April 2017 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: April 2017

Doorway to Death

Book Review: Doorway to Death Anthology by JEA

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I’m posting my review of a short story anthology published by J. Ellington Ashton Press (the publisher of my The Last Bucelarii series). I’d say it’s definitely worth reading!

Doorway to Death

The doorway stands beyond man, at the end of a long hallway filled with sights beyond reason. It is a place where the universe begins and ends, where we begin and end, and deep down within our hearts, where we keep our secrets and imagine our stories, it lives there too. Come, join us at the Doorway to Death, enter and claim your end!

Doorway to Death

From the minds of Essel Pratt, Toneye Eyenot, Roy C. Booth, Axel Kohagan, Kent Hill, Michael Fisher, Coralie Rowe, Brian Barr, Lemmy Rushmore, Michael Noe, D.S. Scott, Kevin Candela, Jeff O’Brien, Magenta Nero, Howard Carlyle, Ts Woolard, Dani Brown, Magan Rodriguez, Jim Goforth, Alice J. Black, Dona Fox, and Brian Glossup

My Review: 5 Stars

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I’m not usually a short story collection/anthology reader, but I found this one a pretty fascinating read. Some of the stories were light-hearted and amusing, others cynical and cutting, and still others chilling and creepy. Not every story was perfect, but I enjoyed most of them.

What I liked best about this collection was that the stories were fairly short. As a busy person with limited time to read, it was nice to pick it up and get through a story or two at a time. The shorts held my attention and kept me turning pages, so it’s a collection I’d recommend to anyone.

Here’s a Taste:

There were no lights on in the nursery when the new family arrived home, and the altar that covered the gigantic pentagram on the floor would have to be moved before the ritual. Laura entered the house carrying her newborn twins tightly to herself. She went straight to the boys’ room and tucked Josh into his cradle. He was fast asleep and rolled over on his side immediately, dead to the world. His brother, Sean, who was literally dead to this world, was tucked away in his cradle by mom. She lit the candles that lined the walls. Their flames flickered, then brightened as a sense of ancient magical presence was growing within the confinements of the little nursery.

Preparations for the ritual would have to be made now. Laura knew the rules of the Black Arts. There were books upon books about them. She owned many. What she hadn’t learned from the countless tomes she obtained throughout her life was taught by an elder in the coven she was once a part of. Many lost rites were passed down to her. Everything from incantations to summoning of good luck demons who would grant any wish you so desired. Her witchmother claimed Laura was her best student. In time she was surpassed, and lost her value to the young pupil. At twenty one Laura became witchmother to her own coven of witches and a self proclaimed prodigy.

First, she must purify her body, starting with a hot bath and her prescription of placenta pills. It was time to begin her ritual regime.

Laura undressed in her bedroom, watching her body move in the vanity’s mirror. Slithering out of the wrinkled, stretchy maternity pants and removing the hospital gown she hadn’t bothered to change from for the ride home. Pulling the soft, velvet chair out from the vanity, she sits, placing her medications and baby bag next to her socked feet. There is a silver hair brush in the drawer that she brushes her hair with. She does this for an hour, one thousand strokes and no less. Placing the brush back in the vanity’s drawer, she takes a painkiller and a placenta pill, chasing it with the last glass of blood wine she had been saving for such an occasion.

In the stone worked bathroom of the home, Laura has a claw foot tub, centered directly over the drain in the middle of the room. A pump was attached to a rise in the rock floor, and hoses and tubes ran from it to the tub. The hot bath must be prepared before the ritual as well as her body. She enters the room and clicks the on switch to the pump. The motor buzzes, then begins pumping hot water and a mixture of illegally obtained amniotic fluids and nutrients into the tub. Once it was filled to her desire, Laura removes her socks and climbs into the sparkling potion to relax.

There were memories cascading through the dim lit stone decorated bathroom and Laura was drifting, calming herself into a trance-like state. She could feel the pills in her system, as they were absorbed by her craving body, feeding on their giving selves. Their nourishing matter mending all the broken parts, the stretched pains and pulls of the skin, healing the body, carrying it, lifting it.

There was a subtle invasion on all sides of her, beginning with a sound, and Laura listened, slowly rising through her senses. In her ears. On her skin. In her mouth. Through every cell within her wholeness, she could felt it with her soul.

“Mommy….” It said.

In an instant the pool of warm amniotic fluid quivered and held her motionless for what only measured eternity in Laura’s mind. She saw the slow swell in breasts and spirits as a dark realm arose. With her eyelids bleeding, split at the corners, and being peeling away from her field of vision, forcing her to witness the ghost of her dead son, Sean.

“Mommy….” It repeated in a whine, deep and guttural with death. It was doubled; the word was, almost like an immediate repeat, or a shadow of itself. The noise along with its own scent of decay, trailing. The eerie, shrill pitch was a continuous buzz in Laura’s head.”….Mommy.” It growled quietly.

The hold was unbreakable. Lifting Laura up out of the tub, fluid webs pouring around her body, flowing in some uncoordinated, contained manner. Not one drop spilling to the stone tiled floor, nor a splash, nor mist. There was intellect in this gathering of electrolytes and urea and proteins. This was an old entity, one that has existed in this realm, and many others. Long before man was even a glimmer in his God’s eyes, long before anything was, for that matter.

Laura was floating in a hardening amniotic sac, which was rotating around her like the universe to the sun, in an eternal continuation of the dance of life and death. And her Dead fetus Sean was speaking to her from between the worlds, from the jar of formaldehyde gel in his vacant crib, to the Dead Realm.

“Mommy…..you know what you musssst do.” Dead fetus Sean whispered, detached and dryly. The rising and falling of its ghastly words were almost unintelligible, but Laura knew what they meant, understood them clearly. She could hear her dead son’s thoughts. Feel his presence. “You musssst perform the ritual soon. Your doorway will clossssse within the day.” It gurgled from the crib.

“I know, my son.” She told him. “The preparation must be completed first. Then I will begin the ritual, and be with you both soon.” Laura was in tears. “I love you, Sean. You and Josh. I will not live without either of you this time!”


For more information:

Visit the publisher’s website (http://www.jellingtonashton.com/) to read about the authors contributing to the anthology.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015VLG1GY/




Why Are We So Violent?

Here’s a pretty terrifying fact: the rate of lethal violence among humans is 7 times higher than among other mammals. Of more than 1000 species studied, humans were the ones most predisposed to violence—not only to other species (prey/food), but to each other. Humans are the only species to not only kill each other, but to constantly innovate and create new ways to do so.

One psychologist published this in 2016:

“Our violence operates far outside the bounds of any other species.  Human beings kill anything.  Slaughter is a defining behavior of our species.  We kill all other creatures, and we kill our own.  Read today’s paper.  Read yesterday’s, or read tomorrow’s.  The enormous industry of print and broadcast journalism serves predominantly to document our killing.  Violence exists in the animal world, of course, but on a far different scale. ”

“Carnivores kill for food; we kill our family members, our children, our parents, our spouses, our brothers and sisters, our cousins and in-laws.  We kill strangers.  We kill people who are different from us, in appearance, beliefs, race, and social status.  We kill ourselves in suicide.  We kill for advantage and for revenge, we kill for entertainment:  the Roman Coliseum, drive-by shootings, bullfights, hunting and fishing, animal roadkill in an instantaneous reflex for sport.  We kill friends, rivals, coworkers, and classmates.  Children kill children, in school and on the playground.  Grandparents, parents, fathers, mothers–all kill and all of them are the targets of killing…”

(Source: R. Douglas Fields, Why We Snap, p. 286, 2016.)

Pretty scary, isn’t it? So what’s causing it? Why are humans so much more violent than other creatures, even predators?

Territoriality – Primates are among the most territorial mammals on the planet, and humans are no exceptions. We have an innate need to protect “our land”. Why else do you think countries, nationalities, and territories exist in the first place? We humans have a need to “drawn a line in the sand” to mark our territory. When someone else crosses that line, violence is our instinctive reaction.

Conscious Awareness – Our intelligence and consciousness is actually one of the primary contributors to our violent tendencies. We can think beyond our basic survival needs, but that consciousness leads to violence for a broad number of reasons (personal offense, territorial disputes, entertainment, etc.).

Tight Living Environment – Too many people living close together is a breeding ground for violence. The territorial nature of humans increases the chance of violence should someone “cross that line” of our property. The fact that we’re packed so tightly together means there’s less space for us to inhabit and a greater risk someone will cross that line.

Easy Access to Weapons – Bears only have their teeth and claws, elephants only have their tusks and trunks. Humans have access to THOUSANDS of weapons (all of which we created thanks to our conscious awareness) which make it easier than ever to kill.

Freedom – Hard to believe this is true, but it absolutely is. State-run societies intended to suppress violence tend to lead to lower crime rates, but the “freedom” common in modern governments places emphasis on personal choice/decision-making. Given humans’ tendency toward violence, it’s very likely the freedoms are a contributing factor in the higher violence rates.

These are the primary factors that have led to higher incidences of violence among human, but there are HUNDREDS of tiny things that contribute as well.

Guest Post: Planning for Pantsers

Today I’ve got a special guest post written on the HIGHLY controversial topic of planning vs. pantsing/gardening vs. architecture. Basically, some people (like me) tend to take a more structured, outlined approach to novels, while others prefer to sit down and let the story flow as they write.

Let’s be clear: it’s impossible to say which of the two is better. Some people insist that pantsing allows for more creativity, while others believe that planning leads to a more cohesive story. I’m firmly in the second camp but recognize that pantsing has its benefits.

But my guest author, Justine Alley Dowsett, found a way to put the two together in a way that seems to be highly effective for her story. Read about her method below:

Planning for Pantsers by Justine Alley Dowsett

I’m a pantser. What does that mean? It means that I’d rather ‘write by the seat of my pants’ than plan anything beforehand. However, with my latest book Uncharted, written with my co-writer Murandy Damodred, we did more planning than I’m used to and I think it helped us.

Making Notes:

Since Murandy and I co-write, we use Google Drive to keep everything straight. If you’re not familiar with Google Drive or Google Docs, it’s an open platform where you can share your documents and multiple accounts can work on the same document at the same time. It also serves as a cloud drive, so your work is saved and backed up automatically and anyone you give access to the files can open them up and work on them. This helped us with planning because while writing we always had access to our notes file, which became a living document, changing as the story expanded.

Setting and Worldbuilding:

Usually I do a lot of the world building in my own head, but since Uncharted is an adventure story that takes place in a variety of settings and cultures, I made a point of writing down a handful of things to keep in mind about the settings, so I would make sure to include them.


This is where the planning really came in handy. Before we started writing, Murandy and I wrote out detailed backstories for each of our main characters and at least a sentence or two about our minor characters as we invented them. This helped to flesh everyone out and make sure we knew where they had come from and what was important to them because of that.


This is where our best of intentions sort of fell apart, but in a good way. Before we started writing, we formed a point form list of plot points then we proceeded to ignore them. As we wrote, we went back and added new plot points to our list and kept adding to that list to stay a few steps ahead of the story, but ultimately this was a form of pantsing more than planning.


Where the notes really came in handy was when I went to write the second draft. All throughout the first draft, instead of going back and fixing things that needed changing, I took notes instead. Then, when I went over the finished first draft, I applied the changes or checked for the problems I’d indicated. It saved me a ton of time and it also meant that Murandy and I could write quickly, without feeling like we were making a mess of things.
All in all, if you’re a pantser, like me, I suggest trying to apply some planning to your process just to see what you can learn. And if you’re a planner, take a risk and try a little pantsing!


Justine actually has a new book, released April 17th:


Fated to be a Priestess of Saegard, Meredith dreams of leading a normal life with a family and a home of her own, something she’ll never have if she swears her life to the Order.  A chance encounter with a stranger in the sacred Celestial Chamber sends her previously well-ordered life into a tailspin of adventure and mayhem as she is blamed for the theft of a legendary artifact.


Now a fugitive, Meredith must join forces with Captain Reginald Lawrence, the son of the man who initially brought her to the Temple, and his enigmatic business partner, the charming yet at times infuriating, Grey Rhodes, to find the Celestial Bowl and clear her name. From the cosmopolitan capital of Saegard to the coast of Ismera and back again, Meredith’s journey will reveal the true nature of her past, present, and ultimately, her future.

Here’s a Taste:

The door to her ‘room’ on The Clover was just as she remembered it, although it seemed much smaller now that she was older. No larger than a water closet, the addition on the backside of the Captain’s Quarters that had been built for her was still there as though, after all this time, it was waiting for her return.

Reaching for the small brass ring that served as a handle, Meredith pulled the half-sized door open and was dismayed to find that there was no way she’d fit inside the small space. It was filled to the brim with all manner of junk. Tackle boxes, rope, a crate filled with empty bottles, and a pile of soiled linen; her ‘bedroom’ had been repurposed into the ship’s dumping ground.

This is my room. For no reason that she could fully articulate, Meredith felt indignant. Even if it’s been more than ten years, it was built for me and I’m taking it back! The irrational desire to re-stake her claim on something that hadn’t been hers for a decade took over and she grabbed the nearest thing to her and turned with purpose, ready to hoist a crate filled with empty liquor bottles over the railing and into the water below.

“Whoa, hold on just a minute!” Captain Laurent’s son grabbed hold of her arm before she could gain the height she needed to throw the crate overboard.

His noble friend, minus his navy suit jacket now, stood just behind him, almost as if staying out of her range. His white shirt was nearly clean, though she could see where brownish grey stew coloured the frills of his collar. Meredith felt only slightly guilty about her little ‘outburst’. He deserved it…he’s a jerk.

“No,” she stated, imploring him to listen, “you destroyed my room and I’m taking it back. It’s the only home I ever really had.”

“Your…room?” A light went on behind the young Captain’s eyes. “That’s why it had a bed in there…I always thought it was a dog house. Didn’t know why my dad would’ve wanted a dog aboard a ship, but he was always doing all sorts of foolish things.”

“Like taking in strays?” Meredith demanded, arching a brow disdainfully in his direction. “Is that what you’re implying?”

“Ah, no!” Reginald’s eyes went wide, his hands going up in a defensive fashion. “No, of course not! My dad was always winning strange sorts of stuff in poker tournaments. He was gambler.”

“Are you now implying that I was bought or won in a card game, like some sort of…child slave?”

His eyes bugged even further out of his head, if that was possible, and his cheeks flushed. “Ah…no…I mean…you weren’t, were you?”

“Of course not!”

“So now that we’ve established that you aren’t a stray dog or a child slave,” the noble interjected in a no-nonsense tone of voice, his grey eyes dark, “do you mind telling us who you are and what you’re doing here?”

Meredith fought the urge to laugh because the bit of mushy carrot in his hair was so at odds with his expression.

“I am here because I need passage out of Saegard. I fell in the water, got drenched, then walked here during the night. I was cold, wet, and badly bruised…from my fall. No one was around on deck, so I thought I would warm up inside. I took my clothes off to dry so I wouldn’t catch a cold and I used the silks because they were all I could find. That’s when I fell asleep. And I would have told you all of that, if you weren’t being such a jerk!”

About the Authors:

Justine Alley Dowsett

From obtaining her BA in Drama at the University of Windsor to becoming an entrepreneur in video game production and later, publishing, Justine Alley Dowsett’s unswerving ambition has always led her to pursue her dreams. She lives in Windsor, Ontario and dedicates her time to writing and publishing fiction novels. When not focusing on growing her business, she enjoys role-playing with friends and developing new ideas to write about.


Murandy Damodred

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is an expert in sales and management living in Windsor, Ontario.




A Rafflecopter giveaway

WOA cover

Book Review: Pawns by Patrick Hodges

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and I’ve got a treat: a Sci-Fan (Science Fiction blended with Fantasy) novel written by an awesome author I met and befriended at last year’s InD’Scribe Convention. It’s my first proper introduction to the SciFan genre and I’m happy to say I’m hooked!

Note: the book will be released tomorrow, April 20th, but it’s up for pre-order!

Pawns (The Wielders of Arantha Book 1)

Seven hundred years in the future, the Jegg – a powerful alien race – invade Earth, wiping out half of the Terran Confederation.

In a hidden base under the Sahara Desert, a team of scientists works to mount a resistance against the invaders. Their plan is to fit an Earth ship with Jegg folding-space technology, and travel to the other side of the galaxy to find a mysterious energy source… one that could help them defeat the Jegg.

WOA cover

But just before departure, catastrophe strikes. Only two of the crew survive and make it to their destination: the team leader’s wife Maeve, and her teenage son Davin. What they find on the distant planet will forever change both the future of their family and their planet, as they enter a race against time… and against impossible odds.

My Review: 5 Stars

I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and I’m very glad I did! This is my first introduction to Sci-Fan and have to say I enjoyed it quite a lot. The blending of magic and technology brings together the two things I love about speculative fiction.

I found this to be a very enjoyable novel, with a solid storyline that kept me reading without losing my interest. There were no parts where the story lagged or got bogged down by unnecessary exposition. Though it took a while to get interesting in the beginning, I was hooked before I hit page 100. It was very easy to read through the story, and I couldn’t wait to hit the climax and find out what the deal was with these magical stones that had called an Earther from across the galaxy.

I LOVED the plot twist (no spoilers) that shows up near the endpoint—totally caught me by surprise. The characters were well-written and easy to understand, even the villains. All in all, a solid book that I will definitely be returning to when the Book 2 is released.

Here’s a Taste:

Voris’s face scrunched up in anger. Turning to the Vandan who’d drawn his sword, he yelled, “Kill him!”

Holding the hilt of his sword with both hands, the man rushed at Mizar, who didn’t move. With a primal scream, the man swung his sword in a wide arc, intent on separating Mizar’s head from his body.

With a quickness belying his age, Mizar ducked under the sword as it sliced through the air. Calling upon his abilities, he directed a powerful bolt of compressed air right at the swordsman’s gut. A moment later, the man was flying backwards, his limbs flailing as he flew past his cohorts. He hit the water of the stream, but didn’t stop there. His body bounced across the surface like a stone being skipped, coming to an abrupt halt when he crashed head-first into a large rock that stuck out of the ground on the other side. There was a sickening crack of bone upon stone, and the man’s head fell limply under the water. It did not rise again. Only his feet and chest protruded above the surface, right next to a large red stain that now decorated the stone.

The stupefied look on the faces of the three men was almost comical. Composing himself, Voris gestured to the two archers, whose bows dangled slackly in their hands. Gibbering with rage, he spluttered, “Shoot him!”

The archers were only ten or so yards away from Mizar. At this close range, anyone with even moderate skill would be able to hit their mark. In one motion, both men raised their bows, pulled back on the drawstrings, and fired.

Mizar only had a second to react as the two arrows split the air on their way to him. With a slight wave of his hands, he changed the flow of air around him, thereby directing the arrows to zip past his head, continuing on their harmless trajectory.

Before they could hit the ground, Mizar turned in the other direction and waved his arms in a circle. As if they’d developed a mind of their own, the arrows changed direction, one banking left and the other right, sweeping around in a wide arc and climbing high into the air.

Mizar whirled around to face the Vandans again, moving his arms in a practiced, precise series of gestures, bending the air to his will. The raiders watched, goggle-eyed, at the arrows that seemed to defy gravity. Mizar thrust his hands forward, and the two arrows decided on a new direction. Before the archers could even react, the arrows embedded themselves in their throats.

Voris’s jaw dropped, his knife hand shaking visibly as he watched the last of his men topple to the ground, blood gushing from their necks and staining the grassy earth.

Satisfied, Mizar affixed Voris with his steeliest glare. “Only you and me now, Vandan.”

Voris didn’t move. He could only croak out a barely intelligible, “Wh-what are ya?”

“I am Mizar, High Mage of Darad.”

About the Author:

I currently live in Arizona with my wife, Vaneza. After years of writing for several different entertainment-related blogs, I have found new life and vitality by writing fictional stories about young teens and preteens that are entertaining for ALL ages.

For me, it’s all about the characters. I love creating characters that jump off the page, that feel like real people no matter how old the reader is. Because without great characters, you really don’t have a great story, do you?

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSVGV86


Visit Patrick’s website: http://patrickhodgesauthor.com/

Find Patrick on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patrickhodgesauthor/

Tweet at him: https://twitter.com/Shrykespeare



Why I Decided AGAINST Self-Publishing

When I started my author journey (in 2013), I decided that self-publishing my first novel (In the Days) was the right choice. After all, I spent weeks submitting it to various publishers and didn’t hear back. I wanted to put out a book so I could start getting my name recognized.

After publishing the book in March 2014, I set to work on the next book (Blade of the Destroyer). But as I got reviews and feedback for In the Days, I realized a harsh truth: I wasn’t as good a writer as I thought I was. I needed input not just from beta readers and critiquers, but also professional editors adept at finding and eradicating mistakes.

Though it took a few days to swallow my hurt feelings, I set about making Blade of the Destroyer as good as possible. That meant not only going through multiple critiquing rounds, but also various self-editing rounds AND professional editors. By the time the product was completed (November 2014) and ready to shop around to publishers, it was in good shape. After the editors at my publisher J. Ellington Ashton Press finished with it, it was a MUCH better product.

That discovery supported my decision to work with an indie press/small publisher instead of going the route of self-publishing.

Flash forward to today, April 2017: I have four published novels (three of The Last Bucelarii series with J. Ellington Ashton and one of the Queen of Thieves series with Dragonblade Publishing). Four books of learning from editors, beta readers, and reviewers. Four books of adapting my writing style and striving to continuously improve.

Now, four books later, I’m feeling more confident on the writing side of things (still working on the marketing). I’ve learned a lot about the craft of storytelling, building a structured novel, plot elements, and all the other details that go into producing a great novel. My first drafts are getting cleaner and cleaner with each book I write, with fewer plot holes and grand editing mistakes. After all this, I’m thinking about considering the self-publishing route once more.

As I write this, I still have 5 books to complete/publish to finish The Last Bucelarii and Queen of Thieves series. I won’t be able to start on a significant new project until 2018 at the earliest. However, I WILL be experimenting with self-publishing in late 2017—I will be releasing a collection of short stories set in the world the Hunter and Ilanna.

Essentially, it will be a “test run” to see what my work is like when it’s self-published. I’ll still work with an editor, but I will be approaching it a totally different way than I approached my first self-published novel. The freelance editors I worked with on that book did a good job of correcting the grammar issues, but I felt like they weren’t invested in the story to the same degree a publishing house editor is. In-house editors are trying to do more than just clean up a story—they’re trying to make it better so their publishing house sells more. My previous experiences with freelance editors made me re-think my approach to hiring/working with editors. I’m going to look for an editor who has read my work and actually LIKES it. If they’re invested in my success instead of just their paycheck, I believe it will lead to a better outcome.

I decided against self-publishing in the past because I needed that support to build my confidence as a writer. Now that I have a bit more experience under my belt, it’s time to try a new thing and see if it works for me.



Book Review: The Immorality Clause by Brian Parker

Today for Book Review Wednesday, I’ve got something very different: a sort of sci-fi-esque murder mystery novel featuring pleasure bots/sex droids. Definitely not my usual cup of tea, but a book I’d HIGHLY recommend!

The Immorality Clause

Easytown’s robotic pleasure clubs are a serial killer’s playground.

The futuristic slum in eastern New Orleans is a violent place where any vice can be satisfied—for a price. As long as the taxes are paid and tourists continue to flock to the city, businesses are allowed to operate as they see fit. Easytown has given rise to the robotic sex trade; where the robots are nearly human and always better than the real thing.

Audio cover tIC

Homicide detective, Zach Forrest, has never trusted the machines. When a string of grisly murders rocks the city, he must hunt down the killer responsible. With no witnesses, and no evidence, Forrest must embark on an investigation that will challenge the very scope reality. In Easytown, only the sex is easy.  Will Forrest find the killer before he becomes the next victim?

My Review: 5 Stars

Let’s be clear: I’m NOT a murder mystery reader. I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was one heck of a great read.

The main character (hard-boiled detective) is as expected, with nothing too special to make him stand out from every other murder mystery detective. The supporting characters are equally expected: from the love interest to the colorful suspect to the gruff chief. But that didn’t make the story any less enjoyable. In fact, they gave it that comfortable, “familiar” feel that makes murder mysteries so great to read.

It was the construction of the story overall that I find so great. There was no lag, no dull moments, nothing where I felt the story had stalled and was just trying to “buy time”. The pace was steady and engaging, with plot twists and turns that were interesting. I won’t say I had any “OMG!” moments in the story, but there was enough to keep me turning the pages to find out whodunit.

The world was rich and colorful, with that futuristic flavor layered in just enough to be interesting and unique without stretching believability. All in all, a well-crafted novel that I enjoyed immensely.

Here’s a Taste:

I held up my hands. “Wait a minute, you mean to tell me these sex bots can sweat?”

Pleasure droids, Detective. And yes, they would seem quite unnatural in the sauna if the client is pouring out sweat and they aren’t. They also excrete sweat during high intensity intercourse.”

“Huh. These things really are state of the art tech.”

“Yes, they are. Industry rumor has it that they’re also developing companion droids, not just pleasure droids. Future droids will think, act and respond as a human would.”

“Seems like we’re playing God.” Shit. I let the statement that I’d repressed that night at the Diva loose. I didn’t want to offend Paxton; the robots seemed to be one of her passions.

“I don’t know about that. Is it playing God when doctors have extended our average lifespan to ninety-three? Have you seen the elderly, Zach? Most of them sit around, do crosswords and soil themselves. Their bodies have given up on them, but science is keeping them alive—if you can call it that. There are the occasional exceptions, but for the most part, it’s a pretty bleak prospect.”

“In Easytown, the average life expectancy is only forty-two,” I deadpanned. She didn’t bite, so I continued, “Ah, I’m just kidding. I guess you could be right.”

“This next generation of droid will be a companion for those who can’t find someone to fit into their lives and don’t want to end up alone, known as the crazy cat lady.”

My perception of the companion droid fell flat. I was thinking of fat, ugly, lonely men buying a wife so they could get their rocks off at the house, but Paxton was talking from personal experience, from a place of loneliness and despair. She’d alluded to it a few times, her schedule and the type of job she worked scared men away. She was worried about becoming that ‘crazy cat lady.’ A companion droid could help satisfy her needs as well as help with all sorts of things. Hell, Andi could be considered a companion, I guess.

“Paxton, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say anything derogatory about the droids.”

She looked up; redness surrounded the whites of her eyes. “It’s okay. I understand. You don’t know the droids like I do. If you added in an emotional capability, or at least the ability to fake it, and any of our CS98s could be that companion model. They’re so lifelike, and I know that everything they say comes from a massive database in their chests, but they do learn. I consider them my friends since my human friends abandoned me.”

About the Author:

A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brian Parker was born and raised as an Army brat. He’s currently an Active Duty Army soldier who enjoys spending time with his family in Texas, hiking, obstacle course racing, writing and Texas Longhorns football. He’s an unashamed Star Wars fan, but prefers to disregard the entire Episode I and II debacle.

Brian is both a traditionally- and self-published author with an ever-growing collection of works across multiple genres, including sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, horror, paranormal thriller, military fiction, self-publishing how-to and even a children’s picture book–Zombie in the Basement, which he wrote to help children overcome the perceived stigma of being different from others.

He is also the founder of Muddy Boots Press, an independent publishing company that focuses on quality genre fiction over mass-produced books.

Find the book on Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B01HWOH1VC

Connect with Brian on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BrianParkerAuthor

Visit the Muddy Boots Press Website: www.MuddyBootsPress.com



Why Killers, Bullies, and Abusers Exist in our “Modern” Society

When people talk about “modern society”, they speak as if society has advanced light-years beyond previous societies. That’s true in many ways: slavery is abolished, women can vote, and we no longer go plundering and pillaging our neighbors. But thanks to human nature, there are still many ways in which our society is as primitive and animalistic as it has always been.

Yes, a justice system is in place to prosecute and punish law-breakers, and there is a great deal of societal pressure to conserve and improve the world. Yet all these things haven’t stopped murder, theft, abuse, genocide, and other cruelties. Why is that?

In large part, it’s due to the fact that we can easily “shut off” our consciences. Humans have the terrifying ability to separate their actions from their morals and beliefs. It’s why so many of the most devout people can justify some pretty horrible actions–the recent bombing of Syria is just the latest in the string of things we humans have done to each other.

Albert Bandura, a psychologist from the 1960s, broke it down to a simple conclusion: “moral conduct requires constant, active self-regulation.”  When “moral self-sanctions are selectively disengaged from inhumane conduct”, malice and mischief take over.

If you’ve ever tried to self-regulate your behavior, you have an idea how exhausting it is to always “try to be good”. The human psyche can only sustain that self-regulation so long before it inevitably fails. Our own internal regulators of good and bad can eventually become compromised, leading us to ignore or cover up our mistakes and immoral actions.

Moral justification is another thing that has led to this problem. “I’m doing this because…” is a common excuse intended to justify horrors inflicted upon another person, country, culture, race, or religion. Sanitized language, also known as “double speak” can desensitize and disassociate us from the truth of the actions. We’re “fighting for freedom” instead of “going to war”, or “liberating the oppressed” instead of “invading another country”.

A lack of personal responsibility also contributes to the problem. “Just following orders” doesn’t make your actions any less horrible, as was evident in the case of Nazi concentration camp soldiers and doctors. “Group decision making” and “collective action” (we decided to take action as a group, so it’s not my responsibility) is another trap we fall into to justify misdeeds.

In the end, all of these gives us psychological cover for the things cause us to be horrible to each other. We ignore, cover up, or simply neglect to think about our actions, or we justify them using some excuse that makes it seem better, but in the end doesn’t detract from those actions.



Welcome B2BCyCon Blog Hoppers!

I’m glad you bounced your way over here!

Who am I?

I, Andy Peloquin, am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist–words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels.

Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It transcends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle–it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand new way. Fiction at its very best!


I write the darker themes, delving into the darker side of human nature and dealing with the monsters in our heads, rather than the ones under our beds. I get to write all the FUN stuff, too: murder, mayhem, violence, death, loss, sorrow, betrayal, intrigue, thieves, assassins…and demons!

Here are the books I write:

The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer

Bucelarii - CopyThe Hunter of Voramis is the perfect assassin: ruthless, unrelenting, immortal. Yet he is haunted by lost memories, bonded to a cursed dagger that feeds him power yet denies him peace of mind. Within him rages an unquenchable need for blood and death.

When he accepts a contract to avenge the stolen innocence of a girl, the Hunter becomes the prey. The death of a seemingly random target sends him hurtling toward destruction, yet could his path also lead to the truth of his buried past?

Find it on Amazon…

The Last Bucelarii (Book 2): Lament of the Fallen

Bucelarii 2 SmallThe Hunter of Voramis is no more.

Alone with the bloodthirsty voices in his head, fleeing the pain of loss, he has one objective: travel north to find Her, the mystery woman who plagues his dreams and haunts his memories.

When he stumbles upon a bandit attack, something within urges him to help. His actions set him at odds with the warrior priests commanded to hunt down the Bucelarii.

Left for dead, the Hunter must travel to Malandria to recover his stolen birthright. There, he is inexorably drawn into direct conflict with the Order of Midas, the faceless, nameless group of magicians that holds the city in a grip of terror. All while struggling to silence the ever-louder voice in his mind that drives him to kill.

From feared assassin to wretched outcast, the Hunter’s journey leads him to truths about his forgotten past and the Abiarazi he has pledged to hunt. His discoveries will shed light on who he really is…what he really is.

Fans of Joe Abercrombie and Brandon Sanderson will love the Hunter…

Find it on Amazon…

The Last Bucelarii (Book 3): Gateway to the Past

Bucelarii 3 SmallThe Hunter, legendary assassin of Voramis, has a purpose: protect Hailen, the boy he rescued from a demon in Malandria.

He joins a caravan in the hope of safe passage across the Advanat Desert. Yet he cannot outrun his enemies: the Illusionist Cleric on a holy mission to capture him, the bloodthirsty raiders out for blood and gold, and the Abiarazi, demons who masquerade as humans.

Every step north reveals who he was before becoming the Hunter, unlocking the truth about the woman who haunts his memories.

Find it on Amazon…

Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1)

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00060]“They killed my parents. They took my name. They imprisoned me in darkness. I would not be broken.”

Viola, a child sold to pay her father’s debts, has lost everything: her mother, her home, and her identity. Thrown into a life among criminals, she has no time for grief as she endures the brutal training of an apprentice thief. The Night Guild molds an innocent waif into a cunning, agile outlaw skilled in the thieves’ trade. She has only one choice: steal enough to pay her debts.

The cutthroat streets of Praamis will test her mettle, and she must learn to dodge the City Guards or swing from a hangman’s rope. But a more dangerous foe lurks within the guild walls. A sadistic rival apprentice, threatened by her strength, is out for blood.

What hope does one girl have in a world of ruthless men?

Fans of Sarah J. Maas, Scott Lynch, and Brent Weeks will love Queen of Thieves…

10 Things You Need to Know About Me:

  1. Hot wings, ALWAYS!
  2. I never forget a face, but rarely remember a name.
  3. I’m a head taller than the average person (I’m 6′ 6″)
  4. Marvel > DC
  5. I was born in Japan, and lived there until the age of 14.
  6. Selena Gomez, Skrillex, Simon & Garfunkel, Celine Dion, and Five Finger Death Punch are all in my writing playlist.
  7. Aliens are real, but it’s self-centered of us to believe that they would come to visit Earth.
  8. Watching sports: suck. Playing sports: EPIC!
  9. I earned a purple belt in Karate/Hapkido/Taekwondo.
  10. I dislike most Christmas music, aside from Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Join My Newsletter List!

You will:

  1. Receive a free ebook–who doesn’t love FREE stuff?
  2. Receive updates of the latest book news, launches, reviews, and recommendations.
  3. Receive short stories that flesh out the world of Einan (for both The Last Bucelarii and Queen of Thieves)

(Your information is kept strictly private, and your email will NEVER be sent to anyone else!)

See where it all began on the B2BCyCon Blog Hop Page

Where to next? Pop on over to Angel M.’s website to keep the party going!

Bucelarii 3 Small

Book Review: Gateway to the Past by Andy Peloquin

As is my tradition, this Book Review Wednesday will take a look at some of the reviews of my latest novel, Gateway to the Past. I’m obviously biased about, so I’m citing reviews posted by independent reviewers on Amazon and Goodreads. Thankfully, it seems people are enjoying reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

The Last Bucelarii (Book 3): Gateway to the Past

Bucelarii 3 SmallThe Hunter, legendary assassin of Voramis, has a purpose: protect Hailen, the boy he rescued from a demon in Malandria.

He joins a caravan in the hope of safe passage across the Advanat Desert. Yet he cannot outrun his enemies: the Illusionist Cleric on a holy mission to capture him, the bloodthirsty raiders out for blood and gold, and the Abiarazi, demons who masquerade as humans.

Every step north reveals who he was before becoming the Hunter, unlocking the truth about the woman who haunts his memories.



The Hunter is not your typical hero but something even better, someone we can relate to. He has gone through something and wants to reclaim his past. He wants to be better than he is presently and is starting to realize the damage to himself that the killing has done. And Hailen is the perfect light to all the darkness that Hunter has found himself. It just breaks your heart when he has to kill, even if it is for the right reason. – JBronder Book Reviews

The hunter in this book is becoming more and more human . He still has his half demon side that wants the blood of the evil . But the human side of him is starting to get his memories back and wants to find out what he was before becoming the Bucelarii . As he remembers the memories , you want to hug him and tell him that things will be ok. You also feel him start to think about his actions and how they work. He is growing and becoming more then just the killing machine he was in book one and two. – Patricia Statham


This new volume of the adventures of the Hunter of Voramis is as action-packed as anything I’ve read. There is not a dull moment as the Hunter races against time to save the child who has come to mean so much to him. As the demon and the human battle for supremacy in his nature, his ultimate redemption is foreshadowed in his love, although he does not yet recognise it as this, for the child – yet, the child himself has undergone a strange transformation. Younger readers may take this series as a chain of swashbuckling adventures, yet to me it is a dark and dreamy voyage of self-actualisation, centring around the Hunter’s quest to redeem himself and stand in the light. Seen in either light, though, it is unputdownable. – Tabitha Ormiston Smith

Here’s a Taste:

The Hunter peered out from behind the silent wagon. Good. No sign of Kellen or Graden. He’d have to keep an ear out for the caravan guards, but he should have plenty of time. The patrol had a lot of ground to cover.

Grunting, he shifted the heavy load on his shoulder and darted out from the row of shelters, hurrying toward the outcropping of boulders he’d chosen specifically for his task. He ducked behind the boulders and hurled his burden to the ground. A grunt and muffled cry came from the bundle, and something squirmed within.

He’s coming to. Good timing.

The Hunter pulled back the canvas, and moonlight shone on Rill’s pale, sweat-soaked face and wide eyes. Blood oozed from a wound on the bald man’s temple. The Hunter hadn’t bothered to be gentle.

“W-What?” Rill’s eyes darted around, and his gaze fell on the Hunter. “What is this?”

The Hunter struck the man hard. “Justice.”

Rill made to cry out, but the Hunter stuffed canvas into his mouth. “Ironic, isn’t it?” His fingers twitched a corner of the thick cloth. “You spend every waking hour stitching up canvas. Fitting that it will serve as your funeral shroud. There was more than enough of it around your area to wrap you up.”

The bald man’s eyes widened, and he mumbled something through the mouthful of fabric.

The Hunter shook his head. “Better you don’t speak. Nothing you say can change what’s coming. Best you die with a bit of dignity. Watcher knows you had little enough while you lived.”

Soulhunger, sensing blood, pounded louder in his mind, and the demon added its eager demands.

“I never understood men like you, knocking around your women.” He squatted on his haunches. “Just doesn’t make sense.”

Rill tried in vain to shout through his gag.

The Hunter narrowed his eyes. “Did you know there is a special hell reserved for your kind? Those who take advantage of the helpless.”

He slipped Soulhunger from its sheath, and held the glinting blade before Rill’s eyes. “You may tell yourself she belongs to you, you can do whatever you want.” He leaned forward, and his voice dropped to a low growl. “Just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.”

Rill’s eyebrows shot up, and his expression turned pleading.

The Hunter shook his head. “Save your excuses for the Long Keeper. You’ll be with him soon enough.”

With a vicious smile, he drove Soulhunger through the canvas and into the man’s chest. The gag muffled Rill’s scream, but the dagger’s shriek echoed in his head with mind-numbing force. Soulhunger’s gem flared, red light bright in the darkness. The Hunter grunted as a finger of fire etched a line in his chest. Power coursed through him, setting his muscles twitching, flooding him with life, and pushing back the voices in his mind.

Slowly, the brilliance leaking from the gemstone faded to nothing, and Rill’s screams of agony and terror fell silent. The Hunter basked in the stillness of the night. A soothing breeze washed over him, the chill soothing the burning of his new scar. Glorious silence echoed in his head. The voices had been sated. He had peace, for a time.

He straightened and stared down at the bundled corpse. Perhaps the Long Keeper will have mercy on you.

An image flashed through his mind: a pitiful figure huddled at the entrance to Rill’s tent, covered in filthy rags and reeking of blood and coitus. Rill’s desire to punish Gwen had made it easier for the Hunter to slip in, knock the fat bastard out, wrap him in his own canvas, and slip out unnoticed. The man’s absence wouldn’t be discovered until morning. Few would care.

He took a deep breath, relishing the cool scents of the desert at night. He would wait a few minutes until he was certain Graden and Kellen had passed, then he would dispose of the body, bury the canvas, and slip back into camp. Without the voices shrieking and pleading in his mind, he might even be able to catch a few hours of undisturbed sleep before the morning breakfast bell.

Tonight would be a good night.


Find the book on Amazon…


Join in on Books to Brains Cyber Convention 2017

This year I’m fortunate enough to take part in the Brain to Books Cyber Convention—or B2BCyCon, as it’s affectionately called.

What is the Brain to Books Cyber Convention? Basically it’s a virtual version of a book or comic convention. There are all sorts of awesome activities (see below) for readers and authors to take part in—everything from a Blog Hop to LIVE events to  prizes and raffles. You’ll find it’s a whole lot of fun and a great way to discover awesome authors in every genre under the sun.


Here are a few of the events I’ll be participating in:

Author Showcase: The Author Showcase features hundreds of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, paranormal, romance, thriller, mystery, and other genres. Here is my Author Showcase, and you can explore the various authors and their books by visiting the Showcase main page…

Giveaways: There are literally HUNDREDS of books being given away in the event. The Giveaway Page lists all the various prizes offered, divided according to genre. Blade of the Destroyer is in with the fantasy books to win by joining in on the fun!

Fantasy Book Showcase: If you’re a die-hard fantasy reader like me, you can explore the selection of fantasy novels available on the Book Showcase page. Some pretty epic titles in there, including both Queen of Thieves and The Last Bucelarii books!


See it All: On this page is a list of all the events that will be taking place next weekend. It’s going to be a whole lot of fun, and a way to discover more authors and their books.

Save the Date! If you click on this link and sign up to Save the Date of the event, you have a chance to win a $100 gift card.



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