Spotlight: Ambrose Stolliker

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Introducing Ambrose Stolliker. He will be the first author in our eBook and audiobook imprint Legion next year. Abbie Waters has just completed the first round of proofreading and more edits are coming soon. Till then, get to know the author behind this Civil War themed horror story!


Synopsis:

Spring, 1865. The Southern armies are close to defeat. Union Cavalry Commander Philip Sheridan has loosed his scouts into the Virginia countryside in search of an opportunity to intercept and destroy Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Rebel army and bring the war to an end.

One such scout is Captain Benjamin Lawson, a man haunted by the burden of command and the scenes of senseless slaughter he has endured at places like Antietam and Gettysburg. His sole desire is to see his men survive the final days of the terrible conflict that has engulfed the country for five bloody years.

The fortunes of war, however, have another fate in store for Lawson and his men, Sergeant Jordy Lightfoot and Corporal Emil Boyd. On a dark, rainy night, Lawson’s party of scouts stumbles into a large group of Rebel cavalry. All Hell breaks loose. Two of his men are killed outright, and Lawson, Lightfoot and Boyd barely manage to escape into a thick forest.

There, Lawson discovers that the young corporal has been gravely wounded. Determined not to lose yet another man under his command, Lawson heads for a small, out-of-the-way town called Old Hollow in the hopes of finding a doctor who can help the dying boy. What he finds instead is far more terrifying than anything he has witnessed on the battlefield. Soon, he and his men are in a fight for their lives against a twisted preacher who has struck a diabolical covenant with an ancient, unspeakable evil.


1. First, tell us a little about yourself. When did you want to become an author? What inspires you to do what you do? Who are you?

I think I’ve wanted to be a storyteller from a very early age. Like many people in their early to mid-forties, my love of storytelling was born on a warm, summer day in 1977 when my mother took me and my older sister to a movie theater to see Star Wars. The movie and the story made an indelible impression on me. The story and mythology of Star Wars were presented on such a grand scale, how could it have not made an impression on me? From then on, I loved listening to and telling stories. Not long after, I developed a deep love of reading, especially fantasy, science fiction and horror. I wrote my first book, an unfinished fantasy novel, at the age of nine, and have been pretty much writing nonstop since then, either as a newspaper and magazine journalist or as a fiction writer.

2. What are some quirky and or unique aspects about you and your writing?

I spent twelve years banging out 12-inch to 20-inch news stories in noisy newsrooms at daily and weekly newspapers. You’d think I’d be able to work in just about any environment and still write and write well, but when it comes to fiction, I can’t. I need silence. Some writers can listen to heavy metal while they write, but not me. I’ve got to have quiet, which isn’t always possible when you’ve got a rambunctious four-year-old boy in your house. Luckily, I have a nice, quiet office where I can close the door and focus on the work.

3.RCP “was founded in 2016 to showcase quality fiction, diverse stories, and unexpected protagonists.” What does that mean to you?

Hopefully, it means we’ll see more stories featuring characters and themes that are outside the normal clichés we see in so much writing today. The best stories always feature characters that do the exact opposite of what’s expected, or what society as a whole perceives as the norm. I think great writing challenges our preconceived notions about the world we live in and the lives we lead.

4. What do you think makes a great horror story? How do you think your piece Old Hollow fits into or varies from that description?

I’d characterize Old Hollow as a classic horror story set during the Civil War. I think any horror story worth reading has to do two primary things – gradually build a feeling of suspense or dread and tell a story wherein the reader becomes invested in the fate of the main characters. Almost as important, I think, is setting. It just so happens that I am a Civil War buff and have spent a great deal of time reading about and researching the conflict that defined so much of who we are as Americans today.  Being well versed in that particular time period makes it easy (and enjoyable) for me to create evocative settings for the reader. Old Hollow is not the first Civil War story I’ve written, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.

5. How has writing affected your outlook on things? Has it made you take chances or see things in a different light?

Well, every time a writer puts pen to paper, asks someone to read something they’ve written or submits a story for publication, they’re taking a chance at being rejected. In one sense, I think my career as a journalist helped me develop a pretty thick skin where my writing was concerned. It just became part of my everyday life to receive and absorb criticism of the material I’d turned into my editors. For the most part, I knew their criticisms always came from a good place – either a desire to make the story better for the reader, or to make me a better writer, or, under the best of circumstances, both. So, when I started writing fiction and submitting it for publication, it never really fazed me when the rejections started rolling in. Like most writers, I had moments of self-doubt that I would ever get published, but I never really considered giving up. Now, my ambition is to be able to write horror fiction full time, and I’m not there yet. Sometimes, I worry I’ll never get there. But that doesn’t stop me from writing.

6. What are you most excited to share when it comes to Old Hollow? Ex). The world, the characters, a specific scene?

The characters, first and foremost. Writing about Benjamin Lawson, Jordy Lightfoot, Emil Boyd, Nan Forrester and Preacher John was a lot of fun. Each one brings something different and important to the story. Lawson and Jordy are probably my two favorite characters in Old Hollow because they’re both so very different from one another. At the same time, they complement one another in critical ways, and function well together as they try to navigate and survive the war and the situation in which they find themselves in Old Hollow. I love the dialogue between the characters too, especially Jordy’s dialogue. His voice and patois were really fun to write. Finally, I love the themes that emerged as I wrote and revised the story over three separate drafts – the danger and inherent hypocrisy of religious fanaticism and fundamentalism; the sense of brotherhood and comradery that is developed between soldiers during times of war; the notion that one’s word and personal honor stand for something, even (and perhaps especially) when given to someone we might consider an enemy; and the importance of protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

7. Finally, do you have any advice and or tips for aspiring writers out there?

Easy. Write as often as you can, and read as much as you can. I try to write at least 1,000 words a day, five days per week. I don’t always accomplish that, but that’s my goal. I don’t think one can become adept at anything if one isn’t willing to practice and put in the time necessary to develop one’s craft. Also, I’ve learned over the years, both as a journalist and a fiction writer, that the real work begins with the second draft. First drafts are easy. First drafts are fun. You’re basically just vomiting the words, story and characters onto the page, and not thinking too much about plot, or how good the writing is – at least that’s how I approach first drafts. But revision? Revision is hard. And essential. Finally, you’re going to face a lot of rejection and criticism. I started writing seriously in my early thirties. I sold my first story when I was 36 or 37. It took about seven or eight years to make that first sale. Then I had to wait another year or so for the second. I’m 43 now, and STILL not writing full-time, so that should give aspiring writers an idea of what it takes to make it in this business. I consider myself marginally successful in having secured a dozen or so publishing credits that netted me any kind of money. It’s a long haul. It’s natural and even healthy to get discouraged once in a while, but the one thing a serious writer can absolutely not do is to stop writing. So, don’t.

Gods and Goddesses: Astra

Realm of Astra, Goddess of Love

White and gray columns held up a balcony that ran the entire length of Astra’s two-story square palace. A frosted pink and white skylight shone down on the double staircase in the foyer. Crystal chandeliers hung in each of the two-hundred rooms, and someone was always playing a musical instrument. It could be heard almost anywhere with sheer curtains billowing from glassless windows.

Despite the lack of belief, Astra would visit the mortals on a regular basis. Her walled-in temple was surrounded by six sets of four pillars. The five alcoves belonging to her siblings were each set at the top of a separate staircase inside. An infinity symbol carved from marble served as her altar before the pit with a wide, single-wick candle at its center. A river flowed near the entrance with paddleboats waiting by the dock. Flowering trees grew across the hilly landscape. A stone path lined with always-blooming cherry blossoms could be followed throughout the realm.

Most residents preferred to spend time in the common areas: pillows covering the flat roof to enjoy the stars at night or the atrium that opened to the entire first floor with a deep-set pool at its center. With seventy-five servants remaining along with seven husbands, there was always company to be found in either place. While Astra loved each of her sacrifices equally, she hadn’t truly accepted any husbands in the last nine hundred years. If the men chose to stay, she honored their sacrifice and encouraged them to find love elsewhere in the household.

 

Cover Reveal: Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

Hardcover

ISBN-10: 1-946024-24-4

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-24-4

Trade Paperback 

ISBN-10: 1-946024-00-7

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-00-8

eBook (ePub Edition)

ISBN-10: 1-946024-01-5

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-01-5

Audiobook Edition

ISBN-10: 1-946024-25-2

ISBN-13: 978-1-946024-25-1

ASIN: B071CYFGJV

AppleID: 1253613072

BN ID: 2940157306519

Release Date: July/August 2017 (July 11th, 2017)

Synopsis:

A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.

AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.

BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.

“[E]very fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believe gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

Advance Praise:

“[A] great book for anybody who loves the myth of Cupid and Psyche…I loved the…mashup of modernity with the mythological” – Abby Reed, Author of When Planets Fall (Soul Mate Publishing)

“Loved Theo’s complex character… Cassia was a really brave and sassy character who always had her head firmly on her shoulders…” – Kariny, kariny’s book frenzy

“…[T]his book was absolutely amazing…!” – Words I Write Crazy

“Amazing, thrilling and unique…” – Booklove

“This mash up of modern times and mythology combines elements of Beauty & the Beast and Hades & Persephone to create a totally original retelling” – Kati, To Be Read

“If you love…myths and retellings than this mash-up is one you shouldn’t miss… Action, Adventure, Fate and D[e]struction are all tied up in this wonderous novel that I just couldn[‘t] put down!” – Crossroad Reviews

“A story full of romance, betrayal, and chaos is sure to attract those teens that enjoyed Percy Jackson but are ready for something more mature” – Jenny, Goodreads Reviewer

“The slow smoldering romance that Theo and Cassia can’t deny greatly pushes each page with anticipation” – Twinning for Books

“Filled with folklore, violence, epic battles, and tons of drama, Fragile Chaos is a gripping thrill ride” – Jordan, YA Book Madness

Fragile Chaos is a great story of the follies of pride, the consequences of abusing power, and the power of love to heal all wounds” – Liza, Quite the Novel Idea

“If you love a good young adult romance, mythology, and a story with high stakes then you definitely need to read Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell” – Olivia Chanel, Galaxy of Books

“This author[‘]s first novel is an extreme display of promise” – Rachel, Rachel’s Book Reviews

Gods and Goddesses: Leander

Realm of Leander, God of Death

A muted sun shone down on the white, rocky landscape of the Netherworld. Opaque peaks protruded from the ground, casting shimmering blue and yellow shadows over the ground. The air felt frozen with the lack of life—still and unforgiving. Few sacrifices made it longer than a week before asking to move on.

The front side of the largest mountain was a castle made entirely of opal. With delicate carvings and pointed towers, it was something one would expect from a storybook. Inside, were sweeping staircases, detailed ceilings, and elegant archways. While no decorations hung on the glimmering walls, each room was covered in rich area rugs and comfortable furniture. A warm, green fire burned without kindling in Leander’s private fireplaces. Living alone, he never bothered to light the others.

The backside of the mountain held a more ominous purpose. A wide, black river cut Leander’s realm in half, keeping the waiting souls on their side of the realm. Leander was able to walk across the surface untouched to reach the dead, but if one of the crystalline souls tried to cross, they would be forever trapped beneath the swirling water with all of Drea’s failed, monstrous creations.

On the opposite shore, onyx pillars stretched up between two mountains on the other side, showing the souls what they most wanted to see. While they were usually calm while waiting, albeit confused, a riot sometimes broke out if the shore became overcrowded. Leander did his best to usher the souls through the looming archway to the afterlife in an orderly fashion, but it was particularly difficult in times of war.

Gods and Goddesses: Brisa

Realm of Brisa, Goddess of the Sea

Against every myth ever told about Brisa’s queendom, it was not at the bottom of the sea. The stories, however, were right about it being a palace of glass. The exterior was made of a million panes held together with bronzed metal. A fountain at its front fed a lake around the building. The water filled the inside of the glass enclosure, mirroring the walls and ceiling. Interior walls offered privacy and kept out unwanted moisture. Bright white pillars held the solid structure up at its center. Hallways branched off the circular common room, providing rooms to Brisa and her household—now less than fifty men and women.

A rectangular slate temple with a curved roof stood nearby. Cattails sprung up along the white pebbles scatted around the perimeter. Inside, gleaming blue tile scrolled across the walls, forming wave after wave. A banner of pearls and shells covered the altar across from the sacrificial pit. Two semicircle railings stood on either side of the pit, leaving a straight line of site through to the glass entryway.

Most of Brisa’s queendom was covered in sprawling fields and gentle, rocky hills. Small ponds dotted the land, but a single river flowed through the property. The riverbed spilt in two; one branch of the river fed the Black River in Death’s kingdom, and the other dropped off into a waterfall at the edge of the War God’s kingdom.

Patreon: Literary Magazines

RCP has recently set up a patreon to direct more funding to our literary magazines Helios Quarterly and Selene Quarterly (launching in September). Since RCP will be publishing two literary magazines with similar budgets and goals, we’ve put them under the same banner to make it easier to access. We’re following the model of more established literary magazines and will also be seeking a publicist to help drive physical and digital sales for Helios Quarterly in particular. More updates will be posted once Volume 2, Issue 1 is released.

 

Gods and Goddesses: Drea

Realm of Drea, Goddess of Life

The realm of the Goddess of Life was home to all manner of living things. Insects hummed over flowers surrounding a large stone cabin, and birds sang in the sweeping trees. Thin vines crept along the mortar, turning the exterior walls into a maze of gray and green. Lily pads floated above fish and frogs in clear pools. Further from the house, the neatly designed gardens gave way to a sea of trees where rabbits and deer roamed freely along with other herbivores.

With only fifteen rooms in the cabin, Drea’s one hundred sacrifices lived in a row of smaller stone houses behind the main garden. There, the women kept a vegetable garden and small orchards for their personal use. Domesticated animals were also permitted as long they hurt nothing and no one. Sacrificial husbands stayed in the main house, but the last one asked to pass on years ago. A new husband hadn’t been offered in decades.

The round temple hadn’t been used for more than Drea’s passing to the mortal realm or visiting her siblings for almost thirty years. Behind the stained glass door, ferns spread along the walls. Climbing flowers curled along the floral designs carved into green granite walls. Her altar was hidden beneath the overgrown roots of the tree planted behind. Mice now nested in the flower boxes hanging outside the windows, and birds in the eaves. With the lack of prayer, Drea had no intention of destroying thriving life to honor her connection to the mortals.

Gods and Goddesses: Ebris 

Amber R. Duell’s novel Fragile Chaos‘ release date is July 11th of this year! Bi-weekly blurbs about the Realm of the Gods and Goddesses within the novel by Tiphaine, a French artist and cartographer, will be posted here with more chances to win prizes along the way. The second map fragment, The Realm of Drea, will be posted on January 15th.


Realm of Ebris, King of the Gods

While the brilliance of Ebris’ earthly temples had diminished greatly, the one mirrored in the realm of the King of the Gods’ was as pristine as it did the day it was created.

Ribbed pillars surrounded a smooth marble exterior. Light shone into the temple through an enormous domed skylight, and the gold walls gleamed as brightly as the sun.

The walk from the temple to the eight hundred room castle led through elaborately designed shrubbery, manicured lawns, and gardens brimming with colorful flora. A symmetrical courtyard boasted a dozen fountains with a gazebo showcased at the center.

Inside the castle, gold mosaics covered every ceiling, spreading down the walls to meet with embedded diamonds. The windows in the wing leading to the throne room comprised of stained glass. The sunlight used the reds, yellows, and blues to paint a vivid design on the opposite wall, continuing into the throne room with twenty foot ceilings.

Nearly five hundred wives still remained in Ebris’ realm along with over two thousand servants. The male servants slept six to a room while the wives slept two. There were exceptions of course; four favorite wives had their own chambers, and the six lead servants only had to share with one other person. One hundred rooms were set aside for recreational purposes—a ballroom, painting rooms, libraries—while a dozen rooms were off limits to anyone other than Ebris.

Everyone was encouraged to associate with each other as they saw fit as long as no one ever forgot who was in charge.