Series: The Bionics Novels, Book 1
Author: Alicia Michaels
Published: February 10th, 2015
Publisher: Crimson Tree Publishing
Genre: NA Paranormal Romance
Warning: Coarse language, mild sexual innuendo
Recommended Age: 16+
All Blythe Sol ever wanted was to be a normal girl. Yet, her dreams of following in her father’s footsteps by joining the military after graduation are crushed when nuclear war comes to the United States in the year 4006. Tens of thousands are killed in a series of attacks on many major cities, while thousands more are left injured from the devastation of the blasts, or terminally ill from the effects of radiation.
When the government offers the sick and injured a second chance as part of the Restoration Project, how could they refuse? Hoping to put her life back together after the blasts take both her arm and her eye, Blythe enrolls in the program filled with hope. She never expects that the bionic additions will change her life so drastically. When it is discovered that those outfitted with the robotic parts have become enhanced beyond the limits of ordinary human ability, normal can never exist for her again.
The Bionics become targets of the government, as fear of them spreads across the nation, further enflamed by media propaganda and political conspiracy. Forced to go into hiding or face execution, society’s outcasts band together to form the Restoration Resistance—an underground rebellion which Blythe becomes a part of in order to survive. She could never imagine that joining them would thrust her at the forefront of an imminent revolution, or that it would put her in a confusing tug-of-war between two of her fellow soldiers—Gage Bronson, the mysterious new addition to the Resistance, and Dax Janner, her best friend. Even though Gage is rapidly capturing her heart, she is forced to face the possibility that her feelings for Dax might just go beyond friendship. However, with impending war and the threat of death hanging over her head, Blythe hardly has time to worry about anything as trivial as a love life…
Two years ago…
“Welcome to your first day of training. My name is Jenica Swan, and while the media has taught you over the years that I am the enemy… I can assure you that I am one of your best chances at surviving from this moment on.”
I stand in the formation of about fifty people ranging in age from sixteen to forty, watching the imposing ex-CIA agent pace back and forth in front of us. Her polished black boots click on the tiles lining the hovercraft hangar, and her sleek, black ponytail hangs down between her shoulder blades in a straight line. The titanium of the faceplate covering the upper, top right half of her face reflects the lights overhead.
I am flanked by strangers, people I have never laid eyes on before today. Despite the fact that I’ve been living at Resistance Headquarters for two months now, I’ve never left my assigned room. Turning and scanning the row of recruits, my eyes lock on the one person here I do know.
Dax Janner gives me an encouraging smile and a nod. He doesn’t have to speak for me to know what he’s thinking. I can almost hear him in my head saying, ‘You can do this’! Squaring my shoulders and holding my head high, I fix my gaze on Jenica and force myself to focus.
“In the next three months, you will undergo a rigorous training schedule and adhere to a strict personal one. You will wake every morning at 4 am for chow. After chow, there will be a run around the entire dome encasing this hideout. Not through, around… a total of ten miles. After the run, we will engage in hand-to-hand combat training. You will work with partners and other trained members of our team to hone your skills. After that, you will get a one-hour lunch break. From there, you will report back to the main building for time at the range. Our weapons supply is limited, but what we do have, you will all learn to be proficient on. Those of you who signed up for flight lessons will see me each day after your time at the gun range. Every Friday, we will skip our run and meet here for lessons in everything from using your radio COMM devices, to deciphering Military Police code words.”
Swallowing past the lump in my throat, I take this all in numbly. In the past, the idea of training to be part of a unit would have lived up to my every dream. Being a recruit, a cadet… it all felt so meaningless now when there was no one here to be proud of me. No father beaming with pride and saying ‘That’s my girl’. No mother with tears in her eyes. No little sister staring up at me with awe and aspiration.
No one, I reminded myself, except Dax, who saved my life. I can feel him watching me. He does that, as if he thinks I’ll break at any moment and he needs to be there to catch me when I do. It’s happened often enough since he rescued me and brought me here, so I don’t blame him. As much as my insides bristle at his invasion of my defenses, something in me yearns for more of it. Something inside of me misses the bonds I shared with the people who made up my family, and I want those bonds back… more than anything. I want—need—something to live for. Something to fight for.
“Get to know your fellow recruits,” Jenica continues, stopping before our formation and turning to face us with her hands clenched behind her back. “You all are going to be spending a lot of time together. Learn to like each other. Live with each other’s differences. Get over your petty disagreements, or whatever you walked in here with, because this is it. Look around you, people… the guy to your left and the girl to your right are all you’ve got. We all remember what life used to be. We all had lives before we came here. Many of you are young and probably thought you had it all figured it out. Your life hasn’t turned out the way it planned, but this is it. Some of you will suffer even more than you already have fighting this battle. Some of you will die. So, you may as well make it count. If you don’t like each other, tough luck. Forget the past. The people in this room, right now… these people are your new family.”
About the Author
Ever since she first read books like Chronicles of Narnia or Goosebumps, Alicia has been a lover of mind-bending fiction. Wherever imagination takes her, she is more than happy to call that place her home. The mother of two and wife to an Army sergeant loves chocolate, coffee, and of course good books. When not writing, you can usually find her with her nose in a book, shopping for shoes and fabulous jewelry, or spending time with her loving family.
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Always stay true to your voice. There is a lot of pressure out there to conform to what’s ‘trendy’ in order to sell books. A lot of great books get turned down by publishers because they aren’t ‘marketable’. If it’s not similar to whatever book in your particular genre, then you may be told that it won’t sell. Rejection is a certainty. However, there is more than one way to skin a cat. By remaining true to yourself, you are more likely to find YOUR ideal audience of readers. Maybe that means you don’t go through a traditional publisher. You might find your niche with a small press, or even an independent, self-published author. Whatever route you choose to take, never stray from writing the stories YOU want to tell for the people who want to read them. As a writer, your voice is your most unique asset. It is what sets you apart.
When did you start writing?
I began writing around the age of 12.
What made you decide to publish your first book?
Long story short, I always wanted to be a published author. Since I write my first story at the age of 12, I wanted it. I had a hard time, as many people are these days, getting in with the big agents and publishers. That motivated me to start self-publishing, and that eventually led me to small press publishers. I continue to work with small publishers, and self-publish, because it is fulfilling for me.
How do you get over writer's block?
‘Writer’s block’ is one of the reasons I work on multiple projects at a time. I usually have two or three books I’m working on at any given time. If I get stuck on one story, sometimes it helps me to step away from it for a while. If reading a book, spending some time away from the computer, or vegging out to Netflix doesn’t help, sometimes I find that switching to a different project helps. By switching my focus to something else, I give my mind a chance to work out or get past whatever might be causing the block on another project. Sometimes I even get inspiration from the second project, then I can go back to working on the first.
How do you handle negative reviews of your books?
I’ve been doing this long enough that I like to think I’m used to bad reviews. Most of them just roll off my back. It comes with the territory. As an author, I have to acknowledge the fact that even though I think my book is brilliant, there are some people out there who just won’t like it. It’s not for them, and that’s okay. I will admit, sometimes a particularly mean or snarky review can get me upset, but I force myself to sit and put it in perspective. If that one snarky review is up against, say 20 positive ones, then there’s no use crying over the one bad review. It’s all about perspective. If I have only 1 one-star review out of twenty, I think I’m doing pretty well.
There's a lot of distractions around, especially with social media, how do you block it all out and write?
This is a hard one, because social medial is such a huge part of what I do every day. I utilize it to interact with readers and promote my books. I find it helps if I take time every hour or two to check in on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. That way, I’m not distracted when I sit down to work.
What do you enjoy, outside of writing?
I love food, both cooking it and eating it! I’m also a bit of a fashionista, so I love shopping. Of course I love reading. I also love movies and have an extensive, and growing DVD collection. I also have three awesome kids and a husband to spend time with.
What's something about you that most people don't know?
I have a weird quirk about certain foods. For instance, I can’t eat French fries that have hard, too-crunchy edges. I also can’t eat raisins. It’s a texture thing. I KNOW they are a fruit, but once they’re in my mouth, my brains thinks I’m chewing a bug and I gag.
Have you ever had to rewrite portions of a book because the characters decided to be someone else than you intended?
All the time. That is all a part of being a writer who goes by the seat of her pants. I rarely outline. I like to let the story organically unfold, and that means allowing the characters to do what comes natural to them. There have been times when this changes the entire plot of a story. But that’s what I love about the organic process. If something takes me by surprise, then I know the reader will be surprised as well.
Do you ever write characters you hate?
This will sound odd, but no. There is a quote, I can’t remember just now who said it, but it applies here. “Every villain is the hero of his own story”. I’ve written some pretty despicable bad guys, but I never hated them no matter how heinous. Because, I feel, in order to write a good villain, you have to get into their head and understand their motivation. Doing that makes it hard to hate them.
Humor me, because this is my favorite (mythical) animal: Would you ever consider putting a platypire in one of your books?
LOL! Okay, so I’ll admit I didn’t even know what that was until I did this interview. I had to google it. I write a Fantasy series called ‘The Lost Kingdom of Fallada’, which is based on the Grimm Brothers fairy tales. There are an abundance of mythical creatures there. So, I think there could be room for a platypire. It would be totally unexpected, that’s for sure!