Influences by Frank Cavallo – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

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

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

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

Karl Edward Wagner

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

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

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

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

Clark Ashton Smith

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

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

Eric R. Eddison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is writing your full-time job?

HAHAHAHAHA *dies laughing*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He misses it.

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

Help take Richard Holt down.

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

He also might learn how to use real magic himself.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Quinn Bradley had finally arrived.

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

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

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

And now that includes me, I guess.

“Quinn?” a woman asked.

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

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

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

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

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

Character Interview with Ahearn from The Ghost in Exile

What is your name?

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

Where were you born? Please describe it to us.

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

Tell us about your family?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you believe in god(s)?

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

What is your greatest fear?

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

What do you think of your author/creator?

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

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

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

Enjoy an Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Botanical Toxins by Gabrielle Mathieu – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Gabrielle Mathieu will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy an Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Everybody has to be good at something.”

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author:

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

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Character Interview with Patti Nord from Conjuring Zephyr by D. Lieber – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. D. Lieber will be awarding a handmade bookmark (International Giveaway) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Character Interview with Patti Nord

Interviewer: Good morning, Miss Nord. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Patti: Good morning! I’m Patti Nord. I’m from Sweet Water. It’s a small town on the Rim of Terrenus. I was recently accepted to Madame Bergot’s Finishing School, which I will be leaving for next week.

Interviewer: Congratulations. I understand you’re best friends with Kai Stephenson, protagonist of Conjuring Zephyr. Tell us about her.

Patti: Kai and I have been friends since we were quite young. We live close to one another. She’s got this crazy idea that she’s going to disguise herself as a boy and go to Capital University in order to prove that fire isn’t the only element that can be created.

Interviewer: You think it’s crazy she thinks that, since it’s against accepted magical theories?

Patti: No, I think it’s crazy she thinks she can pass herself off as a boy without anyone noticing. I don’t have a personal opinion about her quest to create air. I don’t know much about that kind of magic. However, she seems confident, so I believe in her.

Interviewer: You think her true identity will be discovered?

Patti: Kai hasn’t shown much interest in boys so far. She’s always too busy practicing magic with her kooky old neighbor. I don’t think she knows how they act. Other than my brother, Dane, she hasn’t really even been around boys our age. I, on the other hand, make it my business to observe boys anytime I get the chance… Anyway, I’ve tried to coach her, and I helped her make school uniforms and such. I just don’t think it’s going to be as simple as she thinks it will be.

Interviewer: and why not?

Patti: I may be a young and inexperienced maiden, but I know what I’m talking about. I read books, and I’ve been to parties. There’s a chemistry that happens when boys and girls are together. It’s anatomy. It can’t be helped. Besides, those boys at Capital University are all cooped up without a girl in sight for months at a time. She’s going to be living, eating, and studying with them in close quarters. Something’s bound to happen.

Interview: You’re smiling. It sounds like you hope something happens.

Patti: Well, let’s just say that I hope Kai learns more than magic while she’s there. She hasn’t really been interested in anything but magic since what happened to her brother. I want her to experience life, too. Even though she says she isn’t looking for love, I hope it finds her anyway.

Interviewer: And what about you? Are you looking for love?

Patti: Always.

Interview: Oh? And has anyone caught your eye?

Patti: Not yet. While I appreciate all different types of male personalities, I’m looking for someone with a quiet strength, someone considerate and sensitive. Even though I’m going to an all-girls school, I will still be in the city. I’m sure I will have the opportunity to meet my ideal.

Interviewer: Well, good luck in your search and in your first year at Madame Bergot’s.

Patti: Thank you for having me. I hope you will all read about Kai’s quest. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us when we go to Capital.

Retreating underground to escape a devastating ice age, humans build a new society. When magic is discovered and harnessed for survival, the citizens of Terrenus establish theories and principles of how to use it.

Kai Stephenson is determined to prove magical principles aren’t set in stone. Having lost her younger brother in a tragic accident, she will ensure such accidents never harm anyone else. She enrolls at the most elite university to gain the knowledge she needs to achieve her goal. Overconfident that living as a boy at an all-boys university will only be a minor inconvenience, Kai is convinced her classmates will never discover that she’s a woman. After all, women aren’t capable of higher forms of magic, and her boyish figure certainly doesn’t hurt her disguise.

Hiding her true identity becomes a problem when her new friends start to awaken her repressed sexuality.

Enjoy an Excerpt

He cleared his throat, and a bored expression slid into place. “I did well in that class. If you really can’t figure it out, I can lend my expertise.”

I smiled internally at his change in attitude. “I don’t know. Leif seems pretty confident. He will be a great tutor.”

His boredom shifted to disappointment.

“Still, you’ve already taken the class. If Leif and I need help, may we ask you?” I asked, not wanting to torment him longer. Smugness warred with boredom. I had to look away so I didn’t laugh.

Long fingers gripped my shoulders, and a face appeared close to mine over my left shoulder. A slight turn of my head revealed Des, way too close to me. “Aren’t we snuggly,” he whispered, breath hot in my ear.

I tried to shrug him off, but he held tight. His face blocked Ryn’s from my view. A look to my right showed three pissed off first-years. All three stood slowly; Reid was the one to speak. “You are going to remove your hands,” he growled.

“Why would I do that?” Des asked sweetly.

A pitcher of water from the center of the table hovered over to us and slowly poured itself over Des’ head. He shrieked and shoved it away. Flynn laughed uproariously, identifying himself as the culprit. Des turned his fury on Flynn, who ran from the room. Des followed in hot pursuit.

About the Author: D. writes stories she wants to read. Her love of the worlds of fiction led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, crafting, watching anime, Korean television or old movies. She may also be getting her geek on while planning her next steampunk cosplay with friends.

She lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John), retired guide dog (Samwise) and cat (Yin).

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Demon Cursed by Karilyn Bentley – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

Gin Crawford, the world’s newest demon huntress, just wants to enjoy a football game, but finds herself hunting a serial killer minion instead. When his victims turn out to be the local football star’s female fans, she must determine if the player has joined forces with the minion, but her efforts lead her deeper into danger. When her mentor, Aidan Smythe, is attacked, Gin resolves to go to any lengths to save him, even if it exposes her most tightly held secret. Minions and demons, however, aren’t the only terrors she faces. Will she realize the greatest danger lies within—before it’s too late?

Enjoy an Excerpt

I shake my head at him before straightening my shoulders. And slapping a hand over my mouth and nose. Yuck. Hours-old death in humid Texas weather makes for a smelly situation. At least I’m not the only one with their hand, or handkerchief, over their mouths.

“What happened?” Smythe meets the gaze of each guard and the hyperventilating janitorial women who clearly found the body.

One of the women points to where the body lies in front of the Dumpster, flat on her back, hands resting in classic death pose on her bloody stabbed chest, a red rose clasped in her fingers. Her open eyes stare into the night, her mouth curled into a grimace of pain and death. Her clothes look like she came from a club: tight, short, and low-cut, with spiky heels. At one time, I would’ve been jealous of her hot-to-trot figure. Now all I notice is the pain and terror stamped on her face and the unfurling anger deep in my core.

Effing murderers. I might be a fancy-assed demon huntress, but I destroy minions, not human killers. Lucky for me, I can tell which type of kill this scene belongs to with little effort.

Closing my eyes, I start to take a deep calming breath, think better of it, and focus on activating my minion sensors. Tapping into the power of the entity lying along my nerves, I open my eyes to a tactical grid display of reds and oranges, a clear indication of a minion’s presence at the scene.

Looks like I’ll get my wish to annihilate the bastard who killed this poor woman.

About the Author:Karilyn Bentley’s love of reading stories and preference of sitting in front of a computer at home instead of in a cube, drove her to pen her own works, blending fantasy and romance mixed with a touch of funny.

Her paranormal romance novella, Werewolves in London, placed in the Got Wolf contest and started her writing career as an author of sexy heroes and lush fantasy worlds.

Karilyn lives in Colorado with her own hunky hero, a crazy dog nicknamed The Kraken, a silly puppy, and a handful of colorful saltwater fish.

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Wild Rose Press, or iBooks.

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A Human Element by Donna Galanti – Spotlight and Giveaway

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

Evil comes in many forms…

One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a madman, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his, and she has two choices—redeem him or kill him.

Read an excerpt:

The man could hear the child’s bellowing cries coming from underneath the blanket covering it. She pushed the child into his arms as if eager to be rid of it. He took the bundle and handed the nurse his packages. The nurse began to close the door when he heard another far away cry.

The man wedged his foot in the door. “What was that?”

“N-Nothing.” The nurse looked up.

The man risked looking her in the eye.

“The girl is in pain and won’t keep quiet.” She clutched the envelope and folded her arms across her sagging bosom.

“It sounded like another baby,” he said.

“It’s just the whimpering slut. Now she’s paid double for what she’s done.” The nurse took a step back as if aware she had said too much already. She glared at him. “Now go on. You have what you wanted. And so do I.” She shut the door in his face.

The man in black stood there for a long moment, considering the woman’s choice of words. What if another child had been delivered and the frigid woman and country doctor kept it secret?


He decided to keep this information to himself. He would find the opportune time to use it. He was a patient man. But first, he had to see for himself. He peeled back the child’s bunting and looked for the first time into its yellow eyes. For that moment, the baby fell silent.

“Welcome to Earth X-10.”

The baby resumed its wailing.

The man turned with his noisy package and melted into the darkness satisfied, as the doctor had been, that the night’s events had provided him with more than he had asked for.

About the Author:

Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy (Imajin Books - ) and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books - ). Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill ( – magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem ( Galanti) . She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at conferences on the writing craft and marketing and also presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools.

Series Website | Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterst | Goodreads | Instagram

Purchase books 1 and 2 in the Element Trilogy

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Toru by Stephanie R. Sorensen – Q&A and Interview


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/ gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What would we find under your bed?

Cookbooks and part of my fabric stash. My husband says I have too many cookbooks and too much fabric in my stash. He is wrong.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

That’s easy. Peru.

I’d spent a week on my own with a guide who took me around to cool places along the Amazon. We fished for piranhas, looked at pink river dolphins and giant lily pads, climbed giant trees, looked for birds, paddled around in dugout canoes. You know, Amazon stuff. Good guide, fun trip.

Last day of our time together before the next leg of my trip, my guide asks if I want see a beautiful place “donde se cayen las estrellas” or the place “where the stars fall down.” My Spanish is medium bad, so I may have it wrong, but falling stars sounded intriguing so I agreed to go.

He tells me to meet him at 10 p.m. and to wear long sleeves, long pants and insect repellant.

First alarm…we hadn’t done anything at night, so kinda weird to go out so late, but okay, we are looking for fallen down stars so night time makes sense. I guess. In any case, I meet him at 10, ready to go.

We set out into the jungle, in a pitch-black night without stars or moon visible through the canopy of trees. I don’t have a flashlight, oops, but he is helpful and shines his on the ground so I don’t trip. I try to remember the twisting turning paths we are following, but within minutes I have no clue where we are or any way to find my way back to camp.

Second alarm…no one on the planet except this guide knows where I am, even the country where I am. I decide this was not clever of me, but there being no way to rectify the situation, I keep following him further into the dark forest.

An Amazonian forest is noisy, a rhythmic thrum of insects, night birds, strange animal calls and growls I cannot identify, a symphony of unfamiliar sounds. To quell my growing uneasiness, I ask my guide about some of the sounds. My Spanish sucks, so I don’t understand the replies. Some kind of bird, some kind of animal, some kind of bug. He offers names for the sounds swelling all around me while I try to figure out how I am going to get back to camp. I am afraid, although my guide has been nothing but professional all week, knowledgeable, competent and courteous. What the hell am I doing, alone, in the middle of this dark and cacophonous jungle with a man I don’t know very well?

He stops to show me a large fist-sized hole in the ground on our path. I understand the word “tarantula.” He offers to coax it out of its nest. I assure him I am fine if he doesn’t, but his poking around at the hole has stirred it up anyway and sure enough a huge hairy tarantula comes bopping out of the hole. Yes, dear reader, I scream. One long, loud shriek, involuntary. The forest falls silent for a few long beats, even the bugs and beasts, and listens. My guide laughs, a friendly and comforting laugh, not a sinister laugh, right, not sinister? I ask if there are others along the way. “Everywhere,” is his calm reply. “This is tarantula city around here.”

Great. Let’s call this our third alarm. Alone, in jungle, no one knows where I am except nice acquaintance guide man and many tarantulas. F*** the stars, I want to go back to camp. Now. But I don’t know how to find my way back, so on we go.
He stops to open his knapsack, offers me water from his canteen and fishes around until he pulls out a long machete. He wouldn’t be giving me water if he’s going to use that on me, right?

He starts hacking away at vines and undergrowth. He gives me the flashlight to hold so he can work, which cheers me up considerably. I have a weapon! I can bean him with this mighty flashlight! He’s got the machete, but if I am fast…then I remember the bits about the tarantulas and not knowing how to get back to camp even with a light.

After some time, he’s hacked a few hundred yards into the undergrowth. He asks for the light back, and, heart pounding, I relinquish my weapon and my hope. “We are very close now. Take my arm and shut your eyes.” He offers me one arm and holds the machete in the other. He turns off the flashlight.

It’s dark, the darkest dark I have ever seen with my eyes wide open. I open them even wider, to see if I can scoop in more light, but I might as well have a blindfold on. “Close your eyes,” he says. “Take my arm.” I flail my arms around until I can find his arm and grip it, tightly. “Let’s go.”

For several dozen yards, he leads me through the blackness, steadying me and warning me of dips in the ground. He must have jaguar eyes that can see in the dark, for I can still see nothing, only black. The animal and insect sounds have resumed their roar. I can feel my heart thudding in my chest, involuntary fear pounding away. I cannot even tell you if I’m afraid of him, or the tarantulas, or just basic primal fear of the unknown, what lurks under beds and in shadows. He reminds me to keep my eyes shut. I shut them, deciding I don’t want to see the machete blow if it is coming. Or the tarantulas. I no longer care that I am doomed and certain to die in a few minutes. I just want to get it over with.

Finally he stops. “A few more paces,” he says as he leads me forward.

I stumble forward. Wonderful, we’ve reached the place where I will be fed to the tarantulas or minced with a machete. I wish I had told Mom where I was going. At least maybe they could retrieve bits of me and get me away from this blackness.

“Open your eyes,” he whispers.

And there it was, the place where the stars fall down from the sky, rolling, undulating ground covered with small glowing stars, whole galaxies of stars strewn upon the earth. It was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, not least because it meant I was probably not going to be killed or given to the tarantulas. The stars are fallen leaves of a certain tree, leaves that let off a phosphorescent glow as they decay.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

Classical, Celtic, Scandanavian goth, and whatever else Pandora serves up.

What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

Finishing and publishing the second book in the Sakura Steam series, and getting my Mexico story into solid shape, maybe not finished but ready to share with beta readers.

How long did it take you to write this book?

I spent about six months researching and outlining, three months hammering through a first draft, and then another six months editing and working with beta readers to shape it up into finished form.

A nation encircled by enemies

A noblewoman with everything to lose

A fisherman with everything to prove and a nation to save.

In Japan of 1852, the peace imposed by the Tokugawa Shoguns has lasted 250 years. Peace has turned to stagnation, however, as commoners grow impoverished and their lords restless. Swords rust. Martial values decay. Foreign barbarians circle the island nation’s closed borders like vultures.

Tōru, a shipwrecked young fisherman rescued by traders and taken to America, defies the Shogun’s ban on returning to Japan, determined to save his homeland from foreign invasion. Can he rouse his countrymen in time? Or will the cruel Shogun carry out his vow to execute all who set foot in Japan after traveling abroad? Armed only with his will, a few books, dirigible plans and dangerous ideas, Tōru must transform the Emperor’s realm before the Black Ships come.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Omae wa dare da? Who are you? Whose ship is that? Why are you here?”

They forced Tōru to his knees.

He bowed down to the sand and spoke in the rough unhewn Japanese of a fisherman.

“Noble sirs, I am Tōru, of the village Iwamatsu, some days’ travel north of here. I was fishing with my father. A terrible storm destroyed our boat and cast us all into the sea. My father gave me a piece of wreckage to cling to as everything sank.”

Tōru struggled a moment, the words and flow of his native language catching on his lips after more than two years without a soul to speak with in Japanese. The memory of the storm and his last memory of his father that night rose up before him.

He steadied himself as the men listened intently, their swords never wavering from his throat, nor their gaze from his face.

He chose his next words carefully.

“That night was the last I saw my father. I was picked up by an American ship and taken to America.”

He bowed down to the sand again, easing between the blades.

“This night I am returning, to look after my mother. She has no other child to care for her, and no husband to feed her. The Americans brought me home, so I might do my duty by my mother and my people. I beg you, forgive me any crimes I may have committed by landing on your lord’s shore, and allow me please to return to my home.”

As he looked up into their eyes, he saw they would permit no such thing.

About the Author:

Stephanie is a writer based in the Victorian mining town of Leadville, Colorado, where she lives at 10,251 feet with her husband, five chickens, two bantam English game hens and one Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. After a former life in big cities-New York City, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Boston, Mexico City, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Santa Fe-she now enjoys the birdsong and quiet writing time she finds in Leadville. Her first novel draws on her experience living and working in Japan; her next historical novel is set in Mexico where she also lived for several years. As a Leadville local, she likes her Victorian attire spiced with a little neo-Victorian futurism and the biggest bustle possible.

Recognition for “Toru: Wayfarer Returns”
— Finalist, Fantasy category, 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
— Bronze Medal Award, Multicultural Fiction category, 2016 eLit Book Awards

Website | Facebook | Publisher Website | Publsiher Facebook | Publisher Twitter | Kirkus Review | Historical Novel Society review

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Why I Write by J. Scott Coatsworth – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes J. Scott Coatsworth who visiting with us and celebrating the release today of his debut novel Skythane.

Why I Write
J. Scott Coatsworth

I wrote my first story when I was in fourth grade. It wasn’t very good, or very original – basically a Jetson’s rip off in technicrayon colors. But it was such an exciting idea – that I could create my own stories instead of just reading the stories other people created for me. It was empowering.

I remember the old green metal typewriter my Mom used to have, the one I wrote my first stories on, including a novel where a herd of Pegasus… pegasi? swoop in to save the day – clackety clack clack.

I’m not proud of that particular tale – it was juvenile and derivative – but nevertheless it was a part of my evolution as a writer.

In high school, I wrote an amazing first page of a story, and took it proudly to my Junior year English teacher for an evaluation. I don’t think I actually said the words “Prepare to be blown away.” But it was implied when I handed it over.

Her studied response? “It’s a good start.” I still laugh when I think about that moment.

By the time I reached my early twenties, I was ready to be discovered – you know, hot new talent writes bestselling sci fi novel. “He’s so young,” they would all say, as I counted my first million and jetted across the country for book signings and author conferences.

Instead, the ten publishers I sent my masterpiece to sent me back ten rejections, which sent me into a tailspin. Authors, especially young ones, have very fragile egos, and I was no exception. It would take me twenty years to successfully climb back up onto the writing horse.

One day, in 2013, I was complaining to my amazing saint of a husband, Mark, that a family tragedy had derailed me from my writing once again. He looked me in the eye and said nine words that changed my life.

“The only one keeping you from writing is you.”

I think I just stared at him for a couple minutes. But he had a point. I always let other things in my life take precedence over my writing, and if I was ever going to get my writing career off the ground, that would have to change.

So I made my writing a priority, and this time it worked. I got my first publication in less than six months, a short story in a Dreamspinner anthology called “A Taste of Honey,” and I pulled out some of my older works and dusted them off to see if I couldn’t make something of them.

Skythane was one of those, and will be my fourteenth published work, as well as my first novel. It was a short, maybe ten page story starter about this man with wings who is deeply wounded by the loss of his lover. And it’s also about a world split in two by unimaginable forces.

I read it and was hooked. Had I really written this, once upon a time? I would spend the next two years working it into a novel.

Now here I am, almost forty years after I wrote that first story. Forty years! I’ll be forty nine in April, and my first novel is finally seeing the light of day.

So why do I write? I write because I have to. I write because I am not whole unless I am writing.

And I write to get to this place I am at now – because I have waited so long to finally see this day.

I hope you enjoy the results.

Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnison, a handsome, cocky wing man with a troubled past.

Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.

Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them together.

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Rain hit the plas and ran downward in little rivulets, separating and rejoining like branches of time as the storm whipped itself into a frenzy over Oberon City.

Xander Kinnson lay on his bed, head thrown back, watching the tempest with a laziness that belied his inner turmoil and pain. Alix had left him and gone missing. A year had passed, and still he had a hard time accepting that simple fact.

His dark wings with their jet-black feathers were stretched out lazily to each side of his supine form, their tips extending past the edge of the bed. His chest heaved slowly up and down, and he breathed easily, as if he were utterly relaxed.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Below the surface, under the deception of skin and sinew, his heart beat at a thunderous pace, and his mind raced for answers to Alix’s fate that slipped beyond his grasp.

The handsome trick he’d brought home rested his warm hands on Xander’s thighs, his hot mouth engaged elsewhere. Xander smelled the deep, masculine musk of him, slipping a hand absently through the man’s dark, tousled hair as the rain increased to a thundering downpour against the plas. The drops glistened, each an individual universe of shimmering light before running quickly out of sight.

A flash of lightning illuminated the room, thunder indicating how close it had been. As the heavy rain pounded against the arco’s walls, Xander rode the wave of pleasure higher and higher. Despite himself, he rose quickly toward climax, drawn up on the tide as the trick worked his cock. Unable to stop himself, he thrust his hips almost angrily upward into the man’s willing throat. Closer, closer….

He reached the crest, a pleasure so intense it burned through him like phosphorous, a white-hot fire.

Lightning flared again across the wet, black sky, followed by thunder so close it shook the bed. The storm had reached a fever pitch outside, and he arched his back in the air one more time, his wings rustling beneath him. As if in concert with the storm, Xander came, the release of his orgasm radiating from his hips along his spinal cord and down through his toes and the tips of his wings.

The rush of elation washed away his cares for a few brief moments. Xander shuddered, shivered, and shuddered again, and it was over.

For a while, he drifted in an oblivion that was blessed in its emptiness. The rain fell in a steady beat against the window, and he forgot to wallow in his pain. His mind floated free, with no responsibilities, nothing to worry about for those brief moments between sex and real life. This was what he needed. This lack of thought, this pleasurable oblivion where he could just be.

When he opened his eyes at last, the nameless trick was staring down at him, expectant.

“You’re still here.”

“I can do more, if you’d like,” the man said with a grin. Like Alix, he had no wings—a lander man.

Xander glared at him, annoyed. He was handsome enough, tall, dark-haired, with blue eyes and a light complexion. Strangely, he reminded Xander of Alix. The hair and eyes were wrong, but there was something about him, and that annoyed the hell out of Xander, for reasons he didn’t care to examine too closely. “Get out,” he said with a dismissive wave.

The man frowned. “I thought—”

“Oh right, your pay.” Xander took the man’s arm and slitted him a hundred crits from the wrist reader embedded in his own. Then he waved the trick away. “We’re square. Now get the fuck out of my flat.”

The man gathered his own clothes, but Xander didn’t give him time to put them on. Instead he hustled the trick out of the irising door, palming it closed on his hurt and angry expression.

I really have become a bastard, he thought, staring at his dim reflection in the shiny black door. It had been a long year.

He tapped the cirq in his temple with his left hand, and called out to his PA. “Ravi, any messages for me?”

About the Author: Scott has been writing since elementary school, when he and won a University of Arizona writing contest in 4th grade for his first sci fi story (with illustrations!). He finished his first novel in his mid twenties, but after seeing it rejected by ten publishers, he gave up on writing for a while.

Over the ensuing years, he came back to it periodically, but it never stuck. Then one day, he was complaining to Mark, his husband, early last year about how he had been derailed yet again by the death of a family member, and Mark said to him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way. He has sold more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before. He is currently working on two sci fi trilogies, and also runs Website | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press or Amazon.