Now’s your chance to submit to us!

I’m going to try and make this short and sweet because if this post is for you, then you’re likely going to want to get busy putting together your submissions package and emailing it to us!

That’s right, as of RIGHT NOW our general submissions period is OPEN!!!

We’ve talked a lot about what we’re looking for, which you can find here. We’ve also talked about how we review submissions and what sort of things we look at when reviewing them. You can find that information here. And, of course, you can find pretty much everything you need to know on our submissions page, here.

What we haven’t gone into detail about on this blog yet is what you need to send; so here goes!

  1. QUERY LETTER

Please include a query letter with your submission. This can simply be in the body of your email. Your query letter must contain the following:

  • Your name
  • The title of your manuscript
  • The type of work (novel, novella, short story collection, graphic novel, ect.)
  • The genre (make sure it’s a genre we publish by checking our submissions page or our current list of titles.)
  • The word count
  • Your target audience (Adult, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Children’s, ect.)
  • A brief description of your overall concept for the book. This is called ‘The Hook’ If you need help with this part, check out our blog post on pitch-writing here.

If your query letter does not give us all the information we need, we will not be able to review your submission and will send a reply telling you as much.

  1. SYNOPSIS

Along with your query, please send us a one page long summary of your plot. Please make sure to include the following information:

  • The names and brief descriptions of your main characters
  • A brief description or explanation of the setting
  • The inciting incident (what change in your character’s life gets the story moving?)
  • A few examples of obstacles your characters face
  • The climactic moment
  • The ending (how is everything resolved?)

If your synopsis does not contain the information we need, we may not be able to detect if your manuscript is for us. Don’t make us guess, tell us what happens so we can make an informed decision.

  1. SAMPLE CHAPTERS

Along with your query letter and synopsis, please send three sample chapters, or the equivalent so we can get a taste of your writing. When preparing this part to send, please take a good look at your sample to try and determine the following things:

  • Is your opening line intriguing?
  • Is your opening scene engaging?
  • Is your sample relatively error-free?
  • Does your sample make a reader want to keep reading the rest of the book?
  • Is your writing active and engaging?
  • Are there any points that might come across as confusing or unclear to a reader?
  • Is the exposition, or any background information, woven into the story in a natural way?

These are some of the things that may cause us to reject your manuscript. If we detect any of these problems, we will let you know, so you can improve in these areas in the future.
Ok! If you’ve read all this and followed the guidelines, then you are ready to put that package together so what are you waiting for?! Go ahead and submit to us!

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Wrapping up 2017 – Here’s what you have to look forward to!

November 1st, 2017

images3‘Tis the season… for Submissions! Here’s another reminder, we’re opening our submissions season November 1st, so if you have a manuscript you think we’ll love, send it our way! We’ve written a whole blog post on this topic and what we’re looking for this year here, so go over and check that out or head over to our website to read over our submissions page. Our whole team is itching to start reading what you have to send us! Submissions will remain open until we’ve found our 2018 line up or the year ends, whichever comes first!

 

November 4th and 5th, 2017

This weekend we’ll be in London, Ontario for the Southwesto Book Expo! We’ll have our entire collection with us, so if there are any books you are looking to pick up and you’re in the region, this is a great opportunity to come out and see us! Also, we’ve been asked by the Expo and the London Writers’ Society to make ourselves available to listen to queries and pitches from authors, so if you’d like to speak to us or hand your submission in IN PERSON this is your opportunity to do so! Either way, we look forward to meeting you!

 

terriblemightycrystal-5101 (1)November 9th, 2017

If you’ve been enjoying the short serial fiction stories on this blog lately, you’ll be pleased to learn that Sharon Ledwith is the author of the next one starting November 9th! Titled The Terrible Mighty Crystal, Sharon’s short serial is a prequel to her well-loved time travel series, The Last Timekeepers.

 

wg1November 13th to 17th, 2017

As you may or may not know, we’ve recently released the finale to Joshua Pantalleresco’s epic series, The Watcher. The third and final book is called The Wandering God and is now available in our store and online wherever you buy books. And, on November 13th, we’re kicking off a blog tour for The Wandering God, so you can learn more about it, read excerpts, get sneak peeks at the art, and read guests posts and interviews from Joshua Pantalleresco about his epic journey in writing this epic series.

 

November 17th to 24th, 2017

Following the blog tour for The Wandering God, we’re pleased to be able to celebrate the launch and blog tour for the fourth installment in the Nikki Landry Swamp Legends Series! Nikki and Snooper are back and this time they’re on an adventure THROUGH TIME in The Mystery on Lost Lagoon! We’ll reveal the cover for this book next week on November 6th,  so keep your eyes open for that!

CMtitle copy

Date TBA, 2017

We haven’t yet hammered out an official release date, but we’re pleased to announce that Nate Friedman, author of The Coffee Monster, has another book coming soon! The Last Hockey Fight is a short chapter book for children who like both reading and hockey! Illustrated and written by the author and set in our hometown of Windsor, this book is sure to be hit this holiday season!

 

The Months of November and December, 2017.

It’s that time of year again! We’re hosting our very own holiday SALE!!! So if there are any titles you are waiting to pick up, December is the time to do it! Use code HOLIDAY2017 in our bookstore for 25% off ALL TITLES, paperbacks and ebooks alike!

VistaNov25

Death Takes the Highway by David McLain – Part 9 (FINALE)

See the beginning of this tale here. Find David McLain and his novel The Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum here. Then, read the rest!

They went to a movie that night, a big budget picture with lots of sword fights or explosions or something, William couldn’t remember which. They had a big bag of popcorn, and a soda, and a box of Raisinettes, and felt a little sick afterward. Then they went out to a club where they listened to loud music and drank cheap beer while they watched young women dance. William told two girls that he had just died, and that Death was Death, and then laughed when the girls said that they didn’t believe him and then watched as the girls went back to dancing with each other. Finally, they got a room at a motel, where they passed out watching television, and slept later than they should have.  In the morning, they got up early, checked out of the hotel, and drove off to the Grand Canyon.

Will had seen the Grand Canyon once, when he was young. For that matter, he was young now. At most, he couldn’t have been any older than twenty-six, maybe twenty-seven. Seeing it now, he felt the same way that he had felt the first time that he’d been there.  It was both as beautiful as anything could be, and almost completely barren at the same time. Suddenly Will thought of something.

“Hey, were you here when this was made?” he asked Death.

“What, the canyon?” Death asked.

“Yeah,” Will said.  “Do you remember?”

“I try not to think about it,” Death said. “But yeah, I was here. It was a sea back then. Ask one of the rangers, he’ll tell you.”

“So, you saw the dinosaurs?” Will asked.

“I saw the dinosaurs,” Death said. “I saw the dinosaurs, and the Woolly Mammoths, and everything that people have forgotten. I saw it all. That’s my job, to watch, and wait, and make sure that there’s room for the next generation.”

Neither he nor Death said anything. They just stared at the Canyon for about an hour, and then got back on the highway.

It was warm and sunny in the desert, and by mid-day the sun in the car was blazing. Death finally decided he’d had enough. “Pull over,” he gasped. “Let’s put the top down.”

“You think it’s warm enough?” William asked. (After all, it was still January.)

“Open it up,” Death said confidently. “Let’s get some fresh air.”

Driving an English sports car down a highway at sixty-five miles an hour is a little like being Superman, provided that Superman is afraid of heights and prefers to fly eighteen inches off of the ground. The air rushed past the car like it was a jet engine. Heading down a sand dune into the wastes of California, William shouted out like they were going down a roller coaster. Death stood up, and waved his arms.

“You’re crazy!” William shouted.

“Everybody needs to feel the need alive sometime,” Death said. “What am I going to do, die?”

Will had wanted to go to Vegas, but Death figured that by the time they got there they’d be too young to get into a casino without ID, and it would be difficult explaining why it was that Will’s driver’s license listed him as an octogenarian. So instead, they barreled across the open desert, with the top down and rock and roll blasting on the radio. They were young and it was good and everything was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. They laughed going through Death Valley (which Death admitted he didn’t much care for.) Past the distant suburbs of Los Angeles, and down into the city of LA. If William had to guess their ages, he would’ve probably put them both around twenty-four. They were at the beginning of adulthood, with their whole lives ahead of them.

They stopped near Hollywood and Vine, and looked at the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and at the footprints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It was nice, but a little sad, and William could tell that they were just killing time. Finally, they got back in the MG, and drove on out to Santa Monica, where they parked the car at the beach, and walked on out into the water, just as the sun set. William had a feeling that if he asked, Death would tell him that there is nothing as beautiful as the Pacific Ocean, nothing in this world, or any other. They took off their shoes and socks, and watched as the waves hit their feet. Will felt like it was his twenty-second birthday. He felt incredible, but he knew it wasn’t meant to last.

“So,” he said, turning to his friend. “That’s it?”

Death nodded. “That’s it.”

William turned around, and looked back at everything that was behind them. He looked back at the expensive houses on the Santa Monica Coast, and back at Los Angeles and back at California. He looked back at their trip, and everything he’d seen. He looked back at life.

“I’m going to miss it all so much,” he admitted, and he knew that no matter what he looked like, he was an old man. A tear ran down his cheek, but only one. He brushed it away. He knew that the hard part was over. Whatever happened now, he could handle.

“I thought you might want to see it all,” Death admitted. “One last time.”

Will turned around and faced the ocean. The sun was just sinking into the horizon. Even now, you could see Venus, and some of the bright stars peaked out through the streaks of orange and red.

“What now?” he asked.

Death didn’t answer at first. Instead, he pointed westward, not quite toward the sun, but not quite away from it either, and William realized that wherever they were going, they were leaving the world behind.

“That way,” Death said. “First star to the right, and straight on till morning. It’s going to be O.K. Just trust me.”

“I really will miss it,” Will admitted. “It was beautiful.”

“I know,” Death agreed. “Are you ready?”

Will nodded. “Let’s go.”

Death Takes the Highway by David McLain – Part 8 of 9

You can find Part 1 here. Find David McLain here. Or check out his novel, The Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum  in either paperback, hardcover, or ebook. Then, keep reading!

It took them about twenty minutes to get the tire off and put on the spare. (William was pleased to discover that they had a full-sized spare. He could only imagine that a dough-nut on the MG probably would have been about the size of a life saver.) They found their way back to the highway, and drove off toward Oklahoma City. They took a room at a Holiday Inn in Tulsa. Death promised that they would make it to New Mexico the next day, which meant leaving the last dregs of winter behind them.

By day break the next morning both William and Death looked like men in the prime of their lives. The gray was mostly gone from William’s hair and the crinkles around his eyes had disappeared too. His nose was less bulbous than it had been three days ago, and his eyebrows looked less like a national forest. He tried to put his pants on. They were too big.

“Look!” he said, and he held out the waste of his pants so that Death could see how big they were. “And I owe it all to you!”

“Mine too,” Death said, smiling. “Have you got a belt?”

“I do,” William admitted. “But they’re going to look stupid.”

“So, get rid of them,” Death suggested.

“How’s that?” William asked.

“You’ve got two other pairs, tear those up. I’ll do mine too. We’ll go hit the pool.”

They cut their pants off at the knee and used them as trunks, then went down to the pool. They swam a few laps, and then got into the hot tub. After what felt like a year in the cold car, it felt good to sweat. William got out of the jacuzzi feeling young and wonderful. They ate a light breakfast and got on the road. By mid-day, they were rolling through the plains of north Texas.

The flat plains of Kansas had made the night sky seem almost impossibly big, as if you were going to slide off of the planet, but this was nothing compared to the open skies of Northern Texas. It was a beautiful day, the heavens were filled with fluffy white clouds, and the air felt clear. At a rest stop, Death and William took off their coats. William tried to stick his in the trunk, but Death shook his head.

“We should dump them,” he insisted, and he put a hand on his shoulder.

“What, in the trash?” William said.

“Gloves and hats too,” Death said.

William didn’t understand. A part of him was still an old man who had spent a life time collecting odds and ends, and the idea of simply chucking away a perfectly good coat seemed ridiculous to him. “Are you sure?”

“You won’t need it,” Death said.

“We could give them to the Salvation Army,” William suggested. “Something.”

“No one wants the clothes of a dead man,” Death said. “And no wants my coat, period.”

They got back into the car. It took them until evening to cross into New Mexico, and even then, it would be another several hours before they made it to Albuquerque. Still, the weather was nice, and for the first time they found themselves rolling down the windows in the MG, and letting the cool air roll into the little car. Death found some jazz on the radio, and they told stories about all the places in the country that they’d been to. (In Death’s case, he’d been everywhere.) They got as far as Tucumari, a little way station in the middle of the New Mexico desert. They ended up spending the night at a youth hostel, where for little more than the change in their pockets they slept on the floor of a tepee in a pair of borrowed sleeping bags. Will was surprised at how warm it was. In the morning, they woke up with the daylight, and bathed in water provided by a hot spring in the ground. Anyone who looked at William and Death would have seen two men in their mid to late thirties- tall, lean, well built, in the best part of their lives, with middle age about to come on them. William’s high forehead might bother him one day, but that day was still several years off, and the very slight touch of gray at Death’s left temple suited him. Looking in the mirror that morning a thought came over William, one he hadn’t had in a long time- he was handsome. He wouldn’t have liked to admit it, but in his heart, this struck a chord, and for a moment he remembered the arrogance of youth- when the world seemed to be made for you to conquer, and reshape, and make into your own. The owner of the youth hostel probably wondered if they were gay, but never asked, presumably considering herself above such petty interests. They got in the car and drove west, toward Albuquerque, Arizona, and the American Desert.

People from Arizona were always eager to tell you how cold it was during the winter, and while William could see their point, these people hadn’t usually spent most of their lives in the frozen northeast. They pulled the car over in a dry plain on a mountainside, and took a whiz in a patch of pine trees.

“You want to race?” William asked.  He was lying in the dry Arizona grass, staring out at the horizon. There was a stretch of about a hundred yards of even ground in front of them.

“What do you mean, a foot race?” Death asked, and then he added. “I’ll win, you know that right?”

“Who says?” William asked.

“Everyone in the history of planet earth,” Death pointed out.

“I don’t care,” William admitted. “I just want to run. I haven’t run in years. I think it would feel good. I remember when it used to feel good just to run.”

They lined up, and ran, and William cheated, and Death fell, and he lost. “I’ll get you eventually,” he said, and he raised his hands up like a specter and went “OOOOOOOooooooo.”

By the time they pulled into Flagstaff that day William had lost all sense of age. He was, he figured, roughly two or three years younger than he’d been when his daughter was born, and younger still than she was now.  The world felt big and exciting, and William wanted to be a part of it. He wanted to mix up with things, he opened up and let out a mammoth scream celebrating his existence and the world and everything that is and everything that was.

“How do you feel?” Death asked. They were eating French Toast and milkshakes in a silver bullet diner that had probably been built in 1928.

“I feel great,” William said. “Better than I have in- well, just better. I feel wonderful.”

They had both taken off their sweatshirts, and were wearing t-shirts and jeans. A young waitress with black hair and breasts that smile had taken their order and was eyeing either Death or William, but they weren’t sure which one.

Death Takes the Highway by David McLain – Part 7

Find Part 1 here. Find David McLain here. Find David McLain’s novel, The Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum here. Then, keep reading…   

The center of the country was still cold, although they were definitely heading south. By mid-afternoon they had left the suburbs of the city behind, and were heading through the rural heartland of the country. William had driven across the country, long ago, when he was young, but it was easy to forget how varied different parts of the United States were. The MG rolled along past farmland, which, while barren during the winter, was nonetheless impressive, and majestic to look at. William reflected how, much like New York, Illinois was dominated by a very different landscape once you left it’s principle city behind. It was late in the afternoon when he and Death crossed the Mississippi.

If you’re an American, there is nothing in this world like crossing the mighty Mississippi. By the time he got there, Will was a man in his late fifties. His hair was no longer white, but salt and pepper, and his hands were strong. The grip of the wheel felt good underneath his palm and his back was hurting less than the day before. Death looked better too. The two men pulled up to a respectable three star hotel in Saint Louis, tired but pleased with the progress they’d made.

“What do you do for fun?” William asked.

“Sometimes, I go find a poker a game and I convince some poor sap to play for his soul,” Death admitted.

“That’s terrible,” Will said, but he was laughing as he said it.

“I always let the guy win,” Death admitted. “He usually goes home and quits smoking afterwards.”

Saint Louis struck William as a grim and not entirely pleasant city. He and Death made the best of it by heading out to a pool hall and drinking cheap beer, while they tried trick shots and played a little nine ball. William discovered that once you were dead you didn’t care in the slightest who won or lost, but he had a good time anyway. In the morning, they found a bagel shop, and had sandwiches and coffee. After that they headed west, through the Ozarks.

Death had said he wanted to make good progress today, he’d grown a little tired of the cold weather, and was hoping to make it as far as Texas, perhaps even New Mexico. For the most part the trip went quickly, except that evening, somewhere near the Oklahoma-Kansas border, they got lost. In principle, even this would have been fine, except then something happened, and the car got a flat.

“Do you have triple A?”   William asked.

“No,” Death admitted. “I don’t have a cell phone either, not that there would be any service out here.” This was clearly true. They hadn’t seen anything that even remotely resembled a town for quite some time.

“We can change a tire,” William said confidently. At this point he was definitely in late-middle age. His hair was receding, his body was barrel-chested, his skin lacked the grayish tone it had taken on in old age, and his back felt strong. It occurred to William that he’d had back surgery about ten years ago to relieve the pain from a slipped disc. He had a feeling that if he checked, the scar wouldn’t be there any longer.

When they got out of the car William took a deep breath. It felt like spring. Early spring maybe, but it was definitely above freezing. The air felt good against his face. He was glad that they’d gotten the chance to get out of the car again. “Jesus,” he said, tapping Death on the shoulder. “Look at the stars.”

The car was so low to the road that William hadn’t really hadn’t gotten a chance to look up at the sky. They were in a stretch of rural Kansas, in what an Astronomer might have referred to as a ‘dark sky’ area, but what most people would have called to as “the middle of nowhere.” It was a clear night, and the Milky Way covered the sky from one horizon to the next. The whole universe was crystal clear.

“Impressive,” Death admitted, although he didn’t sound all that impressed.

Suddenly William thought of something. “Do you go to those places?” he asked.

“What,” Death asked. “The stars?”

“The stars, other planets, other galaxies, whatever,” William clarified. “Is there life out there?”

“I go to a few,” Death admitted. “But not as many as you’d think. Most planets are dead. Mostly, they’re empty lumps of rock and gas orbiting around globes of fire. Even most of the ones I go to are mostly barren wastelands. This place,” he pointed at the ground. “This is special.”

“Show me one,” William said. “One that you’ve been to.”

Death pointed up to a constellation.  “That one,” he said. “Saldabari, on the wings of Pegasus.”

“Really?” William asked. “There are aliens there?”

“There used to be,” Death said. “They’re gone now. It was a beautiful place though, oceans that were blood red and skies of a bright amber. There were creatures there that you wouldn’t believe. A world of brilliant minds and untamed possibilities.”

“Used to be?” William said, catching the sadness in Death’s voice. “What happened?”

“It didn’t last,” Death said.

The Moment you’ve been waiting for… Submissions open November 1st, 2017.

It’s that time of year again! We’re pleased to announce that our submissions will open again for a brief window starting November 1st, 2017. How brief of a window, you may ask? Well, that depends how quickly we find what we’re looking for! But submissions will be open at least through the month of November, if not until the end of the year. However, if you’re considering submitting to us this year, I feel I must warn you that we expect the competition will be fierce. See, the thing is, we’ve almost got a full line-up picked out for 2018, so at most we’ll be looking to pick one, possibly two more books and that’s it.

wg1If you want to see what kind of books we publish to see if yours fits in, please have a look at our store. You can try one of our books for free with the discount code: MWFREETRIAL

And if you want to see what new books we have coming up, take a look at our new releases page here. 

We’re looking for Escapism Fiction. Children’s, Middle Grade, Young Adult, or Adult, any target age will do, but please inform us in your query letter who the target audience is. We’ll also want to know the genre, either fantasy, romance, science fiction, adventure, mystery, paranormal, speculative, or some combination of those I just listed. Your manuscript’s word count is also important to include, because it tells us at a glance the length of the project we’re looking at. Is it a novel, a novella, or something else? Are you writing a series? If so, tell us. Tell us how many books we are to expect to receive from you if we take you on.

If you submit to us, we expect to see a query letter filled with the information mentionedSpellhaven cover above as well as a quick description of your book. We’d also like a 1 page synopsis that includes the ending of your story so we can see if you can craft a satisfactory ending. Send both of those things along with a 3 chapter (or equivalent) sample – Please do not send the full manuscript if it is longer than 25 pages.

When we receive your submission, we’re going to be looking very closely at your opening. We’re looking for stories within our theme and preferred genres that have strong engaging openings. In order for us to request your entire manuscript you will have to catch our attention and prove your writing is interesting, relatively error-free, and engaging in the first scene. If your writing compels us to read the whole sample and want to read more, you’re on the right track.

Regardless of whether we accept your manuscript for publication or not we PROMISE to send you our thoughts with advice for how to improve your manuscript or which direction to try next. Because crafting personal responses takes time, we ask that you allow us six to eight weeks to respond. We WILL respond to all queries we receive, so there’s no need to follow up with us. 418obP8qfdL._SL500_AC_SS350_

So get your submission packages ready! And remember, if you need help, to check out our YouTube Channel and this blog for writing and publishing advice!

For details on how to submit and what we are and aren’t looking for, please see our Submissions Page. Thank you!

Death Takes the Highway by David McLain – Part 6

My apologies for this being the only post this week. I’m just recovering from a short illness. As always, you can find part 1 of this short story here. Or if you like David McLain’s style, please consider his hilarious time travel fantasy, The Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum

Then, keep reading… 

They stopped for dinner in Gary, Indiana, at a place that specialized in Fried Chicken. William felt better than he had in weeks. Checking his reflection in the bathroom mirror, he noticed that his eyes were clearer looking, and that his shoulders looked a little broader. His hands were distinctly less gnarled, and his fingernails didn’t have that yellow quality that they’d had in recent years. He looked like a man of seventy, maybe sixty five. Death looked better too. They looked less like two men at the end of their lives, and more like two guys in their golden years who were enjoying life. There was no doubt about it, the car might be going forward, but the miles were rolling back.

“Where are we staying tonight?” William asked.

“We’re near the city,” Death said. “I thought we’d find someplace nice.”

They stayed in a beautiful hotel in Downtown Chicago, where their room had a giant flat screened television and a little kitchen. They had a few drinks and some dessert in the hotel restaurant before heading upstairs. A young waitress with crooked teeth took their order, and was very nice to them. William found himself in a good mood.

“You’re a good guy,” he said to Death after his second drink.

“Thanks,” Death said.

“Most people don’t like you,” he added. He probably shouldn’t have said this, but it seemed like a fairly obvious point.

“It’s never a good day when I come around,” Death said. “But that isn’t my fault.”

“Is this just what we do now?” William asked. “Drive around from place to place, having a good time?”

“No,” Death said, and he had a serious look on his face. “This is merely the journey.”

This sobered William up a little. “Then what comes next?” he asked.

“You’ll see,” Death said.

In the morning William was pleased to see that some of the hair had filled in on the top of his head. It wasn’t so much that you’d notice, or really care, but it was nice to see. Some of it, he noticed, was brown instead of gray. The veins which had seemed so close to the surface in his hands and his feet seemed more subdued.  Death was still getting younger too. They got up early, had breakfast in the hotel, and headed for downtown Chicago.

Death was clear that they didn’t have a lot of time to waste, but Chicago is a beautiful city, so they stopped and went to the art museum. William had never been there before, and he enjoyed wandering around, looking at priceless works of art. Somewhere in between an Edward Hopper painting and a Suerat, William thought of something.

“All these painters,” he whispered so that only Death could hear. “They’re all dead?”

“Yes,” Death said, “I suppose that they are.”

“So you met them all?”

“At one point or another,” Death reflected.

“How’d they take it?” William asked.

Death considered this. “Most came quietly. A few fought tooth and nail. One or two grinned at me like I was a long lost relative. I tell you one thing though- none of them seemed surprised.”

“Is that so?”

“Not even the ones I had to drag out of bars,” Death said. “Although I suppose if you spent that much time in bars, you shouldn’t be surprised.”

They spent the morning looking at paintings, then had lunch at a tapas restaurant downtown. William had never had tapas before. It was nice. After that, they headed south, toward Saint Louis.

Death takes the Highway by David McLain – Part 5

Find Part One here. Find David McLain here. Find his novel, The Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum here.

Then keep reading…

The room they stayed in had been a smoking room at one point, and still smelled faintly of cigarettes. They watched an old movie on television, and went to bed relatively early. At two AM, William woke up. He noticed that Death snored like a chainsaw. ‘I could just run away,’  he thought. ‘What would happen then? Maybe I’d be a ghost.’

There is nothing better for a person than a good night’s sleep. William woke up around eight o’clock. He’d been dreaming about the town he’d grown up in. ‘I guess you still dream after your dead,’ he thought. ‘Good to know.’

Death was in the shower while he woke up. He came out wearing a towel. “Good night’s sleep?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Will said.

“You look better,” Death pointed out.

“I died yesterday,” Will said.

“Anything is better than that,” Death said. “Take a shower, I’d like to make it to Chicago today, and we should stop and get you some clothes, maybe a toothbrush if you’d like.”

Will went and took a shower. The water felt delicious. He dried off with a white fluffy towel. It wasn’t until he got out of the shower that he saw it.

He didn’t notice it at first, since the effect was subtle. The mirror was foggy, and Will was a little out of the habit of paying close attention to his physical appearance. As he dried his hair though, he noticed it- you could see it around his eyes. The skin was just a little bit tighter, and his eyes were a little less watery. His hands didn’t seem quite as arthritic as they usually were, and his back hurt less than usual. He smiled. His teeth looked better than he remembered.

“I look better,” William said, astonished, as he came back into the room.

“Sure,” Death said, which was when Will noticed the second thing. Death was a little thinner today around the middle, and there was just the slightest wisp of black hair. There was no doubt about it- they were younger.

“Does this happen to everyone?” William asked.

“It’s different every time,” Death admitted.

“What now?” William asked.

“I’m pretty sure that the diner we ate at last night will sell pancakes,” Death said. “Why don’t we get some?”

So they got pancakes, which were delicious. The same waitress who had waited on them the night before took their order. Afterwards, they found a cheap department store, where they bought some clothes. Will had no idea where they were headed, or how long they should pack for, but he tried to keep it light, since the MG had a trunk roughly the size of a bread basket. He wondered if maybe he was supposed to buy funeral attire, but Death didn’t seem to care. He settled on a few T-shirts, a couple of pairs of jeans, and a few other necessities, including a small dufflebag. They got back on the road and headed west again. By the end of the day, they’d be in Illinois.

They cut quickly through Northern Pennsylvania and went straight on to Ohio, which had always struck William as little more than an endless suburb. The ride went well, although after three or four hours on the road, William would find that his back got stiff and he needed a break, so they would find a spot to get out and stand up, maybe grab a meal or at least a drink, before getting back out on the road. The car had the radio that it had rolled off the production line with, which meant there was little to listen to other than the occasional AM talk radio station, so Death bought a little transistor job at a truck stop, so at least they could listen to the news as they headed from town to town. The country was flat, and the road was straight, which meant that there wasn’t much to look at, but it was a little warmer than it was yesterday, and the sky was blue. They were near downtown Cleveland when William caught a glimpse of the gray waters of Lake Erie stretching out to the north.

“Can we stop?” he asked Death.

“For a few minutes,” Death said.

They got off the highway and took a look. It was relaxing to sit there and stare at the water, neither the man nor the supernatural figure said much, they just stood and stared. “Somewhere out there my daughter is making arrangements for my funeral,” William thought. “She’s probably picked out some sort of funeral home. I hate those places. I should call her and tell her to have me cremated.” Somehow he knew that Death would think that was a bad idea. He tried to put his daughter out of his mind.

Review of Starter Zone by Chris Pavesic

Starter Zone

The Revelation Chronicles, Book 1

Chris Pavesic

Print Length: 219 pages
Publication Date: September 25, 2017
ASIN: B074YZ9JKB
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, LitRPG

Follow the tour to read reviews guest posts, exclusive excerpts, and spotlight posts:

https://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/09/book-tour-schedule-starter-zone.html

Additional cover art

When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail.  Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.

Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.

But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.

Time to play the game.

Purchase Links: Amazon http://amzn.to/2wyFos0

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/starter-zone-chris-pavesic/1127125956?ean=2940158707476

chrispMeet the Author:

Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends. She blogs on http://www.chrispavesic.com and Tweets @chrispavesic

I’ve had the pleasure of reading Starter Zone, here’s my review:

 

 

 

I wasn’t sure what to think of this book at first. It is a unique and unexpected blend of dystopian fiction and LitRPG. When it opens, we have a post-apocalyptic setting with the main character and her younger sister on the run, trying to stay alive. A little ways in, there is an abrupt shift and the characters are captured and thrust into a virtual game world they don’t understand. Through a set of circumstances they are made players instead of NPC slaves and in this way are given an unexpected second chance at life. Despite not knowing what to expect, I found myself enjoying this book and I would gladly continue with the series to see where it goes next. My only complaint is that the book definitely feels like an introduction to a series and can in no way stand on its own. There is far too much that is left unresolved.

Death takes the Highway by David McLain – Part 4

The story continues… (You can find Part 1 here if you missed it.)

It was an Indian Casino. Not a very big one, nor very prosperous, but it was big enough to have a nice buffet restaurant attached to it, where a waitress sat William and Death down at a table in the corner, and invited them to help themselves to fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese. She didn’t seem to know or care that William was dead, or that he was being accompanied by Death itself. In fact, they seem to fit in pretty well with the casino’s clientèle. Most of the gamblers looked like they were in their late sixties and early seventies- some even looked older than William was. They ate mostly in silence. Death didn’t seem like much of a talker.

“How do you feel?” Death asked.

“Better than I have in weeks, maybe months,” William admitted.

“That’s usually the way,” Death said. “Once you get used to it, most people feel better.”

“They feel better dead?” William asked.

“I’m not saying you won’t miss things,” Death said. “There’s a lot you’re leaving behind. Usually though, at some point, most people say to themselves ‘O.K. I’ve had enough.’ That’s when it’s time to move on.

“It doesn’t feel real,” William admitted.

“It won’t,” Death said. “Not at first,” he paid the bill with a credit card. William wondered if it would be an all black Mastercard or have ‘666’ as the card number or something, but it was a perfectly ordinary bank card. So far, Death seemed almost pedestrian.

“Let’s go,” Death said.

They got back in the car, heading west again. It was still colder than blazes, although William had gotten used to the stick shift. It was strange, driving such a tiny car. In another life William might have expressed concern about driving something so small on the highway, but what did it matter now? It wasn’t like being jack-knifed by an eighteen wheeler would kill him. (In fact, he wasn’t sure what it would do. Leave him like some sort of zombie maybe? He didn’t want to ask.) He drove cautiously, in the left lane, till a little after dark, when Death finally told him to pull over.

“Right here? By the side of the road?” William asked.

“No, no. At the next exit. There’s a Super 8 just off the highway. We’ll get a room. I don’t like driving at night in the winter, unless I have to.”

They pulled over and parked in front of the motel. They were somewhere near the Pennsylvania border, but where exactly William wasn’t sure. The hotel was manned by an enormous man in a polyester shirt, who looked simultaneously tired and dull, as if being forced to wear a polo with his company logo on it and having to smile at strangers was a form of brain death. They took a double room on the first floor with a window facing the dumpster of a neglected Chinese food restaurant.

“You want Chinese for dinner?” Death asked.

William thought about it. Then he did something that he thought he would never do again- he made a choice. “I saw a diner down the road a little bit. Let’s go there.”

So they did. William ordered the turkey club, and Death had a steak, extra rare. The waitress, like everyone else, didn’t seem to think there was anything strange about them, although come to think of it, she didn’t give them much of a look either. It was shortly after they ate their food that William started asking questions.

“So I’m dead?” he asked. He looked around as he said it, like he was talking about committing a crime. The diner was almost empty and the waitress didn’t seem like she would care if he lit his pants on fire. Still, it didn’t seem like the kind of thing you wanted to announce to just anyone.

“Yes,” Death said.

“I don’t feel different,” Will admitted, although on reflection, that wasn’t true. He definitely didn’t feel like he did when he was dying. That was awful.

“You won’t, at first,” Death said. “It’s a lot to take in all at once.”

“There were a lot of things I wanted to do before I died,” William said. “Things I wanted to do, and say.”

“I know,” Death said. “There always are.”

“I guess that’s the way things work,” Will said. Truth be told, he usually had a hundred different things that he wanted to on a weekend that didn’t get done, there didn’t seem to be any reason that dying wasn’t going to be any different. “It’s just hard to believe,” he added.

“I’m sure,” Death said.

“I worked hard, all my life,” Will said. “Some years were good. Some were bad. I left my daughter a little bit of money. That was good, right?”

Death said “That was good,” but he didn’t look like he felt anything about it, one way or the other.

“If my life was about work, and progress, and family,” William said. “Then what is this about?”

“Moving on,” Death said.