Monday, September 14, 2015

Guest Author: Steven dos Santos with DAGGER from @evernightteen

Please Welcome Steven dos Santos !!!

Hi there!
Finally being able to celebrate the launch of my newest Young Adult novel, DAGGER has been such a rewarding experience. But the road getting to this point has been quite a rollercoaster ride.
Back in 2002, I wrote my first full length book, a MG novel called Darius Devine & The Necromancer’s Curse. Without any guidance, except for “The Complete Idiots Guide to Publishing Children’s Books,” I started querying editors and piling up form rejections. But the guide did point me toward a mysterious organization known as SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators.

It was through SCBWI, that I met two people that proved pivotal in motivating me, teaching me, helping me hone my craft, and steering me toward my path to publication: The first was Dr. Stacy Davids, my SCBWI Aventura Critique Group leader extraordinaire, and later, Joyce Sweeney, my writing mentor who’s been instrumental in 40 authors being published. Through both of them, I met other wonderful aspiring and published writers, many of who have become treasured friends, and started attending the annual SCBQWI conferences in Miami and Orlando.

Between Stacy and Joyce, not only did I have a fan club and cheering squad, but it was also like having a 24 hour Writers Hotline, where I could vent my frustrations as well as share in the joys every time I got a good critique at a conference or a request for my manuscript by an editor or agent.
Now I had developed this rejection coping mechanism where every time I would get a rejection, I would forward it to Stacy Davids, usually referring to the person that rejected me with a…oh…let’s just say a colorful nickname.

One interesting example of this strategy occurred on April 4, 2007. I had been querying agents for my revised MG novel, accumulating a Mt. Everest-sized pile of rejections, and when I received this latest rejection on this particular night, I felt really hopeless.  The rejection itself was pretty simple: “Thanks Steven. But I’m afraid this isn’t right for me.”

As usual, I typed an email to Stacy, so dejected at this point, that I couldn’t even muster the usual creative epithets, and simply said “Hey Stace. This bozo rejected my first 5 pages. Guess he didn’t love my characters or find the story gripping…I’m seriously doubting I’m going to get published now.” So I hit forward and waited for Stacie’s reply.

You can imagine how confused I felt, when, only a few minutes later, Bozo responded instead of Stacie. Curious, I opened the email and read: “I think you hit reply instead of Forward.” You can imagine how mortified I felt. But Bozo went on to say. “Don’t give up just because one Bozo said no.”

As embarrassed as I was, I never forgot that clown’s words and was more fired up than ever to earn my spot in the big top.

Since my MG novel never sold, I wrote a new novel during the next year and a half. This novel was called DAGGER, and it was a mix of Paranormal and espionage, with a dash of romance, where the main character happened to be a gay male teen, who goes undercover as a supernatural spy.

So after years of trying, DAGGER has finally been released and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! I guess the moral of the story is to never give up on your dreams or let anyone discourage you. Through hard work and perseverance those dreams can come true. But most important of all. DO NOT FORWARD EMAILS, ALWAYS COPY AND PASTE. LOL.

And Don’t EVER let the clown have the last laugh. Thank you!

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The D.U.S.T. Ops:  Mission 1
Steven Dos Santos

Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Gay, Romance, Sci-Fi
Released Sept. 10th -  Editor’s Pick
62k words

When Ultimate Evil engulfs the entire world, only Dagger can pierce the Darkness—even if the Apocalypse falls on a school night!

Dagger Beaumont is a High School senior who’s been recruited by D.U.S.T.—a covert governmental organization dedicated to battling supernatural terrorism all over the globe.

However, Dagger’s unresolved conflict over his missing brother could be his undoing, as he races around the world battling the Dark Reich, a diabolical organization on a quest to possess an ancient artifact and unleash a mystical plague to enslave humanity. If that weren't treacherousenough, Dagger must juggle his life as a secret agent with his social life, where he faces romantic rivalry for the guy of his dreams, a mysterious and handsome new student at his haunted boarding school.

But in a high-stakes world where nothing is as it seems, and death lurks in every shadow, love rides shotgun with survival! 

Buy Links:    Evernight Teen     Amazon

I pulled the sheet down Reinaldo’s naked right hip, trying hard not to peek at what lay beyond. Why did he have to be so damn hot? Hey, I was a typical seventeen year-old guy, raging hormones and all that jazz. With one big difference.
I had orders to terminate.
Reinaldo lay sprawled beside me on the king-sized bed in our Parisian hotel suite, looking like the statue of David in a centerfold spread: jet-black curly hair, Roman nose, angular jaw, the chiseled body of a college gymnast. His biceps bulged, as did his pecs, which were lightly coated with hair that tapered into a trail leading down ridges of sculpted abs, past his pelvis, before disappearing into the tent under the sheets. As far as what was hidden, let’s just say all that rigorous exercise hadn’t stunted his growth.
He was the first guy to tell me he loved me. And now he’d be the first guy I had to kill. The quintessential love-hate relationship. If there’s one thing I’d learned ever since my brother Phillipe’s supernatural disappearance, it was that love had no business in the world of occult espionage.
Opening your heart was akin to opening your wrists.
I shifted closer, my face inches from his pelvis. Moving in, I smelled the freshly laundered linen, mixed with Reinaldo’s own musky athletic scent. I blinked my eyes three times, activating the infrared contact lenses I’d slipped on earlier, while Reinaldo’d slipped out of his clothes, after drinking the potion I’d slipped in his wine. Talk about a slippery slope.
He didn’t look quite as sexy bathed in a green glow, more like Michelangelo’s boy with a serious case of gangrene. But the only part of Reinaldo’s body that truly mattered was the part no longer hidden by the sheet. The part that throbbed underneath the gaze of my infrared lenses.
It was there, on his inner right thigh. The birthmark. My intel had been correct.
It was so tiny I might not have ever seen it, even if we’d done the deed.
What was it? Right?—no, left to zoom in. I blinked my left eye a few times enlarging the image. It was a symbol. A dragon inside a pyramid, its base parallel to another pyramid base facing the opposite direction and encasing some type of demon. Both of these were housed within a larger triangle.
I squinted, flexing my brows. Snap! Snap! Snap! The photographic evidence of the mark uploaded via the lenses’ transmitter. These shades rocked. I’d have to give props to Felanie—if I made it out of this.
I glanced back up at Reinaldo’s face. He looked so peaceful lying there, completely unaware he’d been duped. For a split second I almost felt sorry for him. Keywords split and almost. He’d more than duped me by pretending to be my boyfriend, until I’d found out he was a member of a sorcerist cell. Even so, the concept of terminating him sounded clinical and abstract when discussed in a cold, sterile briefing room, especially when I’d prepared months in advance, both physically and mentally, convincing myself it was for the greater good. With the target warm and curled up against me like a helpless pup, termination seemed more like murder. Orders be damned. Better to drug him and see if I could find it first before going down that road.
I maneuvered my body across his sleeping form. When our skin touched, I broke out into goose flesh.
Reinaldo stirred slightly.
I held my breath, tensing every muscle.
Then he stretched a sculpted bicep over his head, not a care in the world.
My heart down-shifted.
I reached over the side of the bed, past the ornately carved nightstand, and carefully rummaged through the pile of clothes Prince Charming had deposited on the lush, wine-colored rug. One black V-neck T-shirt with no pockets, the better to show off his massive chest. Skin-tight jeans that hugged his thick thighs and narrow waist contained nothing but empty pockets. A pair of size twelve flip-flops. Not much else.
I’d already performed a sweep of the room. He had to have it on him.
Wait a minute. The big silver belt buckle. Trendy. A good place for hiding a top-secret micro-chip embedded with an encryption key … stylish. I snatched it up, the metal feeling cold, even in my icy hands.
I examined the buckle, a very butch affair, complete with some type of horned steer. At first I’d thought Reinaldo’d been going for a metrosexual country western look. But the horns reminded me of the ones on that birthmark nestled against his loins.
My fingers explored the buckle’s surface, my thumbs pressing against every ridge. Nada. I’d have to improvise. Following my instincts, I pricked my thumb on the prong. A small trickle of blood bubbled forth. Kind of unconventional for espionage, I know, but it’s not like I worked for the CIA. As a matter of fact, I doubted even the CIA knew about us, that’s how high we were on the secret ladder. The Department of Unexplained Supernatural Terrorism. DUST. Saving the unsuspecting world from the criminal forces of the supernatural and the occult, one phenomenon at a time.
I smeared the blood on the buckle’s surface, hoping the “offering” would activate the trigger point. Voila! The surface snapped open, revealing the microchip lying in the buckle’s womb. It amazed me the clout virgin blood carried in the occult world. Yes, technically, I was still a virgin, though hardly the poster boy for innocence at the moment.
I sat up, carefully removed the dime sized-chip, and slipped it into the hidden slot in the waistband of my tighty-whities. Then I replaced the buckle’s face and dropped the pants back into the pile, just as the light came on. Two powerful arms encircled me from behind.

About the Author:
Steven dos Santos is the author of THE TORCH KEEPER novels, THE CULLING & THE SOWING, a Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic series. The first book was named an American Library Association 2014 Rainbow List Top Ten Selection. His new novel, DAGGER, The D.U.S.T. Ops Mission 1, a Young Adult Paranormal Espionage Adventure, has just been released by Evernight Teen on September 10th, 2015! Steven is a Team Member of We Need Diverse Books and is represented by literary agent, Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Steven studied Motion Picture production at University of Miami and graduated from Florida International University with a B.S. Degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications Television Broadcasting program. He is a passionate advocate of LGBT rights. 

Twitter: @StevendosSantos

Make sure you join his Goodreads giveaway as well !!!
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Giveaway:  $10 Evernight Teen GC and 1 Print copy of Dagger

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  1. Love your story, Steven! Gold! And the read looks saucy ;)

  2. Love the excerpt! Can't wait to read the entire book! Congrats!

  3. My question for Steven is: where did the idea for Dagger come from?

  4. Hey Mel! The idea for Dagger came for my love of all things Buffy, Alias, Bond!

  5. YA characters and secret government organization? What's not to like? Really,the premise sounds great...Looking forward to reading the book!