The Joined Realm by Robert Vane – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Robert Vane will be awarding a $75 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.

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“Control the water, control the world”

From inside the lush expanse of the Inner Realm, the Ghosbane family and their fellow waterlords rule the Joined Realm through their mastery of the ancient aqueducts that feed the vast Drylands beyond their domain. After being accused of a terrible crime, Arlon Ghosbane, the inheritor of a secret legacy of the vanquished overlords of the Joined Realm, is forced to flee from his family and the only life he has ever known. Guided by a renegade howler intent on freeing his race, Arlon discovers that a world far different than one he had been taught about lies beyond his water-rich homeland. The fate of humanity will be determined by the decisions of a young fugitive and a former slave as they fight for the future of the Joined Realm.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Tattered banners displaying the sunflower sigil of this dusty frontier holding hung behind the lord and his men, all of them pressed together like a clutch of hens. The chamber’s walls looked like they could crumble at any moment, but at least they kept Raz’s pounding light at bay. Sand infested the rough-cut limestone of the floor, but Bellamy supposed that was inevitable in such a water-starved place. He busied himself trying to dislodge the bits of filth ensconced beneath his fingernails as Lord Lowen droned on. When Bellamy finished his manicure and looked up, he noted with annoyance that Lowen and his meager retainers did not have sand strewn in their hair or stuck in the crevasses of their fingernails.

“That’s quite enough, Lowen,” Bellamy declared, his tone as dismissive as that of a disappointed tutor. “Scribble your excuses on some parchment to send to our Lord Idris. I’ve heard enough of them. You are responsible for every drop of water that flows out from this portion of the aqueduct. That is your oath. You retain your holdings, and your life, only so long as you uphold that oath. You have failed.”

About the Author: Robert Vane has been writing stories since he was eight. It’s been his full time job for two decades – but not the stories he wanted to write.

Inspired by a lifetime of reading, beginning with “classics” like Privateers, the Amtrak Wars, Darkover, and the Belgariad to name a few (yeah, he’s old), Rob has been pecking away in his spare time. The Joined Realm isn’t the first full length novel Rob has written, but it’s the first that he felt ready to share. Big thanks to Amazon!

Keep reading and writing.

The Joined Realm is available on Amazon.com and will be $0.99 during the tour.

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My Take on Critique Groups by Siri Paulson – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding a $50 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.

My take on critique groups
Siri here on behalf of Kit Campbell and myself. Thanks so much for having us!

I’m a big believer in critique groups, as long as they’re helpful and not toxic. Learning how to critique someone else’s story will teach you a whole lot about analysing what works and what doesn’t, about separating your personal reading preferences from objective quality, and about your own writing.

It’s much easier to see problems in other people’s writing than your own. Conversely, it’s much harder to see what needs fixing in your own story. Having other people you trust to tell it like it is? Invaluable.

I’m lucky enough to be part of an in-person critique group that works really well. Here are some reasons why…

We’ve learned to check our egos at the door. Separating your writing from your heart is a hard thing to do. It’s tough to take critique – to sit there and listen while people tell you what’s wrong with your story. But it’s a really important thing to learn, because sooner or later it’s going to happen to you (editor? agent? review?), and you’d better know how to handle it with grace. On the flip side, it’s also important to learn how to give criticism without making it personal.

We’ve learned how to deal with the feedback. I’ve learned that there are some times when I just should not submit a story. It’s still too close to my heart, or too early in the process. For example, when I’m in the middle of a novel draft, I should not submit early chapters – I’ll get defensive (not out loud) and also start second-guessing everything I’m doing. But other people find it so helpful to get feedback with plot problems along the way. Figure out what works for you! I’ve also had to learn how to filter the critiques, to pick and choose what’s helpful for the direction I want for the story.

We trust each other. Part of this is because we all write in the same genres, and most of us are at a similar stage in our careers (published a few books or just on the cusp of publishing). Part of it is because we’ve learned how to give a balance of positive and negative feedback, with specific issues identified and specific solutions suggested. Part of it is just familiarity – we’re not friends, exactly, but we’ve been meeting a long time. And we tease each other and just generally keep a sense of humour about the whole thing.

We have an established process. Here’s how we do it: Meetings are once every two weeks and usually run about two hours. We have two victims, er, critiquees per meeting, submitting up to 10,000 words each – either a short story or some novel chapters. Submissions are emailed around the previous week so everyone can read them twice and make notes (ranging from broad strokes to line edits, depending). Sometimes the author includes specific questions about how certain aspects are coming across, or a synopsis of earlier chapters if relevant.

During the meeting, the critiquee takes notes and doesn’t talk much, although they’re allowed to ask questions or clarify their intentions. We go around the room, more or less, taking turns giving a verbal critique – it might cover plot, character, pacing, worldbuilding, logic gaps, stuff that doesn’t ring true, whatever’s relevant. Sometimes a meeting turns into a free-for-all where everyone’s contributing to the discussion at the same time, other times we stick to talking in sequence. We don’t dwell on the more nitty-gritty line edits during the meeting – the critiquee can go over those on their own time. At the end of the session, the critiquee can ask further questions. Finally, we give the author our copies of the submission with our edits marked (either by hand or with the comment function in MS Word).

This method is really helpful because it’s detailed but not too detailed. We get feedback from multiple people on every scene and every plot/character development, which usually doesn’t happen if you email your entire novel to beta readers. Not to say betas aren’t useful! Getting a reader’s broader impressions is important too. On the flip side, there’s no point in getting hung up on the sentence-level writing if the scene isn’t working…plus if you get too much feedback on that level, you run the risk of losing your unique voice. But personally, I find it much easier to write pretty prose than to write effective scenes, so that’s where I need the help.

So there you have it – everything I know about critique groups! Over to you. Love ’em, hate ’em, wish you could find one?

mediakit_bookcover_cityofhopeandruinEvery night the monsters hunt.

A city that is the whole world: Theosophy and her companions in the City militia do their best to protect the civilians from the monsters, but they keep crawling from the Rift and there’s nowhere to run. Theosophy knows she’ll die fighting. It’s the best kind of death she’s seen, and at least she can save lives in the meantime.

They say the Scarred carve you up while you’re still alive.

A village in the shadow of a forest: Refugees from the border whisper about the oncoming Scarred, but Briony can’t convince her brother to relocate his children to safety. Briony will do anything to protect them. She owes them that much, even if it means turning to forbidden magic.

When Theosophy and Briony accidentally make contact across the boundaries of their worlds, they realize that solutions might finally be within reach. A world beyond the City would give Theosophy’s people an escape, and the City’s warriors could help Briony protect her family from the Scarred. Each woman sees in the other a strength she lacks—and maybe something more.

All they need to do is find a way across the dimensions to each other before their enemies close in.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Dean Prosody was pacing in her cramped office when Theosophy arrived. Her bayonet and whetstone lay forgotten on her desk.

Theosophy stopped just inside the door. “Sir?”

“He’s not in his quarters, and he took his spear,” said the dean, not looking at her.

Theosophy reached into her belt pouch and pulled out her double crystal, tuned to her partners. One side had gone dark, of course, but the other pulsed weakly. She could feel the direction of the pull—toward the ruins—but that meant nothing, surely he wouldn’t be such a complete…

“What did you say to him?” Dean Prosody demanded.

Theosophy shrugged.

“Nothing about avenging Rhetoric?”

“I should hope not,” she said. “I was a little busy fighting for my life. With one partner gone and the other just standing there…”

The dean gave her a look, blue eyes snapping.

“What? I let him mourn after. But he still let the third one get away, and almost got me killed. I had to say something.”

The dean sighed.

“There’s a reason I’m the longest-serving fighter. And it’s not because I’m nice.”

“About that, Theosophy…maybe you should consider stepping down.”

She opened her mouth, but nothing came out.

“I know you’re the reason a lot of these kids are still alive. But you’re turning sour. It’s not healthy.”

Theosophy grimaced. The thing was, staying alive the longest wasn’t any kind of mercy. It just meant everyone you used to know was dead.

About the Authors:

It is a little known fact that Kit was raised in the wild by a marauding gang of octopuses. It wasn’t until she was 25 that she was discovered by a traveling National Geographic scientist and brought back to civilization. This is sometimes apparent in the way that she attempts to escape through tubes when startled.

Her transition to normalcy has been slow, but scientists predict that she will have mastered basics such as fork use sometime in the next year. More complex skills, such as proper grocery store etiquette, may be forever outside her reach.

Kit can be found cavorting about the web at her blog  or website, on Pinterest , and even occasionally on Twitter.

Siri Paulson writes all over the fantasy and science fiction spectrum, including (so far) secondary-world fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, Gothic, historical paranormal, and YA with spaceships. She is also the chief editor at Turtleduck Press. Siri grew up in Alberta, Canada, but now lives in an old house in Toronto. By day, she edits non-fiction for the government. Her other current passion is contra dance, a social/folk dance done to live Celtic and roots music. Her favourite places in the world are the Canadian Rocky Mountains and a little valley in Norway.

Siri’s short fiction and the anthologies she has edited can be found on Turtleduck Press. She blogs at https://siripaulson.wordpress.com/ and tweets at http://twitter.com/Siri_Paulson.

Multi-region buy link for ebook: http://authl.it/B01DYSR7QE

 

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My Take on Critique Groups by Karin Rita Gastreich – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Karin 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.

My take on critique groups

The first advice I give to any aspiring author is this: Find a writers group that can provide you with honest, supportive feedback on your work.

The critique group is the ideal place to vet those early drafts. You benefit from multiple perspectives at once, and you will often find authors familiar with your intended market and able to speak to specific expectations of readers. Most importantly, a critique group is made up of people who are writers, like you. They not only understand the craft, they get how difficult and courageous it is to show your work to someone for the first time. They will lift you up if you’ve earned it, and let you down easy if you haven’t. If that first draft needs work – and it probably will – they will provide the necessary guidance to become the best writer you can be.

Critique groups can also be a source of support during querying and publishing. Most writers groups offer workshops on the business of writing, covering everything from securing the interest of an agent to marketing your published novel to managing your tax returns. When your novel is released, often your critique partners will be the first to post Amazon reviews, giving you a small but important nudge toward visibility. They may host you on their blogs or talk about your novel to their friends. They will visit you at book signings and keep you happily distracted in slow moments when no one seems interested in your book.

Critique partners can become good friends and essential advocates as you begin publishing. I’ve lost count of the number of important contacts I’ve made through my different writers groups, but they include agents, editors, and well-known authors that I might never have had the opportunity to interact with otherwise. For authors taking the self-publishing route, critique partners can provide tips on cover artists, free-lance editors, and other professionals that you will have to work with along the way.

Issues can come up with critique groups, so you want to be careful about selecting the right group for you. Look for writers familiar with the genre you work in, but don’t shut yourself off to the possibility of receiving critiques from writers outside your genre. Good story telling is good story telling, and many useful ideas and techniques can come out of cross-genre fertilization.

Make sure the critique group members are more-or-less at or above your writing level. If you are an intermediate writer, you will learn very little from beginners. If you are a beginning writer, a super-advanced group might leave you feeling lost and discouraged. Find a group that will push you to constantly improve your technique while setting realistic goals every step of the way.

Finally, pay attention to chemistry. Critique partners should be able to “get” what you’re trying to do, even if that first draft is poorly written. Their advice should center on how to strengthen your voice and reach your own goals as a story teller. If you start to feel like your vision is getting lost inside the advice of others – that they are trying to get you to write their story, not yours – then you may want to think about shopping around for a new writers group.

That’s my take on critique groups. What about you? What experiences have you had, both positive and negative, with the writers groups that you’ve joined?

mediakit_bookcover_swordofshadowsSisters in magic, Eolyn and Adiana seek to revive a millennial tradition once forbidden to women. When war strikes, their fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.

Determined to defend her people, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. Trapped by the invading army, Adiana is taken prisoner and placed at the mercy of the ruthless Prince Mechnes.

Even as their world is torn asunder, Eolyn and Adiana cling to a common dream. Courage and perseverance guide them toward a future where the Daughters of Aithne will flourish in a world set free from the violence of men.

“War propels the story forward, and the characters are at their best when circumstances are at their worst.” -Publishers Weekly

This is the second book in THE SILVER WEB trilogy. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, or as the sequel to the first book, EOLYN.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

A hush of wings on the windowsill interrupted Eolyn’s thoughts. She looked up to see a Great River Owl, its proud silhouette outlined by moonlight.

Eolyn rose to her feet in surprise, keenly aware of its penetrating gaze, though she could not see its round eyes in the dark. A breeze ruffled its feathers. Its aura was impossibly familiar: intense shades of gold, burgundy, and forest green, shot through with streaks of deepest indigo.

She held her breath and let it go in a whisper. “Akmael?”

More than a question, it was a hope, a fear, an invocation.

A shimmer passed through the owl, followed by a flash of white light. Suddenly Akmael was with her, the heat of his hand upon her throat, the strength of his fingers intertwining in her hair, the demand of his lips upon hers, warm and full of passion. The magic of the South Woods blew through the window in a humid gust, swirling about them, begging Eolyn to remember who she was and what she once meant to him.

Akmael kissed Eolyn until she had no more breath to give. Then he paused and held her close, their foreheads touching as her fingers traced the familiar prominence of his cheekbone, the line of his jaw, the curve of his full lips.

All she could hear was his desire, carried on the rhythm of his heart. She dared not speak, for if she did, she might stumble upon words of caution or prudence or common sense, and none of that had any place here. Not when he was so near, nearer than he had been in such a painfully long time, closer than he might ever be again.

This is a gift from the Gods, Akmael had once said. To deny it would be an insult to them.

“Eolyn, I—”

She hushed him with a kiss.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_swordofshadowsKarin Rita Gastreich writes stories of ordinary women and the extraordinary paths they choose. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she is part of the biology faculty at Avila University. An ecologist by vocation, Karin has wandered forests and wildlands for over twenty years. Her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. In addition to THE SILVER WEB trilogy, Karin has published short stories in World Jumping, Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, and 69 Flavors of Paranoia. She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency.

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Buy SWORD OF SHADOWS, Book Two of THE SILVER WEB at Amazon.

Buy EOLYN, Book One of THE SILVER WEB at Amazon.

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My Take on Critique Groups by TK Thompson – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddes Fish Promotions. TK Thompson will be awarding $30 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.

My take on critique groups
Just recently I have joined several writing groups. I am still trying them out. I have found that the online one has been more effective than the meet up group. I am still giving them a chance. I think that one of the most vital parts of being a writer is receiving feedback. It can be the hardest thing hearing honest feedback, but it can help you grow. I liked my online one because we shared content beforehand and were able to take notes and such for the other pieces. The meet up group happened too quickly and had too many participators to get a good feel for everyone’s work and thoughtful feel back on your own. Smaller groups aren’t necessarily bad. Honesty is what you are looking for, so find a group that is willing to be honest with you, not mean, honest. Don’t be defensive of your art or you will be unwilling to see how you could make it better. Stick with your story though, don’t let some ones view change what your story is about. They don’t know what your end game it. Hopefully you know your end game. What I look for in my critique groups is: What they liked, what they didn’t like or were confused about, what emotions they felt during the chapter, and what they think will happen next.

Another important thing is to join one that enjoys the genre you write and have the same standards as you. For example a steamy love group probably won’t help with the children’s book.

Feedback is the best part of the process for me. To be able to see inside the readers mind it exciting and to see what they think is going to happen has more than once proven to be comical. I also do a test reader group with mixed ages and gender. Everyone’s view is important.

mediakit_bookcover_darkeveYoung Audim Basile hates life dominated by his cold, controlling father. But his dreams of fortune and adventure are turned upside down when he runs off to weigh anchor with the toughest, most barbaric band of pirates the criminal underworld has ever known.

Together with their dark, mysterious female captain, Acantha – who’ll run her sword through anyone who looks at her the wrong way – Basile and his fellow swashbuckling bandits sail the globe, fighting hordes of terrifying supernatural creatures that would make even the hardiest buccaneer quake with fear.

Together with his newfound crew mates, Basile must help with finding Acantha’s sister – who’s been missing for over a year – while being consumed with trying to solve the mystery of Acantha’s illusive past – before the evil Wraith King sends all of them to a premature watery grave.

Will Basile survive the fiercest test of his young life? Will Acantha sacrifice her own ship and crew (including young Basile) just to save her sister? Will young Basile come to terms with the price of the high-seas way of life and fortune?

In her stunning debut novel, T.K. Thompson launches readers on the most exhilarating ocean journey since Pirates of the Caribbean. Only time will tell if Acantha, Basile, and their hardy shipmates will live to tell this heart-stopping tale and fight another day.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Cornelius leaned over the bar, his voice wispy and deep. “They say she was born with the mark of darkness, killing her first man at two.”

The bartender’s voice grew louder. “A vixen and horror of the seas, she is. She’d be the rarest beauty ever to fall upon any man’s eyes, but dare you gaze upon her, and your eyeballs would be plucked from your skull with her twin blades at her side. Her only love is the darkest parts of the sea where sharks follow her like babies to a mother. The Dark Eve, her ship, be stained red with blood, and sirens sing at the helm, estranging men from their souls. And treasures,” Cornelius paused, his voice straining, “mountains of gold, cursed by her blood, hidden.”

Hurly lifted an eyebrow in response as Cornelius continued.

“I tell you, be careful!” he warned, his voice rising. “She’s not to be messed with. Her heart is black!” he stressed, spitting out the words. The air of the tavern had grown thick with the influence of the old man’s speech.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_darkeveI was born in Provo, UT and raised in copper mining towns in-between Arizona and New Mexico. I can be compared to a lizard. The warm weather makes a great home, but I have always had a love for the rain and overcast skies, extremely contradictory from my given habitat. That’s how I see myself sometimes, a lover of opposites. I would consider my childhood to be groundless when it came to my imagination. I was trapped inside my own mind and I believe I learned the world in small harsh but necessary truths, like a slow awakening. My little stories had their encompassing place along with underdeveloped drawing skills. But rationality whispered in my ears through my upbringing. I sought out what I felt to be important, the events of graduating high school, Silver City, NM 1999. I went to a safe community college in Thatcher, AZ. They say that college is a large defining time in a young person’s life. It’s where they start to wonder about who they are, what they know as truth, and far away from those that defined it for them. I was of course set with innate knowledge and experience and given power with irrational brain resources. My heart had plenty of stitches and I gave many to others. But I could not find peace in a single person. My ideas of life, love, and the world that I wanted to exist in felt unattainable. Having the whole picture felt like an impossible task. I went on a mission for my church in Washington, where I happily got my rain and clouds. Spending eighteen months dedicated to serving others and not yourself is a mind-opening task. It set me up to find the true roots within and be ready to insult my future husband Dustin Thompson when he walked through the door. I am as plain as I want to be. I have three crazy children to help fuel my life and since have received my Bachelors Degree in business management, UOP. But most of all I have tapped back into my imagination, pushed aside all rationality, and finished one of my best thoughts so far. Every day I continue to face my vulnerabilities.

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Buy the book at Amazon The Dark Eve will be $0.99 during the tour. The sequel to this book series is also available. The second book is called “The Dark Eve: A Witch’s Curse”.

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In the Tower of the Wizard King by Michelle Miles – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Michelle will be awarding a digital copy of In the Tower of the Wizard King via Smashwords to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

MediaKit_BookCover_InTheTowerOfTheWizardKingIn the Age of Wizards, Time is a commodity more valuable than gold. When Aoife (EE-fa) stumbles upon an antique trunk in the attic, it calls to her with an ancient magic. Inside she finds a stairway leading into darkness and cannot resist stepping onto that first stair. It leads her to dark truths her mother never wanted her to uncover and love so powerful she walks through time to save it.

Her magic is dormant.

When Aoife Burke rushes home after the unexpected death of her father, she discovers her mother has vanished amidst inexplicable circumstances. She returns to her childhood home to search for clues of her mother’s whereabouts but another shock awaits her. Sean O’Connell, the object of her girlhood crush, has purchased the family home. She senses Sean is hiding something from her, refuses to let her inside and does everything he can to keep her out. A determined Aoife breaks inside and stumbles upon an antique trunk in the attic. When she opens it, instead of the normal musty clothes and ancient letters, she finds a stairway leading into darkness. It calls to her and she cannot resist stepping into the trunk and onto that first stair where it leads her to magical truths her mother never wanted her to discover.

His magic is dangerous.

Sean O’Connell has been assigned by the Inter-dimensional Portal Protection Agency to keep Aoife and her mother out of Faery. But when she breaks into the house and disappears through the portal in the trunk—like her mother—he has no choice but to follow her, even though stepping into Faery will force him to face his past. Keeping her safe and out of the hands of the Wizard King also becomes a fight to save Aoife’s life from her own mother, who has discovered a time portal in Faery leading her back in time to alter her past mistakes, putting Aoife’s life in peril. Sean is willing to do anything to make sure she’s safe. Even if it means he has to tap into his dangerous magic to do it.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt:

She lifted her hands, ready to place them on the orb but before she could, men materialized all around them. Men that were royal guards. And one man in particular who appeared next to Fiona and clasped her wrists, pulling her away. She shrieked in frustration.

He was tall with pale blond hair and the coolest blue eyes Aoife had ever seen. His chiseled jaw was set with solid resolve as he clamped his arms around her mother and dragged her away from the still humming sphere.

“Let me go, Niall!”

“I know what you mean to do, Fiona, and I’ll not let you. You cannot erase what we had together. You cannot erase our child.”

“Aw, shit,” Sean said under his breath.

Comprehension smashed into Aoife with such force, she took a quick sharp breath.

Fiona struggled against him, trying to wiggle her way free and kicking her feet. But the man, Niall, held tight. He was stronger than she and Aoife couldn’t help but stare in awe at the two of them. Seeing her mother fight like a wild cat was unlike anything she had ever witnessed.

Aoife moved closer to Sean and slipped her hand in his. “What’s happening? Who is that man?”

Sean expelled a breath as though he’d been deflated. “That’s the Wizard King. We are so screwed.”

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_InTheTowerOfTheWizardKingMichelle Miles grew up in North Central Texas in a rodeo town but was far more interested in nerdy things like Star Trek and Star Wars. She started writing fan fiction in high school. When being an archeologist like Indiana Jones or a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader didn’t work out, she decided writing was her gig and has wanted to write her own stories ever since.

Her love of romance started when she picked up Victoria Holt and Daphne du Maurier and was immediately smitten with the genre. But she also found another love in the fantasies of Patricia A. McKillip and Anne McCaffrey. Since she couldn’t decide which genre to pick—and because she’s a true Gemini—she decided it would be super fun to write contemporary and fantasy romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and has served on the board of several chapters as president and treasurer.

In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, reading, cross-stitching and watching movies. A Native Texan, she loves castle, dragons, fairies and elves and is an avid Game of Thrones fan. She can be found online at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.

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Soulless by Jacinta Maree – Spotlight and Giveaway

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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.

MediaKit_BookCover_SoullessWelcome to Soulless.
We are the generation that laughs at death.

Reincarnation; what was once considered a gift of immortality has become an eternity of nightmares.

Nadia Richards lives in a world plagued by reincarnation, a system of recycling souls where all past memories, personalities and traumatic events are relived daily in disjointed sequences. Trapped within their own warped realities, not even the richest and most powerful are saved from their own minds unraveling. Madness is the new human nature, and civilizations are crumpling beneath themselves trying to outrun it.

Within a society that ignores death, Nadia appears to be the one exception to the reincarnation trap. Born without any reincarnated memories and with printless eyes, the hot tempered 19 year old quickly becomes the ultimate prize to all those wishing to end the vicious cycle, or for some, to ensure they could evade death forever.

Readers discretion: Adult language, violence and some adult scenes. For mature audiences only.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

His top lip curled, as it always did in his half smile. “I can’t stop thinking about it.”

“About what?”

In his hands, he fiddled with the hunting knife. “You.” He twisted the blade and flicked out, clearing the dirt under his nails. “You were going to leave me. You said it was better this way, for the both of us.” The rasp of his accusing voice felt like a guillotine above my neck.

I uncomfortably shuffled back but didn’t speak.

“You were right. Your life without me would be better. Easier. Safer.” Every word strained from his lips as though he was pushing air from the pit of his stomach. My eyes widened and my heart picked up speed. Diesel lightly shook his head. “But this isn’t about making things easier. You’re with me now and you won’t leave no matter how hard it gets.”

“That’s not for you to decide,” I said with a cringe.

“Because if you leave me—”

With an anguished sign, I turned my head away. “Let me guess, you’ll always find me? And if I try to run you will break my legs and chop off my fingers and remove my eyes-”

“No. If you leave me, I will vanish… and I don’t want to vanish, Nadia.”

Surprised, my jaw went slack. Without even blinking, Diesel stilled his fumbling and tightened his stare, looking at me in a way I felt penetrated to my very core.

“You don’t know what it’s like living in this hell. I’m drowning under black water and I can never surface. You remember what it feels like to have your body shut down only to wake up not knowing which reality is real. It would’ve been easier to fade into a drifter, to stop the fight all together and just crumple into the purest of insanities. In my darkest moments I almost allowed it to happen, but then I met you. The girl with no reincarnated memories. The one without a soul imprint. It’s you, and only you, who can save me. But then you came into my room with that story about how everything would be better if we were separated. You left me tied to a bed, and for hours I thought I had lost you. Do you know how that feels? To have everything you’ve ever wanted just walk out? I came to realise just how dangerous you are to me. Just how easily you can break me in half. That’s why I can’t let you leave.”

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_SoullessBorn in Melbourne Australia, Jacinta Maree considers herself a chocoholic with an obsession with dragons, video gaming and Japan. She writes a variety of genres including YA paranormal, steampunk, horror, new adult, dystopian and fantasy. Winner of 2014 Horror of the year and bestselling author, Jacinta writes to bring enjoyment to others while fulfilling her own need to explore the weird and the impossible.

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What is Alternate History? by R.F. Dunham – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

What is alternate history?
When people ask me about my book the first question is usually something like, “What’s your book about?” or “What kind of book is it?”

To which I always answer, “Well, it’s an alternate history.”

The common response to that is something like a blank stare. Maybe a polite nod.

I typically follow up my answer with a question: “Do you know about alternate history?”

A few are brave enough to say, “No.” Most say the same thing with less precise language. Something along the lines of, “A little bit,” “Kind of,” or even, “Yes. But what is it again?”

Needless to say, I’ve found myself explaining alternate history quite a few times over the last few months and I thought I’d share some of that here with you.

Alternate history is a very broad genre. Particularly considering the fact that it’s basically a small sci-fi niche. Some of it looks a lot like historical fiction (see my current work in progress, The Other Side of Unity for an example), some could easily be mistaken for traditional science fiction (such as Lest Darkness Fall), some is steampunk (check out Jeff Provine’s Hellfire), and some is contemporary in its setting (like The Other Side of Hope). The genre allows for action, adventure, romance, thriller, drama, or anything else you want to include. For this reason, it has the potential to appeal to practically every reader on the planet. You could say there is an alternate history for everyone.

So what the heck is it?

The basic idea behind the genre, the unifying factor that connects all of those types of alternate history, is that some event in the past has been changed. History has been changed to create a timeline that is alternative to the one we live in. Sometimes it’s a big change, sometimes it’s small. It’s common to change the outcome of a major battle or war. Especially common is the good old, “What if the Nazis won WWII?” story. My book, The Other Side of Hope, changes the outcome of the Battle of Tours. But other things can be changed, too. In Hellfire, it’s the technology that’s different and the invention of the Newton Catalyst is what separates the alternate world from the real one.

Once you’ve got that change, known to alternate historians as the point of divergence, you project the effects forward in time to create the alternate world. In Phillip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, the point of divergence is that Germany won WWII (it’s common for a reason!) and the projected effect is an America split at the Rocky Mountains into German and Japanese controlled states. In The Other Side of Hope, the POD is the Battle of Tours and the effect is a world where Islam, not Christianity, is the dominant religion.

That’s really all you need for an alternate history. A point of divergence and its projected impact. From there, the possibilities and the variables are endless. Because, in essence, describing a story as “alternate history” is only describing the way the world came to be. Once that world is created, the writer is free to fill it with any story he chooses. It might be about what happens immediately after the change, or a few decades later, or a thousand years later. It might be an action-packed adventure, a steamy romance, a tense thriller, or an enthralling drama. All of those elements are embellishments on the alternate history foundation.

I hope this has sparked some interest in alternate history and maybe it will even open up a whole new genre you would never have considered before. It’s definitely a growing niche (thanks to Amazon’s TV series based on The Man in the High Castle) with lots to discover. If you want a place to get started, I’d recommend taking a look at Inklings Press and their new Tales From Alternate Earths anthology. It’s a great way to get eight alternate history stories all at once!

MediaKit_BookCover_TheOtherSideOfHopeIn 732 A.D., the Frankish and Burgundian forces led by Charles Martel defeated an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi and halted the Muslim advance into Christian Europe. At least, that’s what happened in the world as you know it.

Step into the world of The Other Side of Hope, where the world as you know it is turned on its head. A world where Charles Martel fell on that field south of Tours, France and was never given his nickname, “The Hammer.” A world where Europe came under Muslim rule and Christianity was eventually forced to flee to the shores of a distant land in search of religious freedom. A land where, without support from European colonial powers, they found only conflict and poverty.

In the modern day, this world remains divided. The wealthy Muslim East and the poverty-stricken Christian West are constantly at odds. A single spark is all it takes to ignite fresh conflict and the cycle seems never-ending.

Follow the paths of Ethan Lewis and Hamid Damir as they are put on a collision course with the other side. Will they find hope for a brighter future or be lost in the despair of intractable conflict?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The path to Elisa’s house was one Ethan had walked often. One he took every Sunday afternoon after church and sometimes other days as well. Since it was Sunday, all the shops were closed. Church had only just let out and most of the people in the town of Cayuga would be at home having lunch with their families now.

Most, but not all, Ethan saw.

A large crowd had gathered up ahead and he would have no choice but to elbow his way through once he reached it. The crowd was loud and raucous, enraptured by the words of a single man standing on a low roof above them. The man wore the loose fitting, layered clothing common to all in Lachlond and the closer Ethan got, the more clear the speaker’s voice became.

“The time of our oppression is drawing to a close. Our deliverer is coming soon. He will ride on the clouds with his name marked on his thigh to bring the judgment of God down on our enemies. He is calling. Our deliverer is calling you! Will you answer his call? Will you stand with him and wear his mark? He is calling you to cast off the chains that hold you down, to rise above the fear that holds you back, and strike back at the enemy that defies His name!”

Ethan had to fight the urge to cover his ears against the cheers of approval. He reached the crowd and pushed his way in. He wasn’t a large man, but he’d always been stronger than his average build implied. Still, it was a struggle to shove his way through the thick press.

“He did not come to bring peace, but a sword, and that sword will overcome the power of our enemy and bring freedom!”

The words grated on Ethan’s ears. They were all too familiar. The same words that had drawn his father into battle ten years ago. A battle he had never returned from.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_TheOtherSideOfHopeR.F. Dunham writes with one purpose: to take you places you’ve never been before. That might be a distant fantasy land, the far reaches of space, the future of earth, or simply to an idea you’ve never encountered. A student of language and culture, Dunham’s stories will pull you into complex worlds that challenge your perception of your own surroundings.

After working for over two years as a professional ghostwriter, the time has finally come for him to release his first full-length novel published in his own name, The Other Side of Hope. His short story, “Just a Drop,” was recently published in Nebula Rift Science Fiction magazine and an interactive version of the story is currently in beta testing. When he’s not writing, R.F. can be found playing the trumpet, writing his thesis in Arabic linguistics, or hiking in the mountains of Virginia.

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LASR Anniversary: R.J.Hore

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This post is part of Long and Short Review’s 9th Anniversary Celebration. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $100 gift card or other prizes.

Summertime, and the Living is Queasy

Summers tend to be short and hectic here. By mid-July I still don’t have the boat in the water, the garden is turning into a major jungle threatening to hide the house, and I haven’t had the top down on my car in a week or more.

This morning the contractor came to give me his expert opinion on why the basement has water in one of the carpeted spare bedrooms. This afternoon I have an eye exam to see how well my sight is holding up.

And the large demanding cat got me up at 5:15am this morning to inform me he decided he wanted to sit outside in the screened-in porch and watch the world go by.

While doing the walkabout with the contractor I noticed the pump on the fish pond seems close to being completely plugged. This is probably due to all that recent activity in there. I suspect we have two males and one female who have become extremely lively lately. That probably means when I empty the pond in the fall I’m going to have to use a screen and watch out for small fry again. We already have two babysitting tanks inside. Somehow I thought fish would be the answer to keep mosquitos from using the pond as a nursery. I’m still not certain how well that is working.

But I’m a writer, and all this should be grist for my mill, except I’m working on an epic project which has nothing to do with summer. While I crack the 70,000 word mark I keep wondering if my editor is going to scream and throw this back at me. I’m supposed to be finishing off a trilogy with a first draft of book three due by the end of August.

Then too, I should be promoting my latest novel, “We’re Not in Kansas.” A near future sci-fi thriller tale about a mother and daughter way in over their heads, it’s a slight departure from my usual fantasy trilogies or my fantasy detective series. I will be on three writer’s panel discussions in mid-August at When Words Collide. Something else I should do some homework for.

I just looked at my watch which decided as of yesterday to slow down. The magnificent piece of technology has lost ten minutes in the last two hours. Where does time go?

Summers seem to be passing by faster now. I remember, years ago, when we putted across county in a Volkswagen camper. There was the daughter who danced on a wasp’s nest, and also got her finger stuck in a tent pole at a remote campsite just before dusk. That raises the embarrassing memory of the woman who found a lost son in a campground, shortly after she returned a couple of lost daughters.

I think I’ll have my second cup of coffee and stare out the window at the things I should be doing today, while remembering summers.

Kansas CoverArchaeologist and single mother Macy and her teenage daughter Tiffany are off to a dangerous part of the world, on a fool-hardy search for traces of an ancient Egyptian cat-goddess, Bastet. What they find is far more than they bargained for: a dangerous dictator, a mysterious police inspector, and a grizzled Indiana Jones look-alike.

You might say the trip takes them right out of this world. Will they get home alive, or simply disappear into very thin air?
Set in the near future, with a blend of thriller and speculative fiction, and a hint of romance.

About the Author: After winning a Canadian Authors national contest with a ghostly tale, Ron connected with Champagne Books of Alberta to complete “The Dark Lady” high fantasy trilogy, followed by “The Queen’s Pawn” trilogy, and his fantasy detective effort represented by a series of seven novellas: “The Housetrap Chronicles.” His latest novel with Champagne, blending modern with Dark Age, is “Alex in Wanderland.”

Ron recently signed on with a second publisher, eTreasures Publishing of Florida. His first novel there is, “We’re Not in Kansas,” a near future thriller. A what-if trilogy, “The Toltec Series,” is nearing completion with the first book due out shortly.

In his spare time he reviews genre novels for an on-line magazine and is a member of several writing groups.
Ron lives in Winnipeg with his understanding wife and a large demanding cat. On rare occasions he escapes to his sailboat on Lake Winnipeg.

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LASR Anniversary: Shakyra Dunn

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This post is part of Long and Short Review’s 9th Anniversary Celebration. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a $100 gift card or other prizes.

FINALITY

I can still remember the scent of gunpowder drifting along the crisp summer air as I gazed out of the window. It was my eighteenth Fourth of July; my last in my hometown before I would take off and go to Houston for college in a month.

I don’t know what provoked me to want to stroll down the Chicago streets to the bridge a few blocks away. But I knew that there was a strong chance that I wouldn’t get to see the sight of the blooming fire-flowers again anytime soon. At least not with my closest friend.

How would I forget the last Fourth of July that I would ever spend with my mother?

The streets had been dully lit to keep from overpowering the fireworks. Popping echoes encircled the entire block. Children dragged their parents along the sidewalks in a frenzy, all to reach the barbeques taking place at the park or the bridge to cross over to the lakeside view of the annual show.

The scene was typical. We had gone through this same situation every year for at least a month after the day itself, listening to fireworks being set off, having to endure laughter late into the evening. But now time was setting in, and those bountiful days of youth were coming to a steady end.

Maybe that had been why I desired to spend one last moment watching the show with her.

The bridge was abundant in noise, and several bodies littered the area like flies. It was too much of a hassle for either of us, so after ten minutes, we ended up walking back. We roamed the local track across the street and spoke of future goals. I would be leaving for college—my mother would finally have the chance to live her own life now that her work was coming to an end, her only child leaving to become an adult and make a place in the world.

Or so we had both wished. It was something neither of us realized would never be upheld.

The night in itself had been simple… but far from then did I realize that such a night would hold such meaning in my memory.

A few more fireworks of that final summer.

Left Behind 3.1Many generations have passed since the Guardians crafted the world of Nimestria, planted underneath the aurora of seven moons. Great power courted even greater enemies. It was a trumpet’s blow heralding the arrival of the Creator. Within the realm of Fracturis, a fleet-footed rogue named Frayle and his best friend Relek journey west when they’re set upon by a man vehemently riding a Behemoth. After a narrow escape, the two continue their route to seek guidance away from a roving band of beings called Savages. The Church before them lies in ruin, but this only belies the true mystery. After unspeakable events unfold before his eyes, Frayle is thrust twenty years in the past to right the wrongs of his splintered time. Wandering the thin lines of fragmented memories, a Time-Jumper named Nova Avery whisks Frayle through the windows of the Phantasm and together they unearth the mystery of the Guardians and the origins of the Creator in the first installment of the series.

About the Author: Shakyra Dunn has been bound with chains to a life of fantasy. What was the crime? She couldn’t stray away from the impression that there is always an adventure down every corner! When she isn’t playing the role of the Creator, she is marching through the worlds of her favorite video game characters or taking drives around her city to see the sights. Born in Chicago, Illinois, she currently resides in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, striving to experience more than the little town.

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LASR Anniversary: Mary Patterson Thornburg

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How to Get Over on a Mango

To me, one of the greatest tastes of summer belongs hands down to a mango – the tropical fruit, that is, not the bell pepper that some folks in the American Midwest inexplicably call “mango.” Mangoes can go in smoothies or be baked in sweet breads, they can top ice cream, or best of all they can be eaten raw. I’d describe their taste as something like a cross between a bright peach and a smooth cantaloupe, with a little extra magic that nothing else but a mango possesses.

But really, how do you get to that taste? No doubt the best way to eat a mango is naked, in the shower, first peeling the thing with a sharp knife and then eating it like an apple right down to the ridiculous seed, at which point you’ll be covered with sticky mango juice and can discard the seed and turn on the shower.

Second best is like this:

1) Buy a ripe but not too ripe mango, about the softness (or firmness) of a ripe but not too ripe avocado. Color doesn’t really matter too much… a little red, more green, works fine. But maybe it’s all green or all red, or even yellow if it’s a “champagne mango.” Color is kind of arbitrary – it’s the feel of not-too-firm firmness when you squeeze it that counts.

2) Get a bowl to catch some juice and the mango pieces. Have the bowl handy.

3) Over the sink, slice off the little stem thingy and then score the peel with a sharp knife in six or seven cuts from top to bottom. Grab one end of each resulting peel section and pull it down and off the fruit, helping it off with that knife if it resists being pulled. Throw away the peel.

4) Holding the naked fruit in one hand, score the fruit itself top to bottom in similar sections, cutting clear down to the seed, which is more or less oval and flat, kind of bulging on two sides and kind of sharp all around the edge. Do this over your bowl, so extra juice can drip into that.

5) Reposition the fruit and score it all around horizontally the same way four or five times, so you end up with the fruit still whole and more or less together but with checker-board type cuts, down to the seed, all over the surface.

6) With knife and fingers, starting just about anywhere, pull and cut the sections of fruit away from the seed and drop them in the bowl. At this point you’ll have a bowl full of pieces, more or less equal in size, and you’ll be holding that big flat seed, still juicy and dripping.

7) Chew and suck on that seed until you’ve got all the fruit you can off it and you’re going “mmmm” with pleasure.

8) Throw away the seed, rinse your hands, wash your face, and do whatever you wish with the pieces of fruit in the bowl – use them in a fruit salad, mix them up in the batter of mango bread, serve them as a sweet garnish with roast pork, toss them in the blender with yogurt and whatever for a smoothie, chop them up and put them in your mango chutney or mango salsa… or just get a spoon and eat them on the spot. Yum!

I’m convinced it wasn’t an apple that Eve fed to Adam to get them kicked out of Eden – it was a mango. And she knew exactly how to peel and cut and serve it. Maybe the serpent whissssspered the instructions to her…

glimmero_200Vivia has guile. Using only the power of her mind, she can make water boil, heal the sick, create illusions, and even transform herself into a bird or a pirate. But guilish folk are considered witches by most people, and that frightens them.

Her first teacher taught her healing arts, and after that she studied with Taso Raym, the most powerful male witch in the land. He taught her many things, and not just guilish skills. Unfortunately, neither Vivia nor Raym could ignore their attraction to each other, and intimacy between them would have meant the end of her guile. So she joined Ladygate, an all-female community, and accepted that love was not for her.

After a while, though, she realizes Ladygate is not where she belongs either. So she accepts the task of investigating the disappearance of a lord’s son, kidnapped, it seems, by the malevolent witch Orath. Her guilish training is not quite complete, and she hopes Raym can help her.

But Raym has also disappeared. Vivia is on her own, with a task to do—one that now touches her heart. She’s almost sure she has the necessary strength and skill…

…unless Raym and Orath are in league with each other?

About the Author:Mary Patterson Thornburg was born in California, grew up in Washington State, moved to Montana when she was 18, and spent many years in Indiana, where she studied and then taught at Ball State University. Her dream was always to write fantasy stories and novels, but she didn’t get started until she and her husband moved back to Montana in 1998. When she’d finished her first story and it was published, she took off running and never looked back. Two of her short stories earned honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (2006, 2008), and “Niam’s Tale,” in the July/August 2010 Cicada, won the SCBWI 2011 Magazine Merit Honor Certificate. Her first fantasy/romance/adventure novel, A Glimmer of Guile, was published by Uncial Press in 2014. Her second book for Uncial, The Kura, came out in April, 2015.

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