New Book Launching Tomorrow – BLOOD OF THE TAINTED

Tomorrow is the day. I have a new novel launching, and between you and me, I think it is probably my best piece yet. It was a hard one to write, but at the same time the more rewarding.

batSix gruesome murders in two days, a farm house burned to the floor, and panic on the streets. For Sheriff Ian Raskin, this is just the start of a nightmare ride that will take him to the edge of his own abilities where a monster lies in wait.

With his once quiet town being terrorized by an unseen force, Ian finds help in the strangest of places. Simon Pertwhistle, a pathologist from the city, arrives in town proclaiming the murders to be the work of a lone vampire searching for its queen.

Sceptic until proven otherwise, Ian Raskin finds his world turned upside down and when the fate of his town hangs in the balance, he finds a fighting resolve he thought to have been long gone.

Can the monster be stopped in time, or will he find his queen and the immortality that has long eluded him?

Pre-order your copy of BLOOD OF THE TAINTED today from Amazon and Smashwords.

Blood of the Tainted ebook cover

Chapter 1

The clock struck nine and the mist that had gathered on the outskirts of Dermouth began to spread, and on it sailed death.

Erica Roberts tugged on Harvey’s lead. The golden retriever stood staring down the road in uncharacteristic stubbornness. “Come on, now. We’ll just go round the block and then back home.” She tugged again in an attempt to get the dog moving.

It was early spring and the air was crisp and cold. Erica was happy to keep the walk short. She had survived a long day at work and the last thing she wanted was an hour-long fight with the dog just for the sake of giving it the daily quota of exercise.

“Good boy,” she remarked as the dog sped ahead of her, tugging on the lead with an urgency that was at the other end of the character scale. “What’s gotten in to you tonight?” Erica asked as she quickened her step to keep pace with the animal.

At the same moment, a blast of Arctic wind ran down the street, ushering with it a wailing cry and an even further drop in temperature. Erica felt the cold wrap around her, chilling her to the bone. It cut through her clothes making her feel as though she was nude.

As the gust died away, Erica was sure she heard someone calling her name; a whisper on the wind. Erica spun around, her skin two sizes too small. The street was empty. Beside her, Harvey sat and gave a whine; a lonely sound that echoed through the street. Movement in the corner of her eye caught Erica’s attention. Squinting, she stared into the distance. The mist floated over the ground like a ghost, consuming everything in its knee-deep path. It flooded down the street, tendrils rising and licking at the air like albino flames.

“Erica.”

Erica heard her name whispered once again. It rolled with the mist and caressed her ears, making her shiver.

“Come on, Harvey, let’s get home.” Erica turned back to her dog, but he refused to move. “I said come on, Harvey.” Erica felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Another cold whisper traced her spine.

Erica froze. The feeling that she was being watched consumed her. Out of nothing Harvey gave a deep growl, his hackles rising. His lips pulled back as he bared his teeth.

“Harvey, quiet boy,” Erica called. The dog paid her no mind and continued to growl. “It’s ok. It’s just the wind.” She bent down towards the dog, reaching out to pet its golden fur.

With a deep snarl and a savagery that she had never seen before in the animal, it snapped its jaws shut around her arm, puncturing her flesh. Blood flowed from the wounds, staining the dog’s white teeth red. Shocked, Erica jumped to her feet, the pain yet to fully register in her mind. Grabbing her arm, she looked at the wound. It was hard to see in the darkness. The night air made the blood look black like oil. “Shit!” She growled, turning around hoping to get a better look under the street light she had just passed.

Erica gave another scream, for behind her, close enough for their bodies to touch, stood a man. He wore a long coat, and although he stared at her, the darkness somehow hid his face from view. She could see that he was middle aged, the skin of his face still tight, but beginning to crease as life took its toll. “Christ fuck, you scared me.” Erica gripped her throbbing arm tight while her heart thundered in her chest.

“Forgive me. It was not my intention.” The man spoke with a gracious tone; his voice was gentle with a strange, sexless quality. The pitch was too high for most men, but too deep for it to belong to a woman. He was taller than Erica, standing at least six feet. When he spoke, the only thing Erica noticed was his teeth. They seemed too white, too straight in his mouth.

“It’s fine. You made me jump, that’s all.”

Beside her, Harvey continued to growl. Snapping his bloody jowls, he bit at the night air. “Harvey, shut up!” Erica snapped, whipping the leash that she held against the dog as if she were a coach driver trying to encourage the horses to get moving.

“Quiet,” the man whispered. Harvey stopped barking and sat back down without resistance.

“How did you do that?” Erica asked. She had never seen the man before, and Dermouth was a small town. Everybody knew everybody.

“I understand animals.” His voice had a heavy accent to it, yet his words were not difficult to understand. “You are bleeding,” he said, posing it not as a question, but as a statement. The lack of compassion in his voice was obvious.

“Yes,” Erica stammered. The flow of blood was heavy, but not dangerous. Although, even she understood that a visit to the hospital was where her night was heading.

“That is a shame… it’s such a waste.” The man reached out and stroked her injured arm, his fingers tracing down her arm and over her hand like a lover. His hands were cold, freezing cold. Erica could feel it through the sleeve of her jacket. His touch on the back of her hand seemed to burn.

“What do you mean?” Erica asked, her legs shaking, while her heart increased its already frantic beat.

The mist swirled around them. Erica felt the tremble worsen. The man traced his fingers back up her arms, coating them in her blood. He brought it to his face closing his eyes as he inhaled the scent like a connoisseur. “So fresh,” he moaned. When he opened his eyes they had turned yellow. He smiled at her, and that was when Erica noticed his entire face had contorted. His grin stretched his lips to the point of non-existence. His mouth had changed. The neat, white teeth were gone, replaced with sharp, dark yellow incisors. He licked the blood from his finger and when his eyes settled on Erica, she felt her body tense in panic. Fight or flight.

Turning, Erica fled. She ran as hard as she could.

Dropping Harvey’s leash, she pumped her arms willing her legs to move faster, ignoring the flying droplets of blood that painted the air and her face with flecks of crimson.

The man made no attempt to move. He looked down at the golden retriever which still sat patiently. He stared at the dog, and the dog returned the gaze with an intense loyalty. “Get her,” he whispered.

The moment the words had been uttered, the creature turned and ran after its mistress. Only it was not running to catch up… it was merely running to catch.

Erica heard her dog, her faithful companion ever since she had moved to the town some four years previous, chasing after her. She heard the snarls and growls. She did not need to turn around in order to see the look on the creature’s face. Sprinting, with lungs that felt as though they were filled with fire, Erica headed toward the town high street. Thursday night was late night shopping and most people would be gathered at Logan’s Diner. A late meal at Logan’s was a town tradition for many of the locals.

It was not just the dog that followed Erica, the mist, too, kept pace with her strides. She could feel the white cloud lapping at her heels like cresting waves chasing after the feet of paddling children. Only they fled out of pleasure, not terror.

“Help me,” Erica screamed as she saw the lights of Logan’s in the distance. She could see the crowd gathered, as she had expected. The dog, for that was how she thought of it – it was no longer her Harvey – drew ever closer.

Nobody in the diner heard, not even those milling around outside.

“Help! Help!” Erica cried out again as the mist hid the road from her view. Her legs buckled as she reached the street. Nobody else seemed to notice the mist. Not one person turned to give it as much as a glance. What’s wrong? The thought flashed in Erica’s mind at the same moment her legs gave out beneath her. Arms flailing, she fell to the ground, just a few meters shy from the diner. She crashed into the ground, the concrete tearing greedily at her skin. Spilling fresh blood… Such a waste, Erica heard the man’s voice echo in her mind.

She rolled as she fell, an instinctive reaction, but one that put her in a prone position. The dog was on her in a flash. With teeth bared it snapped at her throat, the craving for blood still fresh on its tongue.

“Harvey, Harvey, stop this. Somebody help me.” Erica used both arms and all of her strength to hold the dog at bay. Around her, people continued eating their meals and walking the streets heading home, their arms laden with bags. None paid her any mind.

The animal’s breath burned against her face, hot and sour smelling. It was then that Erica saw the color of its eyes. They were yellow; the same color as his had been.

“Sit,” the sexless voice commanded from the darkness. Without hesitation Harvey stopped snarling, and sat beside his former mistress. The yellow eyes began to fade, as the creature entered a trance.

Around her, Erica felt the mist cool, and suddenly it was going. Pulling back it rose into a pillar, stretching into the night sky, as if a vent had opened in the ground and steam from the fires of hell itself were releasing itself into her reality. The mist swirled, slowly clearing to reveal the same man she had just seen. His yellow eyes stared at her, and while she wanted to scream, Erica found her voice frozen.

There is no point to screaming. Nobody will hear,” the voice spoke inside her head. “Now rise and come to me,” he commanded, and Erica found herself powerless to resist. The compulsion to obey was too great.

“Why are you…what do you want?” she stammered, fully capable of speaking, but unable to filter the numerous questions and pleas that were echoing in her mind. Her brain and other faculties were her own; it was only her body she had no control over.

Against every ounce of her cerebral control, Erica strode confidently into his open arms, and as his face changed once more, he smiled at her. “I wanted to play,” he told her coldly.

“Let me go… I’ve got a baby at home, and a husband. Please, just let me go.” Erica felt the hot tears scald beneath her flesh, for they were unable to fall from her frozen eyes. She was lost in his gaze.

The man opened his mouth, and with a flick of his wrist, Erica’s head was twisted to one side, pushed against her shoulder. Her neck was exposed. “No.” The man laughed as his teeth pierced her flesh. He drank until Erica’s body grew cold in his arms, draining every drop from her body. Letting her lifeless form fall to the ground, he had disappeared before her descent had ended.

Life returned to the world, and as Harvey began to howl at the feet of his dead mistress, screams rang out through the diner as everybody noticed the desiccated body that lay in their midst.

Pre-Order your copy of BLOOD OF THE TAINTED today from Amazon and Smashwords.

An Interview with the Inspirational Tom Ufert

Thanks for joining us today. Today marks the final stop on the Tom Ufert Political Craps blog tour. I hope you have enjoyed the tour so far. Whether this is your first stop or if you have followed us every step of the way, you support is very much appreciated.

Today we have the second and final interview with the man himself, Tom Ufert. Take it away Tom.

Cover

Q. How do you think the economic decline in recent years has impacted the US political scene?

A, Historically speaking, in times of economic strife the vast majority of people will turn to almost any voice that offers answers regardless of its incredulity.  After two foreign wars that challenged the very soul of American patriotism, the resulting economic recession struck a devastating blow to the national sense of pride.  After dedicating the nation to a war of reciprocity in Afghanistan for 9/11, America was then misled by faulty intelligence over Iraq’s supposed stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).  This “betrayal” that cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars served to undermine public trust in the government.  Hence the stage was set for a populace yearning for a hopeful future.  Campaign promises by Barak Obama of a more transparent government that would end the two foreign wars and rejuvenate American society for the new 21st century appealed to a nation in need of hope.  Unfortunately the massive economic recession, the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, derailed and distracted Obama’s message.  Initiatives to counter this economic blow, such as the financial & auto industry bail outs as well as Obamacare, were prime fodder for fringe political voices to take center stage as viable alternatives.  The economic woes have forced a detrimental polarization of the national political scene that is bereft with dysfunctional gridlock and the near disappearance of more moderate voices to bridge the gap.

Q. Do you think that the public really has a chance to make themselves heard, or is that just a lost ideal?

A, Call me an idealist or misguided fool, but I firmly believe that the American people can make themselves heard!  I intentionally researched my new book, Political Craps, solely from the internet to prove that in this day and age citizens have access to more information than ever before.  The vast resources and global outreach of social media communication through the internet make civic activism in politics more influential than any time in human history.  Egypt during the Arab Spring is a prime example.  Therefore, any assertion that the People’s voice has no effective influence is a fallacy perpetrated to dissuade voters from exercising their rightful power to make a difference.  The internet has vastly expanded the freedom of speech, expression and an individual’s access to the corridors of power.  The power of the People is not a lost ideal and the information age as enhanced by global computerized communications has multiplied their effective influence tenfold.  We only need to realize it, utilize it and benefit from it.

Q. What needs to change?

A. The first thing that needs to change is the perilous misconception that “my vote doesn’t count.”  Second, voters must re-assert their power over the electoral process.  Third, a re-evaluation of the educational system must be conducted to eradicate flaws that have allowed core values in civic responsibility and the value therein to perpetuate a sense of voter inefficacy.  Fourth, congress and both political parties must address campaign finance reform.  Fifth, national debates about term limits, independent non-partisan redistricting, campaign expenditure limits and equitable public financing for all candidates must be vigorously initiated to allow the marketplace of ideas to sort out practical solutions.  Sixth, a nationwide campaign to pass a constitutional amendment reversing recent Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United must be pursued.

Q. How would you change it?

A. I would advocate a grassroots policy oriented campaign whose sole purpose would be to market these ideas through local, state and national candidates for public office.  This will be no easy quick fix endeavour.  It is impossible to reverse decades of conceptual decay and entrenched public opinion overnight.   Citizens dedicated to meaningful change and reform have to unite as a coherent political advocacy group intent on holding potential candidates accountable for their positions on these issues.  Legal, political, educational, intellectual, and economic luminaries have to actively participate through mass communication systems in a concerted effort to re-awaken the American mind.  We the People can no longer afford to sit idly by in an apathetic stupor as well financed and influential special interests intentionally sectionalize the public into competing demographic groups.  The old adage of “united we stand, divided we fall” has become a reality in America’s contemporary politics.  This grassroots movement must exert its influence from the local level with school board/county representative/city council elections to state legislature campaigns all the way to federal congressional races.  Citizens have to be personally responsible by regularly maintaining their voter registration enrolment, attending city council meetings and public hearings for all sorts of issues brought before the voting public.  Failure to re-instil public pride in participatory democracy will surely witness America’s continued political dysfunction.  In the end the People will have no one to blame but themselves!

Q. There is an ever widening gap between the upper and middle classes. What impact does this have on the political scene?

A. In recent years there has been an ongoing political debate between Democrats/Republicans, Conservatives/Liberals over the contention that the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class is shrinking.  Facts and statistics don’t lie.  Income disparity and the growing inequity between Wall Street and Main Street have spurred an assertion that the “American dream” is rapidly becoming the “American scream.”  Unfortunately this debate is being waged by fringe political schools of economic thought that argue for extreme positions of either “supply side economics” or “the welfare state.”  In reality, a moderate balance of the two has historically maintained a thriving middle class where socio-economic mobility was the key to achieving the American dream for anyone willing to work for it.  Contemporary political positions have allowed gross stereotypes to be applied for Democrats as the common man’s party and Republicans as the party of the rich.  Neither description is entirely accurate, especially when both parties are subject to equal criticisms of corruption, scandal, and dysfunction.  America’s economic woes and sluggish employment trends are the result of voters swinging from one end of the partisan pendulum to the other in search of a successful public policy agenda.  This has been further complicated by the simultaneous emergence of a transitional economy from industrialization to Informationalization.  This rapid transition has been completely unaccompanied by any long term strategic planning with regards to manufacturing, infrastructure, education or research & development (R&D).  There’s plenty of blame to go around for this oversight!

Q. Do you think that more should be done to educate children on politics and ethics in school?

A. UNQUESTIONABLY!  As society’s demand for engineers, mathematicians and scientists has increased due to the rapid transitioning of economic means of production, we have forgotten two primary components of a highly educated populace.  First, popular sentiment has transformed from the concept of “yearn to learn” to the predominately held drive of “yearn to earn.”  Second, there is no longer a driving national spirit to be well rounded and moulded in the model of a “Renaissance” education.  Hence, priorities in social science curriculums giving equal value to the arts, literature, history and civics have fallen prey to the budgetary axe.  Students today are no longer instilled with the noble American principles of patriotism, civic responsibility or humanitarianism.  Rather, their educational aspirations are solely focused on financial gain which is indelibly clouded by apathetic mistrust of government and politics.  Considering today’s leadership class, who can blame them?  There are few political figures that engender a sense of heroic admiration.  Besides when society idolizes get rich role models like sports superstars and entertainment industry celebrities over public servants, what incentive is there for our young people to dedicate their lives and careers to community service?

Q. Can people really make a difference as individuals or does it need to be a collective effort? 

A. That’s a really tough distinction to make, especially today.  As a modern society, we have gone to great lengths to emphasize the importance of the individual almost sacrificing the value of a collective conscience.  Yes, people can and do make a difference as individuals.  However, any successful individual worth their weight will be the first to acknowledge that they would have never achieved that success without the assistance of others.  Furthermore, great leaders, “movers & shakers” or captains of industry are nothing more than individuals shaped by “the village.”  Every influential movement in human history has had leaders and followers.  The only difference between the two is vision.  Nonetheless, without both leaders and followers working in tandem as a collective effort no movement can ever accomplish meaningful results.  As human beings we are all unique individuals with common characteristics.  As such, we each have the potential to achieve great things yet together we accomplish the greatest things!

AUTHOR’S BIOGRAPHY

Tom Ufert

Tom Ufert “is an inspirational voice in our troubled times.” He received his bachelor of arts in political science and history as a scholarship recipient from Centenary College of Louisiana. Tom is a former Rotary International graduate Fellow who attended Australian National University in Canberra, ACT, specializing in East Asian political affairs and was a White House Fellow nominee.  He is a former Lyndon Baines Johnson Congressional Intern and constituency aid for two former United States members of Congress.   His past services for 11 political campaigns on both sides of the aisle were highly valued by former Louisiana Governor Charles “Buddy” Roemer, Henson Moore the former assistant chief of staff to U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush, and the recently retired U.S. Trade Ambassador, Ron Kirk.

At age 23 he was the youngest artistic Board Chairman in the United States as head of the Shreveport Summer Music Festival. Mr. Ufert has served as a member of two other 501(c) three charity boards including his beloved fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia as well as the community advisory board for his former rehabilitation hospital.  Over the years he has acquired extensive customer service experience in the food and beverage, hotel, insurance, home security, and pharmaceutical industries.  His professional memberships include Phi Alpha Theta, Sigma Tau Delta, and the Worldwide Who’s Who. In recent years he has worked tirelessly as a volunteer fundraiser for numerous AIDS charities in his community and served briefly as the community affairs liaison for Legacy Founders Cottage.

Tom Ufert, a native of Louisiana, now resides in Texas.  He is an Amazon Best Selling Author for his second book On The Roll Again, his first book, Adversity Builds Character received high acclaim with numerous 5 Star reviews, as has his newest release Political Craps.  In fact all three books and several of his essay booklets have garnered distinction as Amazon’s Top 20 Best Sellers.  Perhaps Mr. Ufert’s greatest claim to fame is that every book he sells contributes directly to charity through his charitable book entity Stand Strong For Others.

 Grab your copy of Political Craps today. It will be a life changing decision that you will not regret.

The Danger of Being Honest

Not every book is great, not every book is good, hell, I will even go as far as saying some books are a steaming pile of animal dung.

That is the truth, plain and simple, but is it ever really that easy to write it?

As a writer, I, and I know most of you are too, we are all too aware of the time it takes to create a book. The blood, sweat and tears that are poured into the words, and the maybe even more important, we know the sacrifice that is required to really make it, especially as an indie author. Besides the words there are families and day jobs that take precedence, and so our scriblings are done in bursts, or at crazy times so as not to interfere with our real world lives. Many of us are not afforded the luxury of being able to write whenever or wherever we wish.

Yet that is not reason enough to leave a falsely positive review.

Honesty is the best policy, right?

You would think so, however, as writers ourselves, there is one very dangerous label out there that is often confused with honest. It is a damming tag to be given, and I fear a great many people are allowing themselves to fall victim to this silent campaign, when in reality, I feel it is causing long term damage to us all.

That label being used comes in many guises, the most common is ‘jealous‘ but another manifestation that is often bandied around is ‘troll‘. These are the words being used when the best choice would be, honest.

How dare we express our own opinion on something? How could we possible consider saying anything negative especially against another writer? We know what they have been through in order to get their ´baby´ into the public eye.

I have two responses to this.

1) As writers receiving these less than glowing reviews, we understand that it is through feedback that we grow.

2) As a writer leaving a negative review, we understand how to correctly phrase our reviews without compromising anybody. Not to mention that should the book be so bad that words fail you, the review would be sent via email or some other means of contact to the writer, in the minimum as a form of advanced warning.

I think it is important to define at this juncture that there is a fundamental difference between negative / critical and vicious or degrading.

Just because a certain writer has written 5, 10 or even 50 books, there is no need to feel any obligation to give them a review that is a lie.

I have encountered writers that churn out works of fiction, books that total in the low 100 pages and every time these books receive a review that is less than 5* they demand a ‘circling of the wagons’ calling upon all of their friends to descend on this reviewers, assigning them the title of Troll and ordering people to mark the review as unhelpful on Amazon and even in some instances to report them as being spam.

I find this attitude deplorable and the fact that this all happens behind closed doors so to speak, the only people that suffer are those that leave the reviews.

When the review is left by a writer, the response is even worse, or I should has even more damaging consequences. The writer is labelled as being jealous. A horrid word which is used by those that are afraid or unwilling to see the truth. There is this mythic belief that as writers we are expected to review each other with nothing but an abundance of superlatives, and any time we use less than the maximum number of stars to grade a piece we are, in the minds of these authors we are simple jealous of their success.

This is utter nonsense.

Just because you dislike a book, whether it is because the style is not your favourite, or maybe because the book was riddled with errors, there is no reason to jump on the jealously wagon.

It is a testament to the fragile shell of most people, and I would go as far as to show the difference between writers and authors. Writers who write to publish in search of exaltation, and eventually fame, against authors who write because of the need to write, the compulsion and the desire to create. Writing is not done for reviews and it is not done for praise. It is made, as is art to satisfy the muse, and as long as the writer is true to themselves then the art is complete. Whatever praise may come after is all to the good, but it is far from the goal.