Guest Blog: Josh Klafter

My first ever guest blog spot has to go to none other than Josh Klafter. He's an incredible writer and an even better friend. I'm eagerly awaiting the completion and release of his debut novel, but we can all get a taste of the universe his novel takes place in with this short story.

Klafter is a fiction author and gonzo journalist living in New York City. When he isn't writing, Josh can be found working at his synagogue, embarrassing himself at a convention, or in his apartment researching and analyzing the writing of George R. R. Martin.

You can see Klafter and his work on:

Facebook: /JoshKlafterAuthor
Twitter: @AuthorKlafter

Check out Klafter's short story below. I guarantee it'll suck you in and you'll be wishing for more!

Mission Log #257

Team: The Protectors of the People

Team ID: 6264545

Team Leader: Sensori

Mission Log # 257


    Every team has that one mission, the unforeseen disaster waiting to happen. It’s inevitable in our line of work. If you don’t believe that, you must be new here. For all you hotshot rookies who think you’re the best thing since sliced bread, here’s what’s in store for you. You get cocky, you go in arrogant and come out crippled. Crippled by a clear defeat, or the loss of innocent bystanders, is one thing. Crippled by the loss of a team member is entirely another.

    To the council, I apologize for the delay in this recording. With the funeral this past Sunday… no…  I’ll be honest. I’ve been delaying the inevitable of this recording out of fear. This log will be the hardest I’ve had to record yet, but, without a doubt, the most important. I hope this will serve as a lesson in caution to all the other career heroes in New York... no... the world. I hope you’ll bear with me through this log, and be patient if I find myself tearing up. The message is too important.

    Ok, here goes nothing.

I had gotten a lead from my buddy Paulie Ramirez down at the Nassau County Police Department. He believed that a group of registered villains had moved into a small house in Franklin Square, a family-centric residential area under his jurisdiction. While he had their location, what he didn’t have was a bite, a warrant to get him through the front door. Of course, that’s when you turn to registered heroes.

     I saw this as nothing but a small-time gig, checking out the house, seeing if there’s anything suspect about the fucks living there, and taking them down to the station if anything goes awry. So rather than take my whole team, I grabbed Connie… oh, excuse me, registered hero alias: Force of Nature… and Brickbreaker. We even grabbed a couple of beers at Pig n Whistle down on 36th before hopping on the LIRR (we didn’t want to use up any of Force of Nature’s stamina in the off chance we would need it later).

    After about an hour on the train we found ourselves at the front door of a small home, as nondescript as any of the others. The neighborhood was silent, as you would expect from a family town at 11:30 on a Saturday night. However, the first thing I noticed walking up to this house was that the front room’s light, though dim, was clearly on. When you’re surrounded by completely darkened houses on all sides, you notice this. The two cars in the driveway didn’t do them any favors in concealing that they were home. Strike one.

    KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK “Global Heroes Alliance open up,” (standard procedure).

    No answer. Repeat, no answer. This would have deterred me if I didn’t know better. I gave the third obligatory knock and announce, but no one inside budged. Wiggling at the doorknob, it gave me no resistance, and the front door slid open. Strike two. I should have known right then and there to turn back, but I was naive, buzzed, and, to be honest, looking for some action.

    As the three of us tiptoed our way into the front den, we immediately noticed the room was empty. I used my difference to track all of the five occupants of the house down to the bedroom at the end of the hall. Motioning for my teammates to follow, I took the lead as we snuck our way down the narrow, darkened hall. The only thing illuminating the way was a dull, yellow light leaking out from the farthest door. Seconds later we found ourselves in front of it.

    “I know what this looks like, probably just a family getting ready for bed, but be ready regardless, we never know,” I whispered to my teammates.

    Looking back, that was the first wise thing I had said all night.

    Three, two, one, and we burst into the bedroom.

    In front of us was only a bed. At its center, in a mess of blankets and pillows, lay a little boy. The face of this boy will never leave me for as long as I live. His long, blonde hair drooped down over his peachy, smiling face. Remember how he looked, I beg you. Surrounding him were four adults, all of whom dawned the black, striped brand of a formerly-incarcerated villain on their necks. All of whom except one, Paulie Ramirez. Strike three.

    “Wait,” I remember audibly taking a second to process what was in front of me.

    As soon as I understood, I acted.

    “FORCE, GET OUT OF HERE, NOW,” I screamed, pulling out my staff.

    She understood immediately, and hurtled herself through the window ahead, forcefield on, of course. This sent shattered glass raining down on all of us, but that wasn’t much of a deterrence; the fight had already begun. I hated myself for even thinking I wouldn’t need my staff, but thank God I brought it. Brickbreaker’s fists were locked and loaded, so I was still confident we could take them at this point.

    His voice, I remember it vividly.

    “Please, stop fighting…”

It was meek, timid even, but its power was unquestionable. All four of them, including Ramirez, stopped what they were doing and moved back into their positions at the side of this kid.

    It was at this point that I realized we were dealing with a mission way over our ranking. I’m going to try my best to recall our conversation, for the sake of finding this bastard, but... I’m not in the best frame of mind and may be forgetting the exact wording.

    Kid: Ah the Protectors of the People, here at last.

    Me: What do you want, who are you?

    Kid: I guess you could call me a fan. I admire your team’s work.

    Me: Are you hurt, are you in danger? (ugh… so naive)

    Kid: Especially you Sensori. Your passion, your energy, I could really use that.

    What happened next really is unexplainable, but I’ll try my god damn best. It felt like the weight of the world crushing down on me. I could hear Brickbreaker shouting my name, feel him trying to shake me, but it was so... minimal. My senses were muffled, the pressure was killing me. My vision was blurred, but I could see the kid glowing, illuminated in an orange, yellow tinge. Only then I realized that this glow was flowing from me to him.

Then it happened. Brickbreaker threw himself in front of the glow, pushing me away from its grasp. I immediately felt the relief, my lungs clenching, gasping for missed air. I turned just in time to see him floating feet off the ground, spasming, shaking, and screaming. Sparks were bursting from his body; I’d never seen anything like it. Suddenly, the boy shrieked, the aura stopped, and Brickbreaker crashed down onto the carpeted floor, steam oozing from his body.

Before I could even attack the kid, Brickbreaker roared, shot up, and grabbed me in his arms, hurtling us down the hallway and out the front door in a manner of seconds. Down the block I saw the familiar purple energy of Force of Nature’s difference; she was ready to teleport us at a moment’s notice.

The face she made when she saw us racing toward her… God. She burst into fuckin tears, I couldn’t bear it. I looked up and saw, for the first time, what really had happened to Brickbreaker when he saved me. His skin… or lack of… was ripped raw, blood gushing at a rate I had never seen in my entire time as a career hero. He roared through the agony he must have been experiencing… I’m sorry… I’m sorry. Give me a minute here.

    RECORDING PAUSED (66 seconds)


    He didn’t make it back to the city, whatever life he still had left him in the portal.

    If any of you were at the funeral… you would already know that I didn’t make it out of this either… not really. Whatever this kid did, whatever this kid took from me, he succeeded. I’m a cripple… A FUCKIN’ CRIPLE!
    RECORDING PAUSED (153 seconds)


    I may not be able to walk, or fight... or use my difference. But I still have my mind. I won’t stop until this kid… if he even is a kid… is buried in the ground. I hope this log will give the council the ammunition it needs to declare a level 10 threat. No hero is safe… no different is safe. Together, we can stop him. Divided, he’ll take us out one by one, until he’s the only one of us left.

    … Stay safe heroes.


Razibelle: Warrior Angel

In the wee hours of the creation of the world, lightning struck a large oak tree, splintering its trunk. It is said that the Warrior Angel, Razibelle, flew forth from the shattered wood with a shimmering sword, her wings singed and smoking. Those that have seen her say that she radiates a light from within, like that of a bright candle, making it impossible to see anything other than her gossamer wings, and her white blonde hair.

The Warrior Angel is best known for her defeat of the Great Evil, mere hours after her birth. She stands sentry over the gates of Luas, keeping the Gods and Angels—and the souls of the deceased—safe.

She is closely associated with the winter, known for its icy beauty, and is therefore celebrated during Syvatki, the yuletide. Her descendants are the Nadmilise royal family, known for their violet eyes, said to be the same shade as her own.

As a warrior, she is strong and fierce. She is said to be swift of sword and thought, with a steel will and ferocious determination.

Buy the first book in the Anastasia Series

Princess Anastasia Piliar's life takes a sudden turn when she is unceremoniously reunited with her home world after ten years. There, she must reacquaint herself with her people, her world, and the magic that surrounds them.

But war is brewing. The magical protections around the royal city are being pushed to their limits. The monstrous beasts that murdered Anastasia's grandparents, and caused her family to flee, have returned and are wreaking havoc on the realms.

There is a tremendous power inside Anastasia, which could be the key to saving the realms.

If only she understood what it was.

Buy it on Amazon here.

Get the eBook!

Book Spotlight: Harley Merlin

By now, you’ve probably seen my mini reviews of the Harley Merlin series and picked up on my love for these novels. If not, you can read about it here.

Let’s start off by getting a bit of background on these novels. They follow 19-year-old foster kid Harley Merlin who, after trying to understand why she can feel the emotions of others, discovers she’s a witch. The first book unfolds in her hunt to understand who she is and where she came from, ending with her learning more about her family than she bargained for.

The rest of the novels thus far follow Harley in her quest to right the wrongs her family committed, all while trying to save her new home. As campy as that might sound, there are more nuances to consider, making this series far from cliché.

First, Harley is 19-years-old. Can I just say how refreshing that is, to have an older protagonist? It’s difficult to find good NA novels, as the genre is relatively new, and most YA follow 15-year-old protagonists (though they are far from being young adults). And Harley doesn’t read as a 30-something in a 19-year-old body, as many characters are want to do. She’s a true 19, with all the quirks that come with it. Plus, she’s a spunky redhead!

Second, Harley is a strong female protagonist. It might not seem like much, but to have a character that doesn’t immediately despise themselves based on their looks (I’m looking at you Bella Swan and Katniss Everdeen) is really great. Plus, she’s a badass. Let’s be real, a strong woman who takes no prisoners, but is still relatable, is difficult to write. Forrest does a great job of creating a great character.

Third, the Big Bad, other outlying villains, and supporting characters are all relatable and understandable. What they do and the reasons they do them aren’t simply because they’re the antagonist or best friend. They’re just as compelling as Harley.

Lastly, the plots and timelines make sense. Of course, there’s the big fight at the end, like any good season of Game of Thrones, but the build up to it is nicely paced. Plus, the course of four books takes place over a couple of months. Which make the romances happening, and the time it takes to get to them, believable. They don’t fall in love at first sight or declare their undying affections for each other after a few days. These things take time, and Forrest does a great job of making them all as realistic as possible.

As a side note: Forrest also delves into other kinds of magic from around the world, such as Santeria, Kolduny, and djinns. There’s elemental-based magic, ESP-based magic, superhuman ability magic, and anything else you can think of. Forrest’s world building and incorporation is on point.

Please do yourself a favor and check out these novels, as long as you’re a fan of YA fantasy novels. You won’t be disappointed.

What can happen in a second?

Their eyes locked. Her heart gave a funny flutter; her lips parted as her breath caught. Dimly, she registered that his eyes were the color of the sea.

A strange, strangled sound escaped my lips. I am weightless. The world stills, the room holding its breath. The only thing anchoring me is my foot caught on the leg of the table.

It's that moment between when you jump and when you land. That moment that's too quick for your mind to capture and make sense of all of your thoughts. So, you just feel pure, unadulterated emotion. It's the moment after you think, "What have I done?" The moment where you're completely free, filled with equal parts joy and fear. It's intoxicating.

Emotions flit past like falling rain, each too fast to catch and understand.

He looked down at the bundle in his arms. She squirmed, yawning, and finally opened her eyes. They were the deepest shade of brown, like nothing he'd ever seen before. In that moment, in that instant, he became the father of the most precious girl in the universe. She looked up at him with those big brown eyes and the world stopped.