Shadow Stalker Part 3 by Renee Scattergood

I’ve had Renee on the blog before, and talked about how much I enjoy this serial adventure, so it’s my pleasure to announce that Part 3 is now available.

part-3-release

Things go from bad to worse when the Galvadi Empire develops a new technology to use against the shadow stalkers. Now Kado and Makari are more determined than ever to keep Auren away from their enemies, but Auren decides enough is enough and takes matters into her own hands. She turns herself over to the Galvadi to get close to Drevin and Makari has no choice but to play along. He is forced to either torture Auren to prove his loyalty or die knowing she will be tortured and enslaved anyway. Somehow, they must get close enough to Drevin to bring him down and put an end to the Galvadi’s tyranny once and for all.

Episode 13: Defiance

Three years have passed since Auren and Shai escaped the daily torture of the Galvadi. With Makari’s help, they have learned more about the Galvadi’s technology and discovered ways to overcome its effects on their power, which gave them an edge in the war. However, the Galvadi have spent that time developing new technology that could mean the end of the shadow stalkers.

Episode 14: Falling to Pieces

Things go from bad to worse after Cali is captured by the Galvadi. The new technology they have employed is making a rescue attempt impossible and endangering the lives of all the shadow stalkers. Auren refuses to give up though, but the more she tries to fix thing, the more Kado tightens the leash.

Episode 15: Into My Own

Just when Auren thinks she’d had enough of Kado’s overbearing and overprotective nature, he surprises her by apologizing and admitting he had been wrong. Auren finally accepts that she is not at fault for Cali’s death after visiting her in the shadow world, but Kado and Makari are still preventing her from confronting Drevin. They don’t feel she is ready, and Auren is beginning to believe they will never let her fulfil her destiny. It’s time she takes matters into her own hands.

Episode 16: A New Emperor

Makari is told the only way he can prove his loyalty is by torturing Auren, but he refuses to go through it. So Jharak, Drevin’s master interrogator, took the liberty to be the one to break her, but in the end, it would take forcing her to watch him torture and kill Makari.

Episode 17: Allies to Enemies Part 1

Traitors are weeded out and new allies are found. Auren and Makari are determined to bring peace once again to the Serpent Isles, but they have a deadline. If they don’t make it in time, they could end up at war with their own people.

Episode 18: Allies to Enemies Part 2

General Graves wants Auren and Makari dead. When Makari demands one of Graves’ men, who secretly supports Makari, is sent to him for extra security at the palace, Graves uses a mind control drug to get him to assassinate them. Will Auren and Makari learn what happened before it’s too late?

Buy Shadow Stalker Part 3 – http://reneescattergood.com/books/shadow-stalker-part-3-episodes-13-18/

If you haven’t read the Shadow Stalker serial yet, download Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6) free – http://reneescattergood.com/books/shadow-stalker-part-1-episodes-1-6/

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Excerpt – Episode 13: Chapter 1

Cali gave me a nudge as she took a seat next to me. “Do you have any idea what’s going on?”

“No idea,” I said, moving over a few inches so she had space to sit between me and Shai on the log someone had converted into a bench.

Shai slung an arm around her cousin and Cali returned the gesture, then wrapped her free arm around me. I smiled at her. Cali was the only one who had helped me maintain my sanity over the years. It drove me crazy never knowing what was happening to Makari. Kado kept me busy, as usual, but any time I had a free moment, all I could do was wonder if he was safe. I would know if he died. I would sense him again in the shadow world. He had been blocking me to keep me safe, though I had no idea how it was supposed to help. All it did was make me want to go to him, which would be more dangerous.

Of course, Kado would never allow that. He saw my thoughts as I had them most of the time, and he would know as soon as I made the decision. I learned quickly not to allow my thoughts to go down that path too often. That’s where Cali came in. She distracted me by helping me forget the war and making me feel like a normal person once in a while. She was as good a friend as Jade, except she didn’t encourage me to disobey Kado when I was angry.

“Maybe the Galvadi have decided to give up,” Shai said, pulling me out of my thoughts.

Cali snorted.

“I know. It’s wishful thinking.”

I smiled at Shai. “I want this to be over too.”

“You’ll figure it out soon.” Cali gave my shoulder a squeeze.

All the shadow warriors knew the end of the war would not come until I stopped Drevin. The only problem was I had no idea what I was supposed to do, and no amount of training helped. Each day it seemed like I was further from my goal instead of closer.

After everyone had taken their seats, Kado held up a hand calling us all to silence. “Makari has just given me some disheartening news. The Galvadi have developed a—”

I tried to listen, but I couldn’t get past the fact that Makari had been here. “He didn’t even bother to see me?”

Kado glared at me, and I suddenly realized I’d blurted it aloud.

“Makari has to keep a low profile for his own safety, and they were not aware he had left. He couldn’t stay away long.”

“I think it’s time he left the Galvadi all together,” I said, folding my arms over my chest.

“It would be the healthier option,” Cali added on my behalf.

“Makari’s work has been invaluable to us, and would not be possible if he weren’t living among them for the time being,” Kado said, then leaned in my direction looking straight into my eyes. “And he knows what he is doing.”

Kado watched me, and I was sure he was waiting to see if I would continue to interrupt him. I remained silent, but neither he nor Makari would be able to convince me the man I loved wasn’t taking an unnecessary risk. They could get whatever information they needed from their missions.

When he was sure I wouldn’t interrupt again he finished explaining that the Galvadi had developed a new recinder and how it worked. “You will need to avoid capture at all costs. Once these recinders are placed on you, there is no known way to nullify its effects even after removal. Auren, I want you to visit Makari’s unit to steal the schematics, and if possible, one of the recinders along with any other information you can find about new technologies. Makari suspects there is more, but they are keeping him in the dark.”

I stood quickly, smacking my hands together. “When do I leave?”

“Wait a moment. I have other things I need to discuss with you first.”

I sat again, hoping I wasn’t in for one of his long lectures.


Renee ScattergoodRenee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn’t start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy, and she’d dabbling with paranormal thrillers under a pen name.

She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels, A God’s Deception.

Aside from writing, she loves reading (fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her homeschooled daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6): http://reneescattergood.com

Author Pages:

Website/Blog: http://reneescattergood.com/

Renee’s Author Spotlight: http://reneesauthorspotlight.blogspot.com.au/ – a blog where I feature indie and small press authors.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00NTJY1W2

Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/rscatts

BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/renee-scattergood

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8507658.Renee_Scattergood

Renee’s Shadow Stalkers: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/16rTPYCAwDq5cpyxHfphx0-x6ka9C7DWoJsdgYa2CyAw/viewform

Social Media:

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/reneescatts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReneeScatts

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100671337443224225702/posts

LinkedIn: https://au.linkedin.com/pub/renee-scattergood/56/963/3

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rscatts/

Newsletter (new subscribers get 3 free books): http://reneescattergood.com/subscribe-today/


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

To Hunt a Sub by Jacqui Murray

THAS-small [16806]An unlikely team is America’s only chance

A brilliant Ph.D. candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky experimental robot team up against terrorists intent on stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. By all measures, they are an unlikely trio–one believes in brawn, another brains, and the third is all geek. What no one realizes is this trio has a secret weapon: the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.


Preview Chapter from To Hunt a Sub

Three days before present

Ten hours and thirty-seven more minutes and the crew of the USS Hampton SSN 767 would be home. Seasoned submariners, the six-month covert intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance tour down the eastern seaboard of South America had gone flawlessly and silently. The Atlantic is a large ocean and the Los Angeles-class sub’s noise footprint small. Once the boat cleared Cuba, the crew would relax.
The Captain sipped the morning’s fourth cup of burned coffee when the hair on the back of his neck prickled. He glanced around, trying to identify what bothered him.
“Captain,” the Watchstander’s gaze bobbed from the Executive Officer to his watchstation. “Navigation is non-responsive.” Confusion tinged his words.
That was it. A change in the deck’s subtle rumble. Before the Captain could react to the impossibility that guidance controls had crashed, every monitor in the sub’s nerve center shut down.
He hadn’t seen this in twenty years of driving subs. All personnel made a hole as he rushed toward the Control Center, shadowed by the XO.
“Sonar readings?” The Captain called to Sonarman Second Class Andy Rikes in the compartment just aft of Control, barely larger than a broom closet but elbow-to-elbow with operators, fingers flying across keyboards and eyes locked onto screens that blinked a dull grey.
Rikes answered, “Negative, Sir. The hydrophones are working, but aren’t sending raw data, like someone pulled the plug and flushed everything out to sea. Trying to fix it.” His voice was hopeful.
If the screen had worked, Sonarman Rikes would have seen the ping, a final gasp before everything electrical collapsed.
The COB—Chief of Boat—interrupted, “Captain. Reactor Scram!” The sub’s nuclear power had evaporated. “Nuclear technicians isolating the problem. Battery back-up is being attempted.”
“Shift propulsion from main engines to EPM,” an auxiliary electric motor that could turn the propeller.
“Negative, Captain. Non-responsive.” Fear leaked from his voice.
The depth meter no longer worked, but the XO guessed that the sub was angled downward at 10 degrees
“Blow main ballast tanks!”
“No response, Captain.”
“How deep is the ocean floor in this sector of the Atlantic?”
The Sonarman answered, “It varies between 1,000 and 16,000”
16,000 feet was well below the sub’s crush depth.
“There are seamounts and ridges spread throughout. We could get lucky and land on one. Or not.”
“Inform US Strategic Command of our situation.”
“Sir, comms are down.”
“Release the message buoy,” though all that told the world was they were in trouble. It could quickly drift miles from their position.
The Captain continued, voice calm, face showing none of the worry that filled his thoughts, “I want all department heads and Chief Petty Officers in front of me in five minutes. I want the status on every system they own and operate. Wake up whoever you need to.” He had a bad feeling about this.

“Gentlemen, solutions.” The Captain looked first at XO, then COB and finally NAV, the Navigation Officer who turned to the senior chief of navigation.
“It’s like an electromagnetic pulse hit us, which can’t happen underwater…” then he shrugged as though to say, I have no idea, Sir.
They practiced drills for every sort of emergency, but not this one. No one considered a complete electrical shutdown possible.
“We’re checking everything, but nothing is wrong. It just won’t work.”
“Where’s CHENG?” The Chief of Engineering.
“Troubleshooting, Sir.” COB’s voice was efficient, but tense.
The Captain didn’t wait. “Condition Alpha. Full quiet—voices whispers, all silent, no movement not critical. Defcon 2,” the second-highest peacetime alert level.
No one knew who their enemy was or why they were under attack, but they had one and they were.
“XO, get lanterns up here.”

Within an hour, the massive warship had settled to the ocean floor like the carcass of a dead whale. It teetered atop an ocean ridge, listing starboard against a jagged seamount, and the gentle push of an underwater current from a cliff that plunged into a murky darkness. Every watertight door was closed. As per protocol, the oxygen level was reduced to suppress a fire hazard. Without climate controls, the interior had already reached 60 degrees. It would continue dipping as it strove to match the bone-chilling surrounding water temperature. Hypothermia would soon be a problem. For now, though, they were alive.
The hull groaned as though twisted by a giant squid.
The Captain peered into the gloomy waters that surrounded the sub. “Thoughts, XO?”
“We’re stable for the moment, barring a strong underwater current.”
Based on the creaking protests from the hull, they were at or beyond crush depth. Any deeper, the outside pressure would snap the HY-80 outer hull and sea water would roar into the living compartments. Everyone would be dead in seconds, either drowned or impaled on the ragged remains of the sub by a force in excess of a Category Five hurricane.
“We’re beyond the depth of the Steinke Hoods,” escape equipment that included full body suits, thermal protection, and a life raft. Budget cuts had eliminated funding for more advanced solutions.
XO pointed toward a darker expanse of black just yards from the sub. “No telling how deep that crevice is.”
“Gather the crew in the Forward compartment. Seal all other compartments. Ration water. Start O2 candles when levels reach 50% normal. Did the message buoy launch?”
“Yes, sir.”
That was a relief. The Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) deployed in emergencies from shore couldn’t assist if it didn’t know they needed help.


Quote from author:

What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the captivating prehistoric female who unwittingly becomes the guide and mentor to Kalian Delamagente as she struggles to stop a madman from destroying her life.

Book information:
Title and author: To Hunt a Sub by J. Murray
Release Date: August 15, 2016 by Structured Learning
Genre: Thriller
Cover by: Paper and Sage
..
Available at:
Kindle August 15th

Purchase Link

jmm pic [16808]

Author bio:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

Introducing Dyndaer by Joshua Robertson

I have been a fan of Joshua’s work for a while now, so it is with absolute pleasure that I share with you his newest release – Dyndaer. Below you will find information about the book, the all important purchase links, and an excerpt to enjoy. I’ve also added details of the first book in the series, Melkorka, including my review.

DyndaerCover

Branimir emerges from the Netherworld as a living legend and learns the Ash Tree is still in danger from the cursed dagger, kaelandur. An old friend compels Branimir to finish what they started at Melkorka. Once again, the former slave must keep kaelandur out of uncertain hands, while struggling to separate heroes from villains and friends from foes. Some evils never lessen.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

Website

 

RobertsonPicJoshua currently lives in Alaska with his wife and children. In 1999, he began crafting the world for Thrice Nine Legends, including Melkorka and Anaerfell. He is also the author of the A Midwinter Sellsword and Gladiators and Thieves in the Hawkhurst Saga. His short story, Grimsdalr, is inspired by the tale of Beowulf.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Amazon

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter


Excerpt – Dyndaer

The demons of the Netherworld chased him. Four-legged, wolf-like creatures, known as Dreka, rammed their goat horns at Branimir. The gray, wrinkled skin clung to their gaunt frames. Thin lips were stretched back giving sight to the rows of teeth on the tops and bottoms of their bloodied gums.

Branimir tumbled, swinging his weapon and feeling it tear through flesh as easily as a hot blade through frost. For a moment, he may have heard Dorofej’s riddlesome voice—no, his cry—but Branimir had not the time to listen. Bran had to scramble, and sneak, and stab.

And stab. And stab. And stab.

The urgency of the battle and the demons thumped inside of his head.

“Stop!” A familiar voice, again, cried in desperation.

Crimson splattered his vision as his dagger cut through skin once more. His blade loved the taste of blood; he felt the need to drench it again.

Pain stung his leg, but it was quickly forgotten as demon after demon lunged for him. The Dreka were ever persistent in their attack. He spun, and twisted, and disappeared to avoid every demonic beast soaring through the air, vicious teeth aimed for his throat. They would not reach him. For a moment, he thought he saw a flash of Hanna’s wide eyes, but they looked unfamiliar. Treacherous. Evil. Besides, his dagger was already cocked behind his ear and he felt incapable of restraining himself.

thriceseries

 

MelkorkaCover

Melkorka Review by Melissa Barker-Simpson

 

Robertson has created a fantasy world readers will be able to return to time and time again. It is a world of magic and adventure, of epic quests, and arduous journeys into the unknown. In this debut novel of the series, we are introduced to a cast of characters as their world is turned upside down.

The Highborn, a magical race consumed by duty and honour, throw us headlong into all-out war when they condemn one of their own.  Their magic comes with a price, and this humanises them, draws us in to the politics of the land and offers a better understanding of their world. Their superiority is evidenced by the way they live, and unsurprisingly, this leads to an event which seals the fate of their people.

I particularly enjoyed the symbolism of creating Kaelandur, the first corporal weapon to be used among the Highborn in history. The existence of the dagger causes a shift in the balance of power, blurring the lines between good and evil.

The story is told from the point of view of Branimir Baran, a member of the Kras who has served the Highborn at Melkorka for over five decades. It is through his eyes we see the great battle between the Highborn and the Bukavac, demons of the Netherworld. Branimir has the gift of invisibility, creating a window for readers to observe the action and witness the destruction of Melkorka. This battle was wonderfully crafted, with beautiful imagery which added to the illusion of being part of the scene.

By killing one of their own, the Highborn unwittingly create a monster; a powerful adversary hell bent on destroying the world. Those who remain after the battle at Melkorka must embark on a journey to protect that which gives life – the legendary Ash Tree. Sitting within the Waters of Life, it stretches across all worlds, its location guarded by secrecy and, of course, magic.

Robertson’s world building skills are immense, so although I was surrounded by the unfamiliar, especially the names, I was drawn into the adventure immediately. The action didn’t let up for a second; with unexpected deaths, fantastical creatures, cannibalism and heroic battles which stole my breath – I couldn’t put it down.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Author Spotlight: PS Bartlett

It’s my pleasure to introduce PS Bartlett and her series – The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales. Below you will find details on the series, more information about Peggy, and a sneak peak of Chapter One from Jaded Tides. Enjoy!

The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales: The Series to Date

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00047]
IVORY DAWN: Prequel Novella
Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.
After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Believing they were out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.
Unfortunately for the pirates, these handy young women were ready, and they weren’t going anywhere without a fight.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00070]DEMONS & PEARLS: Book One
Had I known the repercussions of murdering the captain of a pirate ship, I may have taken the time necessary to rethink the act. As if I’ve ever had a choice that didn’t involve a fight or at the very least, defending myself against some man, hell bent on destroying me or my kin.
All we wanted was our freedom. All we found were demons disguised as men.
A woman pirate needs friends, big strong male friends, to survive in this unforgiving land of thieves and murderers—at least until she gets on her feet. Of course, trying to find one person you can trust is like finding an oyster with a perfect pearl in it—you have to break a few shells and get your hands dirty. We were lucky. I found the biggest, baddest and most honorable man in the Caribbean and he just happened to be in the pearl business.

Jaded Tides Front CoverJADED TIDES: Book Two
After finding love in the most unlikely of places, Ivory’s life appears to at last be falling into place. Having proven herself a force to be reckoned with, she has at last set sail for the first time as a pirate. The only problem is she’s a woman and must disguise herself in order to set foot on a ship. Being in love with her captain isn’t helping matters either and whole new set of obstacles are presenting themselves at every turn. Her brash style and tenacity, however, could prove to make her, her own worst enemy.
With a sword in her hand and her new found love at her side, Ivory Shepard is about to embark on a mission to rescue and return every young woman she can who has fallen prey to the jaded tides of the Caribbean sex trade. Armed with a secret log book she acquired from a pirate captain—who also happened to be an evil smuggler, she believes herself well prepared for the task. As she’s already learned the hard way, pirates always prove to be unpredictable and ruthless. Unfortunately for them, so is she.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00019]THE BLUE DIAMOND – THE RAZOR’S EDGE: Ten years in the future…if you like to read ahead.
Ivory Shepard didn’t want to be a pirate when she grew up but she didn’t plan on being orphaned and alone at thirteen with her three cousins either.
After a Spanish raid in Charles Towne left them with nothing, Ivory held her cousins together, trained them to fight for their lives and led them to a life of quiet refuge on the banks of the Ashley River. Out of reach of the hands of unscrupulous men, they found life on the farm a tolerable substitute for the traditional alternatives life would force onto them—until the night the pirates showed up.
Setting foot on that first pirate ship was nothing compared to the life of freedom and adventure awaiting them, once Ivory and the girls were through playing nice. Only one man believes he can stop her and he won’t need a ship full of guns to do it.
If it were only that easy…

Amber Wake
COMING DECEMBER 2015: AMBER WAKE: GABRIEL FALLING
Where do I begin? That’s a difficult question in and of itself but when your life is transformed in a matter of minutes into something else, do you begin when you’re born or when your life truly began?
I was born in London as Gabriel Wallace, a child of high society; although I was raised to appreciate everything that softly landed in my hand. I followed all the rules. I worked hard, studied hard and ended up a captain in the Royal Navy before my twenty-fifth birthday. Unfortunately, I saw the world through my own eyes, not the eyes of the crown and my vision was clear. I knew my duty. I knew my job. I also knew deep down, regardless of the loyalty my commission required, my stance was in opposition and it was but a matter of time before I’d be forced to stand alone.
Fortunately for me, my crew was loyal too and I had the full support of my closest friend and confidant as well. I didn’t know where I’d end up but I knew one thing for sure; I needed to get the hell out of England and thanks to them, I was taking my ship with me.

PS Bartlett Book Fair
Me and my fabulous pirate hat at the Baltimore Book Festival 9/25/15

I suppose it would be easy for me to just give the canned speech about myself in third person ( aka inside the backs of my books) but tonight, I’m actually in the mood to ramble on about myself…LUCKY YOU!

First, the canned speech:

P.S. (Peggy) has always had a love of books and writing. She also paints and draws and although writing takes up the majority of her free time by choice, she loves spending time with her friends and family.

Her first novel “Fireflies” was published in March of 2013 with GMTA Publishing and her second, “Hope From the Ocean” was published in March of 2014, also with GMTA.

As of March 2015, Peggy now independently publishes her own novels.

Peggy’s goal is to become a full time writer and spend the remainder of her days creating worlds, characters and stories that will carry on long after she’s written her last word.
Her motto is:
“I’m taking a fantastic voyage. Won’t you join me?”

A- Age: Seriously? Um…no.
B- Biggest Fear: Losing my loved ones.
C- Current Time: 8:29pm EST
D- Drink you last had: Coffee
E- Easiest Person To Talk to: My sister in law, Kim. We ride to work together every morning and ponder the universe.
F- Favorite Song: Right now, Go All the Way by the Raspberries. Something about that tune just makes me swoon.
G- Ghosts, are they real: Absolutely. Ask me sometime and I’ll elaborate.
H- Hometown: Baltimore, MD born and raised in the inner city.
I- In love with: My granddaughters.
K- Killed Someone: Only in my novels.
L- Last time you cried: Watching a video on Facebook. Sometimes those puppies and kittens are so damn cute!
M- Middle Name: Sue.
N- Number of siblings: 10. I’m number 11…yes, I’m serious. Unfortunately, there are only 5 of us left.
O- One Wish: To live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up.
P- Person who you last called: I just checked and it was my husband the other day.
Q- Question you’re always asked: How are you doing with the book thing?
R- Reason to smile: My grandbabies!
S- Song last sang: Fixer Upper from Frozen
T- Time you woke up: 6:50am
U- Underwear Color: Today? Beige
V- Vacation Destination: St Thomas.
W- Worst Habit: Grinding my teeth
X- X-Rays you’ve had: Recently, my right foot.
Y- Your favorite food: Japanese stir fry.
Z- Zodiac Sign: Aquariuuuuuuusssss….
How’s that? 🙂

Jaded Tides Front Cover

CHAPTER ONE – THRESHOLDS

When one finds themselves in a predicament where something they’ve longed for is finally in their grasp, it is customary for them to be grateful, thankful, and every other joyful emotion a living creature can feel. However, success itself is a predicament when you are standing with your arms full, without a free hand. That is precisely what I was feeling as I watched the Thunder Cay dipping forward until her bow was completely underwater. Within minutes, her stern rose up and it, too, vanished from view.
As I stood on the deck of the Demon Sea, surrounded by death, I was holding a life of my own in my hands for the first time, and I hadn’t stopped for a second to consider it. I wasn’t foolish enough to believe I was at the summit of anything but the first of a hundred mountains I’d yet to scale. As I bathed and dressed my crewmen’s injuries and drew that burning needle through wound after wound, a numbness from my newly acquired familiarity with the blood of battle grew within me. With every scream and shriek of agony, a cold shudder would shake me and keep me in motion. The inertia of constant stillness within me declared I’d crossed a threshold from which I could never go back.
I wanted to feel. I wanted to care. I wanted to cry or shout or perhaps even vomit, but there was nothing. Once my clothes were splattered and soaked with the blood of men I hardly knew for maybe the third or even the fifth time that morning, I reached a point where I could neither see it nor feel its sticky chill against my skin. My face went flat, and my voice was silenced, and somewhere a compartment in my brain opened up and collected it all until I was through. When the last man was laid in his hammock by late afternoon, I stood on the deck and washed all of them away with a bucket of water and soap, snuck away to the girls’ cabin, and changed my clothes as if nothing had happened.
They were visibly shaken, but silent as well. Yet I knew their silence was far different from mine. Theirs was sadness and regret. Theirs was exhaustion, disgust, and sympathy. I hadn’t seen them this way since the night of the pirate raid in Charles Towne, and as with that night, my next thought was that there had to be something on this ship in a bottle that would soothe me again and help me find my voice, as well as my spirit.
I found one alright, and it found me. I carried it close as I drug myself along the gangway in the shadows to my swaying bed. I stood there, looking at the two empty hammocks, and swallowed a long drink. Almost immediately, my insides felt warm and sweet, and I rushed it to my mouth again. I strained to hold my eyes steady and leaned against the beam that kept my bed suspended above the floor. I stared at the vacant place where hours before I’d smiled to myself while listening to River Watts’s voice. I was glad we took down Thunder Cay for what they did to River, and I’d have murdered every last one of them myself had we not.
My heavy eyes and vacant soul longed for sleep, and my hunger for revenge, sated with the peace of sweet vengeance, afforded me the right to rest my head. Then, all at once, a sadness came over me, and I slid myself into his hammock while clutching my cozy glass rum filled blanket and fell into a deep sleep.

We’d reached Port Royal by nightfall as Captain Rasmus Bergman predicted, and he found us a charming inn a few miles from the McCormack estate. It was all white and sat quietly on a hill, surrounded by a lovely garden. A stone pathway wrapped around from the front to a spacious courtyard. The house was home to a minister and his wife, who rented out the rooms to support their small parish on the estate.
Rasmus insisted that I stay there with the girls at night, but I spent the majority of my days on the Demon Sea with him, helping with the repairs to the ship and plotting our course to take down the filthy business of smuggling girls. When I’d been able to get a peek inside that book of Barclay’s, I was shocked at the number of young women, some as young as fourteen, whom these men were ferrying to islands throughout the Caribbean from as far away as America and even England. What they’d been doing was no different than a slave trade, and I was hell-bent on putting a stop to it, aside the man I loved.
Spending all of my time with Rasmus had turned my life from fear and uncertainty into a reason to breathe. Throughout our unorthodox courtship of swinging mallets and sanding deck boards, we’d grown to know everything about each other that two people who were planning a future together could, or should, know—at least, that’s what we believed. That comforting numbness the bloody battle had left me with had completely settled into its compartment in my mind, and I was able to keep it locked away most of the time, but in those hours I shared with him, I found the most peace.
He’d sworn not to lay a hand on me again until he made me his bride, which was extremely disappointing to me at first, but I trusted that he knew what was best. I put all of those swirling emotions to use through the sweat of hard work. I envied his restraint and thanked God for it, because at the time, I had none at all. Just watching him working on that ship shirtless, glistening in the sunlight or the rain, sent deep feelings of desire to places within me I longed for him to find. I wondered, though, if the idea of him making love to me only excited me until the realization that it would inevitably happen scared me to death.
Day in and day out, I’d rise before the sun, saddle my sweet horse, Peppi, and start off down the road to the wharf to meet Rasmus and the crew. My first job as a real sailor was sewing sails. I hated it. My fingertips were raw and had more holes in them than a sponge. I tried to use the leather gloves Rasmus had given me out of pity, but my hands swam in them, and they made things even worse. I never complained. I never even so much as winced as I drew that needle through and through. When I was finally done, the callouses had hardened until I knew I was pricked only when I saw the droplets of blood.
I was a young man named Razor in the eyes of the crew, and so far no one suspected otherwise. I was questioned once by one of the old crew we called Fin, as to why I didn’t sleep aboard the ship. He was one of Barclay’s old crew, and although he seemed decent enough, I still harbored doubts of any man who’d sailed with a captain like that. I wove a story that I had three sisters I had to watch over at night. He simply nodded and went on about his work. Since he liked to talk most of the time, I just listened.
On one occasion, he told me of how he missed his home back in Ireland, and his light brown eyes sparkled as he spoke. Lying became a way of life for me, and as long as I made the stories simple, they were easily recalled and repeated. Not speaking much at all, however, was much easier.
“Razor, if you’re finished with those sails, we can use some help sandin’ down these new starboard gunnels!” Captain Bergman shouted to me… but I was starving.
“Have we any time to eat, Captain?” I asked, shielding my eyes from the midday sun until he approached me and blocked it with his big silhouette.
He checked his pocket watch and turned his head to the sun and said, “Look at the hour. Your stomach must be set like a watch, Razor. Okay mates, take a break. Hawk’s got some grub for ye all below.”
“Thank ye, Captain,” I muttered and stood as I straightened my ragged clothes and started off to eat.
“Razor, I’d have a word with ye,” Rasmus said as he stepped in front of me.
“Aye, Captain?”
He waited a few moments until the deck was clear and then patted me firmly on the back. “I have to give ye credit, little Razor, you’ve really pulled your weight getting her seaworthy.”
“Oh, she’s more than seaworthy, sir, she’s a real gem. I’ll be proud to sail her with ye, Captain,” I said with a smile and a wink.
“She’s all but finished. Just a few more nails and a bit of paint, and she’ll be ready. I just want ye to know I saw ye and everything you’ve done to help. Now, get ye some grub before those sea dogs finish it off.” He looked down and that curl grew at the corner of his mouth. I could barely see it anymore since he’d grown his beard. His amber mustache draped almost completely over both his lips, but I always saw his smile in his eyes.
“That means the world to me, Captain.” I was beaming at him, and I nodded and started to go when I felt his palm press lightly against my chest through my vest and binding.
“Tonight, our cove?” he whispered aside to me from the corner of his mouth.
“Yes, or I’ll feed ye to the fish,” I said with a laugh. After months of strenuous labor, my body was hard and strong. I knew every inch of this vessel and could climb the ratlines faster than any other lad on the crew. Yes, it’s true, I raced them all. Of course, they cited my youth and wiry stature as an advantage, but to me, they could use any excuse they had and I’d still be the fastest. I was, however, so ready for her to be finished. I couldn’t wait to get to sea and start hunting, but I also wanted to get on with spending as much time as I possibly could with Rasmus before we sailed. The knowing that by dusk I’d be draped in his waiting arms made those long hot days worthwhile.
With every evening we spent watching the sun set and the moon rise, I could see his desire for me deepen. His touch was determined and less fearful of exploring me, and his kisses were wet and seething with hunger. Somehow though, he always managed to find his head and stop before shattering that vow he’d made to bits.
He spoke of how well I’d sewn his wound and encouraged me to learn the ways of doctoring, in hopes that would be my place aboard ship. Yet he always wandered back to his true wish, which was that I’d just set those thoughts aside and be his wife and the mother of his children.
“Razz,” I said as I peeled myself away from him and sat up from the blanket in the sand to breathe. “Sometimes, I wish we never had to leave this beach.”
He laid there for a few moments, finding his own breath, and then leaned upon an elbow. His blank expression worried me until at last he spoke, “What would you say if I told ye you’d never have to leave this cove if ye didn’t want to?”
“Well, what will we do, pitch a tent?” I sniped at him and folded my arms.
He rolled up and sat facing me and chuckled. “Do you honestly think for one moment I’d allow my wife to live in a tent?” He mimicked my actions and sat straight-backed and folded his arms as well. “What sort of man do ye think I am, lass?”
“Well, I…” I stammered and looked into his light blue eyes, and I knew what kind of man he was. I pressed my lips together to hold in a laugh and gave him a smirk.
“I was going to surprise ye, but there’s no surprising ye. Now that the repairs and such are close to being finished on the ship, I’ll be building ye a house of yer very own right here.”
“You’re going to do it, Razz?” I said, sitting up from where moments before I had laid back in his arms, as he spoke of our own little home.
“How can I not? I can’t keep carrying on this way with you forever. It isn’t healthy for a man to get all stirred up night after night and have to jump in the sea to cool off. Besides, I can’t be bringing my bride to a ship, now can I?” He laughed and pulled me back into his arms. “Our own little love nest, aye?” He pumped his bushy red eyebrows and winked with a devilish grin.
“How long will it take?” I asked him as I pushed a long lock of that glowing fire away from his face and behind his ear.
“I figure I’ll round up a bunch of the lads from the Demon, and with a little gold and rum…the rum at the end of the day of course…we could have it put together in a couple of weeks. Which reminds me, by the way,” he said as he sat forward and reached into the pouch on his belt. “Stand up for me now, lass. If I’m going to take this leap, I’m going to need your hand.”
“What is it?” I said as I climbed to my feet.
I watched as he stood up in front of me and took my hand. “I’ve never even come close to doing anything this brave, Ivory Shepard. So, if I promise to give ye my love, my loyalty, and my big body to take care of ye, all I ask is your promise not to steal my heart and run off with it.” He knelt down on one knee in the sand before me and slid onto my finger a simple, but beautiful, gold band with one small, perfect white pearl. The pearl was laid into the band as part of the ring, not set on top as most rings were.
“Wait, does this mean…” I paused.
“It means I must have lost my mind, but there’s not another woman alive I’d rather lose it for. Will ye be my wife today, tomorrow, and for as long as ye can stand me?” he asked as he raised his eyes to meet mine and then reached again into that pouch and slipped the most beautiful jade bracelet on my wrist and tied it closed. Between the smooth stones of my favorite color, which were each about a half an inch in diameter, were small seashells. I knew before he even told me that they were shells he himself had collected and hand-picked.
“I’m frightened. What if I’m a terrible wife and won’t make you happy? There’s no chance I’ll run away with your heart, but I’m afraid I’ll not handle it well. You know how I am, Razz,” I said as my eyes beamed at his beautiful gifts for only a second before I reached out and took his splendid face in my hands and waited for one of us to say something—anything.
“You are my pearl. I’ve loved you since the first time I saw you. My heart is as big as my fist, and that’s a lot of heart to handle. I believe it can take any punishment you might put it through. But the point is, it’s a risk I’m willing to take,” he finally said.
I fell to my knees in front of him and shouted, “Yes!” again and again as he kissed my face from cheek to cheek, then my forehead to my chin, and then he swept me on top of him on the blanket. His hands pulled me so tightly against him that I began to fear what our first time together might be like. I was afraid the passion he’d suppressed for so long would leave me as no more than a sail battered by a hurricane. I panicked when I felt his hands sliding inside the back of my breeches and gathering my shirt between his fingers. I gasped and jumped off of him.
“What are you doing?”
He leaned upon one elbow and smiled at me. “I believed we’d crossed a threshold tonight, lass. I suppose I should have asked for your permission before I tried to remove your clothes.” He laughed.
“I don’t want to ruin this perfect evening, but I’m not ready yet. I thought I was, but I’m not. I promise, when I am, you’ll be the first to know.”
I knew immediately by the time I was back at the Chandler’s estate and tucked away in my bed, I’d regret this decision. In the end, waiting until I knew the time was right far outweighed a momentary leap over a line in the sand that I could never cross back over. Making love had now become a decision I wanted to make with the greatest of care. Having thrown myself at him before, only to be rejected, I didn’t want to ever rush things with him again.
Rasmus, the ever-patient, ever-strong and constant, wouldn’t be shaken by this rejection. I’d seen him at his best and at his worst and every way in between, and never once did I see any mood or emotion concealed. He’d have never tried to manipulate me through false sentiment or behavior to make me feel I’d disappointed him. I’d thought for a moment I had when he sat up and fell silent, staring at the lagoon but almost instantly, I knew the guilt was mine to bear. He carried on as usual, snuffing out the fire and gathering our things to head for home. I turned and looked back at this beautiful setting and imagined our little cottage. It didn’t take long before I could walk through the door.

Within a week, our quaint home near the beach was well under construction. All of the repairs to the Demon were complete, and she was like a shiny piece of gold. Rasmus had made some modifications, but for the most part, after having been careened, cleaned, and all signs of battle now nothing more than a memory, she was the finest lady in the harbor and looking for a capable crew.
After the battle with the Thunder Cay, some of the younger hands moved on to find work on land. They weren’t pirates as we knew pirates to be, and they certainly weren’t looking for a fight. Rasmus was a captain, not a jailer, and he still to this day refused to name himself as such. Piracy wasn’t in his blood; it came by him through an injection of betrayal and fate, and a man this mighty and absolute wasn’t going to be defined by his circumstances forever.
Unfortunately, I believed he loved me too much to deny me anything I wanted…I wanted the sea. I wanted to explore every aspect of discovering where it would take me, and most of all, I wanted to bring down every name in Barclay’s secret catalog of shame, and I wanted to do it with the man I loved.
Rasmus held tightly to the book and kept it hidden away. I believed he was afraid I’d go running off alone after them, but that wasn’t going to happen. I struggled each day aboard the Demon not to seek it out and memorize every last ship and captain, as well as the young women. Nearly three months had passed since we took down Thunder Cay, and I was aching to sail and get on with our mission. Rasmus wanted us married as soon as possible and refused to set sail with me again until I agreed to the doctoring and keeping what was now my short, scruffy blond head and every other part of me concealed. He also reminded me that I was never to enter his cabin alone. Having not yet felt the man’s love upon my body, I easily agreed.


Thanks for stopping by, and to Peggy for sharing her work with us.

Mel

Introducing Geoff Le Pard, author of My Father and Other Liars

It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Geoff Le Pard to the blog today. I met Geoff in person earlier this year, and he is as genuine as his blogging personality would suggest. If you caught my earlier post you’ll know that Geoff is running a blog book tour at the moment. The more I learn about My Father and Other Liars, the more I look forward to reading it.


The treatment of the adult orphan.

When I started writing My Father and Other Liars I had been thinking about the grieving process. My own father died in 2005 and, while his death came naturally as the end of a process the family lived through, I was intrigued by how the impact of grief worked. I vividly recall the moment I was told he had been diagnosed with cancer. I was sitting in my office, about 3.30 in the afternoon when the phone rang. Mum. She never rang me at work. I knew Dad was in for tests but her news hit me like a set of punches. It wasn’t a long call and by the end of it the initial shock became numbness. I sat staring at the conference table at the other end of my room and realised I couldn’t talk, not without breaking down. I was 47, head of this that and what have you and breaking down would have been embarrassing, humiliating. I got up, walked to the toilets and shut myself in a cubicle.

And that was it. An hour later I was off home to pick up the car and drive to my parents. From there on until well past his actual death a year later and well past the funeral I shed not a tear, felt rather divorced from all the emotion around me. He died in March 2005. In August I cried for the first time. I’ve had those tearing up moments since, never when I expect them and always difficult to deal with.

I talked to a friend about this, about how no one really seemed to understand this late flowering grief. He said something to the effect that being an adult orphan isn’t taken seriously. It’s expected, parents dying before their children. When that occurs at an expected age, people understand your loss, are sympathetic. But they expect you to be ‘grown up’ and ‘get over it’. Why? That’s what I asked myself. I read an excellent book ‘The Orphaned Adult’ by Alexander Levy. In it he takes a series of case studies to examine how grief impacts us as adults when we lose one or more parents.

I wanted to incorporate this theme into my book, since it was about fathers and my father’s death was still quite raw. My main character, Maurice Oldham is in his thirties and has lost his mother, blaming himself for her death. His father is also lost to him, but emotionally not because he’s dead. The book begins very shortly after Maurice finds his father – he believed him dead for many years – and he is angry and, in many senses, grieving for both parents. Finding his father alive robs him of his grief and that causes anger and a different grief in its own right. One of the themes throughout the book is how Maurice tries to come to terms with his father’s continued existence and the betrayals he feels at his father’s hands.

When Mum died five years later, the process was as erratic and difficult. I stood at the graveside and felt an awful heavy lump. This was truly it. Both parents had gone and the tangible connection to my past, my youth, my ancestry gone with it. I tried to bring out some of that in My Father and Other Liars, that linkage and to see in Maurice’s stuttering steps towards a reconciliation with his father the attempt to postpone that loss of one’s own living history.


my father and other liarsMy Father and Other Liars is the second book by Geoff Le Pard. Published in August it is available as an ebook and paperback here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

 

 

 

dead flies and sherry trifleHis first book, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle can be found here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com


GeoffGeoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls.


Blog Tour 2 poster 2

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Introducing The Merchant of Nevra Coil (Legends of Windemere Book 8) by Charles E. Yallowitz

Cover art by Jason Pedersen
Cover art by Jason Pedersen

When the mischievous and random Goddess of Chaos gets angry, all of Windemere becomes her plaything.

It all starts with a collection of toys that have taken the populace by storm. People of all races flood the marketplaces to gather figurines of the champions whose adventures are starting to spread across the land. Stemming from the flying city of Nevra Coil, these toys bring with them a terrible curse: Fame. Every town becomes a mob of fans that hound their new idols and the delay is bringing the world closer to the hands of Baron Kernaghan. Perhaps worst of all, the creator of these toys forgot to include a certain exiled deity who is now out to earn herself a figurine.

Who would have thought a bunch of toys could cause so much trouble and lead to the breaking of a champion’s confidence?

Sound exciting?
CLICK HERE TO GRAB IT ON AMAZON FOR $2.99!
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Welcome to Nevra Coil Excerpt

A screeching alarm goes off inside the vessel, signaling for everyone to pay attention to the pilot. Jo flicks a few switches above her head, amplifying her voice so everyone can clearly hear her. “We’re coming to Nevra Coil. Get ready for docking at Inspiration Tower instead of one of the Ring Houses. If you want to see the city then come to the front, but you better not complain while I’m giving the tour. I’ll be going too fast to repeat myself. We’re starting with the bottom, so don’t be scared. There hasn’t been a crash in a month. Two months since a fatality.”

The champions gather around Jo’s chair and watch as the clouds part to reveal the underside of the flying city. The steel gray earth has several narrow tubes of yellow crystal spread along its gleaming surface, the enchanted objects creating a spiral that leads to a red, metal rod. An occasional spark falls from the central pole and dissipates into the clouds, giving the illusion of lightning. Jo has the vessel steadily rise to give everyone a clear view and she taps her ear to silently get her passengers to listen. Beneath the sounds of the ship’s rotors, the champions hear a dull hum whenever they pass close to a crystal. Those with keen eyes can see a sapphire orb that flickers like a flame inside the yellow tube’s core, but the strange object is definitely solid like a rock.

“The flight crystals are designed to push off and ride the waves of the ocean. The outer tube is the reflector and the ice gem is the controller,” Jo explains as they flip around the far side of Nevra Coil. She scowls at the whimpering gypsy and begrudgingly slows the vessel down. “The central rod is what keeps us in a small area as we spin like a very slow top. Without that, we’d be floating all over Windemere’s oceans. You’ll feel the rotation at first, but the awkwardness will pass within a few hours. Before you ask, the system does nothing to the ocean below. We keep ourselves at a great height to prevent that and we turn off the crystals if we have to drop. That’s only in case of severe damage, so they would probably be malfunctioning in such an event anyway. Our backup system is a small army of pedaling stone golems that we activate in the core of Nevra Coil. Let’s get to the real event. Hey! Watch where you’re going, you son of an oil slick!”

The vessel swerves out of the way of a small, windowless craft that is powered by a pedaling gnome. Once their heads stop spinning, the champions get their first look at the city of Nevra Coil. Glistening towers are everywhere with a vast collection of flying devices and beasts moving among them. Several structures are missing pieces, revealing metal beams and hardworking gnomes who are trying to finish the construction. The city is a beautiful creation of metal, stone, and glass with nothing on the earthy ground besides several colonies of orange slimes. The burbling creatures feast on the garbage that falls out of hatches, which are built into the lower floors of every tower. Compared to the enormous buildings, Jo’s vessel feels like a rowboat as it weaves among the chaos. Several times they come close to hitting another ship, their skilled pilot meeting each encounter with a slew of insults and curses. They hover when a claxon goes off and the circular tower ahead opens one of its floors to reveal another ring-shaped ship.

“This is where we would normally dock, but you’re wanted on the one-hundred and eighty-sixth and a half floor of Inspiration Tower,” Jo says while waving to the other ship. She waits for them to leave before rising to the higher sky lanes where there is more space. “If you look to the right, you’ll see the Lizard. It’s used by those of us who don’t have a flying device due to no interest, accidents, revoked license, or whatever else can go wrong. I’ll swing by to give you a better look, but don’t stare directly into the golem’s eye. You never know if it’s going to be friendly or . . . churlish.”

Dipping toward a metallic rail, the ship comes alongside a green-scaled reptile with seats grown into its wide back. A throbbing bubble covers the sitting area, the oily membrane protecting riders from the elements until the transport comes to a stop. Gnomes are comfortably sitting in the chairs, most of them reading notes or sleeping. The creature’s tail is merged with the track to prevent it from falling off while it pulls itself along using powerful front legs. A driver on its head opens a hatch in the top of its long nose to drop in a shovelful of screeching beetles. The Lizard slows down while everyone hears the insects getting crunched in the construct’s mouth. When the strange transport hisses at the ship, Jo pulls away and heads for where a trio of metallic birds are sitting on a windowless tower.

AND DON’T FORGET!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen 3D Conversion by Bestt_graphics
Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
3D Conversion by Bestt_graphics

Click here for the $4.99 Bundle to start your journey into Windemere!

Charles E YallowitzAbout the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: Legends of Windemere
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com



Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Ichabod Brooks and the City of Beasts by Charles E. Yallowitz

Today, it is my great please to share with you a cover reveal for Ichabod Brooks and the City of Beats by Charles E. Yallowitz. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s an awesome cover. Find out more about the book below, or by chatting with Charles at any of the links provided.

Coming on June 1st for 99 cents!

Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts (Cover by Nio Mendoza)
Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts (Cover by Nio Mendoza)

In a time of heroes, a man will take any job to provide for his family.

Ichabod Brooks has earned a reputation for taking the jobs most men and women fear to challenge. This reputation has brought him to the charred remains of a small village nestled within the hills and forest of Ralian. The ruins are a source of strange monsters that terrorize the countryside and repeatedly elude the local guards and hunters. The few brave souls who have entered the creatures’ lair have yet to come out alive or dead.

The chances of survival are slim, but that generous payment is too much for Ichabod to resist. After all, a man and his family have to eat.

Author PhotoAuthor Biography

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. ‘Legends of Windemere’ is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Author Interview: Luther M. Siler

Sanctum_72dpiWelcome back to my feature on Luther Siler, author of Skylights, The Benevolence Archives and The Sanctum of the Sphere. Today I would like to share an interview with you. I had a great deal of fun discussing Luther’s reading and writing habits, so much I couldn’t resist a few follow up questions! If you don’t already follow Luther’s blog, you’ll soon discover that he has a great sense of humour and an engaging voice.

An Interview with Luther M. Siler

Author of Skylights, The Benevolence Archives, and The Sanctum of the Sphere

Mel: Do you have any strange writing habits (like writing in your favourite pair of socks? A beer in one hand, your pen in the other!)

Luther: I use it more for heavy-duty blog posts than for fiction, but I have this Jackass wristband that I wear every now and again when I really need to concentrate.  I did the last 10K words or so of SANCTUM in a day, because if I didn’t finish the book I was going to go mad, and I’m pretty sure I had that wristband on the entire time.  I need to be listening to music, but that’s about it.

Mel: Anything is particular? The film score by John Williams perhaps? Or do you just rock it out with your favourite musical accompaniments?

Luther:  Rocking out, and to a wide variety of stuff, although I seem to recall Mac Lethal, Mika and Chuck D getting a fair amount of rotation while I was working on this particular book.

Mel: What book do you wish you had written?

Luther: John Scalzi’s LOCK IN.  Saladin Ahmed’s THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON.  The entire HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE series.  Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN.  No doubt many others.

Mel: I imagine, like Weir, you had to do a fair bit of research for Skylights. You’ve talked about your interest in statistics on your blog, but how did this translate to the book – did you have to make a conscious effort to pull back, or was it easier because of your teaching background?

Luther:  Keeping Zub in his own voice whenever he was explaining anything was REALLY tough, because the sixth grade curriculum includes astronomy and that unit was easily my favorite part of the year when I was teaching sixth grade.  He tended to sound a lot like me in those moments.  I ended up being pretty happy with the amount of exposition I included in the book– I think it’s all stuff that needs to be there, and enough non-sci-fi people have enjoyed the book by now that I think I did a decent job of not being overwhelming.  Those who complain will be forced to read THE MARTIAN, by Andy Weir, which was one of my favorite books of last year and includes actual equations and chemistry.

Mel: Who would play your favourite characters in a movie?

Luther: Most of the BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES characters would have to be mo-capped CGI– Grond is eight freaking feet tall and Brazel is covered in fur, but Zub from SKYLIGHTS was explicitly based on DJ Qualls.   I could also see Jim Parsons playing him, but Qualls is a little bit more manic and twisted than Parsons is.  You’ll have to go find one of my old archaeology professors to play Tsvika.

This is Asper.  Xe’s real.

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Mel: Qualls certainly fits the image in my head, though I can see Parsons fitting the role too. That doesn’t always happen. Is there a particular character that stands out for you – a person you envisioned in your head who doesn’t translate to film?

Luther:  I’d have a hell of a time casting Gabe, actually.  I’m tempted to racebend him and cast Don Cheadle or somebody.

Mel: How important are names in your books? Do you choose based on the sound of the name, its meaning, or some other method?

Luther: Pretty important, actually.  Zub’s nickname is a reference to Robert Zubrin, who is a champion of Mars exploration, and his actual name came later.  Both of Gabe Southern’s names are family names, and Zvi is named after that professor I just mentioned.  Most of the rest of the characters in that book are named after former students.  I wrote a whole article on my blog about naming practices for BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES– long story short, I’m really careful about names in that setting, and there are rules.  Grond is named after an old D&D character.  Note that the name was not originally intended to be a reference to the ram in RETURN OF THE KING, but I’m not bothered that it worked out that way.  🙂

Mel: Maybe that’s the trick, a respectful nod to those who influence us in some way. I’m sure you’ve been asked by a friend or family member to write them into your work – are you ever tempted? Or does that go against one of your rules?

Luther:  The biggest butthead in fourth grade is a tuckerization.  She didn’t ask, and I don’t know if she’s noticed yet.  She made me send her a signed copy of the book, though.

Mel: If you had an endless budget, describe the trailer for Skylights.

Luther: I’m starting to think that you picked up on one of the things I tried to do with that book, which was to have it feel cinematic.  🙂  I’m not sure about the entire trailer, but I know exactly what the last shot should be– a Michael Bay-style swooping camera shot of a monkey in a spacesuit taking a flying leap into a black, bottomless pit.  Then, BOOM: Title card.

Mel: Skylights would certainly translate really well on the big screen. Have you created any of your own trailers? If not, would you consider making one to tease your readers?

Luther:  I haven’t.  I’m not terrible with iMovie, but I’ve never quite figured out what book trailers are for.  I may need to spend a couple of days watching a bunch of them and see if inspiration strikes me.

Mel: List five adjectives to describe yourself or your writing habits.

Luther: Um… “flailing” and “panicked” should probably be two of them.  I’m not good at this.  Is “Batman” an adjective?  It is if he says it is, right?

Mel: Right.

Tell us about your next project.

Luther: My next book is currently planned to be a nonfiction book about teaching called SEARCHING FOR MALUMBA– mostly a collection of reedited blog posts, although I’ll be drawing from previous websites I’ve run and writing some new stuff as well, so people who have been reading infinitefreetime since the beginning won’t be seeing nothing but old stuff.  That said, I’ve tried to write that book three times and walked away, so it may not happen.  I’m planning for it to be out this fall.  After that, the sequel to SKYLIGHTS and then another short story BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES collection.

Or maybe something else.  We’ll see.

Mel: I’m thrilled to hear a Skylights sequel is on the cards. I think we can all relate to those difficult projects, the equivalent of a literary brick wall. Do you have any tried and tested methods (other than letting it sit for a while) when the going gets tough?

Luther:  Blind panic generally works well for me.  That said, sometimes I just have to let a piece sit until I know where it goes next.  Sometimes just skipping to the next chapter will work, but not always; frequently if I’m having trouble getting through a section it’s because the section is wrong and I just don’t know how yet.

Mel: What has been your greatest challenge as a writer so far?

Luther: Time.  Writing nonfiction is terribly easy for me, but I need an hour of staring at a blank screen and “thinking” before I can get even a couple of sentences of fiction out– the fact that I have three books out is a small miracle.  I need to either get more efficient as a writer or get real famous real quick so that I can quit my day job and have the desk time to write.  I will admit that my teacher’s schedule does help, because beginning a project is always the hardest part.  But I’m still working six days a week at two different jobs right now and have a three-year-old in the house, so finding time to write fiction is occasionally really, really difficult.

Mel: I imagine you have to find new and inventive ways to steal time, as it were, to write. Inspiration can strike in unusual places too. Can you give us an example of an occasion when an idea hit and you just had to write it down?

Luther:  I have an app on my phone called “Wunderlist” that I use almost solely to record story ideas as they occur to me.  Some of them are only a word or two long, and occasionally I look back at them and realize I have no idea what the heck I was thinking later.  I really wish I could remember what was going through my head the day “Mars Needs Internet!” got entered into that list.

Mel: Are there any genres you would love to explore?

Luther: Sooner or later I’ll write a straight fantasy book.  I’d love to do a detective story, and historical fiction appeals to me as well, possibly combining the two– but I don’t know that I’m a strong enough plotter for a detective story and the idea of doing all the research that would be necessary for a historical fiction makes my teeth hurt.  One of these days, though…

Mel: Perhaps something like Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – I could see that!

Thanks so much for agreeing to the interview, Luther. I’ve had an absolute blast, and I’m sure the readers have too!

***

LutherSilerHeadshotLuther Siler was born in 1976 in northern Indiana, where he currently resides along with his wife, three-year-old son, two cats, and a dog. In his spare time he works at a school helping other people be awesome.   he writes about space gnomes and Mars.

Sanctum_72dpi“Go rob that train.” Nice, normal. An everyday heist.

But nothing is ever normal for Brazel, Grond and Rhundi.

A simple act of motorized larceny quickly explodes into a galaxy-spanning adventure for the two thieves. Blade-wielding elves, a fast-moving global war, a secret outlaw space city, incomprehensible insectoids and one impossibly lucky human are just the start of their problems. And that’s before they learn that someone from Grond’s past has gotten the Benevolence involved…

What is happening on the ogrespace moon Khkk?

Who are the Noble Opposition?

And what is the secret of THE SANCTUM OF THE SPHERE?

***

Thanks for stopping by. If you have any other burning questions for Luther, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Mel

Review – Skylights by Luther M. Siler

Final Cover Mock Med copyAugust 15, 2022: the Tycho, the most advanced interplanetary craft ever designed by the human race, launches from Earth on an expedition to Mars. The Tycho carries four passengers, soon to be the most famous people in human history. 

February 19, 2023: The Tycho loses all communication with Earth while orbiting Mars. After weeks of determined attempts to reestablish contact, the Tycho is declared lost. 

2027: Journalist Gabriel Southern receives a message from a mysterious caller: “Mars.” Ezekiel ben Zahav isn’t talking, but he wants Southern to accompany him for something– and he’s dangling enough money under his nose to make any amount of hardship worth it. 

SKYLIGHTS is the story of the second human expedition to Mars. Their mission: find out what happened to the first.

Review of Skylights by Luther M. Siler

I had a lot of fun reading Skylights. The narrator, Gabe Southern, has an engaging voice, and it was kind of like embarking on a journey with a friend – a really cool friend who takes you to space! There were times when I wanted to run back home and promise never to set foot on a spaceship again, but I adapted quickly, thanks to an excellent team and, unexpectedly, a monkey! That’s how real it felt – how vivid the pictures were in my head. Gabe’s humour and uncanny observations just drag you right into the story. There’s a mad scientist or two, a skilled pilot, an engineer, a medic (who’s also the chief scientist) and some extremely cool technology.

The novel has something for every fan of the genre – enough science to get your geek on, but not enough that you’re overwhelmed with jargon. It’s clever that way – some readers will catch more references than others, and that’s okay. You never feel like you’re missing something. It makes it ideal for readers who are new to science fiction.

The pacing is great. It allows you to stretch out, to get to know the characters, and to enjoy the ride. One of my favourite parts is the build-up to the mission. The mystery element, not to mention the growing anticipation, serves to pull you in and keep you there. The action also takes a thrilling turn when the group arrive at their destination. Here, Siler’s excellent sense of timing comes into play.

The humour in Skylights, especially the banter and natural camaraderie, was a highlight for me. Zub and Gabe’s relationship stood out in particular, but it didn’t dominate. This is due to the excellent characterization of each member of the team – including the monkey (did I mention the monkey?)

Which leads me to one of the strongest elements in the novel – the descriptive prose. The worldbuilding is truly thrilling, and I loved the interpretation of the skylights. I won’t say too much about that though, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise!

The cliffhanger is shockingly good. While managing to leave you hungry for more, it also provides a resolution – an answer to the questions raised at the beginning. So, where one journey ends, another is sure to follow!

***

Luther kindly agreed to an interview, which I will be posting tomorrow. In the meantime, I’d like to share information about his new release, The Sanctum of the Sphere, which I can’t wait to read!

Sanctum_72dpi“Go rob that train.” Nice, normal. An everyday heist.

But nothing is ever normal for Brazel, Grond and Rhundi.

A simple act of motorized larceny quickly explodes into a galaxy-spanning adventure for the two thieves. Blade-wielding elves, a fast-moving global war, a secret outlaw space city, incomprehensible insectoids and one impossibly lucky human are just the start of their problems. And that’s before they learn that someone from Grond’s past has gotten the Benevolence involved…

What is happening on the ogrespace moon Khkk?

Who are the Noble Opposition?

And what is the secret of THE SANCTUM OF THE SPHERE?

***

LutherSilerHeadshotLuther Siler was born in 1976 in northern Indiana, where he currently resides along with his wife, three-year-old son, two cats, and a dog. In his spare time he works at a school helping other people be awesome.   he writes about space gnomes and Mars.

Don’t forget to return tomorrow to learn more about Luther and his work, in an exclusive interview.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

A Galaxy of Possibilities by Natacha Guyot – Celebrate Star Wars day with a free copy (4 and 5 May 2015)

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that today is Star Wars Day, a day for fans everywhere. Not only for celebrating the franchise, but for recognising its impact on the global community.

To celebrate, Natacha Guyot is offering A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation of Storytelling in Star Wars free, on Amazon Kindle on the 4 and 5 May 2015. A fantastic gift for all Star Wars fans, I’m sure you’ll agree. Get your copy here for the (UK) here for the (US),or here for (Canada).

a-galaxy-of-possibilities-representation-and-storytelling-in-star-wars-by-natacha-guyotStar Wars has been a best-selling franchise since its creation in 1977. In the media landscape and audiences’ imagination, its longevity isn’t surprising, given the efficient narrative models and strong multiple influences it possesses. Fictional universes of this importance that are meant for audiences of many ages have a responsibility in terms of representation and inclusiveness.

This collection of essays looks at different aspects and eras of the Star Wars universe: movies, television series, video games, and novels. It addresses portrayal of children, women, ethnic diversity, and disability; and whether they offer positive and layered images of both heroes and villains.

Almost forty years of narratives of plural forms has pitted Star Wars against societal and media evolutions, thus affecting narrative approaches and choices. A Galaxy of Possibilities explores some of their impacts on the franchise.

NatachaNatacha Guyot is a French author, researcher and public speaker. She holds two Master’s degrees: Film and Media Studies (Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle) and Digital Culture and Technology (King’s College London).

She considers herself a feminist, Science Fiction and Fantasy nerd, fangirl, book worm, vidder, gamer and cat lover.

***

In my experience, Natacha is a supportive friend, versatile blogger, and all round good egg! She is knowledgeable, friendly, and enjoys to share her passions. If you don’t already follow her blog, I would recommend it. I left a link above, but you can also find her here.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel