Tuesday, August 25, 2015

VATTERS OF KLON is OUT!



I'm happy to announce that Vatters of Klon is now out! Links and the updated blurb from the Inside Flap below. Visit the Double Dragon link to read the Vatters prologue, Under The False Moon, and, also, if you purchase the book directly through Double Dragon website you get a slight discount off the initial price.

Double Dragon Plus Prologue: Under The False Moon 

Amazon

Kobo

Barnes & Noble and other retailers coming soon. I'll post them here as I get them.

From The Inside Flap  

0060706288378—a vatter living within the compound of Klon—has been asking himself a variety of questions of late, such as: what is the true purpose for which vatters exist and, most importantly, why do those whom the guilders and Protectors of Klon call The Renegades wish to invade Klon in order to kill the vatters.

But ask all he might, no one seemed to have the answers he wanted.

When Klon is attacked by The Renegades, 0060706288378 is abducted and brought Outside, where he discovers the answers to his most pressing questions, and finds that he and the other vatters must confront and overthrow The Solord and his forces, else The Sunjack, and all within, will perish.

Meanwhile Gorindaad—Emperor in service to the current Solord—and his imperials seek to prevent the vatters from achieving their goal. But The Solord—stricken insane from long centuries of rule—sees enemies in every shadow. Dare he trust his underlings when The Sunjack was drowning in turmoil as it was?

The fate of The Sunjack hangs in the balance; in the resulting three-way struggle between the vatters, The Empire of Espian, and The Solord, only one faction will win. Victory will mean continued existence. Defeat…total annihilation. 


As always, thanks for reading!

JJS

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Vatters Coming Very Soon

Got word from the pub yesterday that Vatter of Klon (Sunjack Book One) will be out sometime next week! I was also told that the cover above may or may not be the final cover but it should be pretty close.

More on what Vatters is about:



0060706288378—a vatter living within the compound of Klon—has been asking himself a variety of questions of late, such as: what is the true purpose for which vatters exist and, more importantly, why do those whom the Guilders and Protectors of Klon call The Renegades wish to invade Klon in order to kill vatters.



What he doesn’t know is that soon, all his questions will be answered, and that those answers will be nothing like what he’d imagined they’d be. For they will lead him on a dangerous journey of discovery, far from Klon and everything he knew, and he’ll learn that the survival of The Sunjack, and all those within, rests solely on his shoulders.  



But The Solord—stricken insane from long centuries of rule—and the wicked minions that comprise The Empire of Espian, will do everything in their power to stop him in his quest for ultimate salvation. In the resulting conflict, only one will win. Victory will mean continued existence. Defeat…total annihilation.


I'll keep you posted the second it comes out!

Thanks for reading!

JJS

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hunters History and Update

I finished the first draft of The Hunters last night and will begin work on the second draft today. So during this brief intermission, I figured I'd take the time now to talk about the history of The Hunters, from its conception, to what it is becoming.

About eight or ten years ago, when I was still trying to breakthrough into the magazine market, I came across Hungur Magazine. They publish vampire stories with a twist, which was right up my alley since I'm not a fan of the Ann Rice vampires and I've never seen or read Twilight and never will. I'm more of a Bram Stoker/GRRM(Fevre Dream) type of fan. And while I've always wanted to write a vampire tale, that kind of thing has been done to death and I couldn't find a way to make it unique. Until I came upon Hungur Magazine. The twist in their tales is that the vampire story has to be told within the context of the broader realms of speculative Fiction, including sci-fi and alternative history to name a few.

My interest piqued, I thought about what kind of story I could write in that regard. Back then I was almost strictly a fantasy writer, but a fantasy vampire story felt too humdrum. So then I got to thinking about a sci-fi setting, and after a few false starts I started thinking about what if "alien" vampires invaded Earth...then I thought, too hokey. So then I thought, what if there were "regular" vampires and humans battling on a fictional world and then "alien" vampires invade, causing the "regular" vamps and humans to work together to defeat them, and then I thought, what if the humans were the original "aliens" from way back when and then that led to the story growing way out of proportion and I had to remind myself that I needed to think "bigger idea, smaller scale".

So I extracted some notes from my mind and put them on paper and felt that I could finally stick this masterpiece within the confines of a 4k word short story.  I don't remember how long it took me to write it, maybe under a month, but I got her done and sent it to the editor.  A few weeks later she returned a response, telling me the story was good, but that I needed to fix some "pacing issues" and asked if I could give it a rewrite and resend. I told her I could but for the life of me, as I read the story over a hundred times, I couldn't find the "pacing issues" nor could I find any areas to improve. Nevertheless, I gave it a rewrite, changing some minor things, changing some time frames, and then I resent with fingers crossed.

Again, a few weeks later, the editor got back to me and said something to the effect of, "...while the story is intriguing, there's still something wrong with it that I can't put my finger on. I'm sorry, but I'm gonna have to pass..." I wasn't upset or anything, since rejection is a part of most writers' lives, but I do wish the critique had been a little less vague. I had a hard enough time fixing "pacing issues" never mind "something wrong". I still felt that the story was a good one, but that it was too weird and different to submit anywhere else; I mean it's hard enough to sell a "sci-fi vampire story" never mind a "sci-fi vampire story with something wrong". So instead if submitting elsewhere, I buried it in my files and played taps over it with a heavy heart.

Life went on. But The Hunters refused to stay dead.

So three or four years after my first attempt to have it published, I performed the rites and had it resurrected. And beneath the rotting flesh and grave worm nests, I found the "something wrong". And it was glaringly. Choppy dialogue, thin scenes, passive tense, pacing issues galore; this baby was no Dracula. Why was I seeing it now? Simple: in my natural progression as a writer, I became a better writer.

Setting aside all other projects, I gave Hunters a massive rewrite, transforming it into a concise, flowing, masterpiece. I submitted it to Hungur again, this time  accompanied by a sheepishly written cover later, reintroducing myself to the editor and telling her "Yes, this is the same story that you rejected twice all those years ago, but trust me, it's better".  A few weeks later I got her response: she said, yes it was good, but asked if I could work on how the "solution" was made and fix some "timing issues".

Déjà vu

Ok then. I reread and reread and then I addressed the issues, then reread and reread again to make sure there weren't anymore, resent, and then BAM! Contract! The Hunters was finally published in the April 2011 edition of Hungur. Here's the cover below.
For those interested, you might still be able to get a copy somewhere. There is one minor spoiler in regards to the story being written, but it's only minor.

But now that The Hunters had been brought into the world, there was more to the story that had to be told. So I began work on a short story sequel but the sequel grew bigger and bigger and eventually ran away from me.

It was around early last year that it finally returned, and it brought friends with it. Which brings us to the present. The Hunters is now a full-fledged trilogy in the making and the entire story will finally be able to be told. Applause all around.

And the story continues.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

FYE (For your Entertainment)

I promised several months ago that, in appreciation to my readers, that I would make my short stories, Remembering Crystals and The Midnight Scorpion as free as possible indefinitely. It was hard to do on Amazon for obvious reasons but now you can go to Smashwords and get any format you like for free for-ever. Free, but there is a "Set-Your-Own-Price" option for those looking to donate. (I never said I wasn't a whore) Thanks everyone: links below:

(For those who don't know, Remembering Crystals and The Midnight Scorpion are both prequels to Children of The Forgotten (New Empire Book 1))

LINK:Remembering Crystals


LINK: The Midnight Scorpion

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Vatters of Klon Update

Got word from my publisher last night that my next book, The Vatters of Klon, (Sunjack Book 1) will be out THIS month! So, yeah, I'm pretty much excited.

Vatters is hands down the deepest and most complex story I've ever written and I'm proud as hell of it. It's science-fiction but it doesn't fit into any particular sub-genre; it all depends on what you really think the story is about. Some people might say it's Hard sci-fi, others might say it's Soft sci-fi  with Hard sci-fi elements. Some might call it a Science Fantasy and I could see how that might be the case at first glance. Some might call it Biopunk or Science Fiction Opera. Others will probably call it General science-fiction.

What do I say? I would choose all of the above. But regardless of the genre, I feel, in my biased opinion, that Vatters is an awesome story worth reading.

I'll post more as the details come.


Thanks for reading! I love you all!

JJS

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Excerpts From Select Varsavian Titles (coupons on bottom)



Hey all,


Just stopping by to post some excerpts from my various works, see if some might tickle your reading bones. Enjoy.







“Drop the sling,” Durwyn said over the intercom.

Surging with relief, I hurriedly snapped the lever down and watched as the sling fell through the hatch again, followed by the unwinding tether. The ship dipped just as it had before, and in a few short moments Durwyn was calling for me to lift the sling once again.

It took an eternity for the tether to rewind itself and I worried fiercely over Hayden the entire time but, finally, the sling came up through the hatch, dripping wet and containing Hayden’s bandaged-wrapped form, a glow wand held limp in one of his hands. I undid the sling and pulled the litter over to me, unstrapping it as carefully as I could before sliding it across the floor so I could finish lifting the sling.

“About time you showed up,” I told him, nearly weeping with relief at his weak smile.

As I went to secure the sling, light flared in the open hatch and it felt as if the entire ship was stood on its nose. All sound vanished and all I could see through the hatch was a glowing white sun where Qurba had been, and the sphere of the Vandread sinking slowly into it as gigantic red flames engulfed the monstrosity.

And then I was holding on for dear life as the ship was buffeted by a storm of chaotic winds. Sound returned in a fury of loud roars and moans and I thought for sure that we’d be knocked from the sky, but then, after some very long moments, the buffeting ceased and the ship regained control.

I looked out the hatch once more to see a dark field spattered with weakly flashing red and blue stars.

Qurba was no more.

Available Here: Amazon









“Senator Benadack has betrayed us,” Governor Austil had told me as he paced his office back in Hoston, about a Long Month back. His red frockcoat had been unbuttoned, revealing the cream-colored shirt beneath and the heavy revolver at his waist. He was a tall man with a big gut that hung down over his crotch.

I’d been standing stiffly at attention on the plush gray carpet, dressed smartly in my black bondsman’s uniform: short frockcoat with tight breeches tucked into polished black boots, and the oval badge of silver pinned over my heart, proclaiming me Chief-Bondsman of West Canton. The sunlight beaming in through the wide picture window of the office had looked so peaceful, I remember thinking, with the brown plains around Hoston stretching flat all around and the city itself bustling below. Hoston still hadn’t even remotely recovered from The Incident and the ensuing plague of war, but it had been well on its way. West Cantonians were a tough people and that’s one of the reasons I was proud to call the governorate my home.

“My intelligence agents have intercepted several encrypted communications between him and Sworwatch,” Austil had continued. “Apparently, he plans to give Volda Hoston in return for a position in his government, when formed. An apparently lofty position at that, to be sure. In this capacity, he’s been working rather closely with the officers of East Canton’s army. Several prisoners we have in custody have confirmed this and their testimony has been traced back to the source.”

Governor Austil had then shifted his pacing to walk over to his desk, retrieving a manila envelope that’d been lying ambiguously upon the polished surface, the sunlight coming in through the picture window glinting off the sweat of his balding head and fat, clean-shaven jowls. Walking back over, he handed me the envelope. I hadn’t looked at it then, but instead dropped it to my side. There would be a time and place to examine the case file but, at that moment, I knew Austil had wanted my rapt attention.

“The senator is currently not in Hoston,” he’d continued once more, resuming his pacing. “My regular lawmen have been unable to locate him anywhere in West Canton, in fact. This is why I need you for this assignment. You are the best at what you do, Durwyn. Within that packet is a warrant for Senator Benadack’s arrest for high treason. There is another in there authorizing you for the utilization of lethal force, should you encounter any problems with the senator while trying to apprehend him—or in escorting him back to Hoston. He is too dangerous to remain free. I want you working on this immediately, Durwyn, and I want proof of the traitor’s capture or death soonest.”

“I understand, governor,” I’d told him.

“I knew you would, Durwyn.”

And there it was: the one single event, which had spawned from so many others, and which had eventually led me to this twisted world with no end, no hope of escape—a nightmare in truth.

Available Here: Amazon










“Master! Master!” the woodwose servant screamed from the sitting room.

I raced out there to see the air full of falling black feathers. Korax was a flapping blur, his talons out and attacking what looked to me like a flickering shadow.

“Aaahhhh!!!” the woodwose servant screamed, running from the kitchen and throwing something wide and white before him. A dinner plate. It spun through the air like a flying disc to shatter upon the flickering shadow.

Korax flapped tiredly to the ground, wings spread wide to make himself appear larger than he was, his beak wide open, and then I watched in horror as the shadow flicked out with a thin tendril to strike the vulture, sending my old friend spinning across the sitting room floor in a spray of black feathers.

The shadow then snapped out again, leaping across the room in a haze to strike at the woodwose, who dropped heavily to the floor, red blood gushing from the deep slit in the greenish skin of its throat.

As the shadow seemed to turn, it stood still just long enough for me to catch a glimpse of what it truly was. The sight sent the butterflies in my stomach off into a panicked frenzy for it was then that I knew that I was most certainly, absolutely dead.

Available Here: Amazon





Jessica used a free hand to pinch her nose closed against the stench of rabbit piss as she followed Carlos down the row of hutches on Level 4. “How many did Emily say she needed?” he asked, seemingly unaffected by the vile stench.

“Ten,” Jessica answered, hardly opening her mouth.

The hutches ran alongside the right wall of a long passageway, running away from the cropfields; wooden cages surrounded by chicken wire, with large compartments in the back for eating and sleeping and plastic bins below to collect waste. There were anywhere from ten to thirty rabbits in each hutch. At the last one, Carlos swung its front door open and began taking rabbits out, checking them first to make sure they didn’t show signs of pregnancy, and then sticking them in the metal cage Jessica was pushing with the hand truck.

She felt bad for the animals as they hopped unknowingly to the cage door, curiously sniffing out what these humans were doing here, and they were so cute with their fluffy white fur and narrow faces. Carlos picked the biggest of the bunch and when all ten were crammed in the cage, he shut the hutch door and then Jessica followed him on to the prep room at the end of the passageway.

As she followed along, she had a chance to ponder over how things seemed to be calming down within Prometheus Mons of late. No one had died since Crystal and the arguments and accusations had all but subsided. She thought it might have something to do with Gray’s July 4th celebration, which gave everyone a memory of home—wherever those homes may have been—and seemed to ground everyone, causing them to reflect on their purpose for being there. Jessica knew she had and, better yet, Peter was actually starting to warm up to her more, which was awesome since Dennis seemed to have cooled. He was still friendly, still willing to have sex whenever she wanted; he just wasn’t as affectionate as he had been when they first started out.

This morning, as she and Carlos had passed Peter by, he’d actually pulled her into a small alcove and kissed her out of the blue. She’d been beyond thrilled, if a little embarrassed—and slightly grossed out by his halitosis breath—but she was still happy.

The prep room was bright, with white walls and a stainless steel sink attached to a counter jutting from the right wall. Knives bristled in a wooden knife holder on the counter’s surface and a plastic cutting board sat ready next to it. A hose ran from beneath the sink to coil on its own holder above the counter while the tiled floor dipped down to surround a slotted drain, for washing away the blood and guts.

Jessica parked the hand truck in a corner, facing the rabbits away from the counter and their doom.

“You ever kill rabbits before?” Carlos asked, reaching down to pick one up by the scruff and bringing it over to the counter, the rabbit hanging expectantly placid, perhaps thinking it was heading for a bath.

“Not here, but I’ve done it before at Gray’s ranch. Remember our deal though; I push the hand truck, you do the honors.” Killing chickens and fish was one thing; slaughtering cute little bunnies was another.

“I haven’t forgotten, mami.”

“Do you want me to get you a knife?”

“A knife?” Carlos said, putting a large hand over the rabbit’s head, as if he were about to pet it. “Not for this part. All the ones after will smell the blood and it will scare them, ruining the meat. Just keep them coming.”

“So what do you—” she flinched as he suddenly twisted the rabbit’s neck, creating a loud, hollow pop she could feel in her teeth. He tossed the dead animal onto the cutting board then waited for her to get another one. Still in shock, she reached in, took another rabbit out by the scruff, and handed it reluctantly to Carlos, and then watched as he did the same to it, twisting sharply, and then to the one after and so on. Ten hollow pops, each making Jessica wince sickeningly. She supposed it was probably more humane this way but the sheer barbaric vibe made her feel bad for the animals.

When all ten rabbits were lying piled on the counter, their black eyes bulging from their narrow heads, Carlos said, “Now I’m gonna need the knife.”

Available Here: Amazon and Smashwords







“Thirty seconds! Get ready!” Theabert called out.

The side panels of the fuselage slid back and down, creating duel ramps that let in the gusting wind. Cornelius stood and had to immediately grab onto one of the handholds that were bolted to the ceiling to prevent himself from falling over. Holding on, he stared out the starboard side opening, his heart ready to pound from his battle-vest.

To his left stood Herd, to his right Sergeant Toni, a female buck sergeant whose first combat mission this also was; she was one of the few green enlisted in his charge.

Theabert stood in the port side with Ward and 1st squad.

Down below, the LAAV was following the yellowish-black squirm of a highway that was spattered with heavy Araian and imperial vehicles, though they were going by too fast for him to make out their details, and then the LAAV was soaring over a metal-walled settlement of domed buildings and winding streets.

As the LAAV dipped lower, Cornelius could see scores of helmetless Araians and helmeted humans racing for their homes and other structures, seeking safety as the quartet of LAAVs roared lower, knowing that something big was gonna kick off and they didn’t want to be a part of it.

Cornelius heard the engines of his LAAV turning on their screws, going vertical, and then the craft came to an almost complete stop, the wind gushing all around. The LAAV dropped towards a dome-topped building surrounded by a high metal wall. Cornelius recognized it as the suspected hideout from the morning briefing.

Two of the other LAAVs dropped low to either side of the building to hover above the rocky courtyard and 3rd and 4th platoons—run by Williams and Erikson respectfully—jumped out to run towards the building, the LAAVs then shooting back up to circle around, remaining on station for ground support.

“Avalanche and Lions are on the ground!” came Lieutenant Dennison’s squeaky voice over the com-waves. And then Cornelius’ LAAV was just a meter above the curving dome.

“Go! Go! Go!” the flight-officer yelled, and then Cornelius and the rest of 2nd platoon were running down the ramps to either side to jump down from the LAAV, just as they’d done hundreds of times in training, landing heavily on the curved roof, the added force of the warped gravity sending a vibrating jolt up from his ankles to the base of his skull, causing him to almost lose his balance as he wobbled on the thin strip of ledge, but Herd was there behind him and managed to push him forward with one strong arm, saving him from the fall.

Cornelius nodded his appreciation then keyed the com on his arm console, “Renegades in position!” and Lieutenant Dennison repeated the call.

A second later, 1st platoon landed on the other side of the dome, Rhento calling in, “Bombers in position!”

The LAAVs roared up to join the other two circling the settlement high above.

“All units engage!” Lieutenant Dennison said after repeating Rhento’s call.

Sergeant Theabert took point and led 2nd platoon to an access hatch on the dome’s western side, Rhento bringing 1st platoon around from the other way. Private Fivork of Ward’s squad then stepped over and placed a round mag-charge on the hatch before yelling over the com, “Fire in the hole!”

There was a muffled explosion followed by a cloud of smoke, and then the hatch was gone, having been blown inward. Cornelius ordered Ward and 1st squad into the breach first. He followed right after, close behind Private Fivork, activating his visor’s night-vision so he could penetrate the darkness beyond, his world becoming shades of blues, whites, and blacks all around to reveal a narrow hallway.

“Avalanche engaging,” Williams said over the com-waves. “Ground floor clear. Moving up.”

“Lions engaging,” Erikson said a few moments after. “All clear of enemy but there’s a whole lot of contraband lying around. We’re securing it and continuing search.”

“The hallway forks ahead and there’s another down the way, sir,” Theabert said from behind Cornelius on the platoon’s private channel. “We’re gonna need to split up and search the adjoining rooms. I’ll take 1st squad right. You take 2nd left. Roger, sir?”

“Roger that. I’ll take 2nd squad left and have the Bombers search the other hallway.” He keyed the com, telling Rhento to go on ahead, and then he took Herd and 2rd squad left down the blue-smeared hallway.

Cornelius broke the squad down into two fire-teams, Herd taking one, Sergeant Toni the other, and had them search every room down the length of the hallway while hoping he wasn’t going by the book too much.

He was suddenly more afraid of being fragged by his own troops than he was of running into a hostile rebel and had to keep his anxiety in check by rationalizing that he hadn’t gotten any complaints so far, so he was probably doing all right.

Then again, would they really bother with complaining if they were just gonna kill him?

He shook the unpleasant thought from his mind and made his way around several soldiers to head for the next room, thinking to make himself useful. He clicked the safety off his battle-rifle, setting it to burst. Positioning himself, he kicked open the door and his chest filled with freezing ice when he saw movement, a black shadow sweeping through the field of white and blue.

Dropping to one knee, he fired a short burst into the room, his adrenaline surging, and when he saw more shadows flash across the room, he switched to full auto and sprayed the room from side-to-side, bracing for the return fire.

“Shots fired! Shots fired, fourth floor!” someone shouted over the com, then, Sergeant Theabert, “Ceasefire! Ceasefire now, sir!”

Cornelius did so but didn’t break his gaze from the small room, which was full of smoke, the wisps appearing as black swirling cobwebs through his night-vision. He stood, but then immediately went back to a knee, bringing the battle-rifle back up to his shoulder when he saw more movement…and then he noticed the small lamp in the corner of the room, casting shadows along the walls as the door swung slowly back and forth; other than the lamp, the room was empty, absent even of furniture.

He’d been so keyed up that his mind figured the shadows for rebels, perhaps preparing an ambush.

He could feel his face flushing red behind his faceplate.

“What the fuck are you shooting at, sir?” Theabert roared, stomping down the hall towards him.

“T-thought I saw something moving, sergeant,” he mumbled, feeling like a complete idiot and wanted to be anywhere else but where he was at the moment. If this incident didn’t get him fragged he didn’t know what would.

Before he had time to explain himself further, Theabert stepped over and whacked him hard across both sides of his helmet, making his head ring. “Next time, don’t think, sir! Confirm your target before you get yourself or, more importantly, someone else killed! Got it, sir?”

“Got it, sergeant.” It was a struggle to keep his anger and embarrassment at bay, but at least he was able to maintain the former before he did something truly stupid. Instinct wanted to hit Theabert back but he had to remember where he was. And technically, he could’ve had Theabert arrested for assault on an officer, but that would be just as good as signing his own death warrant.

“Now keep searching,” Theabert said before shoving passed him back into the adjacent hallway.

Cornelius backed away, content for now to let the others take the lead in battering down the doors and checking the rooms.

Available Here: Amazon and Smashwords



Oh, and btw, here are a couple of Smashwords coupon codes for Children of The Forgotten and Let Nature Decide:


Children of the Forgotten: 75% off ; enter WC85L, expires Sept 4th



Let Nature Decide: 75% off; enter LU47H, expires Sept 4th



Share these codes with your friends and fellow readers!


























Varsavian Press Spring Ebook Sale!

Fantasy : Hero of Twilight (Revised and Expanded) (Golden Griffin Book 1) Young Bathmal was born nothing and was destined to be no...