John, a doctor grieving for the loss of his wife, is recuperating at a glamorous resort in the Eastern Mediterranean, where he falls for Jasna, a brilliant and beautiful young hostess. When she is brutally murdered, John is the only suspect.
To clear his name and find her killers, he teams up with Charles, the elderly hotel manager seeking justice for the death of his granddaughter. They are pitched into a ruthless world of people-trafficking, prostitution, drugs, mafia and murder, where life is cheap and no-one and nothing is what it seems.
Will they gather the evidence in time to stop the killers, or be the next victims in the seemingly endless cycle of violence? And can they trust the police, or are they part of the web of corruption that reaches into every part of life, trapping everything in its threads?
Escape is the debut novel by L. A. Davenport that plunges you into a darkly glamorous world in which John has to overcome his grief and obtain justice for Jasna and the women made victims of modern slavery.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
John, a recent widow, goes to a resort in the Eastern Mediterranean to get away from his sorrow. However, his escape from reality comes with dire consequences. The resort is serving more than fine food and drinks. The gang running the area has its hand in everything, and almost everyone is under their control. John isn’t though, and he proves to be tougher than anyone ever suspected. Petrov, the gang leader, sure did underestimate the middle-aged doctor (John).
Suspense, violence, mystery, love, friendship, and sadness… Escape sure had a lot going on.
As for the mystery aspect of this story, it wasn’t so much as who killed the ladies, but how would the gang be taken down.
L. A. Davenport broke up Escape into nine parts, with each section having three to eight chapters under them. I’ve read stories with 1-3 sections but never nine. Each part also began with Chapter One. That means, there are NINE of them. That seemed odd to me. Why start each part with Chapter One?! While the story was pretty good, this unusual setup seemed unnecessary and made no sense at all.
Now, let me talk about John’s love for his deceased wife. It was apparent her passing tore him up. He spoke to her portrait often. Yes, there’s no doubt in my mind he loved her, loves her still, but this is where things turn south for me. He fell in love with another woman, Jasna, quite soon after his wife died. He didn’t know Jasna. Yes, she was a nice woman, but he didn’t really know the real her. I think he was confusing infatuation with love.
John also spoke of this ‘demon’ inside him, which wanted John to do bad things. I assumed the demon would come into play later on, maybe a surprise twist, but it did not. That was a bit of a letdown.
Even though I had issues with some details of Escape, I do love when the underdog gets the upper hand. If you do as well, then buy this book.
Welcome, Renee Miller. For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?
(Renee) I’m a Canadian author who lives in a tiny rural town famous for harboring Elvis’s Ghost. I love Netflix and junk food and have too many animals living in my house.
I don’t know if there’s a point where I officially “started.” After years of just scribbling short stories and terrible poems, I decided (in 2008), that I’d write a novel. It was awful. I made a few big mistakes early, but once the rose-colored glasses were off, I focused on learning the craft and the industry. I self-published my first few titles in 2013, and then I signed a series with a publisher who closed its doors shortly after the first book’s release. There was more signing and closing over the past few years, but I kept plugging away, and here I am.
Basically, writing is hard. Publishing is harder. If you want to get anywhere in this business, you have to accept that it will never be easy, but you can’t let speed bumps slow you down.
(Kam) All the trials and bumps in the road of life make us great(er) in whatever career choice we choose. Keep up the good work!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.
(Renee)If I don’t feel like writing, I edit until I’m so miserable I’ll write about anything just to escape the torture of editing.
I don’t believe in writer’s block. Stress, life, ego, laziness, and all kinds of crappy little every day real life things can affect productivity. That’s entirely different than being afflicted by a condition in which your brain is incapable of crafting a story. We’re always able to do that. We just need to figure out how to get out of our own way.
That sounds kind of arrogant, I suppose. Maybe I’m jinxing myself by saying that, and some day I’ll be sitting here staring at a blank page going, “Shit, it is real,” and everyone will have a good long laugh at my expense.
Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?
(Renee) I prefer dark fiction, be it horror, crime, comedy or erotica, but I tend to lean toward horror. When I’m not writing, I’m Netflixing, reading, working the day job, or scrubbing toilets and cleaning up pet hair. Glamorous, eh?
(Kam) Hmm, maybe scrubbing toilets and cleaning up pet hair would be glamorous if you did it while wearing a ball gown, heels, and a tiara. I don’t see that happening though. 😆
I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?
(Renee) I tell anyone who will even pretend to care about my writing. I think some are all, “Oh, that’s nice,” while inside they’re thinking, “Wonderful. Another weirdo who thinks she’s fancy.” My close friends and family, though, are very supportive. Many don’t read my writing, but I think that’s only because they’re worried about what I’ve written about.
(Kam) Viewers, please check out these titles by Renee and let her know what you think!
Publisher: Unnerving (April 10, 2018)
It’s okay to watch. Watching hurts no one, as long as you don’t touch.
Elwin likes to watch. His position as star employee at a real estate agency gives him plenty of access to the homes of his clients. A camera or two hidden where no one will find it, and he can watch as often as he pleases.
No one knows. No one gets hurt.
But it’s hard to look without touching. Touching leads to bad things. Elwin knows this, but allows himself a moment of weakness.
And then another.
Soon, watching isn’t an option anymore. Not if Elwin wants his secrets to remain buried.
Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.
(Renee) This is always my least favorite question, because I love so many amazing authors. Ugh. Okay, in no particular order:
VC Andrews (the original, real author, not the after death nonsense)
C.S. Lewis (The Narnia Chronicles will forever be a favorite read for me)
I’m not even sure if these are “all time” favorites, but they’re the first that come to mind.
If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?
(Renee) Another tough one. I just finished Ronald Malfi’s BONE WHITE, and I’d LOVE to see that as a film. He’s created such a vivid world with characters that stay with you, so I don’t think Hollywood could mess it up. As for who I’d like to see casted, I’m not sure. Clive Owen? I just like to see him cast in everything.
As for my books, if I could choose one to be on the big screen, it’d have to be… CHURCH. I think Mads Mikkelsen would make a good Darius, because he’s brilliant at playing villains. My first instinct was to say Tom Hardy, though, because I have a huge crush, but Christian Bale is probably the best option. Something about him is always creepy, so I think he’d take Darius to the next level. In Ray’s role, I’d cast Ed Norton, because he does tortured souls very well. Or maybe Chris Evans. He’s got that baby face and looks so sweet and innocent.
Ray is a Christian, but he loves a woman who follows a god called Zabir. Determined to save her from eternal damnation, he joins her church.
He doesn’t realize that indoctrination into the Zabian way is a process that not only breaks a man physically, it strips his identity and shatters his mind. He holds onto his faith at first, but as his prayers for mercy go unanswered, and the pain inflicted on him becomes too much to bear, the void of nothingness promises relief, and tempts Ray to do the unthinkable, even if leaves his soul as damned as the one he tried to save.
Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.
(Renee)I’m working on a book about a lethal brain parasite from another planet (or is it?) and I’ve got a few shorter pieces “in progress.” Oh, and I’ve got a weird fantasy/horror thing that I’m not sure is even worth pursuing, but it’s at 40K words, so I may as well finish it, right?
Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?
(Renee) You can find most of my work on Amazon, but I try to keep my book list updated on Deviant Dolls. Reading order doesn’t matter, although the newer stuff is probably the weirdest.
Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.
(Renee) I’d just like to say thanks for having me and I’m sorry if I rambled. (No, I’m not. I always ramble.)
(Kam) Please feel free and come back anytime. I love ramblers! 😉
~~ Closing remarks ~~
Ok, I know Renee and I have given you a few reading options above but how about just one more………
Release Date: July 13th, 2018
When Ed Anderson discards his life to become a homeless person, he has no idea of the shit storm about to happen. Almost overnight, the city’s homeless population spikes.
So does the murder rate.
Ed learns that aliens posing as homeless people are eating the city’s wealthiest residents. he tries to warn the police, but they think he’s crazy.
The situation is worse than Ed describes, though.
He’s right about the aliens. They’re here to free humans from wealth and poverty. The flesh of the rich is just a tasty reward for their hard work. And if humans refuse to embrace the utopia imagined for them, there is a Plan B:
The world’s fate lies with a comatose young girl; an android wants to remember a human she once knew under Martian skies; men at sea learn that the ocean is a realm far different from land, where an unforgiving god rules; a school security guard discovers extreme English class; and a man understands what the behemoth beneath the sea commands of him.
The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 stories, riding the currents of fantasy, science fiction, crime, and horror. There are tales of murder, death, loss, revenge, greed, and hate. There are also tales of hope, survival, and love.
For the sea was a fair master.
“Sea Ate Nine” Excerpt
(From The Sea Was a Fair Master collection)
By Calvin Demmer
For months, the nightmares of battling the sea would find him in the small hours. Fighting wave after wave, he struggled to keep afloat as the undertow pulled him away from land. In the deep ocean, he’d surrender and beneath the water, he went.
His lungs would flood.
He wouldn’t die.
Instead, he’d drift in currents as tranquil as clouds. A large shape would move in the distance. He could never see it clearly, but on occasion he heard the voice.
It didn’t really speak. It was more of a call and was unlike anything Grover Jenkins had heard. It boomed, and not even the ocean currents could stifle its magnificent force, which would send Grover reeling backward. It was so powerful that his vision distorted and his brain rattled so hard within his skull that he feared internal hemorrhaging. He was thankful that this behemoth only bellowed three words every time, for another word more and Grover feared either his head would explode or the bones in his body would shatter.
Grover didn’t understand what it wanted from him from by way of the three random words, until one night at work they revealed themselves…
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
When I was reading the various stories in this collection, two words kept popping into my head regarding many characters — CREEPY and PSYCHO!
Calvin Demmer let the craziness and horrific tales unfold in various places by a few unlikely whackjobs. Man, woman, child….. Calvin didn’t limit one specific gender or age bracket to the title of crazed. Calvin’s evildoers were also not always of this world.
He tapped into our fears. He tapped into the unknown. He showed us evil lurks all around us and sometimes right before our very eyes.
A few of my top scoring short tales:
1.) “The Revenge of the Myth”: You’ll never look at Santa’s little helpers the same way again.
2.) “Voodoo Child”: Many people believe in the power of voodoo dolls, so I think this short tale will be a favorite of many readers.
3.) “Letting the Dead Grow”: Move over Jason and Mike Myers, Rowan has hit the Halloween spook scene and he creeped me out more than you two.. combined.
4.) “Hangman”: I’m a parent and fear of violence at school is always on my mind. However, with Calvin centering the disturbing tale around a childhood game, I found myself drawn in. When your life is on the line, you’ll play harder. Then again, when you are dealing with people with mental issues, sometimes playing your best isn’t good enough.
Calvin’s imagination took me to places where I didn’t want to go, kind of wished I didn’t go, but also impressed me on how well he constructed these dark and horrific tales. Good job on freaking me the hell out and for ruining Christmas for me.
Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His debut collection, The Sea Was a Fair Master, was released in June 2018. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at www.calvindemmer.com or follow him on Twitter @CalvinDemmer.
South African Horrorfest Bloody Parchment short story competition 2017: Finalist
Bards and Sages Reader’s Choice Awards: Author of the Year 2017
DarkFuse Tiny Terrors (November 2016 winner) “Ana Loves Red”
Detective Olivia Winston and IRS Special Agent Maureen Jeffries have “tied the knot” and happily settled into married life. But crime in their home county of Goslyn hasn’t settled down—in fact, it’s at an all-time high. Drugs and corruption have found a foothole in the once small, quiet community, and Olivia and Maureen discover it’s a family affair that reaches from the street corner dealer right up to the County Board of Supervisors.
The love-hate drama between Supervisor Cleo Jacobs and her street-wise nephew, Chris Jacobs, has filled their pockets with plenty of cash but caused a dangerous rift between the two as both try to make their mark in the drug game. Driven by greed and ego, the Jacobs do their best to satisfy the growing demand for pills that “make you happy” and “numb the pain.” But their love of money comes with a callous disregard for others, including those close to Detective Winston and Special Agent Jeffries, who find themselves right in the middle of Goslyn’s biggest crime story.
Love, violence, and betrayal combine to make the perfect, poisonous pill.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
Housed within the pages of County Vices are strong and resourceful female characters.
Maureen and Olivia, a married couple, are on the case of who’s harassing old man Rufus Bennett. As they put their detective skills to work, they discovery Rufus’ drama is only one small piece in a very large puzzle. Drugs, corruption, and greed are running amuck in Goslyn County. Honestly, it’s an epidemic all over the world. Like in real life, it takes a team to combat the distribution of narcotics. It takes many people to stop corruption plaguing the political world and/or cooperations, too.
A.M. McKnight created a dream team to bring justice to most of the guilty parties. However, what about Stuart and Big Smit? Maybe their story will continue on in a future book. It must because there were loose ends that needed cleaned up.
A mostly black community with its roots in farming, Goslyn, Virginia lay just south of the State’s Capital. The once small, close-knit county had grown rapidly in the past two decades and boasted a population of just over fifty thousand. But the county’s crime stats had grown as well, and the latest offenses included several break-ins and rumors of a meth lab. Time had brought many changes, and many of the longtime folks of Goslyn no longer recognized their community and longed for days gone by.
Goslyn PD Detective Olivia “Ollie” Winston loves her family and friends and shows it through her sense of humor. Just like her neighbors, she too worries about the recent events, and it’s her job to find out who’s behind the crime spree.
While investigating three burglaries, Olivia meets IRS Special Agent Maureen Jeffries who is pursuing a tax fraud suspect. Their cases are connected, and both soon discover they have much in common, personally and professionally.
Sweet is the moment when you know you’re in love again. And who better to be in love with than someone who wants you as much as you want them. That’s the feeling shared between Olivia and Maureen, two women who have experienced love’s hardest lessons—pain and disappointment. But so much has changed in just two years—two years in which both women realize that letting go of the past can open one’s heart. For Olivia and Maureen, what they have together, could be their best love ever.
I’m a longtime Virginian and practice law as a first profession. I decided to try my hand at writing after getting hooked on lesbian crime and romance novels. As a lover of fast crime action and black lesbian romance, I combined the two and wrote my first book, Goslyn County–self published. My future works include a short story romance and a second self-published novel–both based on the characters of Goslyn.
Murder at a magical baking contest off the coast of France.
Imogen’s spent her twenties in Seattle, saving every penny and missing every party, to follow her dream of opening her own bakery.
When that dream goes up in flames, she accepts a spot in a mysterious baking contest—one she doesn’t remember entering. She travels to a bustling, medieval village off the coast of France and discovers an enchanting world of magic and mystery, and learns that she, too, possesses powers.
Unable to so much as cast a spell, Imogen struggles to keep up with the other witches and wizards who have come from all over the magical world to the Water Kingdom’s big competition. She juggles relationships with a sweet new friend, a snarky baking fire, and a brooding, handsome baker. As Imogen falls for this bewitching world, she fears she won’t master her magic in time to win the job of Royal Head Baker, and will be forced to return to the shambles of her non magical life.
It only gets worse, when a competitor drops dead in the middle of the big white baking tent, and Imogen’s the prime suspect. Now, she’ll not only have to survive the vampire and psychic judges, but also clear her name by finding the real murderer, before they strike again.
With a killer on the loose, a missing prince, and the Summer Solstice Festival fast approaching, Imogen will have to bake like her life depends on it- because it just might.
The string quartet, persuaded into playing the conga, churned out the familiar song as a middle-aged man sat next to them, an upended ice bucket between his knees, playing the “drum.” The line of rehearsal dinner guests snaked between tables. I peeled my eyes away from the conga line as a beautiful guest sauntered toward me.
She smiled, her teeth bright against her dark skin. Her hair, tightly curled and piled atop her head in an enormous bun, bounced as she swayed her hips to the music, her snow-white gown catching the candlelight from the tables.
“Cake or a cupcake?” I asked for the umpteenth time. I smiled and held up one of each.
She tapped a slender finger against her lips as her dark eyes darted from one to the other. The diamond bracelets she wore slid up toward her elbows as she threw her hands in the air. “Oh, ow about zem both, eh?”
I grinned and handed over the plates. I loved French accents. Not that I’d ever been to France, or anywhere really. Before I’d moved from St. Louis, I’d never even been out of state.
“Are you ze baker?”
“I’ve been earing all night about ze desserts.” She stepped closer and lowered her voice. She smelled like jasmine. “I eear they’re just bearsting weeth mageeck.” She winked, then held the cupcake up to her mouth, gingerly taking a bite around the wrapper. She moaned and bent her knees, sinking halfway to the ground. “Incredible. Just incredible. You should enter ze contest, you reeally should. And I don’t do false flattery, believe me.”
I raised a brow. “The contest?”
She looked me up and down. “You reeally don’t know? Ze Water Kingdom’s holding a contest for ze new royal baker. Last one died recently.” She looked around and leaned closer, her voice hushed. “Ze official word is she died of a ‘art attack, but if you ask me, eet was dark mageeck. Somezing underhanded, you know? Murder.” She leaned back and straightened. How much had this woman had to drink? “Zat shouldn’t scare you zough. I reeally zink you should enteer, zhere’s steel time. I probably ’ave a flyer somewhere.” She set the plates down and fished around in her sparkly white clutch.
“Zey’ve been distributing zem all over ze kingdoms. Anyone can apply, anyone at all… well almost, no shifters, ze usual, but ze’ll take emigrants like you.” She poked around some more in the tiny clutch.
Pretty sure if you haven’t found it by now, it’s not going to suddenly appear. The bag looked like it could barely hold a credit card… maybe.
She looked at me and shrugged her slender shoulders. “Can’t find one.” She glanced around and then winked. “Don’t usually break ze rules when traveling on visa, you know.
But I am here as ze date of ze retired ambassador, so if I geet in a beet of trouble, he’ll just geet me out.”
I scanned the conga line. Did she mean Ben’s grandpa?
A small sound, a zap, like snuffing a candle out with wet fingers, made me turn toward her again. In her hand she held a large, brown sheet of paper. “We’ll just keep zat between us, eh?”
Goose bumps prickled up the back of my neck and arms. I looked between the paper and her face. Where had it come from? It was too large to fit in her bag without folding, yet it was completely smooth and crisp. She handed it to me. The oddly thick paper seemed to be coated in wax. I sniffed it and smelled honey.
“Well, I’m off.” She lifted the plates. “Thank you for ze delicious treats. So good to have met you.”
I nodded, not sure how I felt about this strange and beautiful woman. “You too.”
“Think about eet.” She lifted her chin toward the flyer in my hand and danced her way back to the party.
I held the waxy paper up to my face and read, “The Magnificent Contest for the Water Kingdom’s Next Royal Baker.”
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
I absolutely adore watching cooking competition shows so reading a story where competitors are magical, paranormal beings sounded too good to pass up. Much like Master Chef and Top Chef, in Seashells, Spells and Caramels, readers will be treated to theme challenges where contestants will be voted off until a winner is crowned. As with the other popular shows, there are baking mishaps, rivalries and tears.
However, Seashells, Spells and Caramels had a few things you’d NEVER see on any primetime competition show.
1.) You’ll never see a REAL vampire judging the sugary concoctions.
2.) You’ll never witness a flame speaking to you.
3.) A murder mystery probably won’t pop up when watching Hell’s Kitchen.
Seashells, Spells and Caramels had humor, mystery, and a hint of romance. A truly magical, delicious read…..one I’m sure will be a bestseller for the talented Erin Johnson.
A dark carnival and a dire prophecy lead to murder and mayhem.
With the Summer Sea Carnival visiting the enchanted island of Bijou Mer, Imogen jumps at the chance to help run the royal bakery booth. It’ll get her out of the palace and allow her to continue avoiding her feelings for a certain engaged prince.
Imogen’s plans to lay low are shattered when the world-famous necromancer, Madame Zerna, is found dead, sawed in half on the dark magician’s table and Imogen’s friend Rhonda is caught red-handed. With incriminating evidence piling up against Rhonda, Zerna’s rival, Imogen promises to help clear her name by finding the real murderer.
But between running the booth, encouraging Maple as she struggles to lead as head baker, and taking spell lessons from the friendly strong man, Imogen’s got her hands full. And it’s no easier getting information from the evasive dark magician or Madame Zerna’s secretive assistant. Even Rhonda’s hiding something.
With the Night of the Dead fast approaching, and Rhonda headed for a maximum security witch prison, Imogen races to unearth the real killer in time to save her friend. But in a mysterious carnival where nothing’s as it seems, will Imogen have the magical powers to keep from being on the chopping block herself?
The enchanted village of Bijou Mer’s on high alert, with the villainous Horace on the loose. Imogen’s excited to escape the tension with a trip to the underwater Mermaid Kingdom to bake for the young mermaid queen’s engagement to the pirate king.
But when the mermaids turn out to be less French Riviera and more Jersey shore, the bakers are wrapped up in their world of clubbing in sea caves and fighting off seals for the best tanning spots, and are embroiled in a pirate smuggling scandal. It gets worse when a member of the mermaid court is found dead in a fishing net, and one of Imogen and Maple’s baked goods seems to be the murder weapon.
Imogen tries to fish out the real murderer to clear their names, while struggling with her romantic feelings for Hank. At the same time, she’s working with him to learn to control her magic and investigate Horace’s riddle and her own mysterious past.
As the mermaid court’s freewheeling lifestyle rubs off on the bakers, the gang lets loose and passions rise to the surface. But with a giant octopus crawling the ocean floor, the mermaid court filled with simmering secrets and scandals, and the ever present threat of the Badlands Army, Imogen must solve the murder before she ends up fish food herself.
A native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).