Steamfunk * Steampunk * Sword & Soul

  • ngolo
  • Balogun Ojetade

Latest

THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR GOES CYBERPUNK WITH K. CERES WRIGHT!

K Ceres WrightNext on the Butler/Banks Book Tour is Cyberpunk author K. Ceres Wright!

Ms. Wright has been watching science fiction (SF) since she was three years old. As she grew, she became less and less satisfied with the limited role minorities played in many SF books, shows, and movies, and decided to write SF that better reflected the diversity of the real world.

Her first novel, Cog, was published by Raw Dog Screaming Press in July 2013. Her other work has appeared in Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction; Hazard Yet Forward; Many Genres, One Craft; The 2008 Rhysling Anthology; Far Worlds Anthology and the upcoming Diner Stories Anthology.

CogExcerpt from Cog

Perim Nestor stood watch over Arlington from a curved window office in the American Hologram building. A scrim of clouds obscured most of the evening sky as commuters headed home, yet a roseate sunset tinged the underside of the grey, offering hope of a sunny tomorrow. Reflections from the streets below, clotted with the red of brake lights, danced merrily on nearby buildings.

Perim abandoned his watch and took up residence against a credenza along the opposite wall, arms folded, jaw clenched, waiting for the coming storm. He did not have to wait long.

“You’re joking, right?”

William Ryder stretched the skin between his eyebrows with his thumb and index finger, then formed a fist and slammed it on the table in front of him. He stood up, hunching over the edge of his father’s cherry wood desk. The owner sat on the opposite side, glaring. Light from a squat, burnished pewter lamp threw up blurry shadows on the metal paneling. 

“Right?”

“Wills, sit down!” The stentorian voice of Geren Ryder echoed in the large office. The bones of his face set like ice, holdovers of the Last Glacial Maximum. Salt-and-pepper hair framed a mahogany canvas. 

His son was a mirror image, only more muscular, with a coloring of polished sepia.

Perim Nestor remained silent. However spartan the office, it reflected more than the green and brown décor. It reflected the multi-trillion-dollar company that Geren Ryder had built from scratch. And he was used to being listened to. 

Wills sat down, but the tenseness remained. He hovered on the edge of the chair, ready to spring. Geren continued, his voice now measured and calm. 

“I didn’t know Perim was my son until last week. After I confirmed it, I’ve been…coming to grips with the implications.”

“Confirmed?” Wills said. “So it’s been confirmed that you whored around on my mother. As if I hadn’t already known. And what do you expect me to do? Jump up and say, ‘I’ve always wanted a brother’? Shed heartfelt tears and give him a slap on the back?” 

Silence. The ether froze, like hanging mist on a December morning. Perim drew up his lips and met the flinty stare Wills leveled at him. He couldn’t blame the man. Heir apparent to a wireless hologram empire and presto change-o…a long-lost older brother appears.

“Does Nicholle know?” Wills said, eyes still riveted on Perim.

“No. She’s busy recreating the Prado in Anacostia. I didn’t want to distract her. It’s her first full-scale exhibit,” Geren said.

Wills relaxed somewhat, straightening and placing his arm on the desk. Mrs. Arthur Knowles and her Two Sons looked on the proceedings from the wall behind Geren. In the painting, Mrs. Knowles was sitting on a couch, one son clinging to her as his hand rested on a book. The other son lay wrong-way on the couch, barefoot, his hand on his chin, as if contemplating some mischief.

“I don’t want anything material…no money, no stock. I just want acknowledgment,” Perim said.

“Acknowledgment!” Wills sprang from his seat. “And why do I have a hard time believing that? On the eve of my father announcing his retirement from American Hologram, you just happen to show up.” 

Wills approached Perim, jabbing a finger in the air between them.

“I’ve dealt with drug dealers, pimps, and CEOs, and I know bullshit when I hear it. It’s all the same. You want something. Something like American Hologram.” 

Perim straightened. “I head my own accounting firm. What would I need with your company?”

“Why settle for a little power, when you can have a lot?”

“Is that your life’s motto?” Perim stole a glance at Geren. “In that case, you’d better watch your back, Father.”

Too late Perim noticed the oncoming blur of flesh, the carpet rising to meet the side of his face. His next view was of a sideways Potomac River through the curve of the picture window. The reflection of neon pinks and blues undulated in the invisible waves and careened like a slow-motion merry-go-round. Wills’ feet left his field of vision. Wind chimes whispered as he exited through the magfield.

“I should have told you he boxed in college,” Geren said, matter-of-factly.

“No shit,” Perim said, only it came out sounding like, “Oh ih.” His head spun, mental function a whirlpool. He edged up on one elbow, then leaned against the credenza and slid upright. The room slowed.

“You’ll come to work for me. I’ll make you a vice president, but you’ll have to prove your mettle,” Geren said. “Especially to Wills. He can be a hothead, but he respects skill.”

“I have my own—”

“Company, yes. That has a quick ratio of point seven eight. How long do you expect to stay in business running those numbers?” Geren arose and began packing a briefcase that lay open on the desk. 

Perim pulled himself to standing, gripping the credenza. “We just scored a large contract with the defense department.” He rubbed his jaw, hoping there would be no bruise. 

Geren guffawed. “If you call forty million a large contract. Look, it’s settled. I just sent in the approval. Let your second run the company and you report here first thing in the morning. But…we will wait on the acknowledgement until after I announce my retirement.” He closed the case and hefted it off the desk. “Come prepared to learn. See you tomorrow.”

Wind chimes echoed again as Geren disappeared through the doorway. Perim smiled to himself. This is going better than expected.

 

You can find Cog at http://www.amazon.com/Cog-K-Ceres-Wright/dp/1935738437

More from K. Ceres Wright:

Website: http://www.kcereswright.com/

 

 

 

DREAM-CASTING “NGOLO”: An Afrikan Martial Arts Sci-Fi Film Competes In The Urban Action Showcase!

Rite of PassageDream Casting – imagining which big name stars would fill roles in a movie based on your favorite book or comic book; or based on a story, book or screenplay that you wrote – has become popular nowadays. I did it a while ago with Rite of Passage, the Steamfunk feature film I wrote based on a Blacktastic story by Milton Davis.

Rite of Passage has been produced and will premiere in Los Angeles May 8.

 

Artwork by Moises Martins.

Artwork by Moises Martins.

Milton and I have teamed up, once again, for another story of Milton’s that I have developed into a screenplay. The story, Ngolo, is a gritty, Afrikan martial arts / science fiction feature film, set in the near future. Ngolo is now officially entered into the Urban Action Script contest at the Urban Action Showcase and Expo.

The Urban Action Showcase, in partnership with Cinemax, is a multi-day, independent Action film festival, showcase, Action script and comic book competition, and Urban Action Expo, premiering minority filmmakers specifically in the Action film genre.

By focusing on the thrill and excitement of the Action genre and recognizing the need for integration in it, the Urban Action Showcase has set itself apart from other film festivals as the only one of its kind!

The Urban Action Showcase advocates minority actors, filmmakers, producers, and industry professionals of the Action film genre through workshops, panel discussion, screenings and events and they endeavor to encourage major film studios to both include and pioneer more ethnically diverse casts and projects in the Action genre. 

The Urban Action Showcase is presented by Action Scene Combat (ASC) Productions, a full service production company – founded in 2000 by the creator of the Urban Action Showcase, Demetrius Angelo – which pioneers ethnically diverse works in the Action film genre.

Below, I dream cast Ngolo. My dream casting is different, however, as I do a big budget casting and a low-budget casting. It should be noted, however, that honestly, most of the actors cast in the low-budget version would be cast in the big budget version if I had any say in the matter – they are just that good.

Logline

In the near-future, assassinations are legal, as long as they are carried out by government-sanctioned guilds of assassins, who settle disputes in boardrooms and political offices around the world. One guild – the Bloodmen – is the most skilled; the most dangerous; the most feared…until the day the hunters become the hunted.

 

Ngolo Synopsis

            When a contract for the life of Senator PATRICK STANTON – a man hell-bent on eradicating the assassin guilds – is issued and taken on by the Bloodmen, it is suspected by the Bloodmen’s Guild Professor (2nd-In-Command), STEPHEN JONES, that the master of the guild, KAMARA KEITA, accepted the contract pro-bono (an illegal practice) in order to force Senator Stanton to vote in favor of the continued existence of legal assassination and assassin guilds at the upcoming vote on the Anti-Assassination Bill.

Desiring leadership of the Bloodmen, Stephen challenges Guildmaster Kamara to combat, with the prize being command of the guild. Kamara defeats Stephen. Ashamed and envious, Stephen leaves the Bloodmen and attempts to turn the other guilds against Kamara. Instead, the other Guildmasters and Guild Professors back Kamara and even encourage him to kill Stephen for his betrayal, which Kamara refuses to do.

Stephen goes to assassin wannabes, the TIGERS and offers them a chance to become a legitimate guild if they help him bring down the Bloodmen. The leader of the Tigers, CARLOS FAIRCHILD, is reluctant at first, but Stephen convinces him that, under Guildmaster Kamara’s leadership, the Bloodmen have become corrupt and they must be stopped before they cause the eradication of legal assassination and all the guilds. Carlos joins forces with Stephen and hands over leadership of the Tigers – and a few street gangs he has influence over – to the former Bloodman.

The Bloodmen throw their annual Founders’ Day celebration. All of the Guildmasters and Guild Professors from around the world attend. Kamara awaits the arrival of his son, MALCOLM and Malcolm’s fiancée, JAMELA RASHON, both top Bloodmen assassins.

Jamela is en route from an assignment in San Diego and Malcolm is en route from a job in Japan. While on his way to the Bloodmen’s guild house, Malcolm is ambushed by the Tigers. At the same time, the guild house is attacked by an army of Tigers and thugs, led by Stephen.

Jamela comes upon the house as it is being attacked.

And then…

To find out what happens next, you’ll just have to wait for the movie.

Yep…I’m leaving you hanging…but not for long.

Stay tuned.

Now, onto the dream casting!

Jamela Rashon: One of the best assassins in the Bloodmen guild. Witty, rebellious and confident. Loyal to the guild and her loved ones. She wants to do a lot of jobs, retire and marry her fiancé, Malcolm. A cold-blooded killer, but loving, out-going and charismatic.

Big Budget:Nicole Beharie

ngolo

 

Low Budget:Yakini Horn

ngolo

Malcolm Keita: Son of Guildmaster Kamara Keita. Skilled, efficient and upholds the traditions and culture of the Bloodmen. Honorable, loyal to his father and the guild. In love with Jamela, but puts the needs of the guild above his desire for love and happiness with her.

Big Budget: Mehcad Brooks

ngolo

Low Budget: Osceola Thaxton

ngolo

Stephen Jones: Guild Professor (2nd-In-Command) of the Bloodmen. Third-generation Bloodman. Secretly feels that he is better fit to lead the Bloodmen because of he is a legacy. Arrogant and self-serving. Highly skilled assassin, but relies more on his intelligence, cunning and charisma than his martial skills.

Big Budget: Anthony Mackie

ngolo

Low Budget: Aaron Israel

ngolo

Kamara Keita: Guildmaster of the Bloodmen. Comes from a line of African warriors and martial arts masters that stretches back to a time when the pyramids were still young. Loves the guild and views all Bloodmen as family. Honorable, intelligent, wise and level-headed. Most respected of all the Guildmasters.

Big Budget: Michael Jai White

ngolo

Low Budget: Khalil Maasi

ngolo

Carlos Fairchild: Bloodman wannabe. Leader of the Tigers, unofficial guild. Skilled martial artist and executive protection specialist. Charismatic and a good diplomat. Loyal to Stephen. Wants to be an assassin – particularly a Bloodman – above all else.

Big Budget: John Boyega

ngolo

Low Budget: Sangomurewa Adeyeye

ngolo

Patrick Stanton: Senator; becomes President of the U.S. Tough as nails, fearless, enjoys a good fight. Seeks to eradicate all Assassin Guilds.

Big Budget: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

ngolo

Low Budget: Cory Jaccino

ngolo

David Colby: Secret Service Agent and head of Stanton’s security; Experienced and intelligent, but out of his league when dealing with the Assassin Guilds.

Big Budget: Bradley Cooper

ngolo

Low Budget: Matteo Miller-Nicolato

ngolo

Sarah: Field Director of The Inside, a shadowy, secret society. Cunning, intelligent and cold-blooded. Will do anything to further the goals of The Inside and is willing to destroy anyone, or anything that stands in her way.

Big Budget: Annette Bening

ngolo

Low Budget: Mellie Miller

ngolo

Jenny Running-Fox: Shaman. Secretly an interrogator for The Inside. Outwardly, a kind, loving, witty woman married to a cruel and verbally abusive man. Really a sadist, who enjoys using torture to extract information.

Big Budget: Ashley Callingbull

ngolo

Low Budget: Ashley Callingbull (yep…the same person as the “Big Budget” actress)

ngolo

Diana Stanton: Senator / President Stanton’s wife. She is a brass knuckle-wearing, cigar smoking, beer chugging, and card-carrying militia member. The only girl of six siblings, Diana grew up fighting and rough-housing. Her daddy owned a hunting supply shop and was the local president of the NRA, so she grew up hunting with guns and bows and fishing.

Big Budget: Suzy Nakamura (this is a close upper elementary school friend of mine, turned Hollywood actress)

ngolo

Low Budget: Narisa Suzuki

ngolo

The Mail Man (Cameo): The Mail Man is the dreaded Contract Server for the Bloodmen. Even to the Bloodmen he is a mystery. It is said he has been a Bloodman since the guild’s inception, but does not seem to age beyond 40 years. Only the Bloodmen Guildmasters know his true identity. It is not even known if he died during the attack on the guilds by Stephen and the Tigers.

Big Budget: Don Cheadle

ngolo

Low Budget: Baba Taji Nanji

 

 

ngolo

THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR NOW BRINGS YOU AUTHOR KAI LEAKES!

Kai LeakesFrom Iowa, but later relocating to Alton, IL and St. Louis, MO, Kai Leakes was a multifaceted Midwestern child, who gained an addiction to books at an early age. Sharing stories with her cousins as a teen, writing books didn’t seem like something she would pursue until one day in college. Storytelling continues to be a major part of her very DNA, with the goal of sharing tales that entertain and add color to a gray literary world.

In her spare time, she likes to cook, dabble in photography, and assists with an internet/social networking group online. Loving to feed her book addiction, romance, fantasy and fiction novels are her world. Reading those particular genres help guide her as she finds the time to write and study for school.

Kai is the author of Sineaters: Devotion book one and the soon-to-be-released Sin Eaters: Retribution: Devotion book two, coming in June.

You can find her at her website: kwhp5f.wix.com/kai-leakes.

“The Light Will Always Prevail, but when the Light and Dark are at war, sometimes the Grey can only be your salvation.”  ~ Kai Leakes

 

Sin Eaters: Devotion Book One Synopsis:

SIN EATERS PROMO.inddKhamun Cross was born to do one thing and that was to watch Sanna Steele, a woman so unique and special he would risk his all to have her. So what, that in his job of watching her, he happens to prowl the streets, hunting the very things that go bump in the night. Even monsters or everyday looking people that steal humans’ souls become Khamun’s victims, and he brings with him a power, a vampirism, that would send one straight to the dark.

Khamun craves the darkness in his victims as if it were his own personal dinner, but not as much as he craves the very woman he has been ordained to watch over as her Guardian Angel. Sanna Steele is just your average twenty-seven year old, with your everyday hopes, dreams and insecurities. She is clueless about the war that is secretly raging around her in the streets of St. Louis. A war she will soon become a part of. But what is so special about Sanna that the very things that go bump in the night, seeks to snatch her from her very existence in life?

Sin EatersSin Eaters 2: Retribution (Devotion Book Two) Synopsis:

Darkness is swallowing the streets of Chicago, and a key may have been found.  Khamun and Sanna’s epic journey together has led them to this, their mission to save Nephilim Society from themselves. Still trying to open the secrets of the first book, Khamun and Sanna’s fight has resulted in a travesty that may change their lives. Now with Khamun at the cusp of a life and death decision, it’s up to his team to close ranks and protect their Oracle.

Calvin Freeman is surrounded by death. Not only has his cousin fallen in battle, but he’s now being stalked by ghosts from his past lives and a familiar lethal foe, The Medusa. What is deathly has become alluring, and what is toxic has become bittersweet. His dreams are betraying him, and war is coming as society turns a blind eye. It’s up to him and his family to bring their retribution, and it’s up to him to find out why the woman known for bringing nightmares has suddenly knocked at his door.

Take a final walk in the chilling world of Kai Leakes in Sin Eaters 2: Retribution Devotion Book Two.

If you’re already #Teamsineaters, or if you are just looking for a great read, keep a look out for the action-packed continuation coming soon June 24, 2014.

Sin Eaters 2: Retribution Pre-order now on Amazon! http://goo.gl/YtqkOu
Or Pre-order SE2 at BN: http://goo.gl/MEKt6H

 

Sin Eaters: Devotion Excerpt: 

Today…

Metallic, sweet and mind intense flavor filled the air.  The quiet that floated around made the hairs on passerby’s in the night to stand up as if the already chill filled wind wasn’t enough to have them shivering.  Rich, black ebon swallowed the alleyway keeping the individuals who occupied it secured and sequestered away from all who dared peek down the tight tunnel.  Water idly sliding down the asphalted street, mixed with oil and idle trash skating against the cracked surface, cushioned midnight colored Timberland’s as the flash of twinkling light cascaded in a flash like a pulse near the booted body.

Inhaling even shallow breaths, the individual listened as all sound seemed to be absorbed away as if in a tornado.  This silence triggered the timed attack, which had the anticipation in the individual’s body expand with power, velocity, speed and well checked strength.

If one was to be one of the many idle flies which hovered in the nearby dumpster, they would be amazed at the sight of the super human individual running in an almost flying position and landing on the second hulking form in the alley.
The rise of a scent that had cats meowing and arched in defense on the railings of a window and under a parked car filled the air again as the crisp white flash of light slashed in the night air, landing against the second balked individual as the attacker hissed.

In a fraction of a blink, claws the size of an oversized lion slashed in the air as tentacles dipped out near the blind spot of the attacker, making the being jump in the air. Bringing down a flashing light of metal unto the second balked former human looking being but now entity of horrendous looks, the precise slash against the entities flesh caused the now familiar smell to fill the air once more.  

The attacker crouched low in a resting battle position, taking in shallow calm breaths as the thing turn to attack again, running full speed.  Its Italian leather wing tipped shoes creating a rhythm of tapping song on the alleyway floor, causing the attacker to hum, throwing the entity off its thoughts.
Light sheen of perspiration kissed the attacker’s forehead with each calm inhale.  The attacker lived for this, loved it and desired the hunt of creatures such as this.

Strategizing the next move, the attacker thought back to how this prey was hunted.  A quiet smile flashed across the attackers lips.  It wasn’t hard to get to the sick bastard, the attacker posed as the entities preferred targets, an angry teenager, who wanted nothing but to get away from their parent.  It made the attacker clutch the blade that nestled comfortably against his palm, in anger at the obscene and pornographic discussions that would occur with the demon.
It made it even easier to identify that this monster wasn’t the shrewd Italian entrepreneur he portrayed to be, but was in fact a succubae level soul polluter demon.  These breed of evil were the most degenerate of demons, they enjoyed feasting off the pain of the victims through lewd sexual means, physical decapitating torture and flesh eating.
Knowing this, it silently pleased the attacker to stalk and mentally threaten the demon’s territory by baiting it, since these demons were known for their territorial nature.

Allowing the demon to believe they were to meet up outside of a popular artist’s concert, the attacker led the demon to the alleyway through simple mind manipulation and the rest is history.  Shuddering with a lethal dose of pleasure and battle tactics, the attacker’s body tightened with the wait as the breeze in the alley lightly brushed against skin.
Side stepping within the low crouch, the attacker pivoted and flipped forward with the lithe agility of a panther producing a silver gun.  Suddenly as if time stopped, bullets exploded in the air as the glimmering and glowing objects penetrated the thrown back body of the beast, causing it to howl in pain.

The attacker ran full speed, watching the bullets hit each expertly calculated point on the beast’s body.  Landing a blow to the entities ribcage; the muscles in the attacker’s bicep tightening with the impact of breaking bones and tearing flesh.
Seething in anger, contempt, disbelief and hate, the monster attempted to slash at the attacker with its claws, its teeth dripping with a mixture of its own blood and a liquid miasma.  The beast successfully slammed the attacker into the side of a building, breaking bricks and creating a crater in the wall, rushing like a bull to launch another attack of teeth and claws.  Pivoting out of the way with a deep guttural grunt, the attacker let another round of bullets to release and absorb into the slashing and bleeding beast, watching him fall.

High pitched human screams burst from the beast as it lay on the cold glistening wet pavement, its twisted and contorted body writhing as the attacker casually walked over it kneeling down and grabbing it by its neck.
Watching slowly as the entity howled, hissing and fighting back, its eyes begged to be left alone as its tentacles and claws melted away into a very human hand.  As the once beastly thing revealed itself during its cries, a disheveled looking handsome muscular man, dressed in an Italian designed straight from the runway suit, coughed up spewing blood and wheezed in agony.  The clawing man, murmured in unintelligible sentences, his sun kissed olive skin, slowly fading into a murky grey.

Wrinkles of decay and diseases, emitting from his once handsome frame, seemed to slosh away with every scream of pain and anger.  Flowing oak colored hair, drifted away as if it was dust in the wind. The man reached out attempting to tear at the attacker’s throat as flashes of the demon’s past life of darkness flowed into his vision through the eyes and briefly flashed smile of the attacker’s photogenic face.

Hunching over in a swift movement that would rival and shame a snake, if a snake could be shamed, the attacker hissed, claw palmed the man in the chest clutching at his engorged heart to pull it to its surface, beating against rapidly thinning skin, as the man screamed in garbled terror.

“Ashes to ashes…”, was whispered in the air as the attacker pulled the heart from the man’s cavity and ferociously bit into the side of the screaming man’s neck tearing and cavernously biting until the attacker’s mouth seemed to fuse with the writhing man’s jugular, as rivers of blood fluidly glided everywhere.

-Sin Eaters by Kai Leakes ©copyright 2012-

 

 

Sin Eaters 2 – Retribution (Book Two) Excerpt:

Prelude

The past . . .

“Where are you going to go, boy? You’re surrounded!”

Like hell, woulda ever let ya take me down, boss, rushed into his mind as he ran. More like sprinted through the thick, grasping trees that surrounded him. Rigged branches reached out to him as if they had a mind of their own. Their thick almost-black rooted stems twisted in their uprooting from the bowels of the earth to make him trip, but he was smarter than the trees. He leaped and veered out of their menacing way and his arms jolted outward to part through bushes.

With all of the trees that surrounded him, he would not have believed that he was back in Harlem, had he known any better; but for those who don’t know it by that name, New York was where he was. The bustling city lights covered the sky like fireflies splashed across the sky’s black canvas. The noisy zipping of various buckets and hacks driving carelessly pass tourists and city folk gave him a sense of how close he exactly was to civilization. It also gave him a sense of purpose.

Twigs snapped suddenly and the rustling of leaves tussling against each other let him know they were still hot on his trail. His mind was racing as he looked for an out. All of this was too familiar to him. Beady red eyes flickered at him in the darkness of the wilderness—no, of the park. He was in Central Park. He should have realized that. Those piercing eyes stared at him in delight, ready to seize the opportunity to hogtie him so that he could be their little plaything but he would not give them that satisfaction. Not yet.

Beads of midnight dew kissed his face the moment he stepped through the thicket. His wingtip shoes abruptly skidded as they made contact with wet, slick grass. He jumped. Then he lifted in the air, almost floating for a mere second. Both of his large feet clacked against pebbled stone the moment they met the ground.

He could hear the enemy. He could feel them breathing against the back of his neck. Each hair on his body stood in salute, coming alive in electric awareness. In this life at least, he knew he could die on his terms and die giving them a fight. In seven minutes, his time would be up soon anyway, so what could he really do about not being bumped off?

Seven . . .

A whizzing sound sizzled past his ear and he felt the hot trickle of blood mixing with his sweat and the quick pop of the gun after the fact. They wanted to play dirty. They wanted to make him appear to be a patsy and a hood. He had to laugh; he was better than a hood. Sure, at one time, he had to fill that slot but now he was his own man, a bruno to a well-known trouble boy who protected the meek of Harlem. They worked together with his gang to find those who were kidnapped or were bumping gums to the wrong people. They worked to regain money lost in predatory loans and schemes and wrongful repositions. They worked to build up their people and to protect all who walked the streets of Harlem from the highbinders that made it their mission to tear down the community. But these men who were after him, the very scum and thugs themselves, were no normal men.

Corrupted monsters in the flesh of coppers more like it. Oh, what he wouldn’t give to go out between the gams of a looker for a change.

Six . . .

The menacing snarl of dogs in the distance made him grimly chuckle before closing his eyes with the feel of his body vibrating with his gift. His gift allowed him to use the sound waves around him to channel it into music. With a slight part of his lips, he let out a low hum. Whistling he changed the pitched and dropped into a low crouch. Both hands extended outward and he observed his skin lighting up in swirling patterns against its burnished surface. That was his clue to project that vibrating power out in waves toward the hunting dogs. A change in his vision instantly allowed him to see through their glittering eyes. He then knew where to run next. With a quick shift of the pitch of his song, he caused the dogs to halt their barks, whimper, and then stopped in their tracks to turn. Attack, was his simple mental command and he watched the dogs attack their owners before sprinting away in retreat.

His sweat dripped down his face like rain on the ground before him. His ragged breath came out in sharp bursts and he pushed up to start his run again. They wouldn’t get what he had been given a vision to find. That he was sure he had hidden well; he had taken something priceless, something rare, and something they wanted destroyed but couldn’t. Something they had to hide from his people because he had learned it could kill the leader of their kind.

Five . . .

Find out what the countdown is about when Sin Eaters 2: Retribution drops June 24th 2014!

 

Additional places to follow Kai Leakes:

            FB – https://www.facebook.com/kaileakesbooks

            Twitter – https://twitter.com/KaiLeakes

            Tumblr – http://kaileakes.tumblr.com/

 

THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR, AKA THE FRESH FEST OF AFROFUTURISM PRESENTS CAROLE MCDONNELL!

The Butler / Banks Book Tour, aka the Fresh Fest of Afrofuturism, is now in its second week and still going strong!

Carole McDonnellToday’s featured author on the tour is none other than the renowned Carole McDonnell.

Carole is a book and film reviewer, whose reviews have appeared in some of the following: The Peekskill Herald, The Quarterly Black Review of Books, Christian Spotlight on the Movies, Christian Spotlight on Video Games, http://www.blogcritics.com, curledup.com, compulsivereader.com, and the fantastic stories website.

Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies, such as So Long Been Dreaming; Fantastical Visions III; Jigsaw Nation; Fantastic Stories of the Imagination; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology; Griots: Sisters of the Spear and the Steamfunk! anthology. Her stories have placed in contests such as New Mass Media, Westchester Weekly and the Annual Contemporary Western Fiction Contest.

Wind Follower Her novels include The Constant Tower and Wind Follower. She is also author of the bestselling collection of short stories, Spirit Fruit.

Carole moved from Jamaica to the United States when she was eleven and lived in Brooklyn until she was seventeen, she then attended SUNY Purchase, graduating in 1981. She is married with two children.

 

Below is one of her short stories. Enjoy!

This is How You Make a World

To the left was a small planet, gray, apparently lifeless, about one eighth the size of the destroyed, forsaken earth. To the right, about three million kilometers from Searcher 871, was a large planet, green, blue and gold, reminiscent of the old earth — but eight time its size— populated by humans with various stages of civilization development.  The Searcher had stopped in between both planets, equidistant from both. Inside, its aging inhabitant debated the pros and cons of the terraforming the smaller planet or sending their children into the populated world.

Terraforming would take six months. Not long, considering the ship’s inhabitants had been in space for eight years, since the blighted earth had died.

But the artificially created air, food, light, was already taking its toll on the children. The damaged children, children born with limited mental and emotional and physical abilities because of the tainted foods, pharmas, and air of the old earth. Their parents too were fading, on their last legs — as the old earth maxim went.

But the other planet, the one that shone like a big aqua marble in the dark sky presented other problems. True, its inhabitants had their share of petty wars. But, as far as the aged navigators could tell, chances of atomic bombs and other damages wrought by science were not little. The planet was large, resources varied and many, and tribes — who were as varied as those in the craft— were scattered across the planet. The travelers of Searcher 871 could place their damaged children in a small wood — a natural Eden, if possible— and the children and their future descendants would not be found for hundreds of years to come.  But there were fears and questions, especially among the darker-skinned inhabitants of the craft, about conquest and racial discrimination. The humanoid inhabitants of the planet had features the earthers did not have, and vice versa.

Both planets were the first they had encountered that could take on human life, their shared sun life-giving and rare for human life.

“I choose to terraform the asteroid,” Lily, the African-American woman navigator said.

“Why put our children in a world that will challenge them? We have the skill to make the asteroid suitable for them and their needs.”

“A whole year?” Denny, the Irish Captain replied. “Can they survive? Can any of us survive that long? And if we terra-form, won’t we be using up our resources even more? Our ability to recycle the air, the food, will be taxed.”

There were eighteen adults of all races, of pleasant enough dispositions. They knew how to accommodate themselves to others and to the world. Before the earth died, most parents — those who were actually fertile— had children who were “damaged” and labeled as mentally “limited” or “developmentally slow.” Yet, these children were viewed as a blessing because children themselves were so rare. The year the earth died, ten thousand ships had departed the earth, each with about five hundred crew members. Over the years, most of the crew of 871 had died, or gone stir crazy and suicidal (another American earth phrase.)  It had been difficult to explain the deaths to the children — who were both young and “limited.” But the crew had managed, telling the children that the dead crew members had really gone to worlds along the way. The children — if they missed the dead at all— believed the crew’s protective lies. But now, as the remaining elders looked at each other’s wrinkled faces and at the faces of their children, they knew their limits. Death would come soon. Puberty would appear.

Lily often wondered if puberty would be natural. Would the children “know” what to do? Would “nature” take its course? Some of the children were astute enough to understand many things. They would share their knowledge no doubt. Others could barely feed themselves. But these are the last of Earth humanoids, Lily thought. Unless some others have survived,  we are all that’s left. And even if others have survived, aren’t their children as wounded and “limited” as ours?

As the old travelers looked on their children, they could only come to the decision that terraforming might take a year, but their children would not survive in a world that was not specifically meant for them. Terraforming it had to be. The year went by. No longer did they see the stars passing past them (or vice versa.) No longer did they use the great craft’s power to move forward. All its energies were used to create a perfect land for their children. During that year, five of the eighteen parents died. But their children lived and were taken care of by the others. And each day, the planet took on its form.

A great dome was built around the planet — the laser technology creating a new atmosphere. The ice at the poles farthest from the sun were melted and pushed toward the equator where lakes —not deeper than a man’s foot, not wider than a mile—were built. The seeds of non-genetically-modified non-poisonous plants, the frozen larvae of insects and embryos of animals that would bow to humans were planted in green forests, cold artic poles, and deserts.

At last, the day came when the parents landed their craft on the new world. Some eighty children exited the craft. Lame, halt, mute, mentally limited — a joyous kind new breed of humans, incapable of hatred or pettiness. It was not known if the damage to their bodies and minds was mutagenic. Nor was Lily sure how long she and the old ones would live in that world. The children sat on the grass in front of her — their minds not really focused on the sex video she was showing them. But how could they focus? They had never seen a lake before, or little bunny rabbits, or sheep or bees before.

But Lily stood there and pointed to the dolls, then at the sex video. “This,” she said, hoping some would understand and would teach the others, “This is how you make a world.”

THE END

You can find more of Carole’s work in the following spots:

Her Website: http://www.carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/

Her Author’s Page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Carole-McDonnell/e/B0034Q3BWG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

At her publisher’s website: http://www.wildsidebooks.com/The-Constant-Tower-by-Carole-McDonnell-trade-pb_p_10772.html

THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR CONTINUES! The Humor-Infused Urban Fantasy of D.K. (Keith) Gaston

Who is D K Gaston?

Keith GastonI first met Darin, the author of more than a dozen books ranging from Speculative Fiction to Crime novels, on Facebook in the State of Black Science Fiction group. He was a quick-witted brother, always there with a funny joke. Liking his personality, I decided to purchase his book Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter – yes, authors, people will purchase your books if they like you, so stop with the diva act – and I loved it! The book was well written, had a great plot and was infused with Gaston’s humor.

I immediately searched for more of his work and found out some interesting information:  his first book was published in 2007. After serving five years in the military, he began college, earning a degree in Computer Science. Since earning his degree he’s gone on to earn two Masters degree in Technology Management and Business Administration. His experience in the military and computer sciences has shaped many of his stories and characters over the years. He also writes under the name Keith Gaston.

Taurus Moon: Magic and MayhemGaston’s most recent speculative fiction novel is Taurus Moon: Magic & Mayhem, which is the follow-up to Taurus Moon: Relic Hunter. Taurus makes his living by searching for supernatural artifacts for anyone willing to pay his price.

Gaston says “These two novels are among my favorite because they allow me to express my humor, as much as the fast-paced action, throughout the books.”

Taurus Moon: Magic & Mayhem is a fast-paced action and fantasy novel, sprinkled with humor. After saving the lives of a family about to be slaughtered by Lycans, Taurus and Gully are pulled into a realm where magic is supreme and technology is nonexistent. They must travel through harsh lands to find their way home.

The uneasy alliance between an evil sorceress queen, Morgana le Fay, and Grimes, a Lycan king, is threatened because of the relic hunter’s and mage’s presence. Taurus and Gully will have to use every trick they’ve every learned to survive the looming battle, but will it be enough?

 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Gully’s lungs burned, and cold sweat dripped down his face, but he couldn’t stop running, because stopping meant death.

Shadowing them on all fours, their stalkers were urged on with an inhuman need to slaughter. The heavy pounding of their massive paws against the frozen landscape grew ever closer. He pictured his pursuers’ tongues lolling from their mouths, salivating with anticipation. Wails filled the night; their terrifying howls alerting others of their pack that the chase was nearly over.

Gully had hoped the thick trees would offer him and the people he’d rescued, places to conceal themselves, but it wasn’t to be. The predators’ night vision could penetrate the dark with ease and their sense of smell could detect the four of them wherever they may hide.

Desperation begged that he plunge deeper into the woods. More than once, he’d seen what the claws and teeth of the predators could do to human flesh—saw the terror frozen in the eyes of their dead victims. Gully saw that same fear in the eyes of the family he was trying to protect. A hard knot had gotten trapped in his throat when the small girl glanced in his direction. Her gaze became saucers and she mouthed a silent scream.

Gully forced himself to twist his neck around to glance over his shoulder toward whatever she saw. He spotted the blood red glow of their ominous eyes first, then saw three of the beasts leap out from the darkness, their maws snapping open and close with enthusiasm as they anticipated flesh being trapped between their razor-sharp teeth.

The girl finally gave voice to her scream. It was time to stop running. Gully turned on his heels and faced the rampaging creatures. Exhausted and out of breath, he struggled to control his panic. Every fiber of his being shouted for him to continue running, but deep inside he knew that running would only get them killed. Gully shoved his fear aside, not for himself, but for the small girl and her parents.

The werewolves hastened their charge.

***

I sliced a jagged line across Darla’s neck with the silver blade from my wrist-mount to let her father know, I was serious about killing her. A thin line of warm blood trickled down her throat to her naked body. Grimes snarled, but stopped his advance toward me. His long abnormal fingernails and fangs retracted. Red menacing eyes reverted back to lifeless gray ones. As the dark brown fur slowly withdrew back into his skin, he grew smaller by several feet as he returned to his natural six-four height.

Grimes, naked and fully human, did not bother to hide his manhood, and he stared at me as if I was the one wrongly dressed for the occasion. “You are bluffing, Moon. You would not kill my daughter in cold blood,” he said not sounding entirely convinced of his words.

 Under my grasp, Darla snarled like a wild animal and said, “He’s weak, father! Kill him now!”

“Take it easy, princess. No one has to be hurt here tonight,” I whispered. I spoke to her father in a louder voice with as much confidence as I could. “Make one move, Grimes, and I’ll take off her head. Trust me, I don’t bluff.”

“That’s not exactly true, sir. Since my association with you, you have, indeed, deceived your way out of five precarious situations,” Mosley said deadpan while in his holographic Idris Elba form.

Grimes, Darla and I slowly turned our gaze to the hologram. “You’re not supposed to let the bad guys know you might be bluffing, Mosley. Sort of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?” I scolded.

The hologram winced in apology then his image disappeared. Sometimes, I wondered if Mosley was with me or against me.

Grimes smiled, his teeth elongating once again. “My daughter and I shall have white wine as we dine on your flesh tonight, Moon.”

I gritted my teeth and narrowed my eyes at him. “Despite what my blabbermouth friend said, I will cut her throat!” Something in my expression or body language told him I spoke the truth, because his teeth became humanlike again.

“You dare call my daughter and me bad guys, when it was you and your conjurer friend that broke into my castle in a pitiful attempt to rob me!”

Can you believe this guy? “You’re just going to skate over the fact that, in the midst of our pitiful attempt at robbery, Gully and I saved the lives of a family you and your darling princess here, were about to make a meal of. Here’s a tidbit of information for you. Eating innocent folks definitely places you and Darla on the wrong side of righteousness.”

Darla squirmed in my grip perhaps to break my hold, but I wasn’t having that. I pressed the silver blade tighter against her neck, drawing more blood from her. “Play nice,” I whispered into her ear.

“We have to eat,” she said defensively, as if that justified everything. “How else do you expect us to live?”

I shook my head, bowled over by the question. “That’s why the world has frozen meat sections in supermarkets, princess. You and I both know it’s not a prerequisite for werewolves to feed on human flesh. Raw meat is all you need to survive.”

“We are predators. We hunt for our food,” Grimes huffed. “You have no right to be here–no right to take our prey!”

“You’re only half right, buddy,” I retorted. “I don’t have any legal right to invade your home, but I do have a noble one. I need something from you. Not to keep… only to borrow,” I said, trying to gain some sort of control over the situation. I needed to nullify them before things got worse.

Grimes stood ramrod straight and folded his arms together. “You are joking, correct? My daughter is your prisoner, and you expect me to let you borrow something from my castle?”

“Kill him, father,” Darla yelled, as she shifted slightly, readying herself to make a move.

I lifted the flat of the blade, scratched off a thin layer of skin from her neck, and then gave her a solid tap underneath the chin. “Will you shut the hell up? Grown folks are talking here.”

She didn’t like that at all.

Too late, I realized, I’d gone too far with my belittling of her.

In an instant, Darla went into full animal state, growing two feet in height with hair covering her entire body. Two inch fangs and long fingernails as sharp and strong as the finest steel knives were only seconds away from ripping into me. I stood at a crossroads in a split second of indecision—if I cut off her head, Grimes would be on top of me with a father’s fury like no other—if  I did nothing, Darla would eventually get the upper hand in her stronger animal state. I hesitated a moment too long with my conundrum.

In a flash, she batted my arm away from her neck and heaved her head rearward, slamming the back of her skull hard against my forehead. In pain, I reeled backwards several steps, my vision an explosion of colors. I swung my blade wide and wild to make sure they couldn’t get close while I tried to regain focus. I could have used Gully right then and there, but he was busy getting that family Grimes and Darla had planned to eat to safety.

By the time my vision cleared, I saw that they had moved away to a safe distance. Both father and daughter were now full werewolves, and they both drooled at me with hunger in their eyes. Standing side-by-side, they looked at each other, then spoke in a series of grunts and growls, apparently debating who would get the first chunk of my flesh.

Grimes took a step back, letting Darla take the lead, an indication that they’d made their choice. I glanced over my shoulder, weighing what my chances would be if I sprinted down the corridor. There were no doors or turns, at least not until I’d ran down the long stretch for about thirty yards.

I would never make it. If I turned away to run, Darla would be on top of me before I took three steps, biting and clawing into my back. My pistols were already emptied from an earlier encounter. Though I had spare magazines, I’d never have time to reload. Left with the choice to fight, I planted my feet into a defensive posture and readied myself. One thing was in my favor—they’d decided to come at me one at a time.

Darla let out what I guessed was a laugh as she advanced toward me. She leapt to her left. Her paws pounded heavily against the left wall, as she launched herself to the wall on the opposite side. She bounded back and forth across the walls in a zigzag fashion so fast that she was almost a blur, in what I assumed was an attempt to disorientate me. I didn’t focus on her movements; it would have been impossible to track her that way. Instead, I listened to the timing of her paws as they made contact on the hard surface.

In my head, I counted down, three-two-one. Quickly dropping to one knee, I sliced my blade across the air above me. A dark shadow passed overhead at the same time. A gush of warm air and the smell of foul breath brushed against my face. An incredible weight fell on top of me. Darla and I went barrel rolling down the corridor. Her body stopped its momentum before mine. I continued rolling another few feet and landed on my back. Dizzy and aching, I lifted my head and tried to gain my bearings.

Darla was sprawled on the floor, and blood and spit overflowed from the severed jaw she worked desperately to put back together. My strike wasn’t a killing blow, but I’d nearly sliced her head in two. Darla’s supernatural restoration ability would eventually heal the wound. For the meantime, she would be out of the fight. Scrambling to my feet, I noticed my tumble with the princess had shortened the distance to the end of the corridor.

An anguished howl came from her father, who charged down the hallway. Leaping over Darla, Grimes made a beeline for me.

Already in mid-turn, I ran. Unlike Darla, her father wouldn’t be nearly as easy to subdue. He had a thousand years of fighting in armies throughout history under his belt. He also wasn’t as headstrong as her and had a habit of never underestimating his enemies. Lucky for me, Grimes wasn’t as agile or fast as his daughter. Immortal or not, he still suffered from the slow downs of aging.

I made it to the end of the hall and took a sharp left. Antique tables, vases and artwork adorned the walls. I retracted my blade, and pushed over anything I could get my hands on to slow him down. It didn’t work out as I’d hoped. Rather than duck and weave through the mayhem, he barreled through it as if there were no obstructions.

I groped in my pocket for a magazine and inserted the clip into my pistol. All the rounds were laced with silver. Stopping my run, I whirled around and raised my weapon to shoot. There was nothing behind me but smashed furniture and artwork. Grimes had disappeared. Cursing under my breath, I muttered, “This is not good.” I knew he could attack from any direction. Grimes’ castle probably had a network of secret passages running from every room and corridor. No matter which way I proceeded, I was likely to run into an ambush.

The best maneuver would be to stay where I was and try to find a way out of his little mousetrap. “Mosley, I need you,” I whispered, though I might as well have spoke with a bullhorn, knowing Grimes’ enhanced hearing in his wolf state could detect a pin drop a mile away.

“Is that absolutely necessary, sir? I mean, can’t you do this alone?” Mosley answered.

“Do we really need to have this conversation, you crazy computer? Of course it’s necessary, otherwise I wouldn’t be calling out to you for help,” I said frantically as I watched for an attack.

He let out a synthesized exhaustive breath. “Very well, sir.” Mosley appeared beside me clutching a chimney poker like a baseball bat. “How may I be of service?”

“Give me an overlay of the castle’s interior and then point out any heat signatures other than my own.”

 Mosley’s form changed from Idris Elba to a three dimensional map. Red blips indicated Grimes and his daughter. Darla remained where I had left her, but her father was quickly circling around to get ahead of me if I continued down the hallway. I was about to turn in the opposite direction, heading back toward Darla when more red blips appeared on the first level of the castle.

I pointed to the new blips. “Are there any cameras on that level you can tap into for a visual?” I asked, knowing he’d already bypassed Grimes’ security systems. Before Gully and I entered the castle, I had Mosley program in a loop into all the cameras to mask our illegal entry.

“Wait one moment, sir.” The overlay faded for several seconds and then was replaced with a visual of the first floor.

My heart pounded like a drum in my chest. Things had just gone from bad to a hell of a lot worse. Entering the castle like they’d been invited to an-all-you-can-eat dinner were a dozen or so large werewolves. They headed up the front and rear stairways, and used all the elevators. That howl from Grimes earlier hadn’t been anguish over his injured daughter as I had thought. It had been a clever call for backup.

TM: Relic Hunter is available in the following formats:

Ebook, paperback, audio

TM: Magic & Mayhem is available in the following formats:

Ebooks, paperback

 

RETURN OF THE TWINJAS! Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Rococoa: Diversify Your Steampunk

Recently I was interviewed by Twinja Book Reviews, a website dedicated to the fight to bring multiculturalism to Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction novels.

Founded and helmed by twin sisters Libertad and Guinevere Tomas, Twinja Book Reviews is a great site to find YA books that go beyond the white male default protagonist. Check out their ‘Our Reviews’ section for a wonderful selection of multicultural YA.

Now, the Twinjas have returned with their brilliant Diversify Your Steampunk series. I’m a participant in the series, reppin’ Steamfunk, Dieselfunk and Rococoa and there are others before me with some fantastic stuff, too, so after you read this post, hop on over to the Twinja’s website and indulge.

Thank me later.

I have reposted my contribution to the series below for your reading pleasure:

 

Diversify Your Steampunk Day 5: Welcome Back Balogun Ojetade

During our month of highlighting diversity back in December of 2013, we introduced our audience to Balogun Ojetade for the first time. Clearly with his followong he doesnt need to be introduced, but we couldnt think of a more deserving candidate to end our first week of Diversifying our Steampunk. 


1. You’ve been here before, so while we don’t require an introduction, our new followers do! What can you tell us about yourself the person, the author and the steampunk innovator?

Balogun OjetadeMy name is Balogun Ojetade. Although my name  is Yoruba, I am descended from the Ateke people of Gabon and the Seminole Nation of the Southeastern United States. I am a husband, father of eight children – seven girls and one boy – and I am also a grandfather twice over.

I am author of six novels, one non-fiction book, several articles and short stories I wrote are in anthologies and magazines and I am contributing co-editor of two anthologies. I am also a filmmaker and fight choreographer and I have created two short films and two feature films and choreographed three films, thus far.

As far as Steampunk innovation goes, I am one of the founders of the Steamfunk Movement. Steamfunk is Black / African-inspired Steampunk. We tell the stories that had previously gone untold – the stories about the Black heroes in the Age of Steam. We have done the same with Dieselpunk, which we call Dieselfunk and with Rococo, which we call Rococoa.

2. Since we’re asking everyone involved, we have to know. Why Steampunk? Was there something that drew you to this particular sub genre of science fiction? Have you always been a fan of steampunk? What draws you to steampunk? How do you define steampunk?

Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet TubmanStarting at the age of two, I was sat at the foot of my mother and encouraged to watch one of her favorite television shows – The Wild, Wild West. For those familiar with the show, you know that it was Steampunk before the word Steampunk existed. I fell in love with that show and its anachronisms and I vowed that one day I would write something in that genre, but with heroes who looked like me.

I have always been a fan of retrofuturism, however, when I wrote Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, which is recognized as the first Steamfunk novel, I had never heard of Steampunk. When my publisher wrote me and said I had written a great Steampunk story, I Googled it and discovered what Steampunk is. I turned to my wife and said “Finally, I have a name for what I have been writing all my life.”

It’s funny you called Steampunk ‘Science Fiction’ – and for many people, that is what it is, However, my expression of Steampunk would be closer to Science Fantasy. I include strong elements of magic, African spirituality and the supernatural in my works of Steamfunk. 

I define Steamfunk as retrofuturistic Science Fiction or Fantasy set in the Age of Steam. This age could be set in the Victorian Period of 1837 to 1901, or in Ancient Africa. It doesn’t matter when or where to me, as long as the dominant technology is steam power, or perhaps, the Lumineferous Aether.

3. Steampunk over the years has become so synonymous with the Victorian era, many will not wrap their heads around a non-European setting. You’re pretty much one of the innovators of a sub genre you crafted yourself. “SteamFunk.” What was the story behind Steamfunk? Why did you deem it necessary to the steampunk world?

Harriet TubmanThe Steamfunk Movement started as a conversation on a social media website in which several Black authors expressed their appreciation for Steampunk, but were disappointed in its lack of stories featuring Black heroes and its near-absence of Black people involved in Steampunk cosplay or any other aspects of the genre. I had already been writing Steampunk, as had another author Maurice Broaddus, who had written a short story entitled Pimp My Airship, but we all came to the conclusion that we would all begin to write Steampunk from a Black perspective. Maurice said “well I call the Steampunk that I write Steamfunk.” We all agreed that was the perfect name for our brand of Steampunk and that is how we came to call our work Steamfunk. 

As far as the Steamfunk Movement is concerned, I decided that we needed to bring Steamfunk to the forefront of speculative fiction and to make Steampunk known to the general Black population, who knew very little of the genre if anything at all, so I started my Chronicles of Harriet blog and began educating Black people about Steampunk and educating the world about Steamfunk.

Steamfunk is necessary because our stories deserve to be told; our voices need to be heard. And honestly, before Steamfunk, very few Black people had any interest in Steampunk. Most Black people thought it was a “whites only” thing, or that it was just corny. We showed them that you can get funky with it; that Steamfunk is exciting, fun and cool.

4. What music puts you in the mood to write for SteamFunk? If you had a soundtrack for “The Chronicles of Harriet” what would make the cut?

I have very eclectic tastes in music. I listen to everything from classical music to Zydeco to Jazz to Hip-Hop. When I write Steamfunk, however, I usually listen to the music of Ennio Morricone, who is famous for scoring spaghetti westerns such as The Good, the Bad and the UglyHigh Plains Drifter and A Fist Full of Dollars

If I had a Soundtrack for Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman, it would include: Bound to Ride and Till My Last Shot by Gangstagrass; Snowden’s Jig, by Carolina Chocolate Drops; the Prison song Early in the Mornin’; Ennio Morricone’s L’Estasi Dell’oro (“The Ecstasy of Gold”) and Il Buono, Il Cattivo, Il Bruto (“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”); and the Buck and the Preacher Theme, by Benny Carter.

5. What is the future of SteamFunk for you? Do you have other SteamFunk works in your head? Do you plan on making any other historically famous women of color leading ladies? 

The future of Steamfunk for me is in film and the final novel in the Chronicles of Harriet series. I will be releasing the Rococoa novel, Black Caesar: The Stone Ship Rises at the end of this year and I have already released the Dieselfunk novel, The Scythe this year. Stagecoach Mary Fields is already a co-star in the Chronicles of Harriet series and I have been contemplating writing a novel with her as the lead protagonist. We’ll see.

As far as film and Steamfunk, Rite of Passage, the first Steamfunk feature film, premieres May 8th in Los Angeles. I am also writing a Steamfunk film based on my short story Nandi that I hope to get major backing for.

6. You’ve made many appearances throughout the steampunk junket. Do you have any favorite conventions? Who are some of the most interesting people you’ve met through diversifying SteamPunk?

Balogun OjetadeOne of my favorite conventions is AnachroCon, which is an Atlanta-based Alternate History convention held every February. It is loads of fun and the people who put on the event – the Directors and their staff – have treated my family and me very well at the Con and have been very supportive of Steamfunk.

Some of the most interesting people I have met have become friends of mine – Diana Pho, aka Ay-Leen, the Peacemaker, an editor at Tor and founder of the brilliant Beyond Victoriana website; Mark Curtis, a genius Steampunk tinkerer and cosplayer, who cosplays Steampunk John Henry and Steampunk Lando Calrissian; Mark’s wife, Theresa Curtis, another genius, who is an expert fabricator and who cosplays a Steampunk vampire, just to name a few.

7. You also have a sub genre of fantasy known as “Sword&Soul.” What is that exactly? Any upcoming projects in that genre to come our way in the near future?

Once Upon A Time in AfrikaSword and Soul, which is African-inspired Epic and Heroic Fantasy, is actually a phrase coined by the subgenre’s founder and father, Charles R, Saunders. I wrote the novel Once Upon A Time In Afrika, which is published by another big name in Sword and Soul, Milton J. Davis, the owner and CEO of MVmedia, which publishes most of the Sword and Soul out there.

I am working on Once Upon A Time In Afrika, Book II, which I plan to release early next year.

8. It was awesome to have you back! We’re already following, but where can people just tuning in go to check up the latest updates on your work?

They can check out my website: Roaring Lions Productions , or my blog: Chronicles Of Harriet

You can reach me on Facebook ; and on Twitter @ Baba_Balogun

Oh, and please, please, PLEASE go to the Steampunk Chronicle website, register, if you haven’t already (it’s quick, easy and painless), scroll waaaay down to STEAMLIFE and then vote for me for Best Multicultural Steampunk and Best Politically Minded Steampunk, too!

Yep, it’s important. Thanks, y’all!

 

DAY 4 OF THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR! Author Milton Davis, the Sword and Soul Brother

Days 1, 2 and 3 of the Fresh Fest of Afrofuturism…the Butler / Banks Book Tour were Blacknificent; Funktastic, even. Today, we get soulful.

Sword and Soul(ful).

Today, Milton J. Davis steps up to rock the mic.

Check him out, y’all!

Milton DavisMilton Davis is owner of MVmedia, LLC , a micro publishing company specializing in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Sword and Soul. MVmedia’s mission is to provide speculative fiction books that represent people of color in a positive manner. Milton is the author of eight novels; his most recent The Woman of the Woods and Amber and the Hidden City. He is co-editor of four anthologies; Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology and Griot: Sisters of the Spear, with Charles R. Saunders; The Ki Khanga Anthology with Balogun Ojetade and the Steamfunk! Anthology, also with Balogun Ojetade.  MVmedia has also published Once Upon A Time in Afrika by Balogun Ojetade.

Milton resides in Metro Atlanta with his wife Vickie and his children Brandon and Alana. 

 

As publisher of MVmedia, Milton brings us a wide range of incredible works of Black Speculative Fiction. Today, he gives us a peek at his Blacktastic YA Urban Fantasy novel, Amber and the Hidden City!

Amber synopsis:

              Thirteen year old Amber Robinson’s life is full of changes. Her parents are sending her to a private school away from her friends, and high school looms before her. But little does she know that her biggest change awaits in a mysterious city hidden from the world for a thousand years. Why? Amber’s grandmother is a princess from this magical kingdom of Marai. She’s been summoned home to use her special abilities to select the new king but she no longer has the gift, and her daughter was never trained for the task. That leaves only one person with the ability to save the city: Amber! But there are those who are determined that Amber never reaches Marai and they will do anything to stop her. Prepare yourself for an exciting adventure that spans from the Atlanta suburbs to the grasslands of Mali. It’s a story of a girl who discovers her hidden abilities and heritage in a way that surprises and entertains.

 

Amber excerpt:

AmberAisha kicked the garbage can across the alley and screamed. She struck out with her fists, imagining Bissau’s face as the target for her frustration. A sound distracted her; she turned to see a group of people staring at her. She grinned maliciously then before the eyes of her unwanted spectators she transformed into a huge grey hyena. Her maniacal laugh sent them all scurrying away; Aisha transformed back to her true self before exiting the other end of the alley.

              She underestimated Amber. Whatever powers she possessed manifested the moment they landed in the motherland. She had been overconfident when she knew better and now the girl and her mother were lost in Dakar. A quick sweep of the local hotels revealed they were not checked in. They were clever; they knew it would be the first place she searched. They weren’t familiar with the city, so they wouldn’t take a chance in seeking a stranger for help. Aisha was dumbfounded. Where would a person begin to look for another in this world? She would have to start with her own knowledge then go from there. In Marai each folk claimed its own section of the city. She would look for the American section of the city, if one existed. That would be where they would most likely go if they didn’t choose a hotel. Aisha spotted a man dressed in a large purple shirt and loose pants striding down the street towards her. There was a smile on his face; Amber smiled backed then approached him.

              “Excuse me sir,” she said in her sweetest tone. “Where would I find the American compound?”

              The man looked puzzled. “American compound? There is no…oh, you must mean the American Embassy.”

              “Yes, that is what I mean.”

              The man scratched his chin. “It’s a long way from here. Come, I’m walking to my car. I’ll take you there.”

              “Merci, sir! Merci!”

              Aisha followed the man to a dusty vehicle. She was used to automobiles now, so she climbed into the passenger side. They pulled away quickly.

              “What’s your name?” the man asked.

              “Aisha.”

              “Well, Aisha, your Momma should have taught you never to get in a car with a stranger.”

              The man’s sinister grin was barely on his face when Aisha snatched her wicked dagger  from her clothes and pressed the tip into his neck. It was her turn to grin.

              “No, sir. You should be old enough to know not to try to take advantage of pretty young girls. Now take me to this American embassy.”

              The man’s fearful eyes drifted down to the blade. “You won’t do it. I’m driving!”

              Aisha pressed the knife into his neck just enough to draw blood. The man whimpered.

              “The embassy, fool!” she spat.

              The man drove to a building that flew a red, white and blue flag decorated with stars. Aisha leaned closed to her reluctant chauffeur then kissed him on the cheek.

              “Thank you for the ride,” she whispered.

              She nicked his neck with her knife as she exited the car. The man yelled at her and shook his fist. Aisha had already forgotten him.

              The military man at the door greeted her with a smile before looking over her shoulder at the irate man.

              “Is there a problem, ma’am?” he asked.

              “No sir, but you are very kind to ask.”

              Aisha glanced over her shoulder as her involuntary ride sped away.

              “I hope you can help me, monsieur,” she said. “My friends from America came to visit me today but it seems I lost them at the airport. I think they would come to the embassy if they were lost.”

              The guard looked at her skeptically. “There were two Americans that came to the embassy earlier today. You say they are your friends?”

              “Yes, monsieur.”

              “Yet you miss them at the airport and then come here seeking them?”

              “I must make a confession,” she said. “My friends would not know me if they saw me. I was to meet them at the airport to assist them in their travels. They apparently grew impatient.”

              “They’ve made other arrangements,” the guard said gruffly. “Have a nice day, ma’am.”

              “Please, monsier, I must find them,” Aisha pleaded.

              The guard studied her a few moments before answering.

              “You can talk with the receptionist,” he said.

              “Merci, monsieur. Merci.”

              Aisha went to the receptionist. The woman confirmed that Amber and Alake had indeed come to the embassy, but she wasn’t at liberty to say where they were staying.

              Aisha thanked her then left  the embassy. So the duo had taken refuge in a local home. It would seem to be a good move, but there were few homes in Dakar that could provide two lodgers the comfort of a hotel. Her search would not be as difficult as Amber had surmised. She had no doubt she would see them very soon. She found another alley, ran then leaped into the air, her arms spread wide. She transformed into a falcon, a cry of joy escaping her mouth. Of all the creatures she could be, the birds of prey were her favorite. Their powerful bodies’ combines with their keen sight and ultimate mobility fascinated her. If there was any creature she could remain for the rest of her life, it would be such a beast.

              She beat her wings, climbing higher over Dakar. It did not take her long to find the city section she sought. A line of mansions rimmed the ocean side, houses resembling the lineage of Marai. She circled, seeking obvious sign of where Amber and the others would be but there was none. They were smarter than that, but still even the most intelligent person can make mistakes, as Bissau proved in Paris. She descended and found a perch on a nearby office building. The midday heat did not bother her; she was a child of the desert and the falcon she chose to be was well adapted to the high heat. Now was time for patience. She felt sure she was in the right place. She would soon have what she wanted.

              It was dusk when she saw it. A mystical flash rose from a sector of town south of her. She jumped from her perch, flying as fast as she could to the source before it waned. Someone used nganga nearby and she was sure she knew who. Despite her speed by the time she reached the source of the flash it had dissipated. Two homes filled her view, both splendid compared to the other homes in Dakar. There was only one way she could find which house was which. She transformed into her human female form, this time wearing the clothes of a local. She waited until darkness settled on the city before walking to the door of the first home. She knocked for a long while before giving up and proceeding to the next house. Aisha knocked then took on a sad expression. The door swung wide and was filled by a large man with a disapproving face.

              “What do you want?” he barked.

              “Something to eat,” she replied.

              “No beggars here,” he said. “Now go before I call the police.”

              “Just a little something,” she persisted.

              The man grabbed her shirt. “Didn’t you hear me? Be gone. You’ll disturb Miss Josephine and her guests!”

              Aisha’s eyes narrowed and she smiled. “Of course I will.”

              Aisha’s foot sank into the man’s stomach. He dropped her and she landed on her feet. She stepped over the groaning man into the house.

              “Bundu, who is it at such a late hour?”

              Aisha saw a light appear on her left. Another light appeared on her right. She looked right and a saw a woman she did not recognize walking toward her as she tied her house robe belt.

              “Who are you, child?” The woman demanded. “What is the meaning of…Bundu!”

              The second door opened. A woman stepped out, a woman whose face was very familiar. The woman saw Aisha and her hands flew to her mouth.

              A third door flew open at the top of the stairs. Bissau rushed out, his face twisted in anger. He jumped from the top of the stairs. Aisha grinned.

              She waited until Bissau was almost on the floor when she transformed back into the falcon and flew by him to the room. When she transformed she stood before Amber.

              “You’re journey is over,” Aisha announced.

              Amber stumbled back. The necklace about her neck glowed with a strange light.

              “That necklace will be mine once I’m done with you!”

              She struck at Amber’s neck and was shocked when the girl blocked her blow. Her foot flashed out and Amber blocked it as well. She almost laughed when Amber punched at her face until she realized the punch was a feint. She barely avoided the swinging elbow meant for her jaw.

              “You have some wrestling skills,” Aisha said. “Your Grandma taught you well.”

              Aisha glanced behind her; Bissau and Aisha’s grandmother were running up the stairs.

              “Time to end this!”

              Aisha reached for her pouch. Amber kicked her elbow and her arm fell limp.

              “Damn you, girl. I’ll…”

              Bright light filled her vision as Amber’s elbow crashed against her head then everything went dark. When she opened her eyes the back of her head throbbed and Bissau, Amber and her grandmother were entering the mirror inside the room.

              “No you don’t!” Aisha yelled.

              She jumped at the mirror. Bissau reemerged and slammed into her, knocking her to the floor. She tried to stand but Bissau pulled her back down.

              “We have unfinished business, shape shifter!” he snarled.

              “Then it will remain unfinished!” Aisha reached for her pouch again. Bissau dodged her and ran toward the mirror. Aisha smiled; as soon as he opened his portal she would follow him. He did no such thing. Instead he picked up a nearby chair and smashed the mirror. Aisha screamed then fell onto Bissau, pummeling him with hands, feet, elbows and knees.

              “Up the stairs!” she heard a female voice yell. “They’re up the stairs!”

              Aisha halted her assault on Bissau. He lay unconscious at her feet, his beautiful face beginning to swell. She ran to the edge of the stairs and saw four uniformed men climbing up to her followed by the woman and her butler. She hissed in anger; she was back to where she started. But at least this time she had a lead. She hurried over to Bissau, grasping his arms with her hands. What she was about to do would weaken her, but she needed him, at least until she could locate Amber and her grandmother again. The transformation took longer than normal; once she was done she was a falcon again and Bissau was a mouse in her talons. She flew upward as the uniformed men reached the top of the stairs then glided out of the door into the humid night.

 

Milton’s links:

http://www.mvmediaatl.com/amber-and-the-hidden-city.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Amber-Hidden-City-Milton-Davis/dp/098008427X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1397637761&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/amber-and-the-hidden-city-davis-john-milton/1117794226?ean=9780980084276

 

 

DAY 3 OF THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR! Balogun Ojetade Transports Readers to the Roaring 20s in the Two-Fisted Dieselfunk novel, “The Scythe”

Balogun OjetadeBalogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single LinkRite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster.

He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at http://chroniclesofharriet.com/.

He is author of six novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika, two Fight Fiction, Action-Adventure novellas – A Single Link and Fist of Africa and the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk.

Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis.

You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

 

The Scythe

The ScytheHe has been given a second chance at life. A second chance at revenge. He is the bridge between the Quick and the Dead. He is…THE SCYTHE!

Out of the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, a two-fisted hero rises from the grave!

Inspired by the pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, a tale of action, adventure, thrills and chills await fans of Dieselpunk, die-hard pulp fans and readers who just love a gritty story that packs a mean punch.

Enter a world in which Gangsters, Flappers, vampires, robots and the Ku Klux Klan all roam the same dark back streets; a world of grit, grime and grease; a world of hardboiled gumshoe detectives and mad scientists; a world where magic and technology compete for rule over the world.

Dieselfunk has emerged in The Scythe…and the Roaring Twenties will never seem the same!

 

Excerpt from The Scythe

“He who sleeps with an itching anus wakes up with smelly fingers.”

Ikukulu opened his eyes. Anesusu stood over him smiling. A horde of Agu stood behind him.

“Only a madman would go to sleep with his roof on fire,” Ikukulu replied, hopping to his feet.

“This is the sigil, then?” Anesusu inquired, pointing at the carving on the kuka tree.

Ikukulu nodded. “It is. It will require all of our blood to activate it.”

“Let’s get to it, then,” Anesusu said, drawing his knife.

Anesusu held his obsidian blade high above his head.

Hundreds of similar obsidian knives, with gazelle antler handles, were thrust into the air.

Ikukulu drew his coral knife. He slid the blade across his palm, rending his flesh and then pressed the leaking gash to the sigil for a few moments.

Anesusu followed him and then each warrior from amongst the Agu did the same until the sigil was covered in gore.

“The sigil is now activated and well-fed,” Anesusu said to his brethren. “The Jugu will be upon us in a few hours and we will send them to their doom. So drink; make love – preferably not with your own wife or husband, for you married warriors – and rest up…for at midday, we usher in a new era…a new world!”

A cheer erupted from the army of Agu.

Ikukulu turned away and sauntered toward the river. The ways of the Agu disgusted him, but the refusal of his own brothers and sisters to work with the Agu had forced him to ally with them alone – a dangerous undertaking, indeed, but one most necessary. He prayed that his punishment would not be too harsh and that the Abo would one day come to realize his level of sacrifice.

###

Ikukulu and Anesusu stood at the edge of the Ogun River with three hundred armored Agu behind them.

The dawn air was cool; crisp; and carried the scent of sulfur and putrid flesh.

“The Jugu are close,” Ikukulu shouted, drawing his knife.

“Swords!” Anesusu commanded.

The Agu drew their knives and pointed them skyward. A white energy, like a bolt of lightning, coursed through the obsidian blades, from base to point. A moment later, the knives expanded into broadswords.

Ikukulu knelt, slamming the pommel of his knife into the soft earth. The knife twisted; shifted; stretched. Ikukulu stood, a razor sharp, coral scythe now gripped tightly between his fists.

A muddy, marsh- green mass thundered toward them.

Ikukulu charged toward the mass, his scythe, held low, cutting a swath in the red dirt behind him.

“Forward!” Anesusu ordered, pointing his sword toward the fast approaching mass.

The army of Agu followed their leader, keeping pace with his loping gait.

As Ikukulu came closer to the mass, the monstrous forms of the Jugu became clear. Their brawny, grey-green bodies stood upon seven foot tall frames and their thick skin was scaled and ridged like that of a crocodile. Their facial features were human, but their mouths were extended, tapering into a ‘v’, like the maw of a crocodile.

The creatures roared in unison, exposing their dagger-like teeth. They raised their arms shoulder-high, baring their razor-sharp claws.

The Jugu had no one leading them, for their Mistress, Kielgek, commanded her warriors – with whom she was psychically linked – from the Abysmal Plane.

Ikukulu leapt into the fray, his scythe slashing furiously. The coral blade met scale-armored flesh and Jugu fell.

With each death of a Jugu, Kielgek cried out in agony upon her dark throne.

However, with each death of an Agu, of which there were many, she roared in ecstasy. Her warriors fighting on the Terrestrial Plane roared with her.

“Fall back!” Anesusu bellowed, turning on his heels.

The army of Agu about-faced and retreated from the battle, sprinting along the edge of the Ogun River.

Ikukulu whirled about and took off, running closely behind Anesusu.

Ikukulu could hear the Jugu galloping behind him, hot on his heels. He felt their foul breath on the back of his neck.

The Agu ran a few yards past the tree bearing the sigil and then turned to face their enemy.

Ikukulu dived forward, rolling past the tree.

The Jugu stampeded toward Ikukulu and the Agu.

Suddenly, as if the air had devoured them, the Jugu vanished.

Ikukulu turned toward the Agu. “The Jugu have been sucked back into their abhorrent world. You have done well, warriors! Now, quickly, we must fell the tree to seal the portal forever. Anesusu and I will beat back any Jugu who try to pass through until you bring the tree down.”

“Work swiftly, my brothers and sisters!” Anesusu ordered.

Ikukulu stood a few feet in front of the tree. Anesusu stood beside him.

A vertical sliver of darkness rent the air. A scaly, grey-green head emerged from it, roaring.

Ikukulu severed the Jugu’s head with an upward slash of his scythe.

Something slammed into Ikukulu’s back with the force of a battering ram. He stumbled forward, his left arm, which held his scythe, disappearing into the black sliver. Something on the other side of the sliver grabbed a hold of him, piercing the skin of his forearm in several places.

“They have my arm,” Ikukulu gasped. Cut it off, Anesusu!”

“I promised you that no harm would come to the Abo from the Agu, my friend,” Anesusu said. “I must honor the truce.”

“If you don’t sever my arm, the Jugu will pull me into their world!” Ikukulu shouted.

“I keep my promises, Ikukulu,” Anesusu replied. “I will not do you any harm.”

A strong yank pulled Ikukulu’s shoulder and half of his face into the darkness.

“You have betrayed me!” Ikukulu spat.

“To betray, you must first belong,” Anesusu snickered. “You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. Goodbye, Ikukulu.”

Ikukulu vanished from the Terrestrial World and the foul world of the Jugu welcomed him.

 

You can purchase The Scythe and other works by Balogun Ojetade at https://www.roaringlionsproductions.com/. All of his works are also available on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Scythe-Balogun-Ojetade/dp/099140730X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0.

 

 

THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR CONTINUES! Author Alan D. Jones Wrestles with Sacrifices in Science Fiction

Sacrifices

It is Day 2 of the Butler / Banks Book Tour!

Day 1 was amazing and today, we continue the Blacknificence with our next author, Alan D. Jones!

Alan JonesAlan is a former columnist for the Atlanta Tribune, who has worked most of his adult life as a Business/IT consultant, working all across America from Los Angeles to Wall Street. Born in Atlanta, Alan attended GA-Tech and GA State, obtaining his MBA from Georgia State University’s Robinson School of Business. In addition, Alan was a feature writer for the student newspapers at both schools. Alan also served on the board of the Atlanta chapter of the National Black MBA association.

Alan, is the author of the Science Fiction novels, To Wrestle with Darkness and its prequel, Sacrifices.

 

In Sacrifices, a prequel to Alan’s first book, To Wrestle with Darkness, we meet Cil, Deborah, Ruth and Sarah. They are four sisters descended from the coupling of angels and humans. And as such they’ve been embodied with fantastical abilities which they use to defend the world from those who would harm it, be they flesh or spirit. In Sacrifices, they find themselves tested, as they must contest the forces of darkness that are intent on ending all of creation. If they are to prevail, there will certainly be sacrifices.

Check out this exciting excerpt:

One by one, four black horses, exploded out of nothingness into the white pristine snowfall of a Scandinavian winter night. Each horse ran hard through the woods of fresh powder. Atop each horse, rode a daughter of Hosea draped in black. Each rider rode with such purpose that no words were needed. Each knew her destination. On the way, they encountered a time walker dressed in white by the name of Akina. Cil pulled on the reins of her steed and her sisters followed suit. “Akina, all is as expected?” she asked.

Akina pulled back her fur lined hood to reply, “Yes, Auntie, all is as expected. But, you know that. Don’t you?”

SacrificesCil said nothing but smiled before she kicked her heels into her horse and rode off into the darkness. One by one, each of her sisters proceeded past Akina. First was Deborah, who had, as Akina would later describe, a wide-eyed, overly-excited look on her face. It was almost a bloodlust. Next came Ruth Ann, with a thousand miles away stare on her face. Bringing up the rear was Sarah, with her ever-present sunglasses firmly in place. She rode past Akina flashing her trademark irrepressible smile. Sarah’s opponents hated that smile and longed to wipe it off her face. The sisters followed Cil through the woods and towards the castle on the northern bay. They rode hard and fast through the woods as a winter’s full moon illuminated their path. 

As the sisters broke through the tree line, a castle and the wall that surrounded it were plainly in sight. They rode toward the guard tower along the outer wall. Nordic soldiers lined the top of the wall in a heightened state of readiness. As the sisters approached, a gate in the wall swung open and they passed through on their shiny black horses. Aunt Cil led them up the central corridor toward the castle beyond. Residents in the courtyard gasped as the four hooded riders proceeded, escorted by several guards on horseback. 
The ladies quickly dismounted in front of the castle and walked briskly towards the large wooden front doors. One of the guards barked out a command and once again a set of doors swung open before the women this time opening into a grand hall. The king and his court were sitting in their assigned places at the other end of the hall. It was clear that the Aunties were expected. 
The members of the court were adorned in their finest coats and pelts. A feast for four was laid out on the great dining table, but the sisters paid it no mind. It was an offering of sorts, but Cil and her sisters had no time for such things. 
They stood before the court and removed their hoods. This action froze the crowd more than the weather outside ever could. The sight of the four black women standing shoulder to shoulder left their mouths agape. 

Deborah leaned over to Ruth and whispered, “They’re looking at our hair.” 

Ruth rolled her eyes.

Cil motioned for Deborah to step forward. Deborah did so and began to speak to the king and his court in their native tongue. Deborah had the gift of speaking in the tongue of many languages. She could even speak languages that she’d never heard before. So, she translated between the parties. 

“King Helwig, Queen Helwig, and members of the royal court as our herald undoubtedly communicated to you, we are here to rid your realm of the terror currently approaching your gates.”

King Helwig stood up, “We saw what your herald can do but what can you do that would warrant us putting our faith in you to resolve this matter?” He pointed at the Aunties as he made this last point.

Cil nodded to Sarah. She removed her shades which immediately revealed her glowing eyes. Then, she gazed upon a large urn of water and unleashed a red hot beam from those eyes that split the urn in half spilling the water it contained onto the stone floor.

Next, Ruth Ann stepped forward. She raised her hands, and in a single scooping motion projected a blue shell which scooped the remains of the broken and still smoldering urn into the air. The sphere hovered in the air spinning slightly before launching upwards bursting through the ceiling and into the night sky. The entire court could see the blue ball accelerate towards the great beyond and out of sight.

Then, when all eyes landed on Deborah, she simply vanished. From the spot on the floor where she had stood, a spring sprung up spouting water thirty feet into the air. The geyser began to rage and quickly filled the hall with water. Suddenly, water began to flow into the hall from everywhere. Water flowed from every opening including the windows, the cracks in the walls, and the new hole in the ceiling. Members of the court scurried up the king’s landing and to the throne to escape the rising waters. Just as her audience began to panic, the water disappeared and Deborah reappeared right where she had been when the phenomena began as though nothing happened.

Finally, Cil raised her staff but before she could demonstrate anything, the king motioned towards her vigorously shaking his head. There was little need for Deborah to translate.

Deborah glanced towards Cil and then said to the king, “About our fee…”

 

To purchase Sacrifices on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sacrifices-Wrestle-Darkness-Book-Jones-ebook/dp/B00G1R1C1W/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1397533249

Or if you prefer, the TinyURL: http://tinyurl.com/kydzcee

Website for Sacrifices: http://alandjones.com/sacrifices/

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Sacrifices/130230720341543

Twitter: https://twitter.com/poppa1050

Instagram: http://instagram.com/poppa1050

THE BUTLER / BANKS BOOK TOUR BEGINS: Author Colby R. Rice brings us the Ghosts of Koa!

Ghosts of Koa

Today, the Butler / Banks Book Tour – aka The Fresh Fest of Afrofuturism – begins with a bang!

Our first featured author is the beautiful, brilliant and Blacktastic Colby R. Rice, who brings us a great work of Black Speculative Fiction with Ghosts of Koa!

Let me introduce you to Colby – although, if you’re reading this blog, you probably already know her and her work.

 

Here she is, in a nutshell:

Colby R. RiceSci-fi, Fantasy, & Thriller Novelist. Screenwriter. Film Producer. Globetrotter. Action Junkie. Rebel Ragdoll.

A shameless nerd and bookworm since the age of five, Colby R Rice is the author of Ghosts of Koa, the first novel in The Books of Ezekiel, a dystopian-urban fantasy decalogy. She was an Air Force BRAT born in Bitburg Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany and came to the States at the age of one.

Colby bounced around a lot, but finally settled in Los Angeles, where she could at last deal with her addictions to creative entrepreneurship, motorcycles, and traveling.

Now, armed with a mound of animal crackers and gallons of Coca-Cola, Colby takes on fiction writing in a fight to the death!

Current projects include: the second novel in The Books of Ezekiel series, the first novel in a middle grade SFF detective series, the first novel in an adult sci-fi thriller series, development of her first sci-fi thriller film, and the growth of her production house, Rebel Ragdoll. Stay tuned at her website and blog at Colby’s Cove!

 

Koa 2For over one hundred years the Civic Order and the Alchemic Order have held a shaky truce, peppered by violence and mistrust. But when Koa, a Civilian-born insurgency, bombs an Alchemist summit, the truce is shattered. Now, Koa is rising. War is coming. And all sixteen-year-old Zeika Anon can do is keep moving as she watches the lords of alchemy slowly overtake her home.

But when clashes between Koa and the Alchemic Order put a final, deadly squeeze on the remaining Civilian territories, Zeika finds herself in the crosshairs of fate. She must walk the line between survival and rebellion against the Alchemists. On one side of the line awaits death. On the other, the betrayal of her civilization, her loyalties, and herself.

GHOSTS OF KOA is a fast-paced, post-apocalyptic survival tale, set in the streets of a dying city that has been crushed by alchemic law. Layered with the elements of gritty crime drama, dark urban fantasy, hard sci-fi, and horror, GHOSTS OF KOA is a wild ride to the end of a young girl’s sanity as she struggles with an impossible choice: to keep one step ahead of a war… or to be consumed by it.
CONTENT WARNING – Contains coarse language, intense violence, adult / suggestive themes, and aberrant behavior. Reader discretion is advised.

 

Read the excerpt below!

Excerpt from Ghosts of Koa

            Shadows flittered in the night, and Xakiah jerked his head up, his eyes automatically tracking the movements. The light was sparse, but even from the passenger seat of the truck, his eyes could outline the three distant figures in the dark. About thirty yards away, the shadows of the hunted jerked and twitched with a contained haste as they assembled themselves in their sedan. It was time. The driver would be first.

            He lifted the rifle and anchored the butt in the soft of his shoulder. He lowered his eye into the scope, positioning the crosshairs over the figure settling into the driver’s seat. As he began to depress the trigger, he wondered how exactly the man’s head would splatter— when the tires of the sedan screeched against the asphalt, and it shot off into the dark.

            “Shit,” Xakiah hissed, letting the scope drop. “Gun it, Joseph!”

            His body felt slick with a cold sweat as their truck roared to life and lurched forward. Joseph jammed his foot down onto the gas pedal, pushing nearly one hundred as the truck’s tires kicked up the slag of the country road.

            My mission. Mine.

            His jaw ached beneath the grind of his teeth. Their hubris was surprising, that they fancied even for a moment he’d let them get away after what they’d done.

            A sharp clack of a round being chambered ricocheted through the truck as Bly, a teammate sitting behind Joseph, prepared to shoot. The only man in the van who didn’t move was the one sitting directly behind Xakiah, silent beneath his hood and cloak. He looked out of his window, even, his chin on his knuckles, as though enjoying a slow Sunday drive.

            The fleeing sedan far in front of them turned and reeled off the dark path, clunking across the vast stretch of green that separated the road from the main highway.

            “Don’t lose them, Joseph.” Xakiah said, his voice low in the dark.

            “Y-yes, sir!” Joseph said, a whimper choking his voice. He veered off the road, leaves and branches snapping in dry whispers as he leaned in harder on the gas, following the hunted across the soft, mushy green. Both cars’ headlights made yellow eyes in the growing dark, like one nighttime monster chasing another.

            Xakiah grinned, joy swelling under his frustration. They were going catch them. He was going to win— and he felt himself nearly thrown into the driver’s seat as Joseph yanked the steering wheel, sending the truck into a hard lean.

            The truck’s tires lifted a couple inches from the ground, and the far right side of the windshield exploded open, fragments of glass flying inward as hot metal grazed the SUV in a messy swarm. A rogue in the scattered cloud clipped Xakiah across the high crest of his cheek, kicking up a curl of flesh, a splash of blood. As his mind made sense of the pain, his joy eroded. Bullets. The thieving bastards had the audacity to shoot

            He focused his thoughts on the wound, and his flesh began to heal itself. “Vassal—?”

            “I’m fine, Proficient,” the man behind him cooed.

            Joseph jerked the truck to the side again as more bullets whined in the night. They were already just a couple minutes off the freeway, which budded with shining cars and vans.

            “Christ, Joseph! My granny burns rubber better’n you!” Bly shouted from the backseat.

            “What the hell are you waiting for, then?!” Joseph cried. “Shoot back!”

            Bly leaned out his window and sprayed, aiming for the tires of the fleeing sedan.

            The truck lurched from side to side as Joseph avoided the returning gunfire. “We’re losing ground!” He yelled.

            Xakiah leaned forward, realizing that he was right. The rebel’s muscle car skirted the mud with ease, whereas their truck was in danger of toppling over if Joseph made another turn like that…

            “That Page is the heart of the Order, Proficient.”

            The simplicity of his Vassal’s statement threaded calm through the dark belly of the car, but the threat in his voice was unmistakable.

            Xakiah locked his jaw, nodding as much from obedience as from the tightness in his throat that had stolen his voice. If they didn’t get the Page back, he’d be punished. But far worse than that, his Vassal would be disappointed. He wouldn’t fail. He couldn’t

            “Take them out,” his Vassal murmured. “I know you can.”

            Xakiah swallowed and nodded at him, fear and pride swelling in his chest. He rolled down the window, and wind blasted into the truck. With a smooth slide, he navigated his body through, positioning himself on the ledge.

            White bursts of fire lit the night as Bly’s shots knocked out one of the sedan’s tires, slowing it down. Thirty seconds until they hit the freeway.

            “Steady, Joseph,” Xakiah said, lifting the rifle scope to his eye. He focused his thoughts on the driver’s head, searching for it in the long dark stretch in front of him. He had homed in on the driver right before they sped off, and he could do it again. He just had to feel it.

            He stared down the scope, letting it drift across the swerving sedan, and something aligned, linking his slamming heart, the rifle, his eye, and the bobbing head of the driver in far front of them. He pulled the trigger—

            Shp! —and the driver’s head snapped forward, slamming into the steering wheel. Metal squealed high, and rubber peeled from the rims of the sedan as it veered off its path. It crashed into the bordering thickets of the highway, the hood folding in on itself like an accordion, crushed.

            Bly roared with triumph, slamming his fist into Joseph’s headrest. “Xakiah, man, you’re an animal!”

            Xakiah frowned as he looked back at him.

            “Uh, I mean—” Bly stuttered. “Nice job, Captain.”

            “Badges,” Xakiah commanded.

            “Yeah. Right.”

            Joseph maneuvered the truck a few feet away from the crash. They had barely rolled to a stop before Bly popped open his door, jumped out, and ran over to the wreck. Joseph hurried after him, his gun up.

            Xakiah followed, holding up his rifle, aiming at the overturned car. The fools. The hunted could have any number of traps prepared, and the young rookies were ambling over, hooting in celebration. He, on the other hand, kept his distance, and his eyes remained ready for even the slightest movement. Joseph and Bly were good cops, for what flatfeet were worth, but neither of them understood the true magnitude of this mission.

            Behind him, Vassal Moss seemed to glide out of the truck, never once making a noise in the night. The leaves didn’t even crunch beneath his feet as he followed them to the crash.

            Bly and Joseph had already made their ways over to the steaming wreckage and were fumbling with something in the front seat. There was scuffling, and a scared whine wound its way out of the twisted metal as the two agents dragged something out of the front passenger seat. One of the hunted was still alive.

            Bly threw the rebel to the ground and spat on its shadow. “Lay down, scum!” he snarled.

            Xakiah tightened his grip on his rifle. Bly, like a jackal, was stealing his kill. 

            “Calm, Proficient,” Vassal murmured from behind him.

            Xakiah nodded tightly at the warning. His Vassal knew him well, too well, but he was right. Closing out this mission was more important than a few seconds of glory. Resigned, Xakiah slung his rifle on his shoulder as he approached the two agents.

            “Only one survivor, Captain,” Joseph announced. “The driver’s head is dog meat, and the one in the back died in the crash.”

            Joseph tossed him something, and Xakiah caught it, already knowing what it was. A porcelain mask, just the bottom-half of it, hard and smooth. A tell-tale trademark of the Knights of Almaut— Koa— terrorist dogs who fancied themselves men.

            Xakiah cradled the mask in his hand, feeling the ridges of the molded nose, cheeks, and mouth, all of them together barely the size of his own palm. It was the captive’s. He looked up at the squirming rebel, finally noticing the long red hair that spilled out onto the grass—

            A woman.

            He smiled, somehow feeling impressed amidst his annoyance. Her face was speckled with a constellation of freckles, acne even. She couldn’t have been any older than 16.

            “Show her to me.” The soft command had come from the shadowed man at Xakiah’s heels, the Vassal.

            Joseph and Bly hoisted the rebel to her knees and lowered their heads in the Vassal’s direction. Xakiah cast down his eyes and stepped to the side, allowing his Vassal to pass before he lifted his gaze again.

            The Vassal stood before the captive, staring at her with soft eyes. Finally he spoke: “How young. I might have known Koa would send pups to do a dog’s work. What should I do with you, I wonder? What purpose will you serve?”

            “No purpose, sir,” Bly said. “I say kill the Koan scum.”

            “No. We’ll do no such thing. We are to honor the Articles39,” the Vassal replied. He turned to Xakiah. “The car.”

            Xakiah nodded and went to work. He tossed the sedan, cast the corpses aside, ripped up carpet, gutted the trunk, seats, and glove compartment, or what was left of it. Nothing. There weren’t even any signs of it. No traces of energy, not even a ripple in the air where it might have passed through. Nothing betrayed its location.

            He frowned, turning to his superior. “Vassal. This faction must have been a decoy so that the real transport could get away.” Bitterness coated his tongue, almost forcing the words back. “They’ve hidden it somewhere else.”

            His Vassal’s cold gaze flickered, and Xakiah tensed, expecting words of admonishment or worse, disappointment… but to his surprise, the Vassal said nothing. Instead, he turned to the rebel.

            “Lift her up,” he ordered.

            Joseph and Bly hoisted the woman to her feet so that her gaze was level with his.

            “You Azure bastards can go to Hell,” she said, the pubescent snarl clear. “You can’t kill me. Even your own code won’t allow it.”

            “Oh no, we aren’t going to kill you at all,” Vassal agreed. “That’s barbaric.”

            The man balled up his hand, and— schhhleck— the girl’s face fell from her cheekbones and cartilage, slapping wetly against the grass. She howled, a long wailing sound that whistled from the milky shine of her jaw. As she screamed, the large white balls in her eye sockets rolled, like slippery hardboiled eggs, and her teeth, exposed to the gums, clacked together with frenetic snaps.

            “Xakiah, if you please,” the Vassal said.

            Bly and Joseph’s faces paled with terror, but without so much as a flicker of disgust, Xakiah scooped the dripping wrinkles of skin from the ground, gripping it in a fist.

            “Display, please.”

            Xakiah held the sagging flesh in front of the woman’s eyes. The cheeks and lips of it drooped, as though lamenting the girl’s disfigurement.

            “Three cc’s of morphine, please, Joseph.”

            Trembling, Joseph pulled the kit from his side pack and began to prepare the anesthetic. Bly held her, still turning his eyes away as Joseph slid the needle into the base of her neck and emptied its contents. Then the Vassal stepped forward, bringing his nose close to her face.

            “I can imagine that you are in incredible pain,” he said. “The morphine is to numb that for you so we can talk.”

            “Ooou astards!” She screamed, but without lips, the curses just sounded like angry jibberish. She began to sob.

            “Not to worry, my dear. You are going to get your face back. How much of it is returned, however, is up to you. Now. I am going to ask you some questions. For every answer I think is a lie, my Proficient is going to slice away an inch of your face and burn it.” The Vassal motioned to Xakiah, who still held the sagging flesh in the moonlight.

            “Lllease… llease don’t…” Her sobs crescendoed, forming echos in the night, and her body heaved with each cry.

            “And we’ll begin,” And with almost a lover’s touch, he took her chin in his thumb and forefinger. “Now. You tell me. Where is the Final Page?”

 

Ghosts of Koa: The First Book of Ezekiel

Get it now in ebook or paperback (and audiobook coming in June)!

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble Nook

Kobo Books

And coming soon on IBookstore & Google Play!

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,538 other followers