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Help Me Crack the Bestseller List

I’m this close to cracking the Top 100 Free bestseller list on Amazon. I just need a few people to take a chance on an epic sci-fi thriller inspired by heavy metal.

If you already have a copy, I appreciate your support.

If you don’t have a copy yet, are you brave enough to give Without Bloodshed a shot? It’s still free for Kindle, and available worldwide. You don’t have anything to lose, and plenty to gain. I’ll even convert to other formats if you prefer ePub or PDF. Just contact me via social media or email with proof-of-purchase, and I’ll hook you up.

Do you like complex, powerful female characters? I got a cast full of ‘em. Like conspiracies? I got those, too. How about sympathetic villains? Got plenty of them, too. And flawed heroes? I’ve even got some of those. I have something you won’t find anywhere else: Angry Wizard Sex.

Artwork by Ricky Gunawan

Artwork by Ricky Gunawan

About Without Bloodshed

“All who threaten me die.”

These words made Morgan Stormrider’s reputation as one of the Phoenix Society’s deadliest IRD (Individual Rights Defense) officers. He served with distinction as the Society’s avenger, hunting down anybody who dared kill an Adversary in the line of duty. After a decade spent living by the sword, Morgan seeks to bid a farewell to arms and make a new life with his friends as a musician.

Regardless of his faltering faith, the Phoenix Society has a final mission for Morgan Stormrider after a dictator’s accusations make him a liability to the organization. He must put everything aside, travel to Boston, and prove he is not the Society’s assassin. He must put down Alexander Liebenthal’s coup while taking him alive.

Despite the gravity of his task, Morgan cannot put aside his ex-girlfriend’s murder, or efforts to frame him and his closest friends for the crime. He cannot ignore a request from a trusted friend to investigate the theft of designs for a weapon before which even gods stand defenseless. He cannot disregard the corruption implied in the Phoenix Society’s willingness to make him a scapegoat should he fail to resolve the crisis in Boston without bloodshed.

The words with which Morgan Stormrider forged his reputation haunt him still.

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Excerpt: Return of the Loving Dead

First, an apology to authors Araminta Star Matthews and Stan Swanson is in order. This excerpt from Horror High School: Return of the Loving Dead was supposed to go up much earlier today, and didn’t because I screwed up. I’m sorry.

This is a hilarious YA romp with zombies, high school drama, and even some BDSM courtesy of the protagonist’s extremely naughty BFF. Seriously, people, Jasmine and Claire Ashecroft from Starbreaker would get along famously. If you enjoyed Shaun of the Dead or Warm Bodies, check out what happens when Amber Vanderkamp’s dead neighbor claws his way out of the grave, and tries to catch the school bus.

Available now on Amazon: Return of the Loving Dead

Available now on Amazon: Return of the Loving Dead

Excerpt No. 3 from Return of the Loving Dead

Jasmine gaped out the front window of the bus, and Zach and Amber followed her gaze. They fell silent as they saw Donnie Fenner shuffling across the street with slow, jerky movements just a few yards in front of the moving bus.

“Hey!” Mr. Collins yelled, his attention focused on the rearview mirror as he glared at the trio standing in the narrow bus corridor. “You kids sit down!”

He didn’t even notice as Donnie Fenner walked in front of the bus and disappeared beneath its massive front wheels.

The bump, however, was hard to miss.

“What the―”

Mr. Collins slammed on the brakes, and the busload of high school students grabbed for support to keep from tumbling into the aisles. Mr. Collins shouted for everyone to stay in their seats, but the bus emptied out through the emergency exit quicker than the Flash apprehending a fleeing bad guy. Everyone stared at the creature struggling to unpin himself from beneath the front bus wheel. Several students had whipped out their cell phones and pointed them at the boy as he scrambled against the pavement. Skin hung in shreds from Donnie Fenner’s face, and he was covered from head to toe in a stomach-churning combination of dirt and dead flesh.

“Cool,” someone in the crowd whispered with fascination.

Why would anyone think it is cool to see a walking corpse? Amber wondered. Well, Jazz might, but then she doesn’t live in the same universe as everyone else.

“This is so going on the Internet later,” another voice shouted from behind Amber.

Donnie Fenner had finally managed to pull his mangled legs from beneath the school bus. In addition to his torn flesh and the dirt-caked body, a tar-like substance oozed from his ears. He still wore the black suit and tie he had been buried in.

“What have I done?” Mr. Collins moaned. “I didn’t even see the boy.”

“It’s okay,” one of the students shouted. “You didn’t kill him. It’s Donnie Fenner. He’s already dead.”

“Already dead?”

“He died a couple of months ago,” Jasmine said. “We all went to his funeral.”

“That’s…uh…the same outfit he wore when he was…uh…buried,” Amber stammered.

Mr. Collins shot her a glance before returning his gaze to the stumbling corpse. “So he…was dead when I hit him?” he mumbled, half to himself.

“Cool,” chimed the same voice as before, this time sounding as if he had just witnessed Jason Vorhees coming back for the umpteenth time. “I haven’t seen a real zombie on the loose since the outbreak, except on TV.”

Amber now recognized the voice. It was none other than Caleb Wainwright. She once had to go on a double date with him. And once was enough. You didn’t need more than that to realize that a guy who skateboards off the roof of his house isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, no matter how cute he was. Caleb Wainwright was also Darla Stevens’s current boyfriend. He had stepped forward and now stood in the front of the group of students along with Amber, Jasmine, and Zach.

Darla shouted to him from the protection of the crowd. “Caleb, get away from that nasty thing. It probably has germs and all kinds of yucky maggots. You might catch the virus, and then who will take me to homecoming?”

“You can’t get the virus unless you’re bitten,” someone in the crowd informed her. “And some people are even immune.”

Mr. Collins pulled at his thinning, gray hair, not sure how to proceed.

A low, guttural groan came from the figure on the pavement.

“He’s moving!” one of the girls shrieked, and the crowd of kids shrank back from the bus.

“Son of a―” Mr. Collins glanced at the corpse―at least he considered it a corpse―and then yelled toward the crowd of high school kids. “Everyone get back on the bus and close that danged door behind you! Does anybody have a cell phone?”

Twenty hands shot into the air at the same time, each one clutching a phone.

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Get Your Free Ebooks Today!

Today’s the day, people. Without Bloodshed is free today on Amazon. You want this winter’s tale of intrigue, honor, conspiracies, romance, revenge, and angry wizard sex.

About Without Bloodshed

The murder of a rock violinist on a wintry London night. A coup d’état by a gun-runner and his army of bikers in Boston. A favor between friends granted in Tokyo. With these parallel events, the first Starbreaker novel begins. Without Bloodshed is a near-future science fantasy thriller filled with deceit, subterfuge, action, comedy, and romance.

When a dictator’s public allegations make Morgan Stormrider a liability to the Phoenix Society, the Society orders him to prove Alexander Liebenthal a liar — or die in the attempt.

Artwork by Ricky Gunawan

Artwork by Ricky Gunawan

“All who threaten me die.”

These words made Morgan Stormrider’s reputation as one of the Phoenix Society’s deadliest IRD (Individual Rights Defense) officers. He served with distinction as the Society’s avenger, hunting down anybody who dared kill an Adversary in the line of duty. After a decade spent living by the sword, Morgan seeks to bid a farewell to arms and make a new life with his friends as a musician.

Regardless of his faltering faith, the Phoenix Society has a final mission for Morgan Stormrider after a dictator’s accusations make him a liability to the organization. He must put everything aside, travel to Boston, and prove he is not the Society’s assassin. He must put down Alexander Liebenthal’s coup while taking him alive.

Despite the gravity of his task, Morgan cannot put aside his ex-girlfriend’s murder, or efforts to frame him and his closest friends for the crime. He cannot ignore a request from a trusted friend to investigate the theft of designs for a weapon before which even gods stand defenseless. He cannot disregard the corruption implied in the Phoenix Society’s willingness to make him a scapegoat should he fail to resolve the crisis in Boston without bloodshed.

The words with which Morgan Stormrider forged his reputation haunt him still.

Lots of SF freebies!

Nor is Without Bloodshed the only free science fiction available today. Check out these other titles for Digital Book Day. I particularly recommend Rick Wayne’s Fantasmagoria and Mike Reeves-McMillan’s Hope and the Patient Man.

Digital Book Day

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BFB: Big Fugging Bug

You think you’ve seen bugs before? You think you’ve seen big bugs before? Think again. Now THIS is a bug. I’m serious, people. This guy will bite your head off. I found him outside the entrance to my building.

Photo of a bigass bug.

Photo of a bigass bug.

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Saturday Scenes – Elisabeth Bathory

I’ve been busy with the day job and Silent Clarion, so here’s an excerpt from Chapter Seven of Without Bloodshed for this week’s Saturday Scenes. Elisabeth Bathory is also the ensof Ashtoreth, one of the Disciples of the Watch. She doesn’t trust her fellow disciple, Adramelech, but is he really the traitor she thinks him to be? You can see for yourself, though this scene may be borderline NSFW.

 

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The warmth of the bath and the fragrance of jasmine conspired to lull Ashtoreth into drowsiness. She floated in the tub, letting its currents caress her. She would rise from the waters soon, and relax while the attendants dried her body and massaged oils into her skin before joining her in bed. For now, she was content to drift.

A cool draft signaled the opening of the bathroom door. One of her attendants, a dusky-skinned young woman who came to the Garden of Earthly Delights to study massage, set an uncertain foot inside. “Countess Bathory, I’m sorry to interrupt, but security notified me of an intruder on the grounds.”

“How did he get inside the walls?” Ashtoreth held the castle for centuries, despite the efforts of various Hungarian noblemen and the Roman Catholic Church. Military force failed, so they tried marriage. Marriage likewise failed, so they resorted to blood libel. She remained, with Csejte as her seat.

“He just appeared inside, Countess. He’s in the chapel now.”

“The chapel?” The scented water lapped at her hips as she found her feet. The intruder must be Adramelech. Who else would dare materialize here uninvited, and in that old chapel? “Hand me a towel, Marjane, and tell my attendants I will not need them.”

Once Marjane left, she dressed in a black suit with a pencil skirt, heels and stockings. She opened her lingerie drawer to retrieve an object she kept hidden in the drawer’s false bottom. A brown and cream tabby cat curled up in a nest of her panties blinked at her. She spoke softly, and the cat purred as she stroked his fur before lifting him out of the drawer and putting him aside. “Must you be so incorrigible, Smudge?”

The cat wound around her calves, brushing the backs of her knees with his bushy tail as she moved aside undergarments she wore only to entice her lovers. She opened the false bottom and retrieved what appeared to be a glass rod. The last of her lovers to stumble upon it mistook the object for a piece of erotic art, which suited Ashtoreth.

She found it simpler to let somebody think she kept a glass toy in a drawer with a false bottom, than to explain that she kept in reserve a dev’astra, a weapon favored by flowseekers for personal defense. She pressed her thumb against an indentation which served as the weapon’s power switch. Colors swirled inside it at her touch, and a magnetically-contained plasma blade radiated from the end she held away from her body. Deactivating the weapon, she blinked away the amber after-image the blade burned into her vision, and pocketed it before leaving her suite.

The intruder remained inside as Ashtoreth approached the chapel, a Gothic affair she reconsecrated as a temple to the senses after reclaiming Csejte during the Enlightenment. Ivy twined its way up the flying buttresses, giving the chapel the appearance of having bloomed from the earth centuries ago. The stained glass windows depicting idealized human figures in erotic poses, instead of austere saints, beckoned to her.

She entered with care, keeping to shadows to avoid revealing herself. She ripped out most of the stone floor a century ago, allowing grass, trees, and flowers to grow from the bare earth beneath. Enough remained to form little foot paths, as well as an aisle leading to an altar used for intimate rites too ancient to be called pagan. Behind the altar stood a pair of heroically proportioned male and female figures, embracing as they shared an apple, sculpted in marble. They loomed over a figure in black kneeling before the altar, and as he rose and turned around she saw a Roman collar at his throat. She recalled her words to Imaginos concerning Adramelech, once a Disciple of the Watch like her: “He is reliable enough, as long as he gets his thirty pieces of silver.”

What are you doing here, you traitor? She watched, gripping her weapon, as he began to speak to nobody in particular. “Lord, all is prepared. Your Repentant are armed with weapons no armor can withstand, and armored by their faith in You, their living God.”

“You stand first among My Repentant, Adramelech.” The voice answering him sounded hollow, as if echoing from a great distance, and was difficult for Ashtoreth to understand. However, she recognized the tone. The enemy she helped bind beneath the Antarctic ice spoke in this manner when exhorting his human thralls to genocide. “Will you lead them against Imaginos and all who serve him when I come to claim my kingdom?”

“I do as Providence wills.”

She frowned, considering the portent behind these words. If Adramelech accepted Sabaoth as God, his words would be a gesture of obeisance. Otherwise, they implied the ensof was nothing but a fraud. Do you only pretend treason, Adramelech? Why?

“You might as well come out now, Ash.” She startled at Adramelech’s use of the name by which he addressed her in bed. Without Sabaoth’s presence to inspire caution, she complied. With each step down the aisle she recalled her marriages to a succession of Magyar chieftans and Hungarian nobles. She offered each the same bargain: allow her to rule in their names, sire children on the human concubines and mistresses she shared with them, and she would raise the children as her own. Ferenc Nádasdy betrayed her, ending the tradition.

Adramelech predated the Magyars and the Nádasdys alike. She studied him as she approached, ready to fight with both her dev’astra and her ability to manipulate sensation, her specialty as a flowseeker. “The priest’s collar suits you ill, Adramelech.”

“I wear this for my sins, not my pleasure.” He stiffened beneath her touch as she drew close and caressed his shoulders. Her hands slid into his hair, and her lips stopped just short of kissing his. His breath burned as he lowered his voice. “You should not be so close to me. Am I not a traitor?”

“Are you? What do you hope to accomplish by abandoning our cause for Sabaoth’s? Why come here, of all the locations you might use, to open a line of communication into his prison?”

His kiss closed the circuit between their bodies. His hands branded themselves into her back as he pulled her tighter against him. He reduced her to her panties and torsolette too quickly for her to protest. The stone was cold beneath her hips as he knelt before her. His eyes flamed as he gazed at her from between her thighs, his mouth burning with still greater heat through the satin separating their lips. “I told Imaginos I would let the rest of you believe me a Judas, but your doubt is a cross I will bear no longer.”

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Claire Ashecroft on Exercise

Yeah, Claire hardly has a positive attitude toward exercise as exercise. She doesn’t see much point in exertion for its own sake, and has no patience whatsoever with most sport. Luckily for her most virtual simulations provide aerobic exercise and resistance training.

Claire Ashecroft in Without Bloodshed

Claire Ashecroft in Without Bloodshed

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Get Without Bloodshed Free

I think I know why you haven’t gotten yourself a copy of Without Bloodshed yet. You don’t want to risk wasting five bucks on some long-haired metalhead who can’t write for shit. This Monday you won’t have that excuse for not getting a copy of Without Bloodshed. On July 14, 2014, I’m giving the book away.

This Is No Joke

I’m not joking, people. The 14th is Digital Book Day, and Without Bloodshed is going to be available for free on Amazon.com. In fact, I’ll go you one better, just in case you don’t have a Kindle and don’t want to install the Kindle app, or prefer ePub: Get your download from Amazon, and send a screenshot of your receipt to mgraybosch@gmail.com. I’ll send you a copy of Without Bloodshed in your preferred format.

Get WITHOUT BLOODSHED free this Monday, 14 July 2014.

Get WITHOUT BLOODSHED free this Monday, 14 July 2014.

Why Free?

Don’t worry. I’m not doing this out of the goodness of my little basaltic heart. I want people to read my book. I want people to tell their friends. I want their friends to read my book. I want people to get through Without Bloodshed feeling like they just had their brains blown out by a badass progressive metal album. And then I want them to want more.

Trust me, there’s more coming. I’m moving right along with The Blackened Phoenix. Imaginos means to grab Morgan Stormrider by the scruff of the neck and force him to face his true nature. Morgan, in the meantime, is determine to expose the truth behind the Phoenix Society and the cabal running it, to force reforms before the Society loses what public legitimacy it still possesses. In the meantime Sabaoth stirs, testing the fetters keeping it bound in the Antarctic subterrane.

Why Should I Care?

Here are twelve popular lines from Without Bloodshed. There’s plenty more where these came from. Find out for yourself.

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Mark your calenders. Save your strength for the day Without Bloodshed is free on Amazon for Digital Book Day. You know you want it. Just admit it.

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Discovering Baroness

I finally noticed that Amazon had gotten into the streaming music game with Prime Music. Since I already pay these guys eighty bucks a year for Amazon Prime, I figured I’d give ‘em a shot. I installed the Amazon Music app on my phone, and got on their website to check out their heavy metal selection. I found several old favorites, like Blizzard of Ozz and Powerslave, but I also found some new bands to try. One of them is an act called Baroness.

I admit it, I added their albums to my library on the strength of their covers. Just look at them.

Baroness: Red Album

Baroness: Red Album

Baroness: Blue Record

Baroness: Blue Record

Baroness: Yellow and Green

Baroness: Yellow and Green

These are some gorgeous covers, reminiscent of both 1970s rock and metal and art nouveau. The music seems reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band, and the Allman Brothers, which shouldn’t surprise me since Baroness hails from Savannah, Georgia.

Their Red Album and Blue Record also reminds me of The Sword’s first albums, Age of Winters and Gods of the Earth. There’s plenty of progressive material in here as well. I’m not sure what to make of Yellow and Green yet, but there’s a serious groove to be found in “Take My Bones Away”.

I regret not discovering Baroness sooner, but I’ve said the same about just about every band I like, from Coheed and Cambria all the way back to the Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath. It’s not that I want the hipster cred. Trust me when I say don’t have the figure for skinny jeans.

Actually, Baroness kinda reminds me a bit of the BOC. I think it’s the guitar work, and the emphasis on tight drumming and bass. Why not give ‘em a listen using the SoundCloud widget below, and decide for yourself? Just keep in mind that their material from Yellow and Green is different from their older albums. Good stuff, either way.

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Rapier vs Longsword

I found a video from the Academy of Historical Fencing demonstrating rapier vs. longsword. This is relevant to my own interests, since I put a fair amount of sword-fighting in Starbreaker.

In particular, Morgan Stormrider wields a longsword against Imaginos, who favors the rapier when using a blade. Naomi Bradleigh, in the meantime, favors the side sword.

And while Imaginos learned his sword-fighting over thousands of years, and Naomi had experienced teachers, Morgan learned much of his technique from Renaissance fighting manuals like this one.

Two techniques from the longsword section in the Dresden codex

Two techniques from the longsword section in the Dresden codex

Sometimes it just isn’t enough to RTFM.

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The Things We Find in Closets

Ever find something in your closet that you can’t believe you forgot was in there? Unless you found Elvis Presley, Jimmy Hoffa, or Judge Crater, you can forget about topping what government workers found in a cold storage closet at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. They found six freeze-dried vials of Variola – also known as smallpox. You think I’m bullshitting you? Check out this Motherboard article.

Smallpox viruses. Don't Google this. I'm serious.

Smallpox viruses. Don’t Google this. I’m serious.

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