Today I am really excited to welcome the authors of a new anthology, Crack the Darkest Sky Wide Open, being released tomorrow.  There are an amazing group of authors working on this one and they were kind enough to stop by and answer some questions about their new book.   They have also brought a copy of the anthology to give away to one lucky reader, so be sure to leave a comment at the end of the post.

Now please join me in giving a big welcome to Eric Arvin, Abigail Roux, TJ Klune, SJD Peterson, S.A. McAuley, and Jason Huffman-Black. (I’m going to borrow from Jo and call them the Crack Crew!) Welcome guys!

Thank you! We are ecstatic to be here. Ecstatic, I say! This is Eric. I’ll be answering for the group. They’re here, but muzzled. Well, at least Tj is muzzled. Wink wink. You know what I be sayin’. Yeah, you do.


So you all have a new anthology coming out called Crack the Darkest Sky Wide Open.  For starters, can you tell us a little about the anthology and what ties the stories together?

It’s an anthology about the darker side of human nature. We’re all very excited about this. These are stories that probably would not have been accepted at a more traditional publisher. The main theme of the collection being that although darkness exists, and is at times quite over-powering, a glimmer of hope is always present. That pesky silver lining refuses to go away, even when we refuse to believe it’s really there.


Who kick started this project?  Where did the idea for the anthology come from?

At GRL in New Mexico last year I mentioned to S.A. McAuley an idea I had been knocking around in my head for some time. Like many writers, I have a bunch of short stories I’ve written over the years, and many are homeless because…well, they be freaks. I wanted to create an anthology for these tales but also include works by other writer friends, some of whom have been published and others who haven’t. McAuley really liked the idea and she ran with it. Honestly, this anthology would not have come together without her hard work and perseverance. I mean, I’m whiny. I would have given up two weeks in after dealing with me.


Since you all self published this one, how did you all get together?  How did you decide who would participate in the book?

Basically, McAuley, SJD Peterson, Abi Roux, Tj Klune, and myself decided to throw our hats in the ring at GRL. It was that simple. Over a few (read: sooo many) drinks and some delicious pizza one night in a casbah at the Hotel Andaluz we were like, Let’s get ‘er done! Jason Huffman-Black submitted his work a few weeks later, and voila! It’s actually the perfect length for an anthology, too.


Where will readers be able to buy this the anthology? 

Anyone can go to our Tumblr page and pick it up there (http://crackthedarkestskywideopen.tumblr.com/ then click on the “Buy It” link). Today is the last day at the $4.99 pre-sale thank you price, so stop by today and order!

After tomorrow it will also be available on Amazon (in paperback as well as ebook), B&N, Smashwords, All Romance Ebooks, and most likely Sony, Kobo, Bookstrand, and iBooks.


Will the stories be available individually, or only together as a full anthology?

For now these stories are only available as part of the whole anthology. But who knows? We’re hoping to show that there’s a place for unconventional stories like these in this genre. So maybe you’ll see these stories elsewhere. Or maybe we’ll just have to make this anthology a yearly expedition into new territories.


Book Blurb

crack the darkest skyOf humanity there are darker tales. Stories that take some squinting to see through. Unconventional stories. Tales that threaten to break the heart by cruel twists of fate, the dogs of war, or demons that are all too real; whether they be of unrequited love or a karmic slap in the face. Happy endings take a time in coming, and some never arrive. But through all the darkness there is light, a glimmer of hope and wonder…if one has the will to see it.

The Demon of Jericho – Eric Arvin: Jericho is a town surrounded by mountains and a curse. No one enters or leaves and every year there is to be a sacrifice to the demon Camberfar. One day while hunting, a young man named Jeb discovers a beautiful angel named Goshen. Could this be the angel mentioned in the prophecies of the witch Solisbury? The one sent to destroy Camberfar for good. Or will the greedy Sheriff Havland, whose very power comes from the curse, put an end to any hope for Jericho’s redemption?

A Cruel Thing – Abigail Roux: In December of 1941, roughly 1600 marines and civilians inhabited tiny Wake Island. Undermanned and left to stand alone in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the island became known as ‘the Alamo of the Pacific.’ But even as the battle raged, the men defending it didn’t fight for fame.

John & Jackie – TJ Klune: John and Jack first laid eyes on each other when they were twelve years old. Now, seventy-one years later, Jack prepares to give his beloved husband the ultimate gift.  Before he does, they’ll relive five key moments from their younger lives together over the course of a single afternoon. From a first meeting and a first kiss, to the violence of an abusive father and the heartache of growing up, these moments have defined who they have become. As sunset approaches, John will show the depths of his love for the one man who has made him whole: his Jackie. In the end, they’ll learn there is no force more powerful than their devotion to one another.

WRONG – SJD Peterson: Lee thought he had a solid plan. His game stretched across an imaginary board, manipulating each object, location and person with no more thought than moving each piece into place to achieve his goal. He thought he was in control of his world…

He was wrong.

The Hotel Luz – S.A. McAuley: Leo and Elia spent four years in and out of each other’s lives and beds, building a friendship that crossed a line neither one of them ever acknowledged. Then another twelve years apart before they dared to speak of it again. When it comes to love, even the smartest of us does really stupid stuff.

Anguish – Jason Huffman-Black: This is what his entire life had led up to. This was his moment of glory.


Where to Find Us


And we now are lucky enough to have each of the authors share a bit more about their story and their upcoming work.  Click the links to jump directly to a specific author’s information:

Abigail Roux

Can you tell us a little about your story in the anthology?   

It’s a World War II story, based very loosely on real events. It’s one of those battles that people rarely hear about, where everything was tragic and heroic and heartbreaking all at the same time. I wanted to put it into words with characters that would make a reader really feel the devastation of that battle.


Is there anything else you are working on that you would like to tell readers about?   

I’ve got a couple stories in the works, trying some new things. One is a contemporary romance with no guns or bad guys, which is new for me. Another is a novella with characters from the Cut & Run world. Further on down the pipeline are a few more Westerns and a baseball story that I’ve been wanting to write for years.


If my readers want to learn more about you or your writing, where can they find you?   

The best place to follow me is probably Tumblr (http://abiroux.tumblr.com/). I share more of myself there than anywhere.


Eric Arvin

Can you tell us a little about your story in the anthology?

My tale is called “The Demon of Jericho”, and it’s about a small community with a curse. Let me share the blurb with you: Jericho is a town surrounded by mountains and a curse. No one enters or leaves and every year there is to be a sacrifice to the demon Camberfar. One day while hunting, a young man named Jeb discovers a beautiful angel named Goshen. Could this be the angel mentioned in the prophecies of the witch Solisbury? The one sent to destroy Camberfar for good. Or will the greedy Sheriff Havland, whose very power comes from the curse, put an end to any hope for Jericho’s redemption?


Is there anything else you are working on that you would like to tell readers about?

Recently, I released my epic novel The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles & Men through Wilde City Press and I’ve never been more proud of anything in my life. I really hope it connects with readers. I’ve been working on it for near a decade. This summer its prequel Azrael & The Light Bringer is released, and this fall my very first novel The Rest Is Illusion gets a re-print. Also this year, “Ghoul’s Gym”, my zombie tale written with Tj Klune comes out as part of the anthology Zombie Boyz. I’ve got translations of both Galley Proof and Simple Men coming out as well too also.


If my readers want to learn more about you or your writing, where can they find you?

They can join me on my Facebook page or come on over to my blog, http://ericarvin.blogspot.com


Jason Huffman-Black

Can you tell us a little about your story in the anthology? 

For starters, it’s very short. It tells of a man who is in a state of despair over his life and finds that, through that despair he can connect with other people who feel the same. I’m not sure where this story came from. I just started writing one day, and this is what came out. It’s not romance in the slightest.


Is there anything else you are working on that you would like to tell readers about?

No, I’m not what you would call prolific since beginning my career in editing. I’m the type that has to hole up and cut off most outside stimulus when I write. It’s hard to do that for any extended period of time so most of my writings are short. It’s also why my writing has dropped to nothing since I became an editor.


If my readers want to learn more about you or your writing, where can they find you?

I have several free m/m stories from past writing events on Goodreads. I Am The Highway is available by request from me at vslavetopassionv@aol.com or within the following anthology: Don’t Read In The Closet: Volume 2. Just Be is included in Love Is Always Write, Volume 5. Both of these anthologies are free downloads on Goodreads.

To find out more about me, join the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads. I’m one of the mods there.


S.A. McAuley

Can you tell us a little about your story in the anthology? 

I may have a slight obsession with the theme of unrequited love. It’s a personal favorite of mine. Especially exploring the dynamic of how unrequited the love actually is. The Hotel Luz is a short about Leo and Elia, friends who are more—but never acknowledge that reality to each other— and what happens when, after twelve years apart, they meet again. It’s a story that makes me feel terrifyingly vulnerable in a public-square-naked-performance-artist kind of way. I’m not sure what to do with all of that fear/anticipation quite yet. Guess I’ll just have to wait for release day to see if readers are impacted the same way I was by Leo and Elia.


Is there anything else you are working on that you would like to tell readers about?

I have three other releases coming in the next five months—a sci-fi time travel novella Someday It Will Be (September 23rd), the first book in a series about two snipers set five hundred years in the future One Breath, One Bullet (#1 in the Borders War series, available now), and the re-release of a contemporary romance (of sorts) novel An Immoveable Solitude (September 27th) all through Total-E-Bound.


If my readers want to learn more about you or your writing, where can they find you?

I have a severe case of the shinies. So you can find me most often on tumblr (authorquestionmark.tumblr.com) or Twitter (@authorsamcauley). But I’ve also been known to roam around on Facebook (facebook.com/authorsamcauley) and Goodreads (goodreads.com/authorsamcauley). And please call me Sam 😀


SJD Peterson

Can you tell us a little about your story in the anthology?

Wrong was written as a way for me to…. let’s just say, burn off a little tension. You know that old saying–don’t piss off a writer, they may write you into one of their novels and kill you? Yeah this is kind of one of those things. But death was too good, so I did a little torturing instead.

Wrong is the story of a man who manipulates and uses everyone in his life, including his family. He’s narcissistic and just down right mean. What Lee is about to learn is that life is like a chess game. The blurb for Wrong says it all…

Lee thought he had a solid plan. His game stretched across an imaginary board, manipulating each object, location and person with no more thought than moving each piece into place to achieve his goal. He thought he was in control of his world…

He was wrong.

There are always those ready to compete, always someone just a little bigger, a little better. Too bad Lee has to find out the hard way. It’s a total karma bitchslap.


Is there anything else you are working on that you would like to tell readers about?

I have lots of new releases and lots more I’m currently working on. PUP, the first book in the Guards of Folsom series, was just recently released from Dreamspinner. I’m just finishing up the next book in that series, TAG TEAM, which will feature Rig, Bobby and Mason, my first M/M/M novel. Ummm….Then I’ll be moving on to PONY and gorgeous Max will be controlling the reins, and then ROPED which features Tek and Jamie, two alpha bikers. I have a free Masters & Boyd short story coming out at the end of May as part of Dreamspinner’s Anniversary that I’m really excited about and trying to finish my story for the Goodreads M/M romance group. Lots and lots to keep me busy.


If my readers want to learn more about you or your writing, where can they find you?

Oh goodness I’m such a social media whore I’m everywhere. (*grumbles* damn addicting time sucks)

Or you can email me at: sjdpeterson@gmail.com I love to chat and love getting emails so don’t be shy. I’m certainly not. And please call me Jo


T.J. Klune

Can you tell us a little about your story in the anthology?  

Once upon a time, I finished a book called Bear, Otter, and the Kid.  I wasn’t quite ready to start the next book tickling at the back of my brain (Burn) so I started to play around with another idea I’d had for some time: a decade’s spanning love story between two guys named John and Jackie.  I’d made a rough outline, and I figured it was going to be at least two books long, ones that I planned on writing back to back.

I started. Oooo, the anticipation of a new novel!  It was going to be glorious!  Life altering!  MAGNIFICENT!  The great American novel I always knew as deep inside me and it was going to be… awful.  Oh good Lord, it was awful.  Seriously.  I’d written approximately thirty thousand words and I couldn’t stand the story in anyway shape or form.  The characters were shallow, the use of flashbacks over bearing, and I knew it was going to be so completely depressing that I couldn’t even bring myself to keep going.

I let it sit while I went and worked on other things.  I kept coming back to it, opening it up when I was in between other works, think that this time would be the time that it would come out perfect.  Nope.  All in all, I would estimate there were about seven false starts to it.

Then one day, I finished a book called Into This River I Drown, which turned out to be the longest thing I’d ever written and, arguably, the best.  After River, I was so well versed in the idea of grief and passion that I thought I could pick it up again.  And I tried.  I really did.  It just didn’t work.  I was sick with the sadness, the horror of death, that I couldn’t even write what I knew the story would be about.  So again, I moved on.

I finished my next novel, Tell Me It’s Real.  And funnily enough, it was while writing this screwball romantic comedy that I knew how I needed to do the story.  It would need to be shorter, much, much shorter than I had planned, and shorter than anything I’d ever written previously.  It started out then, as an exercise to see if I could pack as much emotion into 15K words as I’d done into my longer works.  15K turned into 20K, then 20K into 25K.  It finally finished out at 30K (which, ironically, is the shortest thing I’ve written, but is the longest book in the anthology.)  And instead of expanding on each scene over an entire lifetime, I was able to select five key scenes from what is ostensibly a marriage, but turned out to be so much  more.  John and Jackie is, without a doubt, the most romantic of my works, and I pulled off the happy ever after I’d been searching for, for both me and the characters.

J&J is my testament to the fact that no matter what, love will always conquer all.


Is there anything else you are working on that you would like to tell readers about?

Currently, I’m chipping away on the sequel to Burn called Break (yes, yes: still).  And then, just last week, an idea I’ve had for a while suddenly roared to the front and has taken over much of my writing time.  It’s unlike any of my previous books, about two damaged characters, one a drifter with his every present side-kick of a mutt Bad Dog, and a mute sociopath raised by a group of insidious people.  It’s a post apocalyptic novel (and yes, a romance), set after humanity has been all but destroyed.  The working title is The Hour We Rise, but that could change somewhere down the road.

And then, of course, will come to little books that I’m pretty sure my readers will kill me over if I never write: BOATK3 and the sequel to Tell Me It’s Real, featuring a drag queen and a homo jock king.

There are also plans for Eric and I to turn our upcoming Zombie novella, Ghoul’s Gym, into a series.  The first book is out from Wilde City sometime in July.  We got big ideas there, and I can’t wait to see what becomes of them.


If my readers want to learn more about you or your writing, where can they find you?

I’m on Facebook under TJ Klune.

My blog is tjklunebooks.blogspot.com

My email is tjklunebooks@yahoo.com

My twitter handle is… just kidding. I don’t have twitter. Seriously.  Have you seen how often I update my blog, and you people want me to haveanother social media device.  You all a bit cray-cray.


Giveaway

The gang has generously donated a copy of Crack the Sky Wide Open to give away to one lucky reader.  Leave a comment below by Sunday, May 19th at 11:59 EST to enter.

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