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Second Day of The Last Superhero Kindle Countdown Deal!

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‘Tis the second day of The Last Superhero’s Kindle Countdown Deal!

Dec 28 – get it for only 99¢

Dec 29 – get it for $1.99

Dec 30 – back to regular price, $2.99

Head over to Amazon.com and download it now!

The Last Superhero Kindle Countdown Deal!

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Just a friendly reminder:

The Last Superhero’s Kindle Countdown deals on Amazon.com start today!

Dec 28 – get it for only 99¢

Dec 29 – get it for $1.99

Dec 30 – back to regular price, $2.99

Check out yesterday’s post about it!

The Last Superhero – Chapter 2, signed copies for sale, and giveaways reminder

This week has been pretty awesome. And it’s only Tuesday.

First of all, author friend Stacey Cochran sent me a blurb for The Last Superhero and it’s pretty mind blowing:

“Cruz’s voice is the most authentic to emerge from the Caribbean in the digital age. Edgy, smart, tough, she writes with inspired confidence.”

– Stacey Cochran, author of EDDIE & SUNNY.

And no, I didn’t put a gun to his head or anything! I couldn’t speak for a while after he wrote to me and even when I’ve read it and reread it a couple of times I still can’t believe he’s talking about me. 😀

Then, something wonderful happened this morning. The print proof of The Last Superhero arrived in the mail!

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It’s perfect!!!

I love it. I love everything about it and I will sleep with it hugged to my chest tonight.

And I know I have lots of friends and family wanting to do that too so I’m selling autographed copies. Yay!

Click here if you’d like to buy one and I will love you forever!

Also, remember I’ve got two giveaways going on: 2 ARCs over at Goodreads and 2 signed copies through Rafflecopter.

Want to save tress? You can pre-order it from Amazon and have it downloaded to your Kindle as soon as it’s published.

If I keep smiling like this my face will hurt. So here I give you Chapter 2…

2

It’s been a week since the incident and I’m chatting with Daphne – my right-hand, store clerk, and all around guardian angel who has worked here for free for far longer than I care to admit – about hair colors. She’s punk and has purple and white streaks in her hair and keeps trying to convince me about dyeing mine any color I choose from the rainbow.

I’m trying to run a bookstore,” I reply.

Well, it’s not my bookstore, it’s my mother’s, but I’m the one who runs it for her thanks to people like Daphne who believe the written word isn’t dead.

Anyway, that’s another story.

Blue would look perfect on you,” she says, eyeing the customer that’s just walked in. “It might help us attract a younger crowd and less of those.” She nods the customer’s way.

I give a jump.

Oh fuck.”

What?” Daphne frowns. She doesn’t know.

She doesn’t know the old dude’s back and he’s here to kill me.

He glides through the bookshelves, like some cat.

Shit.

I’ll be outside,” I say, rush through the back door.

He’s on my tail and I hear Daphne trying to stop him.

I just want to talk,” he says once we’ve both made it outside, closing the door on poor Daphne.

It’s okay, Daph, I’ve got it!” I cry, praying it makes it through the door seams and to her. Address him, “You don’t want her calling the police.”

He opens the door again and there’s Daphne holding her phone to her face.

It’s okay,” I tell her, my arms crossed over my chest to hide my trembling. “He’s a friend of Mom’s.”

Oh,” Daphne lowers her phone.

I’ll be back in ten.”

She shuts the door.

This is it. This is where I die. Next to the dumpster. So classy.

Please make it quick.” My voice quivers, breaks. “And don’t let Daphne see my dead body, she’s squeamish.”

What?!”

Look, I didn’t tell the police it was you, just some Good Samaritan that then ran off. The surveillance cameras haven’t worked for years, so there’s no evidence.” It’s difficult to speak, but I push through. At least let me explain myself before he kills me off.

His brows furrow, every time a little deeper.

The guy’s in the hospital. He has no family or anything so no one will miss him.” I can hear him breathing hard. “And I think you should know I’m an only child and this bookstore is my mother’s, so maybe you’d like to dump my body somewhere they can’t find me.”

What the fuck are you going on about?”

You’re here to kill me, aren’t you?”

I’m not.” He looks around, exasperated.

What are you here for then?”

He brings his hands to his head. “This is fucked up.”

No shit.”

I’m not here to kill you and it wasn’t my intention to injure that man.”

It’s not like you haven’t done it before.”

His stare is so intense, I step back and bump into the wall behind me.

What do you know about me?”

I feel my knees buckle and lean on the wall to remain vertical.

That your name is Steven Waldorf.”

What else?”

That…” Should I say it? He’s pressing me with those menacing hazel eyes… “You’re the last superhero to roam the Earth.”

His face falls for a second before he steps back, away from my quaking self.

I know too much and now he knows I know and he’ll do to me what they do to all the people who know too much.

I’m not here to kill you.”

I brave a glance at him and he’s standing next to the dumpster, his head down.

You’re not?”

No, I’m not. What made you think that?”

Apart from all the glaring and the sneering?” And the fact that I witnessed you almost murder someone?

He runs his fingers through his graying hair. “Look, I’m sorry I was rude to you.”

Are you even real?”

Of course I am.”

And you are Steven Waldorf.”

I go by Steven Dennis now.”

Oh.” A pause. “You’re supposed to be dead.”

Yes. And I would appreciate if you didn’t tell anyone that I am not.”

Okay.” Sure. Or you’ll kill me. I get it.

He’s about to say something, but it dies in his throat. His face’s softened and giving him a second look, he’s not that old or bad looking.

It takes a depraved mind like mine to think such a thing in a moment like this.

Something drives me to talk. Maybe it’s that same thing that made me get out of the car and read the plaque.

Step closer to the boogeyman so he can slash you straight.

Were you looking for something? Is there anything I can help you with?”

Now he softens further and there’s the ghost of a smile on his lips.

I came to buy more books.”

Okay. Follow me.”

Don’t touch him in case he’s startled and then kills you.

We walk back into the bookstore and I signal Daphne that all is okay. She gives Steven an ‘I’m watching you’ look that he doesn’t notice.

He’s got superpowers, yes, but not all of them. I think there’s a rule about that; you only get one or two, not more. He’s got telekinesis. It explains why the hobo flew through the air. He pushed him with his power.

We’re in the poetry section and I try to interest him in some crime novel that just came out.

Don’t read crime.”

Of course you don’t.

A long, elegant finger settles on a particular poetry compilation that happens to be one of my favorites and pulls it out.

The guy seems to know. “Great choice.”

Is it?”

One of my favorites.” I’m regarded with a quirked eyebrow and a satisfied nod. “I must ask…”

No questions.”

And here I was thinking he’d softened.

Why am I following him, I don’t know.

Well, maybe because he’s the last fucking superhero in the fucking Earth and, right now, I’m the only one who knows he’s still alive.

When I turn around, he’s staring at me.

Can you read my mind?”

That makes him burst out in laughter.

Not funny.” I give him an about face and his hand lands on my shoulder, startling me.

Sorry,” he says.

Daphne’s checking on us from a distance.

It’s okay.”

Got any naughty thoughts you don’t want me knowing about?”

Is that humor? Must be.

Maybe.”

That amuses him.

I’m taking this one but only because you said it was your favorite.” He hands me the book.

One of my favorites. I’ve got many.” I lead the way to the register, where Daphne’s sitting.

She’s quick to slide off the stool and run for cover.

Then I shall come back for the rest.”

Am I getting hit on by a man twice my age? From murder to flirting. This is new and unheard.

He’s smiling. It makes him look less menacing. Almost nice.

Apart from the murder thing.

He pays, I bag the book, give it to him.

What’s your name, by the way?”

Giana.”

It hits him, something, don’t know what, then says, “Beautiful.” And it’s as if it physically hurt him.

A slight bow and he’s out. Out the door but not my mind.

What did he want?” Daphne approaches me.

I don’t know,” is my reply and I have to shake it off. “I’m getting lunch.” Hit a button on the cash register and see there’s not enough.

I’ll get it.” She pats my shoulder and is off the same way Steven was seconds before.

I bend over and hit my forehead on the counter.

Fuck everything and everyone, dead, alive, or about to die.”

###

The Last Superhero – Chapter 1 and Signed Paperback Giveaway!

Yes! Another giveaway! This one’s different from the Goodread’s one since I’ll be giving away signed paperbacks. I’ll be personalizing them and sending them to the winners. All by myself. My mother should be proud.

Click here to find out how to enter the giveaway!

Or you can pre-order it from Amazon and have it downloaded to your Kindle as soon as it’s published.

And now, because I’m cool like that, here’s the first chapter:

1

I’m sitting behind the counter ready to crack the cash register open and call it a night when the bookstore’s door opens, making the wind chime sing, and in comes this guy.

So fucking annoying, these customers that come in right before closing time.

I greet him, he doesn’t reply.

Make it quick, you dumbass.

But no, of course not. He strides leisurely through the bookshelves, taking his time.

“Looking for anything in particular?” I give a fake smile.

“No.”

Ugh.

I look at my watch and my stomach rumbles. That salad I had as a late lunch disappeared the moment it hit my trachea. Damn those things; it’s like eating water.

Push up my glasses, hit the bridge of my nose.

“We’re closing in five,” I shoot his way. Better get on with it, dude, or I’ll kick you out.

He gives me a slight nod and goes on browsing.

Damn you. There’s some leftover lasagna in my fridge, calling my name.

One look at him and I can tell he’s searching, not just browsing like most people do. He knows what he’s looking for. If only he’d tell me, I could help. He’s old. Well, not too old if you ask my mother, passing fifty maybe. The kind that still comes here, a select member of the small group of people that still read print.

He plucks two books from different shelves and brings them to me, pays for them, and without a word, leaves.

Asshole.

I open the cash register and give a quick glance inside. It’s not hard to count fifty bucks total. Put them in my pocket, get my purse, coat, scarf, and get the hell out of there before I collapse.

Lights off, lock the door, pull the gate.

“Give me the money, bitch!”

“What the fuck?!”

A punk, a blade, a set of bloodshot eyes. “Give me the money!”

“What money?! Dude! This is a fucking bookstore. We don’t make money, we lose money.”

He goes for my purse, but I dodge him. “Shut up, bitch, and give me the fucking money!” A swipe of the blade in the air.

“Come on, man! I already told you I’ve got nothing! Bookstore equals bankrupt, you idiot. Take your anger somewhere else. Channel it somehow.” I manage to close the padlock by hitting it with the heel of my hand and it goes clunk.

“What the fuck?”

“I mean, you’re angry. Aren’t you? You’re angry at society, humanity, yourself, maybe even your family. Why are you doing this? Did you ever dream of ending up like this? Mugging people on the street?”

His eyes flick from right to left.

“I mean it, dude. Get a grip. There’s a place two blocks from here where you can crash, get a shower, have a hot meal. You know, help you get your shit together. This adrenaline rush isn’t worth it, nor is shooting stuff up your veins.”

“Fuck you.” He pounces, the blade almost reaching my neck.

I duck away from him and all I hear is a swooshing sound. The punk’s flying, fucking flying two or three feet above the ground and hitting the wall with an earth-shattering crash.

What. The. Fuck.

I look down at my hands, my legs. I didn’t do shit.

There’s someone wheezing behind me and when I turn, I see him. It’s the old dude, the customer. His bag with the books is lying on the ground and he’s doubled over, a hand against the wall.

“Sir? Are you okay?”

He waves a hand at me, dismissing me.

The vagabond is sprawled against the wall and there’s blood on it.

Damn.

“Sir. Please, let me help you.”

I try to reach the man who’s trying to catch his breath as if he’d run a marathon, but he pushes me away.

“What did you do? Who are you?”

He sends me a menacing glance and I know I should leave it alone, but I think he needs my help.

I grab his bag and go for his arm. He can hardly protest through what seems to be an asthma attack.

“Let me take you home, sir.”

He’s tall and heavy and pushes me away with every step, but we make it to my car and I’m able to shove him inside.

I slide into the driver’s seat and pause.

“What the fuck happened back there?”

His breathing slows down yet he doesn’t look at me. He won’t even send me another glare.

I wait.

He blurts his address and we’re off. In silence. I won’t talk if he won’t talk.

And fuck me if I’m mute, but when we reach our destination, I knew it rang a bell. It’s some exclusive residential area with manor after manor stretching out on a wider than normal street.

The dude’s loaded. Not that you’d tell from his clothes, maybe a bit from his face but definitely not his clothes.

Once we reach the number, he tries to bolt.

“Whoa. Let me unlock it first!”

I push the button and the thing clicks, his sign to stagger out and shut the door with a bang.

I jump out, shout at his back, “A thanks won’t fucking kill you!”

He stops short of opening the gate, turns on his heel and strides back.

Oh fuck.

I’m at my door, across from him, holding onto the car in case the guy goes berserk.

He stops on the other side, sneers at me over the car’s roof.

“You didn’t see anything,” he snarls.

“Excuse me?”

“Tonight. The thief.”

“Yeah, about that…”

He points a threatening finger at me. “Not. A. Word.”

Then it dawns on me. Oh my god does it dawn. The junkie flew through the air.

I narrow my eyes even though I’m trembling. “It’s you.”

There’s murder in his eyes. “I said: not a word!”

“But you’re dead.”

“And that’s how I’d like to remain. Now go before I change my mind.”

Oooookay. I’ve had enough creepy for one night.

I open my door and slide in. He rushes into the house and disappears.

I can’t make myself start the car. I can’t put the key in the ignition; it slips. This dude. This guy. This man.

It can’t be.

Some stupid kind of determination gets a hold of me. The kind that drives people to walk into a dark room to check on a weird noise and then the boogeyman gets them.

He’s going to murder me, I know.

“Fuck!”

I open the car door as slow as I can, careful not to make a sound, step out, gulp some air.

What the fuck am I doing? Getting myself killed, maybe?

A look at the house lit only by the light from the street lamps filtered through the many trees that surround it. It’s old, dilapidated, and the ivy that covers the walls isn’t just for the fancy effect it gives. The thing’s overgrown.

Then I see it – a plaque next to the gate through which he entered, covered by the ivy and mush. I pull my coat sleeve to cover my hand, to uncover the thing, to discover what lies underneath.

Waldorf Manor.

Oh. Shit.

Get back in the car and get the fuck out of there.

I’ve either just hit jackpot or written my own death sentence.

###

The Last Superhero Pre-order and Goodreads Giveaway!

Even heroes have the right to bleed…

Everybody knows that Steven S. Waldorf, the last superhero to roam the Earth, died twenty-eight years ago. What everyone ignores is that not only is he still alive, but being kept under the protection of the United State’s government.

That until, one night, he finds himself saving a young woman from getting mugged.

Giana is no ordinary twenty-nine year old, though. She’s witty, badmouthed, and once she’s set her focus on something nothing can make her stray from her goal.

Even if that means putting her life on the line to save the man she’s come to know and love from the nightmares that torment him.

Literally.

The Last Superhero is up for pre-order over at Amazon. Publishing date is set to December 24 but I can assure you I’ll make it earlier if I can. In the meantime, pre-order here (link updated to a geographically aware one) and make this author eternally grateful. 😀

Want to try your luck at a giveaway better? You can win one of two ARC copies through this Goodreads giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Last Superhero by Astrid 'Artistikem' Cruz

The Last Superhero

by Astrid ‘Artistikem’ Cruz

Giveaway ends December 13, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

I’m excited and scared and excited again. *dies*

The Last Superhero – How it came to be

TLS Twitter HeaderIt may sound absurd but don’t be naïve. Even heroes have the right to bleed.

Back in 2008-2009 I had an idea for a story focusing on a retired superhero. Songs like 3 Doors Down’s Kryptonite and Five for Fighting’s Superman inspired me to create a superhero character exploring a more intimate, human side of it. That’s how Steven S. Waldorf came to be. The last superhero to roam the Earth.

My friends and family liked the idea and a first draft was born. A first draft that was passed around and read and edited and I thought I had it so I started posting chapters on my Tumblr.

That was when one certain person told me to stop and rewrite the whole thing. To say I was angry is an understatement. If so many people liked it why couldn’t he?

Still, I do listen to this one person I shall not mention by name since he’s old and wise. I stowed the manuscript and waited, not for the world to change, but for my world to change.

Four years and a couple of books published later, I decided to revisit this story, rewrite it from scratch. My world has changed considerably. I’ve been married for 10 years and life has given me a bunch of lessons about love, family, friendship, and loss. All this, of course, spills into my writing and what was once a novella has blown up into a 93k words novel with not only science fiction elements but fantasy and thriller too.

THE LAST SUPERHERO was reborn with a vengeance. A story that has lived inside me for years grew to what I believe is its full potential.

So, what’s the story about?

An aging superhero marked by rejection and tragedy meets a young woman that will put her life on the line to save him from his nightmares. Literally.

Steven S. Waldorf is the last superhero to roam the Earth. He’s been living in seclusion for 28 years and only now is coming back out into the world. Giana’s a twenty-nine year old woman trying to keep it together while searching for a way to get out of a rut. They meet one night when he saves her from getting mugged and that sparks a relationship between them that will throw her right into the center of his continuous unknown-to-the-world torment.

See, Steven’s got the power of telekinesis and can project fantasies into people’s minds, this last one being his most controversial power and the culprit of his torment.

But you’re going to have to read the book to know more about it.

I like to call it a sci-fi fantasy story for the non-sci-fi fantasy reader. It’s, above all, a love story between two people who’ve been through a lot and are able to find solace in each other.

Roles are switched, and it’s the superhero the one that needs to be saved from his internal battles. It’s a psychology thing, using Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego theory and research on dreams from people like Carl Jung.

The writing style

Last year I published a short story called At the Corner of Mars and Neptune (FREE 11/25-11/26 2014). I’m going to steal Stacey Cochran’s term and call it a noir romance. With it I wanted to try out a looser type of writing than the one I use on The Caregiver Series, a more poetic one, resembling how I talk to myself (yeah, I do that… a lot).

Knock. Knock.
He looks at me. I look at him. We both know.
I stride to the door faster than he can reach an outstretched hand to me.
Turn the doorknob, hold my breath.
Open the door and the punch lands square on my face.
“Hey!” Noah exclaims.
I’m on all fours, trying to get up, when a foot kicks me to the side.
“He’s clear!” I shout when I see John closing the distance. “Don’t hurt him, he’s got nothing.”
“He’s a cop!” He’s pointing a gun at Noah’s face. “What the fuck is wrong with you, bitch? Bringing cops in here?”
I have to get up. Noah’s holding his hands in the air—so policeman of him. The pink straw pointing at his face, as if it was looking at him and telling him: you’re fucked.
“Leave him, John. He’s leaving now.”
“He better.”
“Go fuck someone else, John.”
“You,” he turns to point the gun at me now because I’m on my feet again, “stop fucking around.”
“I never fuck around.” I push the gun barrel out of my sight. “I said he’s leaving.”
John lets a couple of beats pass. Like techno, just the bass of his chest marking each one. He lowers the gun, turns to Noah. “Next time I see you ‘round here Imma a pop one in your skull, you fucking pig.” And exits like he’s some kind of warrior, looking down at us, flexing his chest muscles so he looks bigger.
Noah runs to me, checking my face. I slap his hands away.
“Go. Before he comes back.”
“Your cheekbone is busted.”
I touch it with my fingertips. Yeah, it’s open. “Whatevs. Just go before he comes back and kills you.”
“Meet me tomorrow. Ten. You know the Greek restaurant a couple of blocks from here?”
“Yeah.”
“There.”
“Okay.”
He gives me another look, his eyes stray to the place in my face sporting the open wound. Go, I mouth, shoving him out the door and locking it. Locking him out. Locking me in. And I don’t know why but I’m silently praying he makes it out in one piece.
~ At the Corner of Mars and Neptune – Chapter 3
That story got some nice praise from readers and fellow authors so I decided to give it a shot with this book too and was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.
I park in front of his house and turn the car off.
Shiver again at the thought of that cop.
I’m not telling Steven. No.
Deep breaths.
It’s early in the afternoon and I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I need to see him.
And I’m out of cigarettes.
He ain’t got a phone so I can’t call him up and say ‘hey can I come over?’
So I get out of my car, walk up to the gate, and search for something like an intercom or even a bell.
Nope, no such luck.
Gate’s locked and the path to the door is pretty long.
How tall is this wall?
Do I really want to see him that bad?
Ponder.
Use the padlock, tap it on the gate a couple of times.
No answer.
I am not shouting his name and I am not honking either.
I’ve climbed walls before. And this one’s got some sturdy looking ivy branches.
Grab one, wrap it around your wrist, pull on it, think it’ll hold.
And it does. It will.
Move the fuck over Tarzan, ’cause here goes Jane.
Just like one of those rock climbing walls people are so amused by, only this surface’s flat and slippery, and I’m not wearing a harness.
Some small scratches on my hands and I’ve made it to the top.
Who’s awesome, eh? Who’s fucking awesome?
Get off before someone drives by and sees you straddling the top of the wall like it’s a horse.
Grab some branches and lower yourself.
Easy. Easy.
They say it’s the climb, man, but going down is nerve-wracking sometimes.
Crack.
Crap!
~ The Last Superhero – Chapter 8
I thought my editor would hate it. The style, the story, the characters, everything. Until she read it and told me “I can honestly say the most compelling story I’ve read in longass while has been yours.” That made me feel somewhat better. Here’s to hoping you all enjoy it as well.

Read and E-book Week

Read an Ebook Week

You’ve still got today and tomorrow to get 50% off TORN, THE BEAST, and AT THE CORNER OF MARS AND NEPTUNE!

Head over to Smashwords and use code REW50 at checkout: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/artistikem

Or get them from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=artistikem

Happy reading!