Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Will Collins, Author of A Darker Shade of Sorcery

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to William Collins. He’s the author of The Realmers, a dark urban fantasy series, of which A Darker Shade of Sorcery is Book 1. Scroll to the bottom for info on the ebook giveaway!

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Awesome question. I’d love to be an extra in any sort of medieval or epic fantasy movie/tv show. I think it would be particularly fun to be the extra during a massive battle scene. I also think playing the part of an elf or orc would be an incredible experience.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

All of the jobs I’ve had have been manual labour, so writing is a stark contrast, but far more enjoyable.

Who are some of your favourite book villains?

Oh, there’s many, often I like the villains more than I do the good guys. I’ll have to give a nod to Lord Loss, from the Demonata Sage and Tyler Durden from Fight Club; if he counts.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

Oh it’s definitely a creative mess. I can plan/brainstorm anywhere, but I always have to do the serious writing in my ‘author cave.’ I get into a zone and often write the first versions of my works very fast. I’d proably look like a mad man if I did it in public. J

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

H.P Lovecraft – Creator of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Katherine Kerr – Author of the Deverry series.

Terry Pratchett – I’m sure everyone knows who this is.

Ray Bradbury – Another very famous author, a master of short stories too.

Robert E Howard – Credited for creating the sword and sorcery genre, his most famous character is likely Conan the Barbarian.

I can’t decide where they would rank, but I’d be most fascinated by merely sitting at the table with all five of them and seeing them interact.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Unfortunately, I haven’t met any other authors yet, although I’ve talked briefly with Darren Shan and Philip Reeve on twitter, but that doesn’t really count. J

The first time a fan gushed over my work was quite a surreal experience. It’s still surreal to me when readers reference the little things in their reviews, such as using the swear words I invented etc. It’s cool though, I haven’t experienced anything awkward. I myself would be the one to bring the awkwardness if I encountered a favourite author.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I love side characters, they’re often my favourite characters in novels. My favourite side character in Harry Potter is Gilderoy Lockhart, who probably isn’t a character popular with many people, but I think he’s awesome. In my own works a few side characters appear to be liked by many readers, when I didn’t necessarily write them to be likeable, so that’s really interesting to me.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? 

Can I cheat and jump on Luke’s back like Yoda?

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

You can find the first book in The Realmers Series, A Darker Shade of Sorcery.

Inside the Amazon page are links to book 2 and 3 in the series.

Book 3 was published recently, and I’m currently writing book 4. Meanwhile, I have a spin off set of novella’s that accompany the main series, the first of which has also recently been released. Here is Choo Choo Your Food, Book 1 of The Realmers Chronicles Book 1.

A second novella will be published within the next few weeks, and I’m halfway through a prequel novella for the main series too.

Thanks for having me, and I hope any who read this enjoyed it.

Places to Find William Collins

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Book Blurb for A Darker Shade of Sorcery

The lonely and grieving Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters.

A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike.

Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to the more peculiar, like wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis. In their free time Venators enjoy goblin soap-operas and underwater bubble travel, but they also understand that every new mission they’re given could be their last.

Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon creatures to fight for him and shoot Spellzookas, Evan encounters a dangerous rival and meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way. He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn’t quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

Will Collins is offering up 3 ebook copies of A Darker Shade of Sorcery, open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? Who is your favorite side character? Giveaway ends June 10th, 2017, midnight.

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Interview: Robert Kingett, Author of Off the Grid: Living Blind Without the Internet

Folks, please welcome journalist and book author Robert W. Kingett to the blog today. He was kind enough to give me a bit of his time for an interview. After listening to his book, Off the Grid, I was very excited to pick his mind on several things.

Off the Grid came out in 2015. What lessons from that month of no internet still linger with you?

The lessons that still linger with me are lessons I’d thought I’d lose, honestly, like, don’t take humans for granted. I see a time when human interaction will become even more haphazard in the future. I see the scope of the net changing even now that I am back online in ways I never considered before. It seems like the internet is turning into a place where people go if they want to feel outraged or to feel validated by someone or something. Self-confidence, in my generation anyway, is fading very fast so a lesson that I hold onto very dearly, in my journalism work and personal life, is value your own thoughts and ideas but don’t seek praise or validation or a pat on the back. Nobody is as important or worthy as you are and your closest, offline, friends. Treasure yourself, and this goes for writers and journalists today too. Just write. Don’t try to please an audience because, chances are, half of the comments section won’t understand you anyway. Report on what you believe is right. Write because you enjoy it, not because you are trying to be the most ethical person on the planet.

Ethics will never be fulfilled fully by one journalist or writer. Why should you try so hard to be everybody else’s version of ethical when they will just call you fake anyway? What’s the point? Stick to your own passion and your own ethics and become who you always wanted to be, not someone everybody wants you to be.

The other lesson that lingers with me is the lesson that keeping up research skills and asking questions is more important than people realize. Now that I am back online, I see so many people willing to believe the first Google result they see. Many don’t look for dissenting opinions or even try to ask questions anymore. This is scary. We are becoming a generation that cares about facts but doesn’t understand the motive behind the facts. We don’t care to know why someone else thinks differently. We’re locking ourselves into a subconscious echo chamber and, that too, scares me. I still talk to people I don’t agree with. I still seek out differing opinions. I always will. I hope others continue to do the same.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Without a doubt, it would be the Big Bang Theory. That show is my favorite of all time. I think it’s hilarious and the character development is outstanding, among other aspects of the writing, but I’d totally get into a heated argument with Sheldon about Star Wars because I’m sure I’d know something he doesn’t and it would be great just to have an argument with him. He’s a great actor and character, by the way. He has a lot of depth and development.

You are an advocate for greater media access for the disabled. What has been your greatest struggle in that role?

Honestly, the biggest struggle in that role has been getting people to care, on all fronts. Many in the disability community want others to make things happen for them but when this advocate or that person trying to change things reaches out, very few in our community do anything. They want to reap the rewards of hard advocacy without advocating.

On the non-disabled side, even today, people continue to see us as the lowest form of society so they don’t want to do anything for us. We must constantly prove why we need accessibility changes, even in this current year. I don’t understand why companies and things still, in a lot of cases, refuse disability accommodations in buildings and on the web. Many will fight to the death with excuses of cost and liability and other lame excuses. All of you guys, the ones who don’t have a disability, are temporarily abled. There may come a day where you need accessible housing or to use a website or to find a job with an understanding employer. What then? Will it be too late for you to get what you need? Probably. Just think about that.

If you could pick a fictional character to officiate at your wedding, who would it be?

Without a doubt, it would be Albus Dumbledore. I just think he’s a person everybody should meet, at least once in their lifetime.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

I’d honestly talk to V. C. Andrews about writing to vanquish her own personal daemons through stories. I am a weird cookie so I read all kinds of books, even some where many would feel very uncomfortable, like reading about sexual endeavors with other family members. The problem is I have a very open mind. I ask questions. I want to know about things that others find really off the wall, so I will read things that others won’t even consider trying. For V. C. Andrews, it’s her incest characters. I don’t care about that at all. In fact, I dove deeper to understand their histories and ways of thinking. It just fascinated me. Even if you don’t agree with something, wisdom can be found anywhere.

I’d ask her things about writing, her thoughts about life in general. People who write very unorthodox things have an insight into the world most will refuse to explore or figure out. I’d want to just ask her questions for a day about anything just to see her point of view on things just because I know there will be some wisdom I can take from her views.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing Off the Grid?

I’ve been a journalist for many years and I’d cover political issues. I still do, but something hard, and, yeah, I am going to say it, is listening to a Trump supporter blabbering on about destroying a system they barely grasp to begin with. I’m not a Trump supporter. I won’t pretend to understand people who like his word salads of stupidity. I find it hard to listen to people who want to bring hatred and segregation back into this country.

Writing Off the Grid was a different kind of challenge but it was a much easier challenge. It was a challenge within myself. Could I honestly write about my frustrations and humorous thoughts? Could I look inside of myself to see what I am getting out of this month offline? While challenging, I believe I did well. I’m not saying I did stellar work but I did darn good pondering if I do say so myself.

More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to be more inclusive of the disabled?

I see it happening by accident, honestly. I see the publishing industry becoming accessible by accident not by design. With the rise of E-Books and audio books that will only continue to make things better for us. I still also believe podcasts, audio only podcasts, will grow as well.

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

Without a doubt J. K. Rowling because I’d just love her sense of humor to tag along. I’d also take Brandon Sanderson, and, maybe Eoin Colfer because, well, we need a boy genius with us. It would be neat to see how Artemisia Fowl would handle me getting everybody into trouble with my curiosity. I’d take Robert J. Sawyer, even though he isn’t a fantasy author, because he would be just as creatively curious as I am and this could help in puzzles, perhaps.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Mine would probably have commas or colons between the words. Weird, strange. Outrageous, needy, lovable, and, crazy.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

Obviously the most difficult is getting people to notice me without me doing my part to add to the outrage pool, but it gives me a sense of freedom to set my own work hours and schedule. I have the freedom to say no to a person I can’t stand, interviewing me that is, if I wanted to, although, I’d never do that. It’s hard work letting people know about this project I’ve worked hard on it and it’s even more difficult to tell people why they should care, but it’s liberating all the same because I get to meet other authors with great audio books who I’d never meet otherwise. Some of the best books I read have been from authors I never agreed with on anything.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

The most memorable argument I had with someone was about the horcruxes in the Harry Potter series. A high school buddy of mine agreed with my guesses that Harry was a horcrux. A few other people in the class did not agree with us. The teacher tried to get us to quiet down so she could teach us science but the whole class was fired up. She chucked her whole lesson plan and held a debate class instead. It was a shocker to us to realize that we were right all along!

Are you planning any further experiments? Any future books in the works?

I’d like to start opening doors up for other disabled writers like me. There’s a lot of contests for disabled artists, painters, and the like, but nothing for disabled authors or writers or journalists out there, really. I am working on a few other books, yes, mostly memoirs and politically incorrect humor books, like erotic retellings of classic fairy tales, but I’m trying to do many things, including hosting an essay contest where the blind writers get adaptive technology, or something similar.

I’m also working on ways to give back to organizations I fully support like Planned Parenthood and the like. If someone donates to one of my journalism campaigns or similar, I want to open doors and give back to people. It’s hard but it can be done! With me, it will happen. It may not happen tomorrow or the next day but I will open doors for people, eventually.

As for my next journalism project, I am working on the day in the life of an incest couple. I am gathering interviews, spending time with their family, and the like, so I can create a unique human interest story.
I am also still trying to break into the Modern Love section in the New York Times. That’s my priority right now. I will make it there though! Just watch me.

Places to Stalk Robert W. Kingett

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Off the Grid: Living Blind Without the Internet

Journalist Robert Kingett accepts a dare, one that at first seems simple: to adapt to his blindness without the Internet. This account is a cozy diary of battling with an FM radio, hooking up a landline phone, and the journey of adapting to a brand new way of living from someone who has never disconnected from the World Wide Web.

Audible ~ Amazon

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Geetanjali Mukherjee, Author of Will the Real Albert Speer Please Stand Up?

MukherjeeWillTheRealAlbertSpeerPleaseStandUpFolks, please give a warm welcome to author Geetanjali Mukherjee. Her books range from self-help to poetry to history. She’s offering a giveaway of her book Will the Real Albert Speer Please Stand Up? The Many Faces of Hitler’s Architect. You can read more about the giveaway at the end of the post. Now, on to the interview!

If you could be an extra on a historical documentary or historical drama, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Definitely, I would like to be anything, anyone, to get on the set of Downton Abbey! Unfortunately, the show is over, but maybe since this is wishful thinking, it’s still possible! Failing that, I would want to be in War and Peace or something. But to be really honest, acting isn’t quite my forte; (even though once in college, I played Joan of Arc in a play!) I would much prefer to be behind the camera, maybe as a script writer or director.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

I’m not really into book clubs, unless its one of those ones where you eat chocolate and drink wine and talk about anything but the book. In that case, I would invite the most scandalous and/or interesting people I can think of – Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Bennet, Hercule Poirot and Oprah (because who doesn’t love Oprah). And with such scintillating company, we wouldn’t need to limit ourselves only to books, but talk about a wide range of topics, which I imagine most book clubs do anyway.

MukherjeeIllusionsIf you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The Harry Potter series. I came really late to them, holding out for ages and then finally succumbing and wondering why it took me so long. I would love to re-experience them again for the first time (I do read all the books every few years). In terms of TV series, I have a long list of series I would like to re-experience – some to have an excuse to watch them again, and some like Friends, because they are so familiar to me that I have forgotten what it was like to watch an episode where I didn’t know every single line of dialogue.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I haven’t had enough jobs yet to say which might have been my worst one. I did have a few very tedious ones that I hated at the time, but now realize that boredom is probably not the worst quality in a job. I have also had ones where I worked with people I didn’t particularly like, or ones where I constantly felt like I didn’t know what I was doing or felt inadequate. In hindsight, those are the situations where I learnt the most, so in a way I am glad I had those experiences.

In some ways writing is the hardest job I have ever had, even though it’s one that I have chosen. I think the aspect that makes it the hardest is not having someone to show you the ropes, not having a blueprint or a pre-existing path that you can follow. This combined with the fact that you often don’t get feedback on your work for long stretches of time, makes writing for me much harder than anything else I have done, even other creative work. If you design a book cover or create a piece of choreography – within a few days, even a few hours, you can show your work to someone else and get feedback. As a writer, especially of books, I find that I am reluctant to show my work to anyone unless it is as polished as I can make it, which means for weeks and months I work in a vacuum, with no idea whether my work is good or not. On the other hand, one is just sitting at a laptop or scribbling in a notebook, so one really shouldn’t take it all that seriously, compared to the dozens of dangerous, grueling or plain difficult jobs that are out there.

MukherjeeFromAudenToYeatsWhat nonfiction works have you found useful in researching your own work?

I write mostly non-fiction at the moment, although I am experimenting with writing memoir and fiction as well. The number of nonfiction books that have influenced my work are too numerous to list here. I read extensively while researching each book, but additionally I am sure I was influenced by all the books I have read before. Writers assimilate everything, and no matter how we try to make something original, everything that has gone before has an impact on our work. In a bid to get better at writing nonfiction, I have been reading the best examples of each genre that I can find, which although is quite educational, can be an intimidating exercise, as I realize how far I still have to go in my skill and craft.

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

The aristocratic Russian society that is depicted in Anna Karenina or War and Peace – I would give anything to be a fly on the wall of those parlors and listen to those conversations. I would equally love to be a guest at Downton Abbey, or perhaps at Blandings Castle, in their heyday. The third time period would be Calcutta, India during the first few decades of the previous century – I have heard countless stories about that time, and the lives led by my great-grandparents.

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Almost every book that appears on the 100 books to read in this lifetime sort of lists that I wasn’t forced to read in school, and therefore haven’t read yet – including most of Shakespeare’s plays, many of Dickens’ novels and classical works such as the Iliad and the Odyssey and the works of famous philosophers. I have read excerpts or abridged versions or seen adaptations of some of these works, but I have this recurring fantasy that one of these days I will read them all. Actually I recently read a book by Steven Pressfield where he describes going through a phase while writing his first few novels, when he was also reading the classics to become a better writer, and it made me realize that I will soon have to stop kicking myself and just dive in. The problem also is that along with the classics there are many contemporary books that I want to read, and end up prioritizing them instead.

MukherjeeAnyoneCanGetAnA+What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

I am not really a neat person, although I like the idea of being one, so I am forever making a mess, then neatening up, then reverting to that mess not much later. I have recently moved, so haven’t quite set up my writing space yet, but I have many potential writing nooks in my new place (which was one of its main attractions).

I used to have my writing table facing the sea, an ideal space for working, but somehow I found I couldn’t write first draft there. I tend to find writing easier in temporary writing spots – such as coffee shops, planes, and even the living room sofa. Where I can write depends to a large extent on the kind of book I am writing and how it’s going. I am always on the lookout for the perfect cafe or restaurant to turn into a writing space, mostly because it’s rare to find any coffee shops with comfortable seating and a guarantee of finding an empty table where I live. In the meantime, I write when and where I can, mostly on my bed, and spend far more time thinking about and preparing to write than actually doing it. Editing on the other hand, I can’t do anywhere other than in a quiet room, usually at my desk or sitting up in bed. I have tried editing at the library or in coffee shops, but usually I can’t concentrate or make the kind of progress I need to.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

My aunt had given me a large selection of children’s books that were basically abridged versions of fairy tales and other common children’s stories, beautifully illustrated, and each of them came with a recording so that you could follow along with the book. My parents used to read to me from those books, and I remember reading Peter Pan aloud by myself one day, and then eventually, all of the others. I still have those books, because I couldn’t bear to give them away.

Author Bio

GeetanjaliMukherjeeAuthorGeetanjali Mukherjee is the author of 6 books, and her latest book Anyone Can Get An A+: How To Beat Procrastination, Reduce Stress and Improve Your Grades was written to help students of all ages improve their study habits and get better grades with techniques based on the latest scientific research. She has a law degree from the University of Warwick, UK and a Masters’ in Public Policy from Cornell University. Geetanjali also interviews authors and writes about creativity and productivity on her blog Creativity@Work. 

Places to Connect with Geetanjali

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Pinterest

Instagram

Book Blurb for Will the Real Albert Speer Please Stand Up? The Many Faces of Hitler’s Architect

MukherjeeWillTheRealAlbertSpeerPleaseStandUpHe presented many faces to the world, but which one was genuine?

Over the years Albert Speer has been given several titles – ‘the good Nazi’, ‘Hitler’s architect’, ‘future Reichchancellor’, and even ‘the only penitent defendant at Nuremberg’. There is no doubt that there are many faces to Albert Speer: he was a man who had far greater power during the war than any other aside from Hitler, and was widely believed to succeed Hitler; his tremendous powers of organization raised German production to its peak at a time when resources were at an all-time low; and it was expected by all, including himself, that he would receive the death sentence like the other Nazi leaders, instead escaping the noose with only twenty years.

In light of his extended involvement in the Nazi party, both as Hitler’s architect and the Minister for Armaments, and his contributions to the illegal war waged by the regime, the question naturally arises: did Speer receive adequate punishment? Did the verdict reflect the perception that Speer was somehow ‘less culpable’ than the other defendants, or did he mastermind his defence in a way that reduced his sentence? The events leading up to the Nuremberg trial, and the trial itself, provides clues to answering these questions: what can we learn about the personality of Speer from the evidence available, and why does it matter?

GIVEAWAY!

Geetanjali is giving away 5 ebook copies of Will the Real Albert Speer Please Stand Up?, in any format, worldwide. You can do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) What is a historical time period/location you would like to visit? 2) Leave a way for me to contact you. Giveaway ends January 16, 2017 midnight my time.

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Interview: Jake Urry, Narrator of Shadows of Tomorrow

MeatsShadowsOfTomorrowEveryone, please welcome Jake Urry to the blog today. I really enjoyed his narration of The Cryptic Lines by Richard Storry. Today, we’re here to promote his latest narration, Shadows of Tomorrow by Jessica Meats. A big thank you to Jess at The Audio Book Worm for setting up this book tour. Swing by the tour page to catch more interviews, spotlights, and audio excerpts. On to the interview!

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten it’s deserved amount of attention?

I think that although the genre is very popular with a lot of people, Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels can often be disregarded as ‘all being the same’ by many readers who haven’t tried them, and won’t because they think they’ll be reading about wizards and aliens that they can’t relate to. I think if more people tried an occasional new Sci-Fi or Fantasy novel they’d be surprised at the diversity of the stories and the legions of complex and relatable characters!

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to voice acting?

I spent a short time (that felt like a lifetime) in a factory assembling cosmetic displays, which involved the same mindless repetitive tasks day in and day out. One of my final jobs there was gluing tiny rubber feet on to thousands of Hello Kitty nail varnish holders. I was very happy to say ‘Bye Bye Kitty’ when the time came. Voice acting in complete contrast is different every day, challenging, more fun and most importantly lets me use my imagination!

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

The 1975 animation of Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island is something that terrified and enthralled me as a child and has stayed with me ever since. There have been a lot of live action versions but I think the animation is the best. I’m also partial to Nick Park’s claymation classic Chicken Run, as a re-imagining of The Great Escape. I don’t mind admitting I think it’s a glorious piece of cinema.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

‘If sleeping, wake me up at your own peril’

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Miss Mowcher from David Copperfield
Gandalf from LotR
Dumbledore from Harry Potter
Winston Smith from 1984
Captain Ahab from Moby Dick

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (I tend to do things in the wrong order).

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’ll be taking part in Mystery and Thriller Week in February (12th-22nd), it’s shaping up to be awesome with a lot of authors and contributors involved! Check it out here – https://mysterythrillerweek.com

Thank you for having me over on your lovely blog!

JakeUrryNarratorAbout Jake Urry:

Jake Urry is a British actor and audiobook narrator, and also co-founder of Just Some Theatre. Since graduating from an Acting degree course in 2012 he’s toured with Just Some Theatre as an actor and producer, worked on a number of commercial voice over projects and most recently started producing Audiobooks. Jake has produced over 10 titles since March 2016 and has rapidly found himself at home narrating Thriller, Horror, Mystery and Suspense titles. His audiobook work includes dark psychological thrillers White is the Coldest Colour and Portraits of the Dead by John Nicholl, occult mystery series The Ulrich Files by Ambrose Ibsen, and gritty Sci-Fi novel Shadows of Tomorrow by Jessica Meats.

Connect with the narrator: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ Voices ~ Soundcloud

MeatsShadowsOfTomorrowSynopsis of Shadows of Tomorrow:

Earth is at war. Portals are opening across the planet and bringing creatures known as Outsiders. Their only desire is to eat, leaving a trail of destruction in their path. The only people who can stop them are the Defenders – led by Gareth Walker – who can open portals of their own to target the Outsiders in minutes. Gareth’s only advantage is an ability to see glimpses of his future.

For the past decade the Defenders have held back the incursion, but now a new portal opens, bringing something that Gareth did not see coming. As he must find a way to stop this new threat, he starts a quest for answers. He must learn how the war began and find a way to stop them once and for all.

All the while, he is aware of a shadow in his future; a moment he can’t see past. Will stopping the Outsiders cost him everything?

Audible ~ Amazon ~ iTunes

JessicaMeatsAuthorAbout the Author Jessica Meats:

Jessica Meats is a graduate of the University of York and works in the IT industry. She draws on her experiences as a technology specialist and martial arts student to create a unique and interesting fictional community of combat experts and computer geeks.

Website ~ Twitter ~ FacebookGoodReads ~ tumblr

Giveaway & Interview: Carey Nachenberg, Author of The Florentine Deception

NachenbergTheFlorentineDeceptionEveryone, please welcome Carey Nachenberg to the blog today! He’s here to chat about favorite movies, the difficulties of writing a novel, virus hunting, and more!  If you want to find out about the GIVEAWAY, then scroll to the bottom.

Q: If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

A: I’d love to watch Back to the Future for the first time, again. The movie was mind blowing – it had the perfect combination of comedy, science fiction, and a wonderful story.

Q: What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

A: I’ve only held one job during my adult life – as a professional computer virus hunter at Symantec (makers of Norton AntiVirus). I’ve had some pretty tough challenges designing security software that outsmarts the hackers, but nothing has been more difficult than writing and publishing The Florentine Deception. Before I found a publisher, I was rejected by nearly 200 different agents and had to do six major rewrites – I’d never experienced so much rejection in my entire life. So comparatively, my day job is a breeze.

Q: If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

A: I’d definitely want to own Van Gogh’s Irises painting. Its vibrant blue flowers just make me happy when I look at them. Assuming I could keep it safe, I’d want to make it available for everyone to see – it’d be a shame to hide such beauty from the world.

Q: If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

A: I don’t know if that’d be appropriate for a general audience, but let’s just say that you don’t want to be around me after I eat broccoli and salmon.

Q: Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you?

A: My favorite movie adaptation was the Harry Potter series. As exciting as the novels were, I felt the books really brought the story, its characters, and its magic to life.

Q: What were you like as a kid? Did your kid­self see you being a writer?

A: As a child, I was either outdoors playing with the neighborhood kids or locked in my room tapping away at my computer. Either way, I hated writing and consistently received mediocre grades in English classes. If you had suggested that one day I’d publish a mystery novel, I would have fallen on the floor in a fit of laughter.

Q: What do you do when you are not writing?

A: I’m the chief engineer at Symantec – maker of the popular Norton AntiVirus security product. So technically, I’m an honest-to-goodness virus hunter – and I’ve spent the last 20 years writing software to fight hackers. I also am a professor of Computer Science at UCLA – I volunteer part-time and teach Computer Science to eager freshmen. Finally, I’m an avid rock climber; I climb with students and friends in the local Santa Monica mountains.

Q: What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

A: Norton AntiVirus vs. McAfee – which is better: But since the answer is obvious, I’m not even going to bother to give my point of view.

Q: You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

A: I’d have to invite Linda Reynaud, the female lead character in my novel. Linda is resourceful, gritty, and physically quite strong – all useful skills to have in an obstacle course.

CareyNachenbergAuthorAbout Carey Nachenberg

Carey Nachenberg is Symantec Corporation’s Chief Engineer and is considered one of the inventors of Norton AntiVirus. As Chief Engineer, Carey drives the technical strategy for all of Symantec’s core security technologies and security content. He has led the design and development of Symantec’s core antivirus, intrusion prevention and reputation-based security technologies; his work in these areas have garnered over eighty-five United States patents.

In addition to his work in the cyber-security field, Carey has also recently published his first novel, a cyber-security thriller entitled “The Florentine Deception,” and is donating all proceeds from sales of the novel to charities supporting underserved students and veterans. Carey holds BS and MS degrees in Computer Science and Engineering from University of California at Los Angeles, where he continues to serve as Adjunct Professor of Computer Science.

Connect with the author:   Website   Twitter   Facebook

NachenbergTheFlorentineDeceptionSynopsis of The Florentine Deception

A seemingly mundane computer clean-up leads to an electrifying quest for an enigmatic—and deadly—treasure in this gripping techno-thriller.

After selling his dorm-room startup for millions and effectively retiring at the age of twenty-five, Alex Fife is eager for a new challenge. When he agrees to clean up an old PC as a favor, he never expects to find the adventure of a lifetime waiting for him inside the machine. But as he rummages through old emails, Alex stumbles upon a startling discovery: The previous owner, a shady antiques smuggler, had been trying to unload a mysterious object known as the Florentine on the black market. And with the dealer’s untimely passing, the Florentine is now unaccounted for and ripe for the taking. Alex dives headfirst into a hunt for the priceless object.

What starts out as a seemingly innocuous pursuit quickly devolves into a nightmare when Alex discovers the true technological nature of the Florentine. Not just a lost treasure, it’s something far more insidious: a weapon that could bring the developed world to its knees. Alex races through subterranean grottos, freezing morgues, and hidden cellars in the dark underbelly of Los Angeles, desperate to find the Florentine before it falls into the wrong hands. Because if nefarious forces find it first, there’ll be nothing Alex—or anyone else—can do to prevent a catastrophic attack.

The author is donating all of his proceeds from sales of The Florentine Deception to charities to help underprivileged and low-income students.

1,620 books sold,  $8,173.00 donated as of December 31st (with $182 pending)!

Let’s help him reach his goal of selling 2,000 books and donating $10,000!

Visit http://florentinedeception.weebly.com/charities.html to see the list of charities.

Buy the audiobook:  Amazon  ~  Audible

Buy the book:   Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY!!!

This giveaway is part of the iRead Book Tour. Don’t forget to check out more interviews, reviews,  & guest posts on the blog tour! Win 1 of 5 copies of The Florentine Deception, winners can choose between print, ebook or audiobook (open internationally).  Just click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway.

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Giveaway & Interview: Bijhan Valibeigi, Author of The Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship

ValibeigiBeginningOfABizarreFriendshipEveryone, please welcome Bijhan Valibeigi to the blog today! She’s here to chat about RPGs, Power Rangers, Steven Saylor books, and plenty more!  If you want to find out about the GIVEAWAY, then scroll to the bottom. You can also check out my review of her book, The Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship, which I quite enjoyed.

If you could be an extra on a SFF movie or TV show, what would it be?

My first instinct would be to say one of the upcoming Star Trek films, in no small part because I would look excellent in one of those red skirted uniforms, but when I think about the set on which I’d probably have the most fun, it would probably have to be Power Rangers.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Again, the answer comes back to Power Rangers. Who wouldn’t want to be swept up into the arms of those beautiful heroes? If footage existed of me being saved by the Power Rangers, I would watch it every morning with my breakfast.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Parks and Recreation. Every once in a while, I remember that there will never be another new episode, and my heart breaks a little. The answer would be 30 Rock, but now that The Muppets is on the air, that void has been filled.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

There’s something especially grueling about working a job with a lot of down time and a lot of physical labor, like the work I did as a grocery clerk. Most people would assume that the strenuous labor would be the worst part, and it is not pleasant, but the real pain came from the need to turn my brain off. I cannot turn my brain off. That’s why I write, design games, compose music, and paint: My brain is constantly overflowing, and not having anywhere for my ideas to go is a special kind of pain.

More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

Star Trek was a pioneer in this field in the 1970s. Selling Spock shirts and Captain Kirk action figures was big money, so they began licensing for other products, including wonderful novels, comic books, and tabletop games which expanded the context of the Star Trek universe. This effort was decentralized, however, and therefore often contradictory and incompatible. George Lucas stepped up the multimedia game with Star Wars, which enhanced the core movies with novels, comics, television, and genuinely high-quality games of both the electronic and tabletop variety. Realizing the power of unified branding and cross-platform storytelling, Marvel and DC followed Star Wars’ lead. Unfortunately, Star Trek never made the leap to a wholly unified universe.

The Time Wars universe is one of my own creation, a vast series of interconnected timelines, sewing together the fates of Humanity, Vampires, aliens, spies, soldiers, heroes, and every people. In the tabletop RPG I designed, Time Wars: Strike Team [link: timewarsuniverse.com/StrikeTeam.html], which is available as a free downloadable PDF, players can take on the roles of superhuman time travelers who battle vampiric enemies from the Stone Age to the Galactic Age. I’ve also created a strategy card game, the world’s first deck-stacking game, Time Wars: Supreme Command [link: timewarsuniverse.com/SupremeCommand.html], where players use cards to assemble their Time Travelers, and duel for control over the Timeline as they set their own goals and foil the goals of their opponents. There are cards in the game which represent characters from not only The Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship [link: timewarsuniverse.com/Books.html], the first novel in the Time Wars Tales fiction brand, but also the ongoing flash fiction series Time Wars Tales: Legends of the Order  [link:timewarsuniverse.wordpress.com]. The events of Legends of the Order provide a deeper context for the events of The Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship, although both can be thoroughly enjoyed on their own.

My ideas have always transcended any one form of media. I can’t help but write music for the characters I create, develop stories for the games I design, and weave together my various stories into a larger narrative. In fact, one of the first games I ever designed came from sheer excitement at just having read the first Harry Potter novel, at which point I promptly invented a board game where players became students at Hogwarts. Perhaps it’s from consuming so much Star Trek and Star Wars as a youngster. It’s certainly enough for me to name my series Time Wars as an homage.

If you’d like to support the strategy card game, we will be having a Kickstarter for Time Wars: Supreme Command starting March 27th, and you can follow @TimeWarsRPG on Twitter for updates on that. You can also support all my multimedia work, including my music, comics, recipes, and more at Patreon.com/BijhanValibeigi.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

The “Roma Sub Rosa” books by Steven Saylor would make a fantastic video game. Because it’s a murder mystery series, I would want it to be an original story so I couldn’t guess the ending. In the stories, there’s often a sense of running out of time, and there’s a lot of daring escapes, but very few out-and-out fights. Since so many video games are either currency-based, or about obvious violence, it would be really fun to have an action mystery game to change it up. Also, it would be a lot of fun to solve crimes while immersed in the sights and sounds of Ancient Rome.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

I’d have a few…
“Cries at children’s television shows, but not funerals.”
“Needs chocolate daily, and hugs three times daily, or else unit ceases to function.”
And, finally, “Not a meaningful source of f**ks.”

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

Most definitely. At a very young age I came to understand all media as having been created by a person, and therefore I could be that person. I wrote children’s books as a very small child and made copies for my parents. I would create elaborate stories and draw the characters in great detail. As I grew older I wrote embarrassingly self-indulgent action stories with no literary merit, along with some pretty funny sketch comedy. So it feels like a very natural progression into being a writer of more elaborate and meaningful fiction. Although, directly to the point of the question, what was I like as a kid? I was very strange. I would embody the characters of my imagination in every way. My mother likes to tell the story of how, one day, when I was a very small child, I went to sleep while pretending to be a dog, and when I woke up, I woke up as a dog, down to the bark and the panting. The realm of my mind has always felt very real, and something I’m eager to share.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

A large part of me just wants to see some awesome drama. It would be an occasion for me to kick back and watch people yell at each other.

So, therefore, I would want the first three to be William F. Buckley, Jr., Gore Vidal, and Truman Capote. The final two, to fill out the rabble-rousers who would absolutely loathe one another, would have to be Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. These five people would absolutely hate one another, and I would love to watch them argue and feud. I imagine Buckley and Vidal would find some way for their orders to be barbs at one another, while Capote would probably order something self-indulgent. Hobbes would make a very conservative choice, based on the cost and health; Locke would likely have brought something from home.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I have a terrible memory for faces, and I’m not much better with names, so I often have fans who have met me before approach me as if we are old friends, but whom I cannot recall at all. I, personally, have not had an opportunity to geek out over an author in person. I did, however, have an extended e-mail correspondence with Keith DeCandido when I was in high school about the Star Trek novels he wrote. I have no idea why he provided such detailed responses to such a bratty child – which I most assuredly was at the time – but our conversations on the non-binary nature of Andorian gender roles actually played a part in my own awakening to my identity as a gender outside the binary. I had a chance to email him again, as an adult, to thank him for that correspondence. He admitted no memory of it, which is understandable, and was very kind and gracious – as always.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

I have three arguments I get in most regularly, and perhaps most passionately, because my opinions are not popular. To be brief, and not to go into detail:

1) Star Trek: the Next Generation was a bad sequel to Star Trek.

2) Power Rangers is deeply underrated as a science fiction series.

3) Most contemporary mainstream video games are really boring and derivative.

BijhanValibeigiAuthorAbout Bijhan Valibeigi

Bijhan Valibeigi is a writer, game designer, musician, and trans Muslim from West Seattle. When Bijhan is not pwning newbs in every kind of game ever made, hating on TNG for being objectively worse than Star Trek, or cheering for the BC Lions, she spends time at home with her partner RaeRae, three lovely cats Reza, Kya, and Jasper, and old cranky dog Elsa.

Find Bijhan and her works online

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ValibeigiBeginningOfABizarreFriendshipSynopsis of The Beginning of a Bizarre Friendship

In the 161st Century, the Vampires have conquered their own Homeworld of Earth, and driven Humanity into the furthest reaches of space. From our exile across the galaxy, our people use time travel technology to wage a war against Vampirekind. We must change the past to protect the future.
Yet there are heroes who do not use time travel technology – clandestine warriors who remain in the shadows to hunt the monsters who lurk there. This secret-cloaked sorority is usually quite skilled at protecting its mysteries.

But sometimes, secrets can become revealed…

 

GIVEAWAY!!!

Bijhan is graciously offering up 3 ebook copies of The Beginning to a Bizarre Friendship. This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below, or answer the following in the comments:  1) Which dead author(s) would you like to have dinner with?  2) Leave a way to contact you (email or twitter or facebook). Giveaway ends midnight June 10, 2016.

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Interview: Henry Herz, Author of When You Give An Imp A Penny

HerzWhenYouGiveAnImpAPennyFolks, please welcome author and editor Henry Herz to the blog again. I have thoroughly enjoyed his works (Nimpentoad & Beyond the Pale) and recently his newest release When You Give An Imp A Penny. Get ready for a lively interview that includes Lord of the Rings references, an appreciation of children’s stories for all ages, and plenty more!

1. If you could be an extra on a kids’ movie or TV show, what would it be?

What a terrific question! But, so difficult to answer given the many great choices. I think it would be a blast to have been an extra on The Incredibles, The Princess Bride, Shrek, Arthur and the Invisibles, Chicken Run, or Where the Wild Things Are.

2. Would you rather have a dragon, or be a dragon?

I think we first need to clarify what KIND of dragon. Are we talking silly dragons like Toothless (How to Train Your Dragon), H.R. Pufnstuf, Cassie (Dragon Tales), Puff the Magic Dragon, or Elliott (Pete’s Dragon)? Perhaps powerful but kindly dragons like Saphira (Eragon), Falkor (The Neverending Story) or Ramoth (The Dragonriders of Pern)? Or the terrifying killing machines Vermithrax Pejorative (Dragonslayer), Fafner (Der Ring des Nibelungen), Norbert (Harry Potter), Ancalagon (The Silmarillion), Yevaud (A Wizard of Earthsea) or Smaug (The Hobbit)?

Since I enjoy spending time with my family and writing, I should probably remain human, and opt for a dragon pet, so long as it obeys my will. “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

HerzNimpentoad3. If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

If I couldn’t be a writer, I’d be a board game designer. It’s a fun combination of being analytical and creative. I actually designed a submarine warfare game MANY years ago and sold it to SPI, but they went out of business before the game could be made. Not my fault!

4. If you could go enjoy a meal in a fictional world, where would that be, and what would you eat?

Since I am a Lord of the Rings fanatic, I have to say I would eat whatever Galadriel’s elves are serving for dinner in Middle Earth’s Lothlorien, or whatever Finarfin’s elves are serving in Valmar (the capital of Valinor in The Silmarillion). I’m guessing vegan, but with plenty of good wine.

5. If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in children’s literature, what HerzMonsterGooseNurseryRhymesbooks would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Creating a syllabus for a college class in children’s literature would be a two-edged sword. It would be a riot to do, but it would be HARD to pick only a few to cover. Some personal favorites include:
Younger Kids: Where the Wild Things Are (Sendak), This is Not My Hat (Klassen), A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Stead), The Cat in the Hat (Seuss), Frog and Toad Are Friends (Lobel)
Older Kids: The Hobbit (Tolkien), The Book of Three (Alexander), A Wrinkle in Time (L’Engle), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Lewis), Charlotte’s Web (White), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Dahl).

6. What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

My answer to your question 2?

See also the Six Degrees of Sauron web application I co-designed. The Dark Lord is closer than you think!

HerzBeyondThePale7. What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

That was a LONG age ago. As in carved stone tablets… Probably a Dr. Seuss book. Perhaps One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish.

8. Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Well, my new picture book, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY, is just out from Pelican Publishing. Before you lend an imp a penny, there’s something you should know—such a simple act of generosity could set off a side-splitting chain of events! A colorful picture book full of mythology, mischief, and magic, WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY shows us just what happens when an accident-prone—but well-intentioned—imp comes along asking for favors! The same writer/illustrator duo that brought you MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES brings to life a comedy of fabled proportions.

HerzWhenYouGiveAnImpAPennyFrom tracking mud on the floor to setting the broom on fire, this clumsy little imp causes accidents wherever he goes, but he’s determined make things right again. The only thing it will cost his host is a little patience—and maybe a bit of time cleaning up some messes! It won’t be long before this troublemaker has won over the entire family (except for the cat) with his irrepressible charm.

I have three more picture books scheduled for publication. LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016) is an aquatic retelling of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, but with a sassy cephalopod protagonist. MABEL & THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016) is a bedtime picture book inspired by Mercutio’s soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet. Little Mabel was an expert at not going to sleep. But Mom had the Queen of Dreams in her quiver of bedtime tales. The Queen paints children’s dreams, so she only visits when their eyes are closed. DINOSAUR PIRATES (Sterling, 2017) is a comical mashup of two kid favorites. A T-rex with a piratey patois!? Cap’n Rex leads his dinosaur pirates in search of booty. As they encounter obstacles in their quest, the apex predator “encourages” his crew to think outside the box. When the treasure is found, Cap’n Rex wants to keep it for himself, but the clever crew turns the tables on him.

I’m thrilled to be moderating a children’s literature panel at WonderCon in Los Angeles on March 26. The panelists will be award-winning authors and illustrators Bruce Hale (CLARK THE SHARK), Jon Klassen (THIS IS NOT MY HAT), Laura Numeroff (IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE), and Dan Santat (THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE: THE UNIMAGINARY FRIEND), and Antoinette Portis (WAIT).

Places to Find Henry Herz and his two talented sons Josh and Harrison

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Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Robert Eggleton, Author of Rarity From The Hollow

EggletonRarityFromTheHollowPlease give a warm welcome to author Robert Eggleton! Today we chat about personal influences, YA SFF literature, Tom Sawyer, and plenty more. And don’t miss out on the International EBOOK  GIVEAWAY of Rarity from the Hollow at the end of this post!

1. Who are your non-writer influences?

I am so fortunate, Susan, to have been involved with many positive influences in my life. As with many folks, my mother was the biggest the most influential. She was one tough cookie – faced barriers without flinging, at least not so her kids could see her struggles. She understood and practiced unconditional love, taught her children well – to respect diversity, to work hard, to dream, and to laugh.

There’s a long list of people that were influential, kind without condescension as I was growing up. When I was a boy, a manager of a grocery story hired me to clean and paid me in food that fed the family, kept it intact. He taught me to work hard for those things most important, like family. Another manager gave me my first real job when I was twelve – cleaning a drug story for which I was paid in real money, social security deducted from check with my name on them. Special thanks and accolades go out to Chief Miller of the St. Albans, West Virginia, Fire Department. Not only did he save my life by dragging me out of a house fire that killed my father when I was thirteen, that man took me home with him to life – kindness to strangers. I’ll never forget that man, and he didn’t forget either. Years later, after the fire, I had finished my graduate degree and was working for the West Virginia Supreme Court – he called me at work a couple of weeks before he died. My list of positive influences during childhood goes on, and on, and on…….

As a young adult and on into adulthood, to this day, my fortune has continued. From my eight grade English teacher who motivated me toward creative writing, to a zillion brave kids who protested the Vietnam War with little recognition for their hard work but kept it up until that war ended, to Dr. Wiggins, a philosophy professor at West Virginia State College who influenced me by demanding critical thought, all of those famous role models who cared about justice and fair play, like Martin Luther King, Jr.,… man, there are so many that it’s not possible to name the most influential.

My wife has been highly influential and continues to reinforce my love for academics – she’s the smartest person that I’ve ever met. She’s like a Trivial Pursuit expert or something. My son has been a tremendous influence on me, especially in this world of rapidly changing technology. He won’t buy it when I make an excuse that I’m too old to learn new technology or to keep up with new musical groups. I has kept me thinking young.

I can’t tell you the name of the biggest recent influence on my life because it’s confidential information protected by law. I call her Lacy Dawn, the protagonist in Rarity from the Hollow, but she’s a real-life, skinny, brown haired, eleven eye old girl that I met when I was a children’s psychotherapist. I recently retired from our local mental health center after working in the field of children’s advocacy for over forty years. One day in 2006, Lacy Dawn was sitting around the table from me during a group therapy session. Instead of simply disclosing her victimization, she spoke of hopes and dreams – finding a loving permanent family who would protect her mentally, physically, and spiritually. She’s the most powerful person that I’ve met in my life. Lacy Dawn influenced me to make my own dream come true – to become a writer of fiction and to never give up, on anything.

2. Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent?

I am looking forward to Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clark being shown on the SyFy channel later this year. That’s one of my favorite books and I hope that the producers pull it off in the manner that it deserves. Personally, I thought that 2001: A Space Odyssey was a masterpiece of a book and movie both, but I’m sure that some would disagree. Even though the movie deviated some from the books, I loved The Lord of the Rings and who in their right mind would or could disrespect Harry Potter on paper or screen. Maybe it was just my corresponding moods as I read the book and watched the movie, but I close with my personal number one: Jurassic Park, written by Michael Crichton and the film directed by Stephen Spielberg.

3. What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

I would love to have a den or a home office to write in, and if I did it would probably be messy with notes and open books. My wife and I live in a small house that has become almost a library because it is filled with books. I write in the living room and get fussed at by my wife for not keeping it neat. I point the finger back at her because she’s the one who refused to adapt to eBooks. Books seem to be dust magnets and, especially with the older ones, vacuuming is tedious so as not to damage their covers. Frankly, I don’t think that “neat” is a term applicable to my writing environment.

I can write anywhere. Actually, since I was a kid I do write everywhere, all the time, even in my dreams. Writing is not the issue. It’s the recording of the writing. For example, I used to write poems on scraps of paper, including in restroom stalls, at the park, any place or time that life forces coalesced. Guess what happened to all those papers? Right – the washing machine drain or clothes dryer filter. That’s life. To produce writing I need a PC now. I’ve tried laptops without success. When I leave my house, such as to go to a restaurant, I take paper and pen, jot notes if an idea strikes, but I need a full sized monitor and keyboard to actually produce. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older.

4. If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in YA SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

The poorest selection of books for a syllabus on college level YA SFF would be popular YA SFF books. Students who would register for such a class either would already be experts on those books or would have been looking for easy elective college credits. As the professor, it would be up to me to spoil the party.

In the tradition of literary fiction, I would ask each student to select a novel that targets an adult audience and covert it in a summary to YA, and convert a chapter of it to YA writing style. Then, make a presentation to the class with their classmates functioning as editors who “censor” YA content. In my opinion, adults are harsh censors, children are much more astute about the world around them than adults want to acknowledge, and college age is a time where a proper balance could be found, but not likely to make it through an editor and achieve publication. The final exam would be an essay on the practical ethics of self-censorship when writing YA novels. Since the essay is a personal opinion, every student who completes the assignment fully, by instruction to the letter, would get an ‘A.’ The students who didn’t complete would be sent to the eternal slush pile until they grew up and decided to write stories for adults.

5. Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I would love to share an awkward fan moment if I had one. The closest that I could describe would be friends and acquaintances wanting to compliment my writing and to talk about Rarity from the Hollow. In summary, I shrug at compliments because they cause me to feel awkward.

Sometimes I think that artists are the worst interpreters of their own creations, possibly the last to understand where it all came from. A good example would be the lyrics to the 1967 rock song by Procol Harum, “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and the lyrics have been interpreted many times with as many incongruous findings. The lyricists think that the song was about picking up a girl in a bar. Personally, I think that the creation of this and many great works are attributable to a power greater than the humans through with the inspiration flowed. I know. That sounds totally flakey.

Still, this belief affects the way I react to compliments, or criticism, and also affects the way that I regard works by others. Recently, for example, Rarity from the Hollow received a Gold Medal from Awesome Indies. The reviewer found, “…profound observations on human nature and modern society….” Maybe that’s so, but maybe not. Regardless, it even makes me feel weird to be in the same room with someone when they read such a high compliment, so I usually excuse myself. And, in any case, I’ll take full blame for what’s wrong with the story, but believe that some of what’s right about it, the magical parts, is beyond me.

6. What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

The only geeky argument that comes to mind is whether or not it was an antiracism stance, a subliminal political message by J.K. Rowling when Harry freed Dobby from the Malfoys by giving him one of his socks. This argument escalated into a debate about social activism and fiction, yada yada, yada. I know that it sounds stupid, especially between close friends, but his argument actually got heated. Fortunately, my friend’s wife interjected something that took both sides of the debate, and that ended the argument. I, personally, still feel that science fiction fuels science fact, both technologically and socially. And, my friend still thinks that good fiction is pure escapism. I don’t remember exactly what his wife said but it was something to the effect that the best fiction is a work that one escapes into while addressing the realities left on the outside, in the real world. I don’t know. It sounded smart at the time – smart enough to end our argument.

7. What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Tom Sawyer is the first book that I remember reading on my own. It had a lasting impact on my life, especially with respect to the balance between work and pleasure.

8. You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

Since I get to pick someone to run an obstacle course with me it might as well be the best athlete. I pick Bruce Jenner in his prime as a runner, her prime now. After we win, the libation would be spring water in abundance to the great God of Equality, the one true god who ensures that haters are unhappy humans.

EggletonRarityFromTheHollowBook Blurb for Rarity from the Hollow:

Lacy Dawn is a little girl who lives in a magical forest where all the trees love her and she has a space alien friend who adores her and wants to make her queen of the universe. What’s more, all the boys admire her for her beauty and brains. Mommy is very beautiful and Daddy is very smart, and Daddy’s boss loves them all.

Except.

Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, perches precariously between the psychosis of childhood and the multiple neuroses of adolescence, buffeted by powerful gusts of budding sexuality and infused with a yearning to escape the grim and brutal life of a rural Appalachian existence. In this world, Daddy is a drunk with severe PTSD, and Mommy is an insecure wraith. The boss is a dodgy lecher, not above leering at the flat chest of an eleven-year-old girl.

Yes, all in one book.

It is a children’s story for adults with a happily ever after ending.

Places to Find Robert Eggleton

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GIVEAWAY!!!

Open International! Robert Eggleton is offering up 6 ebook copies of his book Rarity from the Hollow. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Leave a way to contact you; 2) What YA SFF books have you enjoyed? This giveaway ends Jan. 31st, 2016, midnight.

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Giveaway & Interview: JD & Amy of Whimsy & Wonder Creative Press

CollinsOfRobotsAndZombiesAndWizardsAndStuffDear Dabbers, please give a warm welcome to the brains and beauty behind Whimsy and Wonder Creative Press, Amy & JD. It was a real treat to interview this couple. We chat about several TV shows, where to spend the holidays, the tribulations of self-promotion, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss out on the paperback GIVEAWAY – scroll to the bottom for that.

If you could be an extra on a TV show, what would it be?

J: We actually were extra’s on TV show once. It was a show called “Murder In Law”, a show about people getting murdered by their in laws, and we were in one of the cheesy reenactments, which was a lot of fun. If I could do it again I would want it to be on Game of Thrones as a Wite, or on The Walking Dead as a Zombie, because who doesn’t want to be put in professional quality zombie make up at least once in their lives?

A: I would like to be an extra on Outander. So I could potentially see/meet (stalk) Sam Heugen.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

J: I think a supernatural creature, because I’ve always wanted to befriend like a cool monster or something that would be my friend or companion or something, so maybe if I was rescued by supernatural creature, like a mogwai or a hippogriff or something I could make that a reality.

A: Space Alien. That way we can become friends and they can prove to me that everything they cover on Ancient Aliens is true.

What fictional world would you like to visit for the holidays?

J: Harry Potter for sure. First of all it’s just really friggen magical. Secondly, I’ve always dreamt of Christmas at Hogwarts, and thirdly, I feel like less terrible things happen in the Harry Potter world than a lot of others. Like, Westeros I would be for sure worried about whether I would even make it through the holidays. Middle Earth is also extremely terrifying, although a holiday in a hobbit hole does sound rather cozy. Basically I don’t want to spend the holidays in a universe where I end up being somebodies red shirt, and overall Hogwarts seems pretty safe, what with the Dark Lord vanquished and all.

A: I would go to Who-ville.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

J: We were actually just talking about this. I would love to re-watch the Sixth Sense and Empire Strikes Back again without knowing the twists ahead of time. I was too young to watch either of those movies when they came out (I wasn’t even alive when Empire came out), so by the time I was able to watch them they were entirely spoiled for me.

A: I think I would want to experience The Lord of the Rings movies for the first time.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

J: I think The Hunger Games would make a really bitchin’ video game, but I would want it to be something where I could design my own character and pick my own weapons and skills and stuff. Like you could choose whether you want your weapon to be a bow and arrow, or a sword or a trident or whatever, and then choose to build up specific skills like foraging, or hunting, or camouflage before finally duking it out in a random arena with different environments like forest, or dessert or tundra. Actually the more I think about it the more that sounds like an amazing game. Somebody should get on that.

A: I would really enjoy a video game version of Carrie. It’s probably the closest I will ever get to having telekinesis and working out my high school issues.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

J: Warning: Is Prone To Dancing In Embarrassing Places (including but not limited to; grocery store lines, bowling alleys, and movie theaters).

A: Warning: Can become very hungry – keep snacks nearby.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

J: I have a really hard time with this actually. It’s really challenging to get anyone to listen to you in the void that is the Internet, and there’s way to many talented people making good stuff, so it’s really hard to get noticed. Add to that a crippling condition I have called social awkwardness, and it can be kind of a mess sometimes. That being said, it does have it’s moments, when people really seem to enjoy what your doing.

A: It’s a very fun job to have, getting to be like hey everybody look at how awesome we are. The most challenging part is some people just aren’t interested or may give criticism on things you have spent a really, really long time on. That can be very nerve racking.

CollinsPeopleSuckIf you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

J: Sherlock Holmes, because I would be really curious to see what he would deduce just from seeing me. GandalfProfessor X and Dumbledore, because they’re so wise and I’ve always wanted them to be my life coaches, so I would seek their guidance. Since I get one more probably Xander from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, because I feel like we would be good friends.

A: I would choose Jamie Fraser from Outlander Because he’s gorgeous I’m not going to pass on that opportunity. Gandalf from Lord of the Rings – I feel like he would have really good advice on life. Furiosa– from Mad Max: She is just so bad ass would love to have a beer with her. Effie Trinket– from the Hunger Games- I feel like she could give me style advice and I could see her getting along really well with Gandalf. And Michone from The Walking Dead- another bad ass female who probably would become best friends with Furiosa…..and maybe me…..

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

J: Well, we’re just getting started so I’ve yet to have anyone gushing over my work, but I did get to meet Stan Lee at a Comic Con once. It was at the little photo booths they set up where you pay to get your picture taken with a celebrity and I was so excited, so I wanted to come up with something clever to say. It’s crazy because I had a very long line to wait in to figure it out but I didn’t, so when my turn came I couldn’t think of anything except for “it’s so great to meet you”, and because it was Stan Lee, and because he is possibly the coolest human on the planet he just clapped me on the back and said “You’re god damn right!” and then they snapped the picture. It was awesome. I still have the picture.

A: When we got our picture of George Takei he said “OH My Look At Youuuu.”  So I took that as a compliment and felt like my life was pretty accomplished after that.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

J: I can’t say that I can think of just one, because that’s kind of just our life. We’re always bickering about some odd movie or another. Amy still makes fun of me for liking the movie “The Mist”, which she refers to as “The Mist-take”, which she thinks is very clever.

A: There are many to choose from and now that I cant think of any but Jerrud and I tend to get into arguments about how fast the zombies would be moving on TV shows. Pretty much our whole relationship is arguing one geeky thing to another.

CollinsOfRobotsAndZombiesAndWizardsAndStuffBook Blurb for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff:

Have you ever wanted to read a story about a dancing robot? How one about a vicious hamburger eating, teenaged zombie? Or perhaps a retired super hero working a day job as mailman? Have you ever felt that your life would be enriched by a fierce and vitriolic debate amongst wizards about beard lengths? Have you ever once felt a talking tree might have the answer to all of your problems? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book might be for you*. In the tales within, you will find all of these, and so much more. So go ahead, give it a try. You just might find what you’ve been looking for. *Please consult with your doctor before reading this book to discuss risks of an awesome overdose

CollinsPeopleSuckBook Blurb for People Suck

People suck, especially when your not one of them. In this adult(13+) picture book follow the journey of human suckage as explored by creatures suck as a yeti, a swamp monster and space aliens.

Places  to Stalk JD & Amy

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Amazon for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff

 

GIVEAWAY!

JD & Amy are generously offering up two copies each of their books: Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff, and their new picture book People Suck. These will be paper books and, therefore, we have to limit this giveaway to USA only due to postage. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) What state do you live in? 2) Do you have an awkward fanboy/fangirl moment to share? 3) Which book would you prefer to win? 4) Leave a way to contact you! Giveaway ends November 15th, 2015, midnight.

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Interview: Kelly Michelle Baker, Author of The Waters of Nyra

BakerTheWatersOfNyraVol1Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Kelly Michelle Baker. We spend some quality time talking about one of my favorite things – biology! But we also chat about some of my other favorite things like Harry Potter, fantasy authors, Ken Follett’s World Without End, and plenty more. Enjoy!

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

Books are time capsules. They often reflect the era in which they were written. If Tolkien were to compose The Lord of the Rings today, would it be different? Maybe not the core messages, but the setting and characters might have subtle 2015 traits vs. the 1930’s and 40’s. Hobbits shaped a world far outside Middle Earth. It’s become an almost tangible piece of civilization, still pervasive over 60 years later. Tolkien’s an outstanding example, but far from alone. Take Harry Potter. The boy wizard turned non-readers into bibliophiles and put adults in the children’s section of Barnes and Nobel. Everyone knows Harry. It’s been almost 20 years since The Philosopher’s Stone was first published yet it’s the gift that keeps on giving; an upcoming stage play, a spin-off film franchise, bonus publications by Rowling through the online interface Pottermore, etc. Fans are just as jazzed as ever (myself included). Where we’d be without Harry is hard to envision. Personally, I think the explosion of young adult readerships would be a bit paler. Cash-cows like Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Unwind, and The Maze Runner would exist but, without flying on Harry’s coattails (or Nimbus 2000), be far less lucrative.

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

1) David Clement-Davies. I went with him on a Kickstarter quest once, but perhaps one day we can do something more exciting. He too writes about dragons. David has one of those lyrical voices caught between prose and poetry, and he can play it out through animals. He weaves dark worlds and darker psychologies. There’d be no journey’s end without him. He’d know the magic, but more importantly, the enemy’s next move.

2) Clare Bell. First, she’s a stone’s throw from where I currently live, so I wouldn’t have to travel much out of my way. Second, she’s a biologist, sustainability advocate, and an animal fiction writer—in other words, who I want to be when I ‘grow up.’ Together, we’d go on a paleontological dig for prehistoric felines.

3) Brian Jacques. If anyone knew warriors, it was Brian. He also had a knack for describing mouth-watering feasts. He’d be in charge of swords and snacks.

4) Patricia C. Wrede. She knows dragons as well as quests, but more importantly, she knows humor. On a magic journey, I’d need someone to keep my spirits up. Patricia’s a bucket of laughs and lemon-water (read Dealing with Dragons for clarity).

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

The only reboot I know well is the The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire. The books were dense, but clever enough to warrant multiple readings. They work because they pay homage to the source material, but not at the expense of the story or characters. They can exist on their own without relying on constantly winking at the reader. I can’t stand that. It’s like a bad movie with no creativity, using celebrity cameos to garner box-office success. I can’t think of many books relying on such crappy hand-tricks, but that’s mostly because I avoid reboots. Still, good-retellings are out there. I hope to find them.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

I’m a biologist! Writing doesn’t pay the bills (and for a long time, neither did biology). I’m currently working on the water crisis in California, but I hope to get back into wildlife ecology in the next few years. For my master’s I studied coyote diet and how it varies between season and location in the San Joaquin Valley. Coyotes have a bad rep but are extraordinarily important to human-modified ecosystems. If I could devote myself to preserving North American predators (and biodiversity in general), I’d be pleased as punch! As much as I love fantasy, nothing is more astonishing than the world we already live in. It’s more than worthy of our curiosity and exploration.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

To be honest, I hate advertising myself. I don’t mind other people doing it, but from me, it comes off vain and needy. I go through a cold sweat before putting anything up on Facebook or Twitter. I spent fifteen years keeping my manuscript a secret. Now when I hear my dragon’s name on another’s tongue, I have a little flip-out (like they’ve just read my mind). I’m slowly getting better, but it’s an adjustment. What I find difficult is telling strangers that I’ve made something worth looking into, but having no idea if that’s true. If I’m reaching a Watership Down fan, then yes, they should read my book. If they like teen-paranormal romance, they might hate it. Finding my target audience is challenging because animal-fiction is going through a dormant stage, at least for older readers. But this inspires me to write something new and peddle The Waters of Nyra when I can.

BakerTheWatersOfNyraVol2If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Caris from World Without End (Ken Follett) and Alexandra from O Pioneers! (Willa Cather) would be on either side of me. Though separated in time (1300’s vs the early 20th century), they are young people struggling for their dream career, fighting the oppressions of their sex, heritage, and social standing. Hell-bent on a singular source of happiness, Caris and Alexandra abandon the niceties of comfort and deeper relationships (romantic or otherwise) which wait on the fringes of their ambition. Life begets choices. As a millennial who graduated just in time for the economic recession, I can identify. I’ve been running a race and not quite getting ‘there,’ leaving much of what I love on the road. It’s a timeless battle, and one to which billions can relate.

Beyond these two would be Theo Decker from The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt). In literature, we too often see characters who play their best cards in spite of bad hands. Theo is dealt bad cards and then cheats. Yet we root for him. He’s a good person, even when he’s swindling, even when he’s using, even when he’s betraying his friends. How can we possibly love him? Because, like Caris and Alexandra, he is us. He screws up. Badly. But he learns. His ethical 180’s are slow and arduous, but life is like that. I followed him through hundreds of pages and it still wasn’t enough. I want to know what he got up to after the final paragraph.

Across from Theo sits Morgra from The Sight (although as a wolf, she might need special accommodations). Morgra is one of the great villains of literature, although few have heard of her. The best baddies aren’t baddies, or at least they didn’t start out that way. Some are borne from injustice or trauma. Morgra is no exception, however, whether she was transformed by circumstance or an innate hostility is never answered, not by the heroes, not by her. She’s the ultimate enigma. We hear her thoughts in a few chapters but she’s still impossible to decipher. I love characters like that, with self-belief that could either be true or entirely fabricated. At teatime, I’d take one last stab at trying to figure her out.

And finally, at the head of the table, would be Jean Valjean of Les Miserables. He is one of those rare characters who experiences his ethical turnaround at the beginning of the story, not three-quarters through. As readers and creators, it’s easy to forget that not all journeys twist at the ‘climactic battle.’ Valjean defies the formula. His story is about the after.  The generosity of people is often overlooked, especially since the selfless rarely wave their flags. Valjean would be the guest of honor because he would never ask for it, and serve as a reminder that the story doesn’t end with wisdom. Rather, it begins again.

Which favorite fantasy worlds would you like to visit and what would you do there?

Not gonna lie: Harry Potter. No elaboration necessary. You’ve read it. We all have. There’s a wonderful quote by Ms. Rowling: “All these people saying they never got their Hogwarts letter: you got the letter. You went to Hogwarts. We were all there together. Of course it happened inside your head, but why on earth should that mean it wasn’t real?” I went to Hogwarts with friends and strangers and look forward to dozens of visits.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

That I fell in love with? The Grand Escape by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Sometime in early elementary school I was pushed (kicking and screaming) away from picture books toward intermediate-reader novels. None of them starred animals. As a misanthropic seven-year old, I started boycotting stories and turned to informative non-fiction. In doing so I became extremely learned in zoology. I begrudge nothing, as this may have resulted in my career in ecology. But it wasn’t until I discovered The Grand Escape, which stars cats, that I realized some authors were writing strictly-textual animal fiction. From there I hopped to Brian Jacques’ Redwall, Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing, and really didn’t look back until I discovered historical fiction in my 20’s. More ‘mature’ animal fiction waned in popularity some ten years ago, thus getting The Waters of Nyra to the surface has been tricky. So I’m grateful to older readers who haven’t turned their noses up at talking dragons. The kids have been great, too!

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

I’d take my own brainchild, Nyra, who has a knack for evading death. This is partially because she has a lot of help. But in spite of personal trepidation and more self-doubt than any eleven year old should have, she’s moderately clever and resourceful. I’m neither fast thinking nor thrill-seeking, so I’d have to strap myself to someone much more tenacious: her. A tasty libation? I’d settle for root beer, but Nyra (being a dragon) would prefer cool water from Fitzer’s Reservoir.

BakerTheWatersOfNyraVol1Book Blurb for The Waters of Nyra, Volume 1:

Never an ordinary dragon, Nyra grew up forbidden to breathe fire or fly. Like her mother before her, she has only known a life of enslavement, held in thrall by mountain dragons, which need Nyra’s ripening wings to secure hunting for the future.

But at the cusp of her first flying lesson, new rumors whisper through the herd. Mother pursues friendships in forbidden places, blurring the once succinct enemy line. In a whirlwind of realization, Nyra uncovers a secret in plain sight, one thought unknown to her enslavers, and one putting her at the focal point of rebellion should it come into play.

And come it does, but through a terrible accident, killing the slaves’ last chance of escape. To survive, Nyra must conquer the sharp-ended lies cutting her future to ribbons and the war threading in their wake.

BakerTheWatersOfNyraVol2Book Blurb for The Waters of Nyra, Volume II:

After braving the ocean, Nyra finds herself incarcerated on the other side of the world. The would-be saviors are in the midst of civil war, and her presence enflames their rivalry. Caught by the Sorja herd, Nyra is held prisoner with Olieve; a Royal as garrulous as she is blind, neither friend nor foe, but essential to the young dragon’s escape. Yet even escape has little promise, as the opposing Raklisall herd has a poisonous outlook on Agrings, so potent it reawakens an old scandal of superstition and murder.

At the crux of deceit, scorn, and prejudice, Nyra must unearth new weapons in her natural repertoire and learn the identity of a mysterious hero. Only then can she return home, and at long last free her downtrodden kin.

Places to Find Kelly Michelles Baker

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