How We Handled the Research for the Book by Lauren Sevier and A. Smith – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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How We Handled the Research for the Book

Leather & Lace is set in New Orleans, so one thing we did was travel to New Orleans on a particularly hot summer day and toured the French Quarter. The majority of this novel takes place in the quarter and in one building in particular: the Cabildo, which is a state museum of history now. After we ate po-boys and and drank a daquiri, we toured the Cabildo to get a better grasp of the building for authenticity purposes. Getting to spend a steamy day in the city was just what we needed to capture the feel of it in Leather & Lace.

We also spent a lot of time researching the United States geography. In The Fool’s Adventure series, bombs dropped all over and literally reshaped what the country looks like. Partnered with climate change and rising seas, we really needed to understand how what happened in the Culling changed the fabric of the world so we could present the information as accurately as possible while taking some artistic liberties.

For the character of Will Ellis, extensive research was done regarding mental health issues in men. Specifically regarding PTSD in veterans and first responders and correlating depressive episodes and issues regarding suicide attempts.

Finally, there was research done to make sure all injuries and medical conditions explored in the novel were medically accurate and that treatment options (that were non-fictional) were given using the equipment and knowledge they would have available. Think more ‘field medicine’ than ‘pioneer medicine’ though at times it could be either or both of them depending on resources. The research and outcomes of all the medical injuries/ailments in the novels are discussed with board certified physicians for the most accurate depictions possible.

Overall, we take a very hands-on approach to research and try to make most of the details as accurate as possible while still leaving room for creative license since this is a fictional world. We want the book to feel immersive and realistic while still engaging the readers in escapism through the fantastical elements of the story. At the end of the day, every effort we make is for our readers’ enjoyment and so far we’ve found that when you keep your readers at the forefront of your mind while developing your stories, they notice and appreciate it. We have the best readers in the world and all we want to do is make them proud. <3

Three years wandering the desert is enough to drive anyone insane, and the limits of Bonnie and Jesse’s minds and hearts will be put to the ultimate test.

A deadly showdown with a murderous outlaw ripped Bonnie away from the relative peace and ragtag family she’d built at the end of Guns & Smoke. In the thrilling next chapter in The Fool’s Adventure series, we finally get the answer to the biggest question: What happened to Bonnie?

After three years of fighting to get her back, literally, Jesse James finds her in the most unlikely of places– New Orleans high society. With the help of his rival-turned-friend Will Ellis, and a sassy staff member, Jesse’s tasked with infiltrating the house of the man he believes was responsible for killing his parents in order to get her back. Jesse’s biggest challenge yet will be learning to fight for Bonnie in a way he never expected before: by fitting in.

Mired in high society politics and scheming, Bonnie is at the epicenter of one of the most ruthless gangs in the world. Years trapped in a gilded cage of wealth and lies has irrevocably changed her from a crass outlaw into a southern debutante. Gone is the dangerous glint in her eyes, replaced with suspicion when the devilishly handsome street fighter named Montana suddenly joins her father’s staff.

Can Jesse remind Bonnie of who she really is in time to keep her from giving her heart and hand away or will he discover that the wild, beautiful outlaw he fell in love with is truly gone?

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Staring at her now, knowing that I’d desperately fallen for her all over again sent a stark jolt through me. This feeling between us wasn’t some average infatuation. Most people could live a lifetime and never experience the raging, all-consuming need to be close to another person, no matter whether you knew why.

My soul called out, and hers answered.

Everything that I’d lost three years ago was suddenly before me. In the span of a breath, I closed the distance. I clutched her hips, a smile curling over my lips at the little gasp she let out as her back met the steel door and my mouth covered hers. I reached behind her, flicking the lock. Too many times we’d been interrupted. I’d be damned if I let it happen now. Not when she loved me again.

About the Authors Lauren Sevier and A. Smith are longtime friends and co-authors from southern Louisiana. Guns and Smoke, their first joint publication, began as a “short” story after having too much wine on girl’s night. Nine years later it is now the first novel in a Dystopian/Western Romance series. The duo has plans to publish several series together in the future. A. Smith spends her time with her two rescue dogs and rescue cat surrounding herself with books and Labyrinth paraphernalia. Lauren Sevier collects antique tea cups and tries to stay sane, though as the mother of a toddler she fails brilliantly most days. She also has a growing collection of crowns and tiaras and likes to act silly on Tiktok. Look for more thrilling novels from The Fools Adventure series in the future!

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Titanian Warrior by Victoria Saccenti – Spotlight and Giveaway

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One woman holds the key to his destiny—and his people’s salvation. Hagen drags himself to the gates of Hell, body and soul shredded by the bloodlust that consumes all the unmated of his kind. Awaiting the painful atonement that will buy him ten more years to find his eternal mate—or face oblivion. But Hades himself kicks him out with the bloodlust still prowling, unsatisfied, in his veins.

Bargained away by her parents to Master O, a mysterious, cruel wizard, Faiza serves in his household, keeping her small magic a secret, plagued by wild, confusing visions of a strange, suffering man. Then the master brings home a wounded Titanian warrior whose touch sends ice, fire, and desire racing through her body.

When she learns Master O plans to use Hagen as a weapon to conquer all races, she devises a desperate plan to free him—a plan that opens a portal to a world she’s never known. And a destiny entwined with danger that could destroy them all.

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The towering pair of boulders stood as gatekeepers and markers of the way. A steep path snaked between them until farther down the hill, the road disappeared in thick fog. Leaning on the closest rock, Hagen steadied himself to catch his breath, then pushed on.

Bloodlust crippled his Titanian vision. Still, he stumbled, rolled, and crawled over jagged rocks and gnarled roots with single-minded determination to reach his appointed meeting place, the cavern at the base of the Shivaliks, and the sole entrance to Hades’s domain on the earthly plane. A perverse satisfaction filled him each time he scraped and sliced his exposed skin, as this was only a precursor to the punishment he deserved. If he could shred his flesh to strips in anticipation as he had done with his clothes, so much the better.

Hagen advanced through the haze, seeking the deity’s promised signal. Images of his frenzy during the last skirmish prodded him. He strained past gore-filled images, and the effort paid off. There, deep within the haze, a faint red light marked the spot. Alecto had not forgotten. A hitched breath escaped his lungs as he stood and trod on a more secure step.

As the haze dissipated, the cavern’s hungry mouth gaped before him. Healing and deliverance acquired through pain would soon be his. As he inched closer to the wavering light, he removed the last remaining strips of clothing. The offering had to be bare and unadulterated. Nothing but skin would satisfy the Fury, purify his spirit, and postpone the horror of termination for another ten years—a mere blip in the lifespan of a Titanian.

About the Author:

Award-winning, multi-genre author Victoria Saccenti writes romantic women’s fiction, contemporary romance, and paranormal romance. Not one for heart and flower stories, she explores the edgy twists and turns of human interaction, the many facets of love, and all possible happy endings. After thirty years of traveling the world, she’s settled in Central Florida. She splits her busy schedule between family and her active muse at Essence Publishing. However, if she could convince her husband to sell their home, she would pack up her computer and move to Scotland, a land she adores. On a side note, in one form or another, Scotland appears in most of her stories.

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Skull’s Vengeance by Linnea Tanner – Q&A + 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.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

There is no one in my past whom I feel the need to apologize. However, I regret that I did not tell my daughter-in-law how much I loved her until she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Life is precious and we should often tell cherished family members and friends how much we love them.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?

Dragons.

How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

Every story has a unique perspectives, characters, and plot lines that make them distinct. I don’t consciously consider what makes my stories different from others. I write from the heart. Readers have described my novels as evocative with unexpected twists. A review from Reader’s Favorite describes Skull’s Vengeance as follows: The plot rockets off at a fantastic pace that amps up the tension at every turn, making for a surprisingly quick read filled with passion, bloodshed, and some very cinematic and exciting dark magic to top it all off.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?

The best piece of writing advice I’ve received is how to firmly place a scene in a character’s point of view instead of head-hopping from one character to another, which can confuse readers. The worst piece of advice is when someone insists that you strictly avoid adverbs, complex words and sentences, descriptions, and semicolons. As long as the prose does not distract from the story, a writer should use all tools of writing that enhance the story.

Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Whenever I visited London, I was intrigued with the statue of the ancient warrior queen, Boudicca, and her daughters in a horse-drawn chariot. The Roman historian Cassius Dio described her as being, “in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh: a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips; around her neck was a large golden necklace.” She symbolizes how a single woman can unite divisive factions to rise up against tyranny and seek their freedom.

Statue of Boudicca and her two daughters in a chariot

My primary character, Catrin, is inspired by the legend of Boudicca and her Celtic world, which later inspired Arthurian legend. The characterization is based on the complex archetypes of ancient Celtic goddesses whose functions embrace the entire religious spectrum from healing to warfare, from creation to destruction, and from birth. Catrin is intended to be an inspiration to modern-day women who are seeking to find their place in society.

The legacy of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) and his tragic downfall with Cleopatra inspired the primary male character, Marcellus Antonius. Mark Antony’s son (Iullus Antonius) suffered a similar fate as his father. He fell on his sword in disgrace for his scandalous affair with Augustus Caesar’s only daughter, Julia. Little is known about Iullus’s son, Lucius, except that he was exiled to Gaul as a young man, most likely as a condition to escape his father’s fate.

Bust of Mark Antony

During the time period in my series, the Antonius family legacy was cursed by the act of damnatio memoriae (condemnation of memory) that erased public records of Mark Antony and Iullus Antonius. A burning question that I wanted to answer in Skull’s Vengeance is how the tragic family legacy would impact Lucius Antonius. How would he react if his son, Marcellus, went down the same fateful path as his forefathers?

A Celtic warrior queen must do the impossible—defeat her sorcerer half-brother and claim the throne. But to do so, she must learn how to strike vengeance from her father’s skull.

AS FORETOLD BY HER FATHER in a vision, Catrin has become a battle-hardened warrior after her trials in the Roman legion and gladiatorial games. She must return to Britannia and pull the cursed dagger out of the serpent's stone to fulfill her destiny. Only then can she unleash the vengeance from the ancient druids to destroy her evil half-brother, the powerful sorcerer, King Marrock. Always two steps ahead and seemingly unstoppable, Marrock can summon destructive natural forces to crush any rival trying to stop him and has charged his deadliest assassin to bring back Catrin's head.

To have the slightest chance of beating Marrock, Catrin must forge alliances with former enemies, but she needs someone she can trust. Her only option is to seek military aid from Marcellus—her secret Roman husband. They rekindle their burning passion, but he is playing a deadly game in the political firestorm of the Julio-Claudian dynasty to support Catrin's cause.

Ultimately, in order to defeat Marrock, Catrin must align herself with a dark druidess and learn how to summon forces from skulls to exact vengeance. But can she and Marcellus outmaneuver political enemies from Rome and Britannia in their quest to vanquish Marrock?

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PROLOGUE

White Cliffs in Southeast Britannia,
Eve of Samhain, 31 October, 26 AD

Three human skulls hung over King Marrock’s stallion, dangling from a rope like ornaments. Feeling as invincible as a god, he rode to the precipice of the sheer cliffs and listened to the roar of the waves crashing below. Yet, the raven soaring overhead chilled him to the bone—an omen he was but mortal and could plunge to his death.

He embraced the warmth of Boudicca, his younger half sister, who sat astride his horse in front of him. A toddler full of mirth, she was a healer who could connect to the souls of the dead.

Whereas their mother accused him, also known as Blood Wolf, of being a soulless murderer.

On this eve of Samhain, Marrock knew the souls of the dead freely roamed among the living. He spotted his deadliest assassin, Gawain, searching for the wraith on the emerald hilltop. Gawain had a blue, triangular tattoo of a dagger’s blade on his forehead and deadly weapons underneath his black cloak—the royal insignia of the red dragon stitched to the front panel.

For Marrock, the Otherworldly dragon, with its leathery wings and fiery breath, symbolized perpetual power. It was said that where dragons trod, mystic energy flowed. The untamed beast guarded the portal into the Otherworld.

He yearned for the dragon’s mystic power—the power to summon forces from the earth’s molten underbelly to immolate his rivals.

Gawain pointed to a pile of rocks. “The sheepherder saw the wraith over there,” he said in his deep, gravelly voice.

Marrock handed Boudicca to him and then dismounted, pulling the rope of skulls off his horse and draping it over his shoulders. His family’s skulls served as a warning to anyone who threatened his sovereignty.

Until now, he had only been able to summon the deadly powers from the skulls of his stepmother and bastard sister; their souls were encased in the bone crowns. The soul of his father, King Amren, still eluded Marrock, even after he had sliced off his father’s head. If his father’s soul was indeed wandering the hilltop, he would imprison it in the largest empty skull he had.

Then, he would be able to unleash the collective forces from all three souls.

Glancing all around, he could not see his father’s ghostly figure in the thickening fog. Boudicca’s gleeful giggle roused his attention. He watched her waddle toward a mound of stones and place her tiny hands on the stacked rocks.

“Pa. Pa. Am,” she squealed with delight.

Marrock cast a glance at Gawain. “Did the sheepherder see the wraith disappear into those rocks?”

Gawain nodded. “Indeed, I believe so.”

Marrock transferred the roped skulls from his shoulders to the grassy ground and looked at Gawain. “Help me remove the rocks so I can see what is underneath.”

Gawain joined Marrock in the task of removing the white stones one by one. They inspected each rock for any defect before setting it aside.

Boudicca, mimicking the men, picked up flint pebbles and dropped them on the chalky ground.

After a while, they uncovered the gemstone handle of a dagger; its blade was embedded in a coil-shaped serpent stone. Marrock recognized the jewel-studded dagger as once belonging to his father. Intrigued, he gripped the handle with both hands and strained to pull it out, his muscles aching and his face dripping with sweat from the effort.

Suddenly, to his shock, the hilt turned sizzling hot. He jerked his hands away and inspected the blisters that had formed on his reddened palms. Hearing Boudicca’s gleeful babble, he looked down just as she gripped the dagger’s handle.

“Pa. Pa. Am,” she trilled.

To Marrock’s surprise, Boudicca’s hands did not burn.

A prickling sensation noosed around his neck as he recalled the original curse cast by his mother just before his father had executed her.

The gods demand that the scales be balanced for the life you take. If you deny my soul’s journey to the Otherworld by beheading me, I curse you to the same fate as mine. I prophesy your future queen will beget a daughter who will rise as a raven and join your son, Blood Wolf, and a mighty empire will overtake your kingdom and execute my curse.

King Amren had etched the words of the curse on the dagger’s blade using the Roman alphabet with the belief he could thwart the dark prophecy.

Marrock shuddered.

Does my father’s soul live in the dagger? Has he come back to exact vengeance on me?

About the Author Award-winning author, Linnea Tanner, weaves Celtic tales of love, magical adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. Since childhood, she has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology. Of particular interest are the enigmatic Celts, who were reputed as fierce warriors and mystical Druids.

Linnea has extensively researched ancient and medieval history, mythology, and archaeology and has traveled to sites described within each of her books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series. Books released in her series include “Apollo’s Raven” (Book 1), “Dagger’s Destiny” (Book 2), “Amulet’s Rapture” (Book 3), and “Skull’s Vengeance” (Book 4). She has also released the historical fiction short story, “Two Faces of Janus.”

A Colorado native, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.

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Maz, Origin by T.L. Ford – Q&A and Giveaway

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

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

I would apologize to the young girl whose book draft I never got around to reading (for a variety of reasons, none of which justify potentially crushing a young author).

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?

Probably a dragon, who would be a good friend and take me out flying.

How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

I mix my genres a bit which is both good and bad. It’s good because it makes stories that are unique and interesting. It’s bad because it makes describing them to anyone and filling in Internet search terms very hard.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?

The best advice would be making sure to use character names through longer dialogs, instead of he/she, and just having the dialog. Reading ebooks tends to make it easy to lose track of who is saying what. I’ve also started leaving clues about who each minor character is when they first appear in the scene to help the reader remember who they are and how they fit into the story.

The worst advice I ever got was to try to use Microsoft Word to write a book, splitting and linking files. What a disaster. Either use plain text files or something like Scrivener (which I adore), where you can focus on writing and not formatting and reformatting and reformatting, and Word’s broken links.

Are the experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I would say that the number of times Merrill has to change her goals reflects the many times my own direction has changed. It’s not flippancy, but a recognition that something else may suit me better.

Entering the witness relocation program after lawfully escaping a massive walled-in prison, teenage Merrill tries to fit into our society. Her background and decisions may not let her.

Maz, Origin is a story of growth and love, guilt and innocence, and changing goals. What is morally right and what is legally right? What’s legal for humans may not be for aliens…

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I heard shots being fired from below. They were aiming at the helicopter or the guy that landed on the scaffolding above me. The sign offered some level of protection, but they’d move into position directly below shortly. “It’s ok, miss, we’ll have you out of here in a jiff. Are you hurt?” The man began to wiggle through the bars, which was no small feat because he was wearing some sort of heavy armor.

He reached down toward me, and I hesitated, terrified of grabbing that hand and leaving my life behind. He clenched his teeth in frustration and urged me, “Come on, miss! Just take my hand.”

Gunfire from below decided for me. I lifted my good arm, and he latched onto me. As he jerked me upwards, pain shot through my shoulder and abdomen. I gave up life and slipped into darkness.

About the Author: T. L. Ford is a programmer, writer, and artist. She spent most of her professional career supporting the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in southern Maryland. Her science fiction novels imagine possibilities while focusing on society and personal relationships and decisions. Her fantasy novels are heavily influenced by Dungeons & Dragons and are light “weekend reads”. She’s also created two art books, a thriller novella, and an interactive math iBook. She enjoys sailing, hiking, and spending time with her family.

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Last Chance by Darren E. Watling – Spotlight and Giveaway

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The earth’s epilogue was a forgone conclusion.

Our World selects seven of the best human beings that man, woman, and other could put their faith in, to ensure human existence, each displaying traits of a master in his/hers/its field.

However, not all traits are in the best interest of humankind.

Out of this World places seven hospital patients on a Plan B shuttle. Life was difficult on Earth. A new planet presents new problems. The ex-Fruit and Nut Friendly Psychiatric Hospital patients are up for the challenge.

Into the Other World—The Twist. Not only a mid-1900s dance, it is also associated with a lemon, a warped shape, a frame of mind, a warped frame of mind, a face you pull from sucking lemons and an end of story, unexpected finish, not to be given away, glancing at the back cover.

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“Panicked, Venus had no idea where to go from there. She began to run down the almost deserted street. Her thoughts were a collective mess. The torture of the woman, Paul Elkato, FILTH, and the APC filled her less-than-settled mind. She ran, turning in only one direction, checking behind her the whole time. She had now lost her sense of direction. Venus was extremely hot from the unintended, fast-paced getaway, and she felt as if a huge cloud had covered her entirety. She was out of oxygen, and it seemed the whole universe was spinning in the opposite direction. Dis-orientated, she kept moving. Realising the gravity of the matter, she knew she had to seek refuge and hide from Paul and FILTH. Investigating her surroundings, she noticed a large sign. With limited options, Venus reluctantly entered the establishment.

“Hello, and welcome to The Fruit and Nut Friendly Psychiatric Hospital,” came the receptionist’s opening dialogue.

Venus, wishing to keep her new secret, declared she was a nymphomaniac and needed help. The bi-sexual receptionist was more than willing to admit her into the system. Venus would only stay a short time before the doors to freedom were unintentionally opened.”

About the Author:

Born Darren Edward Watling, Subiaco, Western Australia, 1966. Darren excelled in English, maintaining ‘A’s, throughout his schooling and wrote a play, ‘Laughing Gas’, for his school at the age of 10. Credited with one small, published article, Darren found inspiration and reward, arriving at his latest piece, ‘Last Chance’.

He completed an apprenticeship, as a fitter, at Princess Margaret Hospital, while continuing his passion for short story writing.

Traveling Australia for three years on a private bus gave Darren a beginning to the experiences and continued, humorous outlook he has on life.

Darren approached his mother Jill Stubbs Mills and asked for her blessing to take her short story, ‘Deception’, and rewrite it into a novel. (The feedback from her publisher about her story was exceptional). Jill agreed to her son’s request. Sadly, Jill now suffers with dementia, but, keeps her sense of humour.

Various forms of employment, including a movie extra, a welder on a crocodile farm, a drummer for a touring band and currently a roof plumber, gave Darren considerable ‘fuel’, for a fired up, comedic novel.

Darren has had several passions over the past 56 years while walking this Earth. Drums, Karate, tennis and continuing today- comedic writing.

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The Making of a Cross Genre Writer by Lou Kemp – Guest Post and Giveaway

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

The Making of a Cross Genre Writer

The definition of a cross-genre book is a book that blends themes and elements from two or more different genres.

In the 1990s, I repeatedly found that it was a kiss of death to submit a book with more than one genre to a literary agent. The typical response came back as, “A great idea, and I loved it. But I can’t sell it.”

That point of view continued until the early 2000’s when a boutique agency took a chance on my combination adventure, mystery, horror, fantasy novel. As others had predicted, it didn’t sell and still received “we love it but forget it, no one will buy it” responses, only this time from the big publishing houses. I understood: you can’t change a buyer’s preference.

What changed? Over the last twenty years, the market and perceptions have gradually transformed. This is fortunate because as a stubborn writer who loved what I wrote, I persevered. I had to have the freedom. There is a term for writers who do not outline and make it up as they go, and I’m a proud “pantser” i.e. flying by. Just as the confines of an outline would kill my imagination, so would limiting my books to one genre.

Having fantasy, adventure, a smidge of romance, mystery, and a giant dose of magical realism at my disposal allows me to do anything I want and keep my readers guessing and happy. There are readers who are ready to go beyond formula plots and crave something new. If they are open to trying fantasy, they may not want full-blown sieges of castles with fairies dancing in the air. Yet, if a magician is a believable and flawed character, and who is also lovable, they will try magical realism. Jonas Celwyn is that character, warts, magical practical jokes and all.

If you want more background, the growing trends in cross—genre writing continue in this article.

A great reference is Diane P. Freedman’s, An Alchemy of Genres (1997)

It’s 1865 and three close friends; the immortal magician Celwyn, the automat Professor Xiau Kang, and Bartholomew, a scientist and widower from Sudan, set out on another adventure as they travel to Singapore to fetch the professor’s wife. Prepare to explore a world reminiscent of our own yet filled with magic and steampunk!

Their private, magically enhanced train, the Elizabeth, is carrying them through the countryside when they witness the purposeful crash of a hot air balloon next to them. Jules Verne emerges from it and joins their party. As they continue east, the danger following the author shadows their train, and the murders begin. When they arrive in Singapore, Captain Nemo uses a unique method to trick Professor Kang into climbing aboard the Nautilus.

Music Shall Untune the Sky is a steampunk fantasy filled with murder, magic, and adventure.

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The sun rose, glinting off the ornate cornices and brass crossbeams of the Prague Opera House. A murder of crows hovered over the top of the dome; their plaintive cawing as articulate as words.

“Francesca is most angry. Somehow, she knew Christina had died.” Kang shielded his eyes against the glare. “I believe she is the loudest one with the long neck.”

Celwyn sat beside him on the rim of the fountain, shivering under the shadow of the dome and too shocked over Christina’s death to even cry. He’d only begun to know her and her inner beauty. Later he would ask himself if he was the reason she had been killed or because the witches of Prague had a longstanding feud with vampires., The way Christina was murdered would make it worse. Too exhausted to stand, he watched the crows for a moment.

“Agreed. She has every right to be angry at Delgado and the rest of them.”

The magician couldn’t help glancing across the street to the Vltava River running swift and dark through the city. In the last few hours, he had made sure Delgado would never hurt someone he loved again; but in the end, he had been too late to save Christina.

The sun rose higher, spreading light over the city. The aroma of cooking fires reached them as the residents prepared to greet the day, and a forlorn siren wailed in the distance, competing with the cawing of the crows who circled, pecking at the magically enhanced net dangling from the spire.

About the Author:Early work was horror and suspense, later work morphed into a combination of magical realism, mystery and adventure painted with a horrific element as needed.

I’m one of those writers who doesn’t plan ahead, no outlines, no clue, and I sometimes write myself into a corner. Atmospheric music in the background helps. Black by Pearl Jam especially.

More information is available at LouKemp.com. I’d love to hear from you and what you think of Celwyn, Bartholomew, and Professor Xiau Kang.

Milestones:

2009 The anthology story Sherlock’s Opera appeared in Seattle Noir, edited by Curt Colbert, Akashic Books. Available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. Booklist published a favorable review of my contribution to the anthology.

2010 My story, In Memory of the Sibylline, was accepted into the best-selling MWA anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris. The immortal magician Celwyn makes his first appearance in print.

2018 The story, The Violins Played before Junstan is published in the MWA anthology Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. The Celwyn series begins.

Present day My new publisher, 4 Horsemen has reissued book 1 of the Celwyn series: The Violins Played before Junstan. The remaining books in the series; Music Shall Untune the Sky, The Raven and the Pig, The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died, The Wyvern, the Pirate and the Madman will debut, beginning in 2023 -2024. The companion book, Farm Hall, will be reissued in 2023 where readers will see more of Pelaez, another immortal magician and Celwyn’s brother. Another companion book, The Sea of the Vanities is due out in 2023.

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Guinevere: Bright Shadow by Sarah Provost – 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/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.

“You may think you know my story. My name has been bandied in ballads and jests, for good and (mostly) for ill. High Queen, priestess, adulterer… but first and always a woman. Courage and honor shaped me; ecstasy transported me; grief, betrayal and terror tempered me.

“My loyalty to the Goddess was supreme. But as the new religion took hold, the pagan way was threatened with extinction. There were those on both sides who would use me as a pawn in that battle, even if it meant taking my life.

“Yes, I bear my portion of blame. I loved Arthur, and I loved Lancelot, will I or no. But that was only one element in the impending chaos. Britain was divided, my love was divided, and such divisions cannot endure. I did everything in my power – and learned new powers – to prevent an all-out war. But would it be enough?”

Enjoy an Excerpt

I worried at the glove, getting exasperated. Lancelot noticed and came to my aid. He smiled at me, his eyes sweet and affectionate, then bent his head and began to work the buckle free.

At last it let go. Lancelot drew the gauntlet from my hand and let it fall. But he still kept my wrist, and held his face averted. I should have moved away, but something in his utter stillness held me as if I were glamoured. When he raised his head to look me full in the eyes, there was no smile. His face was taut and deathly pale. He pulled me toward him, and I did not resist.

When his mouth met mine, it was with such tenderness that I could do nothing except meld into it. What we were saying to each other with that kiss had little to do with lust. Only our lips touched, and our hands where he still held mine.

In that instant my life was changed forever. There was no sense of urgency. Instead, it felt like coming home after a lifetime spent wandering. Had it really always been this simple, this pristine? The miracle of his lips on mine could only have lasted a moment, but in that instant I understood all I had been missing in my life. And then, as I was about to vanish completely into the ecstasy of it, I understood what the future held as well. And it was dire, agonizing. It was utterly impossible.

About the Author:Sarah Provost is a poet, playwright, screenwriter and novelist, currently living and working in upstate New York. A collection of poems, Inland, Thinking of Waves, was published by the Cleveland State University Press. Her stage plays have been produced off-Broadway, in London, Los Angeles, and states beginning with K. No screenplays have been produced, but she made a decent living writing for Paramount, Disney, HBO and others until Hollywood broke her heart. After a period of recuperation and relocation to a place with much worse weather, she began writing Guinevere: Bright Shadow, her first novel. A second novel, The Real Girl, is in progress.

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gods on Trial by Opeshum Patroz – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Opeshum Patroz will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour bannr to see the other stops on the tour.

“Beyond the Father” sets the scene for the 8-book Sci-Fi Epic “gods on Trial: The Series,” delving into life’s determination to transcend all limitation. Set on the planet Xżyber, citizens of the Sub-Median Region, imperfectly reborn into metal, oppress those who are organic. Elsewhere, in the Central Kingdom, religion supports royalty’s brutal domination of the lowest class. War over scarce resources is coming, revolution within each region is brewing, and none know of the eccentric god who created them. This being watches, has fascinating conversations with his often-wiser companion, occasionally learns, and rarely intervenes. The many levels and threads of struggle distract nearly all from a far greater threat. Meanwhile, the young Prince Anglid’s vision quest into the unexplored Area X may ultimately change everything. However, just when you think you know the direction of the story, the author has yet another surprise.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Purvi’s face turned red as her anger mounted inside of her. The unfriendly exchange reminded her of the last time she spoke with Timmons, her grandfather. It was the day he had declined his chance to be uploaded to the Vangora Rima and achieve eternal presence.

It was a sullen afternoon, with the family and Timmons’ doctor. As they huddled around the bed where Timmons lay weak, his doctor implored him to reconsider his decision, given he was in the last few days of his life. However, Timmons refused to agree to the upload.

This was an opportunity his family could not fathom he would turn down, and an option only typically available to those who were at least 80% Mollard, or to those who had the means to invest in the technology.

However, Timmons, a brilliant Xżyberian—whose only misfortune was the constraints of poverty—had managed to write numerous social advisories intended to promote harmony between Mollards and Non-Mollards. He’d had hopes that his musings would provide him a source of regular income, but his published works were only well received by some. Highly criticized by most, he quickly won the label of an iconoclast and found himself forced into obscurity.

Yet still, his message captivated the Luminaries—the presiders over news and commentary—who deemed that Timmons’ writings could be useful in the management and wellbeing of the Non-Mollard community, and should be archived as a collection of noble artifacts.

With this came the rarest honor—the right to upload his consciousness to the Vangora Rima until a fully prosthetic body was constructed for him.

Purvi’s mother, who was the only surviving daughter of Timmons, sat by his bedside pleading with him to accept the offer. And Purvi, almost nineteen-years-old at the time, sat on the floor weeping.

“Dearest father, the Vangora Rima has never been within our family’s grasp before,” cried Purvi’s mother, Ariel. “We may never get there—any of us. So, why would you walk away from this now?”

Timmons struggled to speak. “Take my hand, Ariel,” he said through strained breathing. “Please remember what I taught you . . . what I taught all of you about desperation.” Timmons opened his eyes slightly. “It can and will cloud your view and disrupt your clearest thoughts.”

“But, Grandfather!” interjected Purvi. “We love you, and we want you to live forever!” Purvi placed her head down onto the bed, wiping her tears against Timmons’ frail arm.

“Ah, Purvi. My little Purvi,” he said, stroking her hair. “The Vangora Rima would not give you back the grandfather you know. The system would scrub me clean of what it deemed were my imperfections: my concern, and my empathy…my ability to love you.”

“I don’t care about how much it would change you, Grandfather,” Purvi cried. “I have enough love for the both of us.” Purvi looked up, her eyes filled with so much water she could barely see. “I am stronger than you think I am! I will love you even if you can’t love me back!”

“Shh . . . my darling, Purvi.” Timmons whispered. “Please gather yourself and listen to what I have to say.” Timmons removed a ring from his smallest finger and placed it in the palm of one of her hands. “One day, Purvi . . .” he whispered. “One day, when you are fully grown, you will look into the face of pure evil, and I am eternally grateful that that face will not be mine.”

That was the last time Purvi heard her grandfather speak.

About the Author:

Opëshum has been writing since she was a child, and believes that authors are selected by their characters to bring their stories to the world. Incredibly shy and introverted, Opëshum does not make public appearances. She prefers to remain behind the scenes as the characters in her books take center stage. Her current work, the 8-Book SciFi Epic gods on Trial: The Series™ kicks off with Book 1, BEYOND THE FATHER.

Opëshum calls Sheridan, Wyoming her home, where she is currently writing Book 2 of this series. She lives in a modest Cape Cod dwelling on 3 acres of land where she lets a robust variety of sunflowers grow wild and untamed, while Aloe Vera and other succulents decorate almost every ledge within her house. An avid writer in the early morning and late at night, Opëshum often works on her manuscripts in rooms lit only by homemade candles.

She enjoys nature walks, full moons, and open spaces where she can stare up at the stars.

“I live my life in the shadows, and I am shy. For I know that my appearance is not pleasing to the eye.” – Opëshum Patroz

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Buy the book at Amazon for ONLY $1.00

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gods on Trial by Opeshum Patroz – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Opeshum Patroz will be awarding a $50 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.

“Beyond the Father” sets the scene for the 8-book Sci-Fi Epic “gods on Trial: The Series,” delving into life’s determination to transcend all limitation. Set on the planet Xżyber, citizens of the Sub-Median Region, imperfectly reborn into metal, oppress those who are organic. Elsewhere, in the Central Kingdom, religion supports royalty’s brutal domination of the lowest class. War over scarce resources is coming, revolution within each region is brewing, and none know of the eccentric god who created them. This being watches, has fascinating conversations with his often-wiser companion, occasionally learns, and rarely intervenes. The many levels and threads of struggle distract nearly all from a far greater threat. Meanwhile, the young Prince Anglid’s vision quest into the unexplored Area X may ultimately change everything. However, just when you think you know the direction of the story, the author has yet another surprise.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Fleet number, rank, and make?” asked the assignment officer at GATE 11, on the central floor of Team Command.

“44772PX, cadet, 40% Non-Mollard,” the next in line replied, quickly.

“Cleared. Report to HAS 4 in Field 8,” the assignment officer abruptly responded. “Next? I need Fleet number, rank, and make!”

“23619RX, cadet, 30% Non-Mollard,” replied the next in line.

“You’re cleared. Report to HAS 1, in Field 10,” said the assignment officer. “Next!”

“Thank you, yes! I’m next,” responded another cadet, rushing up to the window. Her rucksack slid off of her shoulder, where the stub of a missing arm stuck out just beyond the sleeve of her shirt. “Here are all of my papers,” the cadet said, spreading out a pile of disheveled notes.

“Hold it! I just need a fleet number, a rank and your make. I don’t need your life story,” snapped the officer.

“Of course. I’m 24005RX . . . sub-cadet, 100% Non-Mollard.”

The assignment officer studied the cadet disapprovingly. “100%—non-Mollard,” he repeated, carefully scanning the cadet’s face. “Didn’t know they still let your kind in. And who is your commanding officer?” he demanded.

“Umm . . . Officer Liara, sir. And my name is Purvi,” continued the sub-cadet.

The assignment officer pushed the papers back at Purvi and frowned. “I don’t need all these papers,” the officer scowled. “And I don’t need your name!”

“I see. Thank you, sir,” Purvi responded, retrieving her papers. But then she paused. “But, you’re a Non-Mollard too, aren’t you?” she pressed. “In which case . . . well, it’s just so hard connecting with anyone here. My whole fleet is mostly Mollard, and . . .”

“Why are you still talking?” the assignment officer interrupted, while entering something into his database. “You’re cleared for HAS 12 over in Field 3.”

Realizing her gestures were unwelcome, Purvi quickly repositioned her rucksack and turned to walk away. But then she turned back around and reapproached the window, consumed by what had become a theme in her life—the burning desire to challenge what she felt was wrong. “Why are you so full of hate when you are still part flesh yourself?” she challenged.

Shocked, the assignment officer slowly looked up to meet Purvi’s bold stare and revealed the circuitry behind his colorless, prosthetic eyes. “How dare you talk to me that way, you little ‘scunt!” he seemed to growl through clench teeth. “How dare you even open your mouth to speak to me without being asked a question? You remind me of everything that shouldn’t be. You’re an unfortunate arrangement of flesh and mineral—with a mouth!” Growing even more impatient, the assignment officer stood up quickly from his chair. “You are just a waste and a burden to us all. Your kind shouldn’t even be here,” he sneered, leaning forward to make his point. “Make no error in. I am part of the new Xżyber and you’re . . . you’re completely expendable.” His voice became deeper, as did his frown. “Now get out of my line!”

About the Author:Opëshum has been writing since she was a child, and believes that authors are selected by their characters to bring their stories to the world. Incredibly shy and introverted, Opëshum does not make public appearances. She prefers to remain behind the scenes as the characters in her books take center stage. Her current work, the 8-Book SciFi Epic gods on Trial: The Series™ kicks off with Book 1, BEYOND THE FATHER.

Opëshum calls Sheridan, Wyoming her home, where she is currently writing Book 2 of this series. She lives in a modest Cape Cod dwelling on 3 acres of land where she lets a robust variety of sunflowers grow wild and untamed, while Aloe Vera and other succulents decorate almost every ledge within her house. An avid writer in the early morning and late at night, Opëshum often works on her manuscripts in rooms lit only by homemade candles.

She enjoys nature walks, full moons, and open spaces where she can stare up at the stars.

“I live my life in the shadows, and I am shy. For I know that my appearance is not pleasing to the eye.” – Opëshum Patroz

Review | Twitter | Publisher | Facebook | Goodreads

Buy the book at Amazon for only $1.00.

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Lessons I Learned from my Hero by Lou Kemp – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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

Lessons I Learned from my Hero

When I began the Celwyn series in 2018, I superficially knew details about the immortal peyote-chewing magician Jonas Celwyn and the other characters. The journey since then has been educating both for me, and for Celwyn.

The Violins Played before Junstan was initially written as a 15-page story for the Mystery Writers of America anthology Odd Partners. When it was finished, I realized there was so much I could do with it. I had already two strong characters who were just beginning to mesh as dual protagonists, a mechanical bird with an attitude, a villain who had died about page 14, and a premise that opened up a world of possibilities. When I began turning it into a novel, it only took about another five pages to know it was time to back up and add in a few things.

In a short story, the action is high and timelines tight, and details had to be minimal to meet the 3000-word limit. For the novel, I began layering in the details, which also provided color and the opportunities for the plotting. Since I’m a pantster, aka writing by the seat of my pants without a plot, this stage was relatively easy: I did not have to change anything major, just go with it.

I also learned early on that I as I wrote, I naturally planted clues and set-ups for the other characterizations and the other plots for the books in the series. Not only those things were important; I also had to keep track of all of those red herrings, real herrings, and fancy herrings. I didn’t need a story board yet, or was too stubborn to use one. There is probably a lesson here.

As I wrote, I fell in love with my characters, so much so, I protected them from being injured or … drumroll … killed off. You can imagine the flak from editors and friends. The darlings/enemies you love must be in danger: lesson learned. In book 6 one of them is killed. I will miss this character.

It is probably obvious to many readers, and most authors, that a protagonist is usually an extension of the author’s ego, or soul in some cases. I learned a few good and bad things about my personality, aka Celwyn’s personality. He has changed during the making of the first 6 books and four years, and for the better overall. An example:

Celwyn realized this: At the end of book 3, Professor Kang and Celwyn get into a fight about a dangerous task that must be undertaken. Kang tells the magician that he won’t back his plan because Celwyn “can’t kill a woman unless she is directly endangering” him, and that he only would do so if someone he cared about were threatened. Celwyn argues that he’d killed dozens that morning. None were women. The plot goes on.

There will be many more lessons learned. Bartholomew’s superstitious reactions to Celwyn’s magic have evolved as he grows stronger as a character. He is less afraid. I really want to turn him into a vampire if he is ever mortally wounded (probably in book 8).

While on a mission to avenge the death of his lover, the immortal peyote-eating magician Celwyn is hired to deliver an automat, Professor Kang, to a priest. But Celwyn quickly learns that everything the priest told him was a lie. Now his ship, the Zelda, is stuck in a horrific storm and Celwyn knows he must reconsider his allegiance if he is to steer his vessel in the right direction and continue his quest.

Enjoy an Excerpt

San Francisco, 1865

Late in the evening, thick ribbons of fog moved like a living animal, breathing, then thinning to vapor before revealing the shadows between the wooden barrels that lined the docks. Beyond the Opera House’s silhouette, oily glimmers of the bay cut through the darkness, only to be obscured by the fog again.

As Celwyn neared the docks, he heard virulent cursing above the commotion from a carriage as it charged down the cobblestones toward him. When the coach drew level, the driver raised a whip above his horse. On its descent to the horse’s back, the tip suspended mid-air and snake-like, the whip shimmied out of the coachman’s hand.

The man steered the hackney to a stop. As he slithered out of the high cab, the whip followed him, wrapping around his ankles, lifting him feetfirst into the air. His cursing echoed to screams as he disappeared into the night sky. A moment later, a splash could be heard, and a satisfied smile crossed Celwyn’s lips; he couldn’t stand to see anyone mistreating an animal. The horse trotted down the street, rather jauntily, back toward the stable yard as the magician stepped around a snoring drunk and into Salty’s tattered and dingy atmosphere. Celwyn could have sworn it was the same drunk he stepped over last night.

About the Author:Early work was horror and suspense, later work morphed into a combination of magical realism, mystery and adventure painted with a horrific element as needed.

I’m one of those writers who doesn’t plan ahead, no outlines, no clue, and I sometimes write myself into a corner. Atmospheric music in the background helps. Black by Pearl Jam especially.

More information is available at LouKemp.com. I’d love to hear from you and what you think of Celwyn, Bartholomew, and Professor Xiau Kang.

Milestones:

2009 The anthology story Sherlock’s Opera appeared in Seattle Noir, edited by Curt Colbert, Akashic Books. Available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. Booklist published a favorable review of my contribution to the anthology.

2010 My story, In Memory of the Sibylline, was accepted into the best-selling MWA anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris. The immortal magician Celwyn makes his first appearance in print.

2018 The story, The Violins Played before Junstan is published in the MWA anthology Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. The Celwyn series begins.

Book 1, The Violins Played before Junstan reissue with the publisher, the 4 Horsemen on 10-17-22. The 4 Horsemen will publish the remaining books in the series beginning with Music Shall Untune the Sky, The Raven and the Pig, The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died. The companion book, Farm Hall continues the story of Pelaez, another immortal magician and Celwyn’s brother will also be available.

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