Shushan Portal: Behind the Hollyhock Hedge by Gloria Pearson-Vasey

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Gloria Pearson-Vasey is awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

After her sister dies, Meara Deleaney invites her bereaved nephew, Jackson, to accompany her on a book tour to Canada’s Atlantic provinces. Fearful of leaving the security of her apartment, Meara bolsters her courage by recalling the imaginary dragons she and her sister slew as children behind the hollyhock hedge.

As they travel in a motorhome from park to park and bookstore to bookstore, Meara and Jackson are unaware of the manipulating forces intent on preventing their return home. They do, however, realize they are being stalked and therefore welcome the company of another touring author, criminology professor Bartholomew Wolfe.

A long-standing professional relationship between the authors builds to romance and a persuasive invitation to seek shelter at the professor’s lodge. However, to reach the lodge, Meara—now accompanied by her nephew, niece and mother—unsuspectingly travels through a portal which exits in a future dimension near a fortress.

From there, the family is escorted under guard through dangerous territory to a lodge where metaphorical dragons lie in wait, and security comes at a price.

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As bedtime neared, Meara was reaching for the television remote when the screen went dark. Simultaneously, the cabin lights dimmed to battery mode, the refrigerator switched from electricity to propane gas, and the microwave blinked off.

Meara and Jackson went outside to see if the power was out in the whole campground. It was an ideal summer night perfected by the sound of rolling surf, a sound they expected to later lull them to sleep in their motorhome haven. A breeze swept the scent of campfire smoke into the ocean-scented air. Small animals could be heard scuttling through nearby shrubbery, rustling twigs and leaves.

When it became apparent there was no generalized power outage, Jackson checked their electric outlet. The motorhome’s electric cord lay unplugged on the ground.

“Pranksters again,” he muttered as he bent to plug it in.

However, at the motorhome steps, Meara and her nephew came to an abrupt halt. On the vehicle’s bottom step lay a long-stemmed rose bearing an attached note.

Someone had stealthily placed it there in the brief time they were outside. Someone had been watching, waiting for the right moment to leave the rose.

No longer did the sound and smell of the ocean seem soothing. No longer did the scent of campfire smoke seem inviting. No longer did the rustling of twig and leaf seem friendly. They looked around nervously and saw no one.

About the Author: Gloria Pearson-Vasey weaves contemporary issues into her novels, and likes a story – be it literary fiction, historical fantasy or science fiction – to be authentic and end on a note of hope.

A member of The Writers’ Union of Canada, Pearson-Vasey has also penned non-fiction books on autism and pilgrimage.

The author feels blessed for experiencing the joy and chaos of merging child raising with career, camping, travel and pets.

She lives in a picturesque Ontario town, and enjoys reading, music, country drives and time with family and friends.

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Elements Every SciFi Should Have by Vyvyan Evans – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Vyvyan Evans will award a randomly drawn winner paperback copies of both book 1 and book 2 on the series. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Elements Every SciFi Should Have

I write in science fiction. First and foremost, every work of science fiction starts from a “what if?” question, a hypothetical question that both ignites the imagination, and allows the consequences of the “what if?” to be worked out. In the case of my Songs of the Sage book series, of which The Dark Court is book #2, the ‘what if?’ asks: what if language were no longer learned, but streamed on demand to brain implants from internet in space, for monthly streaming subs?

This leads, in turn to an unfamiliar setting, that is nevertheless, and paradoxically, strangely familiar, and a requirement for innovative technology. In the case of my book series, the setting is the near future, where language streaming technology has transformed society in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways. In The Dark Court one consequence of this premise is that human brains can be hacked more or less in the same way that a computer can be, leading to catastrophic consequences.

A further requirement is that relatable or believe characters are essential. These characters, while sometimes fantastical or even superhuman, must resonate with readers, and hence be grounded in our shared lived experience. They must have all the similar strengths, weaknesses and the flaws the rest of us have, and equally experience moments of success and failure, whether in terms of the action-dynamics of the story world or in terms of their emotional experiences.

And finally, the sine qua non is that the work must develop and explore themes concerning humanity. After all, the raison d’être of science fiction is to grapple with the great complexities of the human experience and the human psyche. And the driver for this is the “what if” question, that leads to a book-length laboratory to explore potential consequences for humanity, set up by the premise.

A genre-blending dystopian, sci-fi mystery-thriller that will make you think about communication in a whole new way.

Five years after the Great Language Outage, lang-laws have been repealed, but world affairs have only gotten worse. The new automation agenda has resulted in a social caste system based on IQ. Manual employment is a thing of the past, and the lowest soc-ed class, the Unskills, are forced into permanent unemployment.

In a world on the brink of civil war, a deadly insomnia pandemic threatens to kill billions. Lilith King, Interpol’s most celebrated detective, is assigned to the case.

Together with a sleep specialist, Dr. Kace Westwood, Lilith must figure out who or what is behind this new threat. Could the pandemic be the result of the upskilling vagus chips being offered to the lowest soc-ed class? Or are language chips being hacked? And what of the viral conspiracy theories by the mysterious Dark Court, sweeping the globe? Lilith must work every possible angle, and quickly: she is running out of time!

While attempting to stop a vast conspiracy on an intergalactic scale, Lilith also faces shocking revelations about her origin, coming to terms with her own destiny.

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Her father then turned back to Lilith, gazing at her with the kindness she loved. “I have to go away.” He gulped. “You must be very brave, Lily. Because what I’m doing is for you. You’re very special. I believe you will change everything. Not just here, but everywhere.” With that he reached into his jacket and pulled out a small bracelet from inside his breast pocket. He handed it to Lilith.

“Another gift?” she asked, with cautious excitement. Lilith turned it over in her hand. It was silver, with a small, strange-looking screen on the outer side. The screen was narrow and black, and numbers were spinning in iridescent green, fleetingly across the screen.

“I guess it is. This is a SwissSecure bracelet. It will live with you, expanding as you grow.”

“Is it alive?” Lilith asked.

Her father chuckled. “In a way, I suppose it is. When you’re older, after you’re chipped, the numbers will stop spinning. And then you’ll receive a message from me—two, in fact.”

“Memoclips?” Lilith asked, confused. She knew that was what the chipped adults called them.

Her father dipped his head. “Actually, faceclips. They will explain things … when the time is right. For one thing, where the music comes from, the Nunciature Evangelion—the Tower of Songs.”


“It will come to you, later today. This music will help you become your potential, but it will also be your one Achilles heel …”

About the Author:Dr. Vyvyan Evans is a native of Chester, England. He holds a PhD in linguistics from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and is a Professor of Linguistics. He has published numerous acclaimed popular science and technical books on language and linguistics. His popular science essays and articles have appeared in numerous venues including ‘The Guardian’, ‘Psychology Today’, ‘New York Post’, ‘New Scientist’, ‘Newsweek’ and ‘The New Republic’. His award-winning writing focuses, in one way or another, on the nature of language and mind, the impact of technology on language, and the future of communication. His science fiction work explores the status of language and digital communication technology as potential weapons of mass destruction.

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Where Do Ideas Come From? by Colin Sephton – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Where do ideas come from?

I think ideas are generated without us always knowing it. I think anyone who is creative, whether they are an artist, a writer, a poet, an architect, is always inspired throughout everyday life, without even knowing it or thinking about it. We all draw from a vast range of what we see, hear, read or experience. A creative person doesn’t necessarily know how or why they create, they just ‘do’. They can’t help it, it’s built into their nature. Picasso is always quoted as saying that good artists copy, great artists steal. What he meant by that is a good artist will try and emulate a style whereas a great artist will select elements to include into their own unique style and I think that is true for good ideas when writing a novel.

I have always been a very creative person, and I have a wide variety of interests ranging from mythology and ancient civilisations, to studying the universe, to trying to understand consciousness. These interests came to life when I was about thirteen years old, and I obtained my first library card. I must have spent several hours in that library, every day of the week during the summer holidays. It was there I first discovered the mysteries of the universe, both natural and fantastical. I remember reading books about the creation of the universe and the solar system. I compiled an entire folder explaining the universe, from its creation to the various types of galaxies and stars, to maps of the moon and Mars.

My mind was also awakened to all the unexplained phenomena. I had notes on the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, the Yeti, UFO’s and had read books on the supposed finding of Noah’s Ark, books on Atlantis, Mu and Lemuria, the Bermuda Triangle, Stonehenge and other neolithic monuments. I read about the Mayans, Egyptians, the Greeks, and Norse mythology. At the same time, I was also reading the usual American monthly output from Marvel Comics – Thor, The Avengers, Silver Surfer and Galactus, and Captain Marvel. A good mix of ancient gods and cosmic heroes and places, something Timeslayers has as a central theme. It’s a steampunk adventure set in the cosmic world of the gods. Later I discovered the sagas of Conan the Barbarian – reading both the comics and paperback books by Robert E Howard. This kind of Fantasy world was completely new to me.

I guess this is probably true for a lot of creative people, ideas and influence are just gathered, without even realising it. Somewhere in our memory these things lay waiting for their potential to be released. Waiting for us to ‘steal’ the ideas and to weave them into whatever media we work in. I know that sometimes an idea will come to me at the most mundane of times. I don’t know why; I’m not thinking about the novel but maybe my subconscious is. I will then have to write it down. That might just be a word or two, a post-it, or I might write an entire scene or chapter, maybe without ever knowing where I am going to use it, all I know is, I have what I think is a good idea.

So, I think it’s difficult to put a finger on it as to where ideas come from. They are all around, the key is knowing when to use them, and how to access them from that deep subconscious and how to turn them into something original.

In a Steampunk Oxford, Ignatius and Indigo are both agents for the Union Jacks, a secret organisation. The role of the Union is to protect the British Empire, which is at the height of its powers, and help in its technological advances. They have discovered the existence of the mystical Book of Consciousness written by the creator of the cosmos, the genderless Omnisoul. The book is the history of everything that is, that has been and that will be. The agents are aided by Skye, who accidentally calls forth seven merciless immortals called the Charon.

Known as the Beautiful and the Damned, the Charon are the Infernal Dukes of Hell, created to carry out the will of the Omisoul. But they are tired of their immortality and want to end their existence. Elsewhere, the sorcerer Ragnar of Roc has conjured a hole in spacetime, allowing the draconic Elder God Calabi Ya to re-enter the cosmos from the Ghost Worlds. He is as old as the Omnisoul and wants the book to learn his destiny. The two Union Jacks leave Oxford and are taken on a journey across the cosmos in the great ship Taraka, which sails through space and time. Ignatius and Indigo are mere pawns in the cosmic ocean of fate, carried to fabled places, witness to bloody massacres, and half-willing conspirators in the Charon’s plot to thwart the Omnisoul’s plan and defeat the protectors of the Well at the Centre of Time.

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He ran his hand through a shock of blonde hair that looked permanently wind swept. Isambard Ignatius was a tall young man; he was handsome, dressed in a frock coat of check tweed and an engineer’s waistcoat, complete with a large silver pocket watch and chain.

From previous research, Ignatius had discovered a vague reference to an archaic manuscript that was said to hold the key to reality, the story of the whole cosmos – what had been, what was and that which was to come. This was said to be the biography of the cosmos. Legend had it that the book was unique in being older than the earth, indestructible, and that whoever read it could see the events described within pass before their eyes. Ignatius didn’t believe this but did believe that in the wrong hands the book could be very dangerous.

Ignatius was beginning to realise that the body was, as many eastern aesthetics had taught through the ages, surplus, just a vehicle for the mind. This was a philosophy and science that would make religion obsolete. The view that the real world was nothing more than the physical world was destined to come crumbling down and be lost in the debris of all religious buildings. He knew this was why the Administorium were trying to keep an eye on his activities.

About the Author: Colin was born in Coventry and worked in the automotive industry for over twenty years before becoming an Engineering teacher. Obtaining his first library card at the age of thirteen, he became an avid reader of Fantasy and the mysteries of the Universe. He has an inbuilt curiosity for lost knowledge and ancient texts that may help to unlock the secrets of consciousness and the universe. Living in Oxford for many years, he has now moved back to his home county of Warwickshire where he enjoys creating and working with his wife on their garden in which he writes and entertains their two grandsons. He has always been an artist and writer and is inspired by the worlds created by Robert E Howard and Michael Moorcock, with the artwork of Frank Frazetta.

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Character interview: Author with Boldo, from the Braided Dimensions series by Marie Judson – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Marie Judson will award an epub copy of one of her books to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Character interview: Author with Boldo, from the Braided Dimensions series
Me: So, Boldo, being a Traveler of medieval time—
Boldo: What d’ ye mean by Traveler? And what’s this medieval time ye speak of?”
Me: Well, you happen to be visiting the 21st century, which is a millennium after your time.
Boldo: Am I, now? That’s new t’ me.
Me: You came to this time to visit Kay, bring her boots, and get the cloth she wove.
Boldo: Is that where I be? I followed a spirit path, not knowin’ the exact…ye know…year. Kay be a most enchanting woman. And she saved me. Did ye know that?
Me: I did. As a matter of fact, I wrote that.
Boldo: Wrote it? [His face quirks into a crooked smile, doubt in his eyes.]
Me: Let’s set that aside. So Kay is enchanting and she saved you from a Jutland dungeon. Has she visited you lately?
Boldo: Oh, aye. ‘Course, the boots keep us connected. But she likes to come to our camp. I suspect you’re Kay’s sister, aren’t you, because you tend to write down what happens in her life.
Me: Yes, that’s sort of true. Like Kyna and Talaith are nearly sisters.
Boldo: That they be. You recently wrote down what happened with Kay’s daughter, Sophie. She must be your niece. You called the story, “Sophie the Sylph.” I actually saw some o’ what happened. We’re tellin’ that fine tale around the fire, ye know. She did indeed come to the forest where we were dinin’, for the summer solstice.
Me: You were there at that dinner? Oh, yes, I saw you, playing your fiddle. And did you see Hamelyn walk away into the trees?
Boldo: I did. He followed Bedw and the other sylphs. I was certain Sophie’s spirit was among them and it turns out, I was right. What a treat, Hamelyn carried off by the sylphs. They won’t absorb just anyone, you know.
Me: I suspected that. Well, it’s been wonderful talking with you. Stay out of trouble.
Boldo: I can try. [He winked and stood to leave, giving me a bow.]

Celtic mythology, medieval history, and modern-day mystery blend in this story where past and present collide.

Kay, a professor of ancient languages, finds herself drawn into a hidden realm of magic and danger. Transported to a medieval world on Halloween night, she meets Baird, an enchanging stranger who claims to know her spirit, and Duff, a burly silversmith who welcomes her as Kyna, long-lost kin. Kay joins them in a festive celebration where she discovers she can understand their arcane tongue, as ghostly figures haunt the night.

When dawn comes, she is in her own time, still holding a silver pendant that connects her to Baird and his world. She struggles to return to that time even as Baird is endeavoring to find her and unravel the secret of their connection. Follow Kay and Baird on their journey across dimensions in this novel of intrigue, adventure, and magic.

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Franklin Street Café had a lively crowd bathed in the lurid orange glow of gauze-covered lights. A projector flashed images of old Celtic stones onto the wall. A fabric forest hung across the entrance to the next room, the air permeated by yeasty aromas of pizza crust and ale. Shouts of conversations battled to be heard over haunting music and the clatter of dishes.

Where were the nyads and faeries? In place of the figures of enchantment in the email invitation, Kay saw a faux belly dancer who never should have revealed her midriff, and men dressed in bathrobes and tennis shoes attempting, she supposed, to convey Druidic high priests. With absurd disappointment at seeing no apparent magic, she thought she wouldn’t stay long. Then her attention was drawn by a hand-printed sign offering homemade organic mead, and pressed through to the bar. A young waitress, her peachy complexion disturbingly pierced with lead posts, asked for her order.

“Could I taste the Moonlight Mead?” she requested.

“Certainly.” The young woman behind the bar handed over a sample.

Pushing aside glued-on mustache hairs, Kay sipped the tasty brew, then ordered a twelve-ounce, and again surveyed the crowd. She considered making the glass of mead a solo act when she noticed a birdlike creature, tall and hunched like a heron, tattered feathers splaying from head and neck. It stalked, with wild-bird grace, across the projection of ancient stones, through the cloth trees, into the next room. Kay’s drink arrived, and she followed the strange apparition.

About the Author:


Marie Judson is a schoolteacher on the wild coast of Northern California. Language and the mind are her passions. An ardent fantasy reader since childhood, she also loves singing, dream work, and crashing waves.

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The Fallenwood Chronicles by Leslie D. Soule – Q&A and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A randomly drawn winner will be awarded a $25 Amazon/BN gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What would we find under your bed?

I don’t have space under my bed, so…nothing?

What was the scariest moment of your life?

I was in India and it was raining as we were driving on a narrow mountain road. That was pretty frightening.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

I generally don’t listen to music while writing. Sometimes I put on those YouTube background videos where it shows a café’ in the rain, or something like that.

What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

I’d love to either teach a course on writing, or attend a convention, if I can find one to go to. Those are a blast.

How long did it take you to write this book?

The four books of the series took various time ranges to write. Fallenwood took me about three years to write, while Forgetting Fallenwood took me six months, Betrayer took about a year and a half, and I remember Retribution basically writing itself, so probably six months or so.

The Fallenwood Chronicles is the ongoing story of Ash Kensington, a young woman who finds herself transported into a fantasy world, where she must take up arms in a battle of Good vs. Evil, against the Dark Lord Malegaunt. Tragedy strikes her life in the real world, but she finds friends in Fallenwood, like her mentor Will Everett, a talking cat named Greymalkin, and a court jester named Terces. Working together, they battle against the odds as Ash faces attacks from the world and from within. Eventually Ash finds the strength within herself, to attempt the fight against Malegaunt, against overwhelming odds, come what may.

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Her heart raced and she breathed slowly, trying to calm her frazzled nerves. Glancing around, she wondered how far off the road she’d wandered. She knew it had been midday when she’d started running, and now looking up into the star-filled sky, it had to be late into the night. A rush of air greeted her the moment she reached this strange part of the forest, before her eyes had temporarily forsaken her. The wind whipped around her from all sides. She backed away from where she stood, and the wind felt like it was whooshing up from a precipice. Ashley paused to allow her eyes to adjust to the dark. When her sight returned, she realized that she was standing nowhere near a cliff—it was just an unfamiliar area of forest. Suddenly, a ball of fire hurtled overhead in an arc toward her. Her mind screamed at her to run, but she found that her legs wouldn’t move. The flaming orb continued its descent, burrowing itself into the soft ground only inches away from Ashley’s boots. Two men rushed toward her, arguing all the while as Ashley stood immobilized. Her bones were in revolt. Her brain scrambled for an alias to give out to the men if they asked, but she could only come up with Ash, because she was looking at the little pile of soot at her boots. “Deflected,” the man in the lead announced.

About the Author:Leslie D. Soule received her M.A. in English from National University. She is a scholar, artist, citizen journalist, and martial artist. She has been an established writer for a decade, and has novels published by Melange Books, Terror House Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, and Nat 1 Publishing. The Fallenwood Chronicles is her 4-book fantasy series and features the novels Fallenwood, Forgetting Fallenwood, Betrayer, and Retribution.

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When to Break the Rules by Benoit Lanteigne – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $25 Amazon/ gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

When to Break the Rules

These days, there are a lot of writing rules and I don’t just mean grammar. Stick around the writing community, and you’ll get a ton of info about what you should do and what you should never do. That’s fine, but when I started writing, I struggled with the idea of writing rules. If every author follows the same rule, won’t we all end up “sounding” the same? Doesn’t it go against originality? The answer I’ve come up with is no, but kind of. Keep in mind, I never said it was a good answer.

Over time, I concluded that following common guidelines doesn’t strip away your voice. Everyone is different. Even if two writers follow similar rules and structures, that doesn’t mean their writing styles will be the same. Sure, they might become more similar on the surface, but their unique perspective and personality should still shine through.

What about originality? Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Everything has been done, so why bother trying to be original, anyway? There’s some truth there, but I think that even if your work can’t be completely original, you can at least make your reader feel like it is through excellent execution and a good dose of cleverness.

So, if originality matters, doesn’t following rules stifle it? In a way, yes. Take the three-arc structure, for instance. It’s everywhere, to the point where if your story doesn’t follow a three-act structure, that could be considered a risk. Frankly, it makes movies in particular more predictable, or at least I feel it does for me. But, there’s a reason why it’s so common: it’s super effective while being easy enough to learn. Besides, there’s more to a story than the structure, so you can inject originality in another way. Sometimes restriction can increase creativity by anchoring it within limits. When creativity is left free without boundaries, you can get overwhelmed with possibilities and never produce anything of value.

All right then, problem solved! Rules work and don’t harm originality, so just follow them without asking questions! Well, there’s a flaw in that line of thinking, unfortunately. Following common writing rules will help you create a story that people will enjoy. It’s making things easier and less risky by using the path others forged before you. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you are a new writer feeling overwhelmed. However, in that case, you must accept that while your book will be more likely to be good, it won’t be a groundbreaking revelation. If you wish to create a revered masterpiece, you’ll need to take risks, and that means breaking the rules. By doing so, you might become a trendsetter and create new potential rules of your own.

So, should you just ignore the rules? Well, no. To break a rule effectively, you need to know the rules first. Knowing them isn’t enough, you must understand them so you can judge where and when you should diverge from the common path. This can only come from experience. For this reason, my advice is to follow the rules in the beginning. Get familiar with them. See why they work. Then, once they are familiar enough and you are skilled enough, identify the spots where breaking them might be effective and try it.

There’s one more thing I’d like to say on the subject. I’m not the only writer who questioned the validity of rules. Often I see people complaining about writing rules; expressing how they dislike them, or even outright hate them. I think it’s because there are writers out there who push the so-called rules as an absolute truth. They’re not. The rules aren’t the word of God. They’re just training wheels to help you get on your way. I feel they shouldn’t be called rules at all. To me, a better word would be guidelines or maybe suggestions. They’re not mandatory laws that must be obeyed. They’re guidelines that often work well, but you don’t have to follow them. If the concept of writing rules was explained this way more often, I think maybe, just maybe, there’d be fewer writers who are so frustrated with them.

Want proof that writing rules shouldn’t be taken too seriously? Well, how about this? I’m in a book club where we read plenty of books that have been published recently. Most sold well, or were at least critically acclaimed. We read a large variety of books, but they all have one thing in common. They all break the rules. Sometimes they tell instead of showing. Sometimes they use passive voice. Sometimes they have long, complex sentences that are hard to read. Sometimes they use vague words. And so on. If the rules were mandatory, these books wouldn’t have been well received by critics. They couldn’t have been, because they wouldn’t have been published.

How did it come to this? My life used to be so simple. Back then, I hated it; I found it boring. Let me tell you: boring’s good. Boring’s great! I should’ve been thankful…

It was supposed to be a date like any other for James Hunter, a simple convenience store clerk. Nothing more than watching a movie in the town of Moncton. A place as unknown and unimportant as he considered his own existence to be. And yet, while walking to a cinema, James teleports to another world. There, a hostile crowd surrounds him, including various mutants with strange deformities.

Before he can even gather his wits or make a dash for it, a lone ally presents herself in the form of a winged woman named Rose. An important cultural figure in the country where James appeared, she offers him both protection and a home.

Soon, James learns that this new world is divided by a cold war. On one side is Nirnivia, home to Rose. The other, Ostark, led by a mysterious cyborg. James is unaware that the cyborg has him in his crosshairs, thinking of him as the Deus Ex Machina that will end the war in his favor.

But, the cyborg is far from the only potential threat to James. Soon after his arrival, BRR, a terrorist organisation, kidnaps him.

What would a rogue group out for revenge seeking to turn the cold war hot want with someone like James? Is there anyone also aware of this other world who will try to find him? Or is he on his own? If so, how is he supposed to escape? If that’s even an option…

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The second that James saw the deformed statue, he deemed it painful to look at. The sculpture depicted a man, but not one of normal proportions. The arms were far too long, paired with short legs, and the right eye appeared thrice the size of the left—nothing compared to the elongated spike forming the nose, or the mouth contorted in a grimace. Now that he sat leaning against the grotesque shape, the figurative ache turned literal as the sharp stone dug into his back.

Even with the intense heat, James shivered. The recent revelations chilled his blood, and no matter how hard it tried, the sun couldn’t warm him again. He rubbed his chin, pondering all he had learned. His hand brushed against his stubble, and he scowled at the itching sensation. Usually he shaved every day, a habit his unplanned trip had broken. Then again, next to his companion, a bit of extra hair was nothing…

The freak still stood a few feet behind, laughing to his heart’s content. What a horrendous chortle. How James yearned to shut him up via his fist. “Gwa ha ah aha ha! Ha ha aha! Ha ha! Come on, why do you take things so seriously? You still don’t get it, do you? Gwha ha ha ha ha! You should laugh more; it’ll do ya good! Gwha ha ha ha ha! Wha ha ha ha! Gwa ha ha!”

About the Author So, my name is Benoit Lanteigne and I’m a French Canadian (outside of Quebec) who’s trying to write in English. That can be tricky. I’m a computer programmer and I enjoy it. I see many inspiring writers who hate their jobs and hope to quit someday, but that’s not my case. Mostly, I’ve worked on websites and web applications.

Back in school, I enjoyed writing and according to my teachers and classmates; I had a talent for it. Well, not so much for grammar and spelling, but they liked my stories. Once I went to university, I dropped writing as a hobby. There were other things I wanted to focus on, such as my career. Then, in the early 2000s, around 2006 I’d say, I had a flash of inspiration. At first, it was a single character: a winged woman with red hair. I didn’t even know who she was, but the image stuck with me. From there, I began figuring out details about her origins and her world, but I only started writing for real in 2009.

It’s been roughly 10 years now, and it’s not yet finished. That’s in part because I write in my spare time, and in part because the scope of the project is huge. Maybe too much so. Still, I’m getting close to the point where I could release something. The question is what’s next? Self-publishing? Attempt traditional publishing? Nothing? I don’t know the answer yet, I’m trying to figure it out. Frankly, sharing my writing is difficult for me, and whatever I end up doing, as long as I make it available to people I consider the experience a victory no matter what comes out of it.

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Background of the Book by Nathaniel Koszer – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Nathaniel Koszer will award a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Background of the Book

One aspect of Latency that seems to stand out to readers is the sheer amount of POV characters. There are six protagonists in total (Sera, Naren, Nadine, Edgar, Victor, and Symon) and three antagonists (Spidre, Captain Byron, and the androids, who are technically three separate entities but mostly operate together) and they all get their turns in the spotlight. It might surprise people to know that I always envisioned having this many characters, and in fact I am grateful to my publisher for letting me keep all of them. I just can’t imagine the story any other way, and the reason for this has very old personal roots.

My desire to be a writer is relatively new, maybe a decade old at most. Before that I was exclusively a science-fiction nerd, and before that I was a science fiction nerd and a daydreamer with a wild imagination. In elementary school, I would often get in trouble for not paying attention in class, it was because I was lost in thought, inventing my own little characters that eventually became the cast of Latency.

Elementary school Nate loved teams of superheroes. I watched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series religiously, played with X-men action figures, and read Animorphs books. I also loved learning about animals, especially bugs! So it made perfect sense that my first original characters, the ones that zipped around my brain during math class, were mostly themed around insects and arachnids. There were six “good guys” and three “bad guys”, and after two decades of digesting science fiction media whenever I could, those characters, now very different from their origins, can be found in my debut novel.

Here are the characters that elementary school Nate thought of. I encourage readers of Latency to try and figure out which character each of these became.

The “good guys”:

Firefly: Could fly, glowed, and had light based/blinding powers

Scorpion: Very physically powerful, and had stabbing pincers on each arm

Mosquito: Could fly fast, and delivered weaker blows but lots of them very quickly

Mantis: A fighter that dealt out fast, powerful blows

Wasp: Could fly but slowly, and had a forceful stabbing ability

Spider: The older leader of the group. Nimble and agile fighter but no other standout powers

The “bad guys”:

Spidre: Spider’s evil twin. The leader of the bad guys. I have a feeling this one is obvious.

Crony #1: This character and the next had names at some point, but for the life of me I can’t remember them now. They were the two non-bugs, and were comic relief bumbling evildoers (think Bebop and Rocksteady from TMNT) who worked for the big baddie Spidre. Crony number one one was huge and strong but very dumb.

Crony #2: This one was a scary looking robot with lots of gadgets, but got around on wheels and constantly fell/was knocked over.

I hope readers have fun figuring out which character is which as they read through Latency, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s guesses!

Sera is a LO-EC, a human who gained superpowers as an unintended side effect of a biotechnological breakthrough. Her unique abilities allowed her to survive while others like her, including her parents, were exterminated by a world government fearful of their potential.

After decades of hiding, she meets Naren, another superpowered survivor who has infiltrated the ranks of the military. Together, they form a plan to unite with other surviving LO-ECs, claim vengeance against the forces who murdered their families, and ultimately stoke a worldwide rebellion against the government that wanted them dead.

The entirety of 26th century Earth’s armed forces stand in their way: Soldiers equipped with terrifying weaponry, armies with electromagnetic cannons, merciless bloodthirsty androids, and Spidre, the World Leader with unnatural abilities of his own. The world brought Sera and the other LO-ECs pain and loss, and they’re determined to return it in kind.

Enjoy an Excerpt

In the basement of a skyscraper hundreds of stories high, a constant shaking and groaning accompanied the cacophony of breaking glass and falling bricks from the street above. A man and a woman had spent the night here, fearing those sounds meant their building was on the verge of collapse. Finally, the sun rose and the sounds gave way to stillness. The death of the noises gave life to new fears, in that now the man and woman had to take action.

“Are there any sort of supplies on the cycles?” the man asked. He was bleary-eyed, his face was flush, and even the simple task of standing up seemed to be a struggle.

“I doubt it,” the woman replied, her expression as beleaguered as his. “And you’re sure there was nothing in these boxes?” she continued, glancing around the small storage room.

The man shook his head. “Just lots of cleaning supplies. And we can’t risk going back upstairs,” he replied. “I can’t even hear the big one lumbering around, that has to mean they’re searching another building. We need to move now. We’ll worry about supplies after we get out of New Orleans, and after it feels safe.”

The woman nodded and walked over to one smaller pile of boxes. She pulled them away and the room lit up in an orange glow. The boxes had been covering a young girl, no more than six years old, whose skin had trails of orange light swirling across her arms, legs, and face.

“We need to leave, sweetie. We’re going to find our cycles in the garage, Ok?”

The little girl nodded.

“Do you remember that woman? Alison?” she asked the girl. “Do you remember where she and her friends live?”

The little girl nodded slowly, while the man’s face furrowed with skepticism.

“If anything happens to us, you go straight to her. Do you understand?”

“She can’t go to them!” the man exclaimed in an elevated whisper. “They’re a bunch of fanatics!”

“They are, but they will keep her safe!” the woman responded.

About the Author: Nate grew up in Brooklyn NY, but now calls the Bronx home along with his wife and their sons. Nate grew up on all things sci-fi. Partly due to his chronic illness, Nate always had a special place in his heart for the X-Men, and especially the invulnerable Wolverine. This was heavy inspiration for his first novel, Latency a superhero sci-fi story to be released March 5, 2024.

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The Genesis of the Idea by Vyvyan Evans – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a randomly drawn winner a copy of the audiobook. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Genesis of the Idea

The Babel Apocalypse imagines a future in which we stream language directly to neural implants in our heads. Today, we stream anything from movies, to books, to music, to our ‘smart’ devices, and consume that content. Smart devices use streaming signals—data encoded in IP data packets—encoded and distributed via wi-fi internet.

Given my background as a professor of linguistics, a “what if” question occurred to me: What if we also streamed language? And what would the consequences be for us as human beings, if we no longer had to learn it? What would we gain, and more importantly, what would we lose, if language became a commodity, controlled by big tech? Clearly, with recent developments in AI and Chatbots, this is no longer far-fetched.

Language streaming would work, in principle, in the same way as streaming wi-fi devices today. With a ‘language chip’ implanted in our brains, in the not-so-distant future we will be able to ‘stream’ language from internet-in-space on demand, 24/7.

Moreover, based on an individual’s level of subscription to a language streaming provider, they would be able to stream any language they chose, with any level of lexical complexity. This means that someone could, potentially, apply for a job in any country in the world, without needing to be concerned about knowing the local language. Rather, the individual would just draw upon the words and grammar they need, to function in the language, by syncing to a language database, stored on a server in space. And call it up, over the internet, in real time, as they think and talk. It means that everything someone needs to know, to be able to use a language, is streamed over the internet, rather than being stored in someone’s head. Language learning, thus, becomes obsolete.

Science fiction has a long and illustrious habit of predicting the future. In 1940, with his first in the Robot series of stories, Isaac Asimov predicted some of the ethical issues that would arise as artificial intelligence comes to have a more pervasive influence in our daily lives.

Today in the twentieth first century, we are on the brink of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, sometimes dubbed 4IR. This is where automation and connectivity, via the internet, will dramatically alter the way in which we interact with each other, as well as everything around us, in our increasingly joined-up technological environment. And I predict, in less than one hundred years from now, this new technology will transform many aspects of our daily lives that we currently take for granted, including language itself.

Indeed, in 2015, many of the world’s leading scientists, warned, in an Open Letter and accompanying report, against the new dangers of AI, as a consequence of 4IR. This Open Letter was issued in response to new breakthroughs in AI that, without adequate control, might pose short and long-term existential threats to humans.

But potential dangers come not just from the use of AI, in the sense of, for instance, The Terminator series of movies, in which AI seeks to wage war and destroy the human race. New implantable devices, that will enhance how we as humans can interact with our new tech-landscape, will also give rise to potential dangers. Language is, arguably, the single trait that is the hallmark of what it is to be human. And yet, in the near-future, language-chipped humans, or ‘transhumans’, will have enhanced abilities that bring new opportunities, as well as ethical challenges and even threats.

Language is no longer learned, but streamed to neural implants regulated by lang-laws. Those who can’t afford monthly language streaming services are feral, living on the fringes of society. Big tech corporations control language, the world’s most valuable commodity.

But when a massive cyberattack causes a global language outage, catastrophe looms.

Europol detective Emyr Morgan is assigned to the case. Suspect number one is Professor Ebba Black, the last native speaker of language in the automated world, and leader of the Babel cyberterrorist organization. But Emyr soon learns that in a world of corporate power, where those who control language control everything, all is not as it seems. After all, if the mysterious Ebba Black is to blame, why is the Russian Federation being framed for an outage it claims no responsibility for? And why is Ebba now a target for assassination?

As he and Ebba collide, Emyr faces an existential dilemma between loyalty and betrayal, when everything he once believed in is called into question. To prevent the imminent collapse of civilization and a deadly war between the great federations, he must figure out friend from foe—his life depends on it.

And with the odds stacked against him, he must find a way to stop the Babel Apocalypse.

Enjoy an Excerpt

It wasn’t her cold beauty that marked out Ebba Black as unique—her chilling looks, as she called them—although her looks invariably made an impression on all who met her. Rather, it was the fact that she was the last nate in the automated world. That made her famous. Undoubtedly she was celebrated for other things too—Ebba Black the Babelist, the heiress, the conspiracy theorist, the charismatic professor. Maybe even the oddity. After all, Ebba was the last speaker of languages that would die with her. With Elias’s passing five years prior, she had no one left to speak them with. And Ebba Black would not marry. Commitment of that sort wasn’t her thing, and she would certainly never have children. You could say she wasn’t the maternal type.

Ebba knew she was unique in other, ineffable ways, too. For one, she listed things to herself, silently, in her head. Reasons to know me. Reasons not to know me. Reasons to hate me, to admire me. But not reasons to love me. Never that. That was forbidden. Ebba never allowed anyone to get that close.

Sometimes Ebba even indulged in one of her trademark waspish grins. To no one in particular, while she mentally scrolled through one list: reasons to kill. The list with the names. Her list of lists. The grin was the only outward sign she was performing a mental stock-take. It wasn’t good to be on that particular list. Ebba Black was neither the forgiving nor the tolerant type.

About the Author Dr. Vyvyan Evans is a native of Chester, England. He holds a PhD in linguistics from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and is a Professor of Linguistics. He has published numerous acclaimed popular science and technical books on language and linguistics. His popular science essays and articles have appeared in numerous venues including ‘The Guardian’, ‘Psychology Today’, ‘New York Post’, ‘New Scientist’, ‘Newsweek’ and ‘The New Republic’. His award-winning writing focuses, in one way or another, on the nature of language and mind, the impact of technology on language, and the future of communication. His science fiction work explores the status of language and digital communication technology as potential weapons of mass destruction.

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If I’d never heard of me, would I read my book? by Brian H. Roberts – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Brian H. Roberts will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If I’d never heard of me, would I read my book?

Young Me: I see you’re reading Red Planet Lancers by Brian H. Roberts. How do you like it?

Old(er) Me: I like it a lot.

Young Me: What’s the premise?

Old(er) Me: It’s about a future conflict between the US and China. China has a monopoly on rare earth elements. They choked off the supply making it expensive for the US to manufacture anything high tech. An American company, EPSILON, has established a commercial base on Mars to mine rare earth elements, bypassing China’s stranglehold. Complicating things, a Chinese general seized power, declaring himself emperor. He wants to control the Moon and Mars, reestablishing China’s monopoly at America’s expense.

Young Me: Sounds like a plausible scenario. China controls like 85% of rare earth element mines and processing today. The two countries don’t trust each other. An open conflict in the near-future seems possible. So, do the good guys win?

Old(er) Me: I’m only halfway through. But the company has obtained surplus laser-armed flying rovers nicknamed Water Bugs. They created a private militia force to intercept the Mars-bound Chinese flotilla, and tapped the leader of the first mission to Mars as commander. Meanwhile, the civilian Mars colony is preparing to defend itself against the same Colonel who just booted the Americans off the Moon.

Young Me: I’m sold. Where do I get it?

Old(er) Me: Exclusively on But you’d better hurry. The release price of $2.99 is only good through March 15th. List price is $4.99.

Young Me: That’s the ebook, right? I prefer paperbacks. Does it come in that format?

Old(er) Me: It does, for $16.99.

Young Me: I’m on it. Thanks for the tip!

Old(er) Me: You’re welcome. Happy reading.

How far will you go to save a friend?

After sweeping Dallas Gordon and the American base from Earth’s moon, Emperor Zhang Aiguo launches an armada to conquer Ep City and control Mars.

Ruthless Colonel Song Dajing leads his Emperor’s flotilla to defeat EPSILON’s isolated Mars colony. He brings the same armaments he used to defeat Dallas Gordon on the moon, plus a high yield missile to annihilate Ep City and its occupants. The US Space Force, occupied with plans to take back the moon, refuses to intervene.
In a race against time, Dallas Gordon must organize a mercenary squadron and pursue Song before he can deploy his weapons on the defenseless colony. Ep City commander Genady Antonov must prepare his civilian workforce for the coming invasion and plan for the unthinkable should Gordon fail to reach Mars before Song does.

Taught and fast-paced, Red Planet Lancers builds tension until the exciting climax. Once you start this Earth-to-Mars rocket ride, you won’t want to stop. Order your copy today!

Enjoy an Excerpt

Steve sat back in his chair and folded his hands together. “I’m sure if some stranger asked you why it’s important to stop Zhang Aiguo from kicking us off Mars, you could tick off several good reasons:” he tapped his fingers with the index finger of his opposite hand, “the oxides returned to us are the lifeblood of our autonomous vehicle division—frankly of the entire western world’s microchip manufacturing capacity. That manufacturing capacity is vital for our national security, and the fight to contain Emperor Zhang.

“But did you know that I donate ten percent of my personal wealth to a number of causes? This organization,” he lifted the upper half of his tee shirt off his chest for emphasis, “community colleges across the country that serve low-income communities, organizations that build and manage housing for the homeless with comprehensive drug, alcohol and mental health treatment, remedial job training, and follow-up support. … “It’s for these reasons that I seek someone to rescue EPSILON from the peril it now faces. In short, I’m seeking a messiah.”

Dallas waited for the shoe to drop.

“I’ve procured the weapons. Half a dozen Water Bugs and their lasers. Now I need someone to recruit, train and lead the pilots. Dallas, will you lead this squadron?”

Dallas felt like he was being examined under a microscope. Steve’s gaze was unflinching. After what felt like an interminable silence, he blurted out, “Yes. I’ll do it.”

About the Author:In his first life, BRIAN H. ROBERTS worked as a contractor and civil engineer in bustling Seattle. In his spare time he read novels by the greatest names in science fiction: Andy Weir, Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and so many others. As he read these authors’ works, he was inspired to write Sci-Fi Thrillers to engage and entertain readers like him.
As with so many of us, life intervened. Raising a family, work, remarriage and finally retirement all placed demands on his time. Desiring a change – and time to write – he and his wife traded big city life for the outdoor adventures of Central Oregon. His writing draws deeply on his lifelong loves of science/technology and adventure sports. The EPSILON Sci-Fi Thrillers is Brian’s first series.

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Descendants of Atlantis by Courtney Davis – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour oganized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Courtney Davis is awarding a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Sorcha is a descendant of the Atlantean people, a race of humans who were once the blood slaves of the vampires of Atlantis. She grew up knowing that the vampires were enemies, the werewolves were beasts, and the witches were their friends. When she starts to question the situation her clan has been put into with the witches, a vampire who haunts her erotic dreams comes to the rescue. Samson didn’t grow up in Atlantis and didn’t choose to become a vampire. He hates what he has to do to survive, and can’t imagine ever deserving love. When he finds a Descendant of Atlantis near death and nurses her back to health, he expects her to run at the first opportunity. When she offers him her willing body, he knows he would do anything to keep her, and that means hiding his monstrous side. But you can’t love someone if you’re hiding part of yourself. One look at Samson and Sorcha knows she erased him from her memory on purpose, but why? What could he have done to make her risk such a dangerous spell? With battle on the horizon and Descendants in trouble, will Sorcha’s memories be the end of any chance at Samson’s happiness, or will it lead to a new understanding of what these monsters really are?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Ian stood in shadow outside the museum where there were too many people for him to risk getting close. He couldn’t tell what was happening inside, but he watched and waited. Did this have to do with Norgis? What had he done in there and why was she here now? Had something been taken? Had Norgis found something that he could use to further whatever plan he had? Norgis with a plan, that didn’t feel right. Ian worried, not for the first time, that Norgis had help, that he was working as someone else’s dumb muscle. That would make him harder to track and take down. Of all the monsters housed in the bowels of Atlantis, Norgis had one of the simplest minds. Easy to control and powerful, but to come up with this on his own was unlikely. Had one of his men helped the monster escape?

Ian had so many questions and it irked him to not be in the know, it was a new experience for him.

The only comfort was that she would not leave without him knowing. It was many hours until sunrise and he doubted she would stay that long; humans were not nocturnal creatures. And when she returned home, he wouldn’t let a locked door keep him from her, that he vowed.

About the Author:Courtney Davis is an author of urban fantasy/paranormal/supernatural fiction with a little romance and humor thrown in. She loves creating worlds and exploring human, and inhuman, interaction. She lives in North Idaho with her husband and children where she teaches and enjoys time spent relaxing in the summer sun and winters by the fire. She has always had an affinity for reading and writing and a goal to make a career of it. There is no greater joy than to know her words took a reader out of reality for a time and into another world.

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