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Iron Dogs

Iron Dogs follows a group of outlaws who are wounded and on the run. They seek shelter in a deserted New Mexico town. However, they soon realize that something is seriously amiss in the town. Something evil lurks in the shadows. The band of outlaws, once the ones bringing the trouble to town, are now the ones who must fight against it. Each man is tested beyond his limits. Who, if any, will survive the evil that lurks within this desolate town.

Iron Dogs book mixes horror with action and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The story begins with Father Ramon, and immediately there are little tidbits that lead you deeper into an intricately woven story that continues to gain layers as the story progresses. The tone is set from the start, a blend of western thriller with modern horror. I could tell from the first page that the novel was setting a gritty and intense tone. The band of outlaws are close at first, but the challenges that lay ahead test their personal limits as well as the limits of their relationship when they must decide who will be sacrificed.

One of the characters, in particular, Virgil, reminded me of people I knew (in certain scenes) that had me feeling more invested. Especially as the book began to get creepier. One of the things that really thrilled me about this novel was the western feel that permeated the novel, reminiscent of George A. Romero’s gruesome and satirical horror films. Though Virgil was one of the characters who stood out the most to me, I enjoyed Frank’s character as well. As with any good book, the characters act the way they do because of inner motivations and characteristics, making the reader feel a connection to them. A word of warning Iron Dogs will pull you into the characters, but it takes a few chapters. They seem a bit shallow at first, but given time they develop into some intriguing characters.

Iron Dogs is one crazy good story. If you are a fan of riveting horror novels with plentiful action then Neil Chase has written a novel just for you.

Pages: 322 | ASIN: B07CV85D36

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The History of How Civilization Ended

Dave Matthes Author Interview
Dave Matthes Author Interview

Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a western, action, and science fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

-“Blackheart Mountain” is actually a prequel to a novella I wrote last year, titled “Mercy”, which was only supposed to be a one-shot story. “Mercy” was so well received that it got me thinking about writing more for the character of Mahoney. While writing “Mercy”, it started off as simply another run of the mill post-apocalypse story that I began writing out of trying something new, since I don’t really dabble too much in either genres of westerns, science fiction, or post-apocalypseness, but as with everything I write, and I’m sure as it happens with a lot of writers, the story and the subject nature just kind of evolve on its own. About halfway through finishing the first draft of “Blackheart Mountain”, I came up with a story for a third book, to take place after “Mercy”, and just before finishing “Blackheart Mountain”, I came up with an idea for another story for Mahoney. So there will most likely be four books total for Mahoney and the world he lives in.

I understand that you have an educational background in computer engineering, automotive science and criminal justice. Has your familiarity with these subjects helped you write your books?

Actually not at all. There isn’t a shred of my formal educational background that I can say helped with my writing career. I can say that many people I met in college influenced some of the characters I’ve written about, but that’s where it ends. Most of my research for the stories I write is done on my personal time.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

There was a lot of time and research put into Native American history, Manifestation Destiny, and the historical figures having lived during that time period. In regards to the history and the foundation of the book “Blackheart Mountain” itself, I purposely didn’t go terribly in depth with the history of how the world “fell” in my book, because how the world ended is really not what the story is about, and it would just seem like unecessary info to detract from what was going on in the story. I wanted it to remain a mystery, something for the reader to wonder about while they’re reading, as it is literally said in the beginning that the populace largely doesn’t bother itself with the history of how civilization ended so much as it does with maintaining the will and the means to survive, because they can’t find a relation to the two concepts. The going philosophy in this world is that the ability to survive has no reliance on an understanding of how humanity got to where it currently is(and in a way, that kind of mirrors today’s world). With forming the image and the history of the Tuskatawa, a tribe of survivors claiming to be the direct, albeit long and far-off ancestors of the native americans who were massacred long ago and far away, I wanted to make sure their culture was as concrete and concise as possible, from their funeral processions and how they handled their dead to their food recipes, their stance on violence, and exceptions to their own Law. In the end, I took from the behaviorisms and cultures of several different tribes, combining them into one, as at the heart of the Tuskatawa is their combined bloodlines of every tribe to have existed in the past. I picked up a half dozen books on the history of native americans and spent a decent amount of time reading just to familiarize myself with where the Tuskatawa “came from”. The title “Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain” is actually a spin on “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee”. Being that this takes place two decades before “Mercy”, the only real challenge I had was making sure nothing spoken about in “Mercy” contradicted the events that are taking place in this new novel, particularly with the main characters Rancid Mahoney and Til Drange. I’ll have the same task when writing the next book in the series.

While editing writers often have to remove things they want to keep in but just can’t for various reasons. What was the hardest scene for you to cut from this book?

I actually didn’t cut anything, but rather added a few scenes and expansions to dialogue to flesh out the character development of Mahoney a little better. Very rarely will I ever cut out material while editing, unless it’s just that awful, or during the course of writing I decided to change something about a character later on in the story that would have to be supported by something that happened earlier on. Most of the time, the first draft ends up being a pretty bland, almost point for point blueprint, more than an actual cohesive story. I use the editing phase to sort of “fill in the blanks”, and oftentimes it feels as if the first draft I wrote is a movie or a book someone else created that I’m changing to make better in my eyes.

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“When the world ended, people eventually regained their footing, but that was a long time ago. We have come so far since then. We still have so much farther to go…”
Two decades before the bloodstained events of the novella “MERCY”, Rancid Mahoney is commissioned by Gunther Ostrander: purveyor of opportunity and Head Prospector of New Canterton, a mining settlement located in what was once, but long forgotten as, the heart of the American Northwest. Mahoney is tasked with scouring the land in an attempt to locate Blackheart Mountain: the source of “Blackvein”, the heavily romanticized miracle mineral rumored to be able to enhance the human body’s ability to heal, effectively defeating death itself. But time and time again, Mahoney returns empty handed to his reluctant employer.
On the heels of setting out on yet another venture to locate the Mountain, Ostrander orders Mahoney to first escort the prisoner Til Drange to the settlement of Vermouth not far to the north, so that he may face judgment for crimes committed against the eccentric Mayor Henry Kenroy. On the way to Vermouth, the two are interrupted by scouts of the Tuskatawa Tribe, an assemblage of people who believe the cataclysmic event which put an end to civilization long ago was a sign for their people that it is now the time to take back the land that was once theirs in the name of their native ancestors. To make matters worse, Mancino Rolandraz, the deranged leader of the savage Crimson Collar gang, is on his own quest for vengeance under the guise of what he believes to be the only purpose worth fighting for. Spearheading his campaign for “justice” is an obsessive hunger to kill Til Drange, and anyone else who gets in his way.
It swiftly comes to the realization of Mahoney that a new war is not only about to break out, but is impossible to prevent, one which he must decide whether or not to take part in, and if he does, which side to fight for.

Behind the Scenes

About Bobbi
Bobbi Phelps Author Interview

Sky Ranch is a riveting memoir of your life, and shows the stark contrast between city and rural life. Why was this an important book for you to write?

All my books are memoirs. SKY RANCH is about the time I lived on a ranch in Idaho. The first book, BEHIND THE SMILE DURING THE GLAMOUR YEARS OF AVIATION, is about the six years I was an international flight attendant, flying into Vietnam during the height of the war, telling about what goes on behind the scenes of an airline crew, and being captured in Cairo during the 6-day war. BLACK EMPRESS is about the 4 months I lived in Iran and rescued a black Labrador puppy and brought her back to the States. My next book, DARIEN WATERS, is about growing up in Darien, Connecticut (the good and bad of living in an upscale town near New York City). My last book will be about hitchhiking around the world twice. First for 4 months by myself. The second time for 18 months was with my former husband. We fly fished and hiked from New Zealand, to South Africa, to Scandinavia, and the British Isles. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, carrying my own pack with eleven other hikers (from Canada, Germany, and Australia. We were the only Americans). Only 6 made it to the top (my husband did not).

I appreciated the candor with which you told your story. Was there anything that was difficult for you to share?

I wasn’t sure I should have put the section in about making love to my husband while he was driving a combine through a grain field. I’m still not sure.

What is one piece of advice that you would have given yourself before you moved to Idaho?

No advice. I loved Idaho. What a beautiful state and such wonderful inhabitants. I’d go back in a minute but all my relatives live in the East. As we age, I want to be close to them.

The memoir ends around 1996. What have you been doing since then?

After I sold the Angler’s business in 1995, I ran a successful clothing store in Buhl, Idaho. Married a high school boyfriend, sold the business but kept the building (which is now leased to Edward Jones Financial Company) and moved to Tennessee. I have started a new life as an author. Never a dull moment.

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A city girl is uprooted and moved to the farm, where she must overcome her fears and learn to live life in a rougher way.
Once Bobbi Phelps married an Idaho rancher, she discovered what it was like to live in rural America. The contrast between her suburban background and her farming life created challenging yet rewarding differences.
Sky Ranch tells of Bobbi Phelps’s Idaho ranch experiences between 1980 and 1996, the adventures in a past time before camera phones, GPS technology, and social media. Throughout this memoir, she shares frightening tales of:
Dangerous white-outs during Rocky Mountain blizzards.
A terrifying flooded road crossing in pitch blackness.
A near drowning while fishing Henry’s Lake.
Losing her young son among huge harvesting machines.
Sky Ranch is a memoir about a naïve suburban woman who struggled to navigate an industrial farm and its commercial cattle enterprise. Her life on the ranch meant grocery shopping once every two weeks, driving through harsh winter storms and swollen streams, and rescuing her horse in a full-blown blizzard. Living in the Rocky Mountains allowed her to fish, hunt, and camp on a regular basis. She also discovered different aspects of the Mormon religion, coyotes hunting her dog, industrial farming, and environmental conservation.
Sky Ranch will appeal to readers interested in Western culture, cattle and row-crop farmers, hunters, anglers, and those who only dream of living on a ranch. It takes the reader on an exciting ride of terror, drama, and humor, giving us a look at what goes on behind the scenes at a rural ranch, many miles from civilization.

Growing Up is a Tough Job

Daniel Boyd Author Interview

Daniel Boyd Author Interview

The Devil & Streak Wilson follows a man who sells his reflection to to the devil but finds the price was too high. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling supernatural western?

The Doppelganger or “Double-Walker” has been walking through folklore, literature, and movies since before the Bible, and it struck me as a natural for the Western. As I wrote it, the traditional Western characters — cowboys, lawmen, saloon gals, bounty hunters and even the town barber — seemed to respond to the notion in ways they don’t usually do, and I have to say it surprised me.

Steak Wilson is a fascinating and well developed character. What were some driving ideas behind his character development?

Growing up is a tough job, and not everybody gets it right. I remembered the confusion, hard lessons learned, and absurd fun of being just a little too young, and tried to put it into this guy. If I did it right, readers of all ages will relate to it.

The idea of selling one’s soul to the devil is captured in a unique way in your story. What were some themes you felt were important to explore in this book?

I haven’t had any use for God since I became a grown-up, but I’ve often wished there were a Devil; the character has given so much to literature and the arts, I thought it was time to take a whole new look at him. And I’ll say right now, if you know a young person in search of guidance, and you think Devil-Worship might be right for them… well, just let them read this and their parents, teachers, and clergy will never forget you for it.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

A sequel, GONE TO GRAVEYARDS, is ready to go if this one sells well enough.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

The Devil & Streak Wilson by [Daniel Boyd]

A BARGAIN MADE IN HELL

THE KID THEY CALLED STREAK WILSON had a way with a gun, and he was tired of being treated like a boy.

THE DEVIL DIDN’T SEEM LIKE A BAD SORT and he offered a deal for Streak to live his dreams without losing his soul.

WITH MORE MONEY THAN HE COULD SPEND INA LIFETIME

Streak Wilson found himself framed as a horse thief, chased by bounty hunters, hounded by the Devil… And headed for a showdown with the deadliest killer in the territory—

THE MAN THEY CALLED STREAK WILSON!

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The Gold Rush Girls

The Gold Rush Girls by Craig Moody is a tell of women who aspire for adventure and a better life by going west along with the wave of gold seekers in the 1840’s. But the life they find instead is grim, painful, and will test the limits of their will to live. The Gold Rush Girls is about survival, not of man vs nature, but of man vs man.

I was pulled into The Gold Rush Girls from the first paragraph. I enjoyed reading about the rough and tumble details about the trail, the heat, sickness, and other harshness endured on the trail. I love how the author was able to take me to that time and take me on this journey with the Ten women as they struggled to survive against loss, starvation, broken hearts, humiliation, and anger. When they were free I even felt relieved for them even though I knew it would be short lived.

The Gold Rush Girls is an emotionally draining novel, in the same way that The Handmaid’s Tale or Outlander is. The novel is riveting from the beginning but there are relationships and motivations that I think needed a more in depth explanation or exploration. I would have really liked to understand why Z loved Meideth. I wanted a deeper exploration of the relationship between Paco and Caroline’s somewhat stockholm like relationship. The characters were intriguing, but I wanted a fuller explanation of their motivations and how and why they change throughout the novel.

Meredith is a stirring main character that tackles an unbelievable amount of hardships. She is able to rebuild herself after repeated disaster and come out intact. She makes friends, loses friends, has several jobs and seeks a better life. She’s definitely a multifaceted woman that is super human in her ability to endure inhuman torture and come out the other side much the same. She is repeatedly assaulted but never loses her desire for a handsome man or portrays the mental or emotional scars someone might have.

The Gold Rush Girls is an emotional adventure that uses the known story of the search for gold out west and adds provocative new twists that will keep readers constantly thinking and empathizing.

Pages: 302 | ASIN: B0885BVNX7

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Leave My Ashes On Blackheart Mountain

Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain by [Dave Matthes]

When your work is savage and your world is cruel, it’s hard to find your heart. Mahoney knows this better than anyone. He lives in a world that was burned to the ground many years ago, and he knows nothing but cold, hard truth and scavenging his way through life. With the love of his life waiting behind hoping for his safe return, Mahoney is dispatched on a mission to deliver a prisoner for execution. Not one to be left in the dark, Mahoney finds himself struggling to figure out how he has arrived on the legendary Blackheart Mountain. What should have been his opportunity to hand over the one thing everyone around him wants most, may just turn into the moment that changes his life.

Leave My Ashes on Blackheart Mountain, by Dave Matthes, is the thought-provoking tale of Mahoney, an outlaw of sorts who has made his home working for the powerful but evil Gunther Ostrander. Mahoney, by and large a loner, is accustomed to taking care of things his own way. Living in the remnants of a world he never really knew, he often uses violence as his go-to with little remorse.

I was immediately taken with the setting of Matthes’s book. This post-apocalyptic scene is striking in that it mimics the feel of the Old West in both character and setting. From the brief mentions by characters of modern times gone by to the hints of modern technology, readers are taken on quite a visual thrill ride as they try to piece together each scene. I am not a fan of westerns, but this particular book is so much more and carries readers on a captivating journey into the author’s imagination.

The notion of an almost mythical Blackheart Mountain and the ways in which it impacts the main character are fascinating to read. I am a huge believer in drastic changes as a character is developed throughout a story, and Matthes succeeds in carrying Mahoney through some major challenges to mold a character not to be forgotten. From his kindness and almost subdued nature with Cassandra to his quiet viciousness when threatened to his experiences among the Tuskatawan people, Mahoney takes shape before our eyes, and his spirit is almost palpable.

I highly recommend Matthes’s unique tale to anyone who enjoys westerns and modern takes on the genre. I think readers will be pleasantly surprised at how well the mix of action meshes with the tender character development that takes place throughout Matthes’s gripping novel.

Pages: 350 | ASIN: B086TZ41WX

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A Bite of the Past

A Bite of the Past: Undying Love - Book One by [Nightingale, L.]

“I am Theodore Callington. I have a family. And a home. I belong somewhere.” These longing words are spoken by Teddy, who has lived a tortured life. An orphan taken in by a murderous uncle, regularly beaten to a pulp. An escaped cowboy, loved by an adopted family but trampled in the rodeo. And an unwilling vampire, slowly feeling his way to redemption. What will happen when Teddy attempts to reclaim his humanity from the devilish vampire who made him what he is? Follow Teddy’s twisted and terrifying journey in L. Nightingale’s A Bite of the Past: Undying Love.

A Bite of the Past is an exploration of what it means to be human, and conversely, sub-human. It is a heartbreaking story of cruelty, rejection, and longing for the love and stability of a family. Teddy’s journey is also one of hopefulness, reconnection, and the ascendancy of good over evil.

As our devastatingly handsome and sometimes repugnant main character, Teddy is truly a tortured soul—one dealing with the excruciating pain of his past but also searching for the truth and love that lies between the horror. Through sheer will-power, Teddy salvages the memories that have been suppressed by his malevolent teacher—the ruthless László. Under his tutelage, Teddy is truly a gruesome creature who carries out deeds that are sometimes hard to read.

Nightingale’s prose can be disorderly at times—perhaps intentionally so, as a reflection of the muddled psyche of her main character. He is confused much of the time, piecing together fragments of memories while simultaneously trying to quell his inner demon. This confusion spills over to the reader who, at times, feels lost as the narrative doubles back.

The twists, turns, and major surprises of the book do keep the reader engaged through the final cliffhanging scene. Gruesome descriptions of fights and killings will appeal to fans of macabre action. The throwback scenes to the wild west are charming, and Teddy’s vernacular peppers the book with memorable sayings, such as “the temperature would drop like a naked gunslinger beefed on a Dodge Street.” Overall, the yearning for love will resound with all.

A tale of a wayward cowboy looking for redemption that will strike a chord with its readers.

Pages: 343 | ASIN: B07SGWRTCN

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Pad Pennywell

Pad Pennywell by [Horn, Patrick]

The Pennywells had sold their Alabama plantation and decided to move to Texas, bringing with them Pad Pennywell and his family. However, on the way to Texas, the group are confronted by bandits and Pad is recruited to their ‘clan’. Many years later, a young journalism graduate by the name of Louis Bankston, visits Pad Pennywell and inquires after these bandits. Thus, the story is relayed as a retelling of Pad’s life before and after the run in with bandits. Pad Pennywell is a story of the conflicting morals and struggles of working as a ‘clean-up’ man for bandits to keep oneself and one’s family alive.

As an elderly Pad Pennywell recounts his story to Louis Bankston; it immerses the reader in a similar way as if it were a relative talking about their past. As such the story has all of the natural tangents that someone telling a story face to face would take. Such as when Pad talks about falling in love with his wife, Ruby, or talking with the townspeople, or saying a prayer for the people he ‘cleans up’ after working with the bandits. The narrative course Patrick Horn, the author, has chosen gives the story a sincere quality as if it were being told to them on Pad’s quiet porch in Alabama, in person.

Using this technique of having the main character relay their story, means that all the details are incredibly graphic in their descriptions, especially when Pad talks about death or bodies. As the ‘clean up’ man, Pad has clearly suffered trauma, and this is illustrated in how he speaks of bodies and death. He describes the sound of the air escaping a lung after a bullet to the chest, and the stench of putrid, bloating bodies at the bottom of a well. This gives so much depth to Pad as a character as it is easy to see the stain that these events have left on his mind through how vividly he describes every aspect.

Unlike many novels, there is no omnipotent narrator. We only know what the protagonist knows at that time. However, as it is a retelling, the protagonist sometimes chooses to reflect more on certain aspects of the past or give the reader a snippet of what is to come, for instance describing John West, a bandit leader, as someone he would come to know very well. This leaves the reader wanting to know what happens next and how the protagonist came to know what he knows in the present. Simultaneously, this leaves the reader with as little knowledge of the events as he the protagonist himself had as the events themselves were unfolding. Consequently, this achieves a great level of empathy from the reader for the protagonist.

This book gives an intense representation of a character and their experience with conflicting morals. The author, Patrick Horn, gives a great amount of depth to the character of Pad Pennywell as we follow the story he tells us of his struggles from Alabama to Texas.

Pages: 226 | ASIN: B07G5JRDB7

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