New Release: Grinders by C.S. Boyack #cyberpunk #speculativefiction @Virgilante

Happy Monday! Welcome to the last week of February. Today my good friend C.S. Boyack has dropped by with his newest release, Grinders. I was fortunate to get a sneak peek of this highly imaginative novel and am enthralled by this one, folks. I asked Craig to share a bit about his AI creations (especially Cole) and holobarkers (a creation I’ve been in love with since he first introduced them in a short story by the same name). Here’s Craig to tell you more…


Thanks for inviting me over today, Mae. I won’t go into a lot of detail that will show up in the blurb, this is a cyberpunk novel. That means extensive world building on par with fantasy, and part of that is artificial intelligence and robots. Those are my topics for today.

Grinders is set in San Francisco, so it’s already got a leg up on being colorful. However, that isn’t enough to make a story like this work. I took the concept of Siri, Alexa, and others then attached the jumper cables and threw the switch. Those devices are long since gone, having been replaced by robots, smart home systems, and holographic companions.

Close up of cute black cat with big yellow eyes looking at camera, My main character, Jimi, has a robotic cat. I’m including him today, because Cole was one of Mae’s favorites. Cole is basically patched into her apartment and the internet. When she needs something from the store, Cole summons a drone to have it delivered. She carries on conversations with him, just like another person. The fun part is that Cole has cat personality programming. He doesn’t quite understand why the catnip mouse drives him crazy and says so as he bats it around the living room. He’s interested in birds and fish, and doesn’t understand quite why since he doesn’t eat. His kitty bed is a magnetic charging station to keep him at full capacity.

Jimi’s partner, Lou, isn’t quite as well off. He doesn’t have a bot, but relies on old holographic technology that provides him with a companion named Piper. She serves the same practical functions, but also has a bit of sexuality. This is more titillating than pervy. My stories tend to keep such things kind of mild. The company that produces her is similar to a gaming site, which gives her a unique spin.

Piper is capable of getting new skins. This means she can be a completely different girl on the exterior, for a price. There is also a points lottery where they can use daily login points to spin a wheel that might let them win something for her. She also gets outfits, but those are tied to external purchases. A case of Budweiser might net her a one-piece swimsuit with the logo emblazoned across it.

Advertising is everywhere in the world of Grinders. Piper constantly pushes Lou to buy products that would provide her with new things. Makeup, hairstyles, shoes, a tattoo bundle, etc. She picks up on his conversations and actions to suggest things, which isn’t dissimilar to the stream of advertising we get via social media today.

There are lesser bots in the environment, too. Piper signs Lou up for a shared service for something called Handi-bot. Several people in his building share one Handi-bot, who cleans, folds laundry, and even cooks to a degree. Since Piper is a holographic projection, Handi-bot can assemble recipes and put them in the oven before Lou gets off his shift.

Cole even bats vacuum-bot until he’s wedged behind the toilet while Jimi is at work. There are high-rise window washing bots, delivery drones, and many more. They kind of blend into the environment, and they would for people who live under those circumstances.

Some of them get misused by entitled people. One example might be having a bot hold a prime spot along a parade route while its owner dawdles doing something else. The owner only wants to show up at the opportune time to snap a picture to share on social media.

Advertising is pervasive in Grinders. It’s programmed into the skins of public vehicles like police cars. One day the cruiser might be promoting a firefighter’s charity, the next day reminding everyone to get a flu shot.

One of the things I did was a callback to an old short story I published. There are holobarkers in Grinders. These orbs float everywhere and accost people with advertising. As an example, since my main characters are police officers, most of the holobarkers that swarm their encounters are promoting the services of attorneys.

I tried to keep the environment busy with this kind of stuff but in an “oh cool” kind of way that enhances the story. You’ll see floating billboards, holographic movie promotions, traffic boards, and much more.

I hope this post intrigues you enough to check out Grinders. I also hope I did Cole justice on Mae’s site. He’s one of those rare characters that took on a unique voice in my mind as I wrote him. (Jeremy Irons) That’s usually a sign that I’ve come up with a pretty good character


Book cover for Grinders, a speculative fiction novel by C. S. BoyackBlurb:
Jimi Cabot made one mistake as a starving college student. When she went to work for the San Francisco Police Department, it nearly cost her the job. The union stepped in and they had to reinstate her. They did so by assigning her to the duty nobody wants, Grinder Squad.

Grinders are people who use back room surgeries to enhance their bodies with computer chips, and various kinds of hardware. Jimi is sure that if she can just bust one grind shop, it will be her ticket back.

Paired with veteran cop, she soon learns that Grinder Squad is a cash-cow for the department. They are nothing more than glorified patrol cops, and generally get the worst assignments.

Matchless is the most wanted grinder of all time. He disappeared years ago, leaving only the evidence of those he enhanced during his career. With these pieces, Jimi picks up the cold trail to try working her way back to more respectable duty.

Grinders is a cyberpunk story set in a world where global warming has eroded coastlines, and society has solved many of our current problems by replacing them with new ones. There are cyber shut-ins, cyber-currency skimming schemes, and more in this futuristic tale.

This book also takes the opportunity to poke a stick at current issues that seem to have lasted into the future. Entitled people, helicopter moms, overzealous homeowner associations, and lack of decent jobs are all present. Never preachy, these issues make up the day to day work of a patrol officer.

I hope you enjoy Grinders as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.


Cool, huh? Trust, me, you’re gonna love this one! There are so many intriguing aspects of this story. I would LOVE to see it on a TV screen. For now, I’ll settle for reading it on my Kindle. To pick up your copy, use the link below, and please help Craig out by using the sharing buttons!

PURCHASE LINK

You can contact Craig at the following haunts:
Blog | My Novels  | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook 

bio box for author, C.S. Boyack

Cover Reveal: Grinders by C.S. Boyack @Virgilante #cyberpunk #sciencefiction

Hey, friends—don’t you just love looking at book covers? I do, and always get excited whenever someone I know has a new cover to unveil. Today, I’m delighted to host friend and Story Empire colleague, Craig Boyack, for the red carpet roll out of a sparkly new book cover!


Book cover for Grinders, a speculative fiction novel by C. S. BoyackI’m here to reveal my newest cover and talk a bit about Grinders. This time, I’m tackling a cyberpunk world. It’s one of those worlds where the Internet and being connected too much controls our lives.

One of the things I like about science fiction is the ability to project current events into the future. I call this, “Poking things with a stick.”

I poked a lot of things in this book, but most of them are in passing. Some of them show up in advertisements, which are invasive in this world. Others might just be a news blurb. There are times when I dive a bit deeper, and not everything is negative. Here is a small list of things that show up in the story:

  • Global warming
  • Plastic pollution
  • Helicopter moms
  • Cyber shut-ins
  • The energy crisis
  • New ways for package thieves to operate
  • Police who can’t carry guns until they are five-year veterans
  • Homeowner associations

There are a lot more, and most of them are pretty subtle. Cyberpunk is not known for deep plots, but I wanted one anyway.

Grinders is set about a hundred years in the future, in San Francisco. The main characters are cops assigned to the Grinder Squad. This is the duty nobody wants, and you almost have to screw up to get this assignment.

Grinders exist today, but I ramped them up for this story. These are people who surgically modify themselves, or each other, in basement surgeries, beauty salons, and tattoo parlors. Real world examples are those who implant chips under their skin to allow themselves to unlock doors or start cars without a key. There has even been one who injected dye into his eyeballs in an attempt to see in the dark. In that example, it actually worked but the results were temporary.

My story involves the downside of these modifications, why they’re illegal, and most of them are a bit more extreme than the real world versions. For example, you’ll meet Brandi, who has moth-like antennae implanted into her forehead. They aren’t just cute, they allow her to taste virtually everything. She’s almost like a bloodhound, only using the sense of taste.

Grinder Squad rarely ever does anything, but the new girl on the squad, Jimi, wants to bust a grind shop in the worst way. She feels like it could be her ticket off this crap detail and on to better duty.

One of my silly goals was to release the book in time for Chinese New Year. I’m not going to make it. I still need to finish my final pass, send it to the formatter, and get my promotional posters. It’s going to need a blurb, too.

I targeted this date because in the story, it’s the Year of the Rat. An important part of the story takes place at San Francisco’s annual parade. There are even a couple of rats in the story that play a pivotal role. Aside from that, I was born in the Year of the Rat.

Readers won’t actually care about my silly target date, and it’s more important to give everything the final polish. What I did get in time was cover art. So Gong Hei Fot Choi, everyone, and enjoy the cover. The story will be available before you know it, and I’ll announce that on my blog.


I’m really looking forward to this one! I got a sneak peek of it, and the story is unbelievably imaginative. That’s always the case with Craig’s work, so I recommend keeping your eyes peeled for news of Grinders release. I know I am!

Please help Craig out by using the sharing buttons below!

Connect with Craig at the following haunts:
Blog | My Novels | Twitter GoodreadsFacebookPinterest | BookBub

Biography box for author C. S. Boyack

 

Lisa, the Robot Girl Talks Viral Blues and Grenades #SomethingWickedTour @Virgilante @StoryEmpire

It’s Friday, and the final day of the Story Empire Something Wicked Blog Tour. I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts this week. I’ve had a blast! To wrap things up, you can find the complete tour schedule here.

And what better way to close, than by having one of my favorite guests visit. Lisa, the robot girl, spokesmodel for C.S. Boyack has been here many times. I’m delighted she dropped by again to help me close out the tour. As always, Lisa is a class act…


Hi, Mae. Always a pleasure to see you. I understand that you’re over at P.H. Solomon’s place today with your own promo, so I hope you’re killing it over there.

Craig sent me to push his newest book, “Viral Blues.” This is a sequel to “The Hat,” but it’s so much more. A bunch of Craig’s characters got a sequel in a way. Including your favorite robot girl.

Gina Greybill gathered us all together under her Host Program. This is kind of a secret society that deals with paranormal threats. Someone, or something, is tampering with the nation’s vaccine supply. It’s our job to sort it all out, and still keep the general public from knowing about us at the same time.

Craig’s making me take excerpts around this time. This one is kind of embarrassing, because I’ve just been taken out by an electro magnet. Sometimes, robot girls have problems the regular folks don’t face.

Anyway, we’re in a fenced area that seems to be the place where the tampering is going on. Our position is inside a junkyard where the magnet moves cars to the crusher.

***

Lisa leaned against the Jeep. She spoke in a chorus of three different women’s voices. “Hi, guys. Welcome to Jurassic Park.”

“She’s still incapacitated,” Gupta said. “Where did the others go?”

“Those disgusting smelly people keep coming from the garages, and they’re even wading out of the river. Gina went into that building to talk to their boss. She took Clovis with her to make sure they listen. They’re going to stink up our garden party.”

“Stack the grenades across the car. When you get a cluster, let ‘em have it,” the hat said. “We’ll head for the river.”

“Wait.” Gupta leaned against the wrecked Jeep. “How do they work?”

“Such children,” the hat said. “Unscrew the cap at the end of the stick. There’s a bead in there. Grab it and pull. Throw it at the bad guys.”

Gupta removed the cap and found the bead. “I think I have it, and – Oh my, God.”

Lizzie and the hat turned to face Lisa. She used one of the grenades to repair her hairdo, and stuck bobby-pins to keep the victory rolls in place. “These things are great. Wish I had a blow dryer to go with them.”

Lizzie took the grenade away. “We need to borrow your curler for a minute, okay.” She turned to Gupta, and the whites of her eyes flashed wide. “You’re going to have to watch her.”

***

What would one of my visits be without a free poster for your readers. This is me trying to fix my hair with one of the grenades. Honestly, it was working pretty well before they took it away.

illustration of sexy red head in revealing midriff plaid shirt and jeans, curling her hair with a grenade

Lisa, definitely gets herself in a few fixes in this story.  Good thing she’s a robot, girl, and has options for turning the tables on the bad guys. It’s always fun when she drops by to promote one of Craig’s books. While I trot out the blurb for Viral Blues, Lisa and I are going to talk shoes and accessories. 🙂

BLURB:

Someone knows about the hat. The creature from another dimension that helps Lizzie fight against the creatures of darkness.

They are summoned to a cryptic meeting with a secret society, where they meet other people with enhanced skills. It turns out someone, or something, has been tampering with the world’s vaccine supply. The goal doesn’t appear to be political or financial, but biblical pestilence.

Can this group of loners come together in time to make a difference when even the proper authorities are obstacles?

Check out Viral Blues, for your dose of paranormal adventure, with a strong sample of dark humor. And in recent superhero style, don’t miss the secret last chapter after the back material.

PURCHASE FROM AMAZON

bio box for author, C.S. Boyack

Connect with Craig at the following haunts:
Blog | My Novels | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest 

What can be better than zombies for Halloween reading? This is a fun, imaginative story with a diverse cast of characters who keep every page entertaining. Highly recommended.

And to close out the week, I’m visiting with P.H. Solomon talking about a very specific curse that has haunted a town for centuries. I hope you have an opportunity to visit!

Book Review: Voyage of the Lanternfish by C. S. Boyack #FantasyAdventure #PirateAdventure

For the new year, I’m going to be adding a variety of posts, including sharing book reviews. With the amount of books I read a year, why not? 😀

I still haven’t finalized the format. Most likely it will be something I do on a monthly basis with reviews of the books I’ve read during the month.

But to get started, I’m doing a stand alone review. I finished Voyage of the Lanternfish by C. S. Boyack last night and am still thinking about the highly imaginative world the author created. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this story. I’ve read a number of Craig’s books, but this one rocks the boat! Heehee. Pun intended.

Book cover for Voyage of the Lanternfish by author, C. S. Boyack, shows bow of old clipper ship with glowing lanternfish headFirst the Blurb:
An honorable man is mistaken for his disreputable father. Now he’s pushed into a political scheme to start a war that will spread across multiple kingdoms. James Cuttler’s fiancé is being held captive to ensure he goes through with the plan.

He soon decides his skills are at sea and procures a ship to wage war upon those who disrupted his simple life. He can’t do it alone, so he recruits a band of cutthroats to help him. But first, they need guns and munitions to outfit the ship properly. Deception and trickery will only get them so far. Eventually, they’re going to have to engage the enemy.

James’ goals aren’t necessarily the same as his crew. It’s a delicate balancing act to collect enough loot to keep his crew happy, while guiding them back to rescue the girl.

Voyage of the Lanternfish is filled with adventure, magic, and monsters. Lots of monsters. Hoist the colors and come along for the ride.

MY 5-STAR REVIEW:
What a rollicking, magical, high-octane, deftly plotted adventure! Remember when Dorothy steps from her black-and-white world into the Land of Oz for the first time? That explosion of color, wonder, and delight is equivalent to what the reader experiences in Voyage of the Lanternfish.

Wow, where to begin? I won’t reiterate the plot (just hop up and read the blurb), but I will say you’re in for a treat with this story of pirates, high-sea adventure, a diverse cast of characters and plenty of bizarre creatures. Where else will you encounter root monsters, an anvil bird, Fu dogs, owlcats, and a moving reef? And those are just some of the imaginative beings Boyack introduces with his latest release. I developed a special fondness for the root monsters with their unwavering loyalty, nightly story-telling sessions, rabid delight in receiving names, and atrocious mangling of language. Of special note: You can’t read this book and not appreciate the cleverness of “I I I I”

Trust me. 🙂

The cast is every bit as colorful as the creatures and extremely diverse in backgrounds. They each have such strong personalities, it’s hard to choose a favorite. Even secondary characters and third level characters get plenty of moments to shine. The battle scenes involving mortars, guns, and claiming ships are perfectly executed. I was dazzled and glued to the pages.

I have read several books by this author but this one is in a league of its own. Hop aboard and set sail. You won’t be disappointed!


Gang, go forth and ONE CLICK. This isn’t just a adventure story, but one that builds on character relationships, too. You won’t regret setting sail!

The Enhanced League by C. S. Boyack #NewRelease #SpeculativeFiction #Baseball #RRBC

Craig Boyack is a regular visitor on my blog, but no matter how many times he drops by, he always has something new and unusual to share. That slant is par for the course with Craig’s main genre as a speculative fiction author. His latest release, The Enhanced League is truly unique and possibly my favorite of his varied works. I was a beta reader on this novel and was mesmerized by the creativity involved. You can find my 5-Star Amazon review here.

I asked Craig to write about the showmanship he incorporated into his baseball league with mascots and other splashy theatrics. (I loved the Kawaii Girls). Another favorite part for me were the vignettes with sportscasters Ricky Sunderland and Uber Velasquez. Pure gold! Trust me—you’re going to want to pick this one up!

~ooOOoo~

Thanks for the invite, Mae. It’s nice to have places to talk about our new books when they release. I know you have one dropping very soon, and you’re always welcome to borrow my blog space too.

My newest is a collection of short stories and anthems, but this time they tell an overarching story. The setting is a fictional baseball league where nobody monitors the performance enhancing drugs, and the rules are slightly different. It’s called The Enhanced League, and at 99¢, I think it’s a smokin deal.

Mae served as one of my beta readers, and she liked the pomp that went along with this league. The old rules of conduct are gone, and it’s a bit more like professional wrestling in its presentation.

The stadiums are pretty outrageous. From the Montreal Mounties’ bullpen car that’s actually a fully blown hotrod to the taiko drummers in Japan, there is a lot of flash here. The league is truly international in scope.

Mae also liked some of the behind-the-scenes characters too. Putting on a good show requires a lot of manpower. They can’t all get an individual story, but they make appearances to spice up the tales that did get written. You get to see the efforts of the grounds crew where the field has to be moved outside to get the grass to grow. There are actual stadiums that do this now, so it wasn’t much of a stretch.

There are the Kawaii Girls in Niigata, Japan. These stadium performers are a precision team of virtual anime characters that add a bit of flavor. There’s no doubt they work hard at their performance, even though they irritate the main character in that story. This story even features people wearing inflatable sumo suits running the bases during the seventh inning stretch.

You’ll never actually meet Captain Rhumm, a more traditional team mascot, but he adds a little something to the team from Puerto Rico.

The main theme is one year in the life of The Enhanced League. The peripheral stuff is fun, but the stories deal with falling stock and rising fortunes. There are tragic tales of drug abuse, and some advancements in medical technology. You’ll meet a few misfits who see this league as their only chance to play professional baseball. I even touch upon how women are treated in the workplace.

If this sounds like a fun mid-season break to you, I’d appreciate you picking up a copy.

Thanks, Mae.

Book cover for The Enhanced League by C.S. Boyack shows close up of home plate with a needed and baseball glove

Blurb:
The Enhanced league is a collection of short stories and anthems centered around a year in a fictional baseball league. It has a slight science fiction background. This league has a lot more pomp than you might be used to, and nobody seems to care if the players use performance enhancing drugs.

Stories involve existing heroes, up and comers, and falling stars. While there are the obvious stories that take place on the field of play, there are also human interest stories that take place around the baseball gyrations. These stories involve scouting, trades, ruthless business decisions, and even relationships.

I enjoyed researching and bringing you The Enhanced League, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. — CB

PURCHASE THE ENHANCED LEAGUE FROM AMAZON

Meet C. S. Boyack
Author C. S. BoyackI was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Connect with Craig at the following haunts:
Blog | My Novels | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest 

Visiting the Playground with C. S. Boyack #StoryEmpireRoadshow

The Story Empire Roadshow continues today with an appearance from C. S. Boyack. Craig is here to share the scoop on his book The Playground. Gather ’round the bookmobile and grab your copy before the tour is over. There’s only one more day left to score great prices on great reads and accumulate some nifty prizes along the way.

Take it away, Craig!

vintage photo of a bookmobile with crowd gathered around itThanks for having me over today, Mae. This Story Empire Roadshow has been a blast. All of us are doing different things, and in my case it’s something different every day. I think today’s stop is a good one. I’m offering my paranormal novel, The Playground, free for two days.

This story involves a ruthless businessman who has a line of toys for children. They’re called Playground dolls, and they come with access to a social network for kids. Children can interact with each other from all around the world.

Behind the scenes, he’s using the system to brainwash our children into his own homegrown army. Imagine the invasion happening from within our own homes.

This becomes what I like to call a chase for the maguffin, when the next generation of software goes missing. The businessman turned to the occult when things weren’t happening fast enough, and now his position is tenuous at best.

The Playground is told from three different points of view. You get the victim, the heroine, and a badass street thug who’s been sent after the missing software at all costs.

I think it has similarities to the works of Frank Miller, and Quentin Tarantino. If you like something on the dark side, with paranormal themes, this might be the one for you.

Book cover for THE PLAYGROUND, a novel by C. S. Boyack shows dramatic image of young girl's face over a sinister looking house at night with a car in the foregroundBLURB:
The hottest new toys of the Christmas season are the Playground Network dolls. They contain a worldwide social network for children. Except the network is controlled by a ruthless businessman with dreams of power.

To reach his goals he turns to the occult. Will our children make up his personal army? Could we have an enemy soldier in every home?

Gina Greybill is a cancer survivor who stumbles into her own brush with the paranormal. She wants nothing to do with it, but may be the only one who can bring down the Playground Network. To do it she’ll have to embrace her new situation, and recover the next generation of Playground software.

There is competition for the software in the form of a brutal thug named Clovis. He’s bigger, more ruthless, and more experienced. To top it all off, he has a head start.

The Playground is suitable for mature readers, due to violence and mature themes.

 The Playground is available at this Universal Purchase Link 

Story Empire is a cooperative effort of six outstanding authors. While I’m here at Mae’s visiting, she has her own bookmobile parked at Joan Hall’s blog. Joan is over at Entertaining Stories, so make sure you stop by my place too.

As an incentive to keep following the tour, my two most prolific commenters will win a huge coffee mug featuring my Romanesque bust, and Lisa Burton my robotic personal assistant. These are awesome mugs, and you’re going to want one.

Coffee mug with character and author bust

Connect with Craig at:
Blog | Amazon | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

Biography box for author C. S. Boyack

Continue to follow the Story Empire Roadshow at these
blogs for more giveaways, prizes and fun!

Staci Troilo | C. S. Boyack | Harmony Kent | Joan Hall | P. H. Solomon

 

The Monday Buzz from Story Empire

Happy Monday, gang! Eh, I realize that’s kind of an oxymoron, but it is what it is.

One good thing about Mondays? You can always count on an informative blog post over on the Story Empire site.

old world type map with script writing laid over top and words Story Empire set off as a bold header

Today’s post by Craig Boyack is of special interest to me. You’ve got to hop over and check out his take on Flipboard. I’ve used Flipboard for a while but I had no clue you could create your own magazine or that it’s a unique way to drive traffic to your blog. Who doesn’t like more blog traffic? And hey, the idea of my own magazine (created very simply) is highly appealing to me. I’ve been after him for a while to share the deets on how this is done, and it looks sooo easy!

Check it out yourself with Craig’s post, By Popular Demand, Flipboard. Hope to see you there!

Once upon a time…

There were five authors with a passion for writing and story-telling who decided to band together and create a blog where they could share their love of the written word with the world. They didn’t set out to create an empire, just a small pocket of the blogosphere where others with similar interests might gather.

But then they realized how powerful writing could be, and that there were SO MANY writers, authors, and readers who might enjoy coming together and visiting their humble abode that they envisioned an empire. A place where writers could go to talk craft. Where readers could discover books—not only from the five authors—but from works that had impacted the lives of those authors.

Thus Story Empire was born

old world type map with script writing laid over top and words Story Empire set off as a bold header

I invite you to join me, Craig Boyack, Staci Troilo, Harmony Kent and Sandra Cox as we explore realms of fiction and more. We’ve got some fun stuff planned, including a few giveaways that will be coming up next month. For starters, you can find a post from me on the pros and cons about writing a series. Weigh in with your comments. We’d love to hear from you.

And don’t forget to click the “Follow” button while you’re there. You’ll get viewpoints from five different authors over time, view great content, discuss books, and network with many other wonderful writers.

Once upon a time…is now!

Cover Reveal: The Playground by C. S. Boyack #RRBC Author

I read a lot of different genres. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I have a  passion for “weird.” I don’t mean that in any negative sense of the word, just that I enjoy speculative fiction and stories that tend to be on the fringe, or a bit “out there.” It probably stems from all those years of reading Bradbury, King, sci-fi and fantasy when I was growing up.

I’ve known for a while that Craig Boyack has been hard at work on THE PLAYGROUND, an unusual story that I can’t wait to get my hands on. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while, and then I saw this amazing cover.

Book cover for THE PLAYGROUND, a novel by C. S. Boyack shows dramatic image of young girl's face over a sinister looking house at night with a car in the foreground

Talk about eye-catching and dramatic! The artist is Sean Harrington who also does the artwork for Craig’s Lisa Burton character (the spokesmodel of his blog Entertaining Stories and a particular favorite of mine). Lisa even has her own radio show and is always interested in interviewing characters (authors take note, and check out the deets here).

And if the cover of THE PLAYGROUND isn’t enough to wallop you over the head and grab your attention, the blurb will do it.

BLURB
The hottest toys of the Christmas Season are the Playground Network dolls. They contain a worldwide social network for children. Except, the network is controlled by a ruthless businessman with dreams of power.

To reach his goals he turns to the occult. Will our children make up his personal army? Could we have an enemy soldier in every home?

Gina Greybill is a cancer survivor who stumbles into her own brush with the paranormal. She wants nothing to do with it, but may be the only one who can bring down the Playground Network. To do it she’ll have to embrace her new situation, and recover the next generation of Playground software.

There is competition for the software in the form of a brutal thug named Clovis. He’s bigger, more ruthless, and more experienced. To top it all off, he has a head start.

The Playground is suitable for more mature readers, due to violence and mature themes.

Release date is April 4th, but you can pre-order your copy of THE PLAYGROUND from Amazon. I sense goosebumps galore!

Author C. S. BoyackMeet the man who dreamed up the story:
AUTHOR BIO
I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

~ Craig ~

Connect with Craig at the following haunts:
Blog

Twitter @Virgilante
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Let’s Talk Book Clubs by Mae Clair: Rave Reviews Book Club #RRBC

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!

Grab yourself something green and pull up a virtual seat. I’d like to talk book clubs.

If you’re a writer and/or a reader you’ve probably stumbled across several online book clubs that offer resources and networking. I’ve been doing the publishing game since 2012 and in the process have tried several. Sadly, none were a good fit. A few promised networking but ended up being little more than endless “buy my book” promos. I ditched those immediately. Others offered forums that never really matched what I was looking for, and one or two, while providing handy resources, lacked a sense of community.

*Sigh.*

I’d about given up on finding one that was a good fit, and then a friend (thank you, Craig Boyack) pointed me in the direction of Rave Reviews Book Club (RRBC) run by Nonnie Jules. Um…if there is a fairy Godmother of bookclubs, this is the one. Or perhaps it should be more aptly dubbed the brainchild of Wonder Woman—as I’ve come to realize is a fitting crown for Nonnie.

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor.I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve only been a member for a few months, yet the flush of excitement I’ve had since joining makes me feel like an Old Timer. It’s a comfortable, welcoming fit. Members rolled out the red carpet with tweets and retweets and immediately made me feel like I was part of the crowd. Not just welcome, but special.

Within my second month of membership, I was invited to be a guest on Rave’s Blog Talk Radio Show, where I was able to share information on two of my novels in a causal, chatty atmosphere. If you’re interested in how hosts John W. Howell and Bill Ward put myself and sister author, Jayne Nichols, immediately at ease, you can catch our interview here.

Tweet support has been phenomenal, with my Twitter following growing and so many great Rave Review authors providing RTs and shout-outs. This group does an unbelievable job at networking. As in… Off. The. Charts!

So, exactly what is the idea behind RRBC?

It comes down to a basic and critical key that can make or break an author—support. Writing and publishing is a rough game. No one should have to navigate those choppy waters alone. Founder and president, Nonnie Jules, has put together a club for indie and small press authors who band together to promote each other through purchasing, reading, and reviewing books—PLUS sounding trumpets, gongs, drums, and everything in between to make a resounding splash on social media. RRBC doesn’t believe in ripples. It makes a RACKET of support! After nearly three months in the club, I’m still discovering all the wonderful things it has to offer.

Here’s the basic concept in a nutshell:

Membership is a mere $25.00 per year. When you join, you make a small commitment: You agree to purchase, read, and review a minimum of four books from the Rave Reviews catalog in a twelve month period. Phff! Seriously, we’re talking twelve months.

The catalog is where members list their titles for other members to peruse by genre. The eclectic mix has something for everyone—mystery and suspense (my favorite) fantasy, science-fiction, romance, horror, speculative, comedy, literature, drama, non-fiction, and more. Take your pick and start reading.

RRBC also has featured Books of the Month.

A beam of light shines out from an open bookEach month, the club picks three reads and highlights them as the featured club reads of the month. These books get extra promo and a plethora of attention from members. Personally, I find the whole concept super exciting. Every month, I anxiously wait to see what the featured books will be, just like a kid waiting to discover the favored treats of the month. It reminds me of when I was a kid in junior high and those shiny scholastic book catalogs were distributed. Remember those? You were able to choose and buy books. I never missed putting in an order for several, and then devoured them as soon as they arrived. Libraries were fun, but those books always had extra magic for some reason.

As part of your RRBC commitment, two of your four annual reads need to be from the Book of the Month selection. How ridiculously simple is that?

Most authors are also avid readers, so it’s a no-brainer. I average between 50-70 titles a year, so belonging to a club that allows me to be an avid reader as well as support other writers and garner their support in return is a win-win situation. I’m still a newbie in this club, but the glow I’ve felt since joining has placed me on a perpetual high. I’ve finally found a club that works, and a network of authors who have made me feel part of something special—from day one. Put in a little effort and it’s returned ten-fold. The more you contribute, the more support is levelled behind you. I have already made lovely friends through this club.

We all need help with promotion. RRBC also offers weekly club updates where members can announce special pricing and newsy bits to members. There are spotlight authors, Member of the Month, Member of the Week, Pay-it-forward-days and Push Tuesday promotions (each Tuesday the entire club gets behind promoting a specific author through tweets, social media shares and links to their books). These are just a few of the extra promos RRBC organizes.

If you’re looking for that extra something, I highly recommend considering Rave Reviews Book Club. For a minimal fee of $25.00 a year and a small reading commitment (something most authors love to do anyway) you’ll be rewarded many times over.  To learn more about the club, visit their website at Rave Reviews by Nonnie Jules. Should you wish to join, you can complete a membership request form here. Please tell them Mae Clair sent you. You won’t be disappointed. If I have any regret, it’s that I didn’t take the plunge sooner.

Do dive in. The water is wonderful! 🙂