Misty Hayes, author of The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1, is handing readers a unique take on the vampire stories of late. Her main character and narrator, Larna Collins, relates a tale deeply woven in history, family secrets, and bloodlust. Larna, quite the social outcast in her high school, graduates and embarks immediately on a mission to find her estranged father in England. Using her father’s journals and her own burning desire to find answers to her endless string of questions about his sudden disappearance, she leaves Texas just as her lifelong friend, Corinth, reveals his desire to be more than a tried-and-true confidante.
The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1 is written to appeal to young adult readers, but is so exceptionally written and full of wit and wisdom it easily resonates with a much larger audience. The idea of the socially downtrodden heroine is not a new one, but Hayes manages, quite successfully, to fashion Larna Collins into character unlike any readers will encounter within other books in the same genre. Larna is thoughtful, and the reader is privy to all of her emotions, anxiety, and, ultimately, her pride and power.
Character development appears to be Hayes’s forte. Dropping little hints throughout the plot, the author draws robust images of each character from Paul the Volkswagen/taxicab-driving vampiric sidekick to Gabriel–the devil incarnate. Each of Hayes’s characters adds a rich element to the story, and she masters the plot twist with the best of the action/adventure writers out there.
Hayes provides a captivating mixture of budding romance and action sequences. In addition, she takes literary risks with her characters’ fates. She, by no means, sticks with what the reader expects. At every turn, Hayes delivers something new and unexpected, but more than appreciated. The tension between Corinth and Larna and the ever-present question of romance between Larna and Alastair keep the reader guessing from beginning to end.
Hayes offers an originality with her presentation of the vampire tale. She successfully juxtaposes the deteriorating architecture of old England with present-day Texas and tosses in a healthy amount of technology and modern references–all easily within the schema of the young adult audience. Those expecting to find the vampires of the Twilight series will be pleasantly surprised to find a quite different vamp sketched before them as Hayes offers up a down-to-earth creature with far-reaching abilities and deep-rooted emotions.
I am giving The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1 a solid 5 out of 5 stars. Hayes offers a well-written, smooth read which mesmerizes readers from the first paragraphs. The relatable struggles of its main character, Larna, take an unexpected turn early on and pull readers in for a ride like no other. Hayes will soon find herself with a growing fan base yearning for more from Larna and her crew. By giving her audience the story they want with a cast of characters far-removed from those of the typical vampire tales, Hayes has succeeded in paving the way for her band of outcasts.
Pages: 356 | ASIN: B077XL9WHH
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Karly is a medium hired to get rid of a ghost haunting an Inn but is caught between her job, the sexy innkeeper, and her painful past. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
The hero, Thayne Harper, heir to one of the largest hotel chains in the country comes from a world of wealth and privilege. His inn is a reflection of his upbringing. Karly, on the other hand, has had to work and struggle her whole life. When she has no choice but to move into the inn to banish the ghost, she becomes a fish out of water, which leaves her feeling vulnerable and brings up past insecurities and doubts. I think everyone can relate to being in such an uncomfortable position on some level. From there, I try to add in as much conflict as possible by using the ‘what if’ factor. What if someone that didn’t believe in ghosts found himself living in a haunted inn? What if there was this intense chemistry pulsing between him and the medium he was forced to hire to banish said ghost? The more ‘what if’s’ I add to the mix, the more dimensions it lends to the characters. The goal is torture them through this journey before they reach that HEA. Hopefully, it’s what makes readers turn the pages long into the night.
The relationship between Karly and Thayne is visceral and sultry. How did you develop their relationship and what themes did you want to capture?
I do a lot or prewriting beforehand but the relationship really took shape as I wrote the story. The physical attraction between the two polar opposites was undeniable and so fun to write! Granted, it was not love at first sight, but it was incredible lust at first sight, which I do believe in, the kind of chemistry with another person that literally knocks you on your ass. In terms of a theme, I wanted to really drive home the concept of letting go of the past before you can move forward. Both characters are holding onto past wounds that prevent them from ever fully committing to another person. Only when both have worked through their issues are they able to finally come together and open themselves up to love.
This is a fantastic romance novel, but I also enjoyed the paranormal-horror aspect that really increased the tension. Where did the idea for the ghost come from and how did it change as you wrote?
The idea for the ghost is actually based on two separate ghost stories combined into one. A friend once told me about a custom home that was built by his step father as a present to his mother. He had pieces flown in from a very old estate in England. Apparently, some of those pieces came with a ghost that floated through the walls of the house and left cold spots in his room. The Logan inn in New Hope, which is featured in the first chapter of HAUNTED has been known to have a resident ghost that resides in room number six I incorporated certain nuisances and interesting details about that ghost into the story. The ghost changed as I wrote mainly due to the fact that I had to create a believable backstory for her, so the reader understands what caused her to become this way. Yes, she’s a villain, but she was also a victim in her time as well. I actually wrote a short story from the ghost’s point of view to make sure her motivations were warranted. When you truly understand what she’s been through you can then empathize with her story. I had to add layers to make her a three dimensional character. I’ve been asked by many readers to know more about her and where she came from. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a novella for the ghost of Emily and you will really get to see her story.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a three book series at the moment. It’s a contemporary revolving around three best friends, all who are navigating high-powered careers and love in the Big Apple. I cannot say at this point, but you will be the first to know! Thank you Literary Titan so much for having me!
When medium Karly Matthews agrees to move into a haunted inn, she’s not sure what’s more dangerous, the ghost or the sexy innkeeper she tries to resist. She can’t deny the intense rush of desire she feels every time he’s near. When she agrees to embark on a no-strings-attached relationship, she finds herself thrust into a world of mind-blowing pleasures. Now she must face the aching truths of her past.
Hotel heir Thayne Harper has a laser-like focus on success that doesn’t include the help of his family. He’s always been the black sheep, living in the shadow of his dead brother. His dreams are put to the test when a supernatural entity threatens to ruin everything. The one bright spot is the woman who intrigues his mind and heats his blood. If only he can convince her that, despite his bad-boy ways, he can change for the good. Her love becomes his only salvation. Passion burns white-hot as a dark threat looms. The ghost doesn’t want them to be together and sets her sights on Thayne, luring him to a place that goes beyond death. Will Karly be able to save him before it’s too late?
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Invasion follows a vampire, mage and a werewolf as they try to prevent an alien invasion. How did you come up with this unique and thrilling idea?
For that, we have to go back to The Underground, to which Invasion is the standalone sequel. I wanted to tell more of Melera’s story (the interstellar assassin) than what was depicted in that first book. So, I have an alien on the run from her nemesis, who is determined to recapture her and possess her battlefleet. When she returns to Earth, what are the high stakes? Does she just resume her existence on her hidden base, doing what she’s fated to do? No, because there’s no urgency. There has to be a clear and present danger from without. And what could be more of a clear and present danger than a potential alien invasion of Earth?
I really enjoyed that each character was unique and well developed, which led to some very interesting relationships. Did you plan these relationships or did they grow organically?
Again, we have to go back to The Underground. The Underground is where those relationships developed. I didn’t exactly plan them; they more or less grew organically. I mean, I had an idea about these relationships, but I didn’t map them out—I simply wrote and watched them unfold. That’s the way I write—I don’t plot anything out. I have an idea where to start—point A, if you will—and I know I have to get to point B and then to point C. How I get to these points is completely unknown to me. That, for me, is the joy of writing, that act of creation.
This novel was fun to read. What was the most fun scene for you to write?
That would have to be the BDSM scene. I had to do research for that one. I read books on the roles of the dominant and the submissive. I learned that to be a good dom is hard work. I also learned the rules of etiquette in group settings, and things like that. I visited a couple of clubs on open house night, where we were treated to a tour of the facilities, mini-lectures and demonstrations. One night, I won a gorgeous, hand-tooled leather spiked collar at a silent auction. Anyway, I met some fabulous people who were more than willing to talk to me about how to write the scene so that it rang true. I even ran it by a couple who gave me pointers. A great group of people, really. Their lifestyle isn’t mine, but it was a wonderful experience that really opened my eyes.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a sequel to a book I wrote a few years ago, entitled The Moreva of Astoreth. It’s funny—I never intended to write a sequel to The Moreva, but so many of my readers strongly suggested that I do so, well, how can I disappoint? I hope to have it finished within a year, maybe by the spring of 2019. My day job takes up a lot of my time, and I’m still working on how to balance the marketing and writing thing. I mean, I’m either all in, or not. I know there’s got to be a better way, a smarter way—I just haven’t figured it out yet.
Kurt, vampire Master of Seattle, Garrett Larkin, mage of Balthus Coven and Parker Berenson, alpha of the city’s werewolf pack, are in a world of trouble. Already divided by love and jealousy, the three discover their auras are inextricably bound, the result of a spellcasting gone terribly wrong. Each one’s aura has been invaded by the auras of the others, and the consequences are both frightening and deadly. Worse yet, Shen’zae Melera, interstellar assassin and Parker’s love, has returned to Earth with dire news: she didn’t return alone. She’d been followed by her nemesis, Mag Beloc, and his fleet of warships. Even if Beloc recaptures her, Melera knows that Earth will suit his purposes, and that his presence may well become permanent. Drawn together by choice and fate while doing what they had to do, can Kurt, Garrett, and Parker now find a way to undo the magick that binds them, and with Melera, stop an alien invasion before it begins?
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Finding the next “good read” is never easy. Sometimes you want to read something in your genre. Other times you want to read something that’s completely different. Sometimes you have no clue what you want to read. No matter what “reading” mood you’re in, This is Writing has got you covered with in-depth book recommendation list.
Below you will find the top book recommendations from the five major genres of fiction (like romance) or you can get super specific with 104 sub-genres (like the Top 5 Reads in Chick Lit). If you need a quick recommendation for a fiction book, you can probably get started with one of the books from these set of booklists. Now get reading!
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Into the Night features an unlikely pairing of characters who set out on a journey to battle barbarians and vampires across the English countryside. I felt like the setting was very detailed in this story. Why did you choose this time and place for your book?
Historically, in the early 1300’s, England became the landing point of the Vikings when they decided to leave their northern towns. Vampire legends were also very well-known and taken seriously throughout almost every century.
Vampire belief peaked and declined and then rose again as time went on. Vampires are indeed everlasting; at first being a tale of horror and then becoming a fascination. It is no doubt that vampires evolved like no other monster in our literature. The lore is still alive today and fills us both with fear and desire.
I studied old maps of the English countryside and manipulated some letters of real older towns to create my locations. I also mentioned some landmarks that still exist today to give Into the Night a more historical background rather than that of pure fantasy. Somehow, barbarians, vampires, and England just seemed to fit perfectly.
The book got its title because one evening I was driving with the sun behind me and darker night skies ahead of me. I was literally driving into the night. It felt ominous and fit the vibe of my story well. Also at that time, was a popular song on the radio that shared the same name by Santana and Chad Kroeger.
The hero’s Samuel and Valencia are dynamic characters that battle vampire matriarchs Isabella and Cerbera who are also well developed. What was your inspiration for the characters relationship and how they contrast with the villains?
Samuel is a drifter with no clear path in life. Valencia is unable to forget a bad memory and is driven to seek revenge. In a way Valencia is too harsh and Sam too meek; together they take what the other has too much of and it makes them a perfect duo.
The vampire sisters mask their vile intentions and wicked deeds with beauty that beguiles those they encounter. Without Valencia, Samuel would not have been able to (or perhaps not want to) resist them. It stems from the duality of our minds – the fear of losing our humanity (Soul, goodness) and the desire to break free from physical obstacles and society’s restraints and give in to lust. Valencia keeps him grounded and stands as an icon of strength and courage; which eventually wins Sam’s admiration.
I felt like this novel did a great job utilizing vampire lore and creating some of its own. How did you set about creating the vampires in your story?
Into the Night was my first screenplay (and my second published book). At the time I was reading: Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field. That’s when I decided to practice what I was reading. My first words of the story were Valencia’s speech to Sam, at their first encounter, about Cerbera stalking her prey. I remember putting the monologue on Facebook and getting replies like: “what happens next?” The truth is I didn’t know. I was just practicing a writing exercise I had assigned to myself, but I knew I had to make something out of it now.
It helped that I took a liking to everything vampire; watching movies from Nosferatu to Interview with a Vampire to Underworld, and collecting a library of vampire literature; from Camilla to Vlad to vampire encyclopedias.
Cerbera’s name is taken from a plant species found in India; known as the suicide tree due to its toxicity. The vampire sisters each have a unique trait. One paralyzes men with a touch, the other with a look. Together they symbolize heightened sexuality that dominates all men and is based on the biblical character, Lilith, who eventually formed the race of the succubus. The vampires in Into the Night are a compilation of everything I read and saw.
I would love to see more of the pairing of Samuel and Valencia. Do you have any plans to expand their story in the future?
I have thought about bringing Samuel and Valencia back together as a vampire fighting couple. With the barbarian threat culled and the vampire’s uncanny trait to keep coming back; I would be able to dedicate the story to just vampires.
In the middle of the story Sam and Valencia rescue a family that escapes to Ireland. That was intended to be the main plot for the continuation. The team rejoins to aid the family and fight a vampire threat in Ireland.
In the autumn of 1325 an army of barbarians invade the south-western region of England. A drifter named, Samuel and a strong-willed woman named, Valencia journey north to Ashborough to seek the aid of the steward’s army.
While on their mission they realize the barbarian army is close behind them along with two vampire matriarchs and their vampire horde. They find themselves in the midst of two wars as they fight northward on, what seems to be, a Sisyphean task.
Posted in Interviews
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Sour Lake follows Sheriff Reeves as he tries to solve a brutal murder while navigating the towns racial tensions and economic despair. What was the the inspiration behind the setup to this interesting novel?
It started as a more or less straight horror story, based on legends and tall tales I heard growing up about Texas at the turn of the 20th Century. My wife’s family is from the Big Thicket area, and the more I started talking and writing, the more interested I became in the social history and mores of the people in the area.
The story takes place in 1911 in a small Texas town. Why did you choose this setting for your story?
1911 was something that came to me in a dream, about halfway through the story. In the dream, I was searching through old newspapers for clues about the central mystery in the book. I looked down to turn the page, and I saw the date: October 17, 1911. Weird, right? So I just went with it.
Sheriff Reeves Duncan lost his wife, is a recovering alcoholic, but manages to keep a level head in intense situations. What obstacles did you feel were important to push his character development in the story?
Reeves Duncan is a fun character. I think what I like most about him is that he’s comfortable in his own skin. He knows his own limitations, but at the same time he has a pretty fierce streak of stubbornness that compels him to do the right thing, even if he knows he’s going to be disliked for it. Apart from having to wrestle with the bizarre nature of the crimes he is investigating, the biggest obstacle he faces is having to stand up to his own friends and neighbors in order to protect an innocent man and, ultimately, bring the true killer to justice.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I’m actually working on a prequel to Sour Lake, but I can’t say much about it because it’s still in its very early stages. If anyone’s interested in reading something that, like Sour Lake, combines horror and history, please check out my novel The Black Book of Cyrenaica. Or, if you’re not interested in horror, please try my coming-of-age story Color War, which is also set in East Texas, this time though in 1974.
It’s 1911. Someone, or something, is leaving the good citizens of East Texas’s Ochiltree County savagely mutilated and drained of blood. Slow-talking Sheriff Reeves Duncan needs to put an end to the murders, and soon. But it won’t be easy. This is the Big Thicket, dark and brooding, haunted by racial tensions and economic despair. Fortunately, Sheriff Duncan can count on the assistance of an undersized but tough-as-rawhide Texas Ranger, two physicians, a mechanical wunderkind, and a soft-spoken idiot savant who knows the sloughs and baygalls of the Thicket like his own backyard. This league of unimpressive gentlemen is about to be tested by the cunning and ferocity of an enemy that walks by night–and the tentacles of a desperate sectarian plot that threatens the very survival of the human race.
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With a start in Berlin, 1945, The Immortality Trigger launches into present day, hurtling between Europe, South America and Africa with a gripping pace.The author, Douglas Misquita, is moved to write large-scale thrillers, and with the second book in this series, surely achieves that goal. Not only is this book vast and well-written, the story it tells picks angles with many appeals.
The Immortality Trigger clips along as expected being at heart an action-thriller and were it not for the hook at the beginning taking place during the closing years of the Second World War that hinted at monstrous experiments, it may be too stuck in one genre. But for fans of fast-paced modern tales with global reach that dabble in history, this is a perfect storm. Having the hint of science fiction gives the story a cross-genre feel, and the monstrous brutality at once has an otherworldly feel while being rooted in our dark reality. Turning the news on the right channel, and you will see how timely and accurate these atrocities are. All of them. From the experiments that took place in wartime Germany to the extermination happening in countries from east to west alike, the author offers some guide to fact at the end of the book.
From the outset, we follow INTERPOL agent, Sabina Wytchoff. Her grandfather has succumbed to cancer and his wish of being stored cryogenically has just been carried out. In his safe lay ties to an ancient society still very active today. Too active, as the bombing incident that killed her parents only a week before may be involved somehow.
Illegal fight rings delight in the superhuman strength of Luc Fortesque and it seems being more than human is something of a problem. He’s not the only one. An experimental and unstable drug he was given may make him a star in the ring, but Luc won’t rest until he’s found the transhumanist faction responsible. He may be an army of one, but there are armed and demented soldiers between him and his goal.
Colombian newspapers have been blaring the face-off between drug-lord El Fantasma and their rival, El Angel, who will stop at nothing to bring down the cartels. After a vicious and heart-stopping fight – in the middle of a bust free-way in daylight – a terrible clue is left bleeding in the leg of El Fantasma; a silver dagger. With no clue how this Nazi war relic came into El Angel’s possession, the threads begin to draw together when everyone involved needs answers.
By the midpoint of the book it seems nearly impossible for these factions with their very different worlds to be pieces of the same puzzle, but readers will delight in how problems new and old have become entangled.
Overuse of jargon, while inevitable in a story that deals with military language, is much more noticeable in the beginning of the book. Nearing the middle, it is either not as glaring or has been quelled. Using the same word four times in one paragraph never sounds right, however, and there are a few points where this is troublesome. Very tightly written otherwise, going from lush landscapes to cities, drug-fuelled frenzies to tense negotiations. For fans of epic thrillers, Douglas Misquita may well be the next binge read. With many previous books, this new series reads like a flashy blockbuster film, so it must be worth it to see where this author has come from. The cast is large, though not entirely dizzying so just enough to feel like a realized world of people but still keep track of all the players. While there is a little tedium in jargon, having a near Lucha Libre feel to the Colombian stand-off, the ghosts of Nazi Germany and pharma-infused soldiers leering from the shadows knocks this all closer to a perfect action novel for fans of bleak, realistic and dark action.
Pages: 386 | ASIN: B077GHCT7X
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“I’m not sure, but judging by our choices in literature, I think this makes us polar opposites.”
Karly Matthews has no idea how much truth there is to her statement after she first encounters Thayne Harper at a networking event: She is a medium, struggling to keep her store open after making enemies with a powerful executive set on destroying her career after Karly helps his wife leave him; Thayne is a skeptic, the descendant of a wealthy family in the hotel industry. Both, however, share a sizzling physical attraction for each other, as well as dark secrets that make it impossible for them to get close to anyone. Will Karly be able to keep her heart safe when she is hired to chase away a spirit haunting the bed and breakfast that Thayne is opening, especially when her job forces her to live under the same roof as him?
The plot of Haunted, written by Shari Nichols, is driven by a few different story lines. There, of course, is the romantic and professional tension between Karly and Thayne, and with that, many heated love scenes unfold that are sure to make one’s toes curl. Then there are the insecurities that Karly faces, having been in a serious relationship that ended so badly that she is quick to react jealously and expect the worst from men, especially Thayne, who is naturally charismatic and has had a reputation for courting many women. As difficult as it is for Karly to trust Thayne, he also cannot open up to her, having suffered the loss of someone close to him. He is under a lot of pressure to prove himself to his father, with whom he is estranged, by ensuring that his first hotel opening is successful. Unfortunately, a ghost seems set on sabotaging his plans.
While the story focuses mostly on Karly, as well as Thayne, there’s a lot happening in the novel, and details that are relevant to understanding their history are vague or not revealed until much later. This makes it difficult to fully empathize with Karly in her hesitation to start a relationship with Thayne. Karly’s fears of falling for Thayne would be more believable if she and Thayne would explain why they have such strong feelings for each other, besides the physical attraction they feel.
It is the mystery surrounding this ghost that is most interesting in Haunted. While Karly and Thayne are both dynamic characters who are easy to like, their romance is predictable, though entertaining to witness. The ghost haunting the Molverton Inn is complicated, seeking revenge and, at points, physically harming the people who cross her path. Karly’s job to eradicate such a stubborn spirit is not easy, and Nichols thoroughly explains the different steps a medium must take to protect the property and people, identify the spirit, and guide the spirit onto the next world. The mystery surrounding the identity of the spirit and how she became a ghost makes this book difficult to put down.
Haunted has many elements that make this book an exciting read. It is well-written; Nichols describes the characters and settings in a way that flows naturally with the action, and the way she paces the story builds suspense. She incorporates realistic dialogue, and the conversations between Karly and her sister are particularly witty and entertaining. Nichols creates complex characters with unique personalities, and readers cannot help but cheer on Karly in her quest to rid the Molverton Inn of a stubborn spirit and find happiness with Thayne.
Pages: 329 | ASIN: B077RMGLDM
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Keep the lights on when you read this book! Sour Lake Or, The Beast will transport you back in time to East Texas, 1911. Chapter one is called Pray, and that is your only warning of what is to lie ahead. A brutal and gruesome death of the young school teacher Lenard Dalchau leads you into the world of this small Texas county of Ochiltree. Prejudice and racism run high and the locals want this death solved and forgotten quick. Reeves Duncan, the sheriff however isn’t one to just jump to conclusions and hang the wrong man. Agreeing with the sheriff that this is no ordinary murder case is “Doc” Walter McDivitt that has seen enough brutality for a lifetime. These two take the lead in discovering the truth. Together they discover a truth that no one wants to hear, and no one would believe if they did.
Bruce McCandless III is a talented author that is a cross between Steven King and the voice actor Robert Clotworthy. The historical descriptions and language are offensive to modern society but are accurate for 1911. It is so clear you feel like you are really back in Texas in the early 1900’s and living with this society. I’m not typically a person that enjoys horror novels because my imagination will just keep me up all night with every bump in the dark. McCandless however has written a story so engaging I couldn’t put it down. There are so many surprises in the pages it is hard to reveal much for fear of giving away the next piece of the plot. I can say I fell in love with the character of Sheriff Duncan. A man that lost his wife, became an alcoholic and overcame it. A mild mannered man that wants to be fair and not rock the boat. He does have a conscience and uses that to guide him as the story progresses, that inner instinct and unwillingness to follow a mob mentality. Sheriff Duncan believes in facts, and even when those facts point to things that should not be real he doesn’t discredit it. When all is said and done, he just wants to walk away. But how can you walk away from the nightmares he endured?
This is a novel you just can’t put down, it will draw in readers that like historical fiction, horror, a little sci-fi and a lot of action and gore. All the main characters are given rich back stories so you feel you really know who they are and how they ended up in Ochiltree County. The story line is unique and completely original probably because of when it takes places. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone that needs an escape from modern drama, this book will take you away and make you think, as well as surprise you from one chapter to the next.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B06XR9T91W
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