Sunday, October 23, 2016

Book Blitz + #Giveaway: The Harvesting Series by Melanie Karsak @MelanieKarsak @XpressoTours

The Harvesting
Melanie Karsak
(The Harvesting, #1)
Publication date: January 8th 2014
Genres: Horror, Young Adult, Zombies

It’s all fun and games until someone ends up undead.

Layla Petrovich has spent her whole life running away from her hometown of Hamletville. Raised by the town’s medium, and dubbed the “weird” girl for her fascination with swords, the last thing Layla wants is to go home.

But when she receives a desperate call to return just as a mysterious outbreak sweeps the country, Layla’s instincts urge her to go. Good thing, because the dead are rising.

Layla, however, isn’t entirely on her own. With her psychic powers growing, surely everything will turn out okay, right?

Not so fast. Just when Layla believes she might survive the apocalypse, a sinister and ancient force rises from the shadows to finish mankind for good.

Because the truth is, we were never alone in this world.

Begin The Harvesting Series with The Harvesting, Book 1.



“If you ever need to slice someone’s head off, this is the blade you want,” I said as I lifted a curved sword off the table in front of me. “We’ve been practicing épée and foil so far, but tonight I want to introduce you to the sabre.” The practice sabre’s curved blade reflected the orange streetlight shining in through the window. A grant from the Smithsonian where I worked allowed me to teach my two passions: ancient weapons and their arts. “The sabre is a slashing weapon,” I continued and then lunged, showing the wide-eyed and excited students a few moves. “And in general, it’s my favorite,” I admitted with a grin.

The students laughed.

“Is that why you have it tattooed on your arm?” Tyler, one of my best fencers, asked.

My hand went unconsciously toward the tattoo. The ink was a sword interlaced with other once-meaningful symbols. “That’s not just any sabre,” I said, mildly embarrassed. “Here, let me show you. I brought something special tonight.” Setting the training sabre down, I lifted a rolled bundle. I laid it down on the table and unrolled it to reveal weapons in various elaborate scabbards.

“Some are épée, foils—you can tell by the hilt—a broadsword, a claymore, a katana, a scimitar, throwing daggers,” I said, pointing, “but this, this is a Russian shashka.” I pulled the shashka from the bundle. “It’s like a traditional sabre, but has no guard. She’s light, single-edged, wielded with one hand, and good for stabbing or slashing. Not awkward in close quarters like a Scottish claymore, but it will kill you just as dead,” I said with a smile. I unsheathed the weapon and gave it an under-and over-hand spin around my head, shoulders, and back.

The students grinned from ear to ear.

I put it back in its scabbard and handed the shashka to them. “Pass it around, but keep in mind it is sharp enough to cut a blade of hair in half.” I then turned my attention to Tyler. “Now, since you’re so interested, let’s see how you do with the sabre.” I tossed one of the training swords to him.

Tyler, already in his gear, jumped up and lowered his fencing mask. “But you’re not in gear,” he said.
I shrugged. “Hit me, if you can.”

We stood at the ready, made the ceremonial bow, and began. Tyler was not overly aggressive, which is partially why he was so successful. He waited for me, moving slowly. He was smart, quick, and often tried to over-tire his opponent.

I waited, dropped my sword a bit, and let him make the lunge. He took the bait.

The swords clanged together, and we clashed back and forth across the strip. He lunged and slashed while I dodged and blocked. He was fast. I was faster. When he lunged again, I ducked. With an upward movement, I went in.

“A hit,” Kasey called.

They clapped.

“Man, that’s what you get for taking on a former state champ—and the teacher,” Trey told Tyler with a laugh.

Tyler pulled off the mask and smiled at me.

Just then, my cell rang. I would usually ignore it, but something told me to answer.

“Everyone pair up and start working with the training sabers,” I said and pointed to the sword rack. I went to my bag and grabbed my cell.

Before I could say hello, she spoke.

“Layla, Grandma needs you to come home,” my grandmother’s voice, thick with Russian accent, came across through static. I was silent for a moment. My grandmother lived 500 miles away, and she never used her telephone. With the exception of her T.V., she hated technology. She’d cried and begged me to take away the microwave I’d purchased for her one Mother’s Day.

“Grandma? What’s wrong?”

“Come home now. Be here tomorrow,” she said. She hung up.

I lowered my cell and stared at it. Confused and worried, I dialed her back. The phone rang, but she did not answer. I had obligations: practice, bills to pay, groceries to buy, tons of work to do, and a date for god-sakes. But my grandmother was the only one I had left in the world.

“Sorry, guys. Emergency,” I called to my students.

Disappointed, they groaned.

“Sorry. Let’s pack it up for the night.” My hands shaking, I slid the shashka back into the bundle and rolled up the weapons. What had happened? Maybe Grandma was sick. Maybe she had some problem. Or maybe she had seen something.


Guest Post:

Why we should stop hating on Fear the Walking Dead

I’ve heard so many fans of The Walking Dead complain about the spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead. They say it’s boring. It lacks character development. The characters are stupid. The plot is a mess. The criticisms from The Walking Dead fan base are trending toward a unified voice: Fear the Walking Dead sucks. But does it? Before we tell Fear the Walking Dead, “sorry, it’s not you, it’s me…” we should pause just a minute. Because the problem, my zombie loving friends, is us.

It’s all about expectations.

The Walking Dead fans are a loyal crew. We love Rick, Daryl, Maggie, and Michonne like they are members of our extended family. With each new episode of The Walking Dead, we cling to the edge of our seats, terrified that the writers will go George R. R. Martin on one of our beloved. And as we all know, with The Walking Dead season opener coming, someone (or maybe two someones) will die. We’re scared. We love our characters. Of course, The Walking Dead has given us a lot to love/hate. Sophia in the barn? It was a moment in television I’ll never forget. The character arc of Daryl Dixon from an ignorant redneck to a glorious hero redneck…sublime. We Walking Dead fans love our characters, but the characters on Fear the Walking Dead? Well, not so much. Except Nick. We like him. So what’s the problem? Why can’t we remember half their names? Why don’t we care about them? I propose there are three main reasons we need to stop hating on TWD’s new franchise and give it a chance.

Issue 1) Love at first sight is for romance novels (and by the way, there is nothing wrong with that.) Patience, dear friends, patience. We don’t know these characters and aren’t connected to them…yet. We’ve had five seasons to fall in love with the characters on TWD. We’ve seen Carol’s growth. We’ve mourned with Rick. We cheered every time baby Judith survived. We LOVE the characters because we know them well. Think back to the first season of TWD. Did you love (not lust, mind you) Daryl like you do now? Did you have the same feelings toward Andrea and Lori that you felt so strongly later? We aren’t emotionally connected to Fear the Walking Dead’s characters, for good or bad, because they’re relatively new to us, even as we work toward the end of season 2. If we shut down our willingness to get to know the characters, judging them against the feels we have for Hershel, then we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. The Walking Dead franchise has jaded us on women, too many Loris, too many Andreas. Be patient with Madison’s character, and watch with the hope that she won’t turn to the dark side.

1a) Compounding the problem is the fact that many Walking Dead fans come to the TV franchise from the comic, predisposed to have the feels for TWD’s TV characters. Not so much with FTWD, right? Patience, my friends, patience.

Issue 2) We are smarter than the characters. After watching five seasons of The Walking Dead, we are hardened zombie fighters…at least in our minds. You’d never catch a Walking Dead fan playing monopoly when zombies are right outside the door. We’d be stocking up on water, stashing canned pudding from the cafeteria, and heading for the hills. The characters’ behaviors break an unwritten rule we hold for zpoc survivors: at least SOME of you need to be smart enough to live. At this point, the characters seem unworthy because they don’t have enough fear…they don’t have the fear we KNOW they should have. But that’s the problem. We know and they don’t. And because of that, their mundane actions are annoying. Seriously, Monopoly?

Issue 3) Expectations. Fear the Walking Dead was supposed to offer us a glimpse of the world falling apart. We wanted to see that. What happened while Rick was sleeping? How did the world slowly crumble? Well, it seems, the world begins to crumble then the military moved in to protect us…until the military itself degrades to the point of COBALT. This is the image of society’s decay that Fear the Walking Dead presents. Season 1 moved too fast, and this has left many disappointed. I strongly feel they are trying to “skip to the good part” for us. Our characters are now in the familiar world of the zpoc jungle. It’s messy. There are gangs. Food is scarce. Walkers are everywhere. It’s the undead world we know.

Don’t give up on Fear the Walking Dead just yet. Let the story unravel. Let it have a moment to win you over. The character development of Nick continues to get more interesting. The writing in the second part of season two has shown that someone behind the show decided to step up their game. I think the writers finally realized the most important part of the show is not the zombies, it’s the characters. Besides Nick, they have created a full cast that people just didn’t latch on to. They need to fix it, and I think they will. And if a few of those core characters have to go, well, I don’t think we’ll be too sad.

Author Bio:
Melanie Karsak is the author of The Airship Racing Chronicles, The Harvesting Series, and The Celtic Blood Series. A steampunk connoisseur, zombie whisperer, and heir to the iron throne, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.