Lessons I Learned from my Hero by Gwendolyn Druyor – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Gwendolyn Druyor will be awarding $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lessons I learned from my hero

Laylea’s lesson is to Live and Love RIGHT NOW.

I have to be honest, I’m really sad right now. I was angry yesterday. I created my hero, Laylea, because I am surrounded by dogs. . . I was surrounded by dogs. My extended pack included my boys, Lyman (Irish Jack Russel) and Newcastle (Staffordshire/keeshond mix) as well as Mia (a golden deceiver) and Dash (little white Yoda dog with an overbite). Cancer took Newcastle last year. This week we helped Mia’s mom let her go because her many medical issues had gotten too overwhelming for Mia. Then last night, Dash had to move on too because he’s just plain old and sore and couldn’t walk anymore.

So now, we’ve just got Lyman, the inspiration for Laylea.

At the opening of Shifter School, Laylea has just realized that small terriers like her don’t live much past fourteen years old and she has just turned fourteen. She’s preparing to die.

I’m grateful that I got to prepare to lose each of my pack members. I’m grateful that I got to be there for Newcastle and Mia. But what I should learn from Laylea is that you never know. You can’t live life waiting to die or scared that your loved ones are going to die. We are all going to pass on. What’s important is living and loving each other as fully as we possibly can while we are here together.

Laylea wants to leave the world a better place than she found it. She wants to set her crime-fighting Wyrdos Team and her family up for success. She wants to spread joy while she still can.

That’s what I’d like to do, too. If Lyman wants to sit in my lap and rest his chin on the keyboard while I write, I’ll let him. If my puppy-daddy wants me to stop writing and go for a hike, I’m going to. I stopped running after we had to let Newcastle go but I love running. So, this morning, I got up from my all-night nightmare of searching for Lyman, lost in some huge office complex (possibly the HQ from WereHuman – The Warrior’s Son) and I put on my running shoes.

I couldn’t push past a swift walk. But I got outside and I tried. And I think sometimes, that’s all we can do.

What do you love? Is there anything keeping you from doing that? What is it? Is there anything I can do to help you overcome that barrier?

Hug the people you love. Tell the coworker that you admire the heck out of her. Find that teacher who inspired you and tell him. Tweet at Allison Janey and tell her I said she’s the best. Start with nurturing your own joys and then spread that joy to the rest of the world!

We need it.

Some days, we really really need it.

She’s gonna get them all killed.

So they locked her away.

Laylea has been hiding her entire life. She’s never been to school. She’s never had a friend her own age. She’s never known anyone else like her.

All that is about to change.

In a world hidden from wyrdos and humans alike, shifters are still recovering from a vicious plot to destroy them all. They have two laws they live by now:

1) Hide
2) Protect the children at all costs.

Laylea has just broken rule number one. But she’s only fourteen. So they’re sending her to school. Where she’s going to learn . . .

Anyplace can be a prison.

The Lincoln Park Shifter School is not your grandma’s uber-secret, underground academy.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Normal fourteen-year-olds don’t wake up thinking about death. But Laylea wasn’t anything close to normal. She woke up composing a letter to her adopted parents telling them all the things she’d never get the chance to say in person. Sometimes she thought of writing a letter to her brother, Bailey. Some mornings she imagined leaving a letter for her birth mother too, in case they ever found her. Laylea had been composing the morning letters ever since she’d gone to a veterinarian’s office on a case last summer. Waiting in the lobby for the tech she was following, she’d read every pamphlet the clinic had. Including one that said the average lifespan for a twelve-pound terrier was thirteen to fifteen years.

She’d been fourteen for eight weeks now.

About the Author:Gwendolyn Druyor was born at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station Hospital, North Kingston, RI. The ID bracelet wrapped three times around her little wrist. She could swim before she could walk and read before she started school.

She has traveled the world telling stories. After a year in Amsterdam writing and performing sketch comedy at Boom Chicago, she toured North America with Shenandoah Shakespeare and with the incredible educational show Sex Signals. From Paris, FR to William’s Bay, WI, you’ll find her gypsy life reflected in her books. If you met her on the road, read her closely, you may find yourself in there.

For now, Gwendolyn lives in Hollywood with her Irish Jack Russell, Josh Lyman Zyrga, who is still pouting over the fact that she didn’t put him on the cover of WereHuman.

For more information on Gwendolyn and her projects sign up for her newsletter at her website.

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Character Development by D. Lieber – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is parts of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. D. Lieber will be awarding a fancy homemade bookmark (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.

Character Creation

To me, characters are the most important part of the story. They drive the plot. They make even the most out-there fantasies seem real. Of course, world-building, plot, and themes are also important, but it’s all about the characters.

Characters need to feel like real people, even if they are magic. Readers need to be able to know who they are so well that they can tell you what they think a character would do in any given situation.

I get inspiration for characters from all over. It could be from a song, a movie, an off-handed conversation, or a person I met. Most of the time, I start with the question: I wonder what this kind of person would act like in this kind of situation. Or I wonder how these types of people would act with each other.

I find personality archetypes quite interesting, so I play around with them. I like to just plunk characters into situations and see what they do. I love it when they surprise me. In a strange twist, I can only do that when I have a clear image in my mind of who the character is.

I think that characters are what makes a story memorable in readers’ minds. Readers need to feel strong emotions toward characters. They need to love them, to hate them, to laugh with them, and to cry with/for them. They need to be outraged or heartbroken when a beloved character dies and cheer when the baddie gets his or her due.

In short, characters don’t have to be epic, though it’s fine if they are. They just need to be regular people in crazy situations.

Exiled from Faerie when her father dies, half-Fae Ember is surprised by how much the human realm has changed since she was there last. She takes a dangerous job on a merchant airship, hoping a life on the move will keep her well-hidden. Sure, she misses her brother, but years of apathy have numbed her emotions.

When the optimistic and naïve Reilley follows her, it’s annoying to say the least. But when she starts feeling responsible for him, long-stifled emotions crack the ice around her heart.

Faeries, pirates, and traveling players meet in this steampunk fantasy adventure as Ember tries to cope with feelings long forgotten and a past that pursues her.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Men and women dashed around the room, gleaming with sweat and smudged with black smears. The fires burned low. A large furnace at the center of the room had a thick chimney leading from it into the ceiling. Some people were moving piles of what looked like coal, while others tended a huge machine. It consisted of a number of large metal coils attached to gears. Some of the coils were wound tight while others were loose. The gears attached to the coils were meshed with gears that had magnets on them. Ropes, made of a material I couldn’t identify, were threaded through the center of the magnet gears.

We passed through engineering and climbed to the main deck. The wooden deck sprawled before us. The chimney from engineering came up through the floor and reached toward the cloth bubble above us.

Shy pointed to a cabin on the left. “That’s where you’ll bunk with the rest of the deckhands, Ember. I still have inventory to do. I trust you both can get settled?” He disappeared below deck.

I walked toward the cabin, and Reilley followed.

“I wish we were bunking together, Ember,” he said, slumping his shoulders. I didn’t respond and entered the cabin, shutting the door in his face.

About the Author:D. writes stories she wants to read. Her love of the worlds of fiction led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, crafting, watching anime, Korean television, Bollywood, or old movies. She may also be getting her geek on while planning her next steampunk cosplay with friends.

She lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John), retired guide dog (Samwise), and cat (Yin).

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Nadia’s Heart, Part One by Wendy Altshuler – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Wendy will be awarding a $15 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.

When an amnesiac girl who thinks she has been born without a heart utters a prayer, she is met by a mysterious angelic stranger from her forgotten past. Together they embark on a journey to recover her removed heart, but enter into battle with an Evil Voice on a rampage to remove the hearts of an entire generation of children – and replace them with stones.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

It was slow going in the sand. Nadia could not seem to start off in flight, and Richard’s chattering teeth continued to distract her. It seemed a good idea to head up shore toward the rocks so that they could get free of the sand. Nadia trudged along and pulled Richard, whose eyes were fixed on the glow. She tugged at him to stay close, and his teeth chattering had gotten so fervent that Nadia could barely think. She wondered if he was suffering from pneumonia or some paralyzing fear, and why it had seemed right to bring him along. The noise was unbearable and, bracing herself on a rock, she flung her arm backward, wrapped it around the boy’s mouth, her eyes closed, just to have a moment’s peace. For a glorious moment there was only the long exhalation of the ocean.

But in the distance, rising above the sounds of the surging tide, came another sound.

Chop.

A single chatter from Richard’s mouth escaped. Nadia held his mouth with both hands, his eyes wide in questioning as they listened.

Chop, Chop, Chop.

It was the sound of a knife on a cutting board. Nadia hurled Richard toward the rocks they were ascending. She climbed and gripped his chin to stop, carefully withdrawing her fingers from being bitten as a chatter escaped. She tugged, pushed and pulled Richard up the crevices, stepping and slipping, the boots clunking as they climbed.

Chop.

Now seated on the rock, they listened. Nadia spun debris from the tiny, air-infused wheels which spouted back in defense. Try as she might, she could not make the boots fly. The wheels, she was certain, operated on principles she did not fully understand, specifications governed by magickal formulas sealed into the metal itself. She moved to and fro on the rock, but only managed to slip, clunking the boots clamorously and hushing Richard. How was she to get across the ocean?

Richard stared at the wheels intently as Nadia sat again, rolling them free of miniscule grains. They remained there, Nadia clearing the wheels and Richard staring out at the ocean.

Only minutes had passed under the spotlight of the moon, when Nadia felt Richard’s small hand on her arm. The teeth chattering had stopped, as had the knife chopping. The only sound they heard was the ocean tide coming up on the shore, and an occasional strong wind. She had removed almost all the sand from the boots’ wheels. But she stopped brushing it away, for it seemed too quiet, and when she looked up, she noticed that the glow was gone.

They could barely see the hut among the grasses in the distance. And then, Richard’s grip was sudden and fierce, his profile lit by the moon, his gasp heard and swallowed by the wind. His hair shifted, and Nadia felt an enormous arm pull her from under her ribcage, forcing the air out of her lungs. She was dragged into darkness under foliage, away from the light of the moon. She heard the breath of a man, and Richard’s sudden shouts. It was strange to hear his voice; they had spoken so little on their journey, and suddenly he was near her, yelping defensively, biting the man’s arm. Richard was thrown by another, fiercer arm as Nadia fought the arm binding her, like a steel bar around her stomach locked in place.

And slip from it she did, the wheels snagged in grass and grit, crawling on all fours back to the sight of the moon. Where was Richard? Nadia heard her own voice cry out for him. The wheels spun and spattered beneath her in response, lifting her up a few inches. Her voice failed as a strong hand clasped her heel and yanked her backward. She clawed at the sand, saw lines drawn in it as she was pulled with surprising speed, but that was all. All grew black, the cold, coarse grit dragging along her cheek.

Only then, as the shadowy shape fell upon her, seizing her as they fell into the quiet, ice cold sea, did Nadia realize the power in the suit. As she fought off the giant, there was a sudden explosion of air, an enormous bubbling blast which came from her torso and sent the giant shooting up into the air. She bobbed on the surface and watched him soar up and away.

Nadia then dove under the water, screaming out for the boy, her sound pulsating through the dark abyss like a distressed motor. Up above she gasped for air, hurrying to the overturned boat, the sounds of distant, large windmill strokes treading toward them. No bubbles on the surface, she dove again, when a faint touch like a fish’s tail brushed her elbow. Abhorred, then groping with her hands, she dived down, and in the depth was a shadow, then flowing white. She reached the form, grasping, then exploded up into the air, the arms lain across her at first limp, then reaching.

And then Nadia flew. Past the man, past the upturned boat, not knowing which direction, but she flew higher.. She held the boy, who heaved and coughed up sea water. Richard stood himself on Nadia’s boot to look below, matter-of-factly surveying their corrected course. Time was something that they did not have to spare.

About the Author: Wendy Altshuler is a writer-producer who explores myth in new media. She writes fantasy novels and creates works in stop motion animation. Her credits include award-winning screenwriting and WGA-accredited representation. With a degree in psychology and a Master of Arts from Columbia University, Altshuler documented the work of international choreographers and wrote and produced regional programming. Her short plays have been performed at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, at regional schools and most recently, Puppet Showplace Theatre. Altshuler’s young adult book series has been hailed as “emotionally moving, uplifting and wholesome,” and “spirited and haunting. . .with much symbolism and beauty.”

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The Unlikeable Demon Hunter: Crave by Deborah Wilde – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Deborah is giving away a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What doesn’t kill you…

seriously messes with your love life.

Nava is happily settling into her new relationship and life is all giddy joy and stolen kisses.

Except when it’s assassins. Talk about a mood killer.

She and Rohan are tracking the unlikely partnership between the Brotherhood and a witch who can bind demons, but every new piece of the puzzle is leaving them with more questions than answers.

And someone doesn’t appreciate them getting close to the truth.

Go figure.

On top of that, a demon known only as Candyman has unleashed a drug that’s harming users in extremely disturbing ways.

After a friend of Nava’s is hurt, she vows to take this demon down. But will life as she knows it survive this mission, or will this be the one time she should have looked before she leapt?

Happily-ever-after: barring death, she’s got a real shot at it.

 

Read an Excerpt:

Rohan parked, cut the engine, and turned to me, his eyes hot. “Know what else I don’t like?”

I licked my lips, remembered that wasn’t an answer and shook my head.

“Making me sit through dinner, watching you in that dress. Cruel.”

“You’ve been copping feels all the way home.

“It’s not enough.”

I snickered, but when he slammed his precious car’s door in his haste to get me inside, I may have set a new record for speed-walking in heels.

We barely made it into his bedroom before, mouth on mine, he pressed me back against the wall. His teeth dragged over my lower lip before his tongue slipped inside. He trailed his magic finger blades over my shoulder and bare back, just enough to leave faint marks that I’d shiver staring at in the bathroom mirror later.

Sliding my hand under his shirt, I skimmed my fingers along the ridges of his sculpted abs. He retracted his blades and I broke the kiss to draw his fingers into my mouth, my tongue swirling around each one in turn. Pinching his nipples with my other hand, I rubbed my bare thigh up his leg. His sigh rumbled over me.

A furious ache built to a throbbing pulse inside me.

Rohan sucked on my neck and I tilted my head to give him better access to the sensitive skin. He caressed my cheek with the back of his hand, pinning me with this filthy eye-fuck that made my stomach flutter. “Wrap your legs around me.”

About the Author:

A global wanderer, hopeless romantic, and total cynic with a broken edit button, Deborah writes urban fantasy to satisfy her love of smexy romances and tales of chicks who kick ass. This award-winning author is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way. “It takes a bad girl to fight evil. Go Wilde.”

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NOTE: This title is discounted for up to 60% until midnight February 26 and the entire series is on sale until then as well.

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If I’d Never Heard of Me, Would I Read my Book? by Erin A. Jensen


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. 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?

If I’d never heard of me, would I read my book? The question brings to mind Toni Morrison’s quote, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” In my humble opinion, any book an author writes should fit that quote. I wrote the series I longed to read. When I started writing Dream Waters (Book One in The Dream Waters Series), I’d just finished a fantastic series. Funny thing is, I can’t remember what series it was. I like to say that my brain is so full of my own characters, back stories and plot lines that I sometimes forget other facts—like real people’s names, pin numbers and passwords. If you ask me, it’s a fair trade off. Besides, the series I’d just finished at the time isn’t the point. I love getting hooked on a series because you get to revisit the characters you’ve fallen in love with and find out what happens to them next. It’s almost like going to visit old friends. When I finish a series filled with characters I’ve come to love, it’s always a little bittersweet. All the questions that drew me back, book after book, have been answered. And usually a series I felt invested in leaves me feeling something—whether it’s a satisfying sense of closure because of a happily-ever-after or heartbreak because of a poignant conclusion that included the death of a beloved character. The series of books that stick with me and leave me feeling some sort of sappy emotion are the ones I find hard to walk away from.

I started Dream Waters because I was feeling the loss of dear book friends whose stories had come to an end. The characters in my book were the new friends I created to fill that void. My story still holds my interest and fills my waking thoughts as I write this, midway through writing the fourth book in my series. My hope is that my readers will feel the same way.

Above all else, I think the most important quality of a book or series in any genre is an original concept or an original twist on an old idea. Stories that make me feel as though I’ve read them ten times already tend to make me lose interest. I want the books I read to feel like nothing I’ve ever read in the past. The stories that grip me the most are unique. I’ve never come across another storyline quite like mine, and many of my readers have made comments about the originality of my concept—a parallel world where every individual leads an alternate life each night while their body slumbers.

Contemporary fantasy has always been my favorite genre. I love to immerse myself in a world full of magic, paranormal happenings and fantastical creatures that secretly exist in our world. I, and many of the women I know, read middle grade and YA fantasy because there are so many wonderful books in that category. My goal was to create a book with all the wonder and excitement of Fablehaven or Harry Potter, but intended for grownups because that was what I wanted to read.

The first book in my series is almost entirely set within the walls of a psychiatric facility. Aside from the monsters and dragons that exist in the Dream World, the story explores the complexities of adult relationships, deals with some very real mental issues and poses serious questions—questions like, “What makes a life worth living?” As my main character, Charlie, ventures deeper into the Dream World throughout the series, other characters are dealing with relationship issues in the waking world while battling demonic foes in the Dream World. The books continually toe the line between fantasy and reality as the characters interact in both worlds. The series is the story I was longing to read, and I’ve loved every minute of writing it. Now, I invite my readers to lose themselves in my Dream World with the hope that they’ll fall in love with my characters and enjoy the journey as much as I have.

All his life, Charlie Oliver has watched the people around him morph into creatures that no one else sees. Unlike the rest of the world, Charlie remembers the Waters that transport him to the Dream World each night. And he sees glimpses of people’s Dream forms in the waking world. Condemned to spend his waking hours in a psychiatric facility because of his Dream Sight, Charlie doesn’t expect anything to change. But everything starts changing the day Emma Talbot walks through the door in the middle of a group therapy session.

Haunted by memories of the events that led to her admission, Emma plans to end her life the first chance she gets. But something about Charlie stops her. From the moment they shake hands, his friendship feels safe and familiar. As Emma begins to let down her guard, Charlie catches a glimpse of the fiery-eyed dragon that lurks behind her Dream form. Each night, as Emma dreams of the man who’s been banned from visiting, Charlie searches the Dream World for the monster that shadows her. But when Emma’s suppressed memories begin to surface, Charlie finds more monsters than he bargained for.

Enjoy an Excerpt from Dream Waters

“Where were you afraid I’d land when I fell in and why did you say finding the dragon wouldn’t be easy?”

She started drawing waves in the sand with her finger and I got the distinct impression she was doing it to avoid looking at me. “Honestly Charlie, I wasn’t sure where you’d land. It’s unpredictable when you don’t jump on purpose. You could end up anywhere the people you’ve met have been. You’re a mental patient. Can you imagine the sections of Dream some patients might inhabit?” Her finger stopped drawing mid-wave. “Trust me boy. There are Dark places in the Dream World, places you should never go. Venture too far into them and you risk losing a part of yourself to the Darkness.”

I was really getting tired of the cryptic shit. “Great. Thanks for the vague ominous warning. I was afraid you might give me an actual answer for a second there.”

“I’ve already said too much.” Even at a whisper there was a waver to her voice. “Just thank me for keeping you safe and jump back into the Water.”

“I don’t know which world I find you more annoying in.” It wasn’t the nicest thing to say to the one person who understood me but I said it out of frustration and maybe a little out of fear.

Nellie was about to snarl something back, but the leaves of some bushes just off the beach started rustling and I hopped to my feet to get a better look. “Something’s over there.”

Nellie stood up with a weary sigh and as she turned toward the bushes I saw the scars. Large deep identical scars marring the flesh on both of her shoulder blades.

I took a step closer to her. “What happened to your back?”

She turned and gave me a hard shove toward the Water’s edge. “It’s time for you to go now Charlie.” It caught me by surprise and knocked me off balance, back into the surf and the icy Water pulled me back in.”

About the Author: Erin Jensen is a part-time pharmacist and a fulltime creator of imaginary worlds. She lives in upstate NY with her incredibly supportive husband, two sons (who are both taller than her) and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he’s the family bodyguard. In the early days of her writing career, Erin vowed to get a dragon tattoo—once her books received a milestone number of reviews—but she won’t disclose that number any longer, for fear of actually reaching her goal and having to go through with it.

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Buy Dream Waters, Book One of The Dream Waters Series for only $0.99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook, or Kobo.

Buy Dream World, Book Two of The Dream Waters SeriesM/b> at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook, or Kobo.

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Phoenix Rising: Bitterhold by Hunter Trammell

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Hunter Trammell whose debut novel Phoenix Rising: Bitterhold, the first in a planned science fiction adventure series, was recently released. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a signed copy of the book.

In the future, Earth’s civilization has spread across the stars and now humans and aliens peacefully coexist under the rule of the Eglar Empire as it spreads relentlessly across the universe. Crime is almost unheard of and to many the Empire is a Godsend. But for an enlightened few it is different. While the media distorts the facts, the universe is on the verge of destruction as the Elgar’s get closer to the Aisle of Dominion, an ancient fable that tells of immeasurable power to whomever beholds it. An attack on an Eglar Militia base forces Decklan Brady, a grieving father of one of the casualties, to embark on a quest for retribution. But as he investigates he discovers that there is more to it than he was led to believe. Falling foul of the law, Decklan ends up as a prisoner in Bitterhold, a cryogenic reformation colony onboard the Starship Arcadia. There, he befriends Wesley Rhead, the former leader and founder of a militia group known as Phoenix. Together, the two devise a plan to escape and rekindle the fire of a broken dream. But can Phoenix really bring justice to the oppressed and restore peace throughout the stars? And can Decklan expose the harsh truth of what happens within the Eglar Empire?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The central elevator creaks as it makes its approach to the third floor. The metal doors scratch the ground as they retract revealing the inside of the cab. Decklan stands alone, propped up against the back of the elevator staring at the ground. His hair hangs freely, covering his face from anyone who may peer inside. He takes his first step out of the elevator and heads towards his room. He was assigned cell number 528, which is on the farthest back wall of the floor. He places his foot through the barrier, feeling relieved that he had found the right room.

The room is cold. Sheets and spare uniforms are folded in the wall cubby aside his bed. His mattress is stiff, stained, and worn from having gone through decades of different inmates resting atop of it. He lies down on his mattress, the stuffing crinkles and pops as he finds a comfortable position to relax. He stares above at the scratched ceiling while taking a deep breath, cherishing the luxury of alone time. His roommate’s things were still folded and compartmentalized; he had not yet visited his bunk.

A small wooden cigar box sits in one of the wall cubbies. Decklan reaches over to grab the box to inspect what may be inside. He flips the top open and grabs a small pile of photographs. The top one in the stack is a little wallet-sized picture that houses the memory of Decklan and his wife. His face clean shaven, hair trimmed to a nice comb-over, smile so infectious it could jump off the picture and contaminate anyone who stares. His wife is beautiful. His arms are wrapped around her shoulders, her brown hair hanging softly over his hand. Her eyes are stricken with love. Decklan smiles as he travels back to that moment, but it is soon corrupted by the regret that runs through his veins as he notices a note scribed onto the back of the photo:

Located these pictures in your belongings, thought you might appreciate a reminder of what your actions have amounted to. Now they are all nothing more than a glossy ink filled memory that you will never be able to replicate. Enjoy your stay, Decklan Brady.

– Warden Stroud.

Decklan places the picture along with a few others in the pocket of his jumpsuit, keeping them close to his heart. He stares once again at the scratches on the ceiling above him, finding parallel to his own feelings. His emotions claw at the surface but are nothing more than a reminder of the man he failed to become.

About the Author: I love to create, that is what I love most about writing. I have the freedom to shape the world how I see fit. I can create characters that defy the social norms and emerge victoriously while bringing strange worlds to life for the audience to explore. I wanted to write a novel to prove to myself that I held the cards and could do what I set my mind too. My personal goal had turned into more than just “I did it,” it spawned a hobby and something that I hope to be lucky enough to do for a living one day.

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Monsterland by Michael Okon – Q&A and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly drawn commenter will win a $50 Amazon/BN GC (international giveaway), five randomly drawn winners will win a size large Monsterland T-shirt (US only). Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?K/b>

People that live in the past are depressed. People that worry about the future are anxious. I’ve done some immature things to people in the past. Things that I was ashamed of. Those things are in the past and I can’t change what I did. I can only learn from my mistakes and not make them again. So far, I never did.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?

A mermaid. In my bathtub. That looks like Darryl Hannah.

How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

That’s a great question. I like to do mashups of stories. When people think of monsters, they think of the horror genre. I took that idea and flipped it on its head. I don’t like violence or gore, so I took the idea of monsters and put them in a theme park.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?

Best: Write every day.
Worst: Write every day.

Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Every character is a piece of me. Every single character.

Welcome to Monsterland—the scariest place on Earth.

Wyatt Baldwin’s senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He’s not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He’d much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she’s dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn’t stand a chance.

But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.

With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong?

Enjoy an Excerpt

The sky was a sparkling, powder blue, mosquitoes droned lazily over the tepid water, frogs croaked messages while they sunbathed on waxy lily pads. The fire he created burned bright, rabbit roasting on a spit made from hickory, the juices dripping to hiss in the flames. Seven of them lay in scattered repose, enjoying the late afternoon lull—two napped, the others tossed a stuffed fur in the form of a ball around the clearing, hooting with amusement when it rolled into the brush. They traveled in a pack, his group, his makeshift family, foraging together, hiding in plain sight. It had been that way for generations. But the glades were getting smaller, the humans invasive.

The sun started its slow descent into the horizon, hot pink and lilac clouds rippling against the empty canvas of the sky. Their color deepened as the sky filled, the rosy hue morphing into a burnt orange as the sun hid behind the condensation. The air thickened, moisture causing the leaves to lie heavily against the branches. Here and there, fireflies lit the gloom, doing a placid ballet in the humid air. The men moved closer as the sun sank into the western treetops, the fading sky promising another clear day tomorrow in the Everglades despite the moving ceiling of clouds.

A lone hawk cried out, disturbing the peace of the glade. Huge birds answered, flapping their wings, creating a cacophony of swamp sounds. The area became a concerto of animals responding to the disruption of their home—wild screams, squeaks, and complaints of the invasion of their territory.

The lead male stood, his head tilted. He heard it again. It was music, the strange organization of sounds, predictable as well as dangerous. Where those rhythms originated meant only one thing—they were not alone. They all rose, tense and alert, searching the waterway. Billy pointed, his dirty hands silently parting an outcropping of trees to expose a flat-bottom boat with strangers floating slowly toward them. It was filled with people, excitedly searching the banks of the swamp, their expensive khaki bush clothes ringed with sweat. Many held huge cameras. It was obviously a film crew, invasive, nosy individuals looking for something, anything, to enhance their lives. Men’s voices drifted on the turgid air. Billy stood, sniffing, his mates following suit. He glanced at the sky, gauging the time, his eyes opening wide. It was late. The bald top of the moon peeked over the ridge in the south, the sky graying to twilight with each passing second. Night came fast and furious in the swamp, dropping a curtain of darkness, extinguishing all light except for the beacon of the full moon. That chalk-white orb floated upward, indifferent to the consequences of its innocent victims. A halo of lighter blue surrounded the globe, limning the trees silver, the cobwebs in the trees becoming chains of dripping diamonds in the coming night.

About the Author Michael Okon is the award-winning and best-selling author & screenwriter formerly known as Michael Phillip Cash. His originally self-published book Monsterland was picked up in a two-book publishing deal by WordFire Press. Michael is happily married and writes full-time on the North Shore of Long Island with his two screaming monsters in the background.

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Email Michael at MichaelOkonBooks@gmail.com

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Fire by Sam Rook – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sam will be awarding a $20 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.

The thrilling conclusion to the Knights of Av’lor trilogy!

Trapped on Av’lor and left for dead by her betrayer, Kathryn’s unrelenting determination is the only thing that might overcome the invading Zahkrinon army.

With the portal destroyed and the Zahkrinon army fast approaching, Kathryn and Lanclor have no choice but to focus on the survival of the Knighthood before they can consider rescuing Rachel. Unexpected events threaten their victory and the combined Av’lorian and Earth forces struggle to survive as their numbers dwindle.

They find the Zahkrinon are more dangerous than they had ever imagined.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“I know this news is hard to hear, but I wanted you to hear it from me,” Alextor continued. “I will do everything in my power to find a way back for you to return to your homeworld. However, the most pressing matter at hand is the approaching army. We must focus on the approaching hoard of Zahkrinon and dark elves before we can delve into—”

Kathryn abruptly rose from her chair and left the room. Most of the servants scrambled out of her way and faded back into the background, except for one small form who followed Kathryn from the room. Hal shook his head. The servant probably thought she could help the Hero of the Last Battle in some way. Hal turned his attention back to Lord Alextor, determined to listen to what his commanding officer had to say.

“I know not all of you will agree, but I believe—”

Nidira threw herself at her brother’s side and intercepted the knife meant for Lord Alextor’s heart. All around the table, the bare-footed servants randomly attacked the members of the meeting. Blood splashed across the table, a startling contrast against the white slices of bread. Hal jumped to his feet and looked behind him just as a servant prepared to attack.

About the Author: Sam Rook lives in Vermont with her husband and two children. Her passion for fantasy novels began in high school with her desire to write following shortly thereafter. Software engineer by day, fantasy author by night, she strives to give her readers a chance to enjoy worlds that transport them away from the stress of everyday life.

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Winter Blogfest: Jane Dougherty

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of Revelation.

This year, we have left our offspring in the city and retreated to a farmhouse in the middle of a field. Without the family and religious aspect, and the glittery commercial temptations, Christmas as a concept is fading into the past of childhood when it actually meant something. This year we will listen to the wind in the poplars instead of Christmas carols, the owls calling instead of ‘Dumbo’, and the foxes bickering instead of Julie Andrews. We will celebrate the winter solstice instead of the 25th, with a log fire in the grate, and tell a few stories by the firelight. Like this one, perhaps.

Long ago, in the land of the Northmen, as the longest night of the year was beginning, Gudrun was sent to bring in the last of the wethers. He was the biggest, wildest of the curly-horned sheep and a right royal pain in the arse. Gudrun wrapped her thick cloak tight about her and trudged through the snow up to the oak copse where she suspected he would be, gorging himself on the last of the acorns. She called and whistled, more to keep the wild beasts away than with much hope that the daft sheep would come.

The copse was empty. The wind blew flurries of snowflakes between the tree trunks and Gudrun cursed. Beyond the oaks was empty heathland until the fjord dropped away abruptly, and the sea crashed dark and wicked below. It would be just like the gormless creature to have fallen over the edge and be stuck on a ledge. Sure enough, after a quick search, the setting sun through the clouds along the horizon showed her the wether’s neat prints. Snow clouds hid the sun, and the wind whined, and in its voice, she heard another sound—someone calling faintly.

She ran across the heath that sloped down to the sea, to where the last rowan tree clung to the rocky soil before the slope became bare rock that tumbled into the waves.

“Who’s there?” she called into the wind, fearful that on this long night, the Draugr would be abroad.

“Gudrun? Tis Sigurd Two-Wolves. Take care, the rocks are as treacherous as sin!”

Gudrun picked her way to the broken edge and peered down a narrow goat track. In the middle of a group of scrubby trees, the yellow-eyed wether, straddling a pair of legs, was glaring up at her. With the last of the light to guide her, Gudrun clambered down to the outcrop that had stopped Sigurd’s fall. He raised himself feebly on his forearms, and she caught her breath. A ray of sun picked out the red of his hair and turned it to flame. His eyes glittered, with fever or with something else, she couldn’t say. Though they had been children together, she had never before realised how beautiful he was, and the expression in his eyes, she had never seen in a man’s eyes before. He needed her. Not in the way men usually need women, but he needed her because he was weak and helpless. She knelt down by his side. Her hands twisted a fold of her cloak, itching to touch him, to find out where the pain was.

“It was the wether,” he said sheepishly, “and I almost had him. Then he jumped, and I went with him.” He looked along his body. “The ankle. Nothing to weep over, but I’d best wait for the light before trying that track again.”

Gudrun ran her hand down his leg and had the satisfaction of seeing how he stirred. Gently, she lifted his leg from the rocks that imprisoned it in a twisted position. He cried out and she felt power and pleasure and compassion all at the same time.

“We’ll not be moving from here this night,” she said.

“You’ll stay with me, the dark night through?” he asked, although he must have known the answer.

“This night and every other, if you asked me,” Gudrun whispered as she wrapped them both in her cloak. The wether settled down, sheltering them from the wind, until the sun goddess birthed a daughter to light the first day of the new year.

Carla was expecting Paradisio to be like…well…paradise. But bad boy Nathaniel shows her that the inhabitants are anything but angelic.

Wormwood has fallen, but the journey isn’t over for Carla and Tully. Erelah, the Messenger, leads them onward to Paradisio, where they hope they will find their real home. The Grigori recognize Tully as Israfel, and he takes to his new role of guardian of music like a duck to water, but Carla’s impressions are of a world with dark secrets hiding in the shadows.

Tully seems absorbed in his music and whenever he comes up for air, Erelah with her neat little wings is waiting. In her misery, Carla finds consolation in Nathaniel, a Warrior who is a hunk and knows it. But she is playing with fire. Nat wants her, and what Nat wants, he takes.
As if her personal problems weren’t enough, Carla begins to piece together the mad plan that Nisroc, the Yazata of Paradisio, has lined up for the other worlds. But Tully, who has been promised a star part, seems keen to play along with the lunatic scheme.

Carla finds herself caught up in a revolution, to stop Nisroc and the one who is creating his weapon of mass destruction—Tully.

 

Jane Dougherty writes stories where the magical and the apocalyptic mesh, where horror and romance meet, and the real and the imaginary cohabit on the same page. If real life bores you and you hanker to be whisked away to somewhere infinitely worse…before it gets better…and turns into your wildest dreams, her stories have got just what you’re looking for.

Jane was born when she was very small and was brought up in Yorkshire. Her first job took her to France and she has never found her way anywhere else. She now lives in a strange world where she writes the rules, creates the landscapes, catastrophes and the magic. She also bends the rules of physics, plays Cupid and hands out happy endings to deserving characters.

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Top Ten Reasons to Read The One Apart by Justine Avery – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Justine Avery will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Top Ten Reasons to Read The One Apart

Hmmm… the cover is full of mystery, and the description promises a compelling plot and a big, intriguing puzzle to be uncovered, but how do you know if The One Apart is really for you?

10) The One Apart is filled with eeriness, a dark presence leering over your shoulder, and apparitions only one special child can see. And you’ll never guess who or what they are. In fact, you may begin to wonder if they really do exist—all around us…

9) The One Apart will make you laugh, gasp, cry, and glance over your own shoulder to remind yourself you’re safe and sound in your own room.

8) The One Apart introduces you to compelling characters you’ll fall in love with, feel every struggle with, or love to hate. You will not want to say “goodbye” to any of them when the story ends.

7) The One Apart grabs you like a compelling saga and treats you to an epic adventure. It’s a mystery wrapped in a mystery, gripping your attention like a suspense thriller.

6) The One Apart will keep you guessing until the very end. There are twists around every turn, unpredictable events that will leave you gasping and expecting nothing but the unexpected.

5) The One Apart is a roller coaster of emotions—ups and downs that will have you clenching your pillow tight and then throwing it into the air in elated celebration.

4) The One Apart rewards you with a surprise romance tucked into its pages, waiting for the main character when he needs—and deserves it—most. And you’ll wish it was all your own.

3) The One Apart is not like any other book you’ve ever read. It’s a fast-paced ride that will whirl you away, spin you around, send you soaring, and leave you wondering what’s actually real and what may not really be. It’s a story that will stick with you long after you’ve reached the end.

2) The One Apart introduces you to a world like none you’ve ever read before, one seamlessly integrated with the world you know and live in, a world you’ll wish is actually true and out there, waiting for you.

1) The One Apart delivers an ending that will leave you in awe, speechless, and completely satisfied. It will reward you so richly, that you will want to start at the beginning and live the story all over again.

Only one obstacle stands in his way of enjoying a normal life. He remembers—every life he’s lived before.

Tres is about to be born… with the biggest burden any has ever had to bear. He is beginning again—as an ageless adult trapped in an infant body.

He and his teenage mother face life filled with extraordinary challenges as they strive to protect, nurture, and hide how truly different he is. But Tres alone must solve the greatest mystery of all: who is he? The answer is linked to the one question he’s too afraid to ask: why am I?

In his quest, Tres discovers that all is considerably more interconnected and dynamic than he could ever imagine—and fraught with far more danger. He cannot hide from the unseen threat stalking him since his birth.

Life as he knows it—as all know it—is in peril. And Tres is the only one aware.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Tres felt his body abruptly drop around him with overbearing weight, encapsulating him once again.

The mental images, the overpowering memories, finally faded. Only an ominous stillness remained.

Every cell within him began to twitch, infusing with energy—even as he felt immobile. Every joint, tendon, and bone ached under the pressure of being alive.

A deep sadness engulfed him. He pondered possible rea
sons. And, just as quickly, he was distracted by the presence of his own simple thoughts.
Thoughts. He realized his own thinking.

This mind—certain of its own newness—desired to explore, feel, do, be. Tres opened his eyes—tried to open his eyes. He found his eyelids fused shut.

He opened his mouth. Thick, warm syrup seeped inside his swallow. Intense fear washed over him, even as he knew exactly where—and how—he was.

Oh, no.

Tres was aware, more aware than any had ever been. In this moment, he knew everything—and yet, nothing.

He was beginning again.

About the Author:Justine Avery is an award-winning author of stories large and small for all. Born in the American Midwest and raised all over the world, she is inherently an explorer, duly fascinated by everything around her and excitedly noting the stories that abound all around. As an avid reader of all genres, she weaves her own stories among them all. She has a predilection for writing speculative fiction and story twists and surprises she can’t even predict herself.

Avery has either lived in or explored all 50 states of the union, over 36 countries, and all but one continent; she lost count after moving 30-some times before the age of 20. She’s intentionally jumped out of airplanes and off the highest bungee jump in New Zealand, scuba dived unintentionally with sharks, designed websites, intranets, and technical manuals, bartered with indigenous Panamanians, welded automobile frames, observed at the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo in Noba, Japan, and masterminded prosperous internet businesses—to name a few adventures. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree that life has never required, and at age 28, she sold everything she owned and quit corporate life—and her final “job”—to freelance and travel the world as she always dreamed of. And she’s never looked back.

Aside from her native English, Avery speaks a bit of Japanese and a bit more Spanish, her accent is an ever-evolving mixture of Midwestern American with notes of the Deep South and indiscriminate British vocabulary and rhythm, and she says “eh”—like the Kiwis, not the Canadians. She currently lives near Los Angeles with her husband, British film director Devon Avery, and their three adopted children: Becks, Sam, and Lia. She writes from wherever her curiosity takes her.

Avery loves to connect with fellow readers and creatives, explorers and imaginers, and cordially invites you to say “hello”—or konnichiwa.

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