Friday, October 17, 2014

Promo Post: Witches of the Deep South by Anthony Ramirez

There has always been magic in Ableton. Or at least, so the story goes.
Austin Hollingsworth is an atheist by all accounts. However, when Emma Barnett moves to town, he begins to notice things changing in town. People are dying, the weather becomes peculiar, but more than anything else, the people have become hysterical. Soon, a witch-hunt ensues just as Austin's cousin Melody moves back to Ableton and he is reunited through tragic circumstance with his ex-best friend, Dustin Bennett, and an old schoolmate, Angela de Luca. Soon Austin, Melody, Dustin, and Angela find themselves confronted by an undeniable truth:
They are witches, and there is something evil in Ableton that wants them dead.
With the help of an elder generation of witches, Austin and his friends must discover what is sending Ableton into a Salem-style witch-hunt, why they are being framed for murders that have not committed, and how Emma Barnett and a collection of some of Ableton's finest fit into the equation.
Through a rich mixture of American history, mythology, and magic, the witches of Ableton must confront the history of their town and discover just how it and its people came to be.

Author Interview:

1.  Where do you get  your ideas for your stories?

That's a hard question. It really depends. I wrote a short-lived web show for a while and the idea for that really just came to me from my life experience. I'd say in part I get a lot of ideas just from the funny (or not so funny) things that happen to me on a day-to-day basis. But when it comes to this genre of writing (fantasy, magic), I'd say it comes more from reading. I read an article about a year ago about a lake that can calcify living things inside of it, basically turning them to stone. Stuff like that I like to incorporate into my stories and give a magical explanation to.

2.  What is your method of writing?  Do you know the whole story when you start?  Do you plan it all out before writing?  Or do you just start writing and go with it?

I try to be as methodical about it as possible, ha ha. But often when you're struck by inspiration you have to just write it out at that moment. Usually I know where the story starts and ends. That can change, of course. A lot of times the in between really varies on what I think would give the story more flavor, so to speak. At the heart of it all, I have a very rough idea of everything that might happen, though.

3.  Do you have a favorite author or genre of books?

I love Salinger and the Catcher in the Rye. That's my favorite book. I love The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky, The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike, anything by Fitzgerald, Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, and anything JK Rowling writes. Sarah Mlynowski, of course. Just everything she's written. Her YA is so much fun to read, and reading some of her earlier grown up books keeps me laughing.

4.  How long have you been writing?

Gosh since I could pick up a pen. I remember being very, very young and not completely knowing how to form words in writing. But I would still take a pen and scribble something out as if it were a story and draw a picture to go with it. I suck at art, but that's kind of how I started storytelling, in a way.

Some fun questions:
Movie or TV show

I love the Harry Potter films and anything to do with magic. As far as TV goes, I like Bones, Witches of East End, Grey's Anatomy, Hot in Cleveland, Roseanne, The Mindy Project, Cristela, How to Get Away with Murder (a recent addiction) and American Horror Story. I'm a big TV buff.

Social Media site
Facebook. I'm a Facebook addict. Call the rehab clinic.

I am probably Adele's biggest fan in the entire world. I love her music so much and it's so inspiring to listen to while I write. Christina Perri is also great, as is Sam Smith. I also have to admit I'm really into showtunes. Wicked, If/Then, Next to Normal, Rent, Cabaret, Chicago, Legally Blonde, the works. Ha, ha.

I'm a really picky eater, yet I consider myself a foodie at the same time (though I know I'm not). Pasta. Any kind of pasta. And bread. I love bread. I'm a carboholic.

And finally, how can your readers get in touch with you?  Blog?  Twitter?  Facebook?

The book's Facebook is I'm on Instagram @AnthonyWritesToo and on Twitter @MAnthonyRamirez.

I have a new website where I promise I will begin blogging eventually and where you can preorder the new book!

Thanks! This was so much fun!


Author Bio:

ANTHONY RAMIREZ was born and rasied in Houston, Texas. Anthony graduated from Quest Early College High School in 2012 and is now a student at Full Sail University working on his Bachelor of the Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment. Anthony wrote, produced, and starred in a short-lived online sitcom entitled "Anthony." Shortly after, his first novel, "The Write Thing," was published and is now available wherever books are sold. "Witches of the Deep South" is Anthony's second novel. In addition to his writing and acting, Anthony is also composing a new stage musical entitled "Accidentally Alive" with his friend Sara Snyder, lead singer of the band STEREOSPREAD. Anthony lives and writes from his home in Texas.

Excerpt: (taken from advanced copy, some errors possible before finished copy)

There are not many places in the world quite like Ableton.
Being completely honest, in a twisted romanticized way, it simply is the truth of the matter. Despite the fact that not a single one of them had ever traveled beyond the boundaries of the thick wood that surrounded the town on all four sides, the young witches had come to know that the town they lived in was truly different from any other place in all of creation.
The spring time in Ableton was beautiful. The flowers and the crops all came up happily. Nearly bearing smiles upon their buds as big as those who passed them by or bought them from the little woman in the flower shop on Main Street. The bees buzzed around, humming in symphonic harmony, creating a sort of music that only the natives of town would truly be able to enjoy. The animals played in the spring, scampering about gleefully to celebrate the end of another long, cold winter, hoping that it would stay cool. The dead heat of a summer wave would drench their coats of fur in buckets of sweat. The people of Ableton
were more cheerful in the spring time. They said hello to their neighbors and offered each other help in the gardens surrounding their large, elegant homes. They jogged together through the familiar streets of their tiny town. The picked their children up from school, greeting the little ones with hugs and kisses and all the other displays of affection.
But spring quickly became summer, and anyone who had ever lived in the Deep South would know how dreadful it could be at that time of year. The crops and the plants tried to take refuge in the shade that each other provided. The animals hid under the trees, too tired to even get up and look for food. Rain came scarcely. However, when it did rain, it poured. The bees buzzed a more angry and hostile tune. There was no harmony; it simply sounded like bees buzzing away. The people in town became dreadful during the summer. They put their children outside so that they did not have to deal with them during the day. They sat on back porches and verandas with their neighbors and best friends, exchanging idle gossip about those who they had chosen to spite that day.
However, when the summer tamed and the reprieve of autumn came, everyone in town could feel it. It came in signals. Like the first cool breeze after several months of sweltering heat. It came with the first falling leaf in town square that descended rather slowly down to the ground. The plants noticed it and took note that it would soon be time for them to phase out of that life and into the next. The bees became alert and began to work much harder to prepare for winter, singing that same happy tune again. The animals noticed and were happier. They could be seen in the streets or rummaging through the yards of the townsfolk. Some prepared for a long winter’s nap. Others prepared for each day of the cozy season they’d soon enjoy. The people in town became less moody. Although, this could be attributed to the fact that their children were back in school. They again exchanged hellos and goodbyes in line at the grocery store. They resumed helping one another in their gardens. The people of Ableton talked about things that mattered, while sipping warm teas on their porches and verandas, like their faith in the Lord and how they planned to spend their winter vacations.
Although like all seasons, the fall came and went. Everyone and everything in town would begin to realize that the winter had come and with it the end of another long hard year. Many of the plants had died. Many of the animals hibernated or went further south to find warmth. Some simply stopped to enjoy the crisp, chill winter air. The bees had done their work and took their long rest. The children stood by the windows at school and hoped for snow, which was sure to never come, as their parents sipped hot toddies and spiked cocoa.
No, there had never been a place quite like Ableton anywhere in the entire world throughout all of time. It was ever so seemingly perfect in every last imaginable way. The street lights never burned out, the paint on the church steeple never chipped or faded, and town square always looked beautiful and ready for visitors. Yet everyone knew that visitors were just as rare as a winter’s snow in Ableton at any time and despite any sort of weather conditions. The people there loved the town they lived in and came from and wouldn't have had it any other way.
But a place like that did not become perfect on its own. No, no. What balderdash
Truly, as a matter of fact, it may not even be humanly possible for a place like that to be so perfect. The townspeople never questioned it, though; and no one from the outside had ever been in. But, the simple fact was that no one questioned it because everyone in town already knew and not a person in that town would be willing to deny it. The simple little truth that everyone was afraid to say but knew to be absolutely, positively, undeniably true.
There had always been magic in Ableton.
Oh, yes. A strong yet delicate, silk-like magic that made up the very fabric of that God- fearing town, keeping things patched when the fabric became torn. It kept the seasons changing; it kept the bees buzzing; and it moved the plants through the circle of life. It kept balance between the joyous times and the miseries; it kept the children hoping for snow; it kept the crops from ever really dying. It kept the streets safe to walk on, kept the street lights
from every burning out, kept the paint on the church steeple from ever chipping, kept the town square looking presentable at all times. The magic in Ableton was responsible for all the things that happened there. It was the source of the intermittent harmony, a fountain dispensing all life into the town. But, like the hearts and the souls of the people in the town of Ableton, the magic there was fragile. So fragile, in fact, that even the slightest motion could cause the scales to tip a little too much on one side, thus throwing everything out ofplace.
It was that exact thing that had landed Austin Hollingsworth in his present predicament.
He laid atop a bed of broken glass. Each shard, each little piece, each angry shred—all of which tormented by some traumatic blow—pierced at his skin and drew blood to the ground beneath him. It should have been painful. He should have been quivering. He should have been cold and feeling alone, or at least as though he was going to die. But for some reason or another, Austin was not feeling any of those things. No, as a matter of fact, he wasn't feeling much of anything at all. Somehow he had found himself in a mysterious place that felt as if he were drifting between life and death.
With nothing more than a simple brush of his fingertips against the cold, broken glass beneath him, Austin could see everything. He could see the cracks in the cement floors and the rubble of the broken bricks scattered from one end of the room to the next. He could see that the hallway doors far away had been blown off their hinges. He could see pieces of paper fluttering to the ground, paper that had once been books lining the many shelves of that crumbling place. He could see the curtains that had been set aflame, water spewing from broken pipes, and wires hanging loosely with electrical static sparking at their ends. He could see all of the destruction and devastation. Yes, with nothing more than a graze of his fingers along the debris on which he laid, Austin could see everything.
Psychometry is what they called that. The ability to gather information about a person or an object by simply touching it. It was a gift not many people like him were blessed with. It came with so much knowledge, so much truth, yet an equivocal amount of pain. There were some things in life that Austin hadn't wanted to know. There were some histories that were
better left hidden inside of the objects and the people that he touched. This was one of those moments. Confusion and curiosity may have gotten the better of Austin momentarily, but upon realizing where he was and what had happened, he quickly withdrew his hand from the debris.
Austin, however, could not ignore what his third eye had just shown him. He could not lie there and pretend that he had lost—that they had lost. Though still, all he could wish for was to set his soul free, to banish it to the other side of the veil. He wanted nothing more than to dive into some place far away from him. A place without pain. A place without suffering. A place where he might finally be able to rest.
Because lying there, Austin came to the sudden realization that the world he was born into was nothing short of horrible. It was a world where the good strove to do nothing more than exist. Through the high grass and cracks in the ground, evil slithered in, bringing with it the demons that tormented the good in moments of weakness and vulnerability. This evil wrapped around good, offering what seemed like comfort and warmth, then squeezed until it crushed every bit of benevolence inside. It then saturating what was left with the purest wickedness. That was just the world that Austin lived in. It was a world of duality. There could never truly be good if there was no evil, and of that he was quite certain.
It was not impossible that this was the very reason that Austin was still holding on to his life. Maybe in all of his weakness, in the process of accepting defeat, maybe from the battle that he had clearly lost, the war might still be won. Maybe, just maybe, there was something that could be done. It was not unthinkable that all of the hubbub and hysteria that had been created in the little southern town could still be undone. And in his mind Austin knew this. He knew that if he were willing to fight for it, there was still a chance. Now, the only question was how much fight he had left inside of himself.
He knew that there was still magic in Ableton. Like the world in which he lived, magic exists in duality, capable of being used for both good and evil. He realized, in a dizzy disconcerted fog, that if he was in fact still alive, however close to the other side he might be, Ableton might still be worth fighting for.
Austin pushed himself up, his palms against the broken glass upon which he laid. Out of nowhere, he suddenly became well aware of the pain he should have been feeling the entire time and let out a deafening scream of agony. Tears welled up in his eyes and he salivated to the point of drooling as he did,but he didn't let himself fall back down. The push was exertion enough for what little strength he had left. Coupled with the pain of the glass ripping his flesh apart, he was nearly sure that he should have given up.
It was no matter though. He pushed himself to his feet slowly, cautious of the rush of blood from his head down to his feet. He let his eyes adjust to the scene around him, carefully marking where he would and would not be able to walk. Then he staggered slowly across the debris-ridden floors of the Old Ableton High School. He limped away from the broken glass, blood spilling down the sides of his fingers and calves, until he found his way out into the lobby and toward the staircase.
Where is everyone? Austin found himself thinking. There was a small part of him that foolishly hoped they'd made it out, gone to find help. He knew that that would have been impossible though. He had seen them fighting just as he had been. Dead or alive, however, he knew how he was going to fix this. In the end, it would not matter if they were dead or alive. They would be safe by the time he was through with it.
As he looked up at the staircase, Austin felt defeat beginning to worm its way back into his mind again. The only staircase in the entire building—the period in which the high school was built was not known for its amazing league of fire marshals—had become nothing more than a large crater of broken cement and metal, barring anyone from making their way the second floor.
Staircase be damned, Austin would not be. He sat down on the only remaining stair, the one at the very bottom of what had once been the staircase, and thought for a moment. He knew it was somewhat silly resting after only a few yards’ journey, but he was losing blood—a lot of blood and he was losing it fast. The light-headed feeling was setting in just as quickly, and Austin was fully aware that he would have to act fast if he wished to go out fighting.
He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to think of an alternative plan, any
alternative. He knew that he needed to get to the roof and that the only way up was from the second floor. He closed his eyes and inhaled slowly, following this with an equally slow exhale.
The room began to feel as though it was closing in around him. It was almost as

though all the broken walls, dust, and debris were beginning to pile up around him, higher than they had before, fossilizing him somewhere deep within. Then, just as Austin was ready to open his eyes in panic to find himself encompassed by darkness with absolutely no way out, there was a sudden lurch in the pit of his stomach. It jerked suddenly, and the sensation to vomit swept over him.
Yet suddenly there was a breeze and Austin no longer felt as though he was suffocating. He drew in deep breaths, bringing his breathing back to a normal pace in order to calm himself down.
Austin opened his eyes again, his pupils adjusting the nighttime around him.

Overhead, the stars hung sleepily in the sky. They did not give off a glimmering appearance as they might normally have. The twinkle in them had almost vanished, as if their hopefulness had been vanquished, now looking as though each and every one of them was only moments from fading to black. The moon was hidden somewhere beneath a thick blanket of purple clouds that sometimes moved away, only to be followed by more clouds.
Conveyance. Yes, this was conveyance; the ability to move from one point to another without traveling through the physical space. It was an ability Austin was not aware he had.
But he thought about his friend Barb telling him how powers that seemed impossible to craft would come to him at a time they were needed most.
On the roof it was quiet, far quieter than it had been when he’d first opened his eyes only moments ago. So when Austin could hear the shouting and ranting of voices, his stomach fell to ease. He wasted not a moment, crawling over the gravel toward the edge of what was left of the building. Against his better judgment, he looked over his shoulder. Coming through the streets of town carrying pitchforks and rakes and torches was an angry hoard of townspeople, men, women and children alike. They marched, like an angry regime of Nazis toward the Old Ableton High School. Austin noted that if he stopped just long enough, listened with just enough intent, he might be able to hear them saying it. The very words he'd never thought his own friends and neighbors would say as they marched with such thrill.
Kill the witches.
However, he snapped his head back into place. He had too much to lose at this point,
and time was not on his side. Still, he knew that time was the only thing that might keep him and his friends alive. He was going to change the course of events that had happened in Ableton over the last year. Carefully Austin continued to the other side ofthe roof. There was an old air-conditioning unit that had not worked in years only a few feet from him. Inside, Angela had stored their only lifeline. But the space between Austin and the A/C unit was occupied. A large piece of the roof had fallen in on the second floor. Thick wafts of black smoke rose from the gulf. The fires inside the building were spreading. As Austin looked around, he could see smoke billowing up the red brick walls of the school as well. He suddenly felt as though the roofwere not the safest place to standing.
Austin extended a hand in front of him, reaching for something far too far out of reach to be grabbed, the pain coursing through him as he did so. He flicked his wrist, feeling a slight exertion of power. The loose lid resting on top of the air-conditioning unit shifted. It wasn't by much, but Austin knew that it would be enough. He curled his fingers ever so slightly, feeling the slightest bit of magic, tugging like magnetism at the saving grace inside the unit.
Something pressed against the lid of the unit, knocking it off and then down into the large hole in the roof. Then slowly, a large leather-bound book hovered out of the A/C unit and across the divide toward Austin.
He clenched it to his chest with both hands feeling so much weaker than he had before.
The weakness remained present.
He turned back to look at the angry mob as it trudged up the shallow hillside
toward the school. Austin knew he didn’t have much time before they arrived and began doing whatever it took to destroy the building and the witches inside.
Austin laid the book down on the crumbling roof before him. He flipped through the pages, absorbing the magic that gleamed from the edges of each and every page of it. He inhaled a large breath through his nostrils that the book presented. It might have all been in his head, but the book made him feel more capable, more powerful. He dug through the spells and stories of witches past. He skimmed over the potions and entries about the evils in the world. He spent no time staring at pictures of amulets and demons. He had a specific intent in mind. There were incantations for anything that could be imagined, instructions on how to use magic to make changes that could not be made in any simple human way. Many of the texts were faded, some written in languages Austin could not read. He wasn’t sure how old the book was, but a minority of the entries were written in Latin—a language that had been dead for longer than a thousand years.
Where is it? Austin thought, trying his very hardest not to lose hope that any of this could be fixed. He knew he'd seen the spell before. He'd flipped past it dozens of times when looking through the book. He was not even really sure that the spell would be capable of doing what he planned, but he could only have hope at that point.
Again from the east, there was a slight breeze, it pushed page after page of the
book over and slowly began to show Austin what he had been looking for. He turned to eye the mob and saw them walking across the yard toward the school now. Time was running out.
But that was exactly what he planned to give himself, to give his friends. The pages of the book stopped flying and came to a halt. No longer rustling, they slowed to a calm and settled before him, revealing the page he knew he’d seen before.
On the left side of the page, there was scribble written down like a poem. Beside it to the right was the image of a large, page-length, golden hourglass that appeared to be dropping sand down to the bottom of the glass. Austin thought for a moment he must be imagining things. But upon focusing intently, he noticed that he was not imagining things. However, the sands were not drifting to the bottom of the glass. Quite the contrary, the sands of time were floating up, back toward the top of the hourglass. One granule levitating upward at a time. The sand in the upper part of the glass stuck to the top, as if gravity were holding the sands to the top rather than the bottom of the page.
There was no title at the top of the page as there was with many of the entries. Reading through the incantation on the page, Austin knew the spell could help him.
The trouble was, the book called for a lot more than an incantation. On the right page in very fine print was written a long list of herbs, candles, and crystals, followed by very specific instructions on when and how the spell should be performed.
Austin had nothing with him. He didn't even have a pot to piss in at that point. He turned again to look down. The mob was beating on the doors, unable to get them open past all the fallen debris. They banged their pitchforks against the brick, which would have crumbled at the slightest touch. They tossed their torches through the broken windows. Austin could hear them chanting their blood cry. He knew that they were prepared to do anything. The entire town was there. Mayor Applewhite, his former boss, Raquel, even Dot, Emma's best girlfriend in all of Ableton. They all wanted them dead. Every last one of them.
Austin looked down at the page.
He inhaled again, then exhaled just as evenly. He didn't have the tools or
equipment to cast an entire ritual, let alone the time to do so. He knew that he was simply
going to have to read the incantation, and pray to whatever god there might be that it would work.
"Hear these words, hear the rhyme," Austin muttered to himself. 
Austin suddenly felt heat on his cheeks.
"THOU SHALT NOT SUFFER A WITCH TO LIVE!" a voice yelled, quoting Bible
verse at their own convenience. It was such an Ableton thing to do. "BURN IT DOWN!" someone else yelled from below.
“Burn the witches inside!” another voice encouraged.
That is exactly what was happening. As though the fire hadn’t been moving quickly enough on its own before the torches had been thrown, the fire consumed Old Ableton High School. It was not like the people of Ableton, so proud of their little southern town, to burn down such a monument to its history. Willing to do such a thing, they didn’t just want the witches dead, they wanted them to suffer. They blamed them for problems created by forces far more vile than any witch in town. They simply needed someone to crucify.
Burn the witches.
"Help me travel through space and time," Austin said aloud. The roof creaked beneath him, more heat traveled across the roof.
The shouts from the mob seemed to encourage the flames.
Another creak.
A piece of the roof next to Austin cracked, and fell inward. He could hear it hit the
ground below. Fire leapt through the hole in the roofthreatening to engulfhim.
Austin fell on his back, dropping the book. He quickly made a grab for the grimoire, pulling it back into his lap as he sat up, cradling the thing like a child.
"Back before all this began. Back to when I was different than--"
What sounded like thunder cracked, but it wasn’t thunder Austin heard. It was the sound of a wall falling to the ground. The people below screamed and threw themselves backward, many falling to the ground. Others ran in fright, too terrified to see the mission through.
"Who I am, I shall no longer be. Beloved spirits, hear my plea."
Another pit burst open in the roof, with fire shooting like bats out of hell. The soles of Austin shoes began to feel wet, though he quickly realized that the rubber was melting, sticking to the gravel of the roof. He scooted himself backward, sliding into the brick corner of the roof and pulled his knees close to his chest. He rested the book on them, reading further.
"Take me back and give to me."
There was another crack like thunder. Only this one was closer to Austin. It came with a shake which he did his best to avoid, but it was unavoidable. Creeping up on him, much quicker than he would have liked, was a large, lightning-bolt shaped crack in the roof.
His heart began to race.
That was it then. This was how Austin was going to die. He thought he was going to perish on the roof of the Old Ableton High School, not a single person caring that he was there or why. He was going to die there and no one was going to care or look back and think, "What a shame."
Pieces of the roof began falling into the building one at a time. It was collapsing quickly, crawling closer and closer toward him.
He looked back down at the book and chanted the last words written across the bottom of the page.
"The chance to rewrite history."
The roof completely collapsed taking Austin with it.

He could feel the heat of the fire against his skin and let out a piercing cry. The pain was excruciating, like nothing he’d ever experienced. Just as he was preparing to hit the floor, crashing harshly into the rubble that had fallen before him, he suddenly realized that he felt nothing.
No fire.
No pain.
For the first time in his entire life, Austin Hollingsworth felt absolutely nothing.