My Take on Critique Groups by Steve McHugh – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

My Take on Critique Groups

Back when I was 25, which was only a decade ago, but feels much longer, I was tired and deliriously happy from the birth of my first daughter. There’s nothing quite like having a lot of late nights and the overwhelming thought that you are now responsible for a little person, to make you wonder just want you want to do with your life. In my case, I’d always wanted to be a writer, but I used the excuse, “some day, when I have time” an awful lot. The birth of my daughter changed all of that.

I knew I wanted to get serious about writing, but I’d never even finished writing a book, so I knew I was about to write the greatest novel of all time on the first go. So, I went online for hints about improving my craft. And that hurt my brain. Because everyone has a different view, and by everyone, I actually do mean everyone.

Eventually I found myself talking to someone about it who suggested I go take a look at Kelley Armstrong’s website. She’s written about writing and given hints and tips, and I’d loved her work, so I figured I may as well. What I found was somewhat bigger than that, because I ended up joining her forum and adding my name to the list of people wishing to join a critique group.

Now the groups on her forum were split into newbie island, which is where everyone starts until they’ve proven that they’re going to actually post and give critiques to others on a regular basis. So, I actually sat down and wrote something. It was shockingly bad.

I don’t think I actually posted anything for a few months, but I did read critiques and learned how advice should be given, and where people were going right and wrong on their own work. After a while, I published my first piece… it didn’t end well.

The following month, I published another. And then another. And with my regular critiquing, I left newbie island to be put into a permanent group (group 2 in my case). It was there that I met people who I consider some of the best people I know, certainly some of the most talented. Over the 4 or 5 years I was there, I made a lot of friends, got some excellent advice, and when Kelley had to close the forum, I’d already published my first book.

By the time it was over, pretty much everyone in the groups posting on anything close to a regular basis had either published or had a publishing deal.

To me, that shows that if you’re just starting, critiques are some of the most important things you’ll ever get. They help you grow as a writer, they help you learn from other people’s mistakes. And more importantly, you’ll make good friends. A good critique group can eventually put you on the path to publication.

Now I’m not saying they’re for everyone, some people wouldn’t enjoy that environment, but they’re certainly helpful, and they’re worth trying. You just need to find a good one.

I have beta readers now, people I’ve known for years from that group, I get to see friends go further and further with their writing career. So, no, they’re not for everyone, but for me, it helped me become a published author. Which in turn has completely changed my life.

Long ago, Olympian gods imprisoned the demon Pandora in a human—Hope—creating a creature whose only purpose was chaos and death. Remorseful, the gods locked Pandora away in Tartarus, ruled by Hades.

Now, centuries later, Pandora escapes. Nate Garrett, a 1,600-year-old sorcerer, is sent to recapture her and discovers her plan to disrupt the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, killing thousands in a misplaced quest for vengeance.

Fast forward to modern-day Berlin, where Nate has agreed to act as guardian on a school trip to Germany to visit Hades at the entrance to Tartarus. When Titan King Cronus becomes the second ever to escape Tartarus, Nate is forced to track him down and bring him back, to avert a civil war between those who would use his escape to gain power.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The power collected by the runes would have returned to me until I’d regained my strength. Breaking the runes had changed that. On the plus side, it meant getting my missing energy back much more quickly; on the minus side, it turned the car park into a damn bomb.

The remaining magic exploded outward like a nuclear shockwave. Windscreens and headlights shattered, tires blew from the pressure, and the lights and windows at the front of the restaurant rained down glass over the ground. The blast picked me up like I was made of paper and threw me aside. I felt a crunch as I collided, back first, with something hard. Pain rocked through me, and then, just as quickly as the magical energy had rushed outward, it stopped and all rushed back into me as if it were attached on an elastic band.

The final thing I remembered before passing out was that I cried out in pain.

About the Author: 4_13 PRISON AuthorPhoto_PrisonOfHopeSteve McHugh is the author of the popular Hellequin Chronicles. The fourth book, Prison of Hope, is out on April 14th. He lives in Southampton on the south coast of England with his wife and three young daughters. When not writing or spending time with his kids, he enjoys watching movies, reading books and comics, and playing video games.

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Background of The Leviathan Chronicles by James Mascia – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. James Mascia will be awarding 5 copies of the ebook in either mobi or epub formats to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Leviathan Chronicles started out about fifteen years ago when a wide-eyed high school graduate (who shall remain nameless, but I’m sure you will guess their identity) wrote a Star Wars fanfiction with a whole new set of characters travelling aboard the starship Leviathan. It was a project I worked on through my freshman and sophomore years of college, where the stories themselves took on their own identity and far removed themselves from the Star Wars universe.

Even though I enjoyed working on them, there came a time when schoolwork took over my life and I was forced to abandon them to the void that would be a subfolder on my hard-drive (amazingly, I managed to keep that subfolder through several computer changes since then). I worked on new projects, got myself a book deal with a small-press for my High School Heroes series, published four books in that series, along with two graphic novels, and a whole bunch of short stories.

So, now that I am wrapping up High School Heroes/b>, it came time to start thinking about a new project. I have been reading many old science-fiction stories from Amazing Stories, Planet Stories, Startling Stories, and other old pulp fiction magazines like these. It amazed me how well my old stories would have fit in there, like the old Buck Rogers, or Flash Gordon stories. So, I decided to dig them out and bring new life to them.

Of course, having fifteen years between my writing then and my writing now, I could barely look at those old stories without my stomach churning a little at the way they were written. So, I said, we would start from the ground up. I would totally recreate my universe, rewriting everything, and I would do it by starting with the very first story I wrote for The Leviathan Chronicles series. Hence, we have The Last Stand at Aeprion, the story of Joel, who has lost virtually everything in his life, tries to fulfill a promise while fighting off an insane alien hunter.

It was amazing to me, how much the story changed from the original as I was rewriting it, which lead to a completely different ending than the one I had originally written for it. I won’t go into details, but I will say that the new ending is a billion (yes, a billion) times better than the original.

I was also pleased by the fact that I enjoyed rewriting the story as much as I did. I am usually the kind of writer who will have a great idea and then just run with wherever the plot takes me. I can sometimes get bored writing when I know how the story is going to end up. I prefer to be as surprised as the reader when at all the twists and turns the story takes. But, writing this was a pleasure, even though I knew about half the turns the story would take when I set out.

So, there you have it. A little bit about my book and how I wrote it. I hope that you have found it informative.

4_13 LEVIATHAN BookCover_TheLeviathanChroniclesStill reeling from his wife’s murder, Joel tries to escape the alien hunter and fulfill a promise he made to her. Years of searching for the fabled planet, Aeprion, has left the space freighter captain torn between giving up the search or giving himself up to Kraxem, an alien hunter.

When Kraxem and his minions attack Joel’s ship again, he is forced into the nebula, where he’ll have to do repairs. Once there, his thoughts revert back to the final day of Kate’s life and the promises that were made. Learning to come to terms with her loss and release the guilt that he feels will be a hard battle to fight, but giving up will prove to be even more difficult and, perhaps, deadly.

Steeling his resolve to forge on, Joel vows to find the fabled living planet before guilt devours his soul and all is lost.

Enjoy an excerpt:

He stopped eating. He’d gone almost a whole day without thinking about her. Now that he had, he was overcome with an emptiness in his chest he couldn’t escape. He stared at the seat at the small table where she would always sit. If he closed his eyes, he could almost imagine she was still there, insisting that even though the food was crap, they could still eat like civilized human beings.

“Dammit!” He tossed the half empty ration pack at her seat, no longer hungry, and left the room.

He couldn’t keep doing this to himself. He knew that. But until they invented a pill that could erase memories, he really had no choice. It was all his fault. If it hadn’t been for him, she’s still be here.

He returned to the cockpit just as the air filled with the wail of the proximity alarm.

Jumping back into the pilot’s chair, he pulled up his sensor logs, and didn’t like what he saw. “Computer, is that what I think it is?”

“It is a Class-B frigate, of Quacock design with an armament of…”

He didn’t need to hear anymore.

The bulkhead groaned as Joel swung the Wanderer around, speeding away from the incoming craft.

He slammed his hand on the console. “How the hell did he find me?”

He’d been careful. Since he’d left the last port, he’d avoided all the shipping lanes, he’d made several course corrections, and he’d even masked his energy output to make it impossible to follow his trail.

“How’d the bastard do it?” he muttered.

“Please restate the question,” chimed the computer.

He didn’t respond to the machine. A warning beeped on the console a second before long streams of green energy burst forth from the pursuing craft and Joel jerked the controls to the right, sliding the Wanderer out of the way just in time. The beam of light passed only meters below the ship.

It had probably singed the armor, but at least no alarms blared. At least there was no lasting damage. It didn’t stop sweat from forming on his brow. It was a little too close, and if he wasn’t careful, he might not escape from the alien this time.

About the Author:captain america vectorHe fights evil across the known universe and crushes them between his fingers (at least, he does this with his words).

James Mascia is an accomplished writer with a bestselling series, High School Heroes, as well as a bestselling graphic novel, The Poe Murders. He has always been a fan of sci-fi, and is glad to be delving back into the galaxy once again.

James teaches in Maryland, where he also writes. He has a lovely wife and a tiny terror (a two-year-old) driving him mad, but making him laugh.

Check out some of his other work below:

Island of Dren | Twitter | DeviantArt | Amazon Author Page

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A Dark Tyranny by C.M. Pendleton – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. C.M. Pendleton will be awarding $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.

MediaKIt_BookCover_ADarkTyrannyA Dark Tyranny chronicles the onset of the savage invasion of Altaris. Wolven beasts and gorgons ravage the four realms of man. Rumors of an ancient and greater evil lay in their wake. The rule of kings is at an end. The hierarchy of class and heritage are no more, as families are torn apart and lives are forever changed. A small few find their fates intertwined, as they fight for survival and for those they love.

An exiled commander is thrust back into a world he longed to forget.

A lone Nighteye finds his curse lifted and his true image restored.

A young noblewoman struggles to escape a gorgon caravan.

A former slave befriends an ancient and majestic creature.

The afflicted brother of a traitorous king discovers a secret that could cost him his life.

A Dark Tyranny is a thrilling epic that brings readers into a vivid world full of magic, adventure, and treachery. Discover the world of Ehlür and experience the beginning of a gripping saga.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Mirkus sat up in a start. Something wasn’t right. He could smell it. There was a thickness to the air. Those last hours of darkness seemed to harbor a dread. There was a sense of fear that crept up his neck causing a cloud of anxiety to grip him like an iron vise.

I must do something. What? Something’s wrong.

Thoughts poured through his head. The ground began to tremble. He heard the mallop tree cry out like a great ship turning hard at sea. Wood twisted slightly and then settled back in place. The ground moved and swelled. Dust fell to the floor; it filled the air. The ground continued to move. It was a slow stirring, like the earth itself was waking from a deep slumber. A large echoing grind pulled through the bowels of the dirt below. Then … it stopped. There was silence.

Mirkus left his tree. The normal chill was gone. There was a musky stench of decay rising from the ground. It was nauseating. Worms and other creatures scurried from the safety of the soil. They toiled blindly on the loose dirt. Mirkus could hear stirring in the village.

I’m not the only one that heard this.

A howl pierced the night. It was neither dog nor wolf. It had the sound of human agony layered with a bestial moan. The ground moved once again. Mirkus shifted to keep his balance. There were screams.

About the Author: MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_ADarkTyranny
C. M. Pendleton is the author of the epic fantasy series Of Darkness & the Light. He holds a bachelor’s degree in science and attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and four children.

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Earths in Space by Daniel Sherrier – Spotlight and Giveaway

This is a post hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions. Daniel Sherrier 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.

Life can evolve. Amena saw the evidence on an ancient Earth. It wasn’t pleasant evidence, and it wasn’t evolution into sentient life, but she saw evidence.

So okay, she accepts that no little green men exist on alien worlds, but maybe one of these other Earths holds evolved humanity.

Evolution faces a powerful obstacle, however — humanity itself.

Volume 2: We Must Evolve begins with the discovery of a mysterious ark full of refugees caught in orbit over Pluto…

Wait, an ark full of refugees…?

Well, that’s one Earth that’s not evolving. But another could be doing better. It’s possible, Amena keeps telling herself…

Continuing the action-packed Earths in Space series, We Must Evolve features a novel-length journey told in four novellas — “The Pluto Factor,” “Worlds to Save,” “The New World,” and “On Hold.”

Enjoy an excerpt:

Evolution was a real thing. Amena Wharry knew this for a fact. She had witnessed it in action on an Earth that no longer existed. That giant swimming eyeball was forever etched in her memory.

She saw it, felt its slimy tentacles as they ensnared her, and she had regrettably killed the poor thing, though she never learned what species it had descended from. Did a race of giant eyeballs already exist deep within her Earth’s oceans? But those snakes were clearly evolved, the way they stretched their mouths unnaturally wide. Then again, that could’ve been a species of snake that had remained hidden in rainforests or was driven to extinction long ago, and those little dinosaurs might never have gone extinct over there in the first place…

The slender redhead swiped her paintbrush across a side wall in The Patrick Henry’s control room. The dull metal got old on day one, and she finally found time to rectify the horrid situation—rectify it as much as her limited artistic talents allowed. Intricate murals were beyond her abilities, and she didn’t have that much time anyway, but she could slap assorted streaks of color up and down the walls. She preferred detailed images that merited close inspection— the sort of work she’d find in art museums’ historical wings—but she settled on abstract expressionism. It was color. It broke the monotony, stimulated the brain even.

Surely people were capable of evolution. If those animals could evolve on that ancient Earth, then humanity likely had the same potential. They just never got the chance there. That civilization died young, lasted for a teensy fraction of the planet’s ten billion years. But maybe on some other Earth…

About the Author: Daniel Sherrier is a writer based in central Virginia. This is the guy who writes the Earths in Space and RIP series, which you’ve doubtless heard much about. Occasionally, a play he’s written gets performed somewhere. He graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2005, where he earned a degree in the ever-lucrative fields of English and Theatre. Recently, he achieved his black belt in Thai kickboxing. And there was that one time he jumped out of an airplane, which was memorable.

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Spring Blogfest: Jonathan Gould

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Win an ecopy of Magnus Opum, and as a bonus also ecopies of the author’s three Neville Lansdowne novellas – Doodling, Scribbling and Scrawling by commenting on this post. Also click on the banner to enter the rafflecopter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC, one of four book packs, or one of four swag packs (US only on book and swag packs).

Did somebody say it’s spring? That’s news to me

Hooray. Spring is here. Everybody is so happy. Everyone is singing happy songs and dancing in the street. It’s all wonderful and joyful and ever so bright and shiny.

Well it is for some people. But not for everybody.

It’s all right for you people in the northern hemisphere to be so happy about it. But what about us poor folk south of the equator?

There’s no spring here as far as I can tell. In fact, what we’ve got is the total opposite. As you settle into spring, we’re sinking into autumn (okay, fall, for all you northern hemisphere types). While your days are getting longer and your sunshine is getting brighter and your flowers are opening up to fill your world with life and colour, our days are getting shorter and gloomier as the warmth of the sun subsides and the dreary dark clouds of winter start to roll in.

You folk up north have so much to look forward to. Soon it will be summer. Out will come the sunglasses and the swimming costumes, and you’ll all be parading at the beach, drinking daiquiris or Long Island iced teas, or whatever summer beverage happens to be the latest fashion. While you’re sipping away, spare a thought for us poor southern souls. We’ll be pulling out our raincoats, sticking beanies on our heads and gloves on our hands as we brace ourselves for the cold. Oh no, life for us is definitely not looking so promising.

Not that I want to complain or anything. Well, that’s not really true. Actually, I love to complain. There’s nothing that makes me happier than a good whinge. If it really was spring down here, I’d probably be moaning about how I can’t stand the heat of the summer, and I always end up getting sunburnt, and the air-conditioning never works properly and…But that’s another story. For now, I’m more than happy to complain about the fact that autumn is setting in, the days are getting shorter, and soon I won’t be able to go on a nice after-dinner stroll around the neighbourhood, which kind of sucks in my book.

Oh well, I better try and look on the bright side. Less sun means I don’t feel so guilty about hiding inside and getting on with my writing – which is my favourite thing to do, regardless of the weather. And I can get some cold-hearted pleasure from the fact that your summer will fly by before you know it, and then you too will find autumn bearing down upon you. And by that time, I’m sure I’ll have found a bunch of other things to complain about.

jgould Magnus-opum-booktrope-coverMagnus Mandalora never planned to go out into the big, wide world. He thought he’d live out his life in his homely little village, happily cooking and eating pflugberry pies. But fate had other ideas.

Before he knows it, Magnus has embarked on an incredible adventure. He discovers a world full of marvels and wonder, surprises and delights. But it’s also a world of perils and danger. As Magnus finds himself right in the middle of a long-running war between the fair and noble Cherines and the vile and despicable Glurgs, he faces challenges beyond anything he could have imagined.

About the Author: jgouldJonathan Gould has lived in Melbourne, Australia all his life, except when he hasn’t. He has written comedy sketches for both the theatre and radio, as well as several published children’s books for the educational market.

He likes to refer to his stories as dag-lit because they don’t easily fit into recognisable genres (dag is Australian slang for a person who is unfashionable and doesn’t follow the crowd – but in an amusing and fun way). You might think of them as comic fantasies, or modern fairytales for the young and the young-at-heart.

Over the years, his writing has been compared to Douglas Adams, Monty Python, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, the Goons, Dr Seuss, Terry Pratchett, and even Enid Blyton (in a good way).

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Spring Blogfest: Shawna Reppert

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Win one Ebook (MOBI or Epub at winner’s choice) of Ravensblood (prequel to Raven’s Wing) by commenting on this post. Also click on the banner to enter the rafflecopter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC, one of four book packs, or one of four swag packs (US only on book and swag packs).

The pagan festival of Beltane marks the mid-point of spring. It symbolizes the conjoining of the sun god with the earth goddess, a union which will bring forth the fruits of the field and orchard to feed the people. It is, therefore, a joyous festival with much celebration. An ancient tradition, it lives on today in many places and in various forms.

First, a long, straight young tree is cut for the Maypole. To be absolutely traditional, the celebrants would carry it out of the woods without letting it touch the ground until it set upright in the hole that has been prepared for it, a hole that has been wet with water taken from the very source of a stream. (Although both of these requirements are often eschewed out of practicality in modern celebrations.) Before the pole can be set upright, colorful ribbons are attached to the top. The colors used are less important than the number; in order for the Maypole dance to properly wrap the pole, there should be an even number of ribbons.

Then comes the fun part, the dance itself. Participants each take a ribbon by the very end, and face alternately in opposite directions. The easiest way to accomplish this is to count off one, two, one, two, and then have the ones go clockwise (deosil or deiseal) and the twos go counter-clockwise (widdershins). Then the two groups start moving, ducking their ribbons over-under-over, which is most easily accomplished in sort of an in-and-out dance, out to go over and in to go under, interlacing the ribbons. Often there is drumming or other music to help the dance along. When the ribbons are wound to their very ends, they are tied off, and the feasting can begin.
At night, there are fires to honor the flames of the sun, and talking and singing and dancing. Much is made of what does or does not happen on Beltane in the shadows of the woods just beyond the light of the fires. In reality, this would vary depending on time and place and community standards, and I maintain that, as long as the activities are consensual, it is really no one’s business but that of the individuals involved.

In Raven’s Wing, the second book of my urban fantasy Ravensblood series, I chose Beltane as the night for a reunion between two lovers, for both symbolic and plot reasons. The energies at work that night come into play in a way they do not anticipate.

Shawna Raven's Wing Cover Press Kit 500px ©Laura G. YoungRaven struggled to escape the world of dark magic he’d committed to as a bitter young man. Now he must come to terms with both his past and his ancestry. What will be his place in the Three Communities? When he finds himself on the run, trying to find the stolen Ravensblood, the task grows much harder. He must protect the people he has come to care about from the danger of this powerful artifact in the wrong hands, and at the same time prove he is not the thief!

This is the sequel to Ravensblood, and urban fantasy set in an alternate-universe version of the Pacific Northwest. Ravensblood won a Gold Medal in the 2014 Global E Books Awards.

The author’s debut novel, The Stolen Luck, won a Silver Medal in the 2013 Global E Books Awards and a 2014 Eppie.

About the Author:Shawna Reppert is an award-winning author of fantasy and steampunk who keeps her readers up all night and makes them miss work deadlines. Her fiction asks questions for which there are no easy answers while taking readers on a fine adventure that grips them heart and soul. “Definitely give this author a chance,” says one reader, “her storytelling will draw you in. Her style is just a hint of Andre Norton, a dash of J. K. Rowling, and the tiniest pinch of Anne Rice. The rest is her own unique stamp.” You can find her work on Amazon and follow her blog on her website (www.Shawna-Reppert.com). Friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter for an amazing array of geekery, including history tidbits, Whovian memes, Trek humor, writing tips, and pics of David Tennant in a kilt. Shawna can also sometimes be found in medieval garb on a caparisoned horse, throwing javelins into innocent hay bales that never did anything to her.

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Spring Blogfest: October Weeks

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Ah, spring! Not my favorite season but a very welcome one :-) Living in Vermont, winter can last a long time, so seeing nature bloom once more renews both energy and hope. It’s an incredibly refreshing sight when the trees start to bloom, the grass is once again green, and the flowers begin to grow. After a long winter, those things are almost enough to bring someone to tears…or throw a party :-)

I also get a big burst of energy to get things organized for the rest of the year. Things that can be done ahead of the next winter (which isn’t fun to think about after just getting rid of the snow lol), so that I don’t have to worry or leave them for the last minute and scramble to get them done. The weather is still iffy—we get snow in April and, on occasion, May, and the spring flooding from the snow melt—but that snow isn’t going to be around long, and the temperatures warm.

That same renewal of life also helps refresh my imagination. When March rolls in, I start getting so many ideas for books it’s overwhelming. I write a few pages to a chapter for each one so I won’t lose the voice of the character that came to me. Some of those ideas will become novels or novellas, maybe a short story or two, and some will never get written because there is not enough time in one life to write all the books that are floating around in my mind!

Two of my favorite scents of the season are the smell of lilacs and the smell of maple syrup being made—Vermont has the best maple syrup.

What are your favorite things about spring?

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thedamned1sEight years ago, slayer Tuck Houston lost two of her closest friends to a Damned vampire named Josef Dragos—a beast who traded the sun for darkness and blood. She’s been hunting him since the day she walked into the carnage he created. But Josef has hidden himself well in the underground, from both slayers and other vampires.

When slayers around the globe start disappearing in a familiar pattern—Josef’s pattern—she’s put on the hunt. And despite the painful memories and very real threat to her future that come with tracking him down, Tuck is certain of one thing: she is going to make Josef Dragos wish he’d never been born.

About the Author: October Weeks is a dark fantasy/horror writer and a reader with too many books and not enough shelves!

She lives in Vermont. Autumn is her favorite season—October and November are her favorite months.

Loves: reading, writing, movies (horror, sci-fi, and fantasy especially), taking walks, fishing, and family

Obsessions: Lindt dark chocolate and the SyFy Channel (Haven!).

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Spring Blogfest: Maureen L. Bonatch

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You might be from Pennsylvania if these signs of spring sound familiar

It creeps upon us, a few degrees over freezing here, a moment of being mesmerized by the round, orb in the sky that after initial confusion our frozen minds realize it’s the sun thinking of emerging from hibernation…and suddenly Spring is on its way.

Most notice the longer days, and that they might actually go to and from work without the moon for company. Others comment on the budding flowers, but here in PA, I find some other not so obvious signs that Spring may be upon us (and not the Groundhog, he seems to love Winter- who could blame him when he gets to hibernate).

Spring might be on its way if:

• My obsession with the Schoolcast website has lessoned. One morning I will realize I’ve started my day without the routine of refreshing the school closings and delays at least a bajillion times, only to have the cancellation roll in moments before or after waking the munchkins.
• I realize I’ve not checked the weather for a day or two, and have not conversed with friends and families about when the next winter storm is about to descend (I.e.: when to avoid the grocery store at all costs)
• I look in my closet and discover 90% of my choices are black or grey…and suddenly I feel the urge to add a little color.
• The initial excitement has long faded and I don’t know if I can stand to wear my salt encrusted, dry rotting, boots One. More. Day— I dream of open-toed shoes and painted toenails.
• Fretting begins about the eventual hibernation of the sweat pants I’ve come to love and cherish—one aspect of winter I resist with all my might—despite doing very little sweating in them.
• That rack I’ve intentionally avoided, ignored and scowled at has been full of bathing suits since January- and some crazy people (who haven’t taken advantage of the frigid temperatures to indulge) have been buying them so the rack is getting sparse.
• The state flower has began to make its appearance. No, not the Mountain Laurel Flower (who knew we had so many state symbols) but the orange_cone
• Potholes appear out of nowhere as if an asteroid has hit the earth, leaving gaping holes big enough to lose small animals in.
• In Destiny Calling, another not so usual sign of spring is the emergence of motorcycles even though the snow has yet to finish melting. I have yet to see any out, but it won’t be long- and I’m sure there would be if we had any Oppressors in residence…

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MAUREEN DestinyCalling_w9052_medHope only wants to find out if her ability to infuse euphoria or despair with her touch makes her the devil’s spawn, or his exterminator. But when the woman who raised her is murdered by something not human, she loses the only family she knew and discovers one she might wish she hadn’t.

Drawn back to the hometown she vowed never to return to, her ability is seen as an asset to everyone but Hope, and she doesn’t know who to trust. Her family wants her to help them overcome an enemy oppressing the human population, while the man of her dreams is courting her for the Underworld.

Time is running out, and Hope’s choice may be made for her, as she discovers she’s a pawn in a bigger game played by a merciless ruler who doesn’t lose.

About the Author: Penning stories boasting laughter, light suspense and something magical in the hope of sharing her love of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world.

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Spring Blogfest: Voss Foster

Spring blogfest banner 2 copy

Win one ebook copy of The Park (Evenstad Media Presents #1) in Kindle or PDF format by commenting on this post. Also click on the banner to enter the rafflecopter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC, one of four book packs, or one of four swag packs (US only on book and swag packs).

Springtime in Eastern Washington is really something different. I live here, and I’m the first to admit that most of the year sucks. It gets freezing cold starting in September, and that lasts until March or April, normally. And then it gets too hot to exist from about late may until… well, until September.

But there’s a month or two where the weather is awesome. Sunshine and flowers and mint fields perfuming the air. To this day, smelling mint fields brings me back to my childhood. Same with lilacs and carrot flowers, too. And this time of year in our little stretch of desert, you can’t escape those smells.

So, for those couple months of glory in the year, I actually like to be outside. And my favorite outdoor activity is reading. Just like with wine pairings, some books go better with sunny days than others. Same with rainy days or snowy days. So, I though I’d share my top three spring reads with y’all. In no particular order, of course.

Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson

A fun little romp that turns the notion of good and evil on its head. Rather than redeeming a villainous character, we watch the main character, Belladonna, struggle with her own goodness. She was cursed as a white witch, never able to make even the tiniest of boils or warts with her magic.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Most people have seen the movie by now, and the movie’s good. The book isn’t just better, though. It’s leagues better. Particularly the second half vs. the second movie. Yikes. As with a lot of European middle grade and children’s fiction, this pushes boundaries we wouldn’t touch on in America. And that’s a good thing. It’s a deeply psychological book, all wrapped up in the wonder of the world of Fantasia. A sort of more modernized Alice in Wonderland, in a lot of ways. Don’t let the movies fool you into thinking this is for kids. The book gets seriously dark.

Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott

Mostly, this is on here for its length, but it is a book I enjoy. A very short book I enjoy, and a very cheap book I enjoy. Like a lot of classics, you can find incredibly wallet-friendly paperback versions of this book. I got mine for two dollars. Two dollars for a book. You can’t beat that. And you really can’t beat the inventiveness of this book. Not really sci-fi, but not really classifiable anywhere else. Math-fi? I don’t know. But its well worth it, not only because it’s a classic piece of spec-fic history, but because it’s just a good frigging book.

So, what are your favorite springtime reads? Let me know, and I’ll give way an ecopy of The Park to one lucky winner.

The Park Cover Smaller12 Contestants
20,000,000 Dollars
1 Survivor

The Park: Evenstad Media’s newest reality show. There are no laws. There are no rules. The only goal is to stay alive. But in Evenstad’s arena, things are far from simple. Outfitted with strange new weapons, trapped in the dark, afraid for their lives, it’s only a matter of time before somebody takes the first shot.

And all the while, the world watches. Some in disgust, some rapt, but all feeding Evenstad, and all oblivious to the horrors they’re helping fund. By the time anyone notices, will there be time to put an end to it? Or will it be too late?

About the Author:Voss Foster lives in the middle of the Eastern Washington desert, where he writes science fiction and fantasy from inside a single-wide. He is the author of Tartaros, The Mountains of Good Fortune, The Park, and The King Jester Trilogy (Zirkua Fantastic, The Jester Prince, and A Fool’s War, coming in 2015). He has also written several short stories, featured in Apocrypha & Abstractions, Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, and other various anthologies and publications. When he can be pried away from his keyboard, he enjoys singing, cooking, playing trombone, and belly dancing, though rarely all at the same time.

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EMP by Wilson Harp – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Wilson Harp will award a randomly drawn winner a $25 Amazon/BN GC via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

In a flash of searing light, the world changed. A massive solar flare has crippled the modern world and brought chaos and destruction. David Hartsman is stuck in the remote farm town of his youth on what was expected to be a short visit to check on his ailing parents. While his wife and his daughter are hundreds of miles away at home in Chicago, David must face the dangers associated with his own survival and the pressures of not being with his family. In a worldwide catastrophe, every struggle is personal.

Enjoy an excerpt:

The days had turned warmer and the rains had come to a stop. The fields were planted with the food that would allow us to survive, and everyone anxiously awaited the first harvest of lettuce and beans. Anything other than radish and turnip soup seasoned with a little green onion and boiled squirrel.

I walked past one of the fields and waved at the boys. Two of them carried rifles and several others had sharp spades. Those with the rifles were scanning the edges of the field making sure no rabbits came in to eat the precious crops. Those with spades walked along each row, making sure no moles or other burrowing varmint was making itself at home.

The boys waved back and went back to their vigilant sentry work.

I shook my head as I thought about what Lexi would say if she had seen this. She was afraid of guns. She never grew up around them and did not like them. I didn’t care one way or another. To me, they were just another tool. One I grew up with, but found no particular joy in using. It was like a hammer. Lexi was afraid of them and didn’t want one in the house, so I acquiesced to her demand.

But now they were needful things. The right tool for the right job. At night, the dogs were set free in the field and the snares were set along the edges. But in the daytime, a stray rabbit taken with a .22 meant not only saving our crops, but more meat in our stew.

About the Author:

Wilson Harp is a writer based out of the American Midwest. As a military brat, he traveled and met people from many cultures and backgrounds. Exposure to so many different views has led him to an appreciation of an eclectic collection of music, film and literature.

His sense of wonder at stories and folklore started young and continues to this day, often affecting the themes and ideas in his writing. In his works you will find the old fashioned ideas of virtue and honor as the lifeline that pulls many of his characters through the situations they often find themselves.

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