Cover reveal – Through Stranger Eyes – Cyberpunk Thriller

I have great news! In a matter of days, on October 13, my second book will be out! Through Stranger Eyes is a cyberpunk thriller that takes place in a futuristic dystopian world created by a group of powerful and extremely influential mega-corporations, called The Matriarchs. Through Stranger Eyes is the first book of a trilogy that goes by the name, Matriarchs, Silicon Gods.

It deals with the events that changed the life of a leading implant specialist, Dr Rick Stenslandt, in ways that will ultimately lead to events that will be revealed in books 2 and 3 (currently under production). Through Stranger Eyes does not end in a cliffhanger (I know some people hate that–I’m not one of them to be honest), meaning the story has a very clear and definitive ending for the main character and his goals. There is, of course, an overarching plot that will come to an end with book 3, so if you wanted to read a cyberpunk book but were concerned it may leave you without answers and had to wait until the 3rd book came out, know that this is not the case.

Anyway, here’s the cover:

Flesh comes cheap in a machine world.

Doctor Rick Stenslandt has always advocated against the fusion of man and machine. But after a near-fatal accident, he is forced to accept ocular implants or go blind, end up unemployed, and without social status.

But something goes wrong. Now he remembers people he has never met before—influential members of the corporate elite that governs the world. And they have all been murdered.

Worse, it seems he’s the next target.

On the run from the police and a pair of augmented assassins, Rick seeks refuge in the infamous alleys of the megacity. But to protect the ones he loves, he cannot hide forever. Now he must figure out his borrowed memories and his connection to the victims, before it’s too late.

***

This cyberpunk thriller has most of the things that give cyberpunk its unique aesthetic: mega-structures, mega-cities, high tech low life, scheming and plotting taking place behind the scenes, seedy characters who have managed to turn the digital world into their own personal playground, augmentations that change the very nature of human beings, philosophical and scientific moral questions that remind us of the works of pioneers in the genre many years ago, and of course a constant underlying mystery about who’s behind everything and what’s their angle.

I invite you to take a plunge into a dystopic world of advanced technology, of dark alleys populated by the outcasts social systems constantly leave outside, of influential players who don’t hesitate to treat human lives as mere pawns in a game designed to fit the goals of their vendettas.

Through Stranger Eyes official release date is October 13, but if you want to read a small excerpt, you can read chapter 1 here.

Excerpt from Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left

Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left is a week old. I was so stressed the past few weeks with this release as well as the production of my debut novel, that I actually didn’t think I would make it in time. But at last, it happened. It’s out!

 

 

Those of you following my page on Facebook or are in my newsletter, had already had a chance to read an excerpt of my latest short story. Below you can read the first couple of pages from Ground Floor, Second Room To The Left.

In case you missed it last week, this is the story of Joe and Lucy, a married couple of scavengers, who enter a derelict building to steal copper pipes, only to realise they’re locked in. Things take a turn for the worse because Lucy is claustrophobic and can’t stand the idea of being trapped. But the real problem is the messages that begin to appear on the walls, floor, and ceiling. More importantly, what the messages tell Joe and Lucy they need to do for freedom.

You can get your copy from Amazon or from some of the other biggest retailers.

——

The Second Empire-style house has stood since 1947, but no one has ever lived in it. To the left of the structure stands a pair of dead poplar trees, their branches entwined like Graeco-Roman wrestlers. To the right is a pair of desiccated oaks, also with entangled limbs. The trees dominate the yellow-brown jungle that once was the garden.

An old Ford F-100 pulls over not far from the rickety wooden fence. In it, Joe takes a photo out of his pocket and looks at it. It’s a photo of the house, taken shortly after its construction, but it’s one without the trees. His brow arches up and he lifts the photo next to the house to compare the two. He nods and puts it back in his breast pocket. He then places his hand on Lucy’s knee and gives it an affectionate rub.

Now that the rain has finally stopped, Joe switches the wipers off, allowing Lucy a clear view of the building. As she examines it, a small knot forms at the pit of her gut that chases away the fake excitement she had up to now. Under the racing lead-coloured clouds, the house stands dark, barren, and wind-bitten. Almost on the verge of falling in on itself.

A small bulge on her throat goes down once and rises slowly, but she gives her husband a smile and hopes he doesn’t notice her discomfort. She takes his hand into hers to give it a soft kiss, and rests her head on his shoulder for the last bumpy and mud-filled stretch of road leading to the house.

They park the battered Ford in the overgrown gravel driveway.

“Looks ancient,” Lucy says. “No owners?”

“Nope. Unclaimed property for over three or four decades. Locals said no one has set foot here except one or two demolition crews.”

“Well, it’s still standing,” Lucy says.

Joe smiles. “Yeah. Crews stayed one day, then left and never came back. According to the locals, the place is haunted.”

She arches a brow. “Haunted?”

Joe waves a hand as if shooing a fly. “Rumours. Old people’s tales. I mean, really old, with more snow on their pates than teeth in their mouths and brains in their heads. They said the architect and his assistant vanished, like some of those who came to tear it down.” He opens the driver’s door and places one foot out. “You ask me, I say they all ran out of money, packed up, and left.” He gives her a toothy grin and steps outside.

Lucy takes a two-piece folding mirror out of her pocket and stares back at her curved nose, her complexion with as many imperfections as there are exes in her past. Ex-hairdresser, ex-phone saleswoman, ex-wife to an online scammer she married after a wild weekend in Vegas with a ton of booze and several snorts of the good white stuff. His treat.

Her gaze drifts back to the way they came, to the barely visible tree line that defines the main road. Then she eyes the dilapidated structure before her, and a weight settles on her chest.
—–

If that enticed you enough to want to buy the story, you can do so from Amazon or if they’re not your favourite place to buy ebooks, try any of these retailers instead.

And if you do honour me with your purchase, why not share your thoughts about the story with other readers out there? You can do it by leaving a brief and honest review of what you read. Not only will it help me, but it will help others to find a story they might like (or stay away from, if you think it was bad).

On a side note, I have made some changes to my mailing list. Now, anyone who signs up for my monthly newsletters will receive a free short story! So, sign up here or try the link to the right (near the top of the page, under the search bar), and download your copy. Naturally, I won’t hold it against you if you choose to spread the news far and wide about the free story so others will know… 😉

What’s your favourite rhetorical device?

Last week I talked about Rhetorical Devices and gave you a list of 60 of them. If you read Robert A. Harris’s post and went through all of them (of course you did, why wouldn’t you, when they are there to help you elevate your craft?) you probably noticed those you involuntarily use (as in my case) or do so purposefully. Chances are you use more than one or two, and it’s possible you have a few that are your favourites, either because they remind you a novel you read that stayed with you over the years, or because they added a little something to one of your works.

So, here are some of the ones I use frequently. See if we have any in common. To my knowledge, none of the examples I used here are used anywhere else. I just made them up as I wrote this post. If you know that one of them belongs to someone else, please let me know and I will take it down.

Rhetorical Devices

Amplification

According to Robert A. Harris, amplification is the repetition of either a word or an expression by making it more detailed to draw attention to it. In my mind, amplification adds something poetic to my writing.
Example: And, oh, the sea, the vast, inviting sea. How much he longed for it.

Anadiplosis

This can sometimes be confused with Amplification. The difference (as I understand it) is the level of detail you, as the writer, add to that special word.
Example: And the sea, the sea that claimed her brother, would now claim her.

Anaphora

It is the repetition of a word or an expression, but unlike the previous ones, it usually happens at the beginning of successive sentences or clauses.
Example: If only he remembered, if only his memories hadn’t fled like frightened children.
Example: She approached the bubbling cauldron very timidly, very sheepishly, very carefully not to wake the fearsome guardian (for the sake of the example, let’s ignore the eye-popping use of the word “very” and the number of adverbs, shall we?)

Antanagoge

It is the placing of a positive or beneficial attribute next to a negative or a problem to minimise the significance of the negative.
Example: He did crash into her, and her damage was greater than his, but he was willing to cover all costs and offered to take her to the hospital, if she were injured.

Antiphrasis

It can either be a word or a clause used to express irony or drive a point subtly.
Example: He’d enforce peace even if he had to kill them with it.

Antithesis

It’s the use of a clear comparable contrast of two ideas close to one another.
Example: The insect may look tiny and cute as a ladybug, but it kills faster than a nuke.

Aposiopesis

The abrupt end of a statement before it’s finished. The meaning of the statement is implied.
Example: If I don’t get the money to pay them –.

Appositive

Usually a noun (or a phrase serving as a noun) placed next to another to give a description of the first noun.
Example: It happened at night, a dreary and bleak time, though George had no knowledge of it (here, the phrase “a dreary and bleak time” describes the night).

Asyndeton

The intentional omission of conjunction between words or clauses.
Example: She was coming home with the unattainable. She was a champion, an Olympic medalist, a goddess destined for Olympus.

Example: She couldn’t get enough dancing, walking, running, living.

Hypophora

It happens when you (or your character) raises a question and then he/she answers said question.
Example: What would those at the settlement offer him, if he went there? A cut from ear to ear, that’s what (taken from my novel, The Darkening).

Rhetorical question
The difference between a rhetorical question and hypophora is that in this case the question remains unanswered usually because the answer is too obvious or to emphasise a point.
Example: So she would marry and bring that good-for-nothing in the house. Well, two’s company, three’s a crowd. So who was the extra one now?

Metanoia

Used by recalling a previous statement, only this time in a stronger or milder way.
Example: Gasps of awe and wonder erupted around the light, and one by one they moved closer to it. No, not any kind of light, a living light, a girl with a halo (taken from my novel, The Darkening).

Metaphor/Simile

Used to describe two very different things by implying that one thing IS another thing. Different from simile, that one thing is LIKE something else.
Example (metaphor): He had survived through another day, but had little hope of survival through the night, for hope was water held in an open palm (taken from my novel, The Darkening).
Example (simile): A face as white as days-old snow stared back at him, the flesh transparent, like tracing paper (taken from my short story Wisps of Memory, Published by 9 Tales Told in the Dark).

Onomatopoeia

It’s the use of words whose pronunciation imitates the sound the word describes (Robert A. Harris).
Example: The room buzzed and hummed, first from his left, then his right, as though a thousand wasps that lay in hiding were now ready to sting them (taken from my novel, The Darkening).

Parenthesis

A word, a phrase, or even a sentence inserted in the middle of another sentence, which is usually the main or important one. Those of you who frequent my blog must have noticed how often I use it. If you’re looking for an example, scroll up at the first paragraph of this post. Note that Parenthesis doesn’t force you to use brackets. You can also use dashes with the same effect. It all comes down to style and how strong you want the extra phrase to be in the eyes of the reader. Personally, I don’t like using brackets or see them in books, since they tend to drag me out of the story. Obviously, I have no problem using it on my blog 🙂

Personification

The representation of an object or an abstraction as having life-like attributes or human attributes.
Example: The derelict house groaned and creaked, as it settled its beams and walls in a more comfortable position against the wind (taken from my novel, The Darkening).
Example: Liberty called for them to fight to the bitter end.

Polysyndeton

It’s the opposite of Asyndeton (see above). Here, words are joined together by the use of conjunctions.
Example: The kids ran, and played hide-and-seek, and laughed, and tormented the poor old nanny.

These are the ones I tend to use in almost all my works. You can say I’m partial to them for some reason. Turns out I use quite a few of them. How many from the list of 60 do you use more often than others?

The Darkening: getting to know the characters – The girl

Who are you? What are you doing here? Wait, wait, don’t kill me! I just want some food, that’s all. Stay back, don’t come closer. I’ll… I’ll… I’ll stab you, I swear it. The glass will cut you in no time, you hear? Stay back. That’s better. I don’t want to hurt you, but I will if I have to. All I want is some food. Do you have any? Look, I’m not going to hurt you, unless you attack me, okay? What’s that? What’s that in your hand? Is it… is it food? Just that? Half a raw rat? Okay. I’m so hungry. Feels like I haven’t eaten in days.

Why are you looking at me like that? No, I don’t know why I am like that. I just am. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. You’re the first person I’ve seen in days. Everything is empty. Not a single soul for miles. What’s going on? I saw houses and farms on my way here, but there was no one living there. It’s as if everyone vanished. I thought this place was empty, was looking for something to eat and a place to sleep. I didn’t mean to scare you.

I came by a house on my way here. It was a big white house, with two rows of windows, all of them smashed though, and the place looked like it was about to fall apart. I went inside, called for help. I was hungry. They had a pen but there were no animals. Some chickens ran around free, but I couldn’t catch any of them. Fast birds. I saw… I saw remains, bones and… and… What happened? On my way here, I saw a wide road, full of rusted cars and everyone in them…

There are big structures to the east, I saw them on my way here. Maybe we could go there and look for food or other surv –

Cannibals? There?

What’s your name? I… I don’t know my name. I can’t remember anything, except the last couple of days. I woke up in the middle of nowhere, and I’ve been walking since then, but nothing before that. As if I didn’t exist. Don’t go! Please, don’t go. Are you the only one left? Why are you afraid of me? What is wrong with me? Are we going to die too? Am I going to die? Are we the last ones? Help me, please!

Excerpt from The Darkening

The following is a deleted scene from my novel, The Darkening. I figured it would be nice to share something related to the novel in order to let you know of the mood I’m trying to create in the story. This post will be longer than most of my earlier ones.

There are a number of reasons this scene got deleted. First, it didn’t move the story forward, nor did it show anything new about the main character (his name is John Piscus). Second, it turned out gorier than I want the story to be. Though the Darkening is a post-apocalyptic horror story, I didn’t want the horror element to be gore-related. There are bits in the story where some splatter is essential (after all, I am dealing with a world where the shadows each person casts comes to life and kills its owner), BUT it’s minimal, and usually described indirectly (or at least, that’s what I think, lol).

Despite what you may think about dreams in fiction (a lot, if not everyone, claim that dream sequences for backstory are a no-no), the dream the main character sees is only one, broken up in bits and it’s the only memory he (John Piscus) has of his life. Everything else is wiped clean. It’s also the main reason why he blaims himself for what has happened to his family, and probably the reason he considers himself mad. It’s up to the reader to decide if he’s mad. Which brings me to the third reason this scene got the chop, since it wasn’t related to the single dream/memory John Piscus has.

A bit about the story. John is one of the few survivors from The Darkening, an event that brought each person’s shadow into life and eradicated the majority of the human race.  He has lost all memories save his family’s death, for which he considers himself responsible.  In near isolation, in fear of any light source, he hears a pair of voices; one that accuses him for everyone’s death and one that tells him to be the man who used to be. Robert is a neighbour, who lives a couple of hours away from his refuge with his family.

BE WARNED! What follows could be seen by some as graphic and disturbing. I mentioned earlier that it veered away from my intended implied horror element. If you don’t like horror or you can’t stand the post-apocalyptic element or anything related to it, please don’t continue. Some of you will read it, arch your brow at me and this statement, and think I’m exaggerating. I know. Still, I have to respect those who don’t like such things. And lets face it; this is not your usual Sunday morning read. You have been warned. ALSO, please note that it has only undergone through the first editing process, and although adverbs, adjectives, dependent clauses with hidden important action in them, and filter words have been dealt with as much as I could, it hasn’t been read by beta readers. Which means wordiness and other mistakes (partly due to language barrier) are probably still there. Feel free to comment about them. Your comments may prove invaluable to me for the rest of the story.

————————-

The wet kiss on his cheek and the playful shriek next to his ear bid him open his eyes in a blinding haze. His heart came to a stop. Before him, a merry-go-round spun a younger Pauline.
“Look Daddy. I go lound and lound,” the ‘r’ giving trouble to his baby girl.
John gawked at everything around him; this was not a memory but a real dream. When was the last time he saw a real dream?
Something white crept to the edges of his dream and distracted him. It vanished the moment he focused at it. His stomach twisted. I’ve never seen this thing before.
He directed his attention to his daughter, his beautiful girl, who waved a pudgy hand at him and turned her head left and right to keep him in her field of view, while she went round and round.
“Look Daddy,” she said between joyful shrieks. Deep down, John envied her; not out of spite but because he yearned to be as carefree as she was.
“Children are happy all the time, because they are free of sin and malevolence,” Robert once told him. “The torment we experience is what we’ve made for ourselves.”
“And yet they died all the same,” John had snapped at him. There was no hope for the world, for humans. Robert was a fool to think otherwise.
The white entity crept at the edge of his dream again, but when he turned to look at it, it was gone.
The world whispered, “Righteous retribution.” Someone had said the words in the past – not Robert – but John had no recollection who.
A pained shriek startled him and shattered the merriment around him, like a ball through a window. He whipped his head to the merry-go-round. Pauline lay on the ground, her hair a tangled mask on her face from sweat and tears. Not again. Please, not again.
He ran to her, his movements unsynchronised like moving through a viscous fluid. She clutched her right knee, now marred with grit and dirt, where a drop of crimson made its way to the surface.
Ear-splitting cries burrowed in his head, and he had to shield them with his hands. He took his eyes off her to the hazy world beyond, and there he saw them. Two white-clad figures stood rigid in the distance. This is new. What’s happening?
The white duo gradually took human shape, and the figures of a man and a woman formed. Flame-red hair adorned the woman’s head, tied in a ponytail. He couldn’t see any other feature. The man remained obscured, mist-made, like a dream within his dream.
Pauline howled once more. He lowered his eyes to her, but she was no longer there. In his hands he held her shoe, not empty but not attached to her either. The howl continued, distorted and distant, seemingly from the end of a tunnel. “Help me Daddy. Help me.”
His stomach churned and his heart screamed with the pain his baby girl felt. He clutched her shoe and searched left and right for her.
The light changed to purple then blue. The merry-go-round dripped blood and from underneath it, hidden in its shadow, a voice spoke. “Righteous retribution.”
He took a step back. The dreamworld changed, invaded by maroon hues as if two fluids mixed. The red haze spread like a virus, covered everything, distorted life itself. Screams and pleas rose and died, only to have new voices take their place. All save Pauline’s pleas for help. “Save me Daddy, help…” And the white-dressed duo; they still regarded him with eyeless expressions, and waited for his next move. Who are they? What do they want in my dream?
He turned to leave, Pauline’s name on his lips, when he realised he sloshed in a pool of blood coming out of her shoe.
Righteous retribution. The world whispered the words on and on, until the words synchronised with his heart’s rhythm.
The pool of crimson ended in a small trail, leading in the distance. “Daddy, please help me.” John followed the crimson trail, his movement sluggish, slower than his mind wanted it to be. The world whirled. Smells of blood and decaying flesh emanated from the ground around him.
The red mist changed to black, his sight rendered useless the darker it got. Every voice died out except Pauline’s. More than once he lost the trail in the darkness, but her voice led him closer to her, and the closer he got, the steeper the ground turned, until his thighs and sheens burned and the air grew staler.
The two figures dressed in white entered the edges of his view, but he refused to waste time on them. You don’t belong here.
“Please help. It hurts Daddy.”
John clutched her shoe.
“Righteous retribution,” the world whispered.
By the time he climbed what he thought was a mountain, blackness had swallowed him. The smell of rotten flesh permeated the air. How long had he run for? Moments? Minutes? Hours? His heart hammered his chest. He went down to his knees, panting.
“Daddy.” A few more strides and he would reach her, help her.
“I’m here, baby,” he gasped and dragged his body in a coppery-smelling mud, until he touched concrete.
He fumbled in the darkness, and found a door. “Please. Daddy. Don’t leave me.” Pauline’s voice came from behind it, but no more than a whisper now.
He pushed himself up, and when he found the handle, a howl shook the ground he stood on, and Pauline’s voice stopped.
“No,” he cried and clawed at the door. He banged, kicked and slammed it as hard as possible. Will it never end? He battered the door, put all his weight into it, but it didn’t budge. “Let her go, you monsters.”
“Righteous retribution,” resonated, until the howling stopped. Tears welled up and in the blurriness they created, the white shapes appeared again, at the edges of his perception. “Get away from her,” he bellowed and flailed his arms at them, his voice thick with tears and anger.
A hubbub of whispers swept over the darkened dream, louder than anything John had ever heard. The door opened and the whispers ceased. He crawled through it, and his hands plunged into warm liquid. The smell of clotted blood lingered in the air.
“Baby?” he said through sobs and tears. “Daddy’s here, baby. Talk to me.”
Oh God, please. Must I always live this?
No answer.
The white-clad pair stepped on the edges of his vision, each on either side. John’s hands curled into fists. What did they want with Pauline? The pair shrunk to the size of a bead, and slid on the surface of the pool until they came close to each other.
John blinked.
When he opened his eyes, a pair of milky eyes stared back at him.
“Righteous retribution.”
He screamed and jumped back. Behind him, more sets of eyes opened and what he thought was an ordinary mountain turned into a mountain of bodies, all staring at him with white eyes.
Bangs full of anger and impatience came from somewhere far; one, then another. The make-believe world around him collapsed, the ground shook, and something dragged him out of the dream. “No, let me be with her,” he cried. “Leave her and take me.”
Righteous retribution.
The words survived the onslaught, repeated themselves in his head, and rose in strength and volume, until they were louder than the clamour around him.

———-

There you have it. Obviously nowhere near perfection (if such a thing exists), and with probable flow issues (if you spot them, let me know), but better than the draft.