Introducing the latest author to join our Electric Eclectic family, let’s give him a warm welcome.
Tony hails from Manchester, England, but has a touch of the ‘Wild Geese’ about him.
To serve his passion for travel, Tony has worked as an English teacher, Bartender, Taxi driver and, in southern Africa, on construction work in the Transvaal goldmines, and the copper mines of Zambia.
He spent a year as a Special Forces mercenary in Central Africa.
He is a keen outdoorsman, sailor, kayaker, and canoeist, he also loves hiking, back-country skiing, and snowshoeing, he now resides, alternately, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Ste. Adele, Quebec, Canada.
This is the Award Winning novella from Phillip T Stephens.
The first novel, written for Twitter, is finally available in print (expanded and revised).
When a galactically inept inspector tackles the world’s most elusive AI, prepare for apocalypse. Determined to find missing programmer Alyson Sweetcheeks, Detective Bob unleashes a war between a tech conglomerate, a covert cyber gang, the mob, and a malevolent time-travelling intelligence bent on world domination. Will Bob beat astronomical odds to save the girl, the world, and his chances for promotion?
What inspired Doublemint Gumshoe?
When I published my book Raising Hell, author Rayne Hall advised me to tweet regularly with original tweets. So I started tweeting 140 character original stories, four to five daily, which I did for a couple of years. I kept returning to one character, Detective Bob, who had never solved a case. For instance, he would investigate a body with twelve bullet holes in its back, and conclude it was suicide.
I wondered if I could create a Twitter novel from the character, and after researching to find any examples of other Twitter novels, I realized this would be the first attempt. So, I wrote 12-20 episodes a week for six months. The plot evolved over time, as I threw in more and more wrinkles—cyber crips, aliens, Roku’s Basilisk, grey goo, not to mention send-ups of The Crying of Lot 49 and the movie Chinatown. Being a fan of Hong Kong and Hollywood movies, I took a kitchen sink approach, and to my surprise, it came together.
All that remained in Alyson Sweetcheek’s hotel suite:
One cornflower dress,
one navy dress suit with skirt,
one flash drive, and
six Doublemint gum wrappers.
Six wrappers. Crumpled on the bedspread next to her suit. Silver foil twisting in and out of the iconic paper strip: green arrows over mint green mint leaves on a whirlpool printed in green.
Sunlight drifted past the jacket which was draped over the desk chair—its shoulders straightened and lapels flat. Dust motes danced in the sunlight path like fairies in a daydream.
The hotel notified Alyson’s sister Sally. Sally called Alyson’s boss William Zuckerchange. Zuckerchange called the cops. Any sense of urgency collided with the writing on the police department wall: “We see this shit a dozen times a day.”
Another blonde missing from her room? Low on the list of police priorities. In San Noema a missing blonde was as common as a day without rain, as common as open convertibles on Interstate 5 with occupants risking the sulfur-oxide ambiance to tone their rock star tans, as common as a baby in bluebonnet photos in Texas and even though San Noema is a California city, in Texas missing blondes would be just as common.
Alyson isn’t blonde. Nor dumb, as Bob would discover, but that fact mattered little. As far as the cops were concerned, if a girl wasn’t attached to the wallets of prominent men willing to write five-figure checks to city council campaigns (or the daughters of those prominent men) she couldn’t shake a cop from the schedule.
Instead, they sent Detective Bob.
He skittered across her room. A six-three praying mantis with matchstick limbs and bony fingers probing for clues. He paraded his sleuthing skills in vain. Sally and the hotel manager ignored him to argue over Alyson’s outstanding bill.
Bob’s partner Duffy leaned against the door frame, ankles crossed, an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips. Wrinkles rode his polyester suit, a suit he bought from the clearance rack of the factory-seconds section at Walmart. He struggled to keep his lids open after a night closing down three different cop bars, which might be why his suit looked slept in. Slept in every night since 1966.
Duffy was destined to make captain. The guy who disappeared when the first bullet flew and reappeared in time to claim the credit. And the commendation. Veins crept from his eyes and down his nose. Five o’clock shadow from the Sunday before last. His hands? Not a tremble or shimmer, petrified by the cheapest booze on the shelf.
Bob probed every inch and surface, flipping the pillows, pulling out drawers. He crawled under the bed, hooked the knee of his powder-blue polyester suit on a nail. Tore a hole.
He swore under his breath. “Oh, feathers.”
He stood, brushed the bunny dust and dandruff from his shoulder and continued to probe with his best BIC Pen. He poked through the events guide on the desk, pulled a cloth from his side pocket, wiped the dust from his piano wire glasses, and poked through once more.
Sun from the window glanced off the oily spot at the center of his bald pate, fractured like light hitting a disco ball, and blinded everyone in the room. He swore to solve this case. His first solve (far from his first case). A glance at the cornflower dress and the opened curtains revealed the solution like a prize display. “Alien abduction.”
Sally stepped with the precision of a model, legs firm, bronze, a chain tattoo on her ankle. She alliterated perky and petite, from her five-one frame to the gentle slope under her pink crepe blouse to her trim tempting hips.
“Aliens?” She turned to his partner. “Tell me he’s joking.” She smelled of cinnamon and sugar. Bob wanted to sprinkle her on toast.
Officer Duffy pursed his lips tighter than a nip/tuck with Botox. He pulled his iPhone from his jacket and ran his fingers across the screen. “No alien activity reported.” He pleaded in silence, “Don’t say murder. Please don’t say murder.”
Bob ran his hands through the few strands of hair left to comb. “Murder then. It must be murder.”
Phillip T. Stephens attended the Michigan State writers’ workshop. He taught writing and design at Austin Community College for 20 years. His writing and art appear in anthologies, literary and peer-reviewed academic journals. His novella Doublemint Gumshoe won silver in the 2021 Electric Eclectic fiction awards, and his novel Seeing Jesus (soon to be re-released) won three indie publishing awards. He writes five days a week at Wind Eggs.
He and Carol live in Oak Hill, Texas where they built a habitat in the shade of their oaks to house foster cats for austinsiameserescue.org. They found new homes for more than three hundred abandoned pets.
Ian’s books are a delight to read; he has an easy style of relaxed writing, which belies the twisted plots and humorous, even comical touches running through his stories. If you’re looking for a captivating lighthearted tale, chose any of the books mentioned above, you won’t be disappointed.
‘The times they are a-changing.’ I seem to recall that’s a line from a Bob Dillon song, not that I would class myself as a fan. But he did write some thought-provoking lyrics. Technological changes are bombarding us every day, I feel like I’m struggling to stay afloat, to keep my head above water. No sooner you master (that’s a slight exaggeration) something it becomes obsolete, out of date, redundant and a new fan-dangled newbie bursts onto the market.
It’s not only technology that’s changing, the world is in constant turmoil. I read the first world war was given the name ‘The Great War’ and ‘The War to end all Wars.’ That worked, didn’t it? Maybe there has always been conflict throughout the globe, it’s just our reporting is so much better (and graphic). The United Nations was touted as the great hope for world peace then they shot themselves in the foot by giving the major countries the right to veto any resolution.
The latest fad is climate change. Yes, I call it a fad not that I would place myself in the climate change denier box, but we’ve seen the constant procession of protest movements (all claiming to speak for the moral majority) over the years. Remember nuclear testing, Vietnam war, Iraq, anti-apartheid, genetic modification and I read some vegans have picketed supermarket meat departments (they claim eating meat is destroying the planet). And who can forget little Greta Thunberg addressing the UN which inspired a wave of school kid protests and the climate revolutionaries who thought having sit-downs on busy roads was the way to get their message across. I must admit I’m bemused at how Greta managed to get an invite to address the UN; I’m still waiting for mine!
I prefer to not disregard; but treat with a small measure cynicism, all the doom and gloom. The pressing issue, the one question that gives me sleepless nights, that evokes an avalanche of confusing mood swings is WILL MY BELOVED FOOTY TEAM WIN ON SATURDAY?
But the above is not what I want to talk about, I want to talk about DINOSAURS. Be patient, I’m getting there.
WHO READS BOOKS?
Statistics indicate females make up the majority of readers, something like 66%. From my totally unscientific observations most male readers fall into the older age bracket (no number given) but how many teenage and twenty-something-year-old boys do you know who will sit down with a good book? And many female readers also slot into the mature age bracket.
My concern is as older readers (and writers) fall off the perch will books become relegated to a historical memento, an antiquity? Are we (writers and readers) all becoming dinosaurs and facing extinction?
Yes, of course, there are exceptions like the Harry Potter books which are doing a great job of introducing a younger reader to the joys, the excitement of a captivating novel.
All is not lost, as a writer and a reader my mission is to write spellbinding, impossible to put down novels that leave the reader desperate for more.
How often do you get asked, or hear the argument asking which is better… eBooks or Paperbacks?
To me, both have their benefits and downsides.
The main thing against eBooks is, you need a device and you need that device to have power. An uncharged Kindle, iPhone or Tablet is nothing but a piece of useless junk.
Even worse, is when it cuts out halfway through a chapter and your miles away from a charger, like on the beach or halfway up a mountain.
Of course, good things for eReaders of any description is the number of books you can store on them and the lack of space they take up. (Not that you’ll read even a small percentage of the books you have stored, while on holiday… or ever.)
The good things in favour of paperbacks are, you can read them anywhere, power or no power, charging points or not. You can flick through the pages of a physical book whilst in the bathtub without the fear of totally ruining it if it gets wet.
Also, I have never (yet) seen an electronic device used to prop up the wobbly leg of a café table, I have seen this done with a paperback book.
If you drop a paperback, no harm done, just pick it up and continue reading, no broken screens, no expensive repair bills.
Oh, and when did anyone snatch a paperback out of your hands and make off with it? Never is my guess.
There is also the wonderful feeling of holding a ‘real’ book, sharing it and lending it to your friend, or having it displayed on a bookshelf in your lounge. You cannot do that with eBooks.
Paperbacks do have a downside.
They are quite large in comparison to an Android phone or a Nook, so take up a lot more room, which is fine at home but can take a good proportion of luggage space when going on vacation.
And so, the discussion goes on. You may prefer one format over the other, or you may take advantage of the benefits of each, as and when you want.
However, what if there was a middle ground?
What if… you could read a paperback the size of an iPhone?
Think of how many of those you could slip into your suitcase or rucksack, a handbag, or even your pockets.
You could read them anywhere, no batteries to worry about, no signal needed, no damage if dropped and no fear of anyone stealing them. You could even leave it unguarded on your beach towel when you went swimming, knowing it will still be there when you return.
How amazing would that be?
The thing is, this is not an idle thought, a sci-fi fantasy, or simply a futuristic dream. These books actually exist NOW.
Electric Eclectic has a growing range of ‘POCKETBOOKS’, smaller paperbacks whose dimensions are just 6×4″, which makes them ideal for travellers and commuters. These small-format books easily slip into a case, rucksack, handbag or, as the name suggests, a pocket, even the back pocket of your denim jeans.
Each pocketbook is a complete book, an entire Electric Eclectic novella or novelette. Most have an eBook option if you really prefer the electronic version.
Electric Eclectic is increasing the number of pocketbooks in their library, so keep checking in for new releases.
Here are some of the currently available Pocketbook titles.
Are you planning to buy more books this year, or do you simply tend to grab one when it catches your eye?
Whichever you do, it is worth considering when to buy your books because, at certain times, authors and publishers run special promotions.
These promotions can include discounts, new releases, posting of excerpts or sample chapters, reveals of covers and a whole host of exciting stuff not usually seen at other times.
Electric Eclectic suggest the following are dates worth putting into your diary and even setting an alarm to jog your memory. (We’ll post further dates for your diary later in the year.)
Marked in over 100 countries across the globe, World Book Day is a UNESCO initiative which aims to celebrate books and reading, especially among younger members of our societies. In the UK and Ireland, National Book Tokens are given to children so they can find books of their own choice, something to unlock the power of their minds in a way the increasing prevalence of digital screens may not provide.
For what it’s worth, World Book Day falls on the same date every year as St David’s Day, so, if you read a Welsh book on the first day of March every year, you are doing justice to two great causes!
Poetry reaffirms our common humanity in revealing everybody in the world shares the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.
In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, UNESCO recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.
One of the main objectives of the Day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.
The observance of World Poetry Day also encourages the oral tradition of poetry recitals, to promote the teaching of poetry, to restore a dialogue between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and to support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media, so the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art, but one which enables society as a whole to regain and assert its identity.
April 1 to May 10
National Pet Month is back, and it is even better than ever, attracting thousands of animal lovers to celebrate the value of pet ownership. Every year National Pet Month brings together animal welfare charities, professional bodies, businesses, and schools to promote good pet ownership, raise funds for good causes and have fun.
We love to shout about the rewards and benefits of owning a pet whilst encouraging responsibility, increasing awareness of pet care specialists, and promoting the value of assistance and companion animals.
What has this, you may ask, got to do with books. The answer is simple, writers and authors love their pets too, so to share stories and images of them while talking a bout their books is something many do. Check out social during these dates.
World Book and Copyright Day is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Each year, on 23 April, worldwide celebrations take place to recognise the magical power of books; a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures.
23 April is a symbolic date in world literature. It is the date on which several prominent authors, William Shakespeare, Miguel Cervantes and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega died. It is the natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, first held in Paris in 1995, to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors, and to encouraging everyone to access books, which are the most beautiful invention for sharing ideas beyond the boundaries of humanity, space and time, as well as being a most powerful force of poverty eradication and peacebuilding.
By championing books and copyright, UNESCO stands up for creativity, diversity and equal access to knowledge. With active involvement of stakeholders: authors, publishers, teachers, librarians, public and private institutions, humanitarian NGOs and the mass media, and all those who feel motivated to work together in this world celebration of books and authors, World Book and Copyright Day has become a platform to rally together millions of people all around the world.
May 1 to May 31
National Share A Story Month 2020
Celebrate the Power of Storytelling with National Share-a-Story Month
The Federation of Children’s Book Groups is an organisation started in the 1960s. It was created in response to parents’ desires to learn more about children’s books and how to encourage their own children to read more.
Children’s Book Groups were created in throughout the UK, the Federation served to link them together. The Federation is responsible for several initiatives including National Share-a-Story Month.
The celebration takes place annually throughout the month of May. It has proved to be an excellent way to celebrate the power of storytelling. Children and stories are brought together in a variety of events which take place across the UK.
Each year the event has a general theme, for 2020 it is Folk tales, fairy lore, figments, phantoms, dragons, serpents, storms at sea.
Browse Electric Eclectic’s books, for adults and children of all ages. You can find them on our website at http://bit.ly/visitEEbooks
A Flash of Horror is a collection of short and flash fiction in the horror genre taken from Karina Kantas’s two collections, Heads & Tales & Undressed.
12 chilling and though-provoking tales that will stay with you for nights to come. Are you ready to delve into the dark side?
I never thought of myself a someone with a dark side.
I always thought of my flash fictions as SciFi, thriller, maybe just a little creepy. But then I was a guest on a podcast and the host made me realise a lot of what I write falls into the horror genre.
I decided to take out some of the best horror flash from my two collections ‘Heads & Tales’ and ‘Undressed’ to make this small collection for those who don’t mind not sleeping at night.
An excerpt from A Flash of Horror by Karina Kantas
“Well, that’s it. Now we wait again,” Maria announced.
Phil watched her sit at a cluttered desk to scribble yet more failure notes. But his eyes did not linger. He scanned the laboratory. It might be the last time he’d see it. Beds lined the walls of the spacious room, all but hiding its sterile, white-tiled floor. “How long until we see results this time — if any?” he asked.
“Same as the others. Twelve hours.”
“That doesn’t give us much time to administer a vaccine.”
“No. And — yes, before you say it, you’re right — there’s no guarantee we’ll ever find an acceptable vaccine.”
On each bed lay a test subject. Even those that had succumbed remained, since the examination of their rotting bodies still offered the faint hope of a cure.
But Phil knew that the virus had won this war. There was no hope. Eight months of this, and nothing but 665. The committee was right.
Phil turned his face away from the rotting, deformed victims, and stared at his co-worker. It was time to tell her, although he knew how she’d react. Maria was obstinate — so certain she’d find a cure.
Phil walked to his colleague’s desk. Each step weighed heavily on him, like the weight they’d shouldered as a team these past few months. He rested his hand on her shoulder.
“Maria?” he whispered.
Her eyes shimmered. “Yes?”
Phil blinked and spoke. “The committee decided if this last trial is unsuccessful, they’ll go with 665. They’ve already begun to manufacture.”
“What? You’re joking?”
“They say there’s no more time to be choosey. It’s 665 or total annihilation.”
“Choosey! Don’t they realise what will happen? 665 has such awful side effects.”
“Sorry. Maybe choosey was the wrong word, and yes, they know the peril. I agree with them. What other choice do we have?”
“I’d rather die.”
Phil turned and looked at the bed beside him. Clear plastic sheeting did nothing to hide its demonic deformities. IT was the only way to describe this once-person. Its new facial appearance removed any identification of what sex, race or age test subject 665 once had.
In this post, I am blowing my own trumpet… and why not? A New Summer Garden is the seventh book I have written for Electric Eclectic.
‘A New Summer Garden’ is a crime drama; a story of cheating, of greed, of revenge and murder. (Not suitable for those under 18 years of age due to some bad language and a sex scene.)
Sam was a down and almost out with little prospect for the future when he meets Rachelle, the beautiful wife of the philanderous Peter, the kingpin of an international criminal business empire.
When Peter catches Sam ‘in flagrante’ with Rachelle, he ensures Sam’s simple life becomes uncomfortably complicated.
What happens next leads Sam down an ever-darkening pathway, where the only plausible outcome is for him to end up in prison, or dead… most probably both.
Here is a short excerpt to whet your whistle…
I have never played poker before. The only game I played with cards was ‘Snap’ when I was a child and I usually lost then. Yet somehow, by one o’clock in the morning, there was a great pile of money in front of me, bunches of twenty and fifty-pound notes.
Things were looking good.
By three o’clock my entire wad of cash was gone. So was my original three hundred pounds stake money Peter gave me.
It had all gone tits-up.
The game was wound up at four o’clock and I was in the shit. I was left with five IOU’s, totalling five thousand seven hundred and twenty pounds. The debt belonged to the two Kosovans and the big Russian, with a few hundred owing to the three Polish fellows.
They said I had one month to come up with the cash or pay with my kneecaps.
Peter laughed aloud saying it was the best three hundred pounds investment he had made in years. In fact, he said, he often paid twice that amount to fuck one of his poxy little whores.
I knew then I had been fucked over. Again.
But this was not the end of the night. Oh no, things were to get a little more complicated than just being stitched up by a jealous husband and owing a gambling debt to a bunch of unstable, possibly ex KGB type, gangsters.
It was from this point on things began to get a little bit dark.
You can purchase your copy of A New Summer Garden via these links,