn’t that she shunned the warm light of the Florida sun, but the glare seemed to scald her eyes with its white intensity. Her eyes were her source of distinction, after all. Vast for her narrow face, their luminous, sea green irises formed tidal pools about the tight black dots of her pupils. Her stare was one that few could bear for long. Children and teachers alike found her unblinking silence a most uncomfortable experience, and her mute distraction in school led to the inevitable conclusion that she wasn’t very bright.

She had no friends. Her world, though, wasn’t as lonesome as it may have seemed.

She lived with her grandmother, a reclusive widow of Creole descent, who wandered about their old manor house singing under her breath in her broken French dialect. Allison loved the old house, despite its state of disrepair and the ratty look of its worn exterior, with the few remaining patches of white paint peeling off the grayed wood clapboard. The oak floors creaked, but there was something timeless about the place, with its high ceilings, spacious rooms and front colonnade. The house was surrounded by ancient southern oaks; they were broad, stately trees, the likes of which one could only find in Florida. Their sinewy, gargantuan branches split off low from the trunk, with gray-green leaves poking out between dangling veils of Spanish moss. The trees shielded Allison from the sun, and provided a home for squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. The Curmudgeon would leave their cleaned skulls on her windowsill as gifts when the moon waxed in silvery twilight.

Her parents loved her—or so they claimed, when she would see them. They seemed more like friends than her elders. She often watched them with curious eyes, peering from her window at night as they frolicked about the front lawn. Her mother, very much a younger vision of her grandmother, had long dark hair, hair that would sway about her as she danced naked under the trees at night. Her father would be there with her, dancing naked as well, the strange designs tattooed down his back often blending with the swaying lengths of Spanish moss. They claimed to be moon cultists, though Allison had no idea what that meant. It was of no matter. Soon enough they became part of the night, passing to her dreams forever.

The memory of that change was the first emotional turmoil of her secluded little life. She was seven, and her parents had come out for the weekend. It was one of those times when her parents sat under the sprawling branches of the oaks, drinking and smoking throughout the day until they lay back on a blanket, their glazed eyes hidden behind their sunglasses. The hours drifted by, and the day faded to the lazy serenity of a Florida evening. Beneath long, golden rays of sunshine they began to stir, rising from their stupor to a restless sense of wanderlust. They came in the house after dinner, settling themselves at the table and exchanging small talk as Allison ate a bowl of vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. They smiled over Allison’s drawings, complimenting her budding artistic skills, and talked to her grandmother about some plans for the next weekend. Even at her young age Allison could tell her grandmother humored them. Her parents didn’t have a false bone in their body, but they were not reliable people. Free spirits, her grandmother would say.

Yet as those thoughts rolled about Allison’s head her eyes seemed to blur, and she stared at her parents with that unnerving, unblinking gaze of hers. Her heart began to race, her skin tingled, and then it came to her: not a shadow, but a different kind of light than the sun, a light that seemed to seep from within her parents, until the tactile periphery of their bodies became a pale shadow over the ivory glow of their skeletons. She trembled in her seat as the sight gained clarity until she could see all their bones in all their minute detail, but then it changed, changed in a way that froze her blood in her veins. Black fracture lines spread across the smooth ivory like running rivers of ink, until every bone in their bodies was broken to jagged ruin.

Her grandmother called her name, snapping her out of her stupor. She blinked, then screamed and ran from the table to the living room. Her parents and grandmother came after her, but she buried her head under the couch pillows. Despite the pillows, the moment she opened her eyes she could see them, right through the pillows and couch, standing there in their shattered translucence. She ran for her room, scratching at her eyes, and that was when things changed. Her grandmother charged after her, following her to her room, and tore through every drawer until she found the small collection of skulls Allison kept—the tokens the Curmudgeon had left her. Her grandmother stuffed her in her closet, closed the door to her room, and sat outside the door. She could hear her grandmother’s voice, even in the dark of the closet. She clamped her eyes shut; it was a desperate final measure to blot out the sight of her parents. She could see them, through the walls, through the floor, through the trees, as they hopped on her father’s motorcycle and raced off. She screamed for them to stop, but she was a child with a trifling voice, stuffed in a closet.

She cried herself to sleep.

– Excerpted from Chapter 1, Oddities & Entities by Roland Allnach


Character Interview: Samuel Roberts from Scott A. Lerner, Paranormal Suspense Thriller, Cocaine Zombies

We’re thrilled to have here today Samuel Roberts from Scott A. Lerner’s new paranormal suspense thriller, Cocaine Zombies.

Sam is in his thirties and is an attorney living in Urbana, Illinois.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Mr. Roberts. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Let’s face it; the story is pretty incredible. If I didn’t live it I wouldn’t believe it. Yet, the world is bigger than we pretend it is. It offers us both wonderful nightmarish things. I feel I was fairly portrayed most of the time. Although, I wasn’t really as scared as the author makes me out to be. I also never cried during Finding Nemo. Wait! Never mind, the author never said that.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

He could have made me profound and handsome. It would have been a lie but it would probable increase my chances of getting a date. Don’t tell Susan I said that. Could we erase that bit?

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I do what I need to do even if I am afraid.

Worst trait?

Sometimes I am afraid.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

That’s tough. Johnny Depp would be good. Daniel Craig, too. Either would work.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Her name is Susan. We have been friends for a long time. It practically took a club to the head to realize we were more than that.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Finding a severed head on the shelf above your crisper bin has a way of changing one’s perspective. Although, “nervous” may not the right word. Perhaps scared to death would be better. I kind of assumed things would not turn out well at that point.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Thomas Traver. I would like to avoid being gutted and beheaded. I am not fond of severe pain. I prefer to avoid pain, period. I don’t even like to go to the dentist.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Tremendous. Let’s just say there is a sequel coming out called Ruler of Demons. I am in the sequel, which means that the ending turned out better than I deserved. Yet, as in all things, the world is not safe. The world may never be safe but at least it is still around.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

I may sound like a psychic but he already did. Although, I have not read it yet. I would suggest he make me better looking, smarter and richer. I know he won’t, though. He feels my character should reflect a real person and not some Hollywood version of what a hero should be. If a movie is made I bet he would reject the whole Johnny Depp or Daniel Craig thing.

Thank you for this interview, Sam.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

As I mentioned earlier in the interview Ruler of Demons should be coming out soon. I often wonder if I am cursed. I eat my vegetables and I am kind to animals. Why is everyone trying to kill me? Sorry I don’t mean to complain. I would like to thank you for this interview. After all everyone interviews the author. All he does is sit on his rear end typing while I actually put my butt on the line. Who knows, maybe we could all get together and talk about Ruler of Demons—if I survive it.

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of Criminal law and Family Law. Mr. Lerner lives with his wife, their two children, and their cat Fern. Lerner collects unusual antiques and enjoys gardening, traveling, reading fiction and going to the movies. Cocaine Zombies is his first published novel. Coming soon, the sequel: Ruler of Demons.

You can find Scott online at

Samuel Roberts, a small-town lawyer in Urbana, Illinois, is contacted by a prospective client accused of selling cocaine. Nothing Sam hasn’t handled before. Or is it? Thomas is accompanied by a mysterious and exotic beauty named Chloe. Who is she, why is she paying for Thomas’s defense, and why is the accused so antsy around her?

Soon after Sam takes on the case he is plagued by terrible nightmares. Only, in these nightmares, when he dreams of death, people die. Realizing that he is out of his depth, Sam enlists the help of his friend, Bob Sizemore. Bob is oddly insightful about the supernatural and deeply suspicious of big business and the government. Sam and Bob soon discover that a major German pharmaceutical company has been using human guinea pigs to test a highly addictive and dangerous derivative of cocaine first developed in Nazi Germany. Combined with ancient herbs provided by a Voodoo priest, the substance has become increasingly addictive and dangerous.

After Thomas’s head shows up in Sam’s refrigerator, suspicion naturally falls on him. Now he has no choice but to face the forces of evil head on. But how do a small-town lawyer and a computer geek defeat an enemy with the power to enslave mankind?


Get to Know My Book: Lucas Trent: Guardians in Magic by Richard Blunt – Part III

Beyond the Books get to know my book

Today we are honored to be hosting Richard Blunt on his virtual book tour this month with the 3rd installment of his 3- day Get to Know My Book series of book excerpts. Get to Know My Book is an ongoing feature between blogs where we post excerpts of an author’s book so that you can get to know the book better, one blog at a time.

About Richard Blunt

Richard Blunt is the author of the fantasy novel, Lucas Trent: Guardian in Magic. He is currently working on his second book in the Lucas Trent series. You can visit his website at

Visit him on Twitter at and Facebook at

About Lucas Trent: Guardian in Magic

Lucas Trent“Guardian in Magic” is a fantasy novel located in a world very similar to the one we live in. It tells the story of 16 year old Lucas Trent, an IT student living in Luton, England. His fascination for the supernatural leads him to take a glimpse at the world from an angle only few others look at. An angle that teaches him the true meaning of friendship, loyalty and trust in ways he had never experienced before.

Journeying through a secret community that is hidden in plain sight, he suddenly finds himself forced into living two lives at once, keeping his true identity even from his close family. In a struggle to handle this situation, he gets pulled deeper and deeper into a swamp of conspiracies and coincidences surrounding a young girl and the very truth about magic in the real world…

Book Excerpt:

He approached the meeting point in the northern suburbs of Luton half an hour later. He had expected to be nervous by that time–after all, the upcoming task was huge–but he just wasn’t. He felt calm, powerful and somehow on top of the world. He didn’t look forward to the confrontation at hand, but he knew it had to be done.

“Hi Guardian. Ready for action?” Marcus asked him as he stepped off his bike. He and Cedric were already waiting.

“Hi Cougar. Hi Whirlwind. As ready as I will ever be, I suppose. What about you?”

“We didn’t start it, but we are going to end it.” Cedric quoted him from yesterday.

“Yeah, they want hell? We can deliver that,” Marcus said with a grim look on his face.

“Let’s hope it won’t get that far,” Lucas said calmly.

Stephanie was next to arrive. She had her hair tied up in a knot and was wearing jeans and a jeans jacket, which in combination gave her a very strict look. She looked very calm as she approached.

“Hello Airmid. Nice appearance,” Lucas greeted her.

“Hi boys. It seemed more fitting for the day,” she said with a calm, nearly cold voice.

“Jesus, Airmid,” Marcus laughed. “You sound like you are about to kill someone.”

“I hope I don’t have to.” Her voice hadn’t changed. “But I am ready for whatever comes up.”

Lucas was impressed. What had happened to the friendly little girl she normally was? She seemed to be so extremely focused that right now nothing else mattered.

Darien and Jasmin approached together last. After they had stepped off their bikes, Lucas took a look at his watch.

“There is not much time left. You all know the plan?”

They all nodded.

“You all have your cell phones?”

They all nodded again.

“Great, then. After you get hold of Jameson, you give us a green light, Psycho. As soon as we see the last of them enter the church, we will let you know. We meet again outside the church.”

They all nodded once again.

“Are you ready for this?” The question was rhetorical; he could see that in their faces. But still he wanted to ask.

“Yeah,” they all responded with one voice.

“Then let’s do this.” He nodded and approached Marcus. Putting his hand on Marcus’ shoulder he said, “Brother to brother, yours to the end.”

They had not done this in public for a while now, but right here, right now, it seemed the right thing to do. The others quickly followed Lucas’ example in making their final step of swearing in for what would come next.

When they were finally finished and standing there in a circle Lucas looked from one to the other. They all looked confident, they all wanted to go on. So finally he nodded slightly.

“Let’s rock ‘n roll,” he said and grabbed his bike.

Marcus and Jasmin headed off to the road Laurence Jameson would most likely use; the others headed for the forest behind the church. To avoid being seen, they took a long detour, leading them directly to the side of the woods. After 30 minutes of struggling with their bikes in the dense forest, they finally reached their destination, a nice place near the edge of the forest line where they could see perfectly, but would almost certainly remain undetectable themselves.

Lucas scanned the area thoroughly. The church was more like a big chapel, standing there in the middle of open ground. It looked old and abandoned, some windows broken, some tiles missing in the roof, but still it was an impressive sight. The cemetery on the far side emphasized the age of this building even more. Most of the surrounding wall had broken down or was overgrown with ivy. The great iron gate leading into it had rusted and was broken out of its hinges. A few meters away from the side entrance, on the side facing them, was the playground. Some swings, a slide and some old, rotten wood structures, were surrounded by a low wooden fence with entrances on each side. It made a strange picture, a church and a playground, all alone in the wild. Some overgrown stone walkways were the only indication that there had once been a greater plan for this area.

Lucas scanned the surroundings carefully, as well. Two dirt roads led up to this place. The church was standing in the middle of an opening about hundred meters in diameter. Farther out there were fields on the east, nothing but fields up to the horizon. The north and west were covered in dense forests, some dirt paths leading into them, but they seemed to be very scarcely used. The forest to the north, where Lucas was sitting right now, was growing on the slope of a little hill. To the south, more fields came into view. With a few roofs being visible on the horizon, this was the only direction where you could anticipate civilization being around.

Down next to the dirt road Lucas could already see two cars and some bikes. The start of the meeting was only 15 minutes out and most of them seemed to be there already. It all looked so quiet, so endlessly peaceful.

“When we get down there we should see if the cars are unlocked. Maybe we’ll find their computers in there,” Lucas said to Cedric.

“Will do.” He nodded.

“I will join you if you don’t mind,” Darien said and Cedric nodded shortly in his direction.

Right at that moment a text message arrived at Lucas’ cell phone. It was Marcus, confirming that Jasmin had managed to get hold of Jameson and that he was now on his way to the church on his motorbike.

“Seems your trick with the carburetor helped, Professor.” Lucas smiled and showed the text around.

Darien smiled back at him.

A few moments later the lonely motorcycle rider came into view.

“There he is,” Lucas said, pointing towards him.

“Do you think he will be the last?” Stephanie asked.

“Don’t know. But they won’t be finished within ten minutes anyway, so we better wait a while, just to be sure.”

Laurence had stepped up the main entrance, and after waiting a little while for someone to open, he entered the church and vanished from view.

“Two cars, three bikes, one motorbike,” Darien counted.

“So we are most likely to deal with five small ones plus Wolfman.” Lucas nodded.

“Unless there was more than one in the car,” Stephanie added.

“Or unless someone else appears.” Cedric pointed toward the horizon, where someone riding a bike had come into view.

“Ok, that makes seven then. With one of them being on our side, it seems we are even.” Lucas was not too happy about the amount of people that would be there, but he couldn’t help it anyway.

“Unless there was more than one in the car,” Stephanie repeated.

“We will see soon, Airmid.” Lucas tried to calm her down, although there was no need for that; she still seemed perfectly calm. Lucas was starting to wonder how she was doing that.

“It’s already five minutes past four. Shall we get started?” Darien asked.

“Yeah, let’s call in the others. They have a little ride to take anyway.” Lucas nodded.

He quickly started typing a text message to Marcus, telling him to get going.

“This is getting a bit crowded for my money,” Cedric suddenly said and pointed toward a car that was driving toward them.

“Do you think we should call it off?” Lucas asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he shook his head with a smile.

The car had stopped next to the others and a man had stepped out. He was wearing black robes with a wide silvery lace and a silver pentagram on the back.

“Is that Wolfman?” Darien asked.

“Don’t think so. At least it’s not his usual robe if it is.” Lucas shook his head.

“What’s he doing?” Stephanie was asking.

The others looked down. The man had not gone through the main entrance; he had headed to the cemetery and was entering the church from the back.

“Perhaps it was Wolfman after all.” Lucas shrugged. He had just sent the message to Jasmin and Marcus.

Five minutes passed before Cedric pointed his finger to the road again. “Look, there are even more people approaching.”

“I think those are friendlies this time, Whirlwind. Let’s get down there.” Lucas smiled. He had recognized his two buddies on the road. “Let’s put on our robes.”

They quickly pulled out their respective clothing before they started to head down to meet the other two.

Jasmin and Marcus had reached the church first and taken cover behind one of the cars. When they saw the others approaching they also put on their robes, pulling the hoods deeply over their faces.

Lucas headed for the playground, leaning his bike against the fence so it wouldn’t be seen from within the church. Then he took cover behind one of the old structures, a little kid’s house. The others followed his example, Jasmin and Marcus heading over to them, too.

“All right, let’s start,” Lucas said when they all had assembled around him. “Cells to silent; I don’t want a call to give away our position.”

The others nodded, switching off their phones.

“Whirlwind, Professor, you head for the cars. See what you can find, bring everything you can over here.”

They nodded and headed off.

“Cougar, can you please do a quick sweep around the church and see how many more exits there are?”

Marcus was gone immediately, without even nodding.

“Psycho, can you please try to get a look inside? It would be nice to get a headcount.”

“Sure thing,” she said, nodding.

“What do we do?” Stephanie asked.

“We wait and watch. If one of them needs assistance we have to be ready.”

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