Cliffside Rose Flash Fiction: And the Winners Are . . .

Two weeks ago, I challenged readers to a contest telling us how a rose would end up atop a desert cliff in the middle of nowhere. Their stories had to include the words “Dixie,” “witness protection,” and “cheese grater.”

See The Cliffside Rose–Flash Fiction Contest

For the last week, readers voted here and at our sister WordPress blog to determine the top three winners of The Cliffside Rose Flash Fiction Contest with the combined totals. With some brilliant entries, this was no easy task, but three entries tied at the top.

And the winners are . . .

Olympic Ring Espionage image from Ebay.com

Olympic Ring Espionage
image from Ebay.com

BrickHouseChick:  Olympic Ring Espionage

Dixie was conflicted about being on The Bachelor, but she wanted the chance to meet her Prince. And that she did. Thor was very CALIENTE and had cheese-grater abs. The problem was, that he was a spy in Russia during the Olympics and they were ‘on’ to him. Putin blamed Thor for the 5th ring not lighting up during the opening ceremonies and was not happy. Thor was about to give Dixie the FINAL ROSE. If she accepted the rose, she would enter the program with him (no TVs allowed in the witness protection program), if she didn’t, she would have to let him go, forever. After much pondering, Dixie decided that she could NOT miss the Oscars, and opted for the RED CARPET rather than the RED ROSE. She kissed him goodbye and ran home to watch the E channel. Thor was devastated and jumped off the cliff.

You want to WHAT? image via Canstock

You want to WHAT?
image via Canstock

Michelle Morrison:  You Want to WHAT?

After six years in witness protection, Diane was free. She moved home and reconnected with loved ones. She rescued a dog and named her Dixie, and they had lovely walks by the cliff near her house.

Diane met Peter. It was love. Peter seemed smitten also. “You’re special,” he told her.

She smiled. “So are you.”

Diane and Peter went for walks by the cliff. They watched the sun go down and threw sticks for Dixie. Peter gave Diane a rose each month.

At the fourth month, Peter gave Diane four roses and said, “I’m sorry, I’ve met someone else.”

“What is this?” Diane asked. “You’re unhappy?”

“It’s not you, it’s me; we can still be friends.” Peter said.

Diane beat Peter to death with the cheese grater she always carried. She left the roses by the body. The judge ruled justifiable homicide and she got probation.

Motorcycle or Death image from Canstock

Motorcycle or Death
image from Canstock

Gry Ranfelt:  Motorcycle or Death?

“You said it didn’t matter.”

Tom flexed his jaw and refused to look away.

“The court cares. Think of our daughter. What life will she lead if you refuse witness protection?”

Dixie swallowed the dry mountain air. Had he brought her to these uncomfortable heights just to tell her to do what she’d refused four times?

She slammed the roses into his chest. They fell to the ground, petals still intact.

“The entire evening was an act so I’d warm up and give in.”

“No, I –”

She turned away. “Take us home.” She hated the thought of wrapping her arms around him on his motorcycle.

His sigh trickled her neck. She stiffened.

“I can’t.”

He grabbed and pulled her towards a waiting car. “Sorry. I’m not letting you get the fucking mafia on us.”

She screamed. She struggled. The cliffs scraped her skin bloody like a cheese grater.

 Congratulations!

Each of you has won a copy of USA Today Bestseller Vicki Hinze‘s clever tale of death and romance, Down and Dead in Dixie.

Down and Dead in Dixie Cover

I will forward your emails to the awesome Vicki Hinze, and she will get in touch with you to send your your prize.

A Big Thank You to all of the participants.

May your remote wanderings never include cliffs

and/or cheese graters.

FIRELANDS–It’s Back & Nominated for 2014 Best Indie Novel!

By Piper Bayard

I had the pleasure of waking up and finding out that my Nine Year Baby is

nominated for  a book award!

Dystopian thriller FIRELANDS was first released last June from StoneHouse Ink.

Firelands Cover

Then it was acquired and re-issued by Shoe Phone Press on February 25, 2014.

FIRELANDS_2ndEd

It’s now available on Kindle,

and it will soon be up in paperback at Amazon,

and on Nook, Kobo, and iTunes.

As an excellent “welcome back,” FIRELANDS was honored with a nomination for Indie ReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award 2014.

Indie ReCon Logo

Voting is at Indie ReCon. If you are inclined, click on the link below to vote. Voting is open until 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 27.

Vote here for

FIRELANDS 

Indie ReCon Best Indie Novel Award 2014

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Thank you for your support and for such a warm welcome back for FIRELANDS.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

FIRELANDS

Eighty years in the future, America has devolved into a totalitarian theocracy. The ruling Josephites clone the only seeds that grow in the post-apocalyptic climate, allowing their Prophet to control who eats, who starves, and who dies in the ritual fires that atone society.

Subsisting on the fringes, Archer risks violation and death each day as she scours the forest for game to feed her people. When a Josephite refugee seeks sanctuary in her home, Archer is driven to chance a desperate gamble. A gamble that will bring down the Prophet and deliver seeds and freedom, or end in a fiery death for herself and for everyone she loves.

Seeds are life . . . Seeds are power . . . Seeds are the only hope of a despairing people. What will Archer do for the seeds of freedom, and what will she justify in their name?

Field on Fire Canstock

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . Funeral Selfies

Funeral Selfies? Yes, They Do Exist

Proving once again that bad taste on social media has no boundaries. Apparently, taking selfies at funerals and other serious places like Chernobyl, Pearl Harbor, ad Auschwitz is the new trend.

Click on the title for the text version.

gFuneral Selfie

For the rest of the Mashup and the Campaign Style Question of the Week, come on over to our new site, and remember to subscribe when you get there. We want to bring you all with us!

Bayard & Holmes

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . .

Funeral Selfies

Susan Spann–Historical Mystery Author or Ninja Conspirator?

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

It’s happened again. It starts with a twitch, and then, before you know it, Holmes and I are kidnapping another author and whisking them away to our secret blog prison.

Today, our victim guest is Debut Historical Author Susan Spann. Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies at Tufts University in Boston. She somehow got bamboozled into pursuing a law career—friends don’t let friends go to law school—and received her J.D. from UCLA. After years of teaching and a stint as Associate Academic Dean at Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, she now practices intellectual property law and writes historical mysteries set in 1500s Japan. Her debut, CLAWS OF THE CAT, is due out tomorrow (Minotaur Books).

Claws of the Cat Cover

We snatched Susan gave Susan a ride from her office in Sacramento. It wasn’t too hard to get her to come with us. We lured her into our black helicopter by telling her that her favorite author, James Rollins, had once been held against his will  spent a lovely afternoon in it with us.

Welcome to our blog today, Susan. Please make yourself comfortable. We had these tatami mats flown in especially for your visit . . . No, not from Japan. From Kansas. They’re woven from genuine American GMO wheat stalks. We believe in buying American. Hope you don’t have any allergies.

You’re welcome to remove your blindfold now. If you notice, it’s a Hello Kitty sleep mask to match the Hello Kitty handcuffs. Very Japanese.

Would you like some tea? I studied that scene in Shogun several times to get it right.

Let’s begin our interrogation conversation. Keep in mind that Intelligence Operative Holmes is just behind this one-way glass *waves*, and the NSA will have a permanent and complete record of your answers.

Susan Spann Historical Author and Ninja Conspirator

Susan Spann
Historical Author and Ninja Conspirator

Now, Ms. Spann—just what is your connection to the Orient?

I’d say “I’m a ninja” but if I was really a ninja this blindfold and handcuffs would be on someone else.

So, instead, I’ll say I’ve always loved Japanese history and culture, especially medieval Japan. In college, my studies focused on early Imperial China and medieval Japan, including the Muromachi period (1337-1573) when samurai ruled and ninjas really existed.

It was a dangerous time, but also beautiful and intriguing – and the Shinobi series gives me a fabulous chance to explore the era in more detail and translate it into fiction.

So your special interest is ninjas, is it? Exactly why would you be studying these assassins and their ways?

Technically, they attacked me first. I’m just returning the favor.

Hmm. The old “he started it first” line.  Doesn’t work for my kids, either. Please go on.

The moment I had the idea to write a mystery novel featuring a ninja detective, I realized a shinobi (which is the Japanese pronunciation — “ninja” is based on a Chinese word) would make the perfect sleuth. Shinobi were masters of disguise who trained in undercover operations as well as assassination – much like modern spies.

Speaking of spies … Hi Holmes! Can he see me waving?

Ahem. Holmes prefers the term “spook.” Spying is a bit seamy—its what the NSA and the Russians do.

Anyway, a shinobi seemed like the perfect sleuth, provided I could find a believable reason for Hiro to use his skills to solve murders instead of committing them. Fortunately, the mystery in CLAWS OF THE CAT offers just the right “incentive.”

I love your style in CLAWS OF THE CAT in that you weave in the setting and history of 1500s Japan in just the right amount as you unfold the story. You’ve heard me describe it as the ultimate cozy whodunit with a healthy dose of “Cool, I didn’t know that” on the side. Is there some dark force that draws you to creating intricate patterns of deception in the form of mystery novels?

I learned it from my kitten, Oobie. Who better to teach deception than a cat?

And thank you. One of my goals for the novel was to immerse the narrative in an unusual cultural setting, showing the reader the beauty and danger of samurai Japan within the scope of a fast-paced mystery romp. Each book in the series incorporates a different facet of Japanese culture, which means new and unusual settings in every one.

Also, I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed the book. I loved your novel, FIRELANDS, and it means a lot to me when authors whose works I enjoy like my book too.

I have someone here who is familiar with your novel, and who has some tough questions for you to answer. *crosses to intercom* Bring in Inspector Parker.

Inspector Parker

Inspector Parker

*enters and sniffs at Susan’s ankle* You don’t smell too suspicious, but I don’t like that large, black bag you’re carrying. I deduce that you are hiding ninja weapons in it. Your hero, Hiro, uses a number of them. Please empty your purse and explain these items.

The weapons on the cover of CLAWS are neko-te, which translates “claws of the cat” – a specialized weapon favored by female ninjas (called kunoichi). The claws were worn on the ends of the fingers, transforming a kunoichi’s hands into lethal weapons. In many cases, the claws were poisoned too.

This thing that looks like a stick is a ninja smoke bomb, made from a length of bamboo filled with a special powdered mixture that produces smoke when ignited. Ninjas used a variety of bombs and other explosive devices, mostly to create distractions but sometimes for destructive purposes too. Hiro doesn’t use any bombs in CLAWS OF THE CAT, but he will in some of the later books. 

That last thing is a pen. For signing books …

Surely you are aware that all the world has heard of war dogs, but no one has ever heard of war cats. It’s a proven fact that writing about war dogs increases an author’s book sales. Why would you instead choose to glorify cats in your writing?

I humbly beg forgiveness for that oversight, Inspector Parker! It’s true that dogs make any book better, but in the interests of interspecies fairness, I decided to give a kitten equal time.

When I started writing CLAWS OF THE CAT, I knew I needed to soften Hiro’s ninja edge and make him someone readers could relate to—unrepentant assassins aren’t a classic hero archetype. The fastest way to demonstrate Hiro’s gentler side was letting him rescue, and keep, an orphaned kitten.

But I didn’t want to make Hiro too soft, and I like books with plenty of tension, so I also made Father Mateo, Hiro’s Jesuit sidekick, allergic to cats.

While you’ve written an excellent book, even the name CLAWS OF THE CAT might unjustly put off your dog readership. Do you have any plans to remedy that unfortunate choice by adding dogs to your novels in the future?

Absolutely! A dog appears in the series’ second installment, Blade of the Samurai, which is scheduled for publication in July 2014. I’m afraid he’s not as nice a dog as you are, Inspector Parker, but he’s a brave Akita who does his best to protect his people.

If the series continues beyond three books, you’ll also get to see a ninja dog—but I can’t reveal any more or I’ll blow his cover!

I will look forward to reading about such noble members of my species . . . Excuse me, but may I sniff your bag again, please? . . . Is that salami? Did you bring that for me? *sticks head in Susan’s handbag*

Now, now, Inspector Parker, it’s not appropriate to beg from our subjects. If you’ll just go to Holmes, he’ll share some salami with you. Thank you for your input in this case. *Inspector Parker departs*

Ms. Spann, what is your current Work In Progress?

I’ve delivered Blade of the Samurai to my editor at Minotaur, and I’m currently working on Flask of the Drunken Master, the third installment in the Shinobi Mystery series. I love spending time with Hiro and Father Mateo.

And where do you go from here? Do you have any upcoming book tours or other promotions?

CLAWS releases tomorrow, and I’m really excited about sharing it with readers! I currently have signings scheduled in California and Colorado:

Thursday, July 18, 2013: 6:30pm Launch Event: Face in a Book Bookstore, 4359 Town Center Blvd., #113, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762

Thursday, July 25, 2013: 7:00 PM Reading & Signing: Barnes & Noble (3rd Street Promenade), 1201 Third Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Tuesday, July 30, 2013: 11:00 AM Reading & Signing: Towne Center Books, 555 Main Street Pleasanton, CA 94566

Wednesday, August 28, 2013: 7:00PM Reading & Signing: Barnes & Noble, 6111 Sunrise Boulevard, Citrus Heights, CA 95610

Monday, September 16, 2013: 7:30 PM Reading & Signing: Tattered Cover Bookstore
2526 East Colfax Avenue Denver, CO 80206

You can also get up to date information on these and other signings at my author events page: Find Susan–Live Events and Conferences

Thank you for your time today, Susan. I’m going to have to ask you to put this parachute on over your kimono before we leave. Don’t worry—we’ll remove your handcuffs and blindfold before we push you out of the helicopter deliver you safely to your home. You may keep the Hello Kitty paraphernalia as a souvenir of our chat, if you like, but we’ll be sending someone by to collect the parachute. Tight budget, and all.

I can certainly confirm that CLAWS OF THE CAT is a great read. Find it now in hardback and paperback at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Also find this awesome book at IndieBound, Powell’s, and at the iTunes Apple Store.

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . UK Politician Claims He’s Alien Baby-Daddy

English Politician Claims to have Fathered a Child with an Alien

Will Riker would be proud. I don’t think he ever did have sex with a human on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

image from YouTube

image from YouTube

It takes a lot to make American politicians look good.

So if his child visits him in the UK, would it be an “illegal alien”?

And what sort of child support would a court order for this love child?

FIRELANDS Apocalypse Reader/Blogger Challenge Entries In the Past Two Weeks:

Ryan Ryan (yes, that’s her name) at That Girl Ryan writes a Letter to the Mayans, complaining about their poor apocalypse prediction service, and how she had been looking forward to the hilarious benefits of the apocalypse. A Letter to the Mayans

Diana Beebe addresses a post-apocalyptic lifestyle by asking What Would You Do? Or Grow?

Shea McIntosh Ford looks at Surviving the Apocalypse — Henry Bemis Style. Would you kick ass, or would you be her reading buddy?

Ellie Ann gives you the opportunity to Choose Your Apocalypse. How do you want the world to end?

Catie Rhodes reviews FIRELANDS in Review Roundup: Youth is Wasted on the Young.

Angela Ackerman elevates FIRELANDS to the level of a prize at The Bookshelf Muse: Reality Check, Gratitude, and Cool Books to WIN. Pop on over and leave a comment for a chance to win one of three awesome books.

Julie Glover, a lady I count on the keep me grammatically honest, looks at Words for the End of the World.

FIRELANDS Cover

How would you have fought off Victorian zombies? Historical mystery author K.B. Owen gives us some great ideas in Dangerous and Unseemly Zombies.

It’s not too late! Don’t miss your chance to win fantastic prizes in the FIRELANDS Apocalypse Reader/Blogger Challenge. You can enter until midnight on July 18, 2013. Bloggers enter by posting about apocalypse and linking up. Readers can enter now by signing up for the Bayard & Holmes Newsletter, or by leaving quotes, pics, or reviews of FIRELANDS. Great prizes! Check out the details at FIRELANDS Apocalypse Reader/Blogger Challenge.

FIRELANDS  is available for purchase from Amazon in Paperback and on Kindle and in e-book at Barnes & NobleKobo, and iTunes for iPad and mobile devices.

Thank you to the participants thus far!

Book Releases

Congratulations to Ellie Ann on her release of her debut YA cyberpunk novel, The Silver Sickle. I love this book and highly recommend it. Already a best seller in Cyberpunk, The Silver Sickle will thrill you as it takes you to a world where humanity has lost its soul, and aliens keep us drugged into submission. One brave young woman and her best friend decide to stand against the “goddesses,” and that starts a chain of events that can either save humanity or see it go extinct.

The Silver Sickle

Check out this great review from GeekDad: A Unique World Mythology–The Silver Sickle.

Also, a revealing interview of Ellie Ann by Anna Greer at An Interview with Ellie Ann.

The Independent Ladies–Vicki Hinze, C.J. Lyons, Debra Webb, Peggy Webb, Kathy Carmichael, V.R. Marks or Regan Black–have just come out with a new collection called Dangerous Desires. Five full length novels and two bonus novellas in the same package. Read more about it in Vicki Hinze’s post, Getting Creative. Dangerous Desires is now on sale for $ .99 on Kindle.

Dangerous Desires

Kristen Lamb continues to spread the word that We Are Not Alone with her latest outstanding guide to social media for New York Times Bestsellers and New Writers, alike. Rise of the Machines will have you connecting with others on social media in ways that boost your platform and increase your sales. Read about it at Celebrating Writer Independence & I Got to Be a Cyborg.

Rise of the Machines Cover

Articles and Blogs In No Particular Order

Xi’an China Bell Tower Timelapse HD Video by ooaworld: ooa’s Travels, Photos, and Art made me feel grateful for my quiet neighborhood. very cool visual.

Dumb State Laws that Made Me Laugh by Jenny Hansen. They made me laugh, too.

Don’t believe everything you read (unless it’s from Bayard & Holmes, and it’s not one of our crazy ideas to make money–then you can safely believe it). Mara House Luxor gives us the straight skinny from the ground on the inaccurate reporting going on in Attack on Egypt via Social Media.

How Becoming a Good Christian Made Me a Bad Person

Cate Russell-Cole fills us on on Where to Get Free Images for Blog Posts.

This hysterical video via Jay Donovan has me thinking I’m in the wrong profession if I really want to get things done.

All the best to all of you for knowing your own.

Piper Bayard

FIRELANDS Apocalypse Reader/Blogger Challenge!

FIRELANDS Cover

FIRELANDS, my dystopian thriller, was born on June 4. To celebrate, I want to thank my fellow bloggers and awesome readers for helping it to achieve a 10 on the Debut Novel Apgar Scale.

To do this, I have created the FIRELANDS Apocalypse Reader/Blogger Challenge. To put it simply, this consists of twin contests—one for bloggers, and one for readers–open between now and July 19.

FOR THE READERS

PRIZES

*drumroll please*

FIRELANDS Apocalypse Survival Kit!

Your very own FIRELANDS Apocalypse Survival Kit! My first choice would be to include a .45 with ammo, but due to firearms restrictions, I’ll have to let you see to that yourselves. However, I’ve given careful thought to the other things you’ll need to survive the apocalypse in style and comfort . . .

Swedish Fire Knife on the Dock

The Swedish Fireknife by Light My Fire

Fireknife—Firelands. Get it? This Swedish Fire Knife has a Mora blade with a fire starter in the handle and instructions on how to create blaze-producing sparks without the need of matches. Invaluable when you need to blow something up, or when you just need to gut and clean a squirrel, split your kindling, and light your campfire to cook it for dinner.

image by Light My Fire

image by Light My Fire

And speaking of dinner . . .

Tactical Bacon

Yes, it’s bacon in a can. Good for up to ten years post-apocalypse. Helps keep you strong for fighting off those Josephites. Check out this commercial by “Shotgun” Max Beavins.

Bacon is not only useful for dinner, but as social media has proven, it’s a great way to make friends. In fact, if you go onto Facebook right now and simply type “bacon” as your status update, you’ll get more responses than if you posted five pictures of your children. The only thing that can compete with bacon as social grease is Grumpy Cat.

Which brings me to the next item in the FIRELANDS Apocalypse Survival Kit . . .

Grumpy Cat The End is Near

Stuffed Grumpy Cat

A stuffed Grumpy Cat, handmade by me since there are no official models yet. Grumpy Cat will be your perfect post-apocalypse companion. She has a proven track record of winning friends and influencing people, and she will be the only creature who is actually delighted about your dire situation.

Barter Goods

Once your Grumpy Cat helps you make a few friends, you’ll need to be prepared to barter. So your FIRELANDS Apocalypse Survival Kit comes with the age-old tried and true barter goods, cigarettes and chocolate.

Lucky Lights Pic

You might notice those are candy cigarettes, which are desirable barter items to both smokers and non-smokers. And they never go bad.

Signed Author Copy

A first edition autographed copy of FIRELANDS for your post-apocalyptic reading needs.

Eddie Bauer Rippac Packable Daypack "Before" Picture

Eddie Bauer Rippac Packable Daypack
“Before” Picture

Go Bag

Obviously, you’ll need something to carry all of these post-apocalyptic necessities, so I’m including this Eddie Bauer Rippac Packable Daypack. A full-sized ripstop backpack that folds in on itself like a second term presidency, except it’s much tidier and way more useful.

Eddie Bauer Rippac "After" Picture

Eddie Bauer Rippac
“After” Picture

Quick! How Do I Enter the FIRELANDS Apocalypse Reader Challenge?

There are four ways for READERS to enter the FIRELANDS Apocalypse Challenge:

1)    Quote – Good for one entry in random drawing.

  • Leave a quote from FIRELANDS on this or any other linked blog, OR
  • Post a quote on Facebook and make sure I see it, OR
  • Send a quote to @PiperBayard on Twitter.

2)    Picture – Good for one entry in random drawing.

  • Post a picture of yourself with a copy of FIRELANDS in paper or on your electronic device on a linked blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter and tag me or link to me to make sure I see it.

3)    Mailing List – Good for one entry in random drawing.

  • Sign up on the Bayard & Holmes mailing list at Bayard & Holmes Newsletter. You will receive our infrequent newsletters and notices of our book releases. We will protect your email from foreign operatives, phone solicitors, and grasping DHS agents, but we cannot give you any guarantees about what the NSA will do with it.

4)    Review – Each review is good for one entry in random drawing.

  • Leave a review of FIRELANDS at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and/or iPad, and link to it in the comments here or in any other linked blog. EACH REVIEW IS CONSIDERED AN ENTRY so you could enter up to four times.

This means your name can be entered for the drawing up to seven times–once each for a quote, a picture, and signing up on the mailing list, and up to four more times for reviews. No purchase is necessary to enter.

FOR THE BLOGGERS

PRIZES

A Hearty Pimping!

Your prize will be a Hearty Pimping! Since we bloggers tend to be exhibitionists, I will expose you these three ways:

SocialIn Logo

  • A featured post on the Social In Worldwide, Inc. Network. Social In is a Twitter-driven network of forty sites nationwide with a collective following of approximately two million people. Your feature will appear on all forty sites and will be tweeted out to those two million people with links to your site, your book, your Twitter handle, and your Facebook page.
  • A feature post at the Bayard & Holmes site with links to all of your vitals.
  • A featured spot in the sidebar at our Bayard & Holmes web site during the month of August.

Quick! How Do I Enter the FIRELANDS Apocalypse Blogger Challenge?

Bloggers enter the FIRELANDS Apocalypse Challenge by blogging about anything apocalyptic . . .

  • Favorite/worst apocalyptic movie, song, TV show, cult, food, plague, disaster, etc.
  • How you will make moonshine, cookies, party favors, etc. in the apocalypse
  • Post-Apocalyptic pet care
  • The religion you would create to control the world during the apocalypse
  • Absolutely anything having anything at all to do with the Apocalypse.

Mention FIRELANDS, and link back to this post so I see it. That simple. You’re entered in the random drawing for the opportunity to expose yourself.

BLOGGERS CAN BE READERS!

Entering one contest does not exclude you from entering the other, but only one prize per winner.

Drawings will be held on July 19, 2013, and winners will be announced in The End is Near post on that day. Each winner will have two weeks to claim his/her prize. Any prize unclaimed after two weeks will be forfeit, and a new winner will be selected.

Again, I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. There is a fear when releasing a book that it will be like a party where no one shows up. Thank you for showing up at my party. You each hold a special place in my heart.

LET THE FIRELANDS APOCALYPSE READER/BLOGGER CHALLENGE BEGIN!

Field on Fire Canstock

Eighty years in the future, America has devolved into a totalitarian theocracy. The ruling Josephites clone the only seeds that grow in the post-apocalyptic climate, allowing their Prophet to control who eats, who starves, and who dies in the ritual fires that atone society.

Subsisting on the fringes, Archer risks violation and death each day as she scours the forest for game to feed her people. When a Josephite refugee seeks sanctuary in her home, Archer is driven to chance a desperate gamble. A gamble that will bring down the Prophet and deliver seeds and freedom, or end in a fiery death for herself and for everyone she loves.

Seeds are life . . . Seeds are power . . . Seeds are the only hope of a despairing people. What will Archer do for the seeds of freedom, and what will she justify in their name?

FIRELANDS

Available from Amazon in Paperback and on Kindle

Also in e-book at Barnes & Noble and Kobo,

and at iTunes for iPad and mobile devices.

The Nine Year Baby — FIRELANDS Cover Reveal

By Piper Bayard

Most babies take nine months. Some take nine years.

Nine years ago, a friend offered to get me into the insurance business. I had an inactive law license, and my kids had just started back to school. It made sense. They would pay for my licensing and get me set up in business. Money coming through the door on my schedule. Sounded like the perfect fit for a recovering attorney/stay-at-home mom. . . . Except for one thing. If I poured my energy into starting an insurance business, I would never write a book. I could live and die happy without ever selling an insurance policy, but I couldn’t live and die happy if I never wrote a book. And so it began.

Writing in notebook Can Stock 2377066

The first draft took 5 1/2 years. Yes, really. I sat in the corner of the coffee shop, playing with my memories of all of the people I knew and wanted to know and telling whatever story they directed me in that day. Plot? Why have plot when you have 78 main characters? Tension? Who needs that? Books are where we go to escape tension, right? I took every night, weekend, and summer vacation off, along with an entire year to care for my mother. Eventually, though, I had what was sure to be the next #1 New York Times best selling novel, not to mention a blockbuster movie starring a younger Kiera Knightley and Ian Somerhalder. All of my family and friends loved it. It would produce the greatest bidding war in publishing history!

Then a few rejections started rolling in. What? Couldn’t they see my vision? I swallowed enough of my pride to hire an editor. Enter Kristen Lamb, best selling author, social media jedi, and editor. One of the teachers from my first Dallas/Ft. Worth Writers Conference. When she quit laughing, she called me up and spent five hours telling me exactly what was wrong with my book. I scrapped my “baby” and started over. Page one.

Kristen taught me the difference between writing a novel and hanging out with my imaginary friends. Over the course of the next year and a half, I slaughtered 68 of my favorite 78 characters, introduced a wicked antagonist, wrote action that was connected to a plot, and actually had a few people disagreeing with each other along the way. At the same time, also with Kristen’s help, I built a social media platform which connected me with several best selling authors who I now call my friends and mentors.

After another, much more successful edit, it was time to polish and market. With all of the upheaval in New York among the Big However-Many-Are-Left-Standing-Today, I wasn’t so sure I even wanted an agent or the traditional model. After all, I had a brilliant publishing attorney, Susan Spann, in my corner. I focused on writing my next book–a spy thriller with my writing partner Jay Holmes. It was enough to let my dystopian thriller shake out as it would.

With time and recommendations from Kristen and other new friends, I met up with best selling author and publisher Aaron Patterson of Stonehouse Ink. He chatted with me a bit and decided I wouldn’t be too much of a pain to work with (I hope he still thinks that), so I sent him my manuscript. He welcomed me to the outstanding Stonehouse family of authors.

Out June 14 from Stonehouse Ink

Out June 14 from Stonehouse Ink

I’m proud to present FIRELANDS. My nine year dystopian thriller baby. She will be delivered by Stonehouse Ink on June 14 at Amazon, and later at other outlets. I hope she will come to mean as much to you as she has to me. I also hope the rest of my babies take nine months or less.

My profound thanks to Kristen Lamb for making me her social media guinea pig and writing student. Since we met in 2010, she founded WANA International, which is dedicated to providing instruction and support to help other authors on their paths. I can’t recommend her and WANA highly enough.

My thanks, also, to each and every one of you, our readers, for your support in helping me realize this dream. You are the reason.

Next week, I’m swimming back upstream to where it all started, the DFW Writers Conference. This time, I will be a teacher.

Holmes and I wish you an outstanding week of coming closer to your dreams.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Field on Fire Canstock

FIRELANDS

Eighty years in the future, America has devolved into a totalitarian theocracy. The ruling Josephites clone the only seeds that grow in the post-apocalyptic climate, allowing their Prophet to control who eats, who starves, and who dies in the ritual fires that atone society.

Subsisting on the fringes, Archer risks violation and death each day as she scours the forest for game to feed her people. When a Josephite refugee seeks sanctuary in her home, Archer is driven to chance a desperate gamble. A gamble that will bring down the Prophet and deliver seeds and freedom, or end in a fiery death for herself and for everyone she loves.

Seeds are life . . . Seeds are power . . . Seeds are the only hope of a despairing people. What will Archer do for the seeds of freedom, and what will she justify in their name?

FIRELANDS

Available from Amazon in Paperback and on Kindle

Also in e-book at Barnes & Noble and Kobo,

and at iTunes for iPad and mobile devices.

The End is Near (and we deserve it) . . . German Flea Circus Apocalypse

German Flea Circus Hit by Freeze

Click on title above for the full story.

image by Usrien, wikimedia commons

image by Usrien, wikimedia commons

And in case you’re wondering just what a Flea Circus might look like . . .

Germany. What an orderly country. They even discipline their fleas.

Blogs and Articles in No Particular Order

In Holmes’ recent blog, Iraq–Ten Years Later, he talks a bit about the new relationship between the Iraqi Kurds and Turkey. I found this related article by Julie Lenarz of The Independent. Whatever You Think of the Iraq War, for the Kurds, It Was a Liberation

Also, a congratulation to Holmes for being Freshly Pressed this past Wednesday. The North Korean Sky is Falling. Some excellent discussions in the comments, including a few remarks from a North Korean gentleman that give an excellent example for Westerners.

In case you haven’t heard, Amazon Acquires Goodreads!!! Stonehouse Ink founder and #1 Best Selling Author Aaron Patterson gives us the scoop.

Mary Astor Blogathon

The Mary Astor Blogathon is Coming In May! Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci of Tales of the Easily Distracted and R.A. Kerr of Silver Screenings are your hostesses. Come join in this fun tribute to some awesome classics.

Marcia Richards gives us some double-snap quotes from some sassy women she knows. The Redhots: Featuring Your Sassy Stories

From NYT Best Seller Bob Mayer, author of The Green Beret Survival Guide. Whidbey Island Landslide = A Warning: Are You Prepared?

The Green Beret Survival Guide by Bob Mayer

Sometimes, voicing our concerns an opinions can actually change a little corner of the world. Pickle Company to Distraught Mom: Yes, We’ll Change Our Name

An fascinating piece of histo ry from M.J. Wright, The Truth Behind the Moon Landing Conspiracy–The Real Hoax Was Soviet.

I’ve always wondered this. What is the Difference Between Organic, Heirloom, Hybrid, and GMO?  Shawna Coronado, the Queen of Green, explains.

And another great question answered by Jami Gold at Best Selling Author Kristen Lamb’s site, WordPress.COM vs. WordPress.ORG — Which is Better for Writers? 

And how incredibly cool is this? From Emmy Winning Producer Brent Roske. If you only watch one video today . . . Don’t miss his original, star-studded series only available here on the internet, Chasing the Hill.

And for our Campaign Style Poll Daddy Question of the Week:

All the best to all of you for a week of appropriate flea interactions.

Piper Bayard

James Rollins and New Characters for Sigma Force

Sometimes, Fortune smiles down, and early this summer, she smiled on us. Holmes and I were driving along a pristine mountain road, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, when a movement caught our attention. It seemed to be a man, trussed up like a Christmas goose and wriggling about in the ditch. Half dazed, he was muttering something about a crazy blonde woman . . . Kristen Lamb, I think it was . . . and a white van. We helped him up and took him home. And, as Fortune would have it, that man was none other than New York Times bestselling author, James Rollins.

James Rollins is the author of seven Sigma Force novels, as well as the novelization of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and the Jake Ransom YA series. He is known for high adventure drawn from his extensive and accurate knowledge of science, technology, and history. He is also a veterinarian who regularly contributes his time to his local clinic to spay and neuter animals.

He was so grateful for our help that he agreed to an interview here on our blog. . . .

James Rollins in the woods near the site where we found him.

Good to see you, Dr. Rollins. Thank you for visiting our blog today. I appreciate your cooperation with the handcuffs and the blindfold. I’m sure, as the author of the Sigma Force series, you understand we can’t be too careful about people tracking us to our blog.

Please. Have a seat in the steel chair while I turn on the light. . . . Too bright for you? Oh, you’ll get used to it. . . . No. That burly fellow by the board and bucket isn’t the mysterious Holmes. Holmes leaves the interrogations interviews to me. That’s my assistant, Rolf.

Rolf, you may go now. I’m sure Dr. Rollins won’t be any trouble, will you, now, Dr. Rollins? . . . Just leave that can of RedBull, Rolf, and fill the bucket with water on your way out.

Now, Dr. Rollins. Thank you, again, for being here with us today. . . . You seem to be shivering. What a shame we don’t have a sweater for you. We’ll just get on with the questioning, then.

What was the inciting incident in your own life that inspired your commitment to writing novels?

I don’t know if there was one defining moment, but more a series of ones:  my mom loved to read and instilled it in us kids; reading a lot made me want to write; and finally I figured if I’m ever going to write, I’d better stop dreaming about it and do it.  So I wrote a bunch of short stories that are now safely buried in my backyard and hopefully will never see the light of day—then one day I felt secure enough to tackle the bulk of a whole novel.

*crosses to intercom* Rolf. Send a team to Dr. Rollins’ backyard.

So tell me, Dr. Rollins, when did you first realize you had become a celebrity?

Celebrity?  Me?  I don’t think I’ve reached that status yet.  When I get involved in a blog war with Paris Hilton (or Perez Hilton, I have trouble telling them apart), then I’ll know I’m a true celebrity.

That is a common issue with those two. Being able to tell them apart, that is. . . . Recently, you mentioned that you’re working on a book with your friend and fellow New York Times bestselling author, Steve Berry. When you two work together, what is the division of labor? In other words, how does this arrangement work in a practical sense?

It’s actually a short story, and as we’ve not officially begun that process, I can’t say how that will work out.  I’m thinking we’ll end up on some dueling range with pistols at dawn over some trivial bit (a name of a character; the color of the hero’s shirt, etc.).  Whoever wins that duel will get top billing.

I certainly hope you sell tickets to that duel. I have a lovely Sig Sauer you’re welcome to borrow if you need it.

Now, do you actually travel to all of the places in your books? If not, what sorts of things do you do to research those places?

I travel to about 65-70% of the places that I write about.  But I seldom travel for research.  I simply travel for the pleasure of it, gather notes, take pictures, and ask weird questions of locals (“What’s a strange story no one knows about this place?”). Then I shelve it all away until my characters cross that territory.  For those places that I don’t travel, my research is a combination of Internet searches, digging through stacks at libraries, and doing interviews.  Of the two ways, I prefer the traveling.

When you travel, do you pack more like a commando on a mission or a barfly on a one night stand? In other words, are you the guy passing out the sunscreen, or the one borrowing it?

I pack pretty light.  I hate checking luggage.  I did a two week book tour with only a carry-on bag.

*Note to self: Bring extra sunscreen for James Rollins at DFW Writers Conference 2012.*

One of your Sigma Force protagonists, Painter Crowe, is a Native American. What inspired you to write a Native American main character into your books?

For too long, the main characters of action adventures were all Caucasian—and male.  I wanted to stomp all over that stereotype by creating a team that is as diverse as real life, where the women are not regulated to the role of arm candy for the hero or the damsel in distress who needs rescuing.

I certainly appreciate that about your Sigma Force books, and on behalf of women and my small percentage of Native American ancestors, thank you.

Pardon me a moment. *crosses to intercom* Rolf. Bring in the Love Pooch.

Daisy, The Love Pooch

Dr. Rollins, my dog, Daisy, is a big fan of yours. She’ll be questioning you now for a bit. . . . What? The RedBull? Perhaps after the interview, if you give us enough information.

Hi Dr. Rollins. *lick, lick, wag, wag* It’s so nice to meet you. You seem like a nice writer vet. The vet my pet human takes me to is nice, too, but he gets too personal with me. You’re not going to get personal with me, are you?

Well, it depends on the presenting complaint of the client.  Sometimes there’s no way NOT to get up close and personal.

I love meeting writers who get it. Writers who understand that dog readership is a driving force in today’s market. Would you please explain the benefits of having animals in books?

As a veterinarian, I simply enjoy folding them into the story.  I knew from third-grade that I wanted to be a vet, and though I only do volunteer work with my vet degree, that passion still runs strong.  So animals keep creeping in on silent paws into my books.  Also, I think an animal is a great way to personalize and characterize the men and women in a story.  Are they a cat person or a dog person?  Can they ride a horse?  What type of dog or cat do they have?  These details can really make a significant difference in how a reader views a character.

I know they certainly matter to me and to my pet human.

There’s been lots of news about Cairo, the war dog who took down Bin Laden. (Sincere thanks to Cairo’s pilots and assistants.) War dogs are really hot, the way they sky dive and save their pet humans from bombs. Have you ever considered adding a war dog to the Sigma Force team?

In fact, that’s coming up in my very next book:  Tucker Wayne and his canine partner, Kane.  They are an incredible team.

Oh! That’s so exciting! Do you know any war dogs you could introduce to me?

Well, Daisy, Kane is not spoken for at this moment—but first he needs to survive his first Sigma adventure.  Then we’ll talk…maybe over biscuits and a rawhide bone.

That would be lovely. I love biscuits and rawhide bones and war dogs and nice writer vets. Especially all in the same place.

I loved your new novel, The Devil Colony, too. For those who don’t know, it’s about a brave dog named Kawtch who flies in helicopters and goes spelunking and saves the world from total apocalypse with a little help from a few minor characters. He’s like a war dog. Does he have a mate? And does he like tall girls?

Unfortunately, Kawtch has his eye on a cute golden retriever.  He has a thing for redheads.

Oh. . . . Do they need a maid? 

That’s not appropriate, Daisy. Rolf, you may take Daisy back, now.

Dr. Rollins, many people, myself included, are already looking forward to your next Sigma Force novel. Is there anything you can share with us about it?

Well, I think I’ve given a small hint about a new character.  As to the rest, that’s still tightly under wraps—except in this next book, Sigma goes head-to-toe with the true leaders of the Guild.  And only one group will be left standing afterward.  And how that all ends is a shocker.

Ah. Now, that’s the answer that gets you the RedBull.

Thank you so much for your time here today. I do apologize, but we’ll need to put you back in the handcuffs and blindfold as we leave. You can take them off when we push you out of the plane over your house. Just count to ten and pull the cord for the chute. You’ll be fine.

James Rollins is now safely back in his writing cave once more until at least December. You can find his bestselling books at his James Rollins website, on Amazon, or at Barnes & Noble.

Thank you, again, James Rollins, for your time, and for being such a good sport about the chute getting tangled up. It was an honor to have you visit.

Any questions or comments?

Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse

Holmes–Student of Sex, C4, and Hollow Points