6 Must Haves of a Fantasy by Sally Mitchell – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

6 Must haves of every fantasy story

1. A crazy world

A fantasy just wouldn’t be a fantasy without the world to set the scene. I’ve often read about authors struggling with this aspect of fantasy writing but the way I see it, if you have the imagination to create a complex fantasy novel, you have the imagination to create the world too.

I think the easiest way to do this is just let your mind run free. The fantasy genre is limitless and so applies to the world your characters live in. No matter how crazy an idea seems at any given time, just go with it, the chances are it will work.
There were moments when I was creating the world for ‘Eden’, particularly when deciding to light the sky on fire, when I thought can I really get away with that? But people liked that it was so different. I suppose by making the world outlandish, it also makes it stand out from the crowd, which, when selling books is what you want.

2. Diverse characters

The old saying ‘no two people are the same’ also applies to book characters. Nobody enjoys reading a book when each character has the same personality traits or are as boring as watching paint dry. Keep some variety. Try thinking of your nearest and dearest. What unique traits do they have? Multiply their weirdness and attach it to a character.

3. Super natural abilities

Somewhere along the way, every good fantasy needs some super powers thrown into the mix. What’s the point of creating a superb world and character set if they don’t have a stick that turns into a snake or hands that can shoot out scorpions? Every good fantasy I ever remember has some form of abilities in them, be it wizardry or flying, fantasy is the ultimate form of escape and super natural abilities enhance that.

4. An evil overlord

There has to be a strong force of evil in a fantasy novel, somebody who can create a strong emotional response within the reader. This gives them more reason to support the hero and wills them to keep on reading.

5. A turbulent romance

This is just my opinion but a ‘will they/won’t they’ romance always adds some spice to a story in any genre. Sometimes, and again only my opinion, a steady old relationship can grow monotonous after a few chapters. I love it when an author keeps you guessing as it keeps you on your toes.

6. A religious underpinning

I love things that come from a religious background. There’s something so dark and mysterious about religion, especially knowing the lengths people have gone over the centuries in the name of serving some divine entity, that it really grabs my attention and keeps me hooked.

MediaKit_BookCover_EdenWelcome to Mendacia; The city of lies. Saved from a divine apocalypse, its citizens now starve. They are trapped beneath a fire-lit sky and surrounded by a molten river, all to pay for the sins of their ancestors.

The gods cursed the original generation with eternal life so that their skin would rot and their pain would always remind them of their own horrific crimes.

These demons now serve the tyrant emperor, Malum Dolus who uses them to terrorise the citizens, all in the name of maintaining order.

One woman, Vita Dulcas has had enough of his evil ways, but what could she possibly do to help the citizens? They love Malum and hate her, suspecting her of witchcraft after her survival of deadly snake bites. All she can do is stay invisible.
That is until she finds herself backed into a corner and all she can do is fight. Suddenly, she has more power than she could have ever imagined and it becomes clear she is Mendacia’s last hope.

If only she could make the citizens see the truth.

Enjoy an excerpt:

‘But then he turned. Vita jumped with the motion, praying she didn’t look as hopeless as she felt, but as his head turned, his eyed skimmed past the lamb and landed on her own, searing into them as if nothing had ever changed. The darkness behind those beautiful eyes was a harsh reminder now though. A reminder of the awful secret they shared. She remembered looking up lovingly into those eyes – how wrong she had been. How dangerous he truly was. The ignorance of vanity, she thought.’

‘One by one, more of the citizens scaled the walls, marching a slow and silent trail through the remains of the battle, each to pay their own respects to the man who had taken on the demons and given them the hope of freedom.
With a cough, Empress Vesta began to speak from the balcony. ‘This has been a truly terrible day,’ she said. ‘One which will, I’m sure, weigh on our minds and hearts for some time to come. But, I decree that this man deserves a respectable death. Who will carry his body to the palace?’

Nico’s hand shot in the air, his other clasped on his chest. ‘I will.’

‘And me,’ said Kayin, pulling himself to his feet.

‘Me too,’ said the Survivor.

‘Yes,’ said another citizen.

‘Aye,’ said Domine Agil from behind Vesta.

She gazed down to see the sea of her citizens nodding and raising their hands, all eager to pay the man his final respects. She watched her son, the Survivor and Nico haul Theo’s body into the air. Another citizen helped to support his leg and the four of them began a slow exit from the arena, the brave sinner above their shoulders.’

‘Vita let the curtain drop behind her and walked confidently onto the balcony. She held her hands behind her back and stopped in the centre, standing silently for a moment to survey the faces below her. Some, she had seen before, others were strangers. Family men, drunkards, men of high and low standing, young boys and even arthritic old men, all here in an attempt to buy her and take her freedom.

She could feel her heart quickening and for a moment wondered what she was doing. She couldn’t see the Bilo brothers, which gave her cause for relief. A whistle echoed around the yard, followed by an eruption of laughter from the group of her potential husbands. She remained still, letting the sounds wash over her.

‘Just come to give us a taster ‘av yer love?’ She gazed down at the toothless source of torment and waited patiently for the ensuing laughter to die down.

‘Gentlemen,’ she began to speak slowly. ‘I stand before you today with faith. Faith in the goodness in each of you. I see many different faces below me. I see men I have known and respected, hardworking men, family men and loyal men. I see long standing friends of my father, people who I used to feel protected by. I see people who, like me, have suffered in this land. And I wonder if it is fear that makes such good men gather here today? You label me a witch, but you can see my flesh is just as vulnerable as yours. If I am cut I will bleed. I am not the one to fear.’

‘The sound of her mother’s dying scream echoed through Vita’s mind and everything stopped. Time seemed not to exist and with pure clarity only one thought surfaced: they must die. She barely felt the tension of the rusted chain as her wrists snapped the metal, with enough force to send her body backwards.

She watched as the pole splintered clean in two with the impact of the flail, right where her head would have been. The demon panicked and pulled the flail free, bringing it down again towards her. She couldn’t move fast enough this time and her hands came up, palms forward to protect her skull. She waited for the impact.

A few seconds passed and she heard a confused grunt. She dared to open an eye and stared, stunned. Her hands were emitting a sort of white/blue light, bright enough to light up the entire room. She gazed in wonder at the flail which had stopped mere millimetres from her palms and was floating calmly in circles. The demon pulled the weapon, but somehow his efforts were hopeless. The flail was stuck fast. She reached out with lightning reactions, grabbing it from the demon’s rotten hands and she could feel the centuries of cruelty the instrument had yielded. The light vanished, leaving only the darkness once more.’

About the Author:

I was brought up in a small country village in North Yorkshire, UK. I had always been brought up to work hard and to push myself, skills which came in useful for writing the Eighth Day. I suppose it also helped that I’ve always been a huge bookworm with a love of all things fantasy and all things romance. Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favourite.

Granted those genres are miles apart but I find something incredibly romantic about escaping to a world that has been lovingly created by an author. I enjoy trying to connect with them through their imagination, wondering where they were and what they were doing when they developed such magical worlds.

Writing my own novel was the best experience I’ve ever had career wise, and it makes the struggles I have faced in my past careers all worth the while.

After losing my career as a nurse following a car accident, I began a promising psychology career, even winning an award for my undergraduate degree. However, I became a single parent three years ago and sacrificed another dream to set up a laundry and ironing business, which enabled me to be at home with my son.

Despite many commitments, a further relationship breakdown and 3 family bereavements, I was determined to develop a rewarding career and make my little man proud.

That’s when I decided to begin a writing career and I developed the Eden Saga. Such a path enabled me to stay at home and give him all the extra support he needed whilst also having something for myself.

I’m now the happiest I’ve ever been, I’m closer to my son than ever and I’ve finally released my novel as an e-book which is available on all major platforms.

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A Special Excerpt from Fibers by Jennifer-Crystal Johnson – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $10 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.

***

Hi there! I’d like to begin by saying thank you very much for having me and for allowing me to post about my new sci-fi release, Fibers. This is the first book of a trilogy called the Infiltration Trilogy, a story about a mysterious illness, an alternate dimension, and the government’s covert involvement in both.

I won’t lie – I’m feeling a bit out of place on this site because the focus seems to be mostly on romance, at least that’s what the book covers dictate. Just as a full disclosure thing… my novel does have romantic elements in it, but that is not the main focus.

In light of this, I thought the best way to illustrate my novel’s style and for you and your readers to determine if you’ll even like it is by posting a short excerpt =). I invite you to shift your focus to the existential, the real possibility of other dimensions, and the power of the human spirit in the face of incredible challenges, adversity, and seemingly hopeless situations much larger than the self.

“According to superstring theory, there are at least ten dimensions in the universe (M-theory actually suggests that there are 11 dimensions to spacetime; bosonic string theories suggest 26 dimensions).”
Source:http://ultraculture.org/blog/2014/12/16/heres-visual-guide-10-dimensions-reality

If you go through and read this source article and have never researched quantum theory, string theory, or other possible dimensions, be warned – your mind might be blown!

With that said, here’s a short excerpt from my novel.

She sighed as she sat down on the bed, a weird feeling of being watched washing over her. The room was dark, so she couldn’t be sure of anything. Shadows always played weird tricks on her, especially after she’d started seeing moving ones, and she’d asked herself a million times if she was perceiving them more often simply because she thought she’d seen them before. It was a vicious cycle.

Unsure of what else to do, she lay back on her bed and closed her eyes, focusing on her breathing. The feeling of being watched grew stronger as she tried to relax, and a knot began to form in her stomach. The bridge of her nose tickled the way it does when someone is really close but not quite touching it.

She opened her eyes quickly and saw a black shadowy silhouette floating just inches above her. Her eyes widened and she stayed quiet, but fear gripped her with its icy fingers and she felt paralyzed as her breathing became ragged. The shadow above her looked like a face, but not entirely human. Its eyes glowed a dim red and it was staring directly into her eyes. She couldn’t make out any distinct facial features, so she focused on her breathing… and not having a heart attack.

After what seemed like an eternity of being unable to move, Anna squeezed her eyes shut and mumbled, “You’re not real, you’re not real, you’re not real….”

She opened her eyes and there was nothing there.

If any of you are interested in receiving more excerpts directly to your email, please take a moment to sign up for my author newsletter at www.JenniferCrystalJohnson.com =). You’ll receive 12 excerpts you can either read or listen to me read to you on video.

Thank you again so much for your time! I hope you find the story intriguing and pick up a copy of the book to learn more about what Morgelloons disease is, what happens with the shadow people, and who is helping Anna through her strange and mysterious experiences.

MediaKit_BookCover_FibersAnna Reynolds is caught up in the middle of a secret interdimensional government agreement… and she doesn’t even know it.

There’s a medical anomaly loosely dubbed Morgellons disease afflicting a number of people. Symptoms include open sores that produce colorful string-like fibers, fatigue, and nightmarish visions of shadowy figures. No one knows where it came from. No one knows what causes it. There is no cure.

When Anna begins having nightmares and waking hallucinations of the shadow people, her uneasiness about her condition grows. Enlisting the help of her doctor and some friends, Anna is determined to find out what’s really going on and why Morgellons is such a mystery.

With her health declining and doubts about whom she can trust, is Anna doomed to become a slave to her condition? Or will she and her unlikely group of would-be heroes come through, saving her… and, ultimately, the world?

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_FibersJennifer-Crystal Johnson is originally from Germany, but was raised an Army brat. She has published one novella under her former last name, The Outside Girl: Perception is Reality (Publish America, 2005 – out of print as of 2013), a poetry book, Napkin Poetry (Broken Publications, 2010), and a collection of poetry, art, and prose called Strangers with Familiar Faces (Broken Publications, 2011). She’s also published a collection of short creature horror stories called If You’re Human Don’t Open the Door (Broken Publications, 2012), a personal development book called The Ten Pillars of a Happy Relationship (Broken Publications, 2014), and a collection of more horror stories (no creatures this time, just people) called Our Capacity for Evil (Broken Publications, 2015). She has several poems and short stories published on Every Writer’s Resource and has recently published a science fiction novel called Fibers, the first book in the Infiltration Trilogy. Jen owns and operates Broken Publications (www.BrokenPublications.com) and publishes an annual anthology to raise awareness about domestic violence called Soul Vomit (www.SoulVomit.com). When she isn’t writing or editing, she enjoys playing games with her three kids, watching crime shows on Netflix, or reading. She lives in WA State with her three children, three cats, and a crazy puppy named Thor.

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Why Fantasy? 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.

Why Fantasy?

Every so often, people ask me why I write fantasy. I’m a biologist by trade, and as a reader, I’m most drawn to historical fiction and history. While I’ve read many classics in fantasy and science fiction, it’s fair to say I didn’t really know the genre I was getting into when I started The Silver Web.

While I was working on the first book, Eolyn, my answer to the question, “Why fantasy?” was fairly straightforward: I wrote a fantasy novel because I wanted to tell the story of Eolyn, a character who lives in a fantasy world.

I sensed there might be something universal in Eolyn’s struggle to define her own path in the face of oppression and persecution. I thought many people might relate to this woman’s journey, even if it were set in an imaginary, feudal realm.

The earliest scenes from Eolyn date back to my college years, when day dreams and fantasy gave me a break from the rigors of studying. I didn’t have names for the characters, or a story outline, or anything written down for that matter. But I knew Eolyn would lose her family to a violent fate, unleashed by her mother’s treason. I also knew Eolyn would be a gifted maga in a world where magic was forbidden to women, and that her nemesis – the Mage King – would, through some trick of destiny, also become her closest friend, perhaps even her lover.

Years would pass before the threads of this story coalesced into a novel, the first of three, as it would turn out. As a matter of fact, I originally wrote Eolyn as a stand-alone, with no real intention of developing sequels. How that stand-alone morphed into a trilogy is a tale for another day; but now that I have three fantasy novels under my belt, I can look back on that original question, “Why fantasy?” and offer another answer:

Fantasy is a never-ending journey that I have come to love.

There are tropes and guidelines in fantasy, but no hard-and-fast rules. Because of this, every story brings something entirely unexpected. At times, I’m carried to places I never thought my imagination could go. Those places might be scary, but mostly they’re beautiful and compelling. As an author, I love the sense of adventure, the uncharted territory of every scene. I never know what I might find around the next bend, behind that other door. Who could say no to this realm of constant discovery? I know I can’t. Not anymore. My first set of novels may be finished, but the adventure has only just begun.

MediaKit_BookCover_EolynIn a land ravaged by civil war, the Mage King Kedehen initiates a ruthless purge of the magas. Eolyn, last daughter of the magas and sole heiress to their forbidden craft, seeks refuge in the South Woods.

When she meets the mysterious Akmael, heir to the throne of this violent realm, she embarks on a path of hope, seduction, betrayal, and war. Desire draws Eolyn toward Akmael’s dark embrace, but fate binds her to Corey of East Selen, a cunning mage whose ambition challenges the limits of love and loyalty.

Can she trust either man?

Hunted in a realm of powerful wizards and brutal deceptions, Eolyn must find her own path to freedom or she will burn on the pyre.

“Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes, with a romantic thread.” -Publishers Weekly

Enjoy an excerpt:

Mage Corey closed the distance between them. His magic spread in a hush through fallen leaves, surrounding Eolyn, cutting off all retreat, and daring her to defend herself with a counter spell. He stopped just in front of her, his face a breath away.

“Sometimes I like to imagine you and I live in a world where we do not feel compelled to keep secrets from each other,” he murmured.

Eolyn’s throat went dry.

“Indulge me in this fantasy and tell me: Why do you desire to go to the King’s City?”

Eolyn willed her eyes to remain steady on his. “It is a child’s wish. I had a friend growing up. I believe he lives there. I wish to find him. That is all.”

Mage Corey studied her a moment. Then he stepped away and continued his walk. The autumn earth released Eolyn’s feet. She quickened her pace to catch up with him.

“A friend,” Corey asked, his voice a mask of idle curiosity, “or a lover?”

“A friend. We were only children when we knew each other.”

“I see. I am sorry, Eolyn, but I cannot take you to the city, not because I object to you finding your friend, but because I am averse to leading fawns into nests of vipers. Still…” Corey stopped, his expression thoughtful. “I know many people in the city. If you give me the name of this friend of yours, perhaps I could…”

Eolyn’s expression put a stop to his words.

“I see I am pressing too hard. Very well, Eolyn. We have had a fair exchange: one truth for one truth.” Touching Eolyn’s chin, Corey brought her gaze back to his. “Perhaps we can continue down this path when I return.”

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_EolynKarin 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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How I Handled the Research for Musings of an Earth Angel by Suzanne Adams – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Suzanne Adams will be awarding an autographed copy of Musings of an Earth Angel (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.

How I handled the research of my book

Musings of an Earth Angel was inspired by my story and a lot of things that had happened to me, so the research was exciting and super interesting. I did extensive research on angels, power spots, traveling, life purpose, self love, and spiritual awakenings. All of these things are relevant and fun to me. So I thoroughly enjoyed all of the research. It was sort of like a fun obsession actually. 

I also realized that self love and life purpose are 2 of the major key components to living a life of happiness and fulfillment. I believe as a society we are moving in the right direction and today, more so then ever, people are on a mission to be happy once and for all. I believe that this story can help trigger memories deep in your soul and allow you to connect with the Samantha in a way that will help unlock what your own purpose is and what things you could do in your life to be happier.

The research for my book was also based on so much of my life experience and it was really fun for me to sort of go down memory lane as I was writing different scenes and adventures. The first question people always have for me when they find out the characters were inspired by real life people is, “Well, who is Uncle Bill?”

The short answer is Uncle Bill is based on all of the naysayers in my life, the people that told me I couldn’t and wouldn’t do certain things and then I always managed to do them. Uncle Bill represents a lot of the negativity we all have to face on a daily basis. My hope and my intention is that this story and relating to Uncle Bill will allow people to see that it doesn’t really matter what other people think, all that matters is that you come from a place of true authenticity and that you are living your life for you and seeing people with love and not fear!

MediaKit_BookCover_MusingsOfAnEarthAngel22-year-old Samantha Kingston had the perfect job, perfect boyfriend, and perfect Friday nights. When disaster strikes she loses everything and is propelled into a journey where evil and good, dark and light are battling for her destiny. Will the Demon Brigade viciously destroy her? Or will her Angel team and the Divine help her to elevate and see her real truth as an Earth Angel?

Enjoy an excerpt:

I had heard of being possessed by demons, but I never thought I would be so lucky as to get to have the experience firsthand. Once again, I could feel my body trembling and that strange bitter saliva building in my throat. I needed an exit strategy—and fast. I’d learned to expect and accept crazy episodes, but I had hoped I could at least enjoy Rose’s birthday dinner out with my friends.

Sweat trickled down my forehead, and I pushed my chair away from the dinner table and staggered to my feet. Rose grabbed me by the forearm. She and the others had already enjoyed three bottles of Prosecco; and the night was just getting started at La Lune et La Soleil, the hot new restaurant in midtown.

Rose raised her voice above the clink of glasses and hum of conversation. “Where are you going? Jacob’s just getting to the good part. You gotta listen.”

With sweat now dripping down my cheeks and the back of my neck, I sat back down as Jacob continued with his crazy story. He’d been over served at a party a few weeks ago and jumped into a parked cop car. The keys were somehow still in the ignition, and he drove through town shouting at random people through the car’s megaphone. Then he somehow managed to escape without the local cop tracing him. He’d gotten away scot-free—so far.

The waiter brought over the first course and Ken, a good friend to both Rose and me, proposed another toast. “To the beautiful birthday girl and to another great year of us all having fun together!”

I raised my glass of sparkling water—I could barely stay sane as it was these days and was terrified to think how my body would react to alcohol, at least for now anyway. Woozily, I toasted my dearest friend as best as I could. I fought to keep my eyes from rolling into the back of my head and almost dropped my glass.

“Whoa!” Ken said. “You sure that’s just sparkling water?”

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_MusingsOfAnEarthAngelSuzanne Adams is an author, motivational speaker and Life Purpose consultant from Atlanta this is sharing her zest for life with audiences around the globe. She believes that having fun and following your passion are the keys to finding true happiness and she’s passionate about helping unlock what that means for you.

Suzanne’s purpose is to teach people how to live a life of fulfillment and joy. She does this through teaching you her proven 5 step process to attract happiness and freedom into your life. Her first book, Musings of an Earth Angel, was just published this fall.

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Musical Inspiration – Modern Medieval by August Li – Guest Blog

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes August Li whose newest book The Kitchen Boy was released yesterday.

Musical Inspiration—Modern Medieval

Hello, I’m August (Gus) Li, author of The Kitchen Boy from Dreamspinner Press. Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Today I’m talking about some of my musical inspiration for this and many, many of my books. My musical tastes are pretty eclectic, but I was a bit of a Goth back in the day, and by going to shows and clubs, I was introduced some pretty interesting style juxtapositions. My time working at Renaissance Faires introduced me to more music outside the mainstream. I’ve also been to a lot of pagan festivals and gatherings where I had the opportunity to enjoy music from different cultures that I would probably not have otherwise discovered: Celtic music, music from many different African cultures, indigenous music from all over the world, Middle Eastern music, Japanese…. It’s a long list. While it’s always an awesome experience to see any kind of music performed in its traditional state, I’ve also always enjoyed artists who borrow from different traditions and mix elements to create something new.

At the festivals I attended—and I’ve been attending them since I’ve been pretty young—there were always drums. People drummed all day and all night, and you could always hear the drums in the background. I got used to falling asleep hearing them, and after a longer festival, I noticed their absence when I left. It’s probably part of the reason I like music with a beat, why I gravitated more toward the industrial side of Goth music.

I’m also a fantasist—a great lover of creating fantasy and exploring the creations of others. Like many fantasy enthusiasts, I have more than a passing interest in history, and the medieval period is sort of the default (but certainly not the only) starting point for lots of fantasy worlds. I won’t get into the disparity between actual medieval life and the romanticized version many fantasy creators use; that’s a whole different post. But medieval and Renaissance music is beautiful. Gregorian chant is hauntingly beautiful, but it’s also somber—no beat.

I used to have a CD that was Gregorian chant with a sort of industrial beat to it. This was a while ago, and I don’t even remember what it was called, but it was the best thing. It’s uncanny how easily these seemingly opposite musical styles mix and how amazing a result is produced. For years now, one of my favorite genres of music has been what I call “Modern Medieval.” Here are some examples, though this is by no means an exhaustive list. Some of the best places to find artists performing in this style are Renn Faires and pagan festivals.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Qntal. Qntal is an electro-medieval band who draw most of their lyrics from historical source material, and perform in Latin, medieval Germanic, and various other languages. Gorgeous, gorgeous vocals.

Faun. Faun plays pagan folk and medieval music infused with industrial beats that sometimes veers toward metal. They also draw heavily on historical material and perform in a variety of languages. They play traditional instruments and have a large number of musicians and vocalists in the band. If you ever get the chance to see them perform live, it’s an extraordinary experience.

Mediaeval Baebes. An all-female vocal ensemble performing from medieval texts set to original scores, played on authentic medieval instruments and performed in a variety of ancient and obscure languages. It’s really like hearing angels sing.

Any other neo-medieval fans out there? This is a small genre, and I would love to see some recommendations.

Other sources for modern, medieval-inspired music are scores from games like Dragon Age and The Elder Scrolls, or soundtracks from movies. What are your favorite places to find new music? What are your go-to bands for inspiration when reading or writing?

So that’s some of the music that inspired me, and here’s more information on the book.

4_5 augusta li KitchenBoyLGKitchen servant Yoli is one of only three men who know a carefully guarded secret about High Commander Koehen, the brilliant general who united their lands against a common invader. The enemy wants that secret, and they are willing to use either kindness or cruelty to obtain it.

Yoli must decide if his loyalties lie with the commander, who has shown him more affection than anyone in Yoli’s life, or with his own best interests. High Commander Koehen’s attention is capricious at best—he summons Yoli only when it is convenient for him, and Yoli knows there’s little hope of a future together. Is a glimmer of a hope for love worth sacrificing a chance for prosperity beyond his wildest dreams?

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Advice to New Writers – Stop Singing in the Basement! by Tabitha Lord – Guest Blog and Giveaway


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

Advice to New Writers – Stop Singing in the Basement!

My husband is full of great one-liners. When I finished the draft of my first manuscript, and whipped it into the best shape I could without outside help, he said, “Honey, it’s time to stop singing in the basement and get booed on stage.” He’s also a musician, so his comment had a ring of authenticity in addition to the sarcasm.

I’d just finished an intense round of edits – not a kill the adverbs and spell-check kind of edit, but a cut out 10,000 words of text and re-work entire scenes kind of edit. It was exhausting and necessary. It took a few months and a lot of metaphorical kicking and screaming. But I had a better manuscript, one that was not finished yet, but one which I could stand behind as “good” work.

And then it was time to let people see it – people beyond my dad and best friend. People who would give me honest feedback. Truly, I probably hovered over the send button for an hour.

I knew not everyone would like it. For one thing, it’s science fiction. My mom doesn’t even like science fiction. She got halfway through and said, “I think it’s good, but I got confused by all those different planets.” I started a glossary for her hoping that would help. But seriously, I knew it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste. And still…

Any artist in any field understands that to share our work is to be vulnerable. We’ve risked opening our hearts to strangers – with words, in images, with a paintbrush, on a stage. We’ve put something of our private self out into the world. Even my story, full of spaceships and evil villains, has some of the real “me” in it. People who know me well will recognize those pieces.

A friend recently asked if I am more or less critical of other writing now that I write. And honestly, I’m both. Because I continue to work diligently to improve my own skills, I’m acutely aware when someone else’s are lacking. And I don’t like every book I read. BUT, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the energy and effort it took to write that book, and the spirit it took to put it out there. So when someone asks me for a critique, I always say that part first.

The writing community is extremely supportive of one another. I think it’s because we’re all in a similar space. We’re all vulnerable. We’ve all felt the sting of rejection or of a careless, biting comment. Our moms might not even like our work. So why do it?

Because we love it. Because it is uniquely human to create art. Because it is immensely satisfying to touch another person’s soul with something we’ve made. And because the world needs its painters, storytellers, sculptors, photographers, musicians, dancers, and actors. We need them not just to entertain us, but because the mere fact that they exist at all says something powerful about being human.

I don’t write my books so only I will read them. I write to share. I write so that someone, somewhere will curl up under a blanket for a few hours and lose themselves in a good story. I write because I love to.

I’m willing to risk feeling vulnerable to do something I love. It’s uncomfortable, but I know most of my personal growth has taken place when I’ve been uncomfortable. Discomfort makes me stretch. So, I stopped singing in my basement and got on the stage. See you there?

Caeli Crys isn’t living—she’s surviving. On the run after the genocide of her empathic people, she witnesses a spaceship crash near her hidden camp. When she feels the injured pilot suffering from miles away, she can’t help but risk discovery to save his life.

Commander Derek Markham awakens stranded on an uncharted planet. His co-pilot is dead, his ship is in ruins, and he’s only alive because a beautiful young woman is healing him with her mind.

As Derek recovers, Caeli shares the horror of her past and her fear for the future. When Derek’s command ship, Horizon, sends rescue, Derek convinces Caeli to leave with him. But his world is as treacherous as hers—full of spies, interplanetary terrorist plots, and political intrigue. Soon the Horizon team is racing to defend an outlying planet from a deadly enemy, and Caeli’s unique skills may just give them the edge they need to save it.

Enjoy an excerpt:

She felt them before she heard them. The sudden wave of panic gripped Caeli so fiercely that she fell to her knees. Sweat beaded on her forehead and her body shook with another person’s cold fear. We’re losing altitude. I can’t keep her nose up. Time is running out. A voice echoed in her head, frantic. The words were strange and foreign, but she felt their intent.

A ship pierced the white clouds overhead. Frozen in place, Caeli tracked it streaking across the sky, her consciousness now fully merged with one of the desperate occupants onboard. Her breath came in short, gasping bursts. Seconds later a shattering pain exploded through her body and she screamed. The ground shook violently beneath her, and then nothing.

About the Author:

Tabitha currently lives in Rhode Island, a few towns away from where she grew up. She is married, has four great kids, a spoiled Ragdoll cat, and lovable black lab. The house is noisy and the dinner table full! She holds a degree in Classics from College of the Holy Cross and taught Latin for years at a small, independent Waldorf school. She also worked in the admissions office there before turning her attention to full-time writing.

You can visit her blog at www.tabithalordauthor.com where she posts author interviews, hosts guest bloggers, and discusses some favorite topics including parenting and her writing journey. Horizon is her first novel.

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Mortal Thoughts by TJ Park – Guest Post and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions.
The author will be awarding an eCopy of Mortal Thoughts to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

THE SHORT SHIFTY: SOME BRIEF NOTES ON AGENTS – by TJ Park

Writers inhabit their characters – that’s what they say anyway – so today this writer is briefly going to inhabit the role of a literary agent. Let’s call him Shifty.

Why does Shifty read some submissions and not others? Why does Shifty sign up some new writers and not others? Why does Shifty fire some writers off his books and retain others? The answer is obvious: Shifty is an art lover who wants to surround himself in artists – his favorite artists are the ones who get discovered 50 years after they die in poverty. That’s a literary device by the way called sarcasm. Shifty, in fact, is not interested in art. Oh, he can fake it when required, gush when needed, but Shifty isn’t in the business of art, he’s in the business of business, and for you to get even a minute of Shifty’s attention you have to bring more to the table than a fetish for posthumous fame. You have to bring to the table the promise of making Shifty money. Sure Shifty loves money. It’s all he thinks about. He would marry and make love to money all day long if he could but aside from a romantic and sexual love of money, it’s also a practical necessity for Shifty. Rent must be paid. Depressed employees must be paid. Money goes out so it must come back in and that’s where you come in – or don’t. When a submission for representation comes in, Shifty isn’t looking for a fresh, new and uncompromising voice – nope, he’s looking at your potential as an artist to pay his rent, pay for the stationary and the fumigation job he needs to do soon because of the vermin (roaches and playwrights). So be honest – ask yourself if your work can help Shifty become the slum landlord he’s always wanted to be. Can he turn your “voice” into a holiday at Bora Bora in one of those chalets right on the water? Because these are Shifty’s criteria for taking on a new client. The truth is you cost Shifty money. As soon as he signs you up money is being invested. It doesn’t matter if it’s a few phone calls, a review of a contract – it all adds up. Shifty will swallow those costs for a while – sometimes a long while – but someday Shifty needs to make good on his investment. Shifty wants his pay day and then he wants another pay day. And if these pay days ever stop – if the return on his investment ever ceases for a span of time that makes Shifty think that the money tree has died then what was once represented can easily be unrepresented. I want to shrug off Shifty now and have a shower but Shifty has revealed his heart to us.

I hope this short article helps on your journey to find and keep your own Shifty agent.

MediaKit_BookCover_MortalThoughtsThe heist is cursed from the start. Doug Mulcahy and his gang hijack a mining plane and a fortune in black opals – gemstones with a rep for being unlucky. Following a brutal shootout on a remote airfield, the hijackers flee in the crippled plane only to crash-land soon after. Shaken and battered, they stagger through the outback until they stumble upon a strange little house and an ethereal woman. Taking the woman hostage, the thieves wait for her husband to return with his truck. But it all goes to hell when a rogue gang member forces himself onto the woman. The house is drenched with blood, the husband returns, and the men realise nothing in this place is as it seems. And the horrors are only just beginning…

Enjoy an excerpt:

Doug Mulcahy always wanted another smoke before he’d finished the last one, more to feel a cigarette between his lips than nicotine in his lungs. An oral fixation, his ex-wife used to call it, usually earning herself a smack. The only oral fixation he ever admitted to suffering was how to shut her smart mouth.

Gripping the wheel with both hands, searching for the turn, he saw a black snake standing on its tail in the distance down the road, swaying like a charmer’s trick in the midday rising heat.

Getting closer, the snake became a pair of black, stretch denim jeans, long blonde hair, a backpack – and the potential for female company. But then sharper focus revealed scrawny shoulders wider than the hips, a lack of arse and an unfeminine stride.

The snake stuck out a thumb.

“Good fucking luck,” growled the man seated beside Doug.

The truck didn’t slow. In the rear-view Doug saw the hitchhiker hawk and spit in their direction, never breaking stride.

Enjoy the walk, smartarse.

A sign ahead showed their destination writ large in faded letters: Mirribindi Aerodrome. As Doug slowed for the turn, an oncoming white Ford Falcon hurtled past back toward town. Sporting an ostentatious bullbar and radio antennas like fishing poles, it was the kind of vehicle endemic in country areas, favoured by the landed gentry. Its tyres kicked up a stone which cracked hard against Doug’s windscreen.

Doug thought he disguised his reaction, but his passenger chuckled.

Prick.

Both knew he’d never enjoyed the loud, sudden bangs that punctuated their line of work.

About the Author: TJ Park is an Australian novelist and screenwriter. He was raised on a steady diet of Stephen King novels, British science-fiction television, and the cinema of John Carpenter and Sergio Leone. Not much else is known about him. That’s just the way he likes it.

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Reading In by Tam MacNeil – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Tam MacNeil, whose latest book Salt and Iron, has just been released.

*****

A few years ago, I picked up a book on American folklore by Bill Ellis. I’m not sure why. It actually took some doing to lay my hands on it.

I had seen his name in an article on the folkways of homeless kids in Miami and looked him up on Wikipedia. Turns out Bill Ellis was something of a legend in the field of American folklore. Naturally, I went poking about to see if I could get a book of his to read. Unfortunately, they were all outrageously expensive. Plus, I’m Canadian, and most of the sellers were in the US. The Canadian dollar hasn’t been particularly strong against the US Greenback (especially lately!) so buying the books was out of the question.

If there’s nothing else to know about me, know this: I’m stubborn. I wanted those books, and to heck with this “can’t have them” thing. I got hunting. Happily, my local library is nothing short of amazing. They interlibrary loaned the books for me – one came all the way from Baton Rouge – and on a sunny September afternoon I went out onto the balcony and cracked the first one open.

American folklore is unique, even in the context of North America. Sure, we share some of the stories across the border (tales of phantom hitchhikers and hook-hands left dangling from car doors, for example) but many of the stories I encountered in Ellis’s books were uniquely American.

One of my favourite and, as far as I can tell uniquely American folkways is the practice of “reading in” or “reading out”. For those of you like me, who don’t know what those things mean but are curious, this is it: Books make pictures in your head. They change how we think, and what we think about. Like the old Internet meme says, You cannot unseen what you have seen.

“Reading in” is when someone encounters a book that possesses or obsesses them. In the context of folklore, that’s always a negative thing. In the same way some people blame heavy metal or movies for their actions when they have to make a statement before a court, in some places it’s culturally reasonable to blame a book. Happily, for those who do feel they’ve been “read in” there’s a cure. Someone with sufficient skill can read you back out. Maybe it won’t make you unsee what you’ve seen, but it’s supposed to stop you obsessing about it.

There have been a few books I’ve become genuinely obsessed with. I have my Desert Island Three (Once and Future King, Trickster Makes This World, and the entire run of the Fraction/Aja Hawkeye comics, in case you’re curious) but I never became quite so enraptured of a set of books as I did with Bill Ellis’s curious little tomes. So obsessed, in fact, that the only way for me to shake the obsession was to write in a world where some of those folk traditions are the literal truth. Basically, I got read in, and there was nobody to read me out again. So I wrote a book instead. I’m starting a new folkloric tradition, unique to Vancouver Island. Get read in, write yourself out.

3_9 SaltAndIron_postcard_front_DSPJames van Helsing is the youngest son of the famous monster hunting family — and the family’s big disappointment. He’s falling in love with Gabe Marquez, James’s oldest friend and the son of the family the van Helsings have worked alongside for years. Things get even harder for James when he becomes what he and everyone else despises most — a magic user.

He didn’t mean to evolve into such a despicable person, and he knows using magic is illegal, but there’s nothing he can do about it, no more than he can stop himself from loving Gabe. Just when things can’t seem to get worse, he and Gabe are called to help nab a network of magicians who are changing destiny. Not just any destiny, but the destinies of the van Helsing and the Marquez families. James foresees a terrible fate, one in which monsters emerge from the cracks, along with his dark secret. And that’s when people start to die.

About the Author: I live on an island off the the stormy west coast, where I write stories of magic, mayhem, and the supernatural under the name Tam MacNeil, and sweet, silly, m/m contemporary romance with a side of angst under the name T Neilson. You can find me at Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or, even better (because inside scoop and book giveaways!) you can sign up for my newsletter at Mailchimp. C’mon over and say hi!

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His Master’s Bride by Claudia Herring – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Claudia 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. NOTE: The book is on sale for only $0.99!

MediaKit_BookCover_HisMastersBrideA troubled djinni seduces his master’s young wife, forcing her to make a fateful choice.

The djinni Yasir, imprisoned in an urn by a jealous magician, searches the centuries for his lost love. He finds Lavinia reborn in 1811 England, only to discover she’s his new master’s bride.

Desperate to have her, Yasir spell-casts Lavinia’s husband to forget he is master and give her the urn. When she opens the ancient vessel, Yasir emerges, terrifying in his magnificence yet somehow familiar, but she fails to recognize him. She distrusts this djinni even though his very presence enchants her.

Yasir’s spell is fading. Lavinia’s husband has changed. Now he’s violent as he struggles with returning memories of when he possessed the urn. Lavinia strives to keep the two from encountering one another, while torn between fidelity for her husband and her increasing attraction to the djinni.

Impatient to win Lavinia’s confidence, Yasir must convince her of her true identity so they can reclaim their life together. He dare not reveal a deeper reason: Only with Lavinia can he regain his freedom and exact revenge on the magician who confined him to the urn—

If she does not go mad from the spell to awaken her memories.
If her husband does not escape the djinni’s magic and discover her secret.
If the magician does not find them first.

Enjoy an exclusive excerpt:

Exhausted and exhilarated after the wedding banquet, the dancing, the endless toasts, Lavinia had changed into her French lace nightgown enduring the assistance of her new lady’s maid. With a sly smile, the maid dimmed the oil lamp, and left, closing the door without a sound, leaving Lavinia alone in her new room, in her new manor, trembling in the thin filigreed silk.

The first thought that flitted through her head—she was thankful her courses had come two weeks before, early, thank God—threw her into the confused litany of advice from her girlfriends and nanny about various male body parts and what she was to do upon encountering them. She swallowed hard, envisioning Peter in his cravat, silk shirt, buttoned jacket and trousers. The only flesh she had seen were his hands and face. And that’s not what the advice covered.

The door opened. She whirled around, heart pounding.

“There you are.” Peter strode towards her. “Fleming was supposed to escort you to my rooms, but,” he looked around, “this will do fine. There’s a fire in the hearth. Warm enough?”

All Lavinia could do was nod at this sophisticated, well-favored lord of the manor eyeing her in a most pleasing way. She swayed on her feet and chided herself: She would not faint on her wedding night at the appearance of the man she had loved since she had first seen him.

Peter slipped off his full-length dressing gown.

Lavinia breathed a sigh of relief at his perfectly proper pajamas. He embraced her, his arms cool in the wine-colored silk. She stifled the impulse to wriggle away and stood stiffly, her head whirling.

“Aye, if he hurts you, just bear it, don’t say anything.”

“Kiss him on the lips, then on his chest, that way he can’t grab you and do it too fast.”

“If he asks you to do something, even if it seems . . . ah . . . peculiar. Do it.”

Peter caressed her hair. “I like it loose. You looked beautiful in the tiara, but,” he chuckled, “I’m glad you removed it.”

She laughed. “It almost slipped off before I started down the aisle. Aunt Alice worked a miracle with hairpins and a few twists of wire.”

“Rose would’ve scrambled for it, had it fallen off. She’s had her eye on that tiara since I insisted to mother that you wear it.” Peter ran his hand down her cheek, sending a tingle through her body.

“Your sister doesn’t like me.” Lavinia looked into his eyes, cerulean and sea foam.

“Nonsense. Rose is merely jealous of my love for you. She has always begged every bit of my attention.”

About the Author: Claudia Herring aspired to be a baton twirler when she was five and an archaeologist at thirteen. When she became a graphic designer and an author of fantasy, she decided she’d hit upon the perfect compromise.

As a designer and illustrator she formats the written word around visual art. As a writer she weaves words into stories that form worlds. Her novel, “His Master’s Bride,” a historical fantasy with romantic elements set in Regency England, won first prize in the Houston Writer’s Guild Novel Competition. “Ties of Smoke,” next in “The Djinn Chronicles” series, is in its second draft.

When she’s not delving into the world of the Djinn, Claudia is practicing yoga to go to that hushed space where she imagines and plots her next fantasy novel.

If you like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, or Carol Berg, you’ll love His Master’s Bride.

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Pantser or Outliner by Ben Mariner – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ben Mariner will be awarding a $25 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.

Pantser or Outliner?

The more I get to know other writers the more I’ve come to realize that we are all about categorizing ourselves. One of the most discussed categorization I’ve come across is ‘Are you an outliner or pantser?’ The outliner likes to do just that: outline. They plan their stories out step by step and write based on their plan. The pantsers fly by the seat of their pants. No outlines, just writing.

So am I an outliner or a pantser?

I’m a pantser all the way. For me, it’s really the only way to write. There’s something very freeing about letting a story evolve on its own accord. I have nothing against outlining. Well, that’s not true. I don’t hold it against anyone who wants to outline. It’s just not for me. I’ve tried it, but I felt like it made the story too rigid, the dialogue stiff and unnatural. Like everything was being forced into a box just because I said it should. I much prefer to let my characters do their own thing and see where the story goes from there.

The best part about being a pantser is being surprised by what’s going on. I’ll kind of have an idea of where I want the story to go, but by the time I get there, things have gone completely different and it almost always comes as a shock. On the other side of that, I do tend to forget things. When you fly by the seat of your pants, at least for me, I sometimes have to spend a lot of time going back and checking on things to make sure everything is lining up. Outlining could almost definitely fix that, but I don’t think it’ll ever be enough to make me want to do it.

So if you’re a writer yourself, just remember: have fun! Oh and don’t stoop so low as to use YOLO unless you’re being ironic, and even then do it sparingly.

MediaKit_BookCover_ApocalypseWowJack Winters is in a bit of a pickle. Things started out just fine. He had a decent job and a few friends. Then he met the woman of his dreams. They go out on a date and things go really well. That’s when things go south. The morning after turns out to be a week later and the world went ahead and ended itself while Jack was far away in dreamland. Now he’s awake in a post-apocalyptic world with no family, no job, and worst of all, no girlfriend. Along with his friends and some other random tag-alongs, Jack will journey cross country to find the woman of his dreams against zombies, heavy metal horsemen, pirates, and a power so immense and evil it will put his very soul to the test.

Enjoy an excerpt:

A man who could best be described as homeless was standing in the middle of the merry-go-round as the metal saucer twirled slowly around. His clothes were filthy, and the hair that stuck out the bottom of his tin foil hat was matted and disgusting. In his hands he held a piece of cardboard that was about three feet by three feet with black writing that read: THE END IS NEAR. For some reason, I couldn’t help but stand and watch the man slowly rotate over and over again, reading the sign each time it came around. I found myself wondering three things. First, why was he standing in that abandoned park instead of on a street corner that people other than me frequented, so that he may spread his message? I would think that everyone would like to know that the end – whatever that entailed – was near. Second, why do all homeless doomsday prophets have to be so vague? Don’t they think we’d like a more exact date on when the end would occur? A time, a day…something? And third, just how in the hell does a homeless guy afford markers to make a sign anyway?

I decided to let the more important mysteries of the universe figure themselves out and continued on my way to work. After all, the only apocalypse I cared about was the PlayStation game of the same name starring none other than the incomparable Bruce Willis. Man, that guy rocked my world with his unrelenting machismo. By the way, I’m not gay. I just thought I’d clear that up. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_ApocalypseWowBen Mariner is the author of Apocalypse Wow as well as The Many Lives of Zane Montgomery, which definitely sold some copies to some people. He currently lives in Denver with his wife and animals. He enjoys mozzarella sticks, dunk tanks at carnivals, and solving crime with his psychic powers and best friend/sidekick.

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