A Heaven for Toasters: Chapter 6

Nicholas C. Rossis

A Heaven for Toasters | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book After relaunching A Heaven for Toasters, complete with new cover, I promised to publish it here in installments. 

Note: You can find a link to all published chapters at the end of this post or read more parts on Wattpad.

A Heaven for Toasters

What if your perfect man was a robot?

Detective Mika Pensive has a new partner. He’s hot. Smart. Funny. And an android.

Set in the near future, A Heaven for Toasters is more than a sci-fi crime adventure with plenty of romance and wit. It’s the book that will make you look at your toaster in a whole new way.

CHAPTER 6: Island

3:27 p.m.

I tapped my temple to connect with Mary.

“Mika, so good to hear from you,” she exclaimed. “Are you two having fun?”

Sure, if you enjoy things like chewing on nails and getting accused of murder. I didn’t even…

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Dawn Fang Summer

Summer has to be a rough season for vampires.  You have the heat and longer days, which makes less hunting time.  At least for those that can’t go into the sun.  Then you have the temptation all over the place.  Those tasty mortals in their shorts and t-shirts.  Juicy limbs exposed and beckoning to every fang in the area.  So, what is the cast of War of Nytefall doing this summer?

Bob–  I’m cultivating a breed of seahorse that can jump out of the water and spit stun juice.  I don’t know what I would use it for, but it helps pass the time.

Titus Winthrop–  I’m enjoying the beach since I don’t have to worry about the sun any more.  I still have to stay away from the mortals.  Seems all the scars on my body make people uncomfortable.

Chastity Sullivan–  This blog doesn’t have a high enough rating for me to explain what I’m doing.  Come back to me later.

Stephanie Talon–  Lounging in the sun and purring.

Kenneth Decker–  Since I’m not a Dawn Fang, I don’t treat summer any differently than the other seasons.  I wait until nightfall and do what’s needed to assist my maker.  If I have the time off, I brew ales and meads.

Archillious–  Plot the destruction of reality and lure mortals into my grasp through my amazing displays.  I’m not allowed to eat them any more, but I can get some extra spending money during this time of year.

Nadia Sylvan–  Romantic walks and dinners with my love.  Perhaps reading a book on the balcony.  I have never been much of a summer person.

Xavier Tempest–  Play music while enjoying the company of my wife.  Do mortals really care so much about this time of year?  Why is that?

Gregorio Roman–  I stay inside.  My eyes don’t like the brightness of the summer, so I stay in my lair.

Lost–  Not to mention he had me put scrying crystals in certain areas, so he can do something call people watch.  My mom says it’s something that lechers do and she thought Grandpa Roman was above such things.

Gregorio–  Where did you put those crystals?

Lost–  In the lower floors of the Scrumptious Siren.  You said that you wanted to see interesting people, which I thought was code for spying on people having-

Gregorio– That’s not what I meant.  Please bring them back.

Lost–  Okay . . . I’m trying to stay out of trouble this summer.  I don’t think I’m having much luck.  Bunny is trying to fly around the world.

Luther Grathan–  I enjoy finding a peaceful part of nature and enjoying the near silence. If that is not possible then I play chess outside with one of my many contacts.

Chastity Sullivan– My summer will be busy once I open my new ice cream stand.  That’s clean enough to talk about here.

Lou–  I guard Lady Sylvan.  That’s all.

Kai Stavros–  There is no vacation for a spymaster.  I continue to watch people and gather information for our side.

Mab–  Steal things at festivals since those are all over the place during the summer.  Don’t act like my answer surprises you.  Uh . . . Where’s Clyde?

*everyone shrugs*

Mab–  Did you sneak out again?

*Note appears on wall: Taking a nap in a hammock.  Leave me alone.  I’m on a summer break.*

Titus Winthrop–  This is what happens when the author can’t get to his stories.  We all get lazy.

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Derailing Bedlam: A Taste of Tenay Part 1 #fiction #adventure

As usual, here is your warning that this story has cursing, sex (not graphic), innuendo, and violence.  It’s my Rated-R action adventure called Derailing Bedlam.  This is the fourth outing (third official) for Cassidy and Lloyd, so feel free to click on one of the two covers to see how it started.  Each one is 99 cents!

Cover by Jon Hunsinger

Cover Art by Jon Hunsinger











Continue reading

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Is Reading Still Popular?

Anybody remember the phrase ‘Reading is Fundamental’?  First, I didn’t realize it was a nonprofit child literacy organization founded in 1966.  Thought it was saying used in Public Service Announcements.  In fact, I used to think it was connected to this blast from the past:

I watched this show religiously as a child.  At least when I wasn’t reading.  I remember my school would do an MS Reading Contest and the winner got a free personal pizza from Pizza Hut.  Several times, I need to get an extra form because I ran out of slots to write down what I read.  Some days, I would have a pile of books and just read through them for the day.  We’re talking elementary age, so there were books like ‘Wayside School is Falling Down’, ‘Encyclopedia Brown’, “Incognito Mosquito’, Choose-Your-Own-Adventures, ‘Bunnicula’, and a ton of nonfiction stuff on animals and dinosaurs.  Many of my friends were into reading as well.  I got into bigger books, comics, and manga as I got older, but I was still reading away.  It seemed most people were doing this and you could find bookstores everywhere.

So . . . What happened?

Maybe it’s the circles I’m running in or that I’m not looking in the direction.  It feels like people simply aren’t reading as much as they used to.  Not just the dastardly millennials who I might be one of depending on the year cutoff that you’re using.  (I’m sticking with the ‘Oregon Trail’ Generation for my age bracket.  It’s true and I forgot the better one that I heard 2 years ago.)  Anyway, it seems people of all ages don’t want to touch a book.  They might if a TV series or movie has come out about it, but that’s not a guarantee.  I want to list all of the excuses that I’ve heard, but I’d be here all day.  It really boils down to people not reading as much as they used to, which makes being an author much more difficult and daunting.

I’m sure everyone has a theory for this.  One of mine is that people no longer have the attention span for books.  News and entertainment come at all of us so quickly that we’ve developed a communal ADD.  A book requires time and focus while a movie or TV show can be tossed on while you do something else.  There’s also less effort with watching a screen than reading a book.  Those pages are so hard to turn.  This isn’t all social media too.  Society in general has become so clogged and fast-paced that one thinks it’s a crime to relax.  You ever try to sit down and catch your breath only for a phone to ring, a text to come in, a chore to come up, or remembering you’re at work and on the clock?  Imagine getting reading time into that.  You can do it before you go to bed, but most people will pass out on the book.  We just don’t allow for an activity that requires time and effort these days.

Now, that is just a theory that isn’t flushed out.  There’s a gatekeeping issue that I’ve seen at times too.  You aren’t really into a genre if you haven’t read ‘this book’ or you shouldn’t be into ‘that series’.  Anyone who wants to get into reading or try a new genre could be turned off by these people.  I’m at the point where I’m happy somebody wants to give a book a chance even if it’s one I don’t like.  Heck, that means I can discuss the pros and cons of it with the other person.  Still, we live in a world where people are much easier to dissuade from things.  If anything, it really doesn’t help.

With any luck, I’m simply being pessimistic.  What does everyone else think about the state of reading in our society?  Perhaps it’s just an American issue and my friends in other countries can shed some happier news on this topic.  Please . . . Pretty please?

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Teaser Tuesday: Almost Home #fantasy #adventure

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

I was actually surprised to see Legends of Windemere: Allure of the Gypsies get a few votes in the poll that I did in May.  I was left wondering what would be a good teaser for a book that has been around for so long.  Well, I remember one scene that was a nice bit of humor.  This is when Luke Callindor, Nyx, and Aedyn Karwyn are about to head into Haven, which is Luke’s hometown.  It really shows how the characters were at the beginning of their adventures.  Enjoy.

Continue reading

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The Art of Subverting Expectations! Is There an Art to It?

I’ve been seeing this phrase thrown around a lot over the last year.  It’s gotten to the point where I’m not really sure what it means any more.  Some people seem to use it in place of the phrase ‘plot twist’.  Others talk about it taking a traditional plot point and turning it on its head.  I think there’s another group that claims it’s when an author builds up to a certain event and then pulls a fast one at the last minute.  Honestly, that last one sounds cruel and on the same level as ‘shock deaths’.  So, what is subverting expectations and has it become the new fad?

To figure out a definition, we really only have to look at the pieces.  Sure, there’s nuance depending on how you use it, but what is at the core?  Well, expectations are what readers create as they follow a story.  Most will begin to form their own predictions about what will happen, which comes with the building of tension.  This can take the form of desiring current romantic pairings to simply praying that a character lives.  It is something that we think or believe will happen.  Subversion is when you undermine the authority of a system . . . In this case, it’s when you undermine the predictions.  Whatever the reader thought would happen doesn’t take place and they are left with something they didn’t see coming, which really does sound like a plot twist.  This can be done intentionally or by accident, but either way holds a risk.

I do think this literary device is getting overused a bit.  A lot of movies and TV shows use the phrase in marketing.  Reviewers praise or raze a work depending on how well the subversion comes off.  Yet, you do have a challenge here, which might be why so many people are using it.  Some readers will get the right prediction, so you can really  only subvert a percentage of the audience.  The only way to avoid that is to blatantly push for a specific point and then change it with barely any, or no, foreshadowing.  It will get the audience to be surprised, but those who invested a lot of time into their predictions might not like the trick.  Still, you see this getting used more and more, especially as our entertainment is flooded with remakes, reboots, sequels, and spin-offs.  Subverting expectations is seen as the best way to keep things fresh.

The thing is that this runs into a Shaymalan problem.  Remember when he became known solely as the director who does plot twists?  Well, all of his following movies were watched with the plot twist expected, so they didn’t have the same impact.  Even ‘Last Airbender’s’ plot twist of being more horrible than we imagined was . . . What do you mean that wasn’t a twist?  Anyway, if everyone is subverting expectations then readers will begin to expect the subversion.  Then, the only way to surprise them is by not subverting their expectations, but you can’t really do that when they’re only predicting the subversion of their prediction.  So, they aren’t surprised when they’re subverted and I think my editor is currently on a plane to beat me with an Oxford dictionary.

Personally, I don’t think I will use this as much or at all.  I will do plot twists that have clues throughout the work, but a sudden surprise that comes from nothing doesn’t appeal to me.  Maybe I’ll change my mind down the road, but I really want to give the audience most of what they are expecting.  The romances won’t always match up, but that’s a different issue.  I think I’d cause more harm than good if I suddenly revealed that Clyde has been a werewolf throughout War of Nytefall or that Luke Callindor is really the reincarnation of Baron Kernaghan in Legends of Windemere.  None of that makes any sense and they don’t even cover predictions.  As you can see, I’m really bad at this.

I’ve heard people say that subverting expectations is an art.  You really need to work hard on it and master the delivery.  I can see this as being true, but I also see many doing it without thinking.  This dilutes the water and those who are skilled get put in the same boat as the sloppy bandwagon jumpers.  There’s a big difference between gracefully threading a needle to sew on a patch than stapling the thing while the person is still wearing the pair of pants.  Hmmm, that analogy might not have worked.  Not a good sign.

So, what does everyone else think of subverting expectations?  Do you have any tips?  Has it ever been attempted in a story you liked and made you walk away?

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Ideas For Keeping Your Blog Fresh

Nicholas C. Rossis

Writing a blog | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book Struggling for blog ideas? Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom // CC0 1.0

Blogging consistently for days and years takes its toll. The mind struggles to generate ideas strong enough to keep the blog fresh. Over time, even a well-intentioned blogger who makes a fair effort to achieve success will fall prey to this strain.

Call it laziness, call it writer’s block, call it the demise of the artist or whatever you want really. The outcome is the same… A blog in severe decline.

There’s nothing more drabby than an unloved blog. If an audience ever arrives at such a display of neglect, which they probably won’t, they’ll immediately get the impression that the individual behind the blog will be equally inattentive to their needs.

If the blog is well maintained and full of original, fresh, and inspiring content, then you will benefit from increased traffic, revenue, and sales, if that is…

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