Dark Genius by H. Peter Alesso – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

To the insatiably curious—science is the greatest adventure. So, when scientists at CERN announced the discovery of the ‘God’ particle in 2012, all the world wondered, “How did they find it?”

A decade later, despite his past academic failures and egregious family circumstance, Andrew Lawrence embarked on a journey of discovery, competing against rival scientists to be the first to solve the greatest unsolved mystery of the universe—dark matter—and win the ultimate prize; the Nobel.

Emma Franklin, a PhD candidate at Harvard, developed software for detecting particle reactions using a quantum computer. To the amazement and excitement of the scientific community, her work revealed two possible bumps in the energy curve that were not predicted by any established theory.

At MIT, Lawrence created a model that predicted the scattering processes of a dark matter supersymmetry particle. Though his early work was disparaged, he improved his theory and found that it predicted the data Emma had discovered. Their professional collaboration deepened into a personal relationship, but when critical data was stolen, Emma found evidence that incriminated Lawrence. Though she withheld the impeaching material from the authorities, she felt she could no longer trust him.

Despite their troubled partnership, and notwithstanding the complexities of nature, Lawrence and Emma persevered against the egos, jealousy, and envy of rivals, on their exhilarating quest to find the ‘Holy Grail’ of physics

Enjoy an Excerpt

I thought all was lost—now I have a second chance.

With a profound sense of relief, Andrew Lawrence slide his tablet into his shoulder holster and walked briskly along the Boston sidewalk. His past academic failures and egregious family circumstances were behind him. He was ready for a fresh start.

Tall, slender, and dark-haired, he listened to the clicking and clacking of shuffling shoes on the pavement as students jostled alongside him. The hint of autumn from the cool morning air brought a frenzy of activity to the sprawling campuses of both MIT and Harvard which nurtured a flourishing rivalry among their ambitious students. He could feel the undercurrent of tension for the start of the fall term.

By the time he crossed Longfellow Bridge, his adrenaline was pumping. He noticed several eight-man sculls already rowing down the Charles River, their school colors plainly visible. Squinting his eyes against the glare, he could make out the MIT and Harvard boats vying for the lead, stroke by stroke.

Striding across the rambling campus, his lips concealed a secret smile as he contemplated a revolutionary solution to a problem he had been daydreaming about. When he swung around a corner, he ran smack-dab into a young woman. Her armload of books, papers, and assorted technology flew into the air and scattered across the walkway.

“Sor . . . sorry.”

“You should be,” the woman said, her face screwed into a tight scowl. “Your head was in the clouds.”

Lawrence opened his mouth, but before he could speak, she pointed down and said, “See what you’ve done?”

She stooped and frantically tried to corral her absconding belongings.

“Let me help,” said Lawrence, grasping some loose papers about to blow away.

Spying her tablet on the grass, she exclaimed, “Oh no! All my work.”

Carefully, she picked up the device and turned it on, tapping her fingers impatiently until the screen lit up. She heaved a sigh and looked Lawrence directly in the eyes. “You’re lucky. Sooo . . . lucky.”

Lawrence mumbled another apology and helped her pick up the last few books.

As she struggled to reorganize her treasures, Lawrence brushed a strand of hair away from his eyes and for the first time cast an appraising glance at the young woman.

She was attractive.

It wasn’t that she was a striking beauty—though her smooth white skin, olive green eyes, and classic profile complemented the hazelnut hair that cascaded over her shoulders. Nor was her carriage especially eye-catching, though she displayed an appealing youthful vitality. No, what seemed most appealing was her confident determined poise, as if she possessed a special hidden talent.

“You really should use a backpack.”

“The lining ripped,” she retorted.

Seeing the logos on her tablet’s screen, Lawrence asked, “Harvard? Math?”

“I can tell by your tone that you’re MIT,” she said, her eyes flashing.

Lawrence grinned, “Physics.” As an afterthought, he asked, “What are you doing on this campus?”

“Well, Mr. Physics, that’s none of your concern.”

Something in the way she said it, caused him to laugh.

They faced each other in a stand-off for a long moment—saying nothing.

Then the young woman heaved a sigh, gathered her possessions to her chest, and brushed past him.

Lawrence watched her figure disappear into the crowd.

Damn. I didn’t get her name.

As he turned to leave, something shiny on the ground caught his eye. It was a flash drive.

Picking it up, he spun around and called, “Wait!”

But she was gone.

He looked at the memory stick, thinking . . .

I’ll have to crack her password, if I’m going to see her again.

About the Author: As a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations, and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of ten books.

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LASR Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: Key of Mystery by K.H. Mezek


Thanks for joining us on our anniversary scavenger hunt! It’s easy to play– first read the blurb below, then answer the question on the Rafflecopter. You might win a $100 Amazon/BN GC.

Be careful who you love, it just might kill you.” When Sera’s father is killed in a horrific accident, all he leaves behind is a mysterious key. Sera places the key on a chain around her neck and vows to avenge her father. Strange characters arrive in town including the otherworldly Night Angels, who claim to be sent for her protection. Sera falls hard for one of them—exotic, arrogant Peter. But what if his promise of love is only a ruse to gain access to the key? As Sera’s connection to the key grows, so do her supernatural powers. Guided by clues left by her father, Sera searches for the hidden chamber beneath the city, hoping to save what lies within before the sinister mayor and his deadly followers drown humanity in a bloodbath.

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LASR Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: Grandma Must Die by Maureen L. Bonatch


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Carman has worn out more towns and last names than impractical shoes protecting the secret of her magic blood. But when a friend goes missing, and another is infected with a deadly spell, Carman must choose. Expose her magic blood by curing the spell—or stop the infection from spreading by killing the source…the grandmother.

Magic bounty hunter Dylan has scoured libraries of banned magic paraphernalia seeking a method to distinguish genuine witches from impersonators. He suspects unorthodox librarian Carman might hold this information tighter than the hair he’s dying to unleash from her bun. With a past as hidden as his sleeve of tattoos, Dylan discovers he’s been used to gain Carman’s trust and their passion risks more than mixing mortals and magic.

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LASR Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: An Alien Perspective by Roxanne Barbour


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LASR Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: Kaiku by Roxanne Barbour


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In 2154, Mileena Carter (Mile) is a cadet in the Earth Sciences Force investigating Needles, a newly discovered planet. An alien race, the Keeki, happened upon Needles, and offered a joint expedition with Earth. The Keeki are a race derived from a bird-like species, and the universal translator spews out their words in a haiku-like structure, which Mile has named KAIKU.

But when Mile, and the expedition, start discovering artifacts, pyramids, puzzles (nonograms), new planets, and more, they realize another force is driving their actions.

Will Mile be able to concentrate on the expedition, and ignore her attraction to a Keeki cadet named Tyne Tone, while unraveling the motivations of the Similo named Rawa?

Kaiku is the first book of a riveting science fiction trilogy that will keep you guessing until the end.

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LASR Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: Alien Innkeeper by Roxanne Barbour


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Sylvestine Amera is the manager of the Mars Best-Tycho Basin Hotel. When her first alien visitors arrive on planet, Syl is faced with solving numerous challenges. Not the least of having Dedare Sath rubbing her cheeks in a gesture she is curious to understand. Irion customs are different than what she is used to, but when Dedare who owns a hotel on Irion asks her to leave Mars and manage his flagship hotel, she is more than ready to leave her home planet behind. Once on the alien planet Syl is subjected to new customs, more alien encounters, adventures, not to mention romance. The only problem is now she has three aliens interested in her. But before Syl is able to choose a mate, a former girlfriend of Dedare’s and several other nemeses attempt to take her out of the equation—permanently. She can’t help but wonder if her out of the world experience is worth dying for.

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LASR Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: The Wizard Killer by Adam Dreece


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Unrelenting action in a high fantasy world that’s had its apocalypse.

”Madmax meets Lord of the Rings” – Goodreads.com
“”Harry Potter meets Diehard”” – M. Bybee

A magical world, once at the height of technology, has crashed and burned. Levitating cars lay abandoned, floating cities lie in ruin, and the tyrant Wizards who ruled with iron fists are nowhere to be seen.

Awakening from the dead for the third time is a man with scrambled memories, driven at first by one desire: revenge. As he ventures through the terrifying wasteland with his mana-pistol and enchanted short-sword, a past starts creeping into his mind, but is it his?

Written in first person, present tense, The Wizard Killer is a pulse-pounding thrill ride broken down into short episodes (rather than chapters), as if you were watching 30 minutes of a binge-worthy TV show. You’ll find yourself tearing through the book in no time, and snatching Season Two.

“”…imaginative and compelling series that is quite difficult to stop reading. Dreece knows exactly how to build and then neatly tie up each episode, while leaving the reader wanting more…. highly recommended.””
— Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite, 5 Stars”

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The Hardest Part About Writing Is The Rejection by Leslie D. Soule – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Leslie D. Soule will be awarding $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Hardest Part About Writing Is The Rejection
Leslie D. Soule

The hardest part of writing is the rejection, and no one tells you that when you start out, starry-eyed, believing that the hardest part will be getting published. Getting published is a goal that is attainable. But what happens when it doesn’t come right away – when you keep on submitting and submitting, and all you get is a pile of rejection letters? Then the rejection begins to eat away and you give yourself doubts about your writing – is it good enough? Will I ever gain the attention of a publisher?

Then there’s the rejection that comes after you get published – you get bad reviews on something you’ve worked so hard on. And then it creeps again into your psyche and you wonder where you went wrong. It gnaws at every corner of your brain, and keeps you up at night. Not all of us can write like Stephen King or George R. R. Martin. You understand that. Doesn’t everyone else? You wonder why their standards are so high.

But the real lesson here is that of PERSEVERANCE. You write not for the masses, but because you have something to say. And in time, you learn to brush off the rejection and keep on going, because you are not at a dead-end but a bump in a road that leads further on. And those negative reviews won’t matter when you’ve written ten books, years from now. All that matters is that you’re better than you were yesterday – that you can look back on your past writing and have learned from it, and then the reviews just melt into the background – just so much white noise, after the fear of rejection has run out of you. And you keep going. But that’s something that has to be experienced, rather than taught. That’s the hardest part.

With five crystals to destroy, in order to rob the dark lord Malegaunt of his power, Ash Kensington’s path is set. She begins a quest with the talking cat, Greymalkin, and her wyvern, Slick. But when she meets up with the handsome dragon slayer, Draeon, her senses overwhelm her, and she becomes distracted. Will she be able to destroy the crystals in time to challenge Malegaunt?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Ash wasn’t so sure, and her breath caught in her throat. I feel like this is some dreadful portent. Still, she dusted off her cloak, throwing it over her arm. I’ll have to find a spot for it to dry when we get back to the house. She fixed her chestnut hair up into a ponytail and followed Greymalkin over a carpet of snow, brushing snowflakes away from her pale face as she continued on. Things had been tense lately at the house in the deep woods and, though neither Will nor Terces had said anything directly, Ash recognized the strange signs: the knowing glances they gave each other, Will’s frantic writing sessions, and Terces’s new interest in the fighting arts. Terces had been a jester his whole life, so there was no reason on earth why he’d need to fight anyone. What in the world was going on? Ash knew that they were up to something. Why wouldn’t they tell her what it was? If they were planning something, she wanted to help. The sense of not knowing was killing her. Still, she wasn’t going to bring it up at dinner. Surely Will and Terces would tell her eventually…right?

About the Author: Leslie D. Soule is a fantasy/sci-fi author from Sacramento, CA. She has an M.A. in English from National University, and is currently working on the final book of her fantasy series, The Fallenwood Chronicles.

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The Insanity of Bedlam by Dylan Callins – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Dylan Callins who is celebrating his release today of Interpretation. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

The Insanity of Bedlam

In my new novel, Interpretation, there is this place where the main character wakes up one day. Behind bars, mold growing wherever it can. Concrete surrounds him. It is an institution – part prison and part asylum. Perhaps surprisingly, this is not far from what mental institutions used to look like. I even kept the name, now synonymous with madness: Bedlam.
This hospital, originally known as the Bethlem Royal Hospital or Mary Bethlehem, was originally designed to care for the poor and the homeless. It was also used to raise money for the Crusades through their collection of alms. Carrying out this mandate during its first hundred years, the institution did in fact care for the poor, often exchanging labor for food and shelter. By the mid-1300s, however, their agenda changed. It was at this time that most people began referring to the institution as Bedlam. As a hint towards what went on in this place, the word Bedlam means uproar, confusion, and chaos. What happened behind these walls?

For the longest time (and as suggested in the documentary, The Madness of Bedlam), these institutions were nothing more than a place to abuse the underprivileged. Strange solutions to mental diseases were attempted – blood-letting, restraint, cold baths, and rotational therapy (the patient was strapped to a chair that was suspended from the ceiling and spun around hundreds of times), were a few common solutions to psychological ailments. Generally speaking, care-takers sought to balance the four humors: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. It was all very scientific, as you can imagine.

Certainly, there was abuse at Bedlam and similar institutions. There is little doubt of that. Yet, keeping in mind their elementary understanding of the human brain, these care-takers were trying to do the right thing. It’s easy to look back and say that giving a patient cold baths to align the humors is silly and inhumane; however, when you consider that they were doing it in the best interest of the patient, in order to cure that patient, the goal is reasonable. It was a genuine attempt to help these people. They were simply misguided.

I’ve always been a fan of Michel Foucault. In his work Madness and Civilization, he called these institutions a method of enforcing authority. It was a way to control whatever authorities deemed to be unfit for civilization.

Given the large populations sent to asylums, not all patients belonged. Certainly, they weren’t all mad. Many homeless people were put into these asylums to keep them off the street. Alternatively, some of them did need help. As dubious as these institutions seem, their motivation couldn’t have been as harsh as Foucault believes.

In the end, it is the popular vision of Bedlam that I used for inspiration in my novel, Interpretation. I don’t think that this place was the sinister asylum that many made it out to be, but I do enjoy the stories that came from it. I’m sure that many injustices and atrocities did take place over the hundreds of years that Bedlam was a medieval asylum but without the sinister goals that so many people suggest. Still, Bedlam is undoubtedly associated with madness. Even the images of the horrifying corridors and the sketches of patients in pain is enough to make one look twice. Above all, I wanted a name that suggested Foucault’s narrative: that this was a place where authority was enforced.

Carl Winston awakens to find his son, Liam, screaming with fear. Trying to understand why, Carl tries to soothe him. Neighbors gather in front of Carl’s apartment to help – until they see him. The crowd cowers back, afraid of this monster.

Carl runs. His life of luxury is ripped away. Forced beyond the city limits, Carl sees a land bereft of life. Traveling in search of answers, his quest comes to a sudden halt when he collapses. As darkness shrouds him, a figure hovers from above.

Traveling along the same route, Eva Thomspon finds Carl and nurtures him back to life. Together, they continue the journey, finding out that their lives have too much in common to be a coincidence. As their affection for each other deepens, an unknown nemesis attempts to remove their only source of happiness – their love for each other.

Interpretation is a dystopian fiction that explores hope and happiness in the bleakest of conditions and what happens when it’s torn away.

About the Author: Dylan Callens lands cleanly. That would be the headline of a newspaper built with an anagram generator. And although Dylan is a Welsh name meaning god or hero of the sea, he is not particularly fond of large bodies of water. His last name, Callens, might be Gaelic. If it is, his last name means rock. Rocks sink in the sea. Interestingly, he is neither Welsh nor Gaelic, but rather, French and German. The inherent contradictions and internal conflict in his life are obvious.

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Using Science in Science Fiction: How Not to Annoy Your Readers, in Three Simple Steps by Edward Ashton – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Edward will be awarding a 14 Ounce Nalgene—filled with candy corn! & 1 VeryFit Smart Band (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Using Science in Science Fiction: How Not to Annoy Your Readers, in Three Simple Steps

There was a time, believe it or not, when many of the folks who wrote science fiction were, you know, scientists. Guys like Isaac Asimov, David Brin, and Robert L. Forward didn’t need to worry about getting things ridiculously wrong when they were writing about space travel or alien biology or robotics. They knew their stuff, and if they didn’t, they knew other people who did. If you have a Ph.D. in astrophysics, you probably do too.

What if you don’t, though? What if you’re an MFA grad, or a philosophy major, or just somebody lacking a crazy beard and tweedy jacket? Do you need to forever forego writing stories about alien invasions, post-human cyborg family life, and genetically modified apes? Absolutely not! Everyone deserves to write at least one genetically modified cyborg ape invasion book! It’s good to remember, though, that many of the folks who like to read those types of stories are scientists, or are at least very science savvy—and if you get something glaringly wrong in your writing, your readers are unlikely to be merciful.
With that in mind, here a few simple guidelines for using science in science fiction, no Ph.D. required.

1. If you’re using known technology, do a tiny bit of research and get it right.

A while back, I read a story in one of my favorite semi-pro zines. It was a good story. The characters were fleshed-out, well-rounded people. The plot was fun. The writing was solid. But…

A big chunk of the plot of this story involved things in orbit, and it was clear after two sentences that the author had no idea whatsoever how orbiting something works. To be clear—all I know about how orbiting something works is what I’ve picked up from the zeitgeist over the years. Still, I knew enough to know that the things the author was describing were so far from right that it almost seemed deliberate. I scrolled down to the comments section, and sure enough, nobody was talking about the fun plot or the awesome characters. They were talking about the fact that five minutes of googling could have saved the author from embarrassing himself.

The key point here is that we don’t need to earn a doctorate in astrophysics these days to find out that you don’t strap a big rock to your spaceship in order to give it more thrust. The internet is a wonderful thing. Use it.

2. If you’re writing hard sci-fi, you still need to make it believable.

You’re not writing a journal paper, right? This is fiction. It’s totally okay to make stuff up. However (and this is important) the stuff you make up has to, on some level, make sense. Want to send your characters to Alpha Centauri using an antimatter rocket? You should probably know that those things have a theoretical top speed of about 0.3c, which means that your trip is going to take a minimum of twelve or thirteen years. Want to genetically engineer your post-humans so that they live by photosynthesis and never have to eat? Please be aware that the energy density of sunlight at sea level is about 1.4 kW/m2, your body has a total surface area of less than 2 square meters, the conversion efficiency of photosynthesis is about 5%, and you need about 8.4MJ of energy per day to live. That means that if your photosynthesizing post-human spends twelve hours a day naked and spread-eagled in the desert, she can absorb enough energy to replace one pop tart, give or take. Apparently, there’s a reason that plants don’t move around much.

3. It’s okay to use imaginary future tech, but please keep it internally consistent.

Plenty of classic science fiction uses tech that isn’t just unknown—it’s almost certainly never going to be known. Warp drives and transporter rays and mental telepathy and whatnot are tons of fun, and I’ve read and enjoyed a million books that feature them. The keys to making these things believable are simple. There have to be rules. You have to know what they are. You have to follow them to a T. This is true even if you’re writing about straight-up magic—and yeah, I’m looking at you right now, Mr. Paolini.

The bottom line to all of this is pretty straightforward. Science fiction is all about imagination—but it’s better if your imagination is grounded in some level of truth. Make friends with the googles. Your readers will appreciate it.

Drew Bergen is an Engineer. He builds living things, one gene at a time. He’s also kind of a doofus. Six years after the Stupid War — a bloody, inconclusive clash between the Engineered and the UnAltered — that’s a dangerous combination. Hannah is Drew’s greatest project, modified in utero to be just a bit better at running than most humans. She’s also his daughter. Her plan for high school is simple: lay low and run fast. Unfortunately for Hannah, her cross-country team has other plans.

Jordan is just an ordinary Homo-Sap. But don’t let that fool you — he’s also one of the richest kids at Briarwood, and even though there isn’t a single part of him that’s been engineered, someone has it out for him.

Drew thinks he’s working to develop a spiffy new strain of corn, but Hannah and her classmates disagree. They think he’s cooking up the end of the world. When one of Drew’s team members disappears, he begins to suspect that they might be right. Soon they’re all in far over their heads, with corporate goons and government operatives hunting them, and millions of lives in the balance.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“So,” I said when I’d picked the last bit of rind out of my teeth. “What now?”

Nathan shrugged.

“Wait for death, I guess.”

“Huh,” I said. “I see where you’re going with that, but I was actually hoping you’d have some kind of last-minute escape plan to present now.”

“Escape plan?”

“Yeah. If this were a vid, this is where you’d suggest a super-complicated scheme to get out of here. I’d say ‘that’s crazy!’ and you’d say ‘do we have a choice?’ and then we’d do it and it would work somehow and you would totally be my hero.”

He stared at me, downed the last of his bathtub water, and stared at me some more.

“So,” I said finally. “Do you, uh… have a plan?”

“No,” he said. “Unless ‘wait for death’ counts as a plan, I do not have one.”

“Huh.”

I looked down at the lantern, and found myself wondering if the battery would give out before we did. A shiver ran from the base of my spine to the back of my neck and down again.

“Hannah?” Nathan said. “Are you, uh…”

I groaned.

“Am I what, Nathan?”

“Are you really gonna eat me?”

I stared at him.

“Seriously?”

He looked away.

“Well, yeah. I don’t mean now. Just… you know… eventually?”

I dropped my head into my hands.

“No, Nathan. I am not going to eat you.”

“Are you sure? I mean, you might have to, right?”

I stood up, and picked up the lantern.

“You are an odd duck, Nathan. I’m going for a run.”

About the Author: Edward Ashton lives with his adorably mopey dog, his inordinately patient wife, and a steadily diminishing number of daughters in Rochester, New York, where he studies new cancer therapies by day, and writes about the awful things his research may lead to by night. He is the author of Three Days in April, as well as several dozen short stories which have appeared in venues ranging from the newsletter of an Italian sausage company to Louisiana Literature and Escape Pod.

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