Guest Interview with Cyrus Keith – Author of The NADIA Project series

Cyrus Keith is here today to talk about Critical Mass–the final book in The NADIA Project series!

What is your book about?

Ah, that there is a starter for sure. Critical Mass (coming February 2013 from MuseItUp Publishing) is the last installment of my series The NADIA Project, and finishes the story of Nadia Velasquez began in Becoming NADIA.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

That’s the weird part. Well, maybe not so weird for a writer. I had a dream one night about meeting Nadia (I didn’t know her name, just her character). She was so real, she was nearly human, but I knew she wasn’t. I also knew what would happen if her enemies (her makers) caught up with her. She looked at me with tears streaming down her face, and cried, “But I don’t want to die.”

Describe your writing in three words.

White-knuckle ride.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I start with what I call working notes. It might look like an outline, or maybe not. It’s just a running story-line, kind of like a storyboard, where I set out the major plot points: At Point A, this happens. At Point B, this happens. On and on until I set out how the story is going to end. Then I start back at the beginning and fill in the points from A to B to C, etc. all the way down the line. If something happens that changes it, I just go with the change.

Are your characters in the book based on anyone you know?

Funny you should ask. I did steal some names from people I know. No need to be too specific, they know who they are. Jenna Paine is physically based on a young lady who worked in the same department as I did for some time. Not that this lady was a butt-kicking super-spy, but her appearance and mannerisms just matched up perfectly with what I had in mind for Jenna. I did include one of the guys from the dept. in Critical Mass as well, by name and appearance. He’s a pretty good sort, and seemed to fit where I wanted someone like that, so I used him.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you?

I have to say everyone I’ve killed, left my story at the right time. The only difficulty was being so attached I didn’t want to see them go. I cried more than once in this series, mourning for dear friends whose stories just came to their suitable ends.

If your book was made into a TV series or movie, which actors would you choose to play your main characters?

I do sometimes wonder about that. I think Jake Gyllenhaal could play Jon. John Leguizamo could be Bunny. Nadia might be played by Taylor Swift, if she could handle the role.

Who gets to read your drafts before they’re published?

There’s the rub. When I first started writing, no one did. I wanted to be like the artist who reveals his brainchild only at the right time, to oohs and aahs from his adoring fans. Okay, maybe that’s exaggerating just a little bit, but I did have that kind of mentality. Since then, I’ve come to know the value of critique partners and beta readers. I have a good eight or so crit partners and three beta readers who give me the most awesome feedback on my work, and help me get it in shape for market.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve Googled?

How to say “Little Fish” like a nickname in Japanese.

What projects are you working on now?

As a matter of fact, I’m polishing off the NADIA Project with a novella that Lea Schizas and I intend to release as a free read (Did you get that “free” part?”). It details the life of Jenna Paine and how she came to be the person she is.

Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?

Hello, readers.

Okay, seriously, now. I hope you enjoy my work. The first novel in the series, Becoming NADIA, won Best Thriller honors at EPICon 2012 this year in San Antonio, and I think the following books are even better, if I say so myself. We get to explore some very deep themes of identity and spirituality and have fun dodging bullets in the bargain.

Where can readers find you and your books online?

The easy thing to say is just Google Cyrus Keith. Becoming NADIA and its sequel Unalive (Book Two) can be found on line at MuseItUp Publishing ( and are available at all your favorite online outlets as well (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Omnilit, and a host of others). Critical Mass will be available this coming February. So for everyone who’s been waiting to see how it all ends, thank you for your patience. I think you’ll find it a fitting close to the series.

Critical Mass

On their own, they’re deadly. Together, they could save the world—or destroy it.

Jenna Paine is a super spy, genetically enhanced to be more than human. Nadia Velasquez is a living weapon of mass destruction. When the secret organization who built them both decides they are no longer useful, two enemies are thrown together for the only purposes they could have in common: survival and revenge.

There’s only one way out of The Pinnacle, and that’s on a coroner’s slab. Jenna lives through a treacherous attack vowing to exact her vengeance on the people who trained her to be the most deadly agent on the planet. Wounded and on the run, she turns to the man who’s sworn to making her face charges for her involvement in the Pinnacle’s nefarious schemes.

After years spent hiding from the Pinnacle, Nadia runs into the one thing she never counted on: Shelf life. As her body breaks down, she realizes it’s only a matter of the short time she has left to redeem her existence and give her daughter a chance to live free.

In the final showdown, the two transhumans join forces against a common enemy, and the Pinnacle come to know the deadly significance of…

After three years, every suspicion was confirmed. This was the man who’d tried to kill them. Time to play.

Drawing a telescoping baton from her pocket, she caught up to him as he tried to duck down another alley. He spun with a snarl, a hand darting for his pocket. She closed in before he could draw his pistol, and went to work with the baton. Jenna broke his wrist with the first blow, and the second knocked him senseless. Stabbing out with her free hand, she grabbed his shirt and hauled him down, dragging him into the shadows.

He lay panting and whimpering in pain and fear as Jenna brought her face down close to his and hissed, “Let’s talk about Tahiti, Hamet.”

His eyes shot wide, and he began to gibber in a Middle-Eastern tongue. She placed a knee on his broken wrist. His complexion paled and he fell silent, teeth clenched in agony. “In English. I know who you work for.”

“I didn’t know it was you,” he blurted, a grimace pasted on his features. “None of us knew. We just had orders—” He moaned as a spasm gripped his broken arm. She grabbed it and gave it a light twist. She was rewarded with a howl as the man bucked off the pavement.

She shoved him back down, brandishing the baton in his face.

“Orders from whom?”

“You know as well as I,” he moaned. “You get orders. You follow them. You don’t ask questions.”

“Is that right?” She snapped the baton down on his hand. A satisfying crunch echoed off the wall, accompanied by a shriek which was cut off by her wadded up bandana.

It got worse before it got better. Jenna didn’t like that part of the job, but two things drove her on: justice, and vengeance. Jenna had to find out why The Pinnacle wanted one of their own dead, and Anna Spielberg deserved payback. Now, after three years, she was damned well going to get it. Occasional shadows drifted by the end of the alley, but at this hour and in this neighborhood, no one was going to get involved.

Hamet was tougher than she gave him credit for. By the time she got the information she wanted, there wasn’t much left of him. But the answers came. They weren’t what she wanted to hear, but the truth needed to be told. When she finally snapped his neck with a sharp twist from a rear naked choke, it felt anti-climactic. The trail she’d followed on her own for the last three years had finally come to its end. And with that end came the realization that Jenna had been trying to avoid for longer than that. Not all was well with her employers.

There were divisions among the Council. Not on the surface, for outwardly they still seemed to operate as united as ever in their cause for world peace. But underneath the placid veneer were machinations and plots. Whispers of sabotage and power plays chased each other through Jenna’s mind as she strode from the alley and back up Seventh Avenue.

Somewhere in the power struggle, someone upline had made a mistake. They issued a kill order on the wrong person, and not just because of who Anna was. Dr. Spielberg had dedicated her life to the purpose of world peace. She saw it happening within just a few more years. It wasn’t even that they tried to wipe out a seven-year-old girl as well. Sofi was as harmless as they come, a sweet, shy little thing with as much deadly potential as a pink frosted cupcake. Their worst mistake was in messing with someone assigned to Jenna Paine’s protection.

As Jenna stalked away from the body, one thing hung in her mind: she would find out who on the Council issued the kill order on Anna. And when she did, they would face the full fury of a woman scorned.

Cyrus Keith is the son of Franklin the Son of Keith the son of Herman the son of Cyrus. See how I did that? We could go on, but that would be just boring. The best thing my father taught me is that a dream with no action is despair, and to settle for less than what one could be is to accept mediocrity as a standard. We lived in a small house in Northwestern Indiana, just a cat’s throw from the Belle Gunness estate, which may explain all the ghosts in the area.

Now I make my home in Michigan with my wife and our four.

Again, thanks for joining me today. It’s been a pleasure. Looking forward to the release of Critical Mass

Guest Interview with Kat Holmes

Please welcome author Kat Holmes to Book Talk Tuesdays. Thanks for dropping by, Kat.

What is The Lighthouse about?

It’s a romance story with a murder mystery and a ghost. Rachel Westmont inherits a lighthouse from a relative she didn’t even know she had but as soon as she arrives strange things begin happening. Books fly off the shelves, an eerie voice is carried on the wind, and then bodies start to show up.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

My love of lighthouses and their rich history inspired this story. Lighthouses all over the world have a long history of hauntings, mysterious disappearances and murder. So it was a natural progression to make a story with murder and a ghost in it.

Describe your writing in three words.

Mysterious, paranormal, intense. 🙂

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

Nope, my muse decides the plot and where the whole thing is going. I just go along for the ride.

Are your characters in the book based on anyone you know?

Some are. Most are not. But writing is good therapy and a way to deal with certain people. LOL

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you?

Yes. I have a book out this month co-written with my mom and fellow author L.J. Holmes. Killing the characters off was extremely hard even though it had to be done. I cried the whole time.

If your book was made into a TV series or movie, which actors would you choose to play your main characters?

Hmm interesting. I have never thought about it. I think Rachel would be best portrayed by Portia de Rossi. As for the hero Craig, I think Viggo Mortensen would be great.

Who gets to read your drafts before they’re published?

My mom is my reader and helps me edit my work. I love her. She’s an angel.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve Googled?

Food grade diatomaceous earth. But I had a reason as weird as it sounds to google that. I’d heard it was a good remedy for fleas and needed to find out if that was true. It actually is. LOL

What projects are you working on now?

I am currently working on the sequel Hidden, my vampire novel. As soon as I finish that I will begin the next sequel in my Artica lights series.

Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?

Thank you to each and every one of you. You are the best.

Where can readers find you and your books online?

MuseItUp Publishing


When Rachel Westmont inherits a lighthouse from an aunt she didn’t even know she had, she’s overjoyed. The news couldn’t have come at a better time. Newly divorced from a self-serving doctor, the change of scenery is just what she needs. So she packs up and leaves California for a little island off the coast of Maine. Rachel falls in love with both Star Island and the beautiful lighthouse and cottage she’s inherited. But, odd things begin to happen right from the first day. Cold chills permeate the cottage and books fly off the shelves. And someone seems to be playing pranks on her. But when the ante gets upped and someone tries to kill her, Rachel must turn to hunky local sheriff Craig Lewis for protection. Now bodies are turning up, people are getting hurt, and Rachel is starting to suspect her aunt didn’t die a natural death. Can Craig stop a killer from claiming Rachel as their next victim? A little help from a ghost may be in order.


Razor-sharp pain took her breath away. Her body lay broken and death raged to claim her. How cruel fate was. She’d just found peace and it vanished, stolen from her in the blink of an eye. Why did this happen? What did she ever do to deserve this? Who would care for her beloved lighthouse?

A moment later, or perhaps an eternity, the pain stopped. She felt lighter than ever before. She felt free. No anguish, no loneliness, no misery. Everything in the world seemed perfect and filled with joy. She couldn’t help the laugh bursting from her. This was life as destiny truly meant it to be. Mortal life could never compare to this freedom. Home beckoned.

She looked down at her body as she floated upward. It lay crumpled at the bottom of the stairs leading to the tower of the lighthouse she cared for all her mortal life. She could see the blood pooling around her head and the unnatural position of her limbs. Without a doubt they’d shattered as she’d landed. The sight would horrify her if she was still bound to her human body,but it meant nothing to her now.

Turning away, she looked upward as her form floated, heading for home. Excitement and anticipation filled her with glee. She’d get to be with her dear parents, after so many years apart. She missed him terribly. Her brother determined to break all ties with his past, both his home and what was left of his family, turned his back on her and the island home they’d gown up on. She’d been so alone for too long.

Rising, she finally reached the top of the lighthouse stairs and frowned at the hooded figure. Memory flooded back. The argument that ensued between them flashed before her. Then came the horrible moment when she’d been pushed and tumbled down the stairs. She’d been murdered.

She watched as her killer, calm as could be, walked down the treacherous steps of the lighthouse tower, checked her body for life signs, and then walked out without even a backward glance. No compassion showed on her killer’s face, only cruel satisfaction. No one would suspect her death to be anything other than a terrible accident.

The lighthouse that she’d long served, as keeper, dated back to the late 1700’s. The stairs were steep and very narrow as they wound up toward the top of the lighthouse where the light shined out. It possessed no railing either. It would be so easy for someone to slip and fall, and any fall would be deadly. Everyone would just assume that was what happened to her. No one would suspect she’d been pushed.

She could see the light now. It would be so easy to just head toward it. But she couldn’t leave, not yet. She couldn’t allow her murderer to get away with killing her. She needed to make sure her killer got caught. The light was so beautiful and how she ached to follow it, but she turned away from its promise of peace and joy and headed back down.

This lighthouse gave her haven all her life. Now she would haunt it until her murder was avenged. This she vowed.

I’m a dreamer and a lover of words. Books have been my passion since I listened to my mother reading to me as a child. The love she instilled in me has culminated in my desire to write the kind of stories I have always loved to read. I believe books are the single most important invention mankind has ever created. I started writing when I was only fifteen for my own enjoyment. I still write for my own pleasure, but now I get to share that love with my readers.

Thank you so much for joining me today, Kat. It’s been a joy. 🙂

Guest Interview with S.S.Hampton, Sr.

Please give a warm welcome to author S.S. Hampton, Sr.  Thanks so much for stopping by.

What is The Gates of Moses about?

Venice is sinking. A powerful storm coming in from the Adriatic Sea will prove to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. An engineer who attempted to save Venice failed, and though he evacuates his staff, he remains. He hasn’t told anyone that many years before during a visit to Venice, a succubus claimed him for her lover. One member of his staff suspects the truth, and she slips back into Venice to confront the succubus, to free him before the stormy sea breaks the sea wall and submerges the city forever.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’ve always wanted to visit Venice. I’ve read how much of the coast along the northern Adriatic Sea is actually sinking, and rising sea levels from global warming, is putting Venice at risk. I think the image of such a beautiful city sinking beneath the sea is a powerful one. Throw in a dash of the Atlantis myth, and a pinch of legends about succubi, and it all came together. Along with some extensive plotting and re-plotting.

Describe your writing in three words.

Speculative. Dramatic. Paranormal.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

No. I develop the plot, and though it’s not written in stone, I generally follow it unless something in the story compels me to change course.

Are your characters in the book based on anyone you know?

No. Never have. I may borrow a trait or two, but that’s about it. My service in the Army National Guard, along with a deployment in 2006-2007 during which a Soldier from my unit was Killed In Action, and several were Wounded In Action, has left me with a certain, “attitude.” I tend to write a lot of military fiction, especially after my deployment. If I were to base a character on someone I know, and I wrote that the character was killed, or suffered horrific injuries, I would feel like I’ve cursed the real person to such a fate. I’m not superstitious, if that’s the word to use, but for that reason I won’t base any character on someone I know.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you?

No. I haven’t written a series yet where a character keeps appearing, but when I do I’ll have no problem with that because sometimes that has to happen.

If your book was made into a TV series or movie, which actors would you choose to play your main characters?

For the part of Dr. Gregorio Romano, the engineer, I’d choose Channing Tatum (The Eagle). He’s a bit young for the character I envision, but hey, it’s a film. For the role of his staff member, Patrizia Celentano, who returns for him, I’d choose Erin Kelly (Loving Annabelle), or Leelee Sobieski (numerous film roles). And for the role of the succubus Alessandra Lombardi, I’d choose Virginia Madsen (numerous film roles) or Monica Bellucci (numerous film roles).

Who gets to read your drafts before they’re published?

No one. I’m not a member of a writing club, and I suspect family and friends would tell me that my story is great—even before I start editing it. I know it’s not great. So, I edit the manuscript until I believe it’s ready, then I submit it to the publisher.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve Googled?

Ahhh, I don’t remember. And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What projects are you working on now?

Fiction-wise, there’s a story about a haunted German Tiger tank in the Afrikakorps during World War II. There’s several stories about December 21, 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar and the world, according to some believers. A story about zombies. And I’m preparing for an initial foray into the Cthulhu Mythos (H.P. Lovecraft is one of my favourite authors). I like writing horror stories. I guess that as long as it isn’t real, a lot of us secretly enjoy the sudden “jump” when “something goes bump in the night.” And I like combining horror, or the paranormal, with military fiction. Somehow, to me, the two just go together. After all, it seems like there’s plenty of “true” stories about haunted battlefields. Anyway, on a non-fiction level, I’m getting my website up and running to showcase excerpts from my stories, along with story covers, and to post photographs (I’m also a photographer). I’m also trying to raise funds so I can conduct a PTSD research project here in Las Vegas, and up in South Dakota, for my final anthropology class.

Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?

Only that I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my stories, and you thought it was time well spent. And I truly appreciate your interest. Thank you.

Where can readers find you and your books online?

Dark Opus Press

Edge SF

Melange Books

Musa Publishing

MuseItUp Publishing

Ravenous Romance

An engineer dedicated to saving Venice from the rising seas, fails in his task. As a severe storm and high tides threaten to burst through the flood walls, he resolves to remain in Venice with a ghostly lover who claimed his heart years before. A woman from his staff who loves him, does not evacuate, but remains to battle his ghostly lover before he dies in a sinking Venice…

The dull booms, like the measured beats of a primeval heart, echoed through the gray drizzling afternoon. Each boom was a countdown to a finely predicted cataclysm that man, through his mistaken notion that he could control nature, had finally admitted that he was powerless to hold back.

Dr. Gregorio Romano, tall, with dark brown hair and watchful hazel eyes, stood before the open tall narrow window of his corner office in the ornate, gilded Ducal Palace of the once La Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, and peered into the gray drizzle toward the unseen barrier islands. The almost submerged islands of Lido and Pellestrina, with their channels opening onto the Adriatic Sea, formed the southeastern perimeter of the timeless Venetian lagoon. He listened to the echoing booms of the rising, stormy Adriatic, and thought of a mythical, prehistoric mother who gave birth to an imaginative species that dreamed of the impossible and often made it happen. And now the mother was ready to take back one of the greatest dreams of her children, ready to clasp it deep within her bosom.


“Yes,” he replied as he gazed at the gray choppy waters of the lagoon.

“Have you reconsidered? Are you ready to evacuate?”

“Not yet.” Gregorio tilted his head slightly as a sleek dark gondola glided effortlessly across frothy, white-capped waters and halted before the flooded wharf, the Riva degli Schiavoni, in front of the Palace.

Patrizia Celentano, the first and last female gondolier of Venice, looked up at him and gave a friendly wave. He raised a hand in return. Her gondola was a traditionally built and shaped boat, but rather than the traditional black as required by law, she painted it a dark wine color. Though she offered to erect a shelter to protect Gregorio from the elements, he always preferred to ride in the open.

“We can evacuate you by force if necessary.”

“You won’t,” Gregorio smiled as he turned to face his computer on the polished wooden desk. The broad, bearded face of his boss, Dr. Niccolo Ricci, nodded in agreement. “There’s no need, and a helicopter is scheduled to pick me up from the roof of my home tomorrow morning at 0600 hours.”

“The calculations might be incorrect. The gates could break tonight…”

“The Gates of Moses.” Melange Books, August 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-61235-440-8

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). He served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004. He was mobilized for active duty for almost three years. He continues to serve in the Guard, where he holds the rank of staff sergeant. He is a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and is studying for a degree in anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. He has wanted to be a writer since he was 15 years old. His first short story was published in 1992, and it wasn’t until 2001 that he had another short story published. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Melange Books, Musa Publishing,

A big thank you to SS Hampton, Sr. for joining me today. It’s been a pleasure. 🙂


The conference begins today and runs until October 14th. Woohoo! I’m looking forward to attending so many of the workshops including; 7 Steps to Writing Romantic Suspense with Sandra Clarke, True Lies – Writing Covert Training and Missions in Fiction with D.S. Kane, and Supporting Characters with Devon Ellington.


I’m thrilled to participate in my first Six Sentence Sunday!  Click here to check out all the other entries.


A reporter’s determination to expose an illegal human cloning project places an innocent child in the crosshairs of a master criminal.
(Available January 2013 at MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, SmashWords and more!)

The plan was perfect.

There would be no room for failure this time. The hunt would end tonight, in Las Vegas.

Andrew West had seen the bitch standing like a statue in the parking lot.

Man, if he’d only had a rifle handy, he could’ve picked her off with a single shot.


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