The Man from Rome by Dylan James Quarles – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

Rome is a city like no other, protected by a man like no other.
He is the unnamed Immortal, the Man from Rome, and he is under attack.

An agent of his secret order has been murdered, her tongue ripped out, her throat coated in molten silver. The killing is meant to be a message, a warning that old enemies have resurfaced to punish the Man for the sins of his past.

Forced to retaliate, the Man sets in motion a sequence of events which pit an American thief, a Roman policewoman, and a fallen Olympian against one another in all-out war. The streets of Rome become a battleground where the supernatural clash with the mortal, and the Eternal City bears witness to yet another chapter in its storied history of violence.

Vengeance reigns supreme in this, the newest Novel from Dylan James Quarles.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Light filtered in through the painters cloth, becoming diffused and shallow. As if in preparation for a slaughter, the floor was covered in newspaper, and the tables were draped with black plastic. Overhead, the light fixtures had been removed so that their wires dangled in stringy noose-like clumps.

Taking all of this in, Cato let the door swing shut behind him. The latch gave an audible click, and was instantly echoed by the snap of a Zippo lighter. Cato started with surprise and turned. In the far corner of the room, a candle had been lit, casting illumination upon a table laden with food. Already seated and waiting for him, a man in a three-piece chestnut suit smiled through the blue haze of his cigarette.

Cato blinked, and a pair of golden-eyes blinked back at him. Like memory made manifest, the Benefactor’s unmistakable face came into view. Cato gaped.

“But—but—you look—”

Tapping his cigarette into an ashtray, the Benefactor held up a hand for silence. Cato faltered and the words died in his throat.

“Before you finish that sentence,” spoke the Benefactor. “May I interject a simple request?”

Physically shaken by the timbre of the Man’s voice, Cato did all that he could just to nod.

“I can see that you are…disturbed by me, Cato—disturbed by what you see. Yet I beg of you, please refrain from uttering that which I have heard more times than I care to remember. Spare history the doom of repetition.”

About the Author:

Arriving on the scene in 2012 with the publication of The Ruins Of Mars, Dylan James Quarles is one of Amazon’s brightest Kindle Authors.

Using a his signature ability to make scenes come alive in your mind, Quarles immerses the reader in the world of his creation, adding layer upon layer until the narrative plays like a film. Further enriched by unique characters and breath-taking action sequences, his fiction is an ideal blend of entertainment and substance.

Quarles travels often, drawing inspiration for his work from Europe and South East Asia. His newest novel, The Man From Rome, is a direct product of his numerous visits to the Eternal City. Full of on-the-street detail, the novel packs an extra helping of Roman flare for the reader to enjoy!


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Broken Spire by Sue Perkins – Spotlight and Giveaway


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

Ash’s silvery purple hair sets her apart from her peers and at the magic college of Spires a few senior maeven consider her magic to be alien and unsuccessfully try to expel her. Ash feels a compulsive attraction tempting her to enter the broken North Spire. She believes this off limits ruin holds the answer to her origins, but is not willing to take the chance of expulsion from Spires.

Orm, Ash’s equally talented classmate, is determined to support the girl he considers his soulmate, and promises to help her find out the secrets of the North Spire when they reach the end of their third year.

At the end of the first year, Ash nervously waits to see if she will be allowed to continue at Spires, or will she be sent home in disgrace.

Enjoy an Excerpt

This opportunity would shape her future, become a Spires maeven or always remain the outsider. Rupe saw the others looking at her and gave everyone a furious glare. The students quickly looked away and the whispering stopped.

Their journey took several days. Few villages lay on this route, and they did not collect any more students. Instead they made straight for Laktu. As they neared the town the roads became smoother. Paved instead of compressed earth, with gullies at the side to drain away surface water from the heavy rains. Their final day took them through a dense forest and out the other side.

“Rupe, look. I can see the spires of the college.”

On the horizon they saw rolling hills and stretching far above them the four spires which gave the college its name.

“See there’s the broken one Tuvor told me about. Nobody’s allowed in there because it’s dangerous.”

The procession followed the Searcher up over the hills. He stopped at the top to allow them their first sight of the town of Laktu.

“As you can see, Spires dominates the town. The East Spire houses the dormitories, the West Spire the rooms of the maeven and the South Spire the classrooms.” The guide carried on before anyone could ask about the broken spire. “The North Spire is broken. You are not permitted to enter there under pain of dismissal. If you disobey you will go home in disgrace.”

About the Author: Sue Perkins grew up in Devon, England and emigrated to New Zealand with her family. Sue and her husband now live at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. Her interests include writing, reading, genealogy and aqua jogging.

Sue’s book genres include romance, fantasy romance, young adult fantasy and middle grade fantasy. Her first romance book was released in May 2007, quickly followed by a fantasy trilogy. She now has many books published in all the genres. Her aim for the future is to write a full-length epic fantasy novel. The outline is complete, and Sue is hoping to find time to finish the first draft by the end of 2017. Meanwhile she carries on with her current fantasy series – Rak Shoma, a blend of magic and fantasy.

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Buy the book at Desert Breeze Publishing.

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Ascended by Maggie Mae Gallagher – Spotlight and Giveaway


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

War. It’s here. The last war of mankind. The winner takes Earth as its prize.

My name is Alana Devereaux. I am an elite Cantati Forces Lieutenant from Earth’s desolate future. I was sent back through time to save your world. My mission to stop the Mutari faltered. Demons infiltrated our world when the walls between Earth and Infernus fell. Millions died in the first volleys.

The Mutari changed me on an elemental level and my new powers scare the bloody daylights out of me. Formorian Hunters are closing in on my trail with a singular goal, to enact the death warrant placed on my head by their Queen. Now I am running for my life, on a quest to discover a way to kill an immortal on a power trip, stuck between mortal enemies, and everyone else wants me dead.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Choices had consequences. Mine had.

What the hell was I? Human? Cantati? Demon?

I didn’t know. Not anymore. The game board of my life had been upended, and I was still trying to make sense of the scattered pieces.

Until yesterday, I believed I was the last of my kind. A Cantati warrior from the Earth’s desolate future sent eightythree years into the past to stop the Mutari. The Mutari happened every few thousand years. When it did, Earth aligned with six planets in our solar system, creating a seventy-twohour eclipse on Earth. It was also when the walls between the dimensions were at their most vulnerable and could be fully breached. While portals could be opened from time to time, they were marginal in size and couldn’t remain open for extended periods. At least, not long enough to allow an army to march through.

Drystan, lord of the dimension Infernus, had used a tiny amount of my blood. And by tiny, I mean drops that Gaelen’s bastard of a brother, Maddock, had stolen from me. Drystan used it to sever the walls between our worlds and give his armies free rein to invade our planet.

We were lucky. He didn’t have massive amounts of my blood. Which was why the human world’s existence limped on. Otherwise, we’d be hip-deep in Drystan’s demon soldiers. And I’d be dead, so it would be a moot point, for me at least.

Thousands still made it through the breeches before the energy of my lifeblood was exhausted. Which meant I failed my mission. When my father, general and commander of the Cantati Forces worldwide, sent me back through time, using a Moldevian orb and incantation devised by our Coven, my objective was to stop Drystan and keep the human race from fading into extinction.

About the Author:

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Maggie grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Maggie never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.

Maggie is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes erotic romance under the name Anya Summers. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the Midwest with her two furry felines.

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Don’t miss these exciting titles by Maggie Mae Gallagher!

The Mystic Series
REMEMBER ME
CASKET GIRL

The Cantati Chronicles

RUPTURED
ANOINTED
ASCENDED

And if you like your romance with a bit of spice and kink be sure to check out Maggie Mae Gallagher writing as Anya Summers!

The Dungeon Fantasy Club Series

HER HIGHLAND MASTER, Book 1
TO MASTER AND DEFEND, Book 2
TWO DOMS FOR KARA, Book 3
HIS DRIVEN DOMME, Book 4
HER COUNTRY MASTER, Book 5
LOVE ME, MASTER ME, Book 6
SUBMIT TO ME, Book 7
HER WIRED DOM, Book 8

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The Night I Almost Quit Writing by Ellis Morning – Guest Blog and Giveaway


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

The Night I Almost Quit Writing my Novel

I remember the night I almost quit writing my novel.

It was back when I was still working full-time in the corporate world, with evening writing as my relaxing pastime—although it’d become anything but relaxing. Finishing a novel was much harder than I’d thought. After years of effort, I’d just realized I was in for another total rewrite from scratch, and I still didn’t even know how the book was going to progress from A to Z. I could’ve pulled my hair out in frustration.

“Maybe I should just give up,” I whined out loud to my husband.

The idea was so tempting. It’d be such a load off my shoulders to just walk away from this mess and start over with a new idea. Never mind that I didn’t have any other ideas, this was just how it worked. I almost never finished big projects. 80-page attempts that’d sputtered out and died filled a whole folder on my hard drive. I just hadn’t found the right idea yet. In fact, this latest idea sucked. And I sucked, and I’d never make it work.

My husband didn’t say anything. I was looking for his permission to quit, but he didn’t give it to me. Eventually, I put the whine aside and got back to work.

I’d like to say it was an easy road from there. It wasn’t. But I didn’t quit then, and wasn’t tempted later. My efforts eventually led to 2 complete novels, and I’m not about to stop there.

I’ve learned there’s no such thing as “the” idea that’s fated to become a novel. If you’re willing to devote the effort, you can make any of your ideas work, but there’s definitely a boom/bust cycle to be endured. When you’re at your lowest, feeling like the King Midas of Crap, you gotta dig deep and push on—just as you’d want your characters to do.

It’s not just great advice for writing, but everything, really. Keep pushing, keep striving. Lean on your loved ones for support. And if you have quit, it’s never too late to start back up again.

Thanks so much for reading! Please feel free to leave me comments/questions, or read more at my blog.

The Quest Continues To Stop A Killer “Curse!”

Dame Jessamine is a knight errant with a spaceship for a steed, a woman of science in a galaxy rife with superstition. Follow along as she continues her mission for truth within the barony of Nidaros!

A mysterious crop-withering blight spreads through the barony’s soil. The court magicians have blamed two siblings of spawning the crisis through witchcraft. Convinced of their innocence, Jessamine has rescued and now secretly harbors Verahl Naustvik aboard her spaceship. Meanwhile, his sister Thordia flees to the Harbinger, a crashed space station from the distant and more enlightened past.

Approaching the Harbinger is an act punishable by death, but Jessamine won’t let that stand in the way of a second rescue. Thordia, and the Harbinger’s surviving technological secrets, may be Nidaros’ only hope against the blight. Jessamine prepares to embark—only to be betrayed and set upon by vengeful court magicians.

Now, one wrong word or gesture will lead to deadly charges of witchcraft. Jessamine must protect the Naustviks and brave the Harbinger, all while striking a balance between ritual and reason. If she can’t maintain the peace long enough to discover a cure for the blight, the entire barony will starve—unless its far-off masters decide to “restore order” with military action first!

Harbingers is Book Two of the Sword and Starship series of science fiction/fantasy adventure.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Outside the barracks, Ingvar, Pontus, and I stared out into the starry night. Colorful flashes pierced a single point in the sky at irregular intervals—some strong, others flickering. Some were as short-lived as fireflies, easy to miss if one weren’t looking directly at them. Most were green and orange, with the occasional burst of red.

I held my breath while puzzling over the matter. Stellar phenomenon, meteor shower? No, it seemed much closer than that. Explosives? But silence reigned in their wake. Ingvar and I had found the Naustviks’ house full of Shipbuilder holograms and lighting devices. Could this be more of the same, wielded by adepts or others with adequate knowledge? But usually, such objects and knowledge were rare.

There was a more mundane possibility: fireworks. Metal salts like calcium chloride, ground into a powder and introduced to fire, burned up in a dramatic display of color. My mentors at the Enduring Flame Beguinage had introduced me to tricks like that, specifically labeling them tricks. Adepts performed such stunts, too, but called them “magic.”

At my side, Ingvar frowned. “They seem to hover right over the capital buildings.” He referred to the three Shipbuilder structures at the core of Nidaros’ capital: the Baron’s estate, the adepts’ keep, and the storehouse.

“Unseen. Never thought …” Pontus trailed off nervously. He stood ahead of us, his reaction invisible.

“Pontus?” Ingvar prompted. “Is there something I don’t know about?”

The lieutenant faced us, fists clenched at his sides. The right one slowly ground his wishing beads into dust. “Last week, the boys on night watch whispered about a vision like this. They convinced the next night’s shift to be on the lookout, but it never repeated itself. Forgot about it until now.”

“Wherefore didn’t anyone tell me?” Ingvar asked.

“We know not to bring you a ghost tale unless we have the ghost on a leash, sir.” Pontus tossed his head over his shoulder. “Is that close enough?”

Ingvar scowled toward the flashing lights again, saying nothing.

About the AuthorEllis has always loved staging adventures in her head before going to sleep each night. When she was twelve, she started putting these adventures on paper.
For the next twenty years, she wrote with varying degrees of seriousness, but always as a hobby. In that time, she fell in love with Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut, the original Star Trek series, and Mystery Science Theater 3000. Science fiction became her favorite domain to work in, but she also enjoyed reading fantasy, horror, Western, and detective stories, and incorporating their elements into her work. One of her favorite things to do was make people laugh.

Ellis denied being a writer for decades. But then she sold articles to The Daily WTF, and a short story to Analog Science Fiction and Fact. After quitting her full-time job to finish her first novel, it was time to own up to writing as her calling. She’s currently an editor at The Daily WTF, and having the time of her life penning novels and short stories.

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Daughter of Aithne by Karin Rita Gastreich – Spotlight and Giveaway


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

Betrayed by her own prodigy, Eolyn stands accused of treason. As power-hungry nobles dismantle her life’s work and honor, the desperate queen forges a risky alliance with the ruthless and cunning Mage Corey. Determined to defend her son’s claim to the throne of the Mage King, Eolyn prepares for her last and greatest battle, this time against her own sisters in magic.

Across the Furma River, Taesara of Roenfyn is drawn out of seclusion and into an ever-more vicious game of intrigue and war. Subject to the schemes of a shrewd uncle and the mysterious ambitions of the wizards of Galia, Taesara struggles to assert her own destiny, even as she takes up arms to defend her daughter’s inheritance.

In the climactic finale to The Silver Web trilogy, threads of love, honor, betrayal, and vengeance culminate in a violent conflict between powerful women, opposed to each other yet destined to shatter a thousand-year cycle of war.

“A tale of female oppression, prejudice, and even deadly seduction, EOLYN touches on issues that are deeply relevant to our own society.” -Apex Reviews review of EOLYN, Book One of the Silver Web

“The story’s greatest triumph is Gastreich’s prose, a consistent blend of lyrical verse and dark imageray….Lush, evocative descriptions carry readers through an unforgettable journey.” –Kirkus Reviews review of SWORD OF SHADOWS, Book Two of The Silver Web”

Enjoy an Excerpt

Taesara stiffened as Penamor took her chin in his fingers and subjected her to cold inspection. After a moment, his frown deepened and he shook his head. “Only the Sisters of the Poor could take a woman at the height of her flower and turn her into a dried-up weed.”

Taesara bristled. “There is no place for vanity within these walls.”

“Apparently not. They’ve made you skinny and sallow. Though it is nothing, I’ll wager, that a bit of sun and some proper food cannot remedy. What are these rags they dress you in?”

She stepped away, clenching her jaw. “This is all I need. All anyone needs, to live at peace in this world.”

Penamor snorted. “Indeed.”

“Why are you here?”

“I’ve come to fetch you home.”

“This is my home.”

“This was your temporary refuge. A foul place, but one of your choosing. We were generous enough to let you stay, first your father and then I, as we put the outside world in order. Now it is time for you to return.”

“I am not going back.”

“Oh, but I think you will.” Penamor spoke with an odd tone, at once menacing and full of promise. “War is at hand, and you will be the one to lead it.”

Taesara forced a laugh. “You know I will have no part of it. Eliasara would die at their hands if we so much as—”

“They do not have Eliasara,” he said. “We do.”

Shadows flashed through Taesara’s vision. She stumbled and caught hold of the back of a chair. A chasm opened inside her heart, swallowing the vines and trees with which she had concealed her love and pain during all these years. The bitter anguish of the day she was separated from Eliasara returned full force.

“Where is she? Where is my daughter?”

About the Author: Karin 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 all her life. Her pastimes 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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The first book of the series, EOLYN, will be a FREE download on Kindle only on May 1.

Buy the books on Amazon:

EOLYN, Book One of THE SILVER WEB
SWORD OF SHADOWS, Book Two of THE SILVER WEB
DAUGHTER OF AITHNE, Book Three of THE SILVER WEB

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Influences by Frank Cavallo – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Frank Cavallo whose occult-thriller Rites of Azathoth was released earlier this year. Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of the book (US only please).

Influences
One of the things you get asked frequently as a writer, even a small indie writer like me, is the question about influences. Who do you read, and why?

It’s a question I’ve often asked about my favorite writers. Knowing something about an author’s influences really can be a window into what shaped their work, from their style of prose to the themes they return to frequently. In some cases, I “discovered” authors I’d never read, or never even heard of, by checking out the influences of my favorite writers.

With that in mind, I’d like to briefly touch on three influences of my own that don’t get read much today, and that might be worth a look, especially if you’re looking for something a little weird, or a little different. These guys shaped my work, sometimes in odd ways, and in my humble opinion, deserve more attention than they get these days.

Karl Edward Wagner

If I had to sum up Wagner’s writing, it would go something like this:

Grim tales, soaked in blood. Monstrous forces from the eldritch dark slithering their tentacles from the shadows, met by the gleaming steel of a broadsword. A deeply troubled anti-hero wandering the Earth, forever haunted by his sins.

If that appeals to you (and it always has to me) then go out and get one of his books. You won’t be disappointed. I’ve been able to grab a few beaten up paperback copies of Kane novels at second hand bookstores over the years, and you’d be hard pressed to get me to part with them.

His work struck the perfect balance between sword & sorcery and cosmic horror. To me, Wagner is dark fantasy.

Clark Ashton Smith

Of the “big three” from the Weird Tales era, he is the least remembered of the trio, and I think that’s a real shame. It might be because he had no single signature character, like Robert E. Howard, who lives forever in the guise of Conan the Barbarian, or Lovecraft, who gave us the Cthulhu Mythos. It might also be because his prose was the least accessible of the pulp era heavyweights. CAS had one of the most peculiar styles of any fantasy writer I’ve ever come across, and I love him for it. I’ve read that he was essentially self-taught, and as a result his work is highly idiosyncratic. He had a fondness for bringing back words that had fallen out of use, or for digging up the most obscure terms he could find. In his Atlantis the city towers aren’t merely white or black, they’re blazing orichalcum and ancient spires crawling with the verdigris of centuries.

In my estimation no one has ever equaled his ability to set a mood of uncomfortable, off-kilter weirdness. I go back to his work over and over, especially when I’m trying to evoke a creepy, unsettling mood in my own fiction, always looking to find a way to come close to what he seemed to do so easily.

Eric R. Eddison

His most revered work is The Worm Ouroboros, which is an all-time favorite of mine, and a wonderfully odd book. The prose is deliberately archaic, but in a wholly different way than Smith’s work. Eddison was a devoted student of the old Viking sagas and the Homeric tradition. He made a conscious effort to hearken back to all of them. Because of that, in places the text is bloated and florid. It’s not easy reading. But what it does do is revel in the delight of language itself. He lingers on ornate descriptions, lovingly detailing every aspect of weapons and armor and the trappings of royalty. Totally unnecessary for advancing the plot, and I suspect he didn’t care. He wanted to immerse you as deeply as possible in his invented world, years before Tolkien set the standard for that, by the way. You would never write a book like this now, and at times it can get to be a little too much. I look at this as something like the far edge of what fantasy writing can be. It is absolutely glorious at times, and at others, it fails in the most epic fashion possible. At every point though, it is unlike any other fantasy book I know of, and it is spectacular to behold.

F.B.I. criminal profiler Diana Mancuso doesn’t do field work anymore. Not since a tragic mistake that cost innocent lives. But when notorious serial killer Luther Vayne escapes from prison and resumes his campaign of brutal murders, the Bureau convinces her to take one last case.

To catch him, she must understand him. She must delve into the arcana that fuels his madness, risking her life and her sanity to follow his twisted path.

The trail plunges her into a shadowy world of occult rituals and unspeakable horrors, leading to a secret cabal operating at the highest levels—and a plot to summon the darkest of all powers, to bring forth an evil that does not belong in our world—to enact the Rites of Azathoth.

About the Author:Frank Cavallo is a horror and dark fantasy writer. His previous works include Eye of the Storm, The Lucifer Messiah, The Hand of Osiris, and the Gotrek & Felix novella Into the Valley of Death.

He was born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications in 1994 and he earned a JD from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2001. His life-long fascination with the darker side of human nature has led him to devote most of the past 15 years to a career as a criminal defense attorney, at the Cuyahoga County Public Defender Office, in Cleveland, Ohio. There he has come face-to-face with some of the truest horror in this world. Murder, rape, burglary, drugs. That’s his bread and butter.

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The Island Deception by Dan Koboldt – Q&A and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dan will be awarding a digital copy of the first book in the series The Rogue Retrieval to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Is writing your full-time job?

HAHAHAHAHA *dies laughing*

No, writing is my hobby and I don’t expect that to change any time in the near future. That’s primarily for two reasons. First, it’s very difficult to make a living as a full-time writer these days, particularly if you only have a couple of books out. Most writers have day jobs or other sources of income (like a partner who works). Those who do go full-time often do a lot of freelance work to make ends meet.

The other reason I don’t write full-time is that I enjoy my day job. I’m a genetics researcher for a major children’s hospital. Our institute uses next-generation DNA sequencing to study rare pediatric conditions, with the goal of improving the lives of our patients and their families. If that’s not rewarding work, I don’t know what is.

What other books/authors does The Island Deception remind you of?

My publisher pitches it as appealing to fans of Terry Pratchett and Terry Brooks. I think that’s far too high of praise, but I understand the thinking: Brooks is a founding father of second world epic fantasy, and Pratchett was the king of dry humor. I certainly aimed to have a good mix of both in my books.

Because I’m a scientist, I like to include some of the super-cool near future technology in my books — whether it’s drones or super-LEDs or novel synthetic materials. There’s also a large corporation with somewhat-nefarious intentions. If you put these elements together, I think my books might be reminiscent of Michael Crichton, one of my favorite authors.

If you want a more recent comp title, I think that the Time Salvager series by Wesley Chu has very similar themes to mine, especially time travel and a hint of military science fiction. Rumor is that his series is being developed into a movie directed by Michael Bay, so I’m clearly not the only one who finds all of this entertaining.

What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. But what happens after you step through a portal to another world, well…

For stage magician Quinn Bradley, he thought his time in Alissia was over. He’d done his job for the mysterious company CASE Global Enterprises, and now his name is finally on the marquee of one of the biggest Vegas casinos. And yet, for all the accolades, he definitely feels something is missing. He can create the most amazing illusions on Earth, but he’s also tasted true power. Real magic.

He misses it.

Luckily—or not—CASE Global is not done with him, and they want him to go back. The first time, he was tasked with finding a missing researcher. Now, though, he has another task:

Help take Richard Holt down.

It’s impossible to be in Vegas and not be a gambler. And while Quinn might not like his odds—a wyvern nearly ate him the last time he was in Alissia—if he plays his cards right, he might be able to aid his friends.

He also might learn how to use real magic himself.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Quinn Bradley had finally arrived.

For twenty-six years, he’d dreamed of seeing his name in the neon lights of the Las Vegas strip. Of taking the stage at a major casino there, and joining the ranks of magic’s elite. Sigfried and Roy, David Copperfield, Penn and Teller. He’d worked his ass off to get here. Designing his own tricks, performing seven nights a week, building his profile online and on stage.

Even so, as he waited in the shadowy alcove backstage, he fingered the stone pendant on a necklace under his shirt and wished he were more excited about it. Quick fingers and cleverness had taken him a long way, but he couldn’t help but wonder if he’d ever have made it happen without help from CASE Global Enterprises. Kiara had made good on her promise, and suddenly Rudy Fortelli was calling–nearly panting with excitement–to tell him that a major casino had a slot open. Just a one-night engagement, but still a big deal. Quinn hadn’t even asked what they were offering to pay–he’d just cashed one hell of a big check anyway.

It was the Bellagio, of course. The most iconic casino of them all, the home of Cirque du Soleil and countless other top-notch acts. He should have known. CASE Global never went in for anything but the best.

And now that includes me, I guess.

“Quinn?” a woman asked.

Her voice was quiet, but he’d know the accent anywhere. “Veena! I’ll be damned.”

About the Author: Dan Koboldt is a genetics researcher and fantasy/science fiction author from the Midwest. He works for the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where he and his colleagues use next-generation DNA sequencing technologies to uncover the genetic basis of pediatric diseases. He has co-authored more than 70 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals.

Dan is also an avid hunter and outdoorsman. Every fall, he disappears into the woods to pursue whitetail deer and turkey with bow and arrow. He lives with his wife and three children in Ohio, where the deer take their revenge by eating all of the plants in his backyard.

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Character Interview with Ahearn from The Ghost in Exile by Jamie Marchant


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Character Interview with Ahearn from The Ghost in Exile

What is your name?

That’s a hard question to answer. My mother named me Ahearn. I had no surname because not even my mother knew who my father was. There were too many choices. When I was seven, my mother kicked me out and sent me to live with my Uncle Barris. I began calling myself Ahearn Barrisstamm after him. But I only kept that name for a few years. Because of an unfortunately affair with the queen, I was exiled at eighteen and became an assassin. I gave up my childhood name because I became a man my uncle would never recognize. My partner named me Darhour, which means Exiled One in his language. Later I earned the nickname The Ghost because I became so good at getting into my victim’s rooms, it was believed I could walk through walls. I have also used the names Pandaros, Sigurd, Adrastos, and a host of others. So when you ask me my name, I’m not sure how to answer.

Where were you born? Please describe it to us.

I was born in a decrepit hut in Korth. Korth is the northern of the joined kingdoms of Korthlundia and is mountainous with high cliffs, deep valleys, and incredible waterfalls. It’s a truly beautiful land although very cold in the winter. As far as the hut goes, the less said about it the better. I’m not even sure how much of the vileness of that place are my true memories and how much I’ve added in because of the despair and unhappiness that pervaded it or because of the frequent abuse I suffered at the hands of the various men in my mother’s life.

Tell us about your family?

My mother sent me to her brother when I was seven because her latest man demanded she get rid of me. Whether my mother or any of my brothers and sisters are still alive, I don’t know. I don’t even know how many siblings I have. I went to visit my mother was I was fifteen, and she didn’t recognize me. I told her who I was, and she made it clear I wasn’t welcome and closed the door in my face. I haven’t heard from her since. Still, being sent to my uncle was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Uncle Barris worked in the royal stables, and he not only took me in with no questions, he treated me like a son and taught me everything I know about horses. I loved him completely. He died when I was fifteen in an epidemic that swept through the capital. I still grieve his death, but I think it fortunately he didn’t live to see what I have become. The only relative that matters to me now is my daughter, the result of an affair with the queen, which caused my exile. My daughter is now queen of Korthlundia and has only recently discovered that the king wasn’t truly her father. For awhile, I served as the captain of her personal guard, but that couldn’t last. She is far too good of a person to be my daughter.

What is your personal “style”? Please describe your appearance.

My daughter stays that I have a look that makes men piss in their pants if I so much as glance in their direction. Part of the fear I inspire is because of the scars that cover my face. When I was in the Saloynan army, I was captured and tortured. My tormentor carved horizontal lines all over my body, starting with my forehead and ending at my feet. But it isn’t the scars alone that produce this effect. The man who named me Darhour claimed I had the coldest eyes he’d ever seen.

Who do you most admire (from your world, history, books, etc.)? Why?

Ironically, the man I most admire is the same man who ruined my life, Solar, the king who raised my daughter. As a young man, Solar skillfully ended the civil war between Korth and Lundia and ushered in fifty years of unbroken peace, which allowed his people to thrive. But he found himself an old man without an heir. He knew that if he died without one, the joined kingdoms would descend into chaos, so he decided if he couldn’t sire his own heir, he’d get someone to do it for him. He manipulated circumstances in such a way that his young wife was frequently in my company. When the inevitable happened and the queen’s pregnancy was confirmed, he had me disposed of. After he exiled me, I hated him with a passion so intense I wanted to carve his heart out, but I’ve grown to not only understand, but applaud what he did. He understood his duties as king and knew that one life couldn’t matter next to the thousands or tens of thousands who would die in the civil war between rival claimants to the throne. He was a great king. But that isn’t the only reason I admire him. Even though he knew that Samantha wasn’t his own flesh and blood, he loved her as deeply as if she were. He raised her to be strong and taught her everything she needed to know to rule after he travelled beyond the Far Mountain. Because of him, my daughter is a magnificent woman and queen. He was a far better father to her than I ever could have been. That alone earned him my undying loyalty.

Do you believe in god(s)?

How could I not? I accompanied my daughter to Sulis’s holy shrine on an island that cannot be found without the goddess’s blessing. I knelt there in the presence of Sulis’s holy priestess who knew every secret in my soul. My entire being shook with the Holy Mother’s presence as the priestess pronounced my daughter the goddess’s choice to rule Korthlundia even thought the king isn’t truly her father. Oh, yes, Sulis is the Mother of us all. But not even she can forgive what I’ve done.

What is your greatest fear?

That someone will discover that instead of the king, I am Samantha’s father. I deserve anything bad that happens to me, but she must be safe.

What do you think of your author/creator?

She’s cruel. But she bettered not treat my daughter in her next book like the way she treated me in this one, or she’ll wish I really was a ghost.

The Ghost is going to hell. Not even the goddess can forgive his sins: assassin, oath-breaker, traitor (an affair with the queen earned him that title). No one can ever learn the princess is his daughter. To keep this secret, he flees to the land that turned him from a simple stable groom into an infamous killer.

His mission now? To find evildoers and take them to hell with him. But when an impulsive act of heroism saddles him with a damsel who refuses to be distressed, her resilience forces him to questions why he really ran from his daughter.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“I think you’ve done enough, you rutting swine,” a harsh voice commanded. “Stand up and turn around. Slowly.” Certain he was about to die, Ahearn eased himself out of the queen and stood.

He turned to find Lord Caedmon holding the sword on him. Behind Caedmon, Duke Connor, the king’s chancellor, approached, accompanied by two vicious dogs. “You should have let him finish, son,” Duke Connor said. “It isn’t good for a man’s health to be left in that condition.”

“His health is of little concern now that he’s completed his service to his country,” Caedmon grunted.

Ahearn didn’t understand what they were talking about. He wanted to fall to his knees and beg for mercy. But why humiliate himself when he had no hope for leniency? He licked his lips and looked at Fenella, who’d wrapped the blanket around herself. She looked far more angry than frightened. Maybe she didn’t understand the consequences of what they’d just been caught doing. “Don’t hurt her, please,” he whispered.

Duke Connor laughed. “Hurt Her Majesty? I wouldn’t think of it. She is carrying Korthlundia’s future—His Majesty’s long-awaited heir.”

“Like hell I am.” Fenella jumped to her feet. “Solar is a wrinkled old man. He hasn’t been able to do it in months. This baby,”—she touched her stomach, still smooth and flat—“isn’t his.”

About the Author: Jamie Marchant is the author of the epic fantasy series, The Kronicles of Korthlundia. Her novels include The Goddess’s Choice, The Soul Stone, and The Ghost in Exile. Her short fiction has been published in the anthologies–Urban Fantasy and Of Dragons & Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds—and in Bards & Sages, The World of Myth, A Writer’s Haven, and Short-story.me. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. She is the mother of a grown son.

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Botanical Toxins by Gabrielle Mathieu – Guest Blog and Giveaway


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Botanical Toxins
What is it about botanical toxins that make them so alluring, so intoxicating? There’s something appealing about the tendrils of mycelium insinuating themselves into your thoughts, enmeshing with your psyche, even if you wouldn’t actually sample that stunning red amanita mushroom with the white polka dots. (You’d be wise not to.) Perhaps not alluring for everyone. For those who want their truth uncomplicated, their experience unfiltered by symbiosis with a plant, aching for a transcendent experience is a pointless quest.

Even in the annals of poisonous plants, nightshades have a certain glamour. A nightshade: something so dark, it’s blacker than night. Her beauty is enticing, but Brugmansia, pictured above, is a dangerous member of the Nightshade family. Belladonna, another nightshade, earned her name because Italian noble ladies ingested it to dilate their pupils. Large pupils are a sign of arousal; even in the conservative societies of that day, women who looked as if they desired a liason fared better. Plus who knows what handsome heroes they hallucinated while coupling with a wealthy, but elderly or unattractive, noble.

As Peppa and her godfather, renowned Swiss chemist Alex Kaufmann, find out in the first book, the hallucinogenic Compound T is made from a nightshade. Its creator, a devious scientist, calls it a Compound, but it’s only a simple extract. A bit of deceptive advertisement.

The existence of a Compound T is a bit of creative fiction, but nightshades are firmly established in occult tradition. Nightshades, in Latin, the genus Solanaceae includes plants we eat, like tomatoes (though they were formerly believed to be poisonous.) Henbane, Belladonna, and various Angel Trumpets (Brugmansia) are examples of the more dangerous nightshades, ones that induce delirium. Pharmacological chemist and expert on psychoactive plants, Dr. Dennis McKenna explains the difference between hallucinations and delirium. During a hallucination you see and hear things that aren’t ordinarily present, but still are somewhat grounded in every-day life. During a delirium, the bond with consensual reality breaks, which makes a delirium a type of psychotic break.

McKenna admits to an unfortunate experience with Jimson weed, during which he was incapacitated. Jimson weed, a type of Datura, is a close relative of the Angel Trumpet, species Brugmansia. I had already finished my novel when I read McKenna’s reflections on the two closely allied plants. He writes “I believe that accidental or deliberate encounters with the shadowy Datura spaces are the basis for the belief, in many cultures, in a land of the dead.”

Interesting corroboration to the decision to feature the beautiful Brugmansia as a toxic hallucinogen.

As the sun rises on a quiet Swiss mountain village in 1957, runaway Peppa Mueller wakes up naked and stranded on the roof of her employer’s manor, with no idea how she got there. As she waits for help, she struggles to piece together fragmented memories of the previous night. Did she really witness the brutal massacre of a local family? Did she kill them? Her fear of sinister house guest Dr. Unruh fuels her panic—as do electrifying flashes of a furious falcon, trapped inside her.

Wanted for murder, Peppa flees the police, intent on finding out if there’s a scientific explanation or if she’s just going mad. Her godfather, world-renowned chemist Dr. Kaufmann, risks his career to help her. In the meantime, Peppa fights her attraction to the handsome priest from India who offers her shelter. With their help, she not only finds Dr. Unruh but places herself at his mercy. His experiments may be the reason Peppa now shares her body with a bloodthirsty bird of prey—but the revenge she plans could kill them both.

NOTE: The book will be on sale for only $0.99 during the tour.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I thought talking would be a relief, but it wasn’t. When I finally stopped, exhausted by the effort of reliving that dreadful night, I had a knot in the pit of my stomach.

Da and I wanted to help troubled people with Paxarbital. Now I’d become one of them, a murderer suffering under hallucinations.

I raised my face to meet Stefan’s clear blue eyes. I saw no condemnation. “I told you I killed Hans Wäspi. Isn’t confession supposed to be good for the soul? I don’t feel any better.”

“Only God can forgive your sins. I can’t.”

Three dead. At least. “What about the woman who brought us our drinks?”

“Anita Eugster? No one’s seen her. They’re looking through the ruins of the kitchen for her bones.”

Despair descended over me, and I had to fight an urge to scream. I splashed my face with cold water, biting my lip to fight the pain inside.

“They found me on the roof this morning.” My voice sounded hollow. “Did you hear?”

Stefan moved away from me a bit, rubbing his hands as if he was cold. I understood. I’d like to get away from myself too, if I only could.

I dug my nails in my palm. I would not be weak. “We really were poisoned. I could prove it.”

“I saw your wings, Patrizia.”
“My name is Peppa.”
“You turned into an angel.”
I rubbed my eyes. What I needed was a lab.

About the Author: Gabrielle Mathieu lived on three continents by the age of eight. She’d experienced the bustling bazaars of Pakistan, the serenity of Swiss mountain lakes, and the chaos of the immigration desk at the JFK airport. Perhaps that’s why she developed an appetite for the unusual and disorienting. Her fantasy books are grounded in her experience of different cultures and interest in altered states of consciousness (mostly white wine and yoga these days). The Falcon Flies Alone is her debut novel.

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An Interrogation of Grant Scotland by Dan McClure – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Interrogation #1023-1: Grant Scotland
Interviewer1: Your full name, for the record.
Grant Scotland: Scotland. Grant Scotland.
Interviewer1: Your nationality?
Grant Scotland: Aelfan. Well, Aelfan on my mother’s side. Huthan on my father’s, but don’t get excited. You boys wouldn’t know him.
Interviewer2: And why’s that?
Grant Scotland: He wasn’t a member of the Gregyan clan and besides that he’s dead.
Interviewer1: Your occupation?
Grant Scotland: Bookbinder and bookseller, though I don’t do much work as the former and even less as the latter.
Interviewer2: What’s that mean?
Grant Scotland: Sorry. Was I going too fast for you? I can speak a little slower if it’ll help.
Interviewer1: He means-
Interviewer2: You got a smart mouth.
Grant Scotland: Do I? I’m not so sure. It seems to get me in an awful lot of trouble.
Interviewer2: That’s just what-
Interviewer1: He means what else do you do to make ends meet, given that business is slow?
Grant Scotland: Whatever I can. But if it’ll make you boys feel better, I do some work for the constable down in the Docks.
Interviewer1: Samael? And what does he have you do?
Grant Scotland: Sometimes he asks my help to patrol if he’s short a man.
Interviewer1: And has he ever asked you to help investigate a murder case?
Grant Scotland: Yes.
Interviewer2: In your investigations, have you ever come across things like nightshade, hemlock or wolfsbane?
Grant Scotland: Well, my chosen poison is whiskey, although I don’t seem to have much luck with it.
Interviewer2: Who said anything about poison?
Grant Scotland: I don’t just sell books, I occasionally read them. You ought to try it sometime.
Interviewer2: That so? How about I [REDACTED]
Interviewer1: Gentlemen, please. This is merely an informal interview. Let’s just stick to the questions at hand. Now, Mr. Scotland. What can you tell me about a certain Urken named Cole Fehr?
Grant Scotland: You boys mind if I smoke?
Interviewer2: Yes.
Grant Scotland: Well, good for you. Filthy habit. Been meaning to give it up myself. I appreciate the opportunity to practice.
Interviewer1: Mr. Scotland?
Grant Scotland: Yes?
Interviewer1: Cole Fehr?
Grant Scotland: What about him?
Interviewer2: I got knuckles aching to meet your mouth.
Grant Scotland: Well, no need to play coy, buttercup. If you wanted to kiss me, why didn’t you just say so?
[SCUFFLING SOUNDS. SHOUTS. CRASH]
Interviewer1: That’s enough! [REDACTED] get out of here. I’ll finish the interview.
Interviewer2: I’ll be right outside. You let me know if he needs more of the same.
Grant Scotland: Thanks, but I think your friend can manage to give me a pat on the cheek, too. Don’t be jealous.
Interviewer2: Why you-
[SCUFFLING SOUNDS. SHOUTS. CRASH. DOOR SLAM]
Interviewer1: Mr. Scotland… I must apologize for my partner.
Grant Scotland: Me too. I can’t imagine being stuck with that guy.
Interviewer1: He can be… overzealous at times.
Grant Scotland: I don’t mind his enthusiasm. It’s his right cross that needs work.
Interviewer1: Yes. Well. Back to Mr. Fehr. Can you tell me how you first met him?
Grant Scotland: Well, let’s see…

 

 

Spy for a Dead Empire (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book One)

AELFA, THE GRAND CAPITAL of the once mighty Aelfan Empire, has fallen. Barbarian war parties and nomadic tribes harass the retreating and broken legions that once overawed them. All that stands against them now is the city of Zyren, the last bastion of Aelfan rule.

Acting as a spy for Zyren is Grant Scotland, a man leading a double life because his own had been taken away from him by the very people he serves. An unwilling recruit into the business of clandestine missions and deceit, he searches for anything real to cling to as the world around him devolves into insanity. And when an old friend shows up asking him to help save his family by delivering a mysterious book to a shadowy figure, Grant’s two lives collide and he is thrust into an even stranger world than he had known; one where ancient magic is wielded by deadly players who compete against one another for a prize greater than simply the rotting carcass of a dead empire.


*****

Spy for a Troubled King (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book Two)

AMONG THE ASHES of the mighty Aelfan Empire, the House of Gregyan seeks to forge a new kingdom—one where both Huthan and Aelfan alike can prosper. But old prejudices and ancient traditions and an exiled enemy threaten the peace. Caught between compassion for his home and allegiance to his fallen empire, Grant Scotland finds himself trapped in the turbulent machinations of enemies and friends. As he works to uncover mysteries about his father’s treachery and confront new threats to his future, he moves perilously close to revealing his identity and losing everything.


*****

Spy for a Wayward Daughter (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book Three)

AS THE GREGYANS MARCH TO WAR and his handler takes a trip to Zyren, Grant Scotland, spy errant of the Aelfan Empire, gets ready to pursue a lead on finding a man who might be able to tell him the truth about his father’s treason. Old friends, new enemies and hidden dangers soon confront him on his quest, but when he enters the dark world of another family’s intrigue, he finds that not even the frontiers of the Aelfan Empire are far enough away to escape the dangers of fortune and fate.


*****

Spy for a Greedy Villain (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book Four)

RACIAL TENSIONS IN AELFA simmer and threaten to boil over when the harbormaster is found dead and the Huthan oppressors threaten to crack down in the Lower Docks. As Grant Scotland finds more questions than answers in the journals of Berthul Magnussen about his father’s treachery, he is drawn into a murder investigation, a kidnapping plot and the nefarious machinations of the city’s biggest crime lord—Mr. Quinn. In order to stop Quinn’s plans and save the city from being thrown into open revolt, Grant prepares to take his biggest gamble yet.

Enjoy an excerpt from Spy for a Greedy Villain (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book Four):

I gave him a brief recap of my espionage activities over the past few months, which included reports on the growth and temperament of the One God followers, the coming and going of any Huthan notables and the operations of Doogan and Quinn. At last I followed up with a summary of the harbormaster investigation and finished with the discovery of a ghost in the Lower Docks.

“There’s no such things as ghosts, Scotland.”

“I know, but I haven’t worked up a better nickname for him yet.”

“I’m sure you’ll think of something. I have every confidence in your ability to accomplish inane tasks of trivial importance.”

“Everybody has to be good at something.”

“And while your limited mental capabilities will no doubt be severely taxed in that endeavor, I’ll do some checking into what could make a man entirely concealed in plain sight.”

“You mean invisible. You can just say invisible.”

“Were I interested in being as lacking in attention to details as you, I could use the word invisible, but luckily for the both of us I am not. Complete invisibility is impossible. Not even the greatest Aelfan wizards were ever able to accomplish such a feat. But, there are several ways a man can remain unnoticed. Take me for instance. For the eleventh time in a row you failed to spot me before I spotted you.”

“How am I not surprised you’ve been keeping score? At any rate, he didn’t sneak up on me, I’m telling you I looked right through him.”

“Except his boots. Unless in addition to invisibility you also believe in the existence of a sentient pair of boots?”

About the Author:

Writing stories infused with the smoky charisma of classic film noir mixed with the pulse-pounding excitement of adventure fantasy and the cagey class of suspenseful espionage, Dan McClure brought the best parts of all of our most cherished pulp together and added his own signature brand of wit. He currently lives, writes and works in and around beautiful and historic Arlington, Massachusetts.


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