Advice for Writers by Diane Hatz – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

Advice for writers

I self-published Rock Gods of Acht in 2008 because I couldn’t find an agent or publisher. I had incredibly low self-esteem around my writing and took all the rejections personally. It was so painful!

Last spring, a friend reconnected after many years. She shared that she quit her office job immediately after finishing my book. She also said I had the novel all wrong. Rock Gods is set in a record company, but it’s about the search for self and understanding that our dreams can sometimes be delusions. And we are the only ones that can do something about it.

It took a little (okay, a lot) of encouragement from her, but I decided to update the book and re-release it as Rock Gods & Messy Monsters. I indie published the work under my new publishing imprint Whole Healthy Group LLC.

I’ve learned so much that my next book will be on indie publishing. Writing it will be worth it if I can help one person avoid the drama and difficulties I experienced with Rock Gods.

Some quick tips I can give any aspiring or new writers include:

● Write. I read many years ago that writing is rewriting. That is so true. If you’re writing a novel, the first draft is usually a brain dump. Just get your thoughts out. Don’t stop to edit; don’t stop at all. Just write, write, write. That will give you a manuscript to mold and edit into a novel.

● Be consistent. I write every day. It might not always be a book I’m working on, but I’ll journal or write an article for my Substack Next Draft with Diane Hatz. Writing is like any form of exercise. You get out of shape if you stop doing it for a while. Develop a routine – even if it’s ten minutes a day. Write.

● Rewrite and edit. You’ll have to cut parts of the manuscript you love. If the scenes or characters don’t move your story forward, you must cut them. I cut out the words, but I save the writing in another folder to possibly use later. You’re not getting rid of the work; you’re keeping it for another time.

● Join writing groups. You must find people to support you. I had such low self-esteem with writing because I didn’t have enough supportive people in my life. There are writing groups everywhere. Start one if you can’t find one. And make it a requirement that any critiques are positive.

● Ignore the negative. I know this is hard, but you’ll face rejection with your work at some point. I recently did my first tabling event at a comic con in Las Vegas. I went in all bright-eyed, with visions of the masses buying all my books. That didn’t happen. But I ended up having a great time because I shifted my attitude about being there. It became a weekend of market research and meeting other indie writers. And how many people get Batman and Robin to take a photo with their book? Because I could shift my expectations, I made the most of my time there. And I enjoyed it.

My final advice is to take your writing career one step at a time. If you’re still writing your book, focus on that. Worry about publishing when you feel it’s at least ninety-five percent done.

If you’re ready to publish, go indie. Indie books now make up 43% of the market, which is only increasing. You keep total control, and you get a much, much larger royalty on each book sold.

I hope to be reading your book in the not-too-distant future.

Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is one woman’s search for herself among the blood-soaked walls, dangling body parts, and alien-hatched explosions inside Acht Records.

It’s the 1990s. Alex arrives to work at Acht, her improbable blonde hair streaked stress magenta and anger black. Her first duty is to wipe blood off her boss’s walls, to clean up his blood vessel explosion. It goes downhill from there.

On the surface, Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is a story about life inside an entertainment company. A cast of comedic characters exemplifies the inner workings of Acht, where power and greed mask incompetence.

A series of escapades involve Alex, a hard-working, lower-level employee desperately trying to get promoted. When she does, she realizes her dream is a nightmare. Corporate executives are busy working with aliens to manufacture a half-human, half-robot superstar. At the same time, one of the doubly-named Senior Senior Executive Presidents attempts to overthrow the Deity in charge.

Underneath and between the lines of exploding body parts and brain extractions, Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is a cautionary tale. It reminds us that our dreams can be illusions, and learning who we really are takes courage and a commitment to self-love.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The blood didn’t bother Alex but cleaning it up made her angry.

“Damn it,” she cursed aloud as she surveyed the red stained walls and coagulated mounds of Langley ooze around her boss’ corner office.

Alex returned to her desk, her wildly improbable blonde hair already streaked stress magenta and anger black. It was coming to an end; Alex had to get out of her job. But with the worldwide recession and lines of job applicants she saw every day on her way into the building, she was lucky to have a job, especially in a major record company.

Alex put her backpack on the floor and unzipped the side of her head. She reached in and pulled out her brain, placing the throbbing gray matter in the customized, faux crystal cerebrum urn Acht Records had supplied her with her first day at the company. She had fought the procedure at first, refused to sign the Cerebrum Extraction Release form, but with times being as hard as they were, and with the knowledge that she had spent over six months unemployed before being offered this job, Alex knew she had no choice.

And after wandering through the homogenous maze of Acht, up and down forty floors of identical gray hallways and glaring fluorescent lights, she had realized she would be better off if she removed all traces of thought and intelligence before commencing employment at the company.

About the Author Diane Hatz worked at major and indie record companies, managed a band, and freelanced as a music publicist. She is co-founder of The Relay, a fanzine on The Who, which is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She’s attended thousands of concerts.

Diane has a Masters in Creative Writing and is currently focused on writing fiction. Her book Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is currently available from most online retailers. Her substack “Next Draft with Diane Hatz” is a newsletter for creatives looking inward. And some writing stuff.

During her sometimes-surreal career, Diane founded the nonprofit Change Food, worked to shut down factory farms, organized & spoke at major TED/TEDx events, and executive produced The Meatrix, a Webby Award winner. She has studied with many spiritual teachers, including The Dalai Lama.

In late 2020, after 30 years living in downtown Manhattan and the East Village, Diane moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. When not at her computer creating, you can find her hiking, road tripping, or breathing in all the beauty the Southwest has to offer.

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God of Summer by Kat Chant – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

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

Back in the Bronze Age, Angus McCraggan sacrificed his life to break the Celtic curse laid on his kind. He failed. Millennia later, he returns to modern Ireland to find his people have become feral, vengeful shadows. With his hollow hill now packed with tourists, he uses his power to keep his past hidden.

Until an American calls him out.

Since a banshee attacked her as a teen, Erin De Santos has been tormented by dreams of a boy she’s never met. Armed with a new identity, she returns to the Emerald Isle determined to face her nightmare. But her discovery turns fatal.

When the banshee strikes again, Angus surrenders his heart—and his hope of freeing his people—to save her. With his life now hers and his curse descending, Erin must make a terrible choice: kill her savior or share his doom.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

The banshee whirled around her head, turning the bubble of fog into a maelstrom for one. The force of it pulled at Erin from all sides. She wanted to sink down to the ground, as if facing a storm that might blow over. Bits of her would scatter to the four winds if she tried that. She was already falling apart, her composure disintegrating in tune with the high wavering wail.

The wailing eased for the banshee to draw breath for another blast. In the sudden silence, from somewhere far away, came a voice. It poured over Erin with the rich, sweet grace of molasses, warming her from the inside out. Maybe she’d died after all—died and gone to heaven.

Beneath her feet, the ground rippled with the sickening shudder of an earthquake and the spiderweb tufts binding her broke apart like cotton candy, returning to a pea-soup fog.

I can move.

The pub. The people. The man who sang with all his heart.

She staggered forward, stumbled over a step, and would have fallen had she not crashed into the door. Where was the handle? She had to get in.

Through the wood, the man’s words rang with gospel truth. The singer was in love with some girl and, oh God, she wanted that girl to be her. She palmed the cracked paint in every direction, blind and frantic, her pulse knocking in her ears.

The banshee screeched and drew in the fog to reform around eyes now the pale blue of ice.

Shivering uncontrollably, Erin pressed into the doorframe, as if it might hide her from the death coming for her. The banshee would use her name to gut out her heart, the same as she’d done to Da. If only Erin was more collected, more centered, more together somehow, she might somehow hold on.

“Mmmaureeeen O’Neilllll,” the creature called in cracked and wavering glee.

The name cut through Erin like shards of crystal. Or maybe that was her enemy, arms straight and fingers crooked, coming straight in for the kill. The banshee’s claws hooked into her scalp and pulled, while she stood frozen, arms locked at the wrists as if chained. She fought her immobility, straining until it seemed her chest would burst. Her muscles refused to budge. Not even her lips moved enough to curse her own stupidity.

About the Author:Kat Chant is an award-winning writer. A bookworm who grew into a history buff, she swapped beaches for castles and moved from Australia to the UK. When studying medieval history, she fell in love with a lad from Ireland…and fell in love with his country, too.

She and her family live in the heart of Ireland, surrounded by fields in forty shades of green.

Kat is a keen cook and often experiments with traditional farmhouse foods such as making bread, cheese, jam and liqueurs. She also decorates the occasional cake.

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A Climate of Revenge by Tom Riley – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Tom Riley will be awarding a PDF file of “Writer’s Guide to Our Climate Crisis” (International) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Sarah and JanetM, are a human/Artificial Intelligence pair who do private investigations in the near future where our climate crisis has hit and hit hard. A man with a long dark history tries to hire them but is then killed. His family hires the team to find who killed this man with a thousand enemies in a land with a million problems.

The United Nations IPCC report, “Climate Change 2022, Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability contains:

C5.3 Enhancing knowledge
A wide range of … processes … can deepen climate knowledge and sharing, including … using the arts … (high confidence).

This can only be read as a clarion call for writers to produce the works that will help our people cope.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Sarah walked out of the restaurant past the taxi lane and into the dark parking lot. The charging kiosks threw patches of dim light barely enough to walk by, but they lit up when anyone approached. If anyone was sneaking around in the lot, the kiosks would surely have given them away. There was no moon, the stars were just coming out, but the heat of the day was hanging on for a while.

The dinner appointment had been a waste of time, the ex-executive who had booked the table was only interested in hiring her to promote his I’m-a-good-guy-now agenda by getting the dirt on his enemies one way or another. Sarah had no patience with such greenwashing.

What did he call himself, Winestead? She knew she had heard that name before, but where? JanetM would have a complete dossier by morning. Anyway his story did not make much sense; he was hiding something. Only god knew what sins against the Earth this man had already committed.

Sarah was not interested in his building a new facade; he could keep his money. To make matters worse, the dinner was one of those little-food-and-fancy-plates affairs. The whole experience left Sarah feeling still hungry and irritable. The interview had gone on for much too long.

About the Author:

After an extensive career at NASA as an Instrument Engineer, Tom Riley started a people-based space program, The Big Moon Dig, compatible with the needs of our climate crisis. Our climate crisis clearly must now come first, and that effort needed positive stories of people in action.

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LASR Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: Tremors Through Time by Anastasia Abboud

Thanks for joining us on our 15th anniversary scavenger hunt! There are two ways to enter to win and it’s easy to play– first read the blurb below, then answer the question on the first Rafflecopter. You might win a $100 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC (along with other prizes). Follow and visit authors’ social media pages on the second Rafflecopter and you’re entered to win another $100 Amazon/BN GC (along with other prizes)!

She’s made mistakes and paid the price, but Deidre Chisolm is no quitter. She’ll never again be a fool for a man, not even her gorgeous new neighbor with his haunted eyes and strange accent. She’ll be friendly, but nothing more.

Lachlann has to go back to fourteenth-century Scotland. He can’t forsake his family, his son. But when a beautiful, kind, funny lady buys the house next door, he’s never been so drawn to anyone in his life. Would she believe his story? After years of struggling through nightmares and flashbacks, headaches and illiteracy, dare he ask her to help him return?

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The World of The Genes of Isis by Justin Newland – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Justin Newland will be awarding one signed copy of the paperback (US or International) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Hi LASR, many thanks for having me on board your site, on the Goddess Fish blog tour of my novel The Genes of Isis.

The World of The Genes of Isis
Once upon a time, the Nephilim aka the Fallen Angels manifested on Mount Hermon and took on human form. Trouble was, they then proceeded to mate with the daughters of man, which went down as the first-ever dirty weekend in history. According to the Book of Enoch, the Nephilim spawned a race of monsters and hybrids, creating a world in which genetics had gone wild.

This genetic mix-up is alluded to in ancient texts such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, in which a fish-man was reputed to have emerged from the sea in the morning, only to return to the safety of the waves at night.

Here’s an image of a fish-man from the Temple of Hatshepsut near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

In the novel, a second cohort of angels – called the Solarii – is sent to sort out the mess caused by the first lot. After settling in the land of Egypt, the Solarii began their task by confining the Fallen Angels ‘beneath the valleys of the earth,’ according to the Book of Enoch. The Fallen Angels are still here; so, don’t dig too deep lest they are disturbed from their imprisonment.

This genetic mix-up eventually resulted in the killing waters of Noah’s Flood, which was sent to destroy the monsters and the hybrid creatures once and for all.

In this time of genetic mix-up, it was impossible for humans to procreate, because if they did, only monsters and hybrids would result. But today, genetics are stable, in that boy plus girl results in another human child, not one with a fish head. So, what happened to stabilize the genetics? That was the question I wanted to answer in fictional terms in the novel, The Genes of Isis.

When the Flood came, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, which is a lot of rain. Question is, how did all that water get up in the sky in the first place?

Perhaps days were longer because the planet spun slower, meaning that its gravitational pull was less than it is today. In turn, this meant that most of the waters of the earth circulated in the sky in clouds and streams – the Sky Waters. And when men walked on green grass, they also walked beneath a green sky. Because in those days, the sun was green, and the day was mostly twilight.

Because most of the waters of the earth were in the sky, the earth had shrunk like a dried prune, meaning that the distribution of the land mass on the surface of the earth was different to what it is today. When the waters came down again, they didn’t come down in an even, uniform way. They came down in huge water spouts, bringing with them the quantities of sand that had gone up there with it. This was how the deserts were formed, mostly all along the same planetary axes.

These are some of the ideas that I explored in The Genes of Isis, marrying ancient myth with speculative conjecture to create a compelling and original take on our genetic origins.

Akasha is a precocious young woman who lives in a world where oceans circulate in the aquamarine sky waters.

Before she was born, the Helios, a tribe of angels from the sun, came to Earth to deliver the Surge, the next step in the evolution of an embryonic human race. Instead, they left humanity on the brink of extinction and spawned a race of monstrous hybrids.

Horque is a Solarii, another tribe of angels, sent to Earth to rescue the genetic mix-up and release the Surge.

When Akasha has a premonition that a great flood is imminent and falls in love with Horque, her life becomes an instrument for apocalyptic change. But will it save the three races – humans, hybrids and Solarii – from the killing waters?

Enjoy an Excerpt

The moonlight flooded through the window but Issa was still awake. Once the street cats grew tired of fighting and the hyenas and foxes stopped scavenging, she roused herself and began her descent. Clutching a glow lamp in one hand and Fryme’s package in the other, she crept downstairs and stopped in the middle of a corridor, beside a section of wall that would have appeared unremarkable to anyone else. She knew otherwise.

A few words, an arcane utterance, followed by a shimmer of light and the astral curtain disappeared, revealing the secret door. She stepped through it, into the corridor beyond. She was going to the God Crucible, an occult chamber beneath her house. Its astral protections were such that no one, not even Cheiron, suspected its existence. Her breathing was shallow. This was the first point of no return.

Her glow-lamp threw long shadows down the narrow, sloping tunnel. Divided in two, it had steps on one side and a slanting ramp on the other. In front of her on the ground was a piece of white bandage, accidentally torn off the mummified body of her son, which she’d dragged down the ramp before Cheiron had arrived. How heavy he had been. They didn’t call it a dead weight for nothing. She could still smell the musty odour of the dust particles she’d dislodged.

At the bottom of the ramp, the tunnel gave way to a dome-shaped chamber, the God Crucible. Her son’s cadaver lay on a bench, and she ran her hand over the embalming bandages. Beside it was a second, vacant bench. There, she would lie during the ritual she was about to perform.

The Anubis embalmers had washed Horque’s body, encased it in natron salt, and mummified it according to all but one of the traditions of the Jackal-headed God – the exception being that they had not removed any of his organs. On his chest, she laid out a scarab pectoral and into his mouth, she placed a length of straw.

About the Author:

 

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

His Books

The Genes of Isis is a tale of love, destruction and ephemeral power set under the skies of Ancient Egypt. A re-telling of the Biblical story of the flood, it reveals the mystery of the genes of Isis – or genesis – of mankind. ISBN 9781789014860.

The novel is creative, sophisticated, and downright brilliant! I couldn’t ask more of an Egyptian-esque book!” – Lauren

, Books Beyond the Story.

The Old Dragon’s Head is a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the beginnings of modern times.  ISBN 9781789015829.

The author is an excellent storyteller.” – British Fantasy Society.

Set during the Great Enlightenment, The Coronation reveals the secret history of the Industrial Revolution. ISBN 9781838591885.

“The novel explores the themes of belonging, outsiders… religion and war…  filtered through the lens of the other-worldly.” – A. Deane, Page Farer Book Blog.

His latest, The Abdication (July, 2021), is a suspense thriller, a journey of destiny, wisdom and self-discovery. IS

BN 9781800463950.

“In Topeth, Tula confronts the truth, her faith in herself, faith in a higher purpose, and ultimately, what it means to abdicate that faith.”

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Pondering the Muse by Darby Harn – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

Pondering the Muse

I rarely think about a muse, but I’m always thinking about craft. How do I start a story? How do I finish? How do I sustain myself through periods lacking inspiration or motivation? My experience being autistic mirrors my writing process in many ways. I want to go out and be social; I also really don’t. I want to write the story in my head, and I don’t know how. My worst moments come in literally standing in the door, on the threshold of going out, but never leaving. Many of my stories exist in this space, unrealized.

This tension generates enormous anxiety and exhaustion from the same, eroding the energy I have to do anything, including write. Producing In Between: Stories of the Eververse represents a major accomplishment for me. When I settled on the idea of creating this series about Kit Baldwin, fighting to simply help people in a world where superheroes charge for their services, I had some strong ideas and goals. I knew I wanted to do nine books, and I knew I wanted to do a story collection that would land in the pause between books three and four. I knew this collection would serve both as a bridge and an entry point for readers, as much as it would serve to build out the world even more.

Despite the inspiration guiding me, getting the collection to print took years. The stories and novellas that make up the collection, loosely linked together in a kind of parenthetical novel, first emerged in 2018. I often think a long time on a story, write it fast, and then think on it more for ever longer. I’ve gotten better recently, as I’m more aware I’m threading into this loop, but I still do it. That requires me to apply enormous focus on my work. Inspiration always guides me, and my muse – such as it is – plays a role in seizing on an idea in the first place. But for myself and perhaps for other writers, hard work and dedication are what gets you through to the end.

The final novella in the collection, “The Other Kit,” lingered in my head for years as I teetered on the brink of what the story would be. I had an idea, and an ambition, but I also feared writing it. This novella acknowledges Kit’s autism in the text for the first time and I struggled with whether or not to do so. Many neurodivergent writers leave this aspect of their characters unacknowledged, but I felt for Kit and for myself, I needed to say. I didn’t know how for a long time.

Book five in the series, which I’m writing now, similarly gestated in my head for years. It will be years before it sees the light of day. Some stories come quick. I wrote a new short story recently in just a day, but it too will simmer for a long time before seeing print. I accept this. I understand now the inhibition in my writing, and I work toward taking those steps knowing inspiration will get me off the ground, but won’t keep me in the air.

Telepathic wolves. Zombie gangsters. Sentient houses. Just another day for Kit Baldwin.

Fifty years after an alien ship crashed in Break Pointe, the only protection in a strange new world is Great Power, a corporation of superhumans. If you can afford them. Most people can’t.

Enter Kit Baldwin, a young woman who helps people to help people. Except her power is the alien’s power, and she may be more of a danger to her city than she is a help.
This collection of stories and novellas follows Kit’s journey in a series that’s been called ‘the next logical step after Watchmen.’

Enjoy an Excerpt

Post Credits Scene:

“Bring my girlfriend back to life,” the old man says.

Since I got my powers, I get all kinds of strange requests. A fair number of them are curiously sexual, but mostly people ask me to do some good in the world. Catch asteroids. Cure cancer, end hunger, please and thank you. You know.

Little things.

This one might go up on the fridge. Bring his girlfriend back to life? He could do with some help himself. Seventy, maybe. Liver spots. A rattle in his chest like a bad engine. Still, he got up here on the roof. He knew it was me, warming my feet with the other birds.

Sometimes, I don’t know when I’m me.

About the Author: Darby Harn studied at Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland, as part of the Irish Writing Program. He is the author of the sci-fi superhero novel EVER THE HERO. His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, The Coffin Bell and other venues.

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Last Star Standing by Spaulding Taylor – Q&A 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.

What are your favorite TV shows?

Either live tennis or else MasterChef. Am addicted to tennis!!! It doesn’t have to be the French Open, with Nadal v. Djokovic… but hey, it helps!!!

What is your favorite meal?

Anything at Malika’s, my fav. taverna near our Crete house.

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?

I’m already doing a series, here

Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?

There are about a zillion writers who I idolize!!! In this book’s context, those would be: Tolkien, le Guin, McCarthy, Orwell, Liu Cixin, Iain Banks… And what I think they all have in common is that their books would still be amazing even if they hadn’t world-built so resonantly. Their characters have depth to start with – their dialogue flows – to the futuristic bit deepens the plot and magnifies the characters further.

How did you come up for the title of this book?

I’m terrible at titles. This one took longer than most.

It’s a “buddy” movie, with Bully and Pavlina, but it’s also a personal journey: Aiden still has growing up to do. And, despite all the action/adventure in it, he suffers a long night of the soul. So I wanted to get a sense of all that: the rebellion, his past, his having to learn to trust others, his recklessness – into the title. I didn’t, of course! – no one could.

But I did my homework, and Last Star Standing hadn’t been used. But guess what? – about a month after Last Star Standing was published, a silly book about a singing competition entitled THE Last Star Standing appeared.

Titles are just sooooooooo annoying!

Aiden has always felt like an outsider. After the rebel assassin is captured and imprisoned by the world’s galactic overlords, he awaits execution. Then a mole working for the occupying regime alerts him to a plot that could destroy the entire resistance…

Engineering a daring escape, Aiden’s growing feud with the new rebel leader leaves him out in the cold and smouldering with resentment. Faced with deceit and betrayals on every side, he recruits a group of overlookedoutcasts and stakes everything on one last mission.

Can the restless, reckless Aiden take a stand long enough to save humanity from enslavement?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Nothing. Clean as a whistle. Until my massive hand grasped hold of something, something which must have blended into its background so perfectly that I hadn’t even spotted it. Something alive, nestling under the co-pilot’s seat. I couldn’t believe it. A live gromeline. Trembling, possibly with fury, and trying in vain to squeeze back. Grabbing my trophy – I could feel its hot little heart throbbing like an injury against my palm – I hopped out of the plane so fast that my wound protested.

‘Bully!’

Bully raised one eyebrow. Two would have been overkill.

‘Bully, you are not going to believe this. I found a gromeline!’ The gromeline – only about fifteen centimetres – bit my finger, hard, even though I could have easily crushed its entire body with my fist – and probably would have, had I been a tester, and not merely disguised as one.

Feisty little gromeline. I flicked it lightly with my sausage-sized finger. When it protested, I growled, ‘Cheese it, munchkin,’ though I could feel it struggling obstreperously against my palm.

Bully was intrigued. ‘Is it genuine?’ ‘Of course it’s genuine. It just bit me, didn’t it?’

Bully probably considered this no proof. But they’re rarer than clean air these days and his fascination was obvious. Now gromelines come from the farthest galaxy so far discovered, can speak any tongue and own enviable mental powers. They are also brave to the point of stupidity and ludicrously small. This one was mouse-coloured – they can be spectacular – with tiny red eyes. Few humans have ever seen one.

About the Author:

Alice (Spaulding Taylor) McVeigh has been published by Orion/Hachette in contemporary fiction, by Unbound Publishing in action/adventure and by Warleigh Hall Press in Austenesque fiction. Her novels have won Gold Medal/First Place is the Global, eLit and Pencraft Book Awards, been runner-up in the Independent Press Awards, finalists in the Eric Hoffer, Rone and Wishing Shelf Book Awards and selected by Shelf Unbound as one of the “top indies” of 2021. Two of her novels are currently finalists in the CIBA Book Awards (the Cygnus and Goethe Awards). Her most recent novel (Harriet: A Jane Austen Variation) was just selected as Editors’ Pick “outstanding” on Publishers Weekly.

A professional London cellist, Alice lives in London and Crete with her professor husband: their only child is completing her Masters in Chinese Literature. They also share two miniature long-haired dachshunds and an incurable addiction to tennis.

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Tarot in The Starfolk Arcana and Starfolk Falling by Martha Dunlop – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish promotions. Martha Dunlop will be awarding a $25 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.

Tarot in The Starfolk Arcana and Starfolk Falling

I have long been considering writing a book using tarot. I learned to read the cards years ago, and I’m always inspired by their rich imagery.

Although tarot is largely known as a divination tool, it is more helpful for personal development than for telling you what’s going to happen next week. It can help you get a feel for what’s coming, and which path is likely to work out best for you, but specifics tend to come from the reader rather than the actual cards.

I considered writing a book where I allowed card pulls to dictate the story, but who know where that would have ended up? I can hear my structural editor gasp as I write this, and I’m sure she’ll be grateful I haven’t followed this idea through … yet!

In the end, I decided to use the tarot archetypes different characters. This starts simply, with the main characters each personifying one card, but becomes more complicated as some of them start to switch.

Beth, my main character, is the first card in the deck, The Fool in traditional tarot, or Potential in The Starfolk Tarot, the deck in the book. Beth comes across The Starfolk Tarot in a local bookshop, and is drawn to the deck even though she doesn’t know how to read the cards. She buys it on a whim, and when she opens the box she finds that one of the cards, Intention, or The Chariot in traditional tarot, has a picture of someone she knows.

Just before she bought the deck, she was in a TV studio and was challenged by the guest on stage, Amelia, who was trying to frighten her audience with stories of paranormal attack. Beth could see through the stories. She knew they weren’t real, but the rest of the audience were pulled along by Amelia’s charisma and drawn into the trap. Amelia started off with the same Tarot card as Beth, Potential, but by the time the book begins she has already changed card. She is now represented by Fear, or The Devil, which asks us to face our own fears and learn through them. Amelia tries to build a following by inspiring fear in others, but will they learn through the experience or will they get drawn in by the hype over and over again?

Also in the TV studio is Jonan, the mysterious man with the violet eyes, the man on the Intention tarot card. Beth feels instantly drawn to him. She feels a connection she can’t explain, and although he looks completely normal, she knows he is different in ways most people can’t understand. His role is to help Beth wake up to the path she incarnated for, and to help her realise the importance of her own intention in life.

As Beth becomes more involved, and meets other members of Jonan’s family, the mystery of the tarot deck deepens. At the beginning of the book Jonan explains that he knew the deck’s illustrator and she used his family as models. But how did Beth’s own image end up in the deck as Potential? As the story progresses, more characters from the deck arrive in their lives, and even Jonan can’t explain it.

As characters change and decisions are made, some of them change their card allegiance. Amelia changes from Potential to Fear, but this has a domino effect and other characters shift then and in the future.

The deck doesn’t tell all, but it does give an insight into the energy of the character experience and a roadmap of their journey.

Do you know the tarot? Which card would represent you and your journey right now? And how do you think that knowledge might help you to make the best decisions in your life?

Destiny calls. Soulmates draw closer. One woman stands in the way.

Beth trusts her psychic senses. So when her birthday visit to a daytime TV talk show takes a weird turn, she knows something is wrong. Amelia, the celebrity on stage, is oddly fixated on Beth and the man with the microphone is hauntingly familiar. Things become even stranger when she buys a tarot deck, and they are all pictured in the cards.

Jonan has waited an eternity to be with the woman who haunts his dreams. When he finally sees her at the TV studio, he hopes life with his soulmate is within reach. But as Amelia refuses to let go of their past together, his hopes fade.

Amelia stands between Beth and Jonan. Spinning tales of supernatural threats to her adoring fan base, she builds a personality cult through fear of the paranormal. As her power grows, she does her best to scare Beth away from Jonan and plans to reclaim him for herself.

United by a destiny that spans lifetimes, Beth and Jonan are determined to stop Amelia’s fear-mongering. But Amelia has more than one card to play. Even though they are fated to be together, Amelia’s destructive nature may once again tear them apart.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Beth sighed and slouched down in her front row seat at the TV studio. If she’d known she was going to be subjected to this drivel, she wouldn’t have come. She’d been here for two hours already, and not one of the stories had been genuine. Her so-called friend and flatmate had a lot to answer for. She was pleased Laura loved her new job, and it had been obvious her friend’s enthusiasm about the chat show was overblown, but this was worse than she’d expected.

She caught a movement out of the corner of her eye and turned. Laura was standing off to the side of the set, waving her clipboard at Beth. She shifted on her mile-high spikes. Her feet must have been so uncomfortable, but Laura had been determined to make an impression today. Her eyes were bright as she scanned the set, drinking in her world. This job was her triumph. Beth couldn’t fault her enthusiasm, she just wished Laura had left her out of today’s charade.

Seated on the dais, Katherine Haversham waited for a moment, eyebrows raised, bright red lips pursed.

‘Thank you for staying with us over the break. I know this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Model and It girl Amelia Faustus is here, live, on Deep and Dark to break her silence over the horrific out-of-body attack that took her from the media spotlight. After weeks of fear and soul-searching, she has decided to step back into the public eye. Amelia, welcome. Tell us what happened.’ Katherine leaned forward. ‘Start from the beginning.’

About the Author:Martha is a dreamer and lover of stories who likes nothing better than spending her days getting to know the characters in her head.
She is a tarot card reader and reiki master, and loves to chat reading, writing and all things mystical on social media, as well as posting pictures of her fellow pack-member, Bertie the Cavalier.

A fiddle player, Martha fell in love with traditional music, particularly Irish, and is also teaching herself to play the Irish Bouzouki. She played her way through her English degree at York and remembers that time as much for the music as the books.

Martha is the author of three books: The Starfolk Arcana, Starfolk Falling, and standalone Wild Shadow. She is currently working on Book 3 of The Starfolk Trilogy, Starfolk Rising.

You can keep up with Martha’s news, book releases and extra content at www.marthadunlop.com, or on her Amazon page.

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Head shot by Gene Genie Photography, www.genegenie.photography

The first two books of the trilogy are on sale for only $0.99 for a limited time at Amazon.

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How I Handle Negative Criticism by C.M. Sage – Guest Blog and Giveway

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.

How I Handle Negative Criticism

If you ask me what scares me most about writing, it is negative criticism. Not constructive criticism which is not the same thing at all and is beneficial to a writer. Sometimes constructive criticism might sting a little, but then you suck it up and look at it as an opportunity to improve your story. You make that lemonade!

On the other hand, negative criticism is vicious and cruel, and not at all meant to help. It’s usually personal and on social media it is used to score coveted likes. It’s a contagion that by careless people who cannot even imagine the pain they cause.

I know of what I speak because I am very close to a writer who was subjected to negative criticism. I watched the person suffer as they struggled to work their way through it as best they could. Many of us tried to help the writer see that it was an aberration, and it would pass, and they’d make it to the other side. Gradually things got better, and the author started writing again, but it left a deep psychological scar. And not just on the writer.

After that I vowed that I’d stay away from places where that kind of toxic negative criticism thrives. I also have asked trusted readers to manage my accounts so that they can filter out the voices that aren’t there to make the world a better place.

I’m not the only one it seems; a professional writing group that I belong to recommended that authors never go to certain sites. It’s really hard to stay away from the fire because we’re drawn to it like moths to flames, but I think that’s the healthiest way to handle negative criticism.

Sometimes things are lost for a very long time…and then they are found.

Take Gracie for example, a woman who lost everything, her life, her family, even her name, but now she is a Cathalian warrior of Antecede blessed with powers, which aren’t yet fully realized. Her elder and nemesis, Donavan, finally granted the former professor an opportunity to train a new warrior. Her joy turns to shock when she meets her great, great, great, great grandson, Henry, accompanied by his wisecracking best friend, Milo. Henry recognizes his long dead ancestor right away, and it doesn’t take the Cathalians long to realize that this meeting was no accident.

Gracie and the warriors of Antecede soon discover that they aren’t the only ones laying a claim on their new charges. Menacing enemies from the South and their hired mercenary assassin, Revilan, the Bowman, have also taken an interest. Come along with Gracie, Donavan, and their fellow warriors on a perilous quest to protect all that is good and right from the evil that threatens it, and along the way discover what else was lost.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Gracie tapped his shoulder, “Milo, did you notice anything unusual before I arrived to meet you? Did you see anyone on the shore, even from a far distance?” Milo reached down to ruffle Rosie’s ears before he answered, which was fortunate because at that exact moment a vicious arrow barely missed grazing his ear before flying by into the tall grass.

Gracie heard a sound like a muffled curse far off in the distance. The language wasn’t one she recognized. She knocked Milo flat to the ground, so that he was no longer a target and signaled for her little ones to stay down. Several more arrows flew in quick succession from the same direction. Gracie managed to pull a long dagger from under her coat before she also went down. Blue fell onto her back next to Gracie, a knife in each hand. Gracie looked at Obi, who knew what to do. He crawled away to search for and retrieve an arrow.

In the interim Blue and Gracie rose to their knees, keeping their heads down, and signaling for Milo to stay down. He nodded, and muttered in a shaky voice, “You don’t have to tell me twice. I may never get up!”

About the Author: Lost and Found is author C.M. Sage’s first book in the Chronicles of Antecede fantasy adventure trilogy. She loves writing, reading, and traveling. Most of all she loves spending time with her beloved family and friends…and yes, that includes her furry friends. Life would have been much less sunny without them.

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Advice for aspiring authors by Chris Koehler – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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Advice for aspiring authors

1. Start now.

While classes can help, and advice is great, the only way to improve your skill in writing,
is to start writing. I know shocking, but if you wish to write, then write. Classes will have you do much of the same thing. You can figure out what you are doing good, and bad, and hone your skills by making flash fiction stories. I would say write stories that take place in five pages or less. Often this is hard because you need to introduce characters, setting, and conflict, and then resolve the conflict in five pages. But if you can do that, then you can make a novel or novella.

2. Read.

I know, shocking idea, writers should read, I hear your sarcastic comments. But it is not
just about passion, or knowing why you are doing it. It is also a way for you to see how others have done it. How have other authors written their stories? You can get an idea of style, how they approach conflict, and how they describe their sense. More than that, and even other forms of fiction can help here, you can be inspired. One post-apocalyptic story might inspire your own version of a post-apocalypse. Or perhaps a fantasy setting, or maybe a story about life on a distant world cut off from earth. Or one of many other ideas.

3. Take some classes.

While your teacher may have you doing the same thing, find a class on fiction writing.
Then take said class, you can probably find one at a community college, if not then you might find one online. With time and practice, they can get you up to speed. You will be better off for it. They can give you hints you might have otherwise missed. Figure out what kind of writing you can do best, and even give you some challenges. In a class I took one challenge was to bring in a picture, and then make a story about that picture. I did a story about a family on vacation from a tough life, others did a picture that they only wished existed or a final picture with the family.

4. Author support group.

I have said it elsewhere, and you may have heard it elsewhere, but an author support
group is important for any aspiring author. When I joined mine, my work went from ideas of publishing to real actual publishing. I won’t name any, as you might have different needs than I do, but they can help you in many ways. They will contain authors with expertise in areas you lack. They will help you with editing and drafting. They will get on your tail to “Do something”. And they will keep you from going insane. Find one that meets regularly, has some sort of schedule, and go to their meeting.

5. Don’t give up.

It will be hard. You will face rejection. You will be lost. You will wonder if it is worth it. As a new author myself, I still wonder if it is worth it. But you haven’t lost until you have given up. Giving up does not mean you keep trying to publish the same way, you might find a better way. Sometimes not giving up means redoing entire chapters, or rewriting an entire novel from the ground up, because you just got a better idea. Sometimes it means staring at a screen or piece of paper. But do not give up. It was drilled into me, so I will now drill it into you, keep trying, even when it’s hard.

Dr Avery Hutton lives in good times. All of humanity now lives under the Global republic, a democratic government that works hard to protect the rights of their citizens, expand orbital infrastructure and explore space. The last of which is helped by the relatively new Warp Drive, allowing probes to travel to and from the nearest stars over the course of a few years.

This is part of Avery’s job, helping organize the missions form the ground, his specialty being the analysis of microorganism form other star systems. But this most recent mission will change everything. For while every return mission previously had gone well, and few issues were observed, this time one of the returning samples is a bit… nastier than any previous sample. This time something has returned that could wipe out all life on Earth.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“You’re worried management has gotten complacent?” I asked “And this will be the one time it matters?”

Diane nodded.

“Also, the Beta Strain does appear to be particularly tough,” added Tone.

I nodded in agreement. It took an insane amount of effort to kill Beta Strain microbes. They just don’t seem to care, still active in environments where comparable Earth microbes might try to escape with suspended animation. They survived in suspended animation where Earth microbes, or the microbes of the other strains we found, died.

About the Author:I am a new author and this is my first book. I started working on this story around 2016 and have been refining it ever since.

I first got interested in writing years ago, I took part in a junior writing fare, and wrote as a volunteer from a teenage perspective at a local newspaper. My parents loved Science Fiction and Fantasy and passed on that love to me.

While this is my first book, I hope it’s not my last, I hope you enjoy it!

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