Enter to win a copy of Angels Fall

Angels Fall cover large

Angels Fall by N.S. Beranek

Tired of being told–by straight and gay alike–that he loves “incorrectly,” vampire Ehrichto Salvatolle gave up on the idea of having romantic love long ago. When a member of the created family he’s focused on instead comes under threat from a mysterious illness, Ehrichto strikes a deal with his own sire, to return to the sire’s bed in exchange for his help. But when he meets the great-grandson of the first man to break his heart, Ehrichto spies a chance to have the one thing he’s always wanted: true love.

Lethe Press. Paperback, 270 pages.


Enter to win a copy of the book (paperback or ebook) by commenting with an answer to the question below.

Ehrichto met his first love, Patrick Conway, outside the warehouse of the Conway Distillery, near the northwest corner of Fifth and Main Streets in Louisville, KY. At that time it was part of “Whisky Row” and bustling with activity due to its proximity to the wharf. Here’s a photo of the block, back when Ehrichto and Patrick met:


Decades later, when Ehrichto crosses paths with Patrick’s great-grandson, Michael Conway Ferguson, what building stands on the former site of the distillery? Leave your answer in the comments section below. A winner will be chosen from the correct answers. Be sure to include an email or blog address to be contacted.

Can’t wait for your copy? Pre-order at http://www.lethepressbooks.com


Cover reveal: Angels Fall


Here is the cover of my debut novel Angels Fall, which will be released by Lethe Press later this year. I think it’s stunning. My thanks to designer Matt Cresswell of Inkspiral Book & Cover Design, and to my editor, Steve Berman.

Angels Fall cover large

After decades away, vampire Ehrichto Salvatolle has agreed to return, for good, to the polyfidelitous household of his sire, Kabil Dorjan, in exchange for help dealing with his only progeny, Nick. Nick’s penchant for shooting the world’s deadliest neurotoxins into his veins seems to finally be catching up to him. He may be immortal, but he’s wasting away.

Ehrichto is willing to make the sacrifice to save his friend, in part because he’s given up on having the thing he wants most: the kind of lasting romance his parents enjoyed. As a child he was told he wasn’t allowed to have that kind of relationship with another man, while the men with whom he became involved told him he was crazy to want it. Men, everyone else agreed, do not fall in love with other men.

When Ehrichto meets Michael Conway Ferguson he spies a chance to finally be loved by someone with whom he is in love. But does his deal with Dorjan mean it’s too late for that? And even if it isn’t, after internalizing everyone else’s opinions about what he should or shouldn’t desire, can Ehrichto manage to believe that he deserves to be happy?

Releasing this fall from Lethe Press.


No Stopping Saturday

No Stopping Saturday

“Well, this is not how the city normally is,” Dr. Reilly explains. “Don’t get me wrong, I like Thunder and all the rest of the Derby events, but… Let’s just say we collectively lose our minds at this time of year. My fear is you’re going to get an erroneous first impression of Louisville.”

Ehrichto had been surprised to find the downtown area being set up for a crowd, city workers re-arranging sawhorses to block off certain lanes to traffic, and police milling about on foot, their cruisers parked haphazardly across otherwise deserted intersections. From signs posted in shop windows he’d figured out that “Thunder Over Louisville” began with an air show at 2pm and culminated after dark with a sizeable display of fireworks.

“Oh, don’t worry, this isn’t the first time I’ve been to Louisville,” he assures the doctor. “My family is from here, actually. But, now, it is the first I’ve been in town for this ‘Thunder’. I gather it’s quite a big deal?”

The doctor chuckles. “It’s only the biggest annual fireworks show in North America. Is that a big enough deal for you?”

 Angels Fall by N. S. Beranek, forthcoming from Lethe Press.

Calm before the storm.

KCA with Hollenbachs I took this

The Thunder Over Louisville hype is not what brought Ehrichto to the hotel. He’d been stopped in his tracks by the sight that greeted him at Fifth and Main. For a moment he’d wondered if he was somehow on the wrong block, or if maybe they’d re-numbered the streets, any explanation at all besides the obvious and unthinkable, that they’d torn down the Conway Distillery building. But they had. All the buildings on that block were gone, replaced by an angular structure of light brown brick and soaring green glass capped by a rounded, corrugated steel roof. The building looked for all the world like a giant soup can laid on its side.

He was standing, staring at it in horror when a voice to his left said, “I know, right? It’s the only decent block in the whole damned city. I so cannot wait to get to Man-hattan.”

Bardo by N. S. Beranek, forthcoming from Lethe Press.

Short Stories 365/336

“Beef Elvis” by Dorian Bridges from Glitterwolf: Halloween (October, 2014). Edited by Matt Cresswell.

I was not expecting to find any pure humor in this collection, but boy am I glad this made it in.

This. Is. Hysterical.

Perhaps you have a friend who loves to complain about everything? I’m talking about someone who has elevated complaining to an art form—a performance art form—and made schadenfreude respectable?

Think Simon Cowell.

It’s more than fifty years in the future and all the worst aspects of our modern culture are not only extant, they’ve been multiplied a hundredfold. Auto-tuned songs have become songs sung via lab-created vocal chords (the squick-worthy Beef Elvis of the title), and every last thing has been commercialized, even outer space. Vampire Zed is doomed to witness all of it. Worse, he’s witnessing it alone, without his audience and romantic partner, John. John could also throw a class-A snit, which entertained Zed. But half a century ago John decided he couldn’t deal anymore, and slipped off into self-induced torpor.

John had been asleep since the year 2013. Gangnam style had been the final straw. When he and Zed were in the gloomy depths of a club on New Year’s Eve, Zed could see him slowly losing it, getting drunker and drunker as he ranted endlessly about the music, the outfits, Jagerbombs and the smoking ban.  At 11:45 a kid in a neon t-shirt declaring “YOLO!” had spilled John’s drink, and John had headbutted him in the face. Zed managed to drag him out of sight of the bouncers, but just then, they started playing Gangnam Style. And all around them, people started doing the dance. That was when John lost it.      

The story is funny when it’s just Zed wandering along beneath a dark thought bubble, but it’s even better when John wakes up.

“How long was I asleep for? Is that awful man dead yet?”

It’s non-stop funny. Lest you think it isn’t also frightening, and question why it’s in this issue, let me assure you it is very frightening. Or do you think our Duck Dynasty, Koch Brothers, Kardashian, Amazon, Sara Palin, Mama June and Duggar family-addled culture is quaint?

Short Stories 365/327

“Maternal Instincts” by Jeffrey Ricker, published by Untreed Reads, 2011.

Lisa Weiss has a problem. A teenaged employee of her local grocery store is a vampire and he’s bitten her. Now she’s a vampire too. The thing is, though, she’s a married woman, a mother of two. How can she also be a bloodsucker?

The author mines a good bit of humor from the absurd situation while setting up the parameters of Lisa’s new reality. Just after we get situated there’s a complication, but the story ends before even attempting to resolve it. This piece must actually be the opening chapters of a vampire novel that hasn’t yet seen publication.

Short Stories 365/253

“Saint Louis, 1990” by Jewelle Gomez from Night Shadows: Queer Horror (Bold Strokes Books 2012). Edited by Greg Herren and J.M. Redmann.

“Gilda was more than alive.”

What a great opening line. Who in their right mind could look away after that? What a way to characterize vampirism. Not “undead” but “more than alive”. That’s fantastic.

In the last review I didn’t go into the mechanics of the immortality in this series. Gilda and the members of her vampire family do not kill when they feed, and they always give something back in the form of a psychological boon. They are somewhat telepathic in that they can read a person’s thoughts, or maybe sense their emotions. They can get a bead on what it is that a person—I hesitate to use the term “victim”—fears or desires most, and they implant an idea related to that in their minds, in exchange for the blood they’ve taken. They boost the person’s confidence or allay their fears. That might not be the sort of vampire story you’re seeking, but it works for me.

When we catch up to Gilda this time she’s hurrying home to her partner, Effie. She’s waylaid by Samuel, a rogue member of their vampire family. He holds a grudge against Gilda because he feels she replaced him as the favorite of the vampire who created them. He’s right, but it’s not Gilda’s fault, not owing to any action she took. Samuel can’t understand that, though, and he’s seeking revenge.

Gilda arrives home to find Effie gone, but no signs of foul play. Instead there’s a note telling her that she’s gone to meet up with two other members of their vampire family, who are back in town. Sorel and Anthony were mentioned in yesterday’s story, and it was nice to learn more about them here. I wasn’t expecting to change viewpoints to Sorel, and that was a bit jarring, but overall the shift was welcome. I liked being able to see Gilda and the entire situation from another perspective. Sorel is even older than Gilda, and doesn’t share her romantic notions about existence. His take on the disgruntled vampire Samuel and what must be done about him is not nearly as sympathetic as hers.

There’s a lot of back story interspersed with the current action in this installment. Now, I’m one for lots and lots of detail, but even I began to feel somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the information I was being asked to digest. That said, I absolutely loved the unfolding theme of the piece, about the dangers of ignorance and self-pity combining to create a fear-filled, destructive, and ultimately irredeemable being.

I can’t wait to read the rest of Gilda’s stories.