Bookish Giveaway & Interview: Marc Secchia, Author of the Shapeshifter Dragons Series

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Folks, please give a warm welcome to historical fiction author Marc Secchia. I recently had the pleasure of listening to his book, Aranya: Shapeshifter Dragons Book 1 which follows the dragonish adventures of Aranya and her friends.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Snape – well, he’s not so much a villain, but he is a beautifully conflicted character who I found myself rooting for almost despite my instincts. Very well-written indeed.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

African fiction. I believe this is one of the most underrepresented fields of literary endeavour and I’d love to see powerful African voices taking their place on the world stage.

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?

I’d choose a dragon. They are Fantasy’s finest and most magical creatures and they’d undoubtedly possess the skills and magic to pull off a crazy rescue.

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

Definitely The Lord of the Rings. It’s the classic fantasy tale of the insidious, corrupting power of evil and the courage of those who choose to stand against it. Peter Jackson did an awesome job of bringing the tale to the big screen, but I still love the rhythm, detail and power of the original text. I’d love to dive into that world afresh because it’s just incredibly immersive and every detail is thought out.

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?

There are so many terrific books out there that would make amazing movies, it’s hard to choose. Let me throw out a classic author’s name here – Anne McCaffrey. I think it’s a travesty her works have never made it to screen, although some of the mores are a bit dated I think this series would still resonate with so many people, not just Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans. I’d play Robinton, the Master Harper of Pern.

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

Let’s see … Dumbledore since we’re having a smallish Potteresque vibe here, Aladdin if he doesn’t come in his canned-and-potted Disney guise, since he’d have plenty of fun tales to tell, and it’s weird I know but I think Mulan just kicks it in her world and time. Two more (scratches chin) … Killashandra from one of my favourite books of all time, the Crystal Singer omnibus by Anne McCaffrey, and Aragorn from LOTR. Maybe I’d throw in a dragon just to liven things up. Toothless is awesome but not much of a conversationalist. He’d just have to make funny faces.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I live and work in Ethiopia so that’s a little different to most. I love to play music – I play a range of woodwinds such as flute, panflute and Irish whistle – and when I’ve a quiet evening I love nothing more than a relax with an epic book.

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

Ha ha, it’s really boring, but it’s one of those “learn-to-read” books about Kathy and Mark I think. After that must come Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and then I had a Hardy Boys binge before graduating to older books.

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

Well, I’ve a sale coming up on 15th/16th August when I’m going to take a run at getting one of my books into the Top 10 free books on all Amazon. If you’d like to sample my work, Aranya will be free on the 15th and it is a bestseller in Coming of Age fantasy. http://smarturl.it/draconic

Secondly, I’m really excited about the release of Dragonstar on August 16th. It’s the 4th book in my Dragonfriend series and the culmination of the series. http://smarturl.it/dragonstar

I think you’ll love the cover art for this series – do check it out, thanks!

Check out more interviews, spotlights, & reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Marc Secchia:

Marc is a South African-born dragon masquerading as an author, who loves writing about dragons and Africa, preferably both at the same time. He lives and works in Ethiopia with his wife and 4 children, 2 dogs and a variable number of marabou storks that roost on the acacia trees out back. On a good night there are also hyenas patrolling the back fence.

He’s the author of 21 fantasy books in 3 languages (2 more languages coming this year – watch this space!), including 8 rip-roaring dragon fantasy bestsellers. Dragonfriend won a Gold Award for Fantasy in the 2016 IPPY Book Awards. Look out for Whisper Alive, his latest release. The 4th tale in the Dragonfriend series, Dragonstar, is coming soon!

When he’s not writing about Africa or dragons Marc can be found travelling to remote locations. He thinks there’s nothing better than standing on a mountaintop wondering what lies over the next horizon.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of Aranya:

Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly?

Long ago Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonizing, building, and warring. Now the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom – the Island-Kingdom of Immadia.

Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter.

Series Note

There is a companion series to Aranya, set in the same unique Island-World above the Cloudlands. Aranya is the last of the Dragons – or is she? Find out why the Dragons disappeared in The Pygmy Dragon, now available on Kindle.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ iTunes ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Shiromi Arserio:

A native of London, England, Shiromi Arserio is a stage actor, voice talent and audiobook narrator. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. In addition to narrating dozens of audiobooks, her voice can be heard in documentaries, e-learning projects and video games such as Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion. Shiromi currently resides in the Seattle area with her husband and her two furbabies.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ SoundCloud ~ IMDB

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $50 Amazon gift Card. Open internationally! Ends August 16th, 2017.

Aranya Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card

There and Back Again: An Actor’s Tale by Sean Astin & Joe Layden

Narrator: Sean Astin

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (2004)

Length: 4 hours 33 minutes

Astin’s Page ~ Layden’s Page

Here we have Sean Astin’s adventures as Samwise Gamgee during filming of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He recounts how he first heard about the audition, how he prepped for the role, the delights and difficulties of doing such a long shoot in New Zealand, and how the role changed his life going forward. Told with candor, humor, and sometimes gentle criticism, I found this book quite engaging.

This was an educational delight all around. First, I love that Sean Astin was unfamiliar with Tolkien’s work prior to scheduling an audition for the role of Samwise. I found it amusing and endearing that Astin showed us his initial ignorance of The Lord of the Rings. I hope Tolkien’s works opened a door to other great fantasy and science fiction works.

Prior to listening to this book, I was unaware of Astin’s parentage and it’s a rather convoluted one that involves his birth father’s true identity, step dads, and DNA tests. Even though I have been an Astin fan since seeing Goonies when I was 12, I had not delved into Astin’s personal life. This book lifts that curtain a bit and we get to know this actor for more than just his famous movies.

There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes bits about filming in New Zealand, Astin’s fellow actors, Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh, and his own doubts and personal victories. I was pleasantly surprised at how Astin chatted about the peculiarities and ticks of his fellow actors. Any criticism he offered was done in a gentle fashion and yet still had that center of truth to it.

I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was 13 or 14. So long before the movies came about, I knew just how important Samwise was to story. Therefore, I was a bit surprised at how Samwise, and Astin, were not considered that important to the storyline of the filming until the last movie. Logistically, it makes sense but I could sympathize with Astin’s periodic frustrations with this aspect of filming.

This book also covers the lengthy daily makeup sessions, accidents and near accidents that happened on set, the vagaries of weather, and the toll such a lengthy filming can take on not just the actors, but also their families. All around, this was an eye opener. Quite an enjoyable read!

The Narration: Sean Astin did a great job with narrating his own book. I loved how he would slip into Samwise’s voice at the appropriate moments. He also does a great job expressing his emotions without going over the top.

What I Liked: Behind the scenes look by a favorite author of a favorite movie trilogy; the humor; honesty about Astin’s unfamiliarity with Tolkien’s work; candor about other actors and the filming conditions; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – a great little read!

What Others Think:

Stainless Steel Droppings

Pop Matters

The Singing in the Wood

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Colin Falconer, Author of Opium

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Colin Falconer. He’s the author of the Opium, along with his newly released Sleeping with the Enemy, and my personal favorite, Colossus. Scroll to the bottom for the ebook GIVEAWAY of 3 copies of Opium.

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

Starwars, Susan. I’d be a Stormtrooper: only I’d bring my own gun and be the first Stormtrooper to ever actually hit someone. (Probably Luke Skywalker, he annoys me.)

Or I’d be Blofeld’s cat.  All that screen time but I wouldn’t have to remember any lines.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Moby Dick. I’d like to see him swim off to a marine park reserve safe from idiots like Ahab. Maybe have some little humpbacks with a Mrs Di-, well with a wife. And while we’re on the subject, I think it’s long overdue that the guy who killed Bambi’s mother be brought to justice. I hate that guy, have done ever since I was 3.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

This is weird but – the entire collection of Classics Illustrated Comics. You can read the entire canon of great Western literature in a single wet afternoon. It is the cheat notes of all cheat notes, a condensation of every great classic story ever written; Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff, Dumas’s Black Tulip, Wilkie’s Moonstone.

Unusual choice, I know. But it would also bring back memories of my Aunty Ivy, who used to buy them for me at Chingford markets, so I had something to do on wet Saturday in London. At eight years old, I fell in love with Story.

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

The most difficult job was my thirteen years as a volunteer in the country ambulance service. It was also the best and most rewarding, outside of writing.

I worked with a fantastic team of people and the challenges were exacting, auto accidents and beach rescues being among the most arduous but also the most rewarding. One moment I’d be tapping away on the laptop, the next I’d be crawling into a car wreck.

There is absolutely no comparison to the writing life but I loved it just the same.

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

The Lord of the Rings. Call of the Wild. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

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?

Michelangelo’s David. I’d put it in my front garden. Only I’d put shorts on him so people would stop laughing. I’ve always felt sorry for the guy.

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’m intrigued by Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. We never really learn what was going on in her head, or how culpable she was in the death of Hamlet’s father. For me, she’s almost as interesting as Hamlet.

Orr, in Catch-22. He drives Yossarian crazy, and everyone thinks he’s a moron, and Yossarian won’t fly with him because Orr crashes his plane every time he flies. But he turns out to be the smartest guy in the whole squadron and the key to Yossarian’s final triumph.

Then there’s Judas in the Bible. Why does he hang himself at the end? More going on there than we’re told, and perhaps the traditional answers about him don’t ring true. Definitely a case of an Unreliable Narrator.

But the quintessential secondary character for me is Tybalt. He’s not in the original poem that Shakespeare took his play from, but ‘Romeo and Juliet’ wouldn’t work without him. Tybalt makes Romeo likeable and gives the play its impetus at the midpoint. That’s why Willy invented him.

For my own characters – well my favourite minor character is Ruby Wen. She was supposed to be the villain’s love interest but just took over CHASING THE DRAGON. The girl couldn’t lie straight in a torpedo tube, but she’s sexy and spirited and funny as all get out.

Pity what happened to her in the end, but it was inevitable, I suppose.

Chupa snoring

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

Clearly, Superman if I wanted to win it.

But if I wanted to just trail along behind, drinking and smoking cigars, like I did in the school cross country races, then Charles Bukowski.

Places to Find Colin Falconer

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

Book Blurb for Opium

Vientiane, 1960. Laos is a sleepy post-colonial backwater, run by generals and at war with the communist Pathet Lao in the north. Corsican gangsters, left behind after the French departure five years before, run the opium trade, flying raw opium out of the mountains to Bangkok and Saigon. The most celebrated of the milieu is Rocco Bonaventure, cursed with a daughter who turns heads everywhere she goes. Baptiste Croce is kind of man her father has always warned her about – a handsome and womanising pilot with his eye on the main chance. But Noelle is a woman to be reckoned with, as both Rocco and Baptiste discover for themselves. Their affair, conducted against the looming mountains of Indochina and its blazing poppy fields, change all their lives forever. Baptiste risks his life for her again and again in the air; or is it for control of his father’s opium business? Meanwhile in the teeming slums of Hong Kong’s Walled City, a Chinese refugee uses his cunning and his fists to rise to become Red Pole of the Fei Leung triad. He sees beyond the filthy opium dens to a day when the drug will help him rule the world. From the jungles of the Golden Triangle to the tenements of sixties Hong Kong, from colonial Saigon to the skies of northern Laos, romance and horror collide in a stunning novel of passion and greed and breath-taking action. The Opium series charts the story of the drug trade in Indochina, from sacks thrown in the back of tiny planes in the nineteen sixties to the multimillion dollar international industry that soon became the plague of the western world.

Amazon

Author Bio: 

Colin Falconer is an internationally best-selling author. Born in London, he was a freelance journalist and advertising copywriter for many years. But writing novels was his passion and led him to write his first book, Venom, based on his own experiences in South East Asia. 

He has now published over 50 books that have been translated into 23 languages.

His next novel with Lake Union THE UNKILLABLE KITTY O’KANE is out in November, and the first novel in a new crime series will be published by Little Brown in London in April 2018. His latest novel SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY is available with Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2ohHfdg

GIVEAWAY!!!

Colin is graciously offering up 3 copies of her ebook Opium. Giveaway is open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? What has been your most difficult job? Optional: Follow Colin Falconer anyway you like and tell me in the comments where you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 21st, 2017, midnight.

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Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Alex Avrio, Author of The Alchemist’s Box

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Alex Avrio. She’s the author of the Merchant Blades series, of which The Alchemist’s Box is Book 1. Scroll to the bottom for the ebook GIVEAWAY of 5 copies of The Alchemist’s Box.

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

I think it would be The Matrix (the first one). I remember when it came out the concept blew my mind. The other one would be The Lord of The Rings. I remember I was eagerly anticipating the movie. I have always been a Tolkien fan, and the only movie available was a 1978 animated movie directed by Ralph Bakshi. I knew that a LOTR movie would either be really good or really bad. When I was in the cinema and saw the first scene I knew it was going to be awesome.

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

This would be my first job, which was in a financial company. I had to be there at 9 am and there was no fixed time I’d leave. I was supposed to leave around 5 but around 4 everybody would come and demand things be done, all of which were urgent, and so I could easily end up having to do several unpaid hours of overtime every night. I was so happy to leave.

However, the most difficult thing I have done was my PhD. Doing the research and writing a document of many thousand words was much tougher than writing a novel. I guess with a novel, I feel I am totally in control and have a good instinctive feel for how it needs to progress, whereas with a PhD thesis, I found the writing process much less natural – probably because it all had to be the truth!

Where is the farthest from home that you have traveled? Would you like to live there?

I’m guessing you mean outside a book? In that case, it would be Peru. The farthest we’ve went was to Cusco and Machu Picchu. The highest was Colca Canyon, watching the condors fly. Peru is a beautiful country with amazing people and I’d love to live there if I had the chance.

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 guess it’s driving long distances to attend my favourite authors’ book signings and talks. The most memorable is dragging my significant other to see Neil Gaiman. We drove for about five hours to get there and queued for another three to get good seats at the venue. This was despite my having a very bad back at the time. (Enough to be in significant pain, not bad enough to be given any special treatment). Still, I regret nothing.

If anyone is a fan and wants to gush over my work feel free to contact me! I love hearing from readers.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I can be usually found drinking coffee, eating cake and reading a book.

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

The most recurring geeky argument I have is about what constitutes a strong female character. My view is that there are many things that make a woman strong, physical strength being only one of them. I try to write strong women characters into my books in different ways, each one being strong in her own way. Read ‘The Alchemist’s Box’ and ‘Lose a Princess, Lose Your Head’ and see if you agree with me.

Also: Han Solo fired First.

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

I’d love to share with the readers the first two books of the Merchant Blades series, The Alchemist’s Box and Lose a Princess, Lose Your Head. They take place in a world with similar culture and technology of the Napoleonic/Regency period in Europe. The main characters joined the Merchant Blades mercenary guild after the end of the war between the two major powers of the time. and they become mercenaries. Regina Fitzwaters is a former Captain of the Merrovigian army and is forced to work together with a former enemy, Kapitan Maximillian Jaeger of the Eressian army to repay a debt to the shady underworld bosses in the sewer of Border Town. They must go to the city of Pella and retrieve a box the Bosses bought from the Alchemist there. What could possibly go wrong? They must confront bandits, werewolves, a curse reawakened, and magical creatures while trying not to kill each other.

Places to Find Alex Avrio

Website

Facebook

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GoodReads

Amazon

Book Blurb for The Alchemist’s Box

When Captain Regina Fitzwaters’ misguided scheme to leave the tough life of a mercenary behind her backfires, the underworld bosses of Border Town offer her a way out: Bring them the mysterious Alchemist’s box from the neighboring Duchy of Pella. The catch? She must work with Maximillian Jaeger, a former enemy in the recent bitter war. Now she must overcome her prejudices and trust him with her life. In Pella, nothing is as it seems. Why have the niece and nephew of the Duke developed such an interest in the team? Where are all the court dignitaries? What does the Alchemist’s box contain that is worth killing, or dying, for? Can Regina and Jaeger put the war behind them and work together to save everyone in the Duchy before it’s too late?

Amazon

Author Bio: 

Alex Avrio is an author of fantasy adventure short stories, novellas, and novels. The first two novels in the swashbuckling Merchant Blades mercenary fantasy adventure series are now available to buy. Her previous dark fantasy novella, the Dreaming Demon, is also for sale on Amazon.

The third novel in the Merchant Blades series, The Hidden Dragon, is due for release in late 2017.

Alex was born in Nottingham, UK, to Greek parents. She has lived both in Greece and England where she returned to study for an MBA in the University of Kent. She has also a PhD in E-business Strategy Management from the University of Kent. She has been writing stories from an early age, and after concluding the PhD she decided that it was the time to try in all earnest to become a professional writer. Alexandra currently lives with her husband and their two cats in Newcastle upon Tyne, a place so far up north that if you go any further you’re south again. She would love to share with you her love of fantasy and adventures. She also has a book, bingo and dessert habit to fuel, so please help by buying the books.

To find out more about Alex Avrio, and to keep up to date on her latest work please visit www.alexavrio.com. She would love to hear from you, and can be reached by E-mail: contact@alexavrio.com Facebook: facebook.com/alexavrio Twitter: @alexavrio

GIVEAWAY!!!

Alex is graciously offering up 5 copies of her ebook The Alchemists’s Box. Giveaway is open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? What do you do when you’re not reading? Optional: Follow Alex Avrio anyway you like and tell me in the comments where you follow her and under what name. Giveaway ends June 17th, 2017, midnight.

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: JB Rockwell, Science Fiction Author

Folks, please give a warm welcome to J B Rockwell to the blog today. Learn about Jennifer’s dream library, just who the Swiss Army knives of spec fic are, and how she ended up in a duel of toothpicks at dawn! Interested in winning a CD copy of her latest SF book Dark & Stars? Then scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

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

Well, if you could resurrect Firefly, I’d be all over that. Me and Kaylee hanging out, slinging wrenches in the engine room, lobbing one-liners at the rest of the crew. 🙂 If we’re sticking with something current, I’d love to be on Fargo—that is the darkest, funniest, most oddball show out there and I love it. I’d want to play a Deputy or something so I can PACK HEAT AND EAT DONUTS ROWR!!!!

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Smaug. I mean, that poor little guy was the only dragon left in Middle Earth and, yeah, he was squatting in the dwarves’ house, but c’mon! Dude was cold! And gold hungry! Can’t blame him for wanting to move in! And what do they do? Run away. Abandon him. Leave him all alone sleeping on a cold, hard bed of coins. Sheesh. No wonder he had anger issues. They could have at least given him a kitten. I’d love to see a rewrite where Bilbo lures Smaug out with a pretty, little lady dragon and they fly away to live happily ever after on some nice, warm tropical island where there are no dwarves at all. THE END.

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

I don’t even know what to call it, but there’s this grey area between horror and mystery that needs more love. I love a creepy, mysterious story that’s a little scary, but I don’t necessarily need the graphic gore. So light horror/creepy—more of that, please! Oh, and give it a name, too, so I know how to google it.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

UGH! THIS QUESTION IS TOO HARD!!!! Soooo many books.

Okay. If I have choose something, let me highlight a few sections I think are mandatory:

1. Every edition and every cover of Lord of the Rings ever printed—some of those were GORGEOUS. Also include any of the companion books, map books, art books, etc. I want all the Lord of the Rings book things!
2. An entire section devoted to folklore. And make it BIG because I want Celtic and Norse, Russian and Bulgarian, Korean and Japanese and African and everything else. GIMME ALL THE FOLKLORE FROM ALL THE CULTURES!!!
3. An entire section dedicated to books on dragons. And not just fiction books (stop laughing, dragons are real). Science books, picture books, biology texts, I want it all.
4. An entire section devoted to female spec fic authors. Another section for spec fic POC authors. A third for spec-fic LGBTQ. I want to highlight their awesomeness—they deserve more space!!
5. A Dr. Seuss area with all his books, a load of bean bags, and some big, comfy chairs. And puppies. And a few kittens.

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?

Supernatural creature hands down. I can even see how this scenario would play out: Nessie saves me and takes me to her secret and awesome lair beneath the loch (this is also where all the world’s unicorns hide out, too, by the way). Over tea and cake we become fast friends, spending our days playing bagpipes and eating shortbreads, and our nights drinking beer and tossing haggis at the tourists.

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?

Modern fantasy is a lot more all-encompassing, so definitely, yes. Early fantasy was very western culture and myth centric (still is), but we’re gradually seeing more books based on African, and Asian, and other world cultures, which is FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. The global economy is exposing people to other foods, and beliefs, and ways of thinking, and fantasy is giving us amazing new backdrops, and creatures, and characters that influence art, and culture, and fashion, and so many other aspects of our lives. We just need more—MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE!!

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

TRANSPORTER PLEASE??!! Raise your hand if you’re sick of sitting in traffic? Or driving hours to the airport to sit for hours in the airport and then spend hours on a plane. Granted, there’s the whole ‘catastrophic failure ending in subatomic deconstruction’ thing, but c’mon! Hawaii in 2 minutes! GIMME THAT!

You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

I love that first line, by the way. It simultaneously reads like poetry, and like I got dropped into a choose your own adventure story. 😀

And now, my answer! I am TOTALLY bringing Elizabeth Bear because she would either fight her way through any and all adversities, or lie, cheat, steal and swindle to pull us through. I’d also want N.K. Jemisin because she seems to think quickly on her feet and would come up with some wonky and entirely unexpected solution to save our bacon. Bear and Jemisin: the Swiss Army knives of speculative fiction.

Often various historical aspects (people, locations, events) are used in fantasy and sometimes rehashed in a far-flung future. In your opinion, what are some examples of such historical aspects being used well in the SF/F genre?

So, I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s Gunslinger series. One of the things I loved most about these books (beyond the movement between time periods) were the references to various cultures, and myths, and stories that are sprinkled throughout. ‘See the Turtle of enormous girth’ is an obvious reference to a classic creation myth. The character of Roland: a reference to Child Roland to the Dark Tower Came. The six beams and their guardians—all references to Native American totems and myths. That’s just a sampling of the rich tapestry of this multi-part story, a series that mixes sci-fi, fantasy and western elements and pulls it off in style.

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

Oh man. I was lucky enough to get invited onto the Super Awesome Geek Show (twice!) and we geeked out so hard on Star Wars. I’m a huge fan but not a super fan so I love talking Star Wars, but I admit I also enjoy mercilessly teasing the ‘cannon’ quoters. 🙂 I honestly can’t remember what specific part of Star Wars we were discussing—this was in the run-up to The Force Awakens this first time, and Rogue One the second time—but it ended with a challenge involving toothpicks at dawn…?

May 2016 Episode of Super Awesome Geek Show with J B Rockwell

December 2016 Episode of Super Awesome Geek Show with J B Rockwell

About Jennifer Rockwell: 

J.B. Rockwell is a New Englander, which is important to note because it means she’s (a) hard headed, (b) frequently stubborn, and (c) prone to fits of snarky sarcasticness. As a kid she subsisted on a steady diet of fairy tales, folklore, mythology augmented by generous helpings of science fiction and fantasy. As a quasi-adult she dreamed of being the next Indiana Jones and even pursued (and earned!) a degree in anthropology. Unfortunately, those dreams of being an archaeologist didn’t quite work out. Through a series of twists and turns (involving cats, a marriage, and a SCUBA certification, amongst other things) she ended up working in IT for the U.S. Coast Guard and now writes the types of books she used to read. Not a bad ending for an Indiana Jones wannabe…

Places to Stalk J B Rockwell

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Book Blurb for Serengeti

It was supposed to be an easy job: find the Dark Star Revolution Starships, destroy them, and go home. But a booby-trapped vessel decimates the Meridian Alliance fleet, leaving Serengeti – a Valkyrie class warship with a sentient AI brain – on her own, wrecked and abandoned in an empty expanse of space. On the edge of total failure, Serengeti thinks only of her crew. She herds the survivors into a lifeboat, intending to sling them into space. But the escape pod sticks in her belly, locking the cryogenically frozen crew inside. Then a scavenger ship arrives to pick Serengeti‘s bones clean. Her engine’s dead, her guns long silenced; Serengeti and her last two robots must find a way to fight the scavengers off and save the crew trapped inside her.

Amazon ~ Audible

Book Blurb for Dark & Stars:

For 53 years Serengeti drifted, dreaming in the depths of space. Fifty-three years of patient waiting before her Valkyrie Sisters arrive to retrieve her from the dark. A bittersweet homecoming follows, the Fleet Serengeti once knew now in shambles, its admiral, Cerberus, gone missing, leaving Brutus in charge. Brutus who’s subsumed the Fleet, ignoring his duty to the Meridian Alliance to pursue a vendetta against the Dark Star Revolution.

The Valkyries have a plan to stop him – depose Brutus and restore the Fleet’s purpose – and that plan involves Serengeti. Depends on Serengeti turning her guns against her own.

Because the Fleet can no longer be trusted. With Brutus in charge, it’s just Serengeti and her Sisters, and whatever reinforcements they can find.

A top-to-bottom refit restores Serengeti to service, and after a rushed reunion with Henricksen and her surviving crew, she takes off for the stars. For Faraday – a prison station – to stage a jailbreak, and free the hundreds of Meridian Alliance AIs wrongfully imprisoned in its Vault. From there to the Pandoran Cloud and a rendezvous with her Valkyrie Sisters. To retrieve a fleet of rebel ships stashed away inside.

Amazon ~ Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!

J B Rockwell is offering up 1 audiobook (CD) copy of Dark & Stars (US Only due to shipping). Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments. 1) What state do you live in? 2) What future invention would you like to see during your lifetime? Giveaway ends May 27th, 2017 midnight.

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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

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Marcus Damanda, Author of The Devil in Miss Drake's Class Series

DamandaDevilsInTheDarkEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Marcus Damanda. Don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – an Audible.com version of The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class trilogy, narrated by Jessica McEvoy, ebook copies of the same trilogy, and ebook copies of The Salvation State.

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

On TV, I’d love to make an appearance on Game of Thrones. One of the principal villains of The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class, Maggie Lassiter, is a reference to the Lannister family, after all. What I would like to do is be in one of those tavern scenes drinking ale, telling bawdy jokes, surrounded by beautiful—oh, hell. They’d probably make me some portly little servant of “The Seven” or something. Maybe Bran’s next tutor in that whole “Three-Eyed Raven” story thread.

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

Actually, all the genres I love to read from are pretty popular, at present! I love horror stories, dystopian future, fantasy—and I’m very much in love with the young adult and teen market. But my publisher, Evernight Teen, has dozens of terrific authors of edgy teen romance, and I don’t think they get near the amount of attention they deserve.

DamandaADeilInDaylightTell me about Shazam, just because. How did he get his name? Is he a fan of your books? Or a hindrance to writing?

Shazam is my twenty pound Russian blue bundle of cat stubbornness, snarkery, and unconditional love. I had the name before I went hunting for a cat to adopt. I searched until I found a cat who fit the name. Always on the move, my Shazam. And he’s not just a fan of my books. He’s a contributor. He hops right up on the keyboard while I’m at work. See? Here’s the beginning of a new short story: “It was nearing midnight when I exited the safe house through the front 2333333333”.

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

I know that the human head continues to think for an indeterminate amount of seconds after decapitation. Takes time for oxygen and blood deprivation to get the job done. Varies by person. This is kind of interesting, because—what? Hey, you asked.

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

I’d have to interview Robert Cormier, author of controversial young adult titles such as The Chocolate War and After the First Death. He was the very architect of the anti-happy ending—and I mean that really and completely, to the extent that his stories became predictable. And yet you couldn’t turn away from his special infusion of misery. I’d have a whole slew of questions, but my first would be, “Are you happy now? All better?”

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

I love Tolkien’s Gollum, first and foremost (not to be confused with Andy Serkis’s Gollum, although his was amusing in a different way). No villain has ever been so simultaneously reprehensible and sympathetic. For pure, consistent awfulness, I’m also a big fan of Yyrkoon from the Elric of Melnibone fantasy series. And, as a nameless collective, the entire government in Neal Shusterman’s Unwind dystology.

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

Exactly what I’m doing: teaching! Nothing keeps me up-to-date on the human condition so much as educating kids. One day I’ll retire, though, and probably end up selling comics and cards somewhere …

You used to be part of a garage heavy metal band. Has your interest in music slipped into your books?

Oh, yes. I bug Jessica McEvoy (the brilliant and talented voice actress who reads my audiobooks) all the time with my “soundtracks.” She’s very patient and tolerant of me. I used to think I was the only one who created playlist soundtracks for his own books. Now I know everyone does it, which is a source of never ending frustration to me.

(If you look in the back of the paper-bound edition of The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class trilogy, or The Forever Show and Teeth, I include my suggested playlists there, just for fun.)

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

Required reading: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stephen King’s It (not to be confused with the horrible TV movie), Dean Koontz’s Intensity, William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist.

Passing discussion: Unwind, by Neal Shusterman, The Night Runners, by Joe Lansdale, and Edgar Allan Poe’s complete anthology of short stories.

DamandaTheSalvationStateCare 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’ll deliver on both!

I got to be the “featured author” at the school where I teach a couple years ago. This was, of course, awesome and indescribably fun. I got to talk to groups of kids, four or five hundred at a time in the gym, and at the end of my presentation I did a Q&A. I was really in my element, actually, until I called on one young girl whose question was, “How did you get to be so brilliant?” And that stopped me cold. I was literally stuttering in my inability to formulate a reply. To me, what I do, at its highest level, can best be described as “crafted entertainment.” I don’t even aspire to art, much less “brilliance” …

And I can’t “gush” enough in my praise for fellow Evernight Teen authors S.D. Wasley and Christine Potter. I do it all the time! Those two, now—THEY’RE brilliant.

DamandaDevilsInTheDarkBook Blurb for Devils in the Dark (Book 1 of The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class series):

“The paramedics shared a look: This one was serious.”

To most of the Facebook 15, bullying Audrey Bales was just a game – until two deep cuts with a Swiss army knife changed everything forever. Audrey didn’t want attention anymore. After five weeks at Fairview High School, Audrey wanted to die.

The doctors did the only thing they could with her: they put her away.

But in Fairview, Virginia, the nightmare is only beginning. The chat session had not gone unobserved. The Facebook 15 have drawn the attention of an ancient evil that lives only to punish those who would prey upon the weak.

They are the ghosts of 1,000 dead children – 1,000 suicides – and their master….

Their master likes Audrey Bales.

And as Audrey attempts to heal her mind and body, far from home, their master prepares for the justice he will unleash upon her return.

DamandaADeilInDaylightBook Blurb for A Devil in Daylight (Book 2 of The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class series): 

After three months in the suicide prevention wing of St. George’s, Audrey Bales is finally coming home. Enrolled at a new school, she plans to reinvent herself with a new look, new friends, and a second chance to be just like everyone else. But the kids who drove her over the edge aren’t through with her yet.

And one of her new friends has an agenda all his own.

“You will account for what you did to Audrey. You, and all the others. It will never stop …”

During the day, the halls of Battlefield High will echo with their screams.

“…until one of you ends it.”

And at night, their screams will be silenced.

DamandaTheDevilAtPlayBook Blurb for The Devil at Play (Book 3 in The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class series):

Now, too late for it to matter, Audrey understands at last. The devil of Fairview has been courting her for days, and watching her for much longer than that. The murderer is her boyfriend – and he’s been killing on her behalf.

His name is Jack Maddox, but everyone calls him Mad Jack. He’s planning a party, where everyone is invited, especially Audrey’s tormentors – especially the Facebook 15.

Audrey will have her revenge, whether she wants it or not.

Because, in Miss Drake’s class, the devil will have his due.

DamandaTheSalvationStateBook Blurb for The Salvation State:

“This is what the truth is. Second Salvations murdered my parents, and I’m running away.”

A single post over unregulated Internet channels. A sleeping society awakens to a chase, broadcast live on television screens all across the New United States of America.

Rebecca and Daniel have never met. A fifteen-year-old preacher’s kid and a sixteen-year-old atheist outcast, they have little in common. And yet they both have attracted the attention of a recruiter for Second Salvations, where bad kids go to be remade—or destroyed.

Agents of the New America Unity Church will stop at nothing to get them. They’re building an army, a modern children’s crusade, in which Rebecca and Daniel may be just the kind of future leaders they need.

If not, they might be just the kind of sacrifice necessary to keep the rest of the faithless in line.

AuthorMarcusDamandaAuthor Bio:

Marcus Damanda lives in Woodbridge, Virginia with his cat, Shazam. At various times throughout his life, he played bass guitar for the garage heavy metal band Mother’s Day, wrote for The Dale City Messenger, and published editorials in The Potomac News and The Freelance Star. To date, ten of his short horror stories have been produced by the Parsec Award winning NoSleep Podcast—featuring the brilliant and talented Jessica McEvoy, who has narrated four of his audiobooks as well. Currently, while not plotting his next foray into fictitious suburban mayhem, he spoils his nieces and nephews and teaches middle school English.

Places to Find Marcus Amanda

Webpage

Facebook

Twitter

Podcast

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

GIVEAWAY!

Marcus Damanda is generously offering up 3 sets of the Audible.com audiobook trilogy The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class, along with 3 ebook copies of each of the following books: Devils in the Dark, A Devil in Daylight, The Devil at Play, & The Salvation State . You can enter the Rafflecopters below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you prefer the ebook or audiobook version? 2) Do you have an Audible.com account? 3) Who are your favorite book villains? 4) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends December 7, 2016, midnight.

Audible.com Audiobook copy of The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class trilogy (3 winners)

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Ebook copies of The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class trilogy (3 winners) Open International

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Ebook copy of The Salvation State (3 winners) Open International

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Audiobook+ Giveaway & Interview: Terry Maggert, Author of Heartborn

MaggertHeartbornEveryone, please welcome Terry Maggert to the blog today. I really enjoyed his suspenseful YA angel novel, Heartborn. 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 interview, reviews, giveaways, and guest posts. If your interested in the giveaway (and who wouldn’t be?), scroll to the very bottom to learn how to win an Amazon GC, an audiobook copy of Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert, or a bluetooth speaker. On to the interview!

*Author’s note: these are great questions, and it’s high time someone considered my feelings about draconic issues.

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

Have, and my reasoning is purely selfish: I want to experience the majesty of having a dragon as a friend– think of the things it would lead to. Never search for a parking space. Avoid the DMV forever. No pesky TSA, or the need to check your broadsword before you board a cruise. Those are all things of the past. Additional fun: Think of the speaking engagements. “Terry and Banshee, thank you for being here. Could you tell us a little about your”—

“ROOOOAAAAARRRR.”

“Banshee would like me to tell you to never give up on your dreams. Did someone say there was an open bar?”

I’m don’t see a downside to this. Ever.

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

I could blather on about some obscure French film but that would just be posturing. In film, it has to be Star Wars because I was nine years old and it was the closest thing I’d ever seen to my dreams made real. I was a little boy when the Apollo missions went to the moon; I’d stand in our front yard (I’m from Florida) and watch those enormous rockets blaze upward and it was like I was onboard. If that doesn’t kindle your imagination, nothing will.

For books, it has to be The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. It is, and will always be my first printed love. I’ve bought, re-bought, and bought them again because I wear them out. Seriously.

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

This is EASY. Magical quests are always filled with things that have tentacles and fangs and whatnot. So, as follows:

Larry Correia (GUNS!).

Jim Butcher (KNIVES!)

Ursula K. LeGuin (Diplomacy/Magic)

And, there’s an up-and-coming British writer named J.K. Rowling who, I’m told, might be able to contribute magic systems and *possibly* finance the whole mission, although we’ll have to see if her books become popular. I’m pulling for her.

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

As a writer and history prof, this question brings me great shame. Among the numerous classics I *should* have read by this stage in my life, I think the most important one is Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. He was an emperor who found time to write. I should find time to read it, in between eating cookies and goofing off. Oh, and I need to re-read Frankenstein because my love for monsters has been like a fire in my imagination.

To sum up: Yes, I feel shame.

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

This is one of the most hotly contested subjects I’ve ever discussed at author events; it’s much like arguing about the greatest baseball player or singer or whatnot.

*Author’s note: my choices are Ted Williams and Freddy Mercury, respectively.

But, on to the topic at hand:

For sci-fi, I say start deep in the past. Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs are an absolute must. They led to the explosion of what we call genre fiction, and thus, we have the golden era. I’d say, given twelve books in SFF?

  1. Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne
  2. John Carter of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs (the origin of Star Wars!)
  3. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
  4. The Passage, Justin Cronin
  5. Startide Rising, David Brin
  6. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
  7. A Spell for Chameleon, Piers Anthony
  8. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
  9. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
  10. Sunshine, Robin McKinley
  11. The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkein
  12. Dune, Frank Herbert

Of course, we will now let the arguments begin.

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?

This is actually one of my high points. I was signing at LibertyCon this summer, and paired with Todd McCaffrey for an autograph session. Some points to know:

He is the son of my favorite writer, Anne McCaffrey.

He now writes my favorite series.

I’ve carried a copy of Dragonsong with me for more than 35 years.

I brought my tattered old book with me (given to me by my buddy Tim when we were kids), and Todd didn’t just sign it (he’s an incredibly nice guy), but chatted with me about his mom and their books. Aside from my parents, the McCaffrey family is the longest relationship I’ve had in my life. Here is the evidence:

Terry Maggert's favorite book.
Terry Maggert’s favorite book.

Then, for my fanboy moment, he signed MY dragon book, Banshee, which is dedicated as follows: “To Tim, who gave me Anne, who gave me dragons.”

I was, and am, giddy.

Terry Maggery with Todd McCaffrey
Terry Maggery with Todd McCaffrey

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

Let’s consider this for a moment, based on something I say as a history professor. “The good old days weren’t very good.”

I love things like dentistry, clean water, and air conditioning. With that in mind, if I’m going to visit the past and have a return ticket, I say:

Stonehenge. I MUST know who built it, and why.

Machu Picchu during its peak. Can you imagine a city in the clouds?

Paris in the 1880s— Ain’t no party like a Parisian Belle Epoque Party cuz a Parisian Belle Epoque Party don’t stop. The art. The culture. The intrigue. The wanton alcoholism and nudity. It’s all there.

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?

We will run and drink mead, as the Gods intended. And by we, I mean, “Me, Leif Ericson of the Norsemen, and the Celtic warrior queen Boudicca, because I’m not just going to run that course, I’m going to WRECK it.”

AuthorTerryMaggertAbout Terry Maggert:

Born in 1968, I discovered fishing shortly after walking, a boon, considering I lived in South Florida. After a brief move to Kentucky, my family trekked back to the Sunshine State. I had the good fortune to attend high school in idyllic upstate New York, where I learned about a mythical substance known as “Seasons”. After two or three failed attempts at college, I bought a bar. That was fun because I love beer, but, then, I eventually met someone smarter than me (a common event), and, in this case, she married me and convinced me to go back to school–which I did, with enthusiasm. I earned a Master’s Degree in History and rediscovered my love for writing. My novels explore dark fantasy, immortality, and the nature of love as we know it. I live near Nashville, Tennessee, with the aforementioned wife, son, and herd, and, when I’m not writing, I teach history, grow wildly enthusiastic tomato plants, and restore my 1967 Mustang.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~Facebook ~ GoodReads

MaggertHeartbornSynopsis of Heartborn:

Her guardian angel was pushed.

Keiron was never meant to be anything other than a hero. Born high above in a place of war and deception, he is Heartborn, a being of purity and goodness in a place where violence and deceit are just around every corner.

His disappearance will spark a war he cannot see, for Keiron has pierced the light of days to save a girl he has never met, for reasons he cannot understand. Livvy Foster is seventeen, brave, and broken. With half a heart, she bears the scars of a lifetime of pain and little hope of survival.

Until Keiron arrives.

In the middle of a brewing war and Livvy’s failing heart, Keiron will risk everything for Livvy, because a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.

Fall with Livvy and Keiron as they seek the truth about her heart, and his power, and what it means to love someone who will give their very life to save you.

Audible        Amazon

JuliaWhelanNarratorAbout the Narrator Julia Whelan:

Julia Whelan has appeared in many films and television series, most notably ABC’s Once And Again. After receiving a degree in English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College and Oxford University, Julia began narrating audiobooks. She’s recorded hundreds of novels across all genres and has received multiple Earphones and Audie Awards. She is repeatedly named one of Audiofile Magazine’s Best Voices and was Audible’s Narrator of the Year.

IMDB ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads

GIVEWAYS!!!

There are 3 different giveaways for this tour. You can enter any of them or all of them. These giveaways are hosted by The Audiobookworm and the prizes provided by the author. Enjoy!

Giveaway 1: A $10 Amazon Gift Card

Heartborn Audiobook Blog Tour

Giveaway 2: A Digital Audiobook Copy of Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert
Halfway Dead Digital Audiobook

Giveaway 3: Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: C. T. Phipps, Author of Cthulhu Armageddon

CTPhippsAuthorEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author C. T. Phipps. I really enjoyed his book, The Rules of Supervillainy and am very excited to see his latest, Cthulhu Armaggedon, out in audiobook. So don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – an Audible.com version of Cthulhu Armageddon, narrated by Jeffrey Kafer. 

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

I’d have to say I’d probably do best as an extra on SUPERNATURAL. I wouldn’t really fit in as the bearded pudgy Southern author unless it’s as a zombie on The Walking Dead. I also was a huge fan of the show for the first five seasons with my wife making a regular ritual of it. As for what role I’d have, I’d love to be the guy who gives them a vital clue before dying horribly. I’m realistic about my chances in such a situation.

I’d also love to have a guest starring role on an adaptation of one of my books but baby steps. Hehe.

PhippsCthulhuArmageddonWhat makes you cringe?

It’s funny but I’m not afraid of things like spiders, clowns, closed spaces, heights, or any of the usual things but am mortally terrified of embarrassing situations. I could probably deal with the Slenderman more easily than I could an awkward conversation about emotional stuff. It’s funny because my wife thinks I’m a big baby about that while we have our weekly horror movie-a-thons but flee at any romance films.

Ironically, I had a lot more trouble writing the emotional beats of THE RULES OF SUPERVILLAINY and its sequels than I ever did with the zombies or demons. It’s similar with CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON and STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON.

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

I’d like to say H.P. Lovecraft because while I’d love to interview J.R.R Tolkien, I probably wouldn’t be able to come up with any interesting questions for him. With H.P. Lovecraft, I would have a bunch of them ranging from talking about racial issues, the meaning of his monsters, and so on. It’d be a conversation he’d probably walk out on me during but it would certainly be enjoyable. Then again, we might just bond over our shared love of the weird. I did, after all, write the novel CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON to follow up on some of his ideas.

Personally, I’d like to know what he thought of the way his stories have spread out and become so influential.

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

That’s a tough call because I really do love to resist books I’ve read in the past and see if I can get anything new from a re-read. I’ve re-read A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE over and over again. I’ve also done the same with the LORD OF THE RINGS. So I’ll avoid the usual answers and go with THE DRESDEN FILES by Jim Butcher. Those books have been something I’ve enjoyed for almost seventeen years now and helped create my love of urban fantasy. I loved reading about Harry’s crazy adventures, his myriad femme fatales, and experiencing the crazy combination of humor with dramatic storytelling which is the heart of the series. Being able to enjoy that all for the first time again would be grand. It was a big influence on THE SUPERVILLAINY SAGA, ESOTERRORISM, and STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON.

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

Writing is my most difficult job! Well, actually, no, it’s all the things around writing. The job of editing, advertising, and selling your book to your audience is a full-time job well after the “fun” part of making it work. Being an indie author definitely has its advantages over one of the big publishing houses but one of the reasons I could never be a self-published author is because I’m overwhelmed with the parts I do do. LOL.

Still, I would never do anything else.

PhippsTheGamesOfSupervillainyWhat 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?

I’m a very video game-influenced author as I love the interactivity of being able to project a portion of yourself into the game world, particularly RPGs. So it’s actually a complicated question as the majority of books are more like movies in that you’re along for the ride but don’t really have a way of impacting the plot. The exception to this was the fabulous “Witcher” games which managed to preserve the feel of the classic fantasy series while also allowing you a lot of choice in the narrative. I also loved THE SHADOW OF MORDOR which isn’t about any of Tolkien’s characters but set in his world with someone not so morally pure.

If I were to see one of my books adapted to a video game, I’d definitely choose THE RULES OF SUPERVILLAINY, STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON, and CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON in no particular order. I think Rules would be particularly awesome as you’d have this big wide open sandbox full of colorful characters. You could also decide whether Gary goes the Anti-Villain route or becomes pure evil.

PhippsTheSecretsOfSupervillainyWho are some of your favorite book villains?

If I had to choose favorite villains from books other than my own, I would choose Grand Admiral Thrawn from THE THRAWN TRILOGY, Jaime Lannister from A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, and THE LORD OF THE RINGS’ Sauron. In the first case, Grand Admiral Thrawn is such an elegant and cultured character you actually want him to win despite being up against our heroes.

Jaimie is such a three-dimensional character that it’s hard to even say he’s a villain rather than a differently valued protagonist. Sauron? Sauron never even shows up in-person but casts such a shadow over everything that he manages to become a pervasive presence nevertheless. I also have a strong fondness for Gentleman Johnny Marcone and Lara Raith from THE DRESDEN FILES.

If I had to choose my favorite villain from my books, I’d probably choose Alan Ward from CTHULHU ARMAGEDDON. He’s a scientist and wizard with knowledge dating back to the Pre-Rising world which everyone has forgotten. Alan has the desire to save humanity from destruction and is willing to do anything, break any taboo, and do whatever horrible thing is necessary to figure out a way to preserve the human species.

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

Warning – Easily Distracted.

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

Shorter.

I always saw myself as a writer, too. Which is why becoming one is such a gleeful thing.

Thanks for the interview!

Book Blurb for Cthulhu Armageddon

PhippsCthulhuArmageddonCthulhu Armageddon is the story of a world 100 years past the rise of the Old Ones which has been reduced to a giant monster-filled desert and pockets of human survivors (along with Deep Ones, ghouls, and other “talking” monsters).

John Henry Booth is a ranger of one of the largest remaining city-states when he’s exiled for his group’s massacre and the suspicion that he’s “tainted”. Escaping with a doctor who killed her husband, John travels across the Earth’s blasted alien ruins to seek the life of the man who killed his friends. It’s the one thing he has left.

Places to Find C. T. Phipps

Blog

Website

Facebook

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GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

GIVEAWAY!

C. T. Phipps is generously offering up 5 copies of the Audible.com audiobook of Cthulhu Armageddon. You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) Who are your favorite book villains? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends November 19, 2016, midnight.

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Interview: Dylan S. Hearn, Author of Second Chance, Book 1 of The Transcendence Trilogy

HearnSecondChanceEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Dylan Hearn. Learn about Dylan’s fascination with The Lord of the Rings and also about his science fiction thriller, Second Chance.

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

I’d like to interview Iain Banks and ask about how he manages to slip so seamlessly between writing well-respected literary fiction and equally well-respected science fiction with his culture novels. I’d also like to know how he came up with his names for the ships. They’re genius!

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

This is a really difficult question. I’d love to relive the moment I experienced watching the Fellowship of the Rings on the big screen. The Lord of the Rings was the first book (or books) I fell in love with and led to a lifelong love of reading. I just remember sitting in the cinema, the curtain drawing back, and watching open-mouthed as the world I’d created in my head twenty years before appeared before my eyes. It was wonderful.

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

The worst job was while I was at school. I worked evenings at a supermarket and once I had to clean out the waste compacter. It was disgusting. Compared to that, writing is a doddle.

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?

I find it really difficult to promote my own work which is strange as I’m a marketing professional by trade. If you gave me somebody else’s book to promote I’d be all over it but with my own, I suffer a little bit from the typically English view of not wanting to blow my own trumpet, as well as having the old author favourite, the imposter syndrome, lurking in the background telling me that I’m making a fool of myself. I do enjoy interviews, though, especially ones like this where I’m asked questions I’m not normally asked.

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

I was just a normal kid. I loved reading, music – I was in our local amateur dramatics group. I never thought about being a writer. I loved writing but growing up in the rural east of England, writing was something ‘other people’ did. Where I came from, people didn’t have a career in the arts. It took me a long time to get over this way of thinking.

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’ve been lucky enough to have had some really wonderful comments about my books. I tend to become very self-effacing when this happens. Inside I’m thrilled when somebody’s enjoyed what I’ve written but I’m also conscious that not everybody shares the same opinion. That’s the beauty of art, it’s very subjective. You only have to read the one-star rating of To Kill a Mockingbird to realise that there’s no such thing as a universally loved book.

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

I learnt to read when I was three-years old so there isn’t one book that sticks in my mind. I do have very fond memories of going up to my room (in the middle of the day), pulling the curtains closed and studying the map at the front of a copy of The Lord of the Rings I had. The map was in red ink and my curtains were also red, so when closed the sunlight streamed through red and the map appeared to glow. It was magical!

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?

I would invite Legolas and Gimli and enjoy their bickering the whole time.

Places to Find Dylan Hearn

Website

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

HearnSecondChanceBook Blurb for Second Chance

One crime, four people and a secret that could shake the world to its foundations.

Four lives become linked by a student’s disappearance: a politician looking to put integrity back into politics, an investigator hoping to atone for past mistakes, a data cleanser searching for a better life while haunted by his past and a re-life technician creating new lives for old souls.

But it soon becomes clear this is no ordinary case, and in the pursuit of the truth, long-held secrets are at risk of being revealed.

Set in the near future where everybody is connected and death isn’t final, this is the story of how far those in power will go to retain control, and the true price to pay for a Second Chance.