Thursday, 26 March 2015

Vampires Suck by Giovanni Valentino

Vampires Suck
by Giovanni Valentino
Paperback, 300 pages
Published October 31st 2014 by Strange Musings Press

Each story has a different take on the legend of the Vampire. Some hide from the darkness and others can walk in the daylight. Some are cold, calculated killers and others are full of teenaged angst. Some are held at bay by garlic but others love Italian food.

Here is a collection of stories designed to poke fun at the whole vampire genre. We have funny stories about the troubles of immortality, about the crazy life of the vampire slayer, and about just how the different vampires get along.

But in all the stories, one element is always there.

Original Stories by:

Giovanni Valentino - Will Adams - Nicholas Knight - Arthur Carey

Gregg Chamberlain - Tim Jeffreys - T.R. Clark - Evan Dicken - Dan Doerflein

Tracy S. Morris - John H. Dromey - Tim J. Finn - Kerrie Strong -C.J. Andrew

Aaron Gudmunson - James E. Guin - Sierra July - Alexis Larkin - Daniel McPherson

M. Kelly Peach - Paul Popiel - Robert Morrisey- Barry Rosenber - Joe Mogel

J. Adrian Cook - Simon Kewin -Victor Gischler

Find it on Goodreads 



About the Editor:
Giovanni Francesco Valentino has struggled at the art of writing for four decades against many demons like self-doubt, chronic depression, OCD and severe dyslexia. He has written a few memoir pieces about his life struggles going undiagnosed for more the half his life. He hopes one day to be a famous published science fiction and fantasy author.
He is a member of the CNY Writers Haven, a critique and writer support group. He is the editor of the upcoming humorous anthology, Alternate Hilarities.




Strange Musings Press:

We are a small publisher founded and run by two authors with a variety of skills and talents. Visit our Staff page for more information about who we are.

Currently, Strange Musings Press is strictly an e-publisher of anthologies: Alternate Hilarities , Romantic Ruckus, Alternate Hilarities 2 - Vampires Suck, and Alternate Hilarities 3: Hysterical Realms

We DO NOT accept or publish standalone stories, novels, or novellas at this time so please don't query us for those. We'll send you a humorous and snarky rejection letter.

The goal of these anthologies is to help aspiring authors get published and to have fun. Everything we do here is in the spirit of humor. If we offend you in any way, well, we probably don't care =)

Take a moment to look around and submit a story or two if you'd like. Got questions? Got a joke you want to tell us? Want to tell us how awesome we are? Stand in line and send us an email at:

Check out all the stops on this Making Connections blog tour!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Trompe-l'oeil by Russell Bittner: Interview + Giveaway

by Russell Bittner
Why would a woman entering middle age — attractive, sexy, articulate, imaginative, intelligent, charming, charismatic, wealthy and successful in almost every aspect of her life — knowingly give up the only thing missing from that life: namely, love? And love with a younger man she meets serendipitously not once, but three times — and whose appreciation of her quickly grows from mere physical attraction to adoration and then to obsession? The riddle from start to finish is perhaps to be found in the word "knowingly." The answer to that riddle? Revealed only in the final chapter.
DANEKA SØRENSEN is a Danish transplant to NYC, where she manages her life from an Upper East Side apartment building by night and from the top floor of a mid-town skyscraper by day — ostensibly, all under tight control. KIT ADDISON is a fashion photographer with a sideline penchant for flora and poetry who lives on the Lower East Side. The distance between them, however, is about much more than a mere hundred city blocks.
In Chapter One, serendipity brings Daneka and Kit together for the first time as both are exiting the Columbia campus — she from a poetry class in which she dabbles once a week, he from Philosophy Hall in which he labors days and nights without respite. This first encounter is both poetic and philosophical — but too hot to be captured in a mere haiku, too impulsive to be squeezed into an imperative, moral or historical, for either of them. At the start of Chapter Two, already eleven years later, they--or rather his camera and the front bumper of her limousine--meet a second time on a zebra crossing. Her search for a photographer for a special project (too hot and too imperative for any of the more than competent staff of a major magazine of which she is the Managing Editor) leads to a third serendipitous meeting. What follows these three meetings is, in the coming weeks, a game of cat and mouse — until, that is, their affair becomes such that "it seemed as if they might engulf each other in this single, ferocious act, like tigers chasing their own tails and slowly churning, turning, burning into butter."
Their affair takes them from New York to Paris, to the coast of Portugal, to Rome and Positano, Italy, to the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, then back to New York City. What they discover about each other in those few weeks is more than most people discover in a mate or lover over a lifetime. The exploration is an erotic Elysian field, but also a psychological inferno.
What gradually comes to light in the space of two continents and one return transatlantic flight is that, while love's bite may initially be sweet, the aftertaste may be exceedingly bitter — when not downright nauseating. 
Paperback, 446 pages
Published February 18th 2011 by CreateSpace

Find it on Goodreads
Amazon     Smashwords

Russell is first and foremost a father—and quite happily so—of one boy and one girl. The boy is now working his way up onto the silver screen, while the girl continues to practice, practice, practice her way onto the dance stage. I suppose that our little household is not devoid of that special kind of lunacy that adheres to a family of aspiring artists, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s just the nature of life here in Brooklyn, New York—which is to say that we’re in no sense unique, unless it be in our peculiar brand of lunacy. 

If you’d like to get some idea of my writing “style” before you decide to invest any further time in this story, you can find a random excerpt here: It is, stylistically speaking, neither more nor less indicative than any other part of the book, with the exception of Chapter One (which, I must confess, is highly stylized—and consequently not to everyone’s liking).

A couple or three caveats to head off those who may be merely curious: (1) if you’re bothered by sex—even if entirely consensual—in the written word, don’t bother with this book; (2) if the use of foreign languages* (albeit, with either direct translations into English, where applicable, or with periphrasis using gestures or action) disturbs or annoys you, don’t bother with this book; (3) if the notion of a role reversal bothers you, don’t bother with this book (i. e., in her early forties, the principal female character in my novel is almost ten years older than her male counterpart; while no “cougar,” she’s clearly the money and power in the relationship). 

* Spanish; French; Portuguese; Italian; Swedish; Danish; Russian; and Latin 

Why the languages, by the way? Because a good 1/3 of the story takes place in Europe; the rest in NYC, with just a snippet in CA and PA. 

Other than the above-listed caveats, perhaps the ten “teaser” points below will help you to decide whether this work is or isn’t for you. (Please forgive the repetition of content; I’d prepared these points once upon a time for my Publicist to disseminate over the course of ten successive weeks.) 

1. Trompe-l’oeil is as much a psychological journey as a geographical one. Travel through the minds (and mine fields) of a couple in young love—as often, in young lust—as they travel from NYC to Paris, the coast of Portugal, Italy, Denmark, and back to NYC, where the bomb of their lust awaits the ruin and smolder of their love. 

2. Trompe-l’oeil is not Sex Education 101. It’s Sex Education 404. It’s as much about what happens between the ears as it is about what happens between the legs.

3. A trompe-l’oeil in art or architecture is an illusion. Trompe-l’oeil, the novel, is, too. But it’s not about art or architecture—unless we’re talking the art and architecture of love and lust.

4. What’s the object of a true archer? The target. What’s the object of a dead archer? A missed target. Trompe-l’oeil is about aiming and missing—and about all of the hail, fire and brimstone of love and lust that fall in between.

5. Trompe-l’oeil is not a “how to” book for young lovers. Trompe-l’oeil is the story of two people who’ve already been there, done that—and who’re now willing to risk life and particularly limbs to try it all again.

6. “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip” is an old English proverb of ancient Greek origin. In the original Greek, the Argonaut is killed by a wild boar before he can taste the wine in celebration of his safe homecoming. In Trompe-l’oeil, it’s the wine of love and lust that kills even before the two principal characters’ homecoming can be called ‘safe.’

7. Love, lust, obsession and sight-seeing (in all of their implications) are the subjects of Trompe-l’oeil, a novel written with the conviction that each holds as much potential for personal ecstasy as it does for self-annihilation .

8. Trompe-l’oeil is a novel about love, lust and loss—a rollercoaster ride through a modern-day Divine Comedy, with occasional stops in Paradise, more frequent climbs and falls through Purgatory, a final halt in Hell.

9. If you’re looking for a modern-day version of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Trompe-l’oeil may be it—with one important, “modern-day” difference: what was implicit in both Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary is explicit in Trompe-l’oeil.

10. Trompe-l’oeil is a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners tale of love, lust and loss. The tale may well leave you feeling a bit dizzy, but you can take refuge in the fact that it’s just a story.

Many, many thanks for your time, your read, and your possible interest.


Pinterest Page:
You can reach him via e-mail at:
Q & A with Russell Bittner

Q:  Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
There are two main characters -- Daneka (Danish/female) and Kit (American/male). She's the older of the two, by about ten years, and has everything (apparently) going for her that a woman could possibly want. He, meanwhile, is no slouch. The major difference between the two lies in their values -- consequently, in the outward appearance of everything they, themselves, value.

Q:  What is the best advice you have been given?
The best advice I've been given is quite possibly something I recently read in a novel by the British writer, William Boyd (consequently, not "advice" directed at me -- personally -- at all): "One of the last things we discover about ourselves is the effect we produce (on others)."

"Know thyself" is advice as old as the Delphic Oracle -- and very sound advice. But how many of us can really say, up until the instant we die, how we come across to others? I don't know how to answer this question -- except to quote another: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." None of us can possibly sway -- or even know -- the eye of every beholder who sees us, comes to know us, and comes to know our work, however weak and insubstantial it may be. All we can do is try.

Q:  Describe your ideal writing spot.
In my garden -- which I no longer have. It's where I wrote my entire novel.

Q:  If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Antarctica. I suspect it's as close as one can get to the "alpha and omega" of existence.

Q:  Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks?
Hard. I used to have a private library, but it went out to auction over a year ago when I couldn't pay the storage fees for it and everything else I'd owned. Now, I simply use the Brooklyn Public Library, where I can get hardback books almost every time.

Q:  What book are you reading now?

At the moment, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia. I finished Yasunari Kawabata's The Dancing Girl of Izu just yesterday. (I read both fiction and non-fiction, even if my preference is for fiction. I also watch lots of films on my laptop -- and from the same source. Primarily Drama; but sometimes, Documentary.)

Check out all the stops on this Making Connections blog tour!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Spellbound by S.L. Ross: Interview + Giveaway

Spellbound (Spellbound #1)
by S.L. Ross Sabrina Ross
A fast paced Paranormal love story set in contemporary times. It combines a diverse and intriguing loveable set of characters, with an unrelenting sense of how powerful immortality really is. Sarah a human is thrown in the middle of it all.
Sarah is your typical American girl, happy, loving parents and off to college. She even falls in love for the first time with a perfect take home to mom kind of guy Jeff. But like everything all things must come to an end. Trust is now an issue with Sarah. Jeff had destroyed her feelings on love and all that comes with it. It’s now Sarah’s senior year of college when strange things begin to happen to her. She meets a mystery man she feels she knows and the only problem with it is that she had a vision about it before it happened. Then her parents go missing. Sarah is a strong person but with everything falling apart around her she doesn’t know how much more she can handle. Especially not the news that her new boyfriend is a vampire and her ex is a werewolf…
Paperback, 200 pages
Published March 23rd 2011 by CreateSpace

Find it on Goodreads

My name is Sabrina Ross, I live in Canada. I'm married, been married for 11 years. We have two wonderful children, both boys, both under 10. I love to read, write, listen to music and I am a huge movie fan. My preferred genre to read is is paranormal but I am game to trying anything and same goes for writing. I have 5 books published. The first four are part of the Immortal Island Series under the name SL Ross, book 1 Spellbound, book 2 The Vampire Masquerade, Book 3 The Fallen, and book 4 The Reckoning. My most recent book is Hard to Love under my full name Sabrina Ross. All available at and

Twitter: @sl_ross and @immortalislands

Q & A with Sabrina Ross

Q:  Tell us a little bit about your main characters. 
A:  Sarah is a college student in her last year of Psychology. She lives near the campus with her friends Liz and Suzy as well as her former boyfriend Jeff. Sarah and Jeff have a complicated past but they try their best so that the bills are paid and no one is forced to move when they are in their last semester. She is a very loving and trusting friend and she is very mindful of others feelings, even if at times things happen that are out of her control. When her parents go missing a whole new world opens up for Sarah that isn't prepared to take on.

Q:  What is the best advice you have been given?

A:  I had actually written to Anne Rice about the best way to write a query letter when finding an agent and even though in her time she didn't need to write a query letter she still responded telling me her experience when finding an agent. She also had said the best thing to do is keep writing not everyone is going to like what you write but that doesn't mean there isn't someone who will love it. Don't let rejection stop you.  

Q:  Describe your ideal writing spot. 
A:  I have a room dedicated to writing. I have all my books that i love to read in there with some nick nacks and things that inspire me.  

Q:  If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? 
A:  I would love to go to New York, Australia and the UK. I have always been so fascinated with those places. My stories always seem to stem around New York and i have at least one brit or one aussie in my stories. :) 

Q:  As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
A:  I wanted to be a singer, then an actor and a writer. When I reached high school I still wanted to be a writer but I also wanted to be a police officer. I knew I wanted to help people which ever way I could.  

Q:  Which do you prefer: hard/paperbacks or ebooks? 
A:  I prefer paperbacks   

Q:  What book are you reading now? 
A:  I am currently reading I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

  Check out all the stops on this Making Connections blog tour!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Halfskin by Tony Bertauski + Giveaway

Halfskin (Halfskin #1) 
by Tony Bertauski

Biomites are artificial stem cells that can replace any cell in your body. No more kidney failure, no severed spines or blood disease. No cancer. Pharmaceuticals become obsolete. With each dose of biomites, we become stronger, we become smarter and prettier.

We become better.

At what point are we no longer human?

Nix Richards nearly died in a car accident when he was young. Biomites saved his life. Ten years later, he’s not so lucky. The Halfskin Laws decree a human composed of 50% biomites is no longer human. Halfskins have no legal rights and will have their biomites shutdown. It’s not called murder, merely deactivation. 
Cali Richards has been Nix’s legal guardian since their parents died. She has lost far too many people in her life to let the government take Nix. She is a nanobiometric engineer and will discover how to hide him. But even brilliance can succumb to the pressure of suffering. And technology can’t cure insanity.
Cali and Nix keep a slippery grip on reality as they elude a maniacal federal agent dedicated to saving humanity from what he calls 'The Biomite Plague'. 
ebook, 276 pages
Published November 30th 2012

Find it on Goodreads
Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     iTunes     Google Play     Smashwords     Audible

During the day, I'm a horticulturist. While I've spent much of my career designing landscapes or diagnosing dying plants, I've always been a storyteller. My writing career began with magazine columns, landscape design textbooks, and a gardening column at the Post and Courier (Charleston, SC). However, I've always fancied fiction.

My grandpa never graduated high school. He retired from a steel mill in the mid-70s. He was uneducated, but he was a voracious reader. I remember going through his bookshelves of paperback sci-fi novels, smelling musty old paper, pulling Piers Anthony and Isaac Asimov off shelf and promising to bring them back. I was fascinated by robots that could think and act like people. What happened when they died?

I'm a cynical reader. I demand the writer sweep me into his/her story and carry me to the end. I'd rather sail a boat than climb a mountain. That's the sort of stuff I want to write, not the assigned reading we got in school. I want to create stories that kept you up late.

Having a story unfold inside your head is an experience different than reading. You connect with characters in a deeper, more meaningful way. You feel them, empathize with them, cheer for them and even mourn. The challenge is to get the reader to experience the same thing, even if it's only a fraction of what the writer feels. Not so easy.

In 2008, I won the South Carolina Fiction Open with Four Letter Words, a short story inspired by my grandfather and Alzheimer's Disease. My first step as a novelist began when I developed a story to encourage my young son to read. This story became The Socket Greeny Saga. Socket tapped into my lifetime fascination with consciousness and identity, but this character does it from a young adult's struggle with his place in the world.

After Socket, I thought I was done with fiction. But then the ideas kept coming, and I kept writing. Most of my work investigates the human condition and the meaning of life, but not in ordinary fashion. About half of my work is Young Adult (Socket Greeny, Claus, Foreverland) because it speaks to that age of indecision and the struggle with identity. But I like to venture into adult fiction (Halfskin, Drayton) so I can cuss. Either way, I like to be entertaining.

And I'm a big fan of plot twists.


Blogger’s Reaction to the Birth of M0ther

Shooting Truth-Bullets Since Birth
Subscribers: 3,233

It's the end of time, peeps.

Mark this date, put a black X on your calendar because it's all over, starting today. It used to be that if you didn't like the laws where you lived, you just moved to another state or another country. Freedom existed somewhere in the world. We had a choice. I mean, hell, if you were desperate enough you could live on the South Pole with penguins and shit.

Not anymore.

Today, it's all over.

Today, M0ther was born.

Who's M0ther? Our M0ther. Already got a mother? Now you got two, only this one will know everything about you. You can't hide from her, she'll know when you're full of crap, know where you stash your porn, know when you pick your nose and when you eat it.

You'll hate her, and she'll know that, too.

Case you've been asleep for the last 10 years, the Mitochondria Terraforming Hierarchy of Record is what I'm talking about.

Let's just call her M0ther.

A mother that doesn't bake cookies or wash your underwear. She's not getting up to make you French toast or wipe your nose. Nope. This bitch is going to spy on you until you’re dead. Which may be sooner than you think.

M0ther is somewhere in the frozen plains of Wyoming. No pictures of her exist because no one's allowed to even flyover. But rumors say she's this massive dome, a computer the size of a football stadium, like some artificial brain heaved out of the frozen soil that's wirelessly connected with every biomite in existence.


Hear that buzzing on your phone? She's listening.

Feel that tickle on your laptop? She knows you're tapping.

All that Do Not Covet Your Neighbor's Wife crap? Yeah, that's the real deal, now. M0ther might tell your wife what you're thinking about doing to Joe-Bob's wife mowing the lawn in a tube top.

George Orwell wasn't even close, man. I mean, Big Brother was just a pea shooter compared to M0ther. Big Brother was pissing on a forest fire; M0ther's bringing the goddamn ocean.

Here's the official statement from Marcus Anderson, Chief of the Biomite Oversight Committee.

(BTW, he looks like a gargoyle. Right?)

It is with great pleasure that, after ten years of global effort, I present to you the greatest feat of humankind. I present to you a regulatory system that will keep all people safer and healthier for centuries to come. Bionanotechnolgy has put us on the brink of greatness, but with that comes uncertainty and danger. The human species has the potential to live forever. Or end tomorrow.

I prefer the former.

Mitochondria Terraforming Hierarchy of Record is linked to every booted cellular-sized biomite living inside our bodies. Its primary function will be to monitor individual levels of biomites and take appropriate action if, or when, they cross a previously determined threshold. This will keep us human.

This will keep us safe.


I don't know about you, but this is not a gross infringement on our freedom: it's raping it. I don't want anything or anyone peeking into my biomites; that's none of your business, none of my neighbor's, and it sure as hell ain't the government's.

Biomites aren’t evil, dude. They’re artificial stem cells, that’s all. What’s the big deal? If you want to be 100% artificial, be my guest, that's your business, bro. I don't give a rat's pink sphincter what you do with your body. You want to boost your brain with biomites to get smarter? Hey, as long as you got the cash, good for you.

What the chief didn't say in his official statement was what exactly the previously determined threshold is.

Want to know?

You should, before you rebuild your kidney or tone those wrinkles, you should know that when your body is 40% biomites, you're a redline. And redlines go to jail.


Think I'm joking?

They call it a Detainment and Observation Center. You can't leave, you don't order takeout, you shower with other redlines. That's jail. You get a federally funded cot and three hots while they watch your biomite levels. On a side note, you’d think the scientists could figure out how to keep biomites from reproducing and slowly taking over our bodies once we get seeded. They are the geniuses, for Christ’s sake. Doesn’t seem like it should be all that hard.

But all right, whatever. So they continue dividing once they’re in our bodies. It’s worth the trade off: they are the answer to every disease, every shortcoming, every desire known to man. They’ll figure it out, give them some time.

But here’s the kicker. Guess what happens when you hit 50%. Guess, no seriously. Take a stab. When your body becomes halfskin, when it's 50% God-given, good ole' fashion organic cells and 50% artificial biomite cells, guess what M0ther’s going to do?

Bitch is going to shut you off.

That’s right.

And when she does, when she turns off all your biomites like a light switch, what do you think happens to the other half? The living half?

Yeah. That's right.

It's real, peeps. Real as it gets.

The death of human liberty happened today and you probably didn't even feel it.

Well, I did.

  Check out all the stops on this Making Connections blog tour!