Author feature ‘Breakers of the Dawn’ by Zachariah Wahrer

Breakers of the Dawn is the first book in the Dawn Saga by Zachariah Wahrer.

Humanity has fallen from its once majestic place amongst the stars. Desperate for more resources and colonizable planets, humans wage xenocidal war on the peaceful Enthos.

Dispatched by the Founder to subdue an uprising, Crasor Tah Ahn unearths an alien relic. It somehow knows everything about him, even his darkest secrets. The device promises unimaginable power. Crasor knows it’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but can he trust the strange artefact?

Pulling out her side arm, Felar checked the weapon to make sure it was ready. The small, tungsten alloy rail rounds were powerful enough to take down the creatures, but she wouldn’t have to discharge the weapon if her plan was successful. Stealth was her best tactic. Will they continue to hunt as a pack or will they split up to search? Felar didn’t know which was worse.

She manually slid the door open and poked her head out. A few small emergency lights showed an ominous hallway. Felar couldn’t make out any targets or threats. Low light optics would greatly increase her effectiveness, but neither she nor her squad had deployed with it, not anticipating the need. If they had told us where we were going sooner, she thought, inwardly cursing Ashamine Forces Command.

Felar slipped out into the hall, careful to be silent. The floor was hard and her boots soft, making the task easier. The main obstacle was to avoid kicking or stepping on fallen debris. Fortunately, there was little in this area. The darkness made every task harder, forcing Felar to stay focused.

Nearing a hallway junction, she slowed. Rushing will get me killed, but being overly cautious means more exposure to danger. 

Easing her head around the corner, Felar dry heaved at what she saw. A large hulking form stood over what was once a human body. It’s matte black skin was barely visible in the darkness. Felar had to squint to make out the creature’s stout arms and narrow legs. The low light obscured the monstrosity’s actions, but from the sounds—wet slapping accompanied by tearing and grunting noises—she knew what was happening.

Felar felt repulsed and disgusted by the creature and what it was doing. Why are these things here? They had to be some sort of genetically modified organism, something manufactured to kill. Or maybe they were an unknown alien species. Whatever the case, she didn’t want to get closer to find out.

Why was the mission briefing so flawed? It said nothing of these fiendish creatures and their powerful killing ability. They effortlessly took out an entire squad of soldiers, Felar thought, fear beginning to creep back in. She would tell the blighthearted buggers about their shoddy intel when she got back to AF Command.

Felar quickly transitioned across the intersection and continued on, hoping to find a map of the facility. The creature didn’t pursue. I need to orient myself. Getting lost in the earlier chaos had left her with no idea where she was in relation to the exit. Another stupid mistake, she chided herself.

Finding a terminal in one of the hallways, Felar began to hash it, attempting to break through the security lockout. “Access denied,” kept popping up no matter what she tried. Finally, an anti-hashing protocol locked the terminal off the network, and she was forced to move on. Time for a new tactic.”

A Bite of... Zachariah Wahrer

 

Question 1: Facing your demons? How much of what you write could be classed as therapy?

Interesting question! I consider a lot of my writing as therapy, but maybe not in a “normal” way. I love speculating how humanity might make good (and bad) decisions in the future and how our choices now might come back to bite us in the ass. This gives me the opportunity to cope, reflect, and digest the negative things that are currently happening on Earth. It does feel good!

Question 2: Have you ever written somebody you dislike into a book, just so you could make them suffer?

Not directly. None of my characters are literal translations from reality. I’ve definitely incorporated aspects of people I dislike, but not out of spite. For me, it is more about crafting authentic personalities. I do the same thing with friends and family for the positive aspects of my characters (and some of the negatives too). 🙂

Question three: Why do you write? Money is an acceptable answer.

It’s complicated. With my current writing income, it’s hard to say money, but that is definitely a long-term goal / factor. The biggest reason why I write is my readers. Without them, I wouldn’t be a full-time author. The writer / reader symbiosis brings me immense joy, and is my biggest motivator!

 

Zachariah Wahrer spent the first twelve years of his adult life doing various jobs around the United States, such as eBay salesman, punk rock musician, horse halter craftsman, and rock climbing gym route-setter.

Near the end of 2014, Zachariah moved into a Honda Odyssey with his wife, Sarah, and began traveling the United States and Canada, seeking inspiration and adventure while writing and rock climbing full-time. His first novel, Breakers of the Dawn: Book 1 of the Dawn Saga, was electronically published in December of 2014.

When not deeply immersed in imaginary worlds, Zachariah loves to experience the outdoors as well as read about science, futurology, and trans-humanism. He also enjoys home-brewing and creating digital art to accompany his writing.

Currently, Zachariah lives in Bozeman, Montana.

You can find Zachariah's books on AmazonSmashwordsGoogleBarnes & NobleKobo and iBooks. If you want you can follow him on Twitter or haunt him on Goodreads.
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Sunday Serial XXXVI

Anna just sat down plump at the table and grinned a big,  soppy, stupid grin. She was still grinning when Danny and Paul wandered into the room.
“Hello you pair. What you doing on the twenty-ninth and thirtieth of next month?”
“Nothing. Why?”
“I’d kind of like Danny to be a witness at my wedding on the twenty-ninth. It’ll be just us and Bonnie and our witnesses with their partners. Then we’re having a big celebration party here on the thirtieth. You up for it?”
Danny grabbed her in a bear hug and mussed her hair lovingly.
“I should just about reckon we are. Ain’t we love?”
Paul pushed him aside and gave Anna a smacking kiss. “Can I be your bridesmaid?”
“Yeah. You and Bonnie. And Colin if he wants.”
“Who Colin?”
“Sam’s best mate’s partner. He’s even camper than you…’
“Oh well. Does that mean Sam will be the only straight man at the wedding?”
“Yeah. Probably. But I reckon he can cope. Now. Drinks? Wine? Red?”
“Yes, yes and yes.”

Sam came in from the utility with a bottle of red wine under each arm. He opened both and poured liberally.
“I take it you two are up for this wedding business.”
“Course they are,” Anna giggled. “What about Ben and Colin?”
“Yeah. Though I had to do some fast talking to get Colin along. He had some trouble with Christina. She wouldn’t have him in the house. And if we did meet anywhere she always managed to insert the word faggot into the conversation. I explained that you couldn’t give a flying fuck about sexual orientation, but Colin was still suspicious. Then I hit on a plan. Told him Paul was going to be a bridesmaid, and was prettier than him. That fetched him!”
“Oh Sam,” Anna laughed, “that was a bit underhand.”
“True though! Did I notice some nibbles out back?”
“You did. Fetch!”
“Woof.”
Bonnie got out of her basket and gave Sam and Anna a very old fashioned look, before retiring to the garden.
“Oops,” Danny grinned, “you’ve pissed off Bon Bon”.
“She’ll forgive us,” Anna said. “She adores Sam, but realises he’s a bit mental.”
“Thanks for the character reference, love,” Sam’s voice was amused as he returned to the room carrying a tray of olives and air-dried ham and other delicious nibbly things.
“Join the club,” Paul said smilingly. “She once told a group of our friends that I’m only pretending to be limp-wristed to get out of physical labour.”
“Yeah,” Danny agreed, “although that’s very probably true. But apart from an unaccountable attachment for my little sister, I haven’t seen any signs of mental illness in Sam.”
“Touché,” Anna howled with laughter. “I’ve missed you, you bloody old pervert. Now listen up, we’re telling everybody that the party is to celebrate Sam’s fortieth. Which is actually our wedding day. He’s mad enough to consider marrying me to be an ideal birthday gift.”
Danny smote his forehead with the heel of his hand.
“Yup. He is insane. Fancy wanting to marry a homely spinster like you.”
Anna’s voice was ineffably sad.
“Yeah. I know. I can’t believe it.”
Danny scooped her off her feet.
“Silly cow. I’m just teasing. It’s obvious that you two are head over heels. And I reckon you have a bloody good shot at a solid marriage.”
Anna wriggled until he put her down.
“I think so too. I never expected to find this. I have to keep pinching myself.”
“Don’t do that love,” Paul said gently, “you’ll bruise your happiness.”
He raised his glass.
“A toast to marriage.”

When they were seated at the kitchen table munching antipasto and drinking, Anna looked at Danny and Paul.
“Any plans between now and the wedding?”
“No.”
“Would you like to borrow the camper?”
“Can we? Won’t you two be wanting it?”
Anna looked at Sam who shook his head regretfully.
“If we want a honeymoon I won’t be taking any time off between now and then, so I’m fine with it. In fact, I’ll be lucky to manage more than ten days after. It’s a bit short notice…”
Danny wobbled his eyebrows at Paul who nodded and grinned.
“We already talked about offering to Bonnie sit so you two could slip off for a few days. Get some sun on your backs. So what say we bugger off in the camper and come back for the wedding? Then we can stay with Bon Bon while you two have a honeymoon.”
Sam risked a glance at Anna’s face, which was shining with happiness.
“Sounds like a plan to me,” he grinned. “Where’d you like to go fiancée?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well why don’t I surprise you then? Is your passport up to date?”
“Yeah.”
“Right then. Leave it to me.”
Anna smiled mistily.
“I think I’d like that.”
“Good. That’s a done deal. Now I think you’d better feed me before I start stealing from Bonnie’s bowl.”
She laughed.
“Lay the table then. And I’ll see what I can root out.”
Sam went to the utility for place mats, cutlery, condiments, salad, and a basket of bread, while Anna opened the oven door. First to be rooted out were big jacket potatoes. Anna cut crosses in their fluffy tops before popping a pat of butter into each. Then she opened the oven again and retrieved a cast iron casserole dish, which, when she lifted the lid, filled the room with a delicious aroma.
“Oh. Boeuf bourgignon,” Paul said happily. “Anna cooked that for us the first time Danny took me home. It made me feel welcome.”
“And you are still welcome,” Anna smiled, “prickles and all.”

Jane Jago

You Will Never Know


My child, you will never know
How much I cried inside over your tears
How I always tried to soothe your fears
How much each day I lived my life for you
How all you were, I see in all you do.


But now your fears are fears I cannot see
And all your tears cannot be soothed by me
Alone you face the trials that life has wrought
Alone, I watch you bear what it has brought.

The path you take is now far from your home
You walk through places I can never roam
But still I cry inside at what has come
And still I wish so much could be undone
My child, you will never know…

E.M. Swift-Hook

Weekend Wind Down – One Week

One week…

At the time it hadn’t seemed like too much to barter with the little man with the domed skull who had offered a solution to her predicament. At first he had asked for her virginity as a downpayment, but when she laughed and pointed out that it was a rose that had been plucked a good while since he had pushed out his long upper lip and made an old-maidish tisking noise. But then he had brightened. His master, he said, would be content with a week of her company in recompense for helping her out. At a time convenient to her, of course. 

She had agreed hastily, frankly in so much fear of the consequences of her actions that she would have agreed to anything he suggested. Now, however, with the threat of prison no longer hanging over her head, she would have dearly loved to wriggle out of the deal, but there seemed to be no escape. 

It was, therefore, with a fairly bad grace that she boarded the Eurostar for Brussels on a freezing cold Sunday afternoon in the pouring rain.

“Belgium…” she mused inwardly, “who lives in Belgium?”

That was a question that she was never to have answered. A pressed and barbered chauffeur, carrying a huge umbrella, met her on the station concourse and escorted her to a waiting limousine. He tenderly helped her into the rear of the vehicle.

“Our journey will be of about four hours duration, madam.”

She nodded as regally as she could, whilst mentally trying to pin down his middle European accent. 

He got into the driver’s seat and the vehicle moved away as smoothly as if it ran on ball bearings. The sound of the doors locking was almost shockingly loud. She reminded herself that her own more modest saloon car performed precisely the same function when the speed reached ten miles per hour, but that was of very little comfort as she looked at the chauffeur’s shaven neck and the way his cap was placed precisely centrally on his almost square head. Not normally a woman noted for her imagination, she gave herself a mental shake, but couldn’t rid herself of a small worm of dread lurking deep in the pit of her stomach. 

The journey seemed endless and she was only able to endure it with to

tolerable equanimity by concentrating on her own breathing and looking out of the window at the sheets of rain. As the day grew darker, the rain grew increasingly sleety and by the time they turned off the autobahn onto what was obviously a private drive it was snowing in earnest. The woman examined her own perfectly manicured fingernails and wondered just what she had allowed herself to be manoeuvred into. Pushing half a million dollars worth of assistance out of a sticky situation to the back of her mind, she allowed herself to feel misused.

The big car swished to a halt beside a set of ironwork gates. Her driver rolled down his window and said something she didn’t catch. The gates slid open and the car picked up speed again. Only now they were driving through a rocky tunnel. She shivered involuntarily. The tunnel was dark and it seemed that the headlights barely pierced the gloom. 

“Almost there madam.”

That wasn’t exactly reassuring either.

Not being a fanciful woman, she wasn’t sure why her heart dropped to somewhere in the region of the needle-sharp heels of her boots when the car stopped outside the deeply carved, black walls of an ornate castle. Walls that were being rapidly decorated with white snow frosting. Somewhere in the very back of her mind she heard the words ‘Castle of Otranto’ and some long-forgotten fear grasped her by the throat. At that moment, had there been anywhere to run she would have fled. But there wasn’t. Instead she set her foot on the bottom step and mounted the worn stone steps, bending her mind to grace and suppleness grace in place of gaucherie and fear. 

As she reached the huge doors one leaf was thrown open and a cadaverous figure in the dark suit of a butler stood regarding her. She was a woman well accustomed to servants, so she glided past paying him no more heed than if he had been one of the gargoyles that glowered down on her from the dark stone walls.

Inside the place a huge fire burned in the sort of grate that could have accommodated a whole tree. A servant bustled forward and took her coat. She automatically fluffed her hair and touched fingers to her perfectly painted lips before turning to face the figure that uncurled itself from a huge chair beside that crackling fire. For an instant she saw, or thought she saw, grey scaly skin, yellowish teeth, and long bright claws on strangely articulated fingers. But then the image wavered and all she could really begin to focus on was icy green eyes with vertical slotted pupils. She thought she might have been about to faint, but she was not granted even that small mercy. However, she had never lacked courage and walked to meet her fate with a straight spine and a cool smile. 

One week…

One week can be a lifetime or as fleeting as a passing breath. 

From that day until the end of a pampered and hugely successful life she could never decide which she experienced. All she knew for certain was that whatever happened to her in those seven days she must have pleased Him greatly to be allowed to leave on her own two feet.

©️ Jane Jago 2018

The Thinking Quill

To whoever is deluded enough to read this crap.

This is Jacintha Farquhar, woman of a certain age, and distaff parent of the delusional and currently incapacitated Moons. I never thought I’d feel sorry for the poor self-centred little twat. But I do. I actually hurt for him. He’s so bruised and battered that I have sent him away to lick his wounds in the fleshpots of Mykonos. I packed him off with a bag of clothes, a few smutty novels, and an introduction to a couple of gay friends who run a very popular bar there. As to what precisely happened to the sad little bugger, that’s his business. I’m not about to discuss it with a bunch of prurient wannabes. If he wants to tell you when he gets back into the saddle that’s his affair. But for now, mind your own…

If it was up to me, I’d stop this crap too. However, it means a lot to my battered son, so I have promised to keep it going until he returns from his sabbatical.

I have decided to write about life lessons, because if you lot really want to write anything decent you’ve got to live it first.

 

Life Lessons for Writers – One: Alcohol.

In almost every piece of adult literature you will find booze, and as a general rule boozing falls into one of half a dozen categories:

Polite drinking.

Social drinking.

Party drinking.

Getting pissed drinking.

Drowning the sorrows drinking.

Alcoholism.

 

So then, where are you on the scale? A sherry on the third Thursday of every month? Prosecco hangovers on Sunday mornings? A bottle of vodka in every cupboard in the house?

Whatever your own consumption, consider that as the strongest use of alcohol you should ever write about. Of course, many of you will be timid shits like my poor little bastard of a son, and will consider a glass of Fernet Branca on a sunny afternoon to be the height of decadence. But on the other side of your shiny little threepenny bit you will be wanting to write about drinking and roistering. Well. You bloody can’t….

If you want to write about a drunken orgy, bloody well find one (effing Google it) and go and get completely off your face.

In the same vein, if you really want to write about the miseries of a hangover, or the utter awfulness of drinking so much you vomit what feels like your toenails into the gutter, then at least have the frigging courage to try it out and see what it really feels like. My recipe for the first: a bottle of good red wine with your dinner, followed by at least a dozen cocktails, and four large brandies. To achieve the second, take recipe one and add a kebab and half a bottle of Bucky at the end.

When you’ve done that. And taken a week to recover. Then you can write something that will be at least recognisable as real.

Now piss off and get on with it, because, to be brutally honest, you lot are getting on my tits right now and I’ve a hot date with a half-bottle of calvados.

Next week: Hair pulling and brawls.

 

Jacintha Farquar, unfortunate mother of Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

Adoring Fans can join his Facebook Group but I wouldn’t bloody bother as he never does anything with it.

Coffee Break Read – A Camera

The most photographed woman of her generation looked at him politely, and offered a practised smile. It was frustrating, but he chose not to show that, instead he searched for another way to to shake her out of her self-possession.

“Does it not worry you?” he asked in his deep, hypnotic voice. “Are you never a little afraid?”

“Afraid of what?”

“That the old superstition is true, and every time you are photographed you lose a little of your soul.”

She regarded him limpidly.

“Perhaps. Perhaps I have been photographed so often that I am just a graceful shell.”

He looked into the serene depths of her remarkable amber eyes and allowed his frustration to boil over.

“Well maybe I should photograph you like that,” he snapped with sudden viciousness. “As an empty vessel remarkable only for the elegance of its window dressing.”

She made no reply, so he stared again into the depths of his imaging device – looking for something to distinguish his pictures from the thousands of others that flooded the Internet and colonised every glossy magazine on the planet. As he concentrated it seemed to him that those famous eyes grew even wider, and clearer, and that they slowly filled the viewfinder as bit by bit they dragged his soul into the abyss that lurked in their depths. 

He screamed just once, and the woman smiled the secret smile he had been looking for…

©️ Jane Jago 2018

Summer Time and the Reading is Easy…

We at the Working Title Blog like to help out when we can, so today we offer you some suggestions for books you might not have come across that you should consider sticking on your Kindle before you leave home on vacation this year. We have tried to cover a range of genres so there should be something for everyone to give a try. Needless to say, all come with a Highly Recommended sticker!

Hunting Darkness by Ian Bristow
Urban Fantasy.
DI Davis is beginning to come to terms with the fact his sergeant has been murdered, when the investigation leads him to encounter a dark druidic mystery.

Rafferty Lincoln Loves…  by Emily Williams
Contemporary YA.
An intense, witty and powerful coming of age story with startling consequences. No adult can read this and not be taken back to their days at school and any teen reading it is going to recognise themselves in this story.

Tales of a Nuisance Man by James Maxstadt.
Humorous Fantasy.
Duke Grandfather has a very unfortunate name as he is neither a Duke nor a Grandfather – he is a Nuisance Man. Hunting down ‘nuisances’ in Capital City for bounty.

The Blue Serpent by Claire Buss
Mixed Genre
A selection of short and snappy tales from sci-fi to contemporary settings. Hugely recommended.

The Vexation of Vampires by Chrys Cymri
Portal Fantasy
Penny White Five. If you’ve missed the first four do snag those first. Penny’s life gets even more complex. You will laugh and cry.

First Steps for a Hero by Judith Rook
YA Fantasy
Young adult with a twist. A likeable young hero begins to come into his destiny. Fascinating.

Do be sure to at least 'Look Inside' these books and maybe you'll discover a new favourite!

Coffee Break Read – A Life Worth Living

Brenda pouted and lifted the cream cake with tongs, before dropping it into a box.

“No, I meant that one. The one beside it. The one with the bigger cherry.”

Biting back a retort, she carefully returned the original cake to the display plate and picked up the one requested. There were days she thought she’d go insane if it weren’t for VRP.

End of the working day and she walked through the rain, half her attention on trying to avoid being splashed by passing cars or treading in too many puddles, but the rest already lost in anticipation of what was to come.

An ordinary looking house in an ordinary suburban street, Brenda slid her keycard into its lock and stepped inside.

“Hey Brenda? Who you doing this evening?”

Jake was getting changed, struggling a little to get into the skin-tight VRP suit. Getting her own suit out of her locker, Brenda thought for a moment.

“Fallon Stardasher,” she said decisively.

“Oh cool, I’ll go for Cyber Cheetah then – that’ll work well.”

A few minutes later, suited up, virtual reality headsets donned, the two set out to save the world – again.

E.M. Swift-Hook

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