Looking for Beta Readers and
Book Launch Team
I am making great progress on my book, Free and Low-Cost Marketing for the Indie Author. My current guess is that the first complete draft will be done by the end of April, and the final book will be done around the middle of June. Please help! I am currently looking for both beta readers and members of the book launch team. You can sign up here.
Getting Back to Hell Holes 3
I look forward to completing the marketing book because I really want to get back to writing Hell Holes 3: To Hell and Back.
Wednesday evening (April 12th), I will be having an hour long telephone conversation with movie and TV screen writer and producer Michael Chamoy, during which I will pitch my Hell Holes series as a movie or 3-part TV miniseries. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to talk to someone who has worked on both science fiction movies (X-Men 3: The Last Stand, The Incredible Hulk, and The Avengers) and the TV series Alphas.
While I realize that extremely few pitches are successful, I am cautiously hopeful. At the very least, I hope to learn my books' potential marketability and how I can increase it and my pitch for any future attempts. Wish me luck.
March Contest - Fan Art
This contest is for the best fan art related to Hell Holes: What Lurks Below or Hell Holes: Demons on the Dalton. It can be any kind of drawing of a scene, character(s), or demon(s) from the books. It can be anything from a simple pencil sketch to a full-color painting.
One (1) Grand Prize: An autographed copy of each book, inclusion of your art in the Fan Art webpage of my official website, and potentially even inclusion in future editions of the books as an illustration.
Start Date: 1 March 2017
End Date: 30 April 2017
If you lack artistic talent but know someone who does, please forward this newsletter to them. The winner will be announced in the May 1st edition of the newsletter. Good luck "And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
April Contest - Random Drawing
This will be a random drawing from this newsletter's subscriber list on 30 April 2017, so if you are not yet subscribed, then you should subscribe here.
One (1) Grand Prize: Autographed copy of Hell Holes: Demons on the Dalton
Five (5) Runners Up: Free download of Hell Holes: Demons on the Dalton
Start Date: 1 April 2017
End Date: 30 April 2017
Book Spotlight and Review
Book 1: Looking Death In The Eye
Vivian Hsu, a psychic mercenary with a fierce temper, is barely making ends meet down in the dark slums of the Columbia Sprawl. When a mysterious death compels her to investigate, she finds herself embroiled in the midst of a corporate conspiracy that threatens to leave her dead in the street.
Forced to rely on any help she can find, Vivian discovers an unlikely ally in the darkness- the startlingly powerful hazardous materials specialist, Yakov Berkowitz.
With the full might of a ruthless corporation aimed at her, can Vivian separate the truth from the lies before it is too late?
Who should she trust in a world of constant surveillance and betrayal? What frightening secrets lurk behind Yakov's intriguing eyes?
Book 2: Making Death Blink First
Faced with three nearly impossible tasks, Vivian Hsu decides to tackle her most challenging job first- the infiltration of a secret corporate blacksite.
Her biggest problem? She doesn't know where it is.
Furious at Yakov for his betrayal of her trust, Vivian must seek new allies where she can find them, and find a lead she can follow that might point her to the truth.
Caught between a vicious genetics corporation and a rebel cabal, will Vivian triumph in her quest for justice? What ulterior motives might her allies be hiding in their hearts? Can Vivian ever trust Yakov again?
Book 3: Doing The Impossible
Trapped in the heart of a corporate blacksite, Vivian Hsu finds herself caught between making a deal with the devil or surrendering to a dark and horrible fate.
When it comes to her psionic powers, Vivian is in sore need of guidance- but as she is learning, no power comes without its price.
As corporate plots and ancient powers collide, Vivian must prepare to face her ultimate foe, the superpowered monster known as Gamma-Five.
Can Vivian hope to stand in the face of such monumental adversity? What secrets are her own allies hiding from her? Can she pay the price demanded of her in exchange for the truth?
Ashley L. Hunt
Ashley Hunt gained her Philosophy degree in Denver, Colorado at The University of Colorado. She made Denver her permanent home when she married her college sweetheart. Married six years the couple has a five-year-old daughter and a yellow Labrador named Oodles.
Living in the shadow of Gray's Peak proves to be inspirational to Ashley as she sits at her desk in her home office where she writes her Romance stories and can merely look out the window to renew her creativity. She strives to make stories with beautiful scenery and intriguing plots. Heroes with great strengths, physical and mental, she pairs with strong heroines who test their limits. In the end, finding deep, passionate love. The way she thinks every relationship should be.
Jordanna R. Forest
Jordanna R. Forrest is a Washington, D.C. native with a great love of science fiction and mythology. She takes as her inspiration such masters of the genre as Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, Neal Stephenson, and William Gibson. She finds herself particularly gripped by the Cyberpunk concept of the Sprawl, as described in Gibson’s Neuromancer. Jordanna, who prefers the nickname J.R., earned a degree in computer programming from George Mason University, and currently lives in Fairfax County, Virginia, with her husband of six years and their several cats. J.R. is a Historical European Martial Arts enthusiast, and an avid reader, and divides what little time she is not writing between training with her longsword and devouring every book she can get her hands on. Fans can follow her on Twitter @cyberpunklady.
Book Review (5 Stars)
Cyberpunk Tales by A. L Hunt and J. R. Forrest is a science-fiction trilogy that tells the story of Vivian Hsu, a young woman who has given up her former life of wealth and privilege in the corporate-run towers that rise above the remains of Washington, DC for the short and dirty life of a mercenary in the lawless sub-surface slums where the vast majority of the populace is forced to live. When Red Viper, as Vivian is known to those in the Sprawls, observes a man falling to his death and decides to investigate, she puts herself on a path that leads to corporate espionage, kidnapping, murder, and a pact with an ancient evil who threatens her with a fate far worse than death.
Although advertised as a "New SciFi Dystopian Thriller Suspense Occult Romance Series", those readers looking for the typical run-of-the-mill paranormal romance will be disappointed as there is essentially no romance until well into book 3. Males readers should definitely not pass by this series due to the "romance" label. Those easily offended may also dislike the fact that the books contain a fair amount of cursing and one explicit sex scene, although both are quite appropriate for the characters and situations.
However, for those who love dystopic science fiction with heavy doses of advanced science, genetically- and technologically-enhanced humans, psychic abilities, loads of action, military grade tech, an imaginative setting, a well-crafted plot, believable characters, some great dialog, and a really kick-ass anti-heroine, you are going to love this series. Although the trilogy stands on its own with its well-defined beginning, middle, and end, I for one hope that the authors write more books about Red Viper. The characters and world they’ve created are too good to stop at only three books.
Character Interview - Red Viper
Donald: This month, we are fortunate to have Vivian from Cyberpunk Tales joining us for an interview. Welcome Vivian. Let's start by having you tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Vivian: Talk about myself? Yeah, I’m not real big on sharing, but creds are creds, and I don’t want to be a bad guest. My name is Vivian Hsu, as you seem to already know, though I’d take it as a personal favor if you didn’t spread that name around. Like most freelancers, I prefer people to call me by my street name: Red Viper.
Donald: Okay, "Red Viper," please continue.
Vivian: Right. Well, I’m a freelancer, a merc. Lot of work down here in the Lower Sprawl if you’re not too concerned with the local corp’s laws. Gotta be willing to get your hands dirty, too. Just because corporations hire us mercs doesn’t mean they’ll hesitate at all to shoot us down. I’m a decent merc, I complete my jobs on time, and I keep my word. People say I’ve got a temper, but they’d say that about any woman who gave them what for. Hmm… let me see… well you seem to already know I’m a psion, so there’s that. Yeah, I’m a Reader. I can read minds, though most of the time it’s more of a pain in the ass than a superpower.
Donald: How so?
Vivian: You know how society is built on little white lies? Like "you look great in that dress" or "yeah, this music’s pretty good - it’s just not my favorite" or "sorry, I can’t go on that date; I have to wash my hair?"
Donald: (laughs) Yeah.
Vivian: Imagine if every time someone tried to spare your feelings with a little white lie or a tactful omission, you got to see what they really thought, whether you liked it or not.
Donald: I see. You're right, that doesn't sound very good.
Vivian: It isn’t. But on the bright side, I know immediately if I have something on my face; no awkward conversation with strangers required. If the guy next to me on the train notices, I notice. No way around it. It also means that every time some guy is staring at my ass, I know about that too. Yeah, dude with the sunglasses who rides the Metro from Sector 12A every morning, I know about you. You’re not clever.
Donald: What was it like the first time you entered the Sprawl?
Vivian: (laughs) You ever hear what they say about your first day in the slammer?
Donald: What, the whole thing about fighting the biggest guy you see so that people leave you alone?
Vivian: Yeah, that one. It’s not quite the law of the jungle down here, but that survival of the fittest thing is around sometimes. Basically, you don’t want to look like prey, or someone will take advantage of you, or hurt you, or worse. Well my first day, I looked like a scared, lost, rich girl, and someone tried to rob me about six minutes after I left the Upper Sprawl.
Donald: Really? What did you do?
Vivian: Shit, what do you think? I got robbed. Three guys took every credstick I had on me. I was lucky, because these assholes weren’t real interested in hurting me, they just wanted my cash. I was scared shitless, but eventually I realized that I was more angry than I was afraid. So I waited for them to turn to leave, then picked up an old beer bottle and broke it over the head of the guy that was standing closest to me. I ended up scrapping with the other two. I got cut, they got cut; turned out that I surprised them so much that I was able to get the upper hand, more or less, and I won. Got out of there with only one serious cut. I think the guy I clocked first with the bottle made it out of that street alive, but I know his mates didn’t.
Donald: Is that how you got that scar on your face?
Vivian: Donald, buddy, you know it’s rude to point out a lady’s flaws. (points to her mouth, where a thin scar bisects her lips and traces a line down toward her chin) I assume you’re talking about this one? Well, funny story, that one actually comes from the time I got drunk and fought this big Wulfen dude. He punched me in the face, and the claw on his thumb cut me pretty good. I hit him with a chair. We ended up buying each other a few beers. He’s a good guy, really, just don’t get drunk and talk shit with a Wulfen hybrid. Especially don’t talk bad about his family. Wulfen take that really personally.
Donald: So how long did it take for you to acclimate to living in the Sprawl?
Vivian: Let’s put it this way; I was born to rule the boardroom of a big time corporation, maybe even to sit in their Senate seat and rule what’s left of America. At least, that’s what my parents designed me for. But the joke’s on them, really, because as shitty and rough as things are down here, I love it. I wouldn’t trade lives again if you paid me to. The first month was hard, but I learned quick. Really, I’m still learning, but I think well on my feet. After all, that was another thing I was designed to do.
Donald: Designed? What do you mean?
Vivian: I was a designer baby. My parents hired a genetics firm to take samples of their genetic material, and then the lab generated a few thousand different fetuses with a variety of different traits. They selected for beauty, charisma, a quick wit and a strong memory - all things that would be assets in the boardroom. Then they had the lab replicate the selected fetus until they got one that came out with the markers of psionic ability. It’s impossible to just make a psion, but by the law of averages, they knew they would get someone like me with the brute force approach. I don’t know how many potential daughters they made and threw away. I’m not sure I want to know, really.
Donald: So, what was it like the first time you were in serious danger and had to really protect yourself down in the Sprawl?
Vivian: Well, I told you about the time I got robbed, but I wasn’t in a crazy amount of danger at that time, at least not by my current standards. (laughs) Alright, so there’s not much chance I’m gonna make it to thirty-five. Live fast, die young, right? (laughs) Right, right, your question. Well on my first job as a freelancer, my brand new boss got sold out to the corporation we were supposed to be robbing. Everyone was killed but me, and that was by sheer luck. I probably should have died up there, but I got lucky. Several times. I did make it out with the thing we were supposed to be stealing, so I got a pretty big payout. It’s sad, but that actually jump-started my career. Gave me a rep as a survivor, and someone who would get the job done no matter what.
Donald: How did you first learn that you were a psion, different than your parents?
Vivian: When I was ten, I happened to be in the room when my father was having a conversation with a lower-level executive from another company. I don’t even remember what they were discussing, but I remember the guy my dad was talking to lied about something. It wasn’t a bad lie or anything, but I heard him say something with his mouth and then immediately say something utterly different without moving his lips. I was a kid, so like any little stinker, I just blurted out that the guy was lying, and told my dad what I’d heard when he’d spoken without his mouth. That was pretty awkward. My parents explained to me what I was after that. It seemed normal at the time, you know, when you’re a kid you assume everything happening to you is normal. It wasn’t until they hired a tutor to teach me to close that Inner Eye that I really found out that not everyone was a psychic.
Donald: How did you get the name Red Viper?
Vivian: Well, the Red part is self-explanatory. I’m one of like eight redheads that frequents the Greasy Wheel, and every single one of us has been called Red at one time or another. Usually, a new nickname develops over time. For me, the name Red just stuck, especially since I didn’t feel like telling everyone my real name. The “Viper” part got tacked on after this big chromed-up asshole tried to push me around about three months after I wound up in the Sprawl. He picked me up and slung me over his shoulder, probably thinking it would be a nice display of dominance over the little mouthy woman. I bit him on the neck, where he didn’t have armor. Got him pretty good, and he was bleeding something fierce. The guy probably would have crushed my skull if another freelancer at the bar hadn’t stepped in. He said something to the other guy about “grabbing the viper by her tail,” and that pretty much sealed it.
Donald: Who is your best friend, and how did you meet?
Vivian: My best friend would have to be my favorite street doc, Michi. She and I ran into each other for the first time when I tried to break into a mid-level pharmacorp’s stores for some painkillers I couldn’t afford. Figured I could sell whatever else I found there and make a few creds. Turned out I was in over my head, and I almost got myself shot a couple times by the android security guards. In a stroke of luck, however, Michi happened to be robbing the same storeroom at the same time. She was a great deal more professional than I was, and she got the drop on the security guards with some kind of electromagnetic pulse weapon. She helped me get out, we ended up talking over breakfast and coffee at about two-in-the-morning. We got on like a house fire after that.
Donald: Well, thank you, Red. I must say that was very interesting. I definitely look forward to reading about more of your fascinating adventures in future books in the Cyberpunk Tales series.
Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo
Next April, I will be taking part in quite a few of the activities at this convention. I hope to see some of you there.
The Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo—or B2BCyCon for short—is an online event modeled in the likeness of a State Fair and a comic book convention. Authors have virtual tables or “booths” just like at a real fair where readers can go and browse the selection. But unlike other events, the B2BCyCon is not just an event on Goodreads. It not just an event on Facebook. The Convention is a single three-day event stretched across all the internet world wide. We are on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, more than three dozen websites, and www.b2bcycon.com. We are on blab, Google Hangouts, podcasts, the radio…We are in Greece, Japan, Australia, Bristol, New York, California, Alaska, Hawaii, South Africa, Jamaica, Israel, and India! If you found us through Goodreads, you found only a small branch of the Convention. If you found us through word of mouth, you only saw a sliver. With 160 in our first year, we quickly grew to 800 in our second year. Our third year projects an attendance of more than 2,000.