Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Harvesting: A Spotlight and Giveaway

The Harvesting  
The Harvesting Series, Book 1
Melanie Karsak

Genre: Horror/Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Steampunk Press

ISBN-10: 1479327247
ISBN-13: 978-1479327249

Number of pages: 394
Word Count: 71000

Cover Artist: Michael Hall Photography

TV interview with book info:

Book Description:

When mankind finally consumes itself, can any spark of humanity survive? Layla fights to keep those she loves alive when the zombie apocalypse unfolds, but she soon learns that zombies are not the only problem. With mankind silenced, those beings living on the fringe seek to reclaim power. Layla must learn who to trust, fast, if she hopes to save what is left of our kind.

“If you ever need to slice someone’s head off, this is the blade you want,” I said as I lifted a curved sword off the table in front of me. “We’ve been practicing épée and foil so far, but tonight I want to introduce you to the sabre.” The practice sabre’s curved blade reflected the orange streetlight shining in through the window. A grant from the Smithsonian where I worked allowed me to teach my two passions: ancient weapons and their arts. “The sabre is a slashing weapon,” I continued and then lunged, showing the wide-eyed and excited students a few moves. “And in general, it’s my favorite,” I admitted with a grin.
The students laughed.
“Is that why you have it tattooed on your arm?” Tyler, one of my best fencers, asked.
My hand went unconsciously toward the tattoo. The ink was a sword interlaced with other once-meaningful symbols. “That’s not just any sabre,” I said, mildly embarrassed. “Here, let me show you. I brought something special tonight.” Setting the training sabre down, I lifted a rolled bundle. I laid it down on the table and unrolled it to reveal weapons in various elaborate scabbards.
“Some are épée, foils—you can tell by the hilt—a broadsword, a claymore, a katana, a scimitar, throwing daggers,” I said, pointing, “but this, this is a Russian shashka.” I pulled the shashka from the bundle. “It’s like a traditional sabre, but has no guard. She’s light, single-edged, wielded with one hand, and good for stabbing or slashing. Not awkward in close quarters like a Scottish claymore, but it will kill you just as dead,” I said with a smile. I unsheathed the weapon and gave it an under- and over-hand spin around my head, shoulders, and back.
The students grinned from ear to ear.
I put it back in its scabbard and handed the shashka to them. “Pass it around, but keep in mind it is sharp enough to cut a blade of hair in half.” I then turned my attention to Tyler. “Now, since you’re so interested, let’s see how you do with the sabre.” I tossed one of the training swords to him.
Tyler, already in his gear, jumped up and lowered his fencing mask. “But you’re not in gear,” he said.
I shrugged. “Hit me--if you can.’”
We stood at the ready, made the ceremonial bow, and began. Tyler was not overly aggressive, which is partially why he was so successful. He waited for me, moving slowly. He was smart, quick, and often tried to over-tire his opponent.
I waited, dropped my sword a bit, and let him make the lunge. He took the bait.
The swords clanged together, and we clashed back and forth across the strip. He lunged and slashed while I dodged and blocked. He was fast. I was faster. When he lunged again, I ducked. With an upward movement, I went in.
“A hit,” Kasey called.
They clapped.
“Man, that’s what you get for taking on a former state champ—and the teacher,” Trey told Tyler with a laugh.
Tyler pulled off the mask and smiled at me.
Just then, my cell rang. I would usually ignore it, but something told me to answer.
“Everyone pair up and start working with the training sabres,” I said and pointed to the sword rack. I went to my bag and grabbed my cell.
Before I could say hello, she spoke.
“Layla, Grandma needs you to come home,” my grandmother’s voice, thick with Russian accent, came across through static. I was silent for a moment. My grandmother lived 500 miles away, and she never used her telephone. With the exception of her T.V., she hated technology. She’d cried and begged me to take away the microwave I’d purchased for her one Mother’s Day.
“Grandma? What’s wrong?”
“Come home now. Be here tomorrow,” she said. She hung up.
I lowered my cell and stared at it. Confused and worried, I dialed her back. The phone rang, but she did not answer. I had obligations: practice, bills to pay, groceries to buy, tons of work to do, and a date for god-sakes. But my grandmother was the only one I had left in the world.
“Sorry, guys. Emergency,” I called to my students.
Disappointed, they groaned.
“Sorry. Let’s pack it up for the night.” My hands shaking, I slid the shashka back into the bundle and rolled up the weapons. What had happened? Maybe Grandma was sick. Maybe she had some problem. Or maybe she had seen something.
The monuments on the Mall faded into the distance behind me as I made my way to my Georgetown apartment. It was Friday night. Wisconsin Avenue was packed. The upscale shops and restaurants teemed with people. In the crowd you could see the mix of international tourists, Georgetown students, and designer-dressed hotties headed to clubs. I sighed. For the last month I had turned myself inside out trying to get the attention of Lars Burmeister, the German specialist the Smithsonian had brought in to consult on our new medieval poleaxe exhibit. He had finally asked me to dinner; we were going to meet at Levantes, a Turkish restaurant near Dupont Circle, at nine that night. I had dreamed of authentic dolma and a chance to sit across from Lars somewhere other than a museum. I had even bought a new dress: black, strapless, come-hither.
I circled my block three times before I finally found a parking space. Regardless, I loved Georgetown. It was early fall. The mature trees had turned shades of deep red and orange and were losing their leaves. The air was filled with an interesting mixture of smells: the natural decay of autumn, dusty heat from the old cobblestone streets, and the mildly rancid odor of too many people. In my 4th floor attic apartment of an old Brownstone, I could occasionally catch the sweet scent of the Potomac River. It reminded me just enough of home.
The apartment was ghastly hot. The small, one-bedroom had been closed up all day. I lifted the window and let the noise of the city fill the room. The street lamps cast twinkling light across my apartment. The weapons I had mounted on the wall, swords, shields, axes and the like, glimmered. I peeled off my sweaty practice clothes. Pulling a bag from the closet, I threw in several changes of clothes and a few other supplies. On my coffee table, my laptop light blinked glaringly. An overflowing email inbox, an article on bucklers that needed editing for a peer-reviewed journal, and a PowerPoint on Medieval Russian swords for a presentation for next week’s symposium all called me. My coffee table was stacked with paper. I was flooded with work; half my department was out on sick leave. There was a bad flu was going around. Thankfully, I had not yet gotten sick.
I pulled my cell out of my bag. I stared at the phone for a moment; Grandma’s recent call was still displayed on the screen. I dialed Lars’ number. My stomach shook when he answered.
“Guten abend, Lars. It’s Layla.”
“Ahh, Layla, good evening,” he replied.
I loved his German accent. He’d learned English from a British teacher; he said arse with a German lilt. It made me smile. I could tell by his tone he was trying to hide his excitement. I didn’t let him get far. I told him I had been called away for an emergency. I could sense his disappointment.
“I’ll be back by Monday. Let me make it up to you. Dinner at my place Monday night?”
He agreed.
“Gute nacht,” I said as sweetly as possible, hoping I had not pissed him off, and stuffed my phone into my bag. I stared out the window taking in the view. I did not want to go back, not even for a weekend. I loved my life. Hamletville was an old, ghost-filled place: too many memories, too much heartache. Yet I knew my grandmother. If she said I needed to come home, then I needed to come home.
I closed the windows, slid on a pair of jeans, a black t-shirt, boots, and a light vest. I looked again at the display on the wall. At the center I had crossed two Russian poyasni or boot-daggers. One dagger had the head of a wolf on the hilt. The other had the head of a doe. I grabbed them and tossed them in my bag. I then headed back downstairs and into the night. It was the last time I would lay eyes on D.C. for many years.

About the Author:

Melanie Karsak, steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, resides in Florida with her husband and two children. Visit the author at her blog,, to learn more about upcoming projects.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

The Vampire Elite Promo Tour

Irina Argo


Can the ultimate choice be made if saving your race means destroying the one you love?
At the beginning of the twenty-first century of our era a millennia long war between two immortal races was coming to an end. The Vampire Elite, the strongest among vampires, forced the race of immortal beings, the Amiti to become their blood suppliers, called bloodstock, locking them in their underground cells and treating them like livestock. The surviving free Amiti make a final attempt to strike back. The Queen of Amiti is proclaimed a traitor and is executed. Her death signifies the rise of a new Queen, her young daughter Arianna who becomes the last hope of her dying race. Arianna totally embraces her mission and is ready to fight for her people to the last drop of her blood but encounters an unexpected challenge—the vampire King Tor. They both are captured into a trap of love where they had to make an ultimate choice; to kill the loved one or to let their races die.
Vampire Elite is the epic story of a bitter conflict between two peoples, and the effect of that conflict on everyone living in its grip. The characters are driven to love and betrayal, vengeance and sacrifice in a world without easy black-and-white answers.
Based on an ancient Egyptian legend, packed with action and intrigue, Vampire Elite will pull you into the entrancing world of immortals and open new portals into their hidden universe.

Excerpt 1 (Simone at the Hunter’s auction)
As the auctioneer spoke, two Sekhmi in eveningwear—a male carrying an elegant dagger and a female a silver tray covered with glass vials—approached the Amiti girl.

“She’s barely eighteen, ladies and gentlemen. That’s a good three years younger than the youngest bloodstock you’ll usually come across. Look at her; she’s stunning, simply stunning, and as you can see, we’ve kept her well conditioned, in excellent health.”

The auctioneer paused as the male Hunter grasped the Amiti’s hand and held it above the tray. The girl showed no resistance, her only display of anxiety the butterfly fluttering of her thick eyelashes. He raised his other hand, and the dagger flashed in the light as with a swift motion he slit the Amiti’s palm. The dark, intoxicating scent of fresh blood filled the room as it poured into the vials.

Simone’s gums began to itch and burn, and she covered her mouth with her hand so no one would see her fangs punching down. It was considered terribly rude to expose one’s fangs in public, even among other vampires. But she needn’t have worried; everyone’s attention was riveted to the stage and the blood flowing from the girl’s wound. The room vibrated with bloodlust and sexual arousal.

The female Sekhmi approached Simone’s table, offering the Royal Pride the first of the blood samples. Knowing that all eyes were on her, Simone forced herself not to hesitate and took a small sip—and was immediately flooded with euphoria.

“For this magnificent specimen, we open the bidding at ten million U.S. dollars,” announced the auctioneer. 


Irina Argo is a combined pen name for two authors, Irina Kardos and Jo-An Torres.

Irina’s world is dark. She works as a clinical psychologist in a Juvenile Correctional Facility dealing with the extremes of human behavior on a regular basis and takes care of her paralyzed husband who suffered a stroke several years ago. To bring light into her life she writes. Writing has always been her passion. She is originally from Russia where she was employed as a TV journalist.

Jo-An is a Leo, a lioness who has emerged to follow her dream, to someday write a book of her own. She owned a costume shop for 15 years and was able to satisfy and excel in her creative nature. She is an over-achiever and believes that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and ignore the nay-sayers.  Her philosophy is based on Shakespeare "It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves." She currently resides in California with her 5 cats and 1 husband.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shifters: The Anthology


All of our proceeds from this anthology will benefit the American Humane Association's Red Star Rescue Team, which provides disaster response services for pets and domestic animals.

We here at Hazardous Press would like to thank all of the writers who were gracious enough to donate their stories to this collection. We were truly overwhelmed by the number of authors who wanted to participate.

Thanks also go out to cover artist Glenn Chadbourne, back cover artist Diana Whiley, and interior art contributors Kris Freestone, and Leia Napier.

Let your pulse race and let chills run down your spine with this scary and hot werewolf anthology. You will find my latest short lurking within the pages along with many other authors who have given their time and talent to help this worthy cause. Get ready to be captivated by this amazing collection!

Werewolves are fun! Especially when I can write a short story to help out puppies! I hope you will check out my short story and in doing so, help out the American Humane Association. Animal rescue is near and dear to my little undead heart. Save a puppy, eat a human!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Blood Lust: The Virtual Book Tour

Blood Lust
Rapid City Wolves, book 1
Charity Santiago

Genre: Paranormal romance


Number of pages: 95
Word Count:  37,550

Cover Artist: Charity Santiago

Book Description:

Eve came to Rapid City to escape her parents' messy divorce, but what she finds in South Dakota exceeds her wildest dreams- and nightmares. After Eve is attacked by a wolf outside her grandmother's house, she stumbles into a new and frightening existence as an alpha werewolf. Fated to lead the pack and obligated to choose a beta to lead beside her, Eve still cannot bring herself to forget Jericho, the mysterious vampire who saved her life. Will the wolves force Eve to choose between her destiny and her soulmate?

 His eyes were molten silver, burning through me as he leaned closer. He stopped less than an inch from me, eyes boring into mine.
“Eve,” he whispered, and I lurched forward, bumping my forehead against his as our lips crashed against each other. His hands came up to bury themselves in my hair, his grip steadying me as I tried to keep my balance on the bed.
He tasted impossibly clean, his mouth a revelation of sweetness. Desire unfurled within my belly, and I moaned against his lips. He responded with a low growl, pushing against me. For some reason I reacted instinctively, fighting his dominance, refusing to retreat as he pressed closer. His hands were rough in my hair, and I responded by placing my own hands against his chest and pushing.
He didn’t give. Instead he pulled his hands from my hair and wrapped them around me. He moved us sideways on the bed, shifting together, and he lay down with me. We lay on our sides, facing each other, and his hand trailed down my back, sending shivers up my spine. I wanted to be closer, and I tried to maneuver so that I could climb on top of him, but his hand was firm on my hip, refusing to allow me to move.
Frustrated, I let the tip of my tongue caress his lower lip, and I felt him shudder against me. He crushed my hips to his, his hand moving even lower, gliding over the back pockets of my jeans before he pulled my thigh up and draped it over his hip.
He was pressed so insistently against my core that I was finally the one who gave in, groaning as I pulled him on top of me. It wasn’t so much a submission as an admission of trust, and I felt his lips still against mine as his hips settled between my legs.
When he pulled back, I wondered if I’d done something wrong. “What-“
“Shhh,” he said, putting one finger against my lips. He leaned down and kissed the corner of my mouth gently. “Eve, don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say.”
What? How was I supposed to respond to that? “That depends on what you say,” I replied, and my voice was stronger than I’d expected it to be.
A smile played around his lips. “You have no idea how much I want you,” he muttered, and lowered his mouth to my neck. His tongue traced a line along my collarbone, and silvery trills of desire shot through me. I brought my legs up to lock around his waist, and nearly cried out when he bit down gently at the curve of my shoulder.
He rolled off me suddenly, breaking the physical contact, and I was left feeling cold and empty, like I’d been doused with a bucket of water.
For a few moments the only sound was my shallow breathing as I tried to calm my racing heart.
His fingers laced with mine, holding my hand as we lay side-by-side.
“I don’t want to rush this, Eve,” he said at last, and raised my hand to his lips, kissing my wrist. “I’m not going to push you into anything you might regret. We need to take our time.”
I pulled my hand from his and rolled onto my side, propping my head up on my fist and staring incredulously at him. “You think I’d regret being with you?”
He raised a hand to trace a finger along my cheekbone. “I think you need to get to know me better before you decide to give me something so precious.”
I felt myself blushing, and averted my eyes. He talked about me like I was some kind of rare treasure- a far cry from the boys I’d dated back in New York.
Jericho leaned up to press his lips to mine again, and this time the kiss was pure and innocent, as chaste as any kiss between lovers could be. “Lie with me,” he murmured against my lips, and laid back, his eyes gleaming in the moonlight.
I snuggled into the crook of his shoulder, resting my hand against his chest. “You could at least take your shirt off,” I said hopefully.
His chuckle rumbled against my ear. “Go to sleep, Eve.”
It was nearly an hour before I fell asleep like that, secure in Jericho’s arms.

About the Author:

I first discovered the world of self-publishing in February 2011, when my 7-month-old son was admitted to the hospital with severe respiratory issues. During his stay in the hospital, I tried to keep us both entertained by downloading several books on my Kindle and reading them out loud.
I read a number of self-published books and realized that I had an opportunity to share my writings with the world. I soon decided to quit my full-time job in the insurance and financial services industry, stay home with my son and write. It was the best decision I've ever made. My son's health has improved drastically, and I've never been happier.

I prefer to read and write YA fantasy, romance, and paranormal romance. The next book in my Rapid City Wolves series, “Blood Oath,” will be released for Amazon Kindle on June 1, 2013.