Join me in welcoming Michael Hebler to Highlighted Author
Michael Hebler is a native of Orange County, California where he still resides. After receiving his degree in theatre arts, Michael began working in film publicity, which he continues to share with his writing career. To date, Hebler’s previous published credits include, “The Night After Christmas,” a timeless holiday picture book for believers of any age, and the free Chupacabra Series short story, “Hunt for the Chupacabra.”
In addition to authoring his novels and children’s books, Hebler also writes his blog, “My Little Obsessions,” where he likes to muse about what distractions life has to offer.
A Book and a Chat with Michael Hebler
Night of the Chupacabra
What they’re saying:
“The story is so action packed and heartfelt, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this story.”—Diana Ramsey, Offbeat Vagabond Book Blog
“Michael Hebler has definitely stumbled onto a cast of characters and a villain so exceptional that this is a remarkable and fun/horror novel.”—Heather Boustead, Reflections of a Bookworm
“I loved the twists, especially the revelation on the legend of the first chupacabra, that I believe wouldn’t bore readers.”—Jenai Kaori,Bookingly Yours Book Reviews
Night of the Chupacabra
Click Image To Purchase . . .
A scarred man – on the inside and out – searches desperately for his missing family while the creature that separated them is never far behind.
There is a creature that lurks in the vast open deserts of the west. It can only survive on blood and, although it prefers to prey on the weak and young, it will slaughter anyone or anything, once provoked. It is unnatural, deceptive, and difficult to kill. Word about the existence of this elusive beast has not spread since anyone who has crossed paths with it did not live long enough to tell of their account.
Join me in welcoming Tony-Paul de Vissage to Highlighted Author.
Tony-Paul de Vissage is a multi-published Author of vampire books which include Vampires Are Forever, Last Vampire Standing, and The Night Man Cometh, along with several published short stories. His first movie memory is of being six years old, viewing the old Universal horror flick, Dracula’s Daughter, on television, and being scared sleepless—that may explain a lifelong interest in vampires.
This was further inspired when the author ran across a band of transplanted Transylvanian vampires who were sightseeing in the South. Thinking nosferatu were getting a bad press and in need of some favorable publicity, he decided to do what he could to change that attitude through his writing. Though it may be argued his efforts have probably done the opposite, no vamp has complained…yet.
Tony-Paul is with us this week, sharing his new release, Dark God Descending.
Welcome, Tony-Paul. Please tell us about your new release.
It’s a staple late night horror movies dating back decades…the lost city in the jungle, stumbled upon by a safari of scientists…they carry away some object precious to the inhabitants. In doing so, they bring a curse upon themselves in particular and Mankind in general as the embodiment of the sacred object, itself mindless except for the desire for revenge, brings the wrath of the gods upon the wrongdoers. The hero struggles to save his friends, perhaps return the sacred object to its home. In modern versions, there’s probably nudity and gratuitous sex. Various minor characters are killed off the inevitable happy ending is flashed upon the screen. Cue the credits.
Dark God Descending follows this formula to a certain degree. There’s a lost city, the city of Nikte-Uaxac, a Mayan civilization existing deep in the Yucatan. A sacred object is stolen from the city and the evildoers are punished, but there the similarity ends. The sacred object is the Emperor himself and it is he who exacts revenge upon his kidnappers. Semris II is no mindless hulking mummy or an animated enchanted dagger or an invisible but deadly plague. He’s an intelligent, articulate, supernatural being–a demon godling who simply wishes to return to his people. Aided by Tuck, the human charged with guarding him, he manages to escape, and thus begins an adventure for both demon and mortal.
All Tucker Upchurch wants is to get his degree in paleontology and marry his girl. Going with Professor Rand Westcott on his latest expedition will do just that. What Tuck gets instead is the adventure of a lifetime as he becomes the friend of a creature who shouldn’t exist, the son of the Mayan god of Death. In his attempt to aid Semris in returning to Nikte-Uaxac, Tuck will lose the thing he loves the most and gain something more precious. Semris will witness the depth of human cruelty as well as human love. Both will be forever changed by what happens. They will becomes brothers, each shedding his blood for the other, as they struggle to protect Nikte-Uaxac from the invasion of the Twenty-first Century. And the villain? He gets what he deserves, and, at the same time, what he most desires, and the irony of it all is terrible but fitting.
Dark God Descending is the story of two men, separated by thousands of years, thrown together by unbelievable circumstance; it is the story of their friendship and what is involved in accepting the events Fate has dealt them.
Dark God Descending
Tuck walked over to the cage.
Oh, God, did that last shot kill him? As far as he could tell, Semris hadn’t moved.
When he saw the slow rise and fall of the bare chest, he felt abrupt relief. He also saw the golden amulet, recognizing it as the twin of the one that had started all this unpleasantness in the first place.
The fruit hadn’t been touched, was rapidly darkening, the sweet, overripe smell permeating the cellar, attracting flies. How the Hell did they get in here, anyway? Several big bluebottles were buzzing around inside the cell, hovering over the peaches, a couple crawling along the edges of the plate. One was floating in the water glass, wings fluttering and making little splashes.
Tuck knelt and opened the little flap, reaching inside to remove the glass. As he reached back in for the plate, it happened. so fast he didn’t even realize Semris had moved until he felt the iron grip upon his wrist, saw the fangs drop and the dark head covering his hand.
He screamed as twin razor slashes struck through his wrist…knowing no one could hear, struggled desperately to get away. Frantic, disbelieving thoughts whirling through his mind. Oh, God, this is why he didn’t eat the fruit. He’s a vampire! Sweet Jesus, he’s going to kill me! Help someone, help me! Why should they? I didn’t help him.
The pain went away, his arm numb from wrist to fingertips.
He knelt there on the floor, watching the pale body crouched so near he could have reached out and touched his shoulder…his bare, wingless shoulder.Where did his wings go? What happened to them? All he could do was watch those shoulders heave with the strength of each deep swallow, feeling his life ebb away, and a vague surprise that it didn’t hurt at all.
Eyes rolling up, Tuck gave a little sigh and collapsed against the bars. He was barely conscious as he saw Semris raise his head and release his arm. In spite of being only slightly aware, he felt a stab of surprise as the quiet voice whispered, “Gracias. Gracias por su sangre.”
He’s thanking me? Thanking me for letting him kill me? With an effort, he made himself withdraw his wounded arm, cradling it against his chest with his other hand. Forcing his eyes open, he stared at his wrist, fighting the wave of blackness floating before his eyes.
There was no bloody ripped-away flesh as he’d imagined, only four deep punctures. Two of the five little veins had been pierced, but the wounds were clean and already clotting. Tuck forced himself to take a deep breath, then let it out, and repeated the procedure. Keep breathing! Don’t pass out. He might decide to have a second helping.
“I took too much. I am sorry. I was too hungry.”
There was such concern in Semris’ voice that Tuck found himself replying, “That’s all right. I-if I’d known, I… Oh, God, what am I saying?” He fell silent, feeling a bout of hysteria galloping toward him.
Something was thrust into his hand. One of the peaches. Semris’ hand, between the bars, holding it out to him. “Aqui. Come. Pronto.”
So he took the peach and bit into it, choking slightly as the rich, sweet juice slid down his throat, but forced himself to keep chewing and swallowing. As the fruit sugar hit his stomach, he began to feel better.
“That was good.” With a sigh, he tossed the peach pit aside.
Through the bars, hands helped him to his feet. He leaned against the door, hanging onto it to keep his balance as dizziness flooded back.
“Again, I am sorry. He looked up, meeting Semris’ eyes, startled at the concern in them. “It has been so long since I have had the living wine.”
Living wine…what a beautiful way to describe it. Tuck still felt a little groggy, wondered if he was now under the vampire thrall. He decided to find out. “Am I your minion now?”
“Why would you think that?” Semris sounded genuinely puzzled.
“Well, you’ve taken my blood. Generally, when a vampire–”
“Vampiro! Donde?” Semris looked around quickly, arms crossing over his throat in a protective gesture.
“You.” Tuck answered, feeling he’d made a mistake. “Aren’t you a vampire?”
“Of course not!” The answer was disdainful that Tuck might mistake him for such a vile creature. “I am a Dark Lord. Un demonio.” The pale chin lifted proudly. “Los vampiros are creatures accursed.”
Tuck thought that over. “And you’re not.”
“No.” Semris shook his head, the dark hair swinging. “I am not.”
Tuck realized he must be feeling better, to be able to marvel at the absurdity of this conversation.
Dark God Descending will be available at Class Act Books December 15, 2012.
Want more Tony-Paul? Here’s where you can find him:
Join me in welcoming Clayton Bye to Highlighted Author.
Welcome, Clayton. First, please tell us about yourself.
I grew up reading The Hardy Boys and The Wizard of Oz series. Then I found my favourite uncle’s stash of 1950’s and 1960’s space operas and sci-fi books; there were garbage bags full of them in the loft above my grandfather’s garage. This was a huge, six-stall, wooden garage with a tin roof. The loft ran the entire length of the garage, and on rainy days I would burrow down in one corner where the books were and lose myself for hours. Later, as a young adult, I went through a similar experience with another uncle: this time it was Louis L’Amour westerns and John D. MacDonald crime novels. I drank up the words with such intensity that my uncle never forgot that summer. When he died many years later, I found I had inherited both collections; every book either of these prolific authors had ever published became mine. After that there was no stopping me; I read everything I could get my hands on. It was during this period of discovering new authors that I first tried writing. No luck. I tried again in my early 20’s. It was pretty much the same as before; everything I put to paper reeked. I didn’t actually begin writing until I was 32, and it was the hardest thing I ever did. I had to force myself to do it every day for the better part of a year. Then came the day, just like any other day, when I realized I didn’t hate the writing process any more, that I couldn’t wait to get on the computer each day, and that I could happily type my thoughts as if I was having a conversation with someone.
The first people to read what I wrote that year were toastmasters – and they actually heard everything in speech form. They ganged up on me after awhile and told me I should write a book. I listened to them. It wasn’t sci-fi that I wrote, though: it was a self-help book. And did it sell! You just never know what’s going to happen on this ride called life.
What genre do you enjoy most?
Well, I’d have to say my favourite genre to read is horror, but that’s not what I’ve spent most of my time writing. I think I was intimidated by guys like Stephen King and Robert McCammon. In fact, I didn’t write any fiction until I reread my favourite book, The Man in the Tree by Damon Knight. His story inspired my first novel, The Sorcerer’s Key. Check it out Here!
The book is classified as fantasy, but there are elements of horror to be found within the covers. The sequel, which is being written now, is just as much horror as it is fantasy. The proof? The following link will take you to a disturbing short story which will become the first chapter in that book…
I really identify with Stephen King’s description of story as a fossil you remove from the earth. Sometimes great chunks of a story are unearthed. Other times you must chip at and brush away the smallest pieces of dirt and stone just to get a glimpse of what might be lurking beneath the surface.
Straight talk? My life has been so busy, I’ve taught myself to sit down at my computer and type whenever the opportunity presents itself. What comes to me comes to me. Sometimes it comes fast; sometimes it comes slow. But it always comes. I don’t have a problem with writer’s block.
I love that comparison too! I find that’s how my own stories come to life. How do you create the fantastic characters in your books?
He or she has to be consistent or true to who they are (flaws and all). Example: My protaganist/hero in The Sorcerer’s Key, Jack Lightfoot, has a tendency to swear when he gets flustered. I didn’t intend for this to be the case. It’s just who he is. This caused me a lot of grief. The novel was (and is) very popular with teenagers (even though it was written for adults). When it came time to do a second run, I was asked by a number of people if I would remove the foul language. Couldn’t do it. That’s not who Jack is.
How do you view reader feed-back? Do you find it helpful?
With respect to writing, rarely. I believe ideas are fragile things. No one gets to see my work until it’s at a point where feedback isn’t going to fundamentally change anything.
On a motivational level, yes; both criticism and kudos get me going.
What is your writing schedule like?
For most of my writing career, I wrote for a minimum of 1 hour per day, no matter what. Recently that has changed. I have severe Rheumatoid Arthritis and I’m Bipolar. My primary doctor tells me to consider myself retired (I’m 50). There are days I can’t get out of bed, let alone write. 15 minutes of writing a day is all that I can manage with any kind of consistency.
Do you prefer to write using a computer or pen and paper?
Everything is done on the computer until I can’t find anything else to fix. Then I print out a hard copy and start editing all over again.
What advice would you give the writer that has completed manuscripts but hasn’t taken that next step and shown anyone?
Go back to them every once in awhile. You never know when an idea will strike you. An example? I wrote a two stanza poem when I was about 20. I resurrected it in 2010, added 3 more stanzas and published it in a poetry book called What I Found in the Dark.
2. I’m editor-in-Chief over at The Deepening: http://www.thedeepening.com We have 6 Blogs and an Editorial page. Our Horror Blog is really getting a lot of attention. And, as mentioned, I try to spend at least 15 minutes a day writing.
The projects? Book reviews, poetry, short stories, and a sequel to The Sorcerer’s Key, called TechnoMage.
Would you tell us about your featured book?
The Sorcerer’s Key is Clayton Bye’s first installment in the fantasy series FROM EARTH TO EDEN.
Morgan Heist, a dark sorcerer from the original Garden of Eden, has opened a door to Earth. He doesn’t care about the repercussions. The time has come to risk everything for The Sorcerer’s Key, a talisman with the power he needs to conquer both worlds.
Even though he has been forced to spend most of his life in hiding, no one could have predicted Jack Lightfoot’s reaction to Heist’s arrival on Earth. He decides to intervene in the twenty year fight between his father and the evil mage, drawing upon raw talent and the unbending courage of youth.
What results is a voyage of self-discovery that uncovers a secret originating with Adam and Eve, one that jeopardizes everything Jack holds dear, including the future of both Earth and Eden.
Jack Lightfoot is a complicated protagonist who is destined to face down one of literature’s most unexpected of villains. And, with a unique look at the mythology and ideology of our culture, Clayton Bye’s FROM EARTH TO EDEN creates an engaging, fantastical set of worlds which will capture readers on page one.
What their saying:
“Mr. Bye excels his writer’s voice in this truly highly recommended read. At times, its appeal felt like an Agatha Christie mystery, intermixed with a bit of that Stephen King flair for bonding a reader with his characters.” –Lea Schizas, AllBookReviews.com
“THE SORCERER’S KEY is a fast-paced read that combines action, adventure, and even romance with the elements of spirituality, religion, and magic. Without taking the quick way out by route of an omnipotent deity and an equally formidable adversary, Clayton Bye avoids the easy answers to the age old question of good versus evil, and instead offers the reader a third version, what if God made mistakes? What if the devil is not as powerful as we would have him be? An interesting read!” –Sylvia Cochran, Roundtable Reviews
I closed the door to the closet and placed my key in the lock. Then, as I summoned up all the courage and power I could find, I twisted the key and spoke a single word out loud: “Morgan.” The lock turned, the door opened and, returning the key to its hiding place around my neck, I stepped through.
The transition was quick and seamless. No nausea this time. One heartbeat I was in my bedroom in Gil’s home at the edge of the city, the next I was standing in the sleeping quarters of the man for whom I’d crossed the void. I didn’t just sense that I was in the right place. I could see it with my own eyes. Morgan wasn’t asleep. He was sitting upright, a cup of steaming brew about to meet his lips, eyes locked upon mine.
It was weird, really shook me up. You see, there was no surprise in those eyes. There was no feeling at all. Just a sense of cold. It was an icy, black, life-threatening cold.
“You’ll be coming all the way in,” he said. It wasn’t a question or a statement; it was an order.
I moved further into the bedroom, bringing the tip of the rifle up as I came, keeping it between Morgan and myself. A large room, it was furnished for both comfort and effect. The gigantic poster bed, intricately carved and burnished a deep, chocolate brown, was the focal point of it all. But one couldn’t miss the rich fabric worn by the upholstered armchairs and sofas that were scattered here and there among an assortment of coffee and end tables. Then, at the far end of the room the eye was ushered to a huge, walk-in fireplace. Red coals waxed and waned. You could hear the inviting hiss and crackle of burning wood, see the occasional beckoning of an orange finger of flame. Bookshelves reared up on either side of the stone hearth. There must have been several hundred volumes in all.
“You look like your father,” Morgan said. “I wonder if you favour him in other ways?” There was no hint of emotion in his voice. No recognition of possible danger. No visible sign of the curiosity implied by his question.
“Enough like him to matter,” I said, the answer given more to shake off my sense of unease than anything else.
He chuckled at that. It was an icy, machine-like rattle in his throat. I couldn’t suppress a shudder.
“We’ll know that soon enough,” he said. “I’d be content, for now, just to discuss your journey here. You’ve caused a good deal of trouble for me, and I’d have your story.”
There it was… I’d caused him trouble. No threat or mystery here; I was just an inconvenience he wanted explained. Scalding bubbles of anger raced through my body as I remembered the agony of my burns. Imagining Morgan wrapped in the same blanket of pain and terror, I released the power I’d brought with me.
The spell worked. I know it did. I saw the flames spiral around Morgan, saw his skin blacken, heard it sizzle. Except that Morgan blinked once, slowly, as if time had almost stopped. When his eyes opened again, I saw him sitting just as he had sat before, tea on his lap, cold blue eyes on me. I’d have been convinced that nothing had happened, that I was in the midst of some demented dream, had the room not been engulfed in flame.
Fire was everywhere. It licked and curled at Morgan’s bedclothes. It ran across the canopy above his head. It blazed on a couch, devoured an armchair and engulfed one of the coffee tables. Wisps of smoke curled up from my clothing and from the tapestry which hung on the wall beside me. It was like my spell had been shrugged off and the flames sent skittering in every direction. Morgan waved his hand and these flames vanished as well.
My knees began to tremble. My stomach flipped and flopped. I experienced a sudden desire to flee. So I pulled the trigger of the Savage.
Morgan caught the bullet in his left hand. When he tossed it to me, I took the thing and rolled it between my fingers. The metal was still warm.
“We’ll talk now,” Morgan said. His voice still showing no trace of emotion.
I found myself believing some of the things I’d heard about him. “He’s a king,” an old villager had told me. “The Devil himself,” whispered one of my nurses as she cast her eyes about the room and made a sign I didn’t recognize. “Business is his passion and magic his means,” Gil had said one evening as we sat before the fire. “He worships the clean, emotionless power of money, conquers with the cold fire of magic and maintains his position by emulating the unfeeling nature of both.”
Morgan pointed to one of the chairs that moments ago had been on fire. I was numb. Couldn’t think. I walked to the chair and sat down. It smelt of smoke.
“I see your father’s hand in this, boy. He has taught you something of the art. Is that how you avoided those I sent for you? Is that how you know to summon power from the bowels of the earth? Quick now, tell me what I want to know. What has happened that you should be here by yourself? Where are your father and mother?”
What was I to do? He’d beaten me while drinking a cup of tea. I started talking and prayed that some brilliant idea would pop into my head. I described my meeting with Creote, using up time, trying to settle my nerves. And I studied Morgan.
Now, I might not have the greatest collection of mental tools, but it wasn’t long before a squirrel of suspicion began to scramble around in my head. Morgan, who’d shown me nothing but disdain, appeared to be listening too carefully. As if he was looking for something specific. Call it a flash of intuition, but in that moment I realized Morgan had said or done something significant. I just had to let my gray matter work on it for a while, had to give my mind-squirrel time to dig up that particular nut of information.
So I stalled some more, telling Morgan how my initial escape from Creote was a result of the martial arts training I’d been given. I told him of my childhood spent learning magic without doing magic. I told him of my father’s heart attack a few years back, and my mother’s subsequent insistence that he stay away from anything involving the power. It was too much of a strain, she said.
Soon, though, I was recounting my escape onto Lake of the Woods, cramps in my gut suggesting that I was running out of time. What was it that was eluding me? What had I missed?
Morgan continued to stare at me with unwavering concentration. Maybe he’d sensed I was up to something, or maybe he was looking for the same thing I was. I’d no way of knowing…
No … way… of knowing…
That was it! It hit me like a baseball between the eyes. Morgan didn’t know how I did it. He didn’t know about the key! This willingness to talk instead of fight was all about the key!