Take the Good with the Bad by Frank Cavallo – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Frank Cavallo who is visiting with us today promoting his latest novel Eye of the Storm, which was released in August 2016. He is currently working on a new novel, The Rites of Azathoth, with Necro Publications, due out next month.

Take the Good from the Bad
One of the things that newer writers tend to do is to emulate authors they admire. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a great way to learn your craft. But when you’re emulating an author who has spent years honing theirs, who makes it look easy, it can be harder than you realize to succeed at that. For one, you may not know exactly what you’re emulating.

Stephen King’s prose feels like it flows so easily, so if I just let my words flow easily too, it should come out the same, right?

Clive Barker revels in gory details, so I’ll pile on with my own descriptions of rampant blood and guts. It should be just as good, right?

As you can imagine, it really doesn’t work that way. The best writers are very good at using their prose to do all sorts of things—creating mood, setting a scene, fleshing out character depth, dropping in just enough gore at just the right time, etc. They’re so good in fact, that unless you really know what you’re looking for, you probably won’t notice the “brush strokes” on their canvas.

Imitating them without really understanding what they’re doing will probably leave you disappointed. You won’t be as good as them, and it won’t be clear why.

So how do you get better?

Let me suggest a different approach. You should try reading a little bad fiction.

Here’s why. When I was in college I took quite a few film study and screenwriting classes. We watched a lot of movies. I’m not going to lie, that was one of the reasons I took those classes—spend a semester watching movies instead of reading boring old books, sign me up!

But I was taught something there I had never encountered in any other kind of writing program. You learn more about making movies from watching bad films than you do from watching good ones.

Sure, you do have to watch the good ones, the classics. It’s important to know what the best version of any work of art is before you try to create it yourself. But just like with literature, a great film doesn’t show off the things that make it great. It works so well because you don’t notice any of the technique behind the final product.

Unless you’re an insider, if you come away from a movie talking about the work of the lighting director or the editor, it’s probably not because they did their job well. That stuff is supposed to be transparent. If you notice it, it wasn’t done well.

The same goes for fiction. It’s just not always so obvious—at least in good fiction.

Let’s take a quick example. Head hopping. That’s editor shorthand for the cardinal sin of switching POV within a scene. Some very good writers can get away with this, but as a general rule you should never do it. It’s one of those things that’s presented in a creative writing class as a rule you’re just supposed to follow.

The reasoning is sound, of course. Switching POV can quickly confuse a reader. It takes them right out of the story. But when you’re the one writing, you can sometimes get so deep into your own material that you can’t see the problem. You know what’s going on, so keeping track of what each character is thinking is easy for you. If you’re lucky enough to even notice, you might be tempted to think “sure, I was told not to do it, but in this case, it makes perfect sense to me, so maybe I can get away with bending the rule.”

The thing that will almost certainly disabuse you of that hopeful delusion is trying to wade through another writer doing it in their work. Believe me, once you’ve spent a few minutes trying to keep up with some serious head hopping, you’ll never do it yourself.

In a case like that, you’ll learn more from reading one chapter of a poorly-written book than you will from reading a hundred good ones.

Now, I know this is not necessarily the easiest thing to do. There isn’t some list of “all-time badly written books that everyone should read” out there. At least not that I know of. If you want to see a bad movie, you can watch “Plan 9 from Outer Space” and in a little over an hour, you can catch about two dozen things no director should ever do. When it comes to books, you’re probably going to have to do a little digging. I’m certainly not going to suggest any here, either.

My advice is to pick a few review sites that you trust, and the next time they give a book a bad write-up, give it a serious look. See what they thought didn’t work in that book and then, instead of just crossing it off your list, do the opposite. Give it a read, see why it’s not working. Try to learn what mistakes the author is making and think about how to fix them.

Take the good from the bad, and make your writing even better.

On a research mission in one of the most remote regions of the world, former Navy SEAL Eric Slade and Dr. Anna Fayne are caught in a mysterious storm. Catapulted through a rift in space-time, they are marooned on a lost world.

Struggling to survive and desperate to find a way home, they must confront the dangers of this savage land—a dark wizard and his army of undead—a warrior queen and her horde of fierce Neanderthals that stands against him—and a legendary treasure with the power to open the gateway between worlds, or to destroy them all: the Eye of the Storm.

About the Author: Horror and dark fantasy author Frank Cavallo’s work has appeared in magazines such as Another Realm, Ray Gun Revival, Every Day Fiction, Lost Souls and the Warhammer e-zine Hammer and Bolter.

His latest novel, Eye of the Storm, was released in August 2016 by Ravenswood Publishing.

“In Eye of the Storm, I try to bring back some of the elements that I like from old time pulp fiction,” says Frank. “It is a throwback to old school adventure stories, combining the pacing and the feel of those classic tales with some newer elements that are not all that common to typical fantasy fiction.”

Frank’s previously published works include The Lucifer Messiah, The Hand of Osiris, and the Gotrek & Felix novella Into the Valley of Death. He is currently working on a new novel, The Rites of Azathoth, with Necro Publications, due out in February 2017.

Frank 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. He currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio, where he has been a criminal defense attorney for fifteen years.

Readers can connect with Frank on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

To learn more, go to http://www.frankcavallo.com/

Griffen by A.J. Blakemont – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

“They are immortal, deadly, ruthless. I don’t belong to their dark underworld.

I won’t be a victim. Never again.”

She has nothing—not even a roof above her head. She has unimaginable powers, but these powers come at a price: she has to feed on the mental energy of human beings, killing them in the process.

Her name is Griffen and she is a newborn. She is a copy, a paranormal twin of a young woman, Letitia. Griffen is not the only one of her kind—there are others like her, living among humans or hiding underground. Romantics called them doppelgangers, ghostly twins, the harbingers of death. Scientists who know that they exist call them simulacra. They call themselves mirror souls. Who are they and what are their goals?

Lonely and desperate, hunted by her fellow mirror souls, Griffen hides in the London underground and preys on criminals. In this dark underworld, is there a place for compassion, for love?

In this action-packed paranormal thriller, dark fantasy author A. J. Blakemont will guide you on an epic journey through parallel realities toward a dramatic revelation.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

My father was an engineer, my mother a botanist. They must have loved each other very much because, honestly, they had little in common. She was a Wiccan; he was a Protestant atheist (I couldn’t explain how that was even possible!).

Father’s office was designed like the cockpit of a spaceship. Each time I borrowed a book or even a pen, I had to return it exactly to the same place. I feared that if I put it elsewhere, an alarm would go off: “Alert, alert, pen number five has been misplaced!” Of course, there was no alarm, which made the room even more frightening. I had the feeling that some artificial intelligence watched my every move.

Mother’s room was the opposite: it resembled more a greenhouse than an office. Plants couldn’t just content themselves with growing from pots; they had to invade every available square inch. If we had stayed in one place for several years, the walls, the furniture, the frames of the windows would have been overgrown with vegetation.

Parents like these could only give birth to a science fiction fan. I still wonder why I didn’t grow up in a Star Trek uniform. However, genetics works in mysterious ways. From my mother, I inherited a taste for chaos, and from my father, a deep distrust of authority (spiritual or otherwise). In other words, I was an unrepentant anarchist.

One day—I was sixteen then—I had a surprise for them. In fact, I was the surprise. My black leather jacket was supposed to symbolize my intellectual independence and, at least in my imagination, was demonstrating my status of freethinker. My hairstyle, on the other hand, should have pleased my mother, as it evoked one of those exotic white flowers she was so fond of. Nevertheless, my getup didn’t send my parents into ecstasies. It did send them into an emotional state, but it wasn’t the emotion I was hoping for.

About the Author:

I am a novelist and essayist interested in all things dark and mysterious. My favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy. I am also passionate about music, mythology, and history and its mysteries. I have a degree in literature and a PhD in molecular biology, and I earn a living as a professional writer. I live near London in the UK and I am a member of the Society of Authors.


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Links to the books are provided on the author’s website and can be bought at Amazon US, Amazon Canada or Amazon UK.

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Writing Fan Fiction by Jason Pere – 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.

Writing Fan Fiction

I am a huge dork. I love all sorts of games, from video games to board games to card games. There is one particular card game that I should mention. It is called “Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn”, produced by Plaid Hat Games and created by the incredibly talented Isaac Vega. I was introduced to Ashes and the world of Argaia, where the saga of the Phoenixborn takes place, in the August of 2015. I rapidly fell in love with the game and I came to find that there was clearly a highly complex and developed mythos to the world behind the cards but alas virtually none of it was in the public realm. Instead of waiting for Plaid Hat Games to be a little more forthcoming with the story of Ashes I decided to take matters into my own hands a put my creativity to work. There was just too much raw potential for some epic plots, cultures, history and characters to develop. I could not sit idle. I just felt like I had to contribute to the greater story. I called my Ashes fanfiction, flASH fiction.

That is really where my love affair with Fanfiction began. Since last September I have posted a weekly fiction piece to the Team Covenant Gaming Blog, detailing my own imaginative goings-on in the world of Ashes. It has been a wonderful experience and because of my stories I have been able to meet some new people, make some interesting connections, hone my creativity, pick up the odd fan or two and even influence a dorky hobby of mine. I love writing the stuff even when it’s a struggle for each line of text and I do not plan stopping anytime soon.

So, Fanfiction, what is it? How is it different from plain old fiction? How do you write it? Well I will tell you my interpretation of what Fanfiction is. I think the genre gets a bad rap and when people hear the term Fanfiction, they immediacy conjurer up the image of some guy who is far too old to still be living at home, lurking in his parents’ basement, wearing a t-shirt for his favorite fandom and writing a new episode of their most beloved, yet long canceled science fiction space opera TV show. Yes, this type of diehard super fan exists but I will not fault them for being zealously passionate about something near and dear to their heart.

I think that we are all far more acquainted with Fanfiction than we realize. When I was growing up I knew it was pretty common for me to wonder what happened to the characters after the end of one of my favorite movies, or speculate, what if the protagonist had made some different choices. I think that is something that a lot of people wonder and fantasize about. Fanfiction is just a matter of writing those fantasies down. In its most simplistic state Fanfiction is about telling your own story within someone else’s world.

I think that there are two main kinds of Fanfiction. The first is reminiscent of historical fiction in a way. The author will have a clear point of departure. They will use certain elements of an established world and doctrine but make some radical changes from the principle lore. For example, an author of this sort of Fanfiction might dive into George Lucas’ Star Wars universe but postulate “What is Luke Skywalker had never met Obi-Wan?” They could go on to tell a different kind of space epic where Luke becomes the willing apprentice to Darth Vader and fights for the Empire. This sort of story borrows elements from another creator but it is unabashedly divergent fiction. The author of this sort of story will acknowledge that their concoction exists outside of accepted Star Wars lore. That being said, I sure wouldn’t mind exploring who Darkside Luke might have been.

The other sort of Fanfiction is a little trickier. This variety of storytelling is where the author writes material that could pass for cannon doctrine within the confines of a greater fictional work. This is what my flASH fiction series is all about. There are a lot of things to take into consideration with an approach to this sort of Fanfiction. The biggest thing to take into account with this kind of story is continuity with the principle source material. An author will need to make sure that their timeline and characters match up with what has already been established. The will also have to tackle the challenge of portraying characters in a way that allows them to stay in character. Someone writing Indiana Jones Fanfiction could not have everyone’s favorite archeologist come across a Boa Constrictor in his travels and keep his cool, for example.

It can be daunting to become the creative overlord of an established icon in a given franchise. A good way for someone else to play in another creator’s world without upsetting the landscape too much is to introduce some new characters of their own design. Using this technique helps a Fanfiction author interject some of their own personal flavor into the cannon doctrine while still holding true to established elements of the original material. Some new content is going to have to be introduced at some point in order to tell an engaging story. A Fanfiction Author will have to take some liberties and risks, it is just a matter of making them believable. For me good Fanfiction is a happy marriage of tradition and innovation.

I think that the best thing an aspiring Fanfiction writer should keep in mind is the fact that they are playing with someone else’s creative baby and that they should respect the fact that they are putting their hands in something they do not own and did not originate.

The time of the Unity has ended. Now, the realm of man is stranded between Paradise and Purgatory. The Valkyrie and Reaper battle over the fate of all who pass from the land of the living and into the afterlife.

Eight mortal spirits from vastly different worlds tread the same, inevitable path toward their last, crucial decision. Within them all exists the defining conflict every man must face—to look upon the end of their life with glory and honor, or to give credence to their baser longings, calling the Reaper to their own demise.

In this rich, harrowing tale of pride, deceit, honor, vengeance, and redemption, each individual must battle their inner turmoil, facing the sacrifices they have made before their unavoidable end in the land of the living.

But their last day in life is also their first day of death amidst the terrors of the underworld. Lord Master Death wants them all…and the real battle has only just begun.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“In the beginning. In the time before. When the Unity sat atop the throne in Paradise and reigned over the world of man below, all was good and fruitful. There was life without end for every spirit drawing breath within the embrace of the Unity. Things were as such for a time longer than memory itself. But such things end. The day of the Shattering came upon us all. Paradise above and the realm of man below were forever changed. The Unity became no more, and from it was born both Life and Death. On that day, it was decreed that all who lived must one day die. And we the Valkyrie, the children of Paradise, became its warriors. Our robes were replaced with armor, and hands once empty now grasp sword and shield. Our charge is to watch over those who dwell below in the realm of man. We are tasked with the guardianship of every spirit that yet holds life. We shall protect them until that life is at an end. Then it must leave the realm of man. For each spirit that meets its end with virtue and courage, we the Valkyrie shall fly to them and bid them welcome into the warmth of Paradise. For each spirit that meets its end with fear and wickedness, they shall call the Reaper, and I shall mourn them as they are cast into the cold realm filled with weeping and the gnashing of teeth.”

—Laurel, ArchValkyrie of the Thorn Crown

About the Author: Jason Pere is a born-and-raised New Englander. He always had a passion for the arts and creative storytelling. At the age of thirteen, Jason took up the craft of acting for film and theater. He pursued that interest for over a decade until refocusing his medium of expression into writing.

At first, Jason took a causal interest in writing, starting with poetry and journaling. Over time, he honed his direction and finally began writing larger works. In November of 2012, Jason self-published his first book, Modern Knighthood: Diary of a Warrior Poet.

Since then, Jason has continued writing on his own, mostly short stories and poetry. Calling the Reaper was his first experience committing to a full-length Fiction title.

In early 2015, Jason became affiliated with Collaborative Writing Challenge (CWC). Since then, he has joined many other writers on numerous collaborative projects. Jason is a regular contributor to CWC and is scheduled to have multiple pieces of his work appear in their publications throughout 2016.

Collaborative Writing Challenge | Facebook | Team Covenant | Goodreads

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Gawain and the Green Knight by Stefan Emunds – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Stefan Emunds will be awarding a copy of Gawain and the Green Knight to 5 randomly drawn winners (US ONLY) via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A knight goes out of his way and seeks his execution on his own free will in the hope people will remember him as the embodiment of honor.Sir Gawain serves as the most honorable knight at King Arthur’s Round Table, and after an encounter with the mysterious Green Knight, Gawain’s fate becomes intertwined with that of his own honorable death – a destiny he must fight for to the bitter end. After accepting a beheading challenge from the Green Knight, Sir Gawain is awestruck to find the knight quite alive, despite his mortal wound.

In the year that follows, Gawain strikes out across the land in search of the green chapel, just one link in the chain of a perplexing and ancient mystery behind the Green Knight, and the circumstances of Gawain’s voluntary execution. Along the way, Gawain’s strength, duty, and honor will be tested as he fights through treacherous trials and carnal temptations. Trapped in a terminal karmic scenario, and honor-bound to seek out his own death, Gawain leaps into the ethos of mythology as a hero of legend.

A classic retelling of the story of Gawain and the Green Knight, this story of karma and honor brings the legend back to life as a mystical romance and epic adventure tale that will whisk you away to an era of chivalry, honor, and divine purpose.

Read an excerpt:

My God – it’s the Lord’s wife!

Noiseless, he dives back into the bed and pretends to be asleep, the thin sheet over his head.

The Lady is wearing a luxurious dress in champagne shades, tight around the hips, sporting a generous décolleté. Her pearl necklace rolls over her tightened breasts all the way onto her lap. She casts the bed curtain aside and thrones herself on the mattress. The tight dress forces her into a straight posture. The scent of her opulent perfume invites Gawain, but he shallows his breath and remains stiff under the blanket. Quickly, she runs out of patience and pokes him. Gawain uncovers his head and fakes a surprise by crossing himself theatrically.

“Good morrow, Sir Gawain. Did I scare you?” She asks in a melodious voice.

“Apologies, my Lady. For a moment I thought I saw a gho … I mean an angel.”

“What a charmer! And so careless. Do you always leave your door unlocked? I could have tied you up in your bed.”

About the Author:
Stefan loves to write spiritual, visionary, and inspirational fiction and non fiction. He was born in Germany and enjoyed two years backpacking in Australia, New Zealand, and South-East Asia in his early twenties.

Although drawn to philosophy and spirituality since adolescence, Stefan chose a career in the telecommunication industry. Since then, he has worked as a business development manager in Europe, Middle East, and in South East Asia.

For almost three decades, Stefan has pursued a spiritual career at B.O.T.A., a modern mystery school teaching Tarot, Qabalah, Gematria, esoteric Astrology, and Alchemy.

2012 Stefan kick-started his author hobby career. He writes about the mysteries of life and beyond and likes to tickle people’s spiritual bone. He has set his heart on promoting a contemporary, spiritual Christianity too. Of course, he also writes to entertain. Spirituality is fun.

When Stefan isn’t writing, he spends his time with his children and works on his spiritual career, in the hope to meet God face to face in this lifetime.

Website | Spiritual Blog | Inspirational Blog | Twitter | Facebook | The Nu Christ Facebook page | Goodreads | Pinterest |
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Prism by Matthew D. Ryan – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Matthew will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

In the mystical realm of the Cavern, Akarra is Shardshaper to the quartzian people who inhabit it. Fashioned from quartz and filled with enchanted light, the quartzians are a strong and hearty people. Akarra is no exception. But when destiny intervenes, she must choose between the he-quartz she loves and the life path she lives for. Which shall she choose?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Akarra knelt expectantly on the floor near the back corner of Yridia’s Cave.

“Pattern matching is most important, dear,” Yridia said.

“I know, Mistress Shardshaper,” Akarra replied, head bowed in deference. “You’ve told me so—many times—but I just don’t see the use of geometry.” She was tired; it had been a long training session and she still wasn’t through.

The small but cozy cave—one in which she had spent many long hours engaged in study—had been hollowed out in the shape of a twelve-sided figure of exquisite design—a dodecahedron, it was called. It at once conveyed a sense of space, mystery, and power. Much like the element it represented: the ether. Each of the twelve faces of the shape formed a perfect pentagon—a five sided figure of further significance and meaning. The pentagon-shaped floor, of course, was made of clouded white quartz; the ceiling, clear. The pentagons on the walls alternated between white and clear. There were no cracks or fissures or blemishes; all the angles and divisions were neat, clean, and precise, thus regulating the temperature of the room perfectly. As Akarra perused the features of the cave, she felt contentment and peace, and her antennae glowed a pale greenish yellow in response. This was like a second home for her. She was the apprentice Shardshaper. One of the most respected members of the tribe.

Akarra watched Yridia move to the center of the pentagon floor and squat down in front of her. Yridai’s yenshi robe billowed out and she produced a crystal of transparent blue quartz in the shape of a perfect tetrahedron. Her Heartshard. A piece of the Heart Crystal itself, the source of the Shardshaper’s power.

Akarra could feel the Shard’s presence.

About the Author:Matthew D. Ryan lives in northeastern New York on the shores of Lake Champlain. He has been deeply involved in the fantasy genre for most of his life as a reader, writer, and game designer. His writing has been featured at Aphelion.com and YesteryearFiction.com. He is the operator of the web-site matthewdryan.com which features his blog, “A Toast to Dragons,” (http://matthewdryan.com/a-toast-to-dragons-the-blog/) a blog dedicated to fantasy literature, and, to a lesser extent, sci-fi. He is the author of the dark fantasy novels “Drasmyr,” “The Children of Lubrochius,” and “The Sceptre of Morgulan,” as well as a growing number of fantasy short stories including: “Haladryn and the Minotaur,” “The River’s Eye,” and “Escape.” His latest work is the stand-alone novella “Prism,” a startling fantasy story of unique character.

THE BOOK IS FREE ON RELEASE DAY on Smashwords – click here
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Captain Hawkins by H. Peter Alesso – Spotlight and Giveaway


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

Jamie Hawkins was living on an obscure planet in the twenty third-century when on one fateful night—his life changed forever. His heroic effort to save the lives of innocent women and children, caught in the cross-fire of war, placed him squarely in the crosshairs of avenging soldiers.

A former marine, Hawkins was stunned when his rescue effort was seen as treachery. Unfairly convicted of treason by a corrupt judge, he was sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor on an infamous penal colony.

Once in prison, Hawkins was mistreated by a paranoid warden, but his courage and perseverance won him the admiration and trust of his fellow convicts. While he was plotting his escape, an enemy attacked the planet—giving this daring warrior his chance. Together with his fellow prisoners, he launched a bold assault and high-jacked an enemy warship.

From then on, the exploits of Captain Jamie Hawkins became legendary.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“Sir, I was working with the data techs trying to analyze the communication patterns of the enemy fleet,” said Joshua, licking his dry lips, excitedly. “And I’ve came across a very unusual signal.”

Hawkins gave him an encouraging nod.

“It was a burst of radio signals from deep space. I traced it to either a 4 billion-year-old star in a constellation 44.4 light years away, or to another star in that same constellation, but much farther away. That means that the radio waves have been travelling to us for at least forty-four point four years.”

Hawkins said, “Deep space radio signals have many plausible explanations, such as radio interference from planets, or rogue signals caused by local planet microwave devices.

“That’s true, Captain. It could be just the effect of a natural space object like a pulsating quasar, but it’s also possible . . . I think maybe . . . it could be a message from another civilization.”

Now smiling broadly, Hawkins said, “Given the unlikeness of that, why are you concerned?”

“Because it was not a one-off event,” said Joshua excitedly and then pausing to catch his breath. “I’ve recorded a half dozen repeating signals from the exact same source.”

Nodding, Hawkins said, “That’s a little more interesting, but there are explanations for that too.”

“But Captain, the implications could be mind-blowing. Imagine, what if it was an alien civilization, and they were far more advanced than us, and they were trying to make contact? After centuries of fruitlessly scanning the stars and finding no evidence that anyone else is out there, this could be . . . could be . . .”

Joshua became paralyzed by his own imagination.

“Joshua, even if this signal were not natural, it might still be the product of one of Earth’s colonies—not aliens.”

“No sir, I’ve checked. There were no Earth colonies in the vicinity of the signal’s star cluster when we last had contact with Earth, fifty years ago,” said Joshua.

Joshua wanted to argue further, but couldn’t offer any additional proof for his cause.

Hawkins said, “I agree, we should continue to monitor this frequency, but for now, it’ll have to remain a mystery.”

It was only a few days later that Joshua returned to argue, “I’ve been working to decrypt the deep space signal using our AI computer with the help of a data tech.”

Hawkins was surprised, but also impressed with Joshua’s initiative.

“What does a deep space signal have to do with our enemy’s Top Secrets communication network?”

“Everything.”

“You’ll have to explain that.”

“Let me give you a metaphor for how I solved this puzzle, because it is a puzzle.”

“Go on.”

“Think of a portrait of a woman, say the Mona Lisa. Now consider a jigsaw puzzle of the Mona Lisa—a picture of a woman cut into a thousand irregularly sized pieces and spread out for someone to reassemble.”

“A kid’s game.”

“Yes, sir.”

About the Author: As a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations, and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of ten books.

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Ties of Smoke by Claudia Herring – Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Claudia will be awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lady Lavinia Bramley is master of a Djinni.

Lavinia runs away from her husband to make a life with the djinni Yasir, but it’s not what she thought, not pearls and flying carpets and wishes come true . . .

Her desperate efforts to find happiness with Yasir are foiled by her husband’s reappearance, murder attempts by the jealous magician who cursed Yasir to the urn, and Yasir’s desire for revenge.

Lavinia finds love, and loyalty, are as ephemeral as ties of smoke.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt:

The boy cocked his head and thumped the heel of his hand near his ear. He straightened and squinted at her, drops of water competing with the freckles sprinkled on his nose. “What’re doing throwin’ bottles in the water—then looking horrified?”

“I changed my mind.” She wrung out the front of her skirt.

“Ya couldna swim in that.” He looked contemptuously at the fabric clinging to her legs.

“I know,” Lavinia said softly. She sat beside him in the warm sun and reached for the urn.

The boy grabbed it and pulled it out of her reach. “It’s mine now.”

Her face grew hot. Curse the little urchin. He could not have her urn. She stared at the vessel. “I will have it back.”

He scooted away and held it to his side, away from her. “Wot’s tossed away’s fair game.” He grinned, smug.

Lavinia held his gaze and stood slowly, shaking out her skirts. “You wouldn’t steal from a lady.”

The boy guffawed and rose to his feet, tottering from the weight of the urn. He looked her up and down and backed away. Lavinia followed, gaining on him. He turned, feet planted in the mud to take a running start.

“Stop, you little thief.” Desperate, she leapt at him, bringing him to the soggy ground as she landed on top. For a moment, she lay stunned. What had she done? Had she hurt the child?

“Criminy! S’blood!” The boy struggled on his stomach, his leg somehow kicking her in the thigh.

“Ow!” Lavinia rolled off of him into the mud.

“Damn it to hell.” He flopped upright and grabbed for the urn, clamped his hand on the base and dragged it to him. Lavinia crawled towards the vessel as he endeavored to pick it up. She threw herself on the urn, grunting as she landed half on the boy. He wriggled, trying to break free.

She clutched the urn in both hands, rolled away and staggered upright. The boy sat up, latched onto her skirt and pulled hard, ripping the cloth. With a cry, Lavinia stepped forward to regain her balance, her foot landing hard on his shin. He jerked his leg away, causing her to stumble and she pitched backwards onto her bottom, still clutching the urn.

“Cor blimey. Have mercy.” He grabbed his leg and crawled a few feet, mud covering his trousers.

They both scrambled up, bits of dirt and grass flying, and faced each other. The lad’s hazel eyes peered from his muddy face, shining with anger and greed. “I can get a bob, least, from the tinker fer it.” He scowled.

“Ha! More like sixpence.” Lavinia swayed, breathing hard. She wiped mud out of her eye and smeared it on her skirt.

“A bob.” The lad held out his grimy hand and planted his bare feet in the mire.

“I don’t have it here.” Lavinia huffed. What a conniving little bastard—why, he had stayed around to bargain.

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

Along the way she worked as a gift wrapper, a server in a Mexican restaurant at an amusement park (where she rode the Black Dragon at midnight—an actual ride, not a sexual allusion) and an illustrator in medical graphics (where they featured videos on wound healing during lunch) at the Texas Medical Center.

Her novel, His Master’s Bride, a historical fantasy with romantic elements set in Regency England, won first prize in the Houston Writer’s Guild Novel Competition. Ties of Smoke is the second in the series The Djinn Chronicles.

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

If you like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series or Carol Berg’s Soul Mirror series you’ll love His Master’s Bride and Ties of Smoke.

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What Scares Me Most As An Author by JW Troemner – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

When I was invited here, I was asked about what scares me most as an author. And honestly? I think one of the biggest things that’s scared me about being an author has already happened.

I’ve always dreaded having people dislike my books. After all, the act of writing is pretty personal. No matter how professional you try to be, there’s always a naïve hope that you’ll be met with nothing but rave reviews, and consequently there’s a nasty sting that comes with your first negative review. Since publishing my series, I’ve gotten a mixed bag. Some people absolutely love it, but some people completely hate it.

Part of that is just the facts of being a writer. Storytelling is fairly subjective, and the same things that draw some readers will repel others. Sometimes the criticism I get leaves me deeply confused about what the reader thinking , and sometimes it makes me sit back and go “yeah, actually, you’ve got a point. I could have done that a lot better.”

On the whole, though, it’s been really enlightening. For all its sting, receiving criticism is a really positive experience if you let it be. It leaves you open to learn and grow and find the things that work better, rather than getting comfortable where you are.

If anything, I’m grateful that I’ve got a clear list of things I can work on doing better in the future, rather than being a one-hit wonder and never being able to live up to my first work.

On that note, I look forward to seeing what the folks at Long and Short Reviews make of my stories. Enjoy!

11_30-mediakit_bookcover_urbandragonRosario Hernandez doesn’t ask for much. She’d like to sleep on a bed instead of a sidewalk, to know where her next meal is coming from, and maybe, if she’s really feeling optimistic, to get a girlfriend. More than anything, though, she wants her best friend Arkay to not murder anyone— because Arkay is a dragon, claws and all, and she has a penchant for vigilante justice. When Arkay’s latest escapade goes sour, Rosario gets stuck with a stolen van and a cooler full of human organs. Now they’re on the run, and it’s not just the cops who want answers. The owner of the cooler is still out there, and they want to replace what they’ve lost— by any means necessary.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

The Cooler:
“What have ya got there?” Raimo asked when his inspection reached the back of the van.

“No clue,” I said, coming around front. “The guy we got this from said he was delivering something.”

“Like what, a case of beer?” He tipped the box back a few inches, and it made a wet gravelly sound. “It looks like a cooler.”

“Must have been some excellent beer,” I said, tapping the padlock that sealed the lid. “You don’t get ice boxes like this at Walmart.”

An excited grin crossed Raimo’s face. “Let’s find out, shall we? Give me a second.” He vanished into the garage and came out with what I could only describe as a murder weapon. “Watch your fingers, Hiccup.”

This wasn’t a friendly little set of bolt cutters. It had wicked blades nearly as long as “Isn’t that a bit excessive?” I asked.

“I know, right?” he squealed. “I just got her in. Isn’t she gorgeous? I’m going to call her Matilda.”

“Ooh, did Raimo get a new toy?” Arkay called from inside. “I wanna see!” She bounded out to join us, bits of moisture still dripping down from her damp hair.

The padlock could probably have been pulled off with a solid pull, but Raimo caught the remaining sliver of metal between Matilda’s jaws with an almost dainty twist. Another roar, and the pieces fell away.

“All right,” Arkay said, taking the lid with both hands. “Let’s see what we’ve got here.”

Matilda hit the floor with a solid thunk as Raimo stumbled back. “Jesus Christ!”

It took me a moment longer to make sense of the metallic, meaty smell and the sudden flash of red.

About the Author:11_30-mediakit_authorphoto_urbandragonJW Troemner was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States, where she lives with her partner in a house full of pets. Most days she can be found gazing longingly at sinkholes and abandoned buildings.

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The Bulls of War by E.M. Thomas – Spotlight and Giveaway

 

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. E.M. Thomas 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.

As clouds of civil war gather over a dying empire, two friends and generals find themselves on opposite sides of the factional divide. Now, they must sacrifice everything to save themselves from their realm and their realm from itself.

Read an Excerpt:

Tyghus kept low to the ground as he headed for a patch of tall grass just on the camp’s edge. He hadn’t a shred of armor on him, only his sword.

His heart quickened as the rider quickly closed, his hooded brown cloak fluttering from his speed. Tyghus was intent on baiting the approach, certain he was safely blurred amongst grassy stalks.

Ten yards. The heavy gallops were loud now. Blade in hand, he sprang to his feet –

“General, no!”

About the Author:

E.M. Thomas is the author of two novels – an epic fantasy (The Bulls of War) and a historical fiction set in Ancient Greece (Fortress of the Sun).

E.M. Thomas was born and raised on the East Coast of the United States but is a world traveler at heart. He caught the writing bug early on and has a passion for all good fiction, but especially that of the fantasy and historical variety. One of his favorite moments thus far in his young career was writing a chapter of his latest book about the great battle of Corinth – while sitting amidst the ruins of ancient Corinth.

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Prism by Matthew Ryan – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

mediakit_bookcover_prismIn the mystical realm of the Cavern, Akarra is Shardshaper to the quartzian people who inhabit it. Fashioned from quartz and filled with enchanted light, the quartzians are a strong and hearty people. Akarra is no exception. But when destiny intervenes, she must choose between the he-quartz she loves and the life path she lives for. Which shall she choose?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Akarra knelt expectantly on the floor near the back corner of Yridia’s Cave.

“Pattern matching is most important, dear,” Yridia said.

“I know, Mistress Shardshaper,” Akarra replied, head bowed in deference. “You’ve told me so—many times—but I just don’t see the use of geometry.” She was tired; it had been a long training session and she still wasn’t through.

The small but cozy cave—one in which she had spent many long hours engaged in study—had been hollowed out in the shape of a twelve-sided figure of exquisite design—a dodecahedron, it was called. It at once conveyed a sense of space, mystery, and power. Much like the element it represented: the ether. Each of the twelve faces of the shape formed a perfect pentagon—a five sided figure of further significance and meaning. The pentagon-shaped floor, of course, was made of clouded white quartz; the ceiling, clear. The pentagons on the walls alternated between white and clear. There were no cracks or fissures or blemishes; all the angles and divisions were neat, clean, and precise, thus regulating the temperature of the room perfectly. As Akarra perused the features of the cave, she felt contentment and peace, and her antennae glowed a pale greenish yellow in response. This was like a second home for her. She was the apprentice Shardshaper. One of the most respected members of the tribe.

Akarra watched Yridia move to the center of the pentagon floor and squat down in front of her. Yridai’s yenshi robe billowed out and she produced a crystal of transparent blue quartz in the shape of a perfect tetrahedron. Her Heartshard. A piece of the Heart Crystal itself, the source of the Shardshaper’s power.

Akarra could feel the Shard’s presence.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_prismMatthew D. Ryan is a published author living in upstate New York on the shores of Lake Champlain. His work has been featured on-line at Aphelion.com and YesteryearFiction.com. He has been deeply involved in the fantasy genre for most of his life as a reader, writer, and game designer. He is the operator of the web-site matthewdryan.com which features his blog, “A Toast to Dragons,” a blog dedicated to fantasy literature, and, to a lesser extent, sci-fi. Mr. Ryan says he receives his inspiration from his many years as an avid role-player and fantasy book reader. He has spent many long hours devising adventures and story-lines as well as gaming systems for role-playing games, playing a motley assortment of characters in RPG worlds, as well as digesting the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, and others. As a result, he has great depth of experience in the fantasy genre and feels it was a natural shift for him to move into fantasy writing.

Mr. Ryan is the author of the exciting dark fantasy novel, Drasmyr, The Children of Lubrochius, and The Sceptre of Morgulan, as well as a growing number of short stories. His first novel, Drasmyr, won the book of the month award on Long and Short Reviews: Young Adult for the month of September 2012. The story features a traditional Dracula type vampire in a Middle-Earth type setting. It is a dark fantasy geared toward teens and adults that has consistently earned reviews in the four and five star range. Drasmyr serves as the prequel to his series: From the Ashes of Ruin. In addition to Drasmyr, The Children of Lubrochius, and The Sceptre of Morgulan, Mr. Ryan has published several short stories on-line, including: “Haladryn and the Minotaur”(published at the now defunct Pegasus On-line), “The River’s Eye”(published at YesteryearFiction.com) , “Escape”(published at Aphelion.com), and the three-story collection Of Dragons, Love, and Poison.. His latest work is the stand-alone novella “Prism,” a startling fantasy story of unique character. He has also spoken on the topic of “World-Building” utilizing his considerable experience as an author and game-designer. When not engrossed in his fantasy worlds, Mr. Ryan can be found volunteering at the local food shelf or playing with his cat, “Confucius,” who is as wise and wily as his name suggests.

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