Monday, 25 September 2017

Book Tour: Starter Zone; The Revelation Chronicles, Book 1 by Chris Pavesic...


Starter Zone
The Revelation Chronicles, Book 1
Chris Pavesic

Print Length: 219 pages
Publication Date: September 25, 2017
ASIN: B074YZ9JKB

Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, LitRPG

Follow the tour to read reviews guest posts, exclusive excerpts, and spotlight posts:

About the Book:


When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail.  Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.

Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.

But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.

Time to play the game.

Bonus Recipe by Chris Pavesic

Join author Chris Pavesic in the virtual kitchen with this healthy Couscous Salad recipe and a sneak peek into her new novel, Starter Zone.



This recipe is a family favorite. Some like it when I make it with goat cheese while others prefer feta. The choice is yours. (I think both are equally delicious!)

Ingredients:
    1/2 cup orange juice
    1 1/2 cups water
    2 cups plain couscous
    1 cup dried cranberries
    1 cup cubed peeled cucumber
    1/4 cup chopped parsley
    1/2 cup chopped green onion (scallion)
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    2 tablespoons distilled vinegar (balsamic vinegar works too)
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (or feta cheese)
    1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (or toasted almonds slivered)
    salt and pepper to taste

Materials:
    Measuring spoon
    Measuring cup
    Saucepan
    Small bowl
    Large bowl
    Fork
    Small skillet

1.  Pour pine nuts into skillet and cook on medium heat.  Toast about 2 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent burning.  Set aside to cool.
2.  In a saucepan, bring the orange juice and water to a boil.  Stir in the couscous, cover; remove from heat and let stand for 5-7 minutes.  
3.  Transfer to a large bowl, and fluff with a fork.
4.  Add the cranberries, cucumber, parsley, and green onion, mixing well.
5.  In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, honey, and garlic.  
6.  Pour the dressing over the couscous, mixing well, and stir in the goat cheese and pine nuts, carefully tossing together.  
7.  Add the salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

While you are enjoying this healthy salad, please take a moment to enjoy a glimpse into my new novel, Starter Zone, the first book of my new YA/LitRPG series, The Revelation Chronicles...


PROLOGUE

I was born into a world where silicone still ruled. Where the products of the earth outshone those of the sea. Integrated circuits ran all electronic equipment and scientists strove to make the conducting lines smaller and smaller. Silicon Valley tried, and failed, to make chips fast enough to upload human consciousness.
The Revelation came a few years later from the hydrologists. They designed a system that did not use silicone, but instead worked with water molecules. The hydrologists managed to imprint the consciousness of a human mind on a single drop of water.
The water was to be kept in self-contained, sealed aquariums—pure, undiluted, eternal—where virtual realities were constructed to meet every need and desire. All of human knowledge encoded and stored in literal pools of data and integrated with the drops of human consciousness. It was, the hydrologists claimed, utopia achieved.
The obscenely rich were the hydrologist’s first clients, many taken near the end of their lives. The procedure did not always work, but there were enough successes to spur people’s interest. People suffering from terminal illnesses volunteered to be inscribed, and the hydrologists worked and refined their process. Private companies formed and competition forced price wars. Hundreds of customers grew to thousands, and then to millions. There were landmark court cases arguing whether or not health insurance should cover the cost of the inscription—whether or not this was a medical procedure designed to save lives or a form of physician assisted suicide. The law struggled to decide if life ended when the body was drained to a dry, leathery husk, or if life continued inside those glowing, sealed aquariums.
I was thirteen when the governments seized control of the laboratories, first in the Eastern European countries. Then the labs of Europe and the Middle East were swallowed up. Terrorist attacks soon followed and destroyed most of the civilized world over the next three years. The United States, Canada, and Greece, those bastions of democracy, did not fall until the very end. Of course, by then no one cared whether or not the government or the private companies ran the uploading programs. Many of the aquariums ruptured in the strife and the droplets, imbued with human consciousness, re-entered the water cycle of the planet.

CHAPTER ONE

As the sun hovers near the horizon, ready to dip below and plunge the world into darkness, the weather changes for the worse. Clouds gather. Peeking out my window and over the outline of rooftops in the distance is what looks like thunderheads moving toward me in the invisible polluted gusts of wind.
I try not to think about the coming storm as I methodically pull on my boots and zip up my jacket. It is supposed to be waterproof, but I would not risk going out in anything above a light drizzle. Water has a way of seeping through even the best defenses. There’s also a lining that’s overly warm for a summer evening. I’m already sweating and the discomfort adds to my nerves.
I check the hunting knife strapped to my left leg. It was one of the first weapons purchased for me by my dad back when the sporting goods stores were still open for business. He didn’t think I was ready to handle a handgun at thirteen, but he taught me to shoot a rifle in the open fields by our house, helping me hold the weapon steady until I grew strong enough to support the weight. Now, three years later, I have a handgun, a Ruger semi-automatic, but bullets are scarce and loud noises are problematic. My small ammo stash sits in the bottom of my backpack next to the gun.
Instead of the gun, I carry an extra-light crossbow as my go-to weapon. I can hand-make the bolts so I don’t worry about running out of ammunition and the shot is relatively silent. I carry the spare bolts in a quiver strapped to my right leg. It’s awkward when running, but I can draw the bolts fast when needed.
My little sister, Alby, has loaded her own backpack. I lift it to test the weight and then pull a few things out. I place them in my own pack without comment. I help her position the lighter pack over her shoulders, tightening the straps so that it will stay balanced. She always tries to do more than she should, but I don’t like the way her face has a perpetual pinched, strained look or the deep shadows under her eyes. She looks far older than her seven years. This scares me more than everything else and that fear threatens to register on my face. I force myself to stay calm.
I check her raincoat and boots, making sure everything fits snugly. I help Alby pull up the hood of her coat, tucking in a strand of dark hair that has escaped her ponytail. As frightened as she is, she manages to give me a smile. I smile back, trying to present a brave front. As my dad used to say, “fake it till you make it.”  Over the last few years, I’ve been faking confidence more and more often for Alby’s sake.
“Ready to go?” I ask with all the false cheer I can muster in my voice. I take one last glance over the motel room that had served as a temporary home for the last few days, looking for anything that we might have left behind. The room is swept clean. No trace whatsoever that we had ever been there.
Alby nods. “Ready, Cami.”
“If we get separated, remember to keep going north,” I say. “Follow the road till you get to the park, then take the walking paths. No matter what happens, keep going. Stop when you get to the Stone River. I’ll meet you at the bridge in the center of the park where we used to feed the ducks, okay?”
She nods again, looking up at me with those dark eyes so full of trust. I hug her, because if we do get separated, there isn’t much hope we will ever see each other again. I need to keep up the pretense of hope, though, because that’s all we have to keep us going.
Stone River Park is at the very limits of the city and the area surrounding it is relatively unpopulated. I figure that once we are out of the city, our chances of survival will dramatically increase. After reaching the park, we can follow the Stone River north. There’s bound to be deserted houses in the country and less chance that any of the gangs would be interested in the meager pickings outside of the city. We might even be able to find a place to stay before winter.
I crack open the door of our motel room. It is still light enough to stain everything with graying shades of color. The setting sun casts long shadows between the buildings, so I depend more upon my ears to find signs of other humans. I hear no motorcycle engines and no voices, only the wind, blowing and moaning, and the far-off call of a bird. The coming storm appears to have cleared the streets. They are deserted except for empty, crashed vehicles abandoned in every lane.
Alby and I had been lucky to reach the motel a few days ago. The single-story building is on the outskirts of the main town and catered to big rig truck drivers and other traffic from the interstate. I had found the skeleton key in the motel office after climbing in through the bathroom window. Alby and I spent the nights scouring every room for supplies.
No one had broken into it before we got there. Too many other rich targets to go around. But inside each room was a mini-fridge filled with snacks. Even though the electricity had been turned off, the chocolates and small bags of honey-coated nuts were edible. The tiny bottles of alcoholic beverages in each fridge did not seem useful, but I kept a few. They might be helpful in starting a fire someday when we made it outside the city. We even discovered coffee filters and a small bottle of chlorine bleach—a major score for treating our drinking water. 
If I hadn’t spent days secretly peering out the dark windows of the motel, I might believe my sister and I were the last two people left on earth. But I know that out there, behind the ruined buildings and boarded-up windows, there are at least a few pairs of eyes whose owners would kill us without a second thought. My eyes flick toward the two bodies hanging from the traffic lights in the nearby intersection. They hadn’t been moved. Good.
     The daytime usually belongs to looter-gangs, each with spray-can marked territories in bright displays of color that start on the buildings and drip down toward the pavement. The gangs wear something marked as well, usually a jacket or bandanna that will stand out from a distance. The snipers hole up in their nests and target anyone who encroaches on their gang’s territory. They particularly looked for members of other factions trying to increase their terrain.
Paint tags don’t show up well after dark, though, so the gangs have started leaving their victims as warnings to others not to encroach on their holding. These bodies have been hanging undisturbed in the intersection for several days, indicating a lack of activity in the area. I can only hope that the gangs have moved inward, toward the center of the city and more supply-rich targets.
No one is ever going to catch the murderers, or the ones who strung up the bodies like macabre trophies, and put them in jail. They’ll just go on and do it again and again. Like animals in the jungle—except that animals are not cruel.
We were lucky to go unmolested by the local gangs. Heaven knows we don’t look like we have much of anything, and we don’t look threatening, but that will only last for so long. Someday someone will try to kill us, possibly for no other reason than wanting to watch us die. The whole world, it seems, is at war, and no one is on my side except Alby. We only have each other.
A streak of lightning splits the sky almost directly overhead, making me wince. It is followed by a heavy clap of thunder. As frightening as it is, the bad weather is to our advantage. No one wants to be caught outside in the rain. Everyone is more afraid of fresh, untreated water and what it can do than they are of each other. But I believe we can make it out of the area and to shelter before the rain poses any danger.

In fact I’m betting our lives on it.

Purchase Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/starter-zone-chris-pavesic/1127125956?ean=2940158707476

Meet the Author:


Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends. She blogs on www.chrispavesic.com and Tweets @chrispavesic 




Monday, 18 September 2017

YA Book Tour: Bewitching Hannah by Leigh Goff...


Being a witch is the last thing she wants…


Bewitching Hannah
Leigh Goff

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing

Publish Date: September 17, 2017

Genre(s): YA, Fantasy, Romance

Follow the tour to read reviews, exclusive excerpts, guest posts, and book spotlights:
https://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/09/virtual-book-tour-schedule-bewitching.html

Powers of the Witches Rise: The Chesapeake Witches

The Chesapeake region is known for blue crabs, sailing, and the U.S. Naval Academy. However, Maryland’s past is cloaked in a dark secret–an intriguing and rarely mentioned history of witches.

In 1635, the state adopted the Witchcraft Act of 1604 that declared witchcraft a felony, punishable by death. Rebecca Fowler suffered the worst fate due to this law. A fellow indentured servant accused her of hexing him prior to an injury. She was arrested, tried by a jury, and hung at the gallows. Hannah Edwards faced similar charges, but luckily escaped the noose.

In 1665, Elizabeth Bennett (not that Elizabeth Bennet!) was caught making charms, casting enchantments, and delving into general sorcery. Philip Calvert, the fifth Governor of Maryland and the son of the first Lord Baltimore, charged her with witchcraft, but her neck was spared from the gallows by an acquittal. What’s ironic is that the Calverts were descended from the royal Grey bloodline (Queen Jane Grey’s family) who were known for delving into magic and alchemy. Also, another famous Maryland family, the Arundells (Anne Arundell married into the Calverts) were related to the Irish Wizard Earl, Gerald Fitzgerald, a famous magician and alchemist.

Around 1697, the Chesapeake witch, Moll Dyer of Leonardtown, was driven from her home when locals set it on fire. She raced into the winter’s night and died from exposure with her hand frozen to a boulder. According to witchlore, her handprint remains frozen in time and can be seen on the boulder as a reminder of darker days. The land where she lived is known to be cursed and reports of a woman’s ghost haunting the area abound.

In 1712, Virtue Violl starred in the very last state trial for practicing her craft. William Bladen, Maryland’s first Attorney General, oversaw the trial where she was charged with harming an elderly neighbor by striking her tongue lame, however, a lack of proof forced the jury to acquit her. Interesting fact–William Bladen is buried at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis on Church Circle. Sounds like a cool setting for a scene in a witch novel…hint, hint.

Ever heard of Witch’s Grave? Not many Annapolitans even know the place or the legend. A gnarled, slanted tree overhanging the bank of Spa Creek marks Witch’s Grave. At the base of the tree lies a crypt where three unnamed witches were buried. Local lore has it that two of them were hung and one was burned. Their tortured ghosts are known to haunt the area and anyone who summons them from their final resting place.

The Chesapeake area’s dark witch history inspires questions. Were these women deeply connected to nature or was there magic in their blood? Does Moll Dyer’s tortured spirit still search for the men who chased her out of her home? And is it possible the Chesapeake witches’ descendants quietly carry on the practice of their ancestors’ craft today, including the casting of spells and the breaking of curses? What I can tell you is this–I’m descended from a seventeenth century Chesapeake witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, and I love the idea of casting these kinds of powerful females into my enchanting ever-afters.

My upcoming novel, Bewitching Hannah, is set in present-day Annapolis and will answer some of these unsettling questions.

About Bewitching Hannah:

Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a troubled legacy of magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful Chesapeake witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W, a Calvert descendant who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead. Engaged in a deadly game without knowing who her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she will survive, and if she loses she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

Read an Excerpt:

Lightning flashed, followed by a rumble of thunder, jolting me alert. A tempest churned over the Chesapeake Bay and was rolling toward town. I stared at the clouds, ready to calculate how much time we had before the rain hit. Another bright flash of white-hot lightning forked across the purplish-black sky. One, two…twenty.

Boom.

The storm was at least four miles away. I pressed a hand over my chest, feeling the thumping slow.

I glanced at Aunt J, who was no longer bopping her head to the bad music. Instead, she blinked over and over, and rubbed her eyes with one hand.

“If you’re tired, I can drive.” Who needed a license when I’d already mastered a moped along with the Green Briar golf carts?

Her slender fingers searched for me as if I were a ghost she could only hear. She grasped my arm tightly.

“Hannah?” Panic drenched her voice.

My eyes widened. “What’s wrong?”

“I can’t see. I mean, I see something, but it’s not the road. What’s wrong with me?”

I peered out the windshield. A distant telephone pole grew bigger as her foot stuck to the accelerator.

A frightening swell of adrenaline flooded my veins, sending my heart into a frenzy. “Stop!” I yelled, but she was frozen with fright. I grabbed the steering wheel and threw my leg over to jam on the brake pedal.

It was too late. Absolute silence fell over us in the grim second before we plowed into the pole. My lower body slammed into the dashboard while the seatbelt squeezed hard against my ribs. Metal groaned. White bubbles deployed. Glass shattered with a scream. Or maybe the scream was mine. The car groaned to a halt with a hiss and clank.

Stillness settled over us. My head was reeling as I checked myself for injuries. Bursts of pain sparked from my chest and leg.

“Hannah?” Aunt J’s quivering voice reached out.

I pried my eyes open. She had escaped her seatbelt. Her lips and hands were trembling, but I saw no blood or broken skin. Inwardly, I sighed with relief.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

I sucked in a shallow breath. “Me? Fine,” I managed, not wanting to stress her out, but I struggled to breathe and my left leg was wedged under the intruding dashboard.

She reached over, wiping her hands across my cheeks and forehead, dusting away crumbs of glass. She touched her trembling fingers to the seatbelt release and pressed on it, over and over. “Come on, dammit. Let go.”

I pushed her hand away, restraining a whimper. “It’s okay. Go get help.”

She nodded and with a hard push, shoved her door open. “I’ll be right back.”

A heavy silence fell over the car’s interior until a hiss sounded from the engine. Within seconds, the smell of burning oil seeped in through the vents.

One toxic breath went deeper than I meant it to. “Ow!” I coughed and writhed beneath the unyielding seatbelt like a five-year-old having a tantrum. Panic swept over me as I struggled for freedom.

Stress vibrated deep in my gut. Self-soothe, self-soothe, I reminded myself. The air grew thicker with burning oil and a starburst of pain wracked my body. I was going to die. Unless…

No. How could I even think it? There had to be another way because what if I couldn’t send it back? What if it took me to the same terrible place it had taken them?

I peered out the windows, searching. There was no one. I turned my focus on the glove box. Maybe Aunt J kept a knife in there or a pair of floral scissors. I pushed the button hard, again and again. Jammed. My heart raced.

A burst of smoke puffed into the car’s interior. I coughed and closed my eyes. The pressure on my leg intensified and the sickening fumes filled me with dread. Eff it. I balled my hands into fists.

I recalled the spell I’d overheard my dad utter once. I recited it in my head before casting, making sure I had it right. “By the power of fire, I do summon and churn, and call thee forth to blaze and burn.”

I stopped breathing, trying to sense any changes. I felt no different. And then it filled my core like a warm sphere of energy. Quickly, the power expanded into a blazing inferno. My back arched, pressing me harder into the seatbelt as my internal fire surged. Every cell jolted awake. My heart pounded out of control as I imagined channeling the smoldering energy. Suddenly, my hands tingled with intense power. I swallowed hard and aimed my fingers at the strap. The fiery threads trickled out in a wiggly pattern until I steadied my hand. The seatbelt burned orange, then cooled to black before separating.

Purchase Links:
Mirror World Publishing eBook:
https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/young-adult-fiction/products/bewitching-hannah-ebook

Mirror World Publishing Paperback:
https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/young-adult-fiction/products/bewitching-hannah-paperback

Amazon:
http://amzn.to/2vtH056

Kobo:
https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/bewitching-hannah

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bewitching-hannah-leigh-goff/1126756568?ean=9781987976311

Meet the Author:

Writing Enchanting Ever-Afters ♥


Leigh Goff grew up in Maryland where she resides today. Her writing is inspired by an eclectic childhood, a vivid imagination, and compelling historical events. After taking several writing courses in college and attending professional writing workshops after she graduated from the University of Maryland, she joined the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. 

Connect with the Author:

Facebook:

Twitter:

Amazon US: 

Goodreads Author Page: 

Blog: 

Pinterest:

Publisher Website: 

Author Website: 


Monday, 11 September 2017

Making it as a Writer in the Publishing World…

Self-doubt can cripple a writer. Even kill his or her dream of becoming a successful published author. Continual rejection (from both publishers and agents) can get under your skin and rip it to shreds until there’s nothing left, nothing to bleed out. Believe me, I’ve been in those trenches and it wasn’t pretty. So how did I pull myself out of this darkness? I. Just. Kept. Going. I felt I’d put too much time and energy into writing and planning books, I thought I might as well keep going, as I love doing this too much to quit. Plus, I’m truly a stubborn broad.

From the time I decided to learn how to write a book (1995) until I could finally call myself a published author (2012), there were a lot of those ‘dark times’. Still, I stuck with my dream of becoming published. I learned the craft of writing, joined writing groups, took courses, honed my skills, and wrote six books. Translation: I got my hands dirty. I practiced, persevered, and learned the art of patience. Those three key things pulled me out of my funk, and kept me going.

Another way I coped was to learn to develop a positive mental attitude through reading books and blogs geared toward positivity and success principles. This alone will take you far in anything you want to accomplish in your lifetime.

When you buy a house, you make an investment. When you go to school to learn a profession or trade, you invest in yourself. Writers can better their best only by investing the time and energy into their craft by going to conferences, writing workshops, taking writing courses, reading books on writing, and practice, practice, practice. I’ve got a lot of years under my belt just with practicing and learning, and have two book series to show for it. Was it easy? No. But I knew I was being true to myself by following my heart, and investing in myself.

I truly believe I was called to be a writer. At least the small voice inside my head said so. Like those blood donor ads that say ‘it’s in you to give’, so it was for me by following the path as a writer and give the world the stories bubbling in my imagination. Yes, I’d love to be a bestselling author. Yes, I want to make money doing what I love. Most writers want that. I know I have something to say so I stay on the path, stick to my plan, and smile with each step I take.

Do you feel that you’ve truly made it as a writer? If so, what did you do to create your success? Do have any advice for fellow writers looking to make their own mark as authors? Would love to read and respond to your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

Monday, 4 September 2017

A Bright Future Ahead for Canadian Author Dianna Gunn...

Fellow Canadian author Dianna Gunn is here today to discuss her hot-selling YA fantasy and what the future holds for her. So let's get to it.

Welcome, Dianna. Please describe Keeper of the Dawn in three words. Passionate, hopeful, magical.

What part of the story came to you first? Lai started out as a character in a fantasy parody project which will never see the light of day. She quickly became the most interesting thing about the book, so I scrapped it and wrote her story instead.

What was the biggest surprise when you were writing Keeper of the Dawn? That it was a book at all. I started with a short story of about 6,000 words, focused mostly on the priestess trials that are now the first third of the book. Every draft made it longer, sometimes only a couple thousand words longer, once or twice 10,000 words longer. The final edits brought it almost to 40,000 words. So it's still a short book, but it's a book. It's still kind of weird to me, to be honest.

If you could have lunch with any one person, alive or dead, who would it be? Definitely Sir Terry Pratchett. I haven't read anything close to the entire Discworld series, but I've read enough to be astounded by the quality of his work. Being funny in fiction, especially novels, is hard, which is why I never wrote that parody project. I am astounded by his ability to remain funny until the very end.

What's next for you? So many things! I've actually started writing a non-fiction book with the working title Self Care for Creative People, and I'm about to start editing Moonshadow's Guardian, a full length fantasy novel I plan to release next fall.

Here's a little about Keeper of the Dawn for your reading pleasure...

All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to her beloved goddess. That's before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she's trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.

From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum – a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.

Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshipping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai's own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join the sacred order.

Falling in love with another initiate wasn't part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn is a story of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.

EXCERPT

Lai practiced until well after dark, ignoring the call for supper. She tore a massive hole into one of the dummies with a training sword in her rage, but it didn’t make her feel better. She had spent most of her life training for this day, and Kaiden ruined it with a few words about their father.

Eventually she gave up and collapsed in a heap on the ground, pulling her knees up to her chest so she could rest her chin on them. She forced herself to breathe deeply, using all her willpower to push the rage into the ground. Bit by bit it drained into the soil around her, dispersing harmlessly.

She sat like that in the clearing until clouds engulfed the stars and rain started pouring, one of the last rains before the dry weeks of summer. Lifting the hood of her robes to cover her head, she rose and hurried towards the temple.

Her left foot caught on something and Lai flew through the air, losing her grip on her sword and landing face first in a puddle. Her nose shattered when it smashed into the tough ground, and when she grabbed it to feel the damage her hand came away covered in equal parts mud and blood. Her stomach churned as she picked herself back up, her whole body aching.

Something sharp pierced her back, tearing into her skin and muscles like sharp fire. She screamed and fell face first to the ground. She caught herself on her forearms, avoiding bashing her head against the rocky path.

Lai's attacker pulled the knife out of her shoulder. She screamed as warm blood flowed freely down her back, mixing with the rain. Fiery agony filled her body, blurring her vision. She gritted her teeth and flipped over to face her attacker.

She froze at the familiar sight of white robes with golden cuffs. Another initiate. Her hood hid her face completely.

Lai gathered her strength with a deep, ragged breath and reached for her training sword. The initiate kicked Lai in the back then stomped on her wrist, grinding bone under her boot, sending sharp waves of pain up Lai’s arm.

“You understand, it has to be me.”

Lai knew that voice, but she couldn’t focus on it through the pain, couldn’t remember who it was.

The initiate seized a clump of Lai’s hair and yanked her head backwards. She knelt and raised her knife towards Lai’s exposed throat.

Something knocked the initiate into Lai’s back. Black spots appeared at the edges of her vision as agony surged outward from her wound. The other initiate didn’t move, suffocating Lai with her weight. Lai tried to lift herself up with her elbows, but a fresh wave of pain knocked the wind out of her. She collapsed onto her stomach and closed her eyes, willing her body to die quickly.

BUY LINKS AMAZON E-book - Paperback

GOODREADS Ebook - Paperback GOOGLE - KOBO - SMASHWORDS

Dianna L. Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. She had known she wanted to be a writer since she was eight years old. Dianna wrote her first novel for Nanowrimo at the age of eleven years old, but quickly discovered that writing books is not an easy way to make a living. So she decided to broaden her horizons, seeking another career that still allowed her to work with words.

Her freelance writing career started when she became a marketing intern at Musa Publishing (now defunct) in September 2011 and quickly became a staff writer in charge of multiple imprint blogs. Since then she has worked with a variety of small businesses and non-profits to improve their online brands and create long term marketing strategies. Some of her most notable work has been for the tech education non-profit STEAMLabs and natural dog care company ProPooch. She is dedicated to helping her clients build successful brands and making their dreams come true.

Need help creating awesome content for your business? Send an email to diannalgunn@gmail.com explaining what your needs are, and she will help you.

When she isn’t helping her clients bring their dreams to life, Dianna can be found working on her own dream of being a successful fantasy author. Dianna blogs about writing, creativity, and books at The Dabbler.

Learn more about Dianna on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Guest Post: We're not talking Oreos by YA Author Anne Montgomery...

When Ruth Graves Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies in 1938 – hence forth named Toll House Cookies for the inn she owned in Whitman, Massachusetts – the confection became an instant American classic. So, perhaps, no one should be messing with these gooey, nutty hunks of near perfection. Ah, but I couldn’t help myself. As I’ve gotten older my taste buds seem to dance less at the prospect of excessive sweetness and more for. . . something else. I began tinkering with Ruth’s invention – I hope she doesn’t mind – and came up with these jam-packed babies that I call. . .

Twisted Chocolate Chip Cookies

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups dark chocolate chips*
1 cup nuts
Frequent chocolate chip cookie bakers will note that here is where the recipe goes off the rails.
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried blueberries
1 cup coconut, I prefer the type without added sugar, but either variety works.

PREHEAT oven to 375ºF

MIX sugars, butter, vanilla, and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt (dough will be stiff).

STIR in chocolate, dried fruit, coconut, and nuts.

DROP dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.

BAKE 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown round the edges (centers will be soft).

*NOTE: Chocolate chips retain their shape because they contain less cocoa butter than high-end chocolate, so purists may want to chop their own chocolate to get more of the good stuff. Enjoy!

Here's a peek into my latest novel while you nibble your delicious cookies.

Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.

 Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.

With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father's age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?

Amazon Buy Link

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Book Tour: Spellhaven by Sandra Unerman...


The Unseen Spirits must be entertained, so that the city may prosper......


About the Book:

In the summer of 1914, Jane Fairchild, a young English musician, is kidnapped by magic and sent to Spellhaven, an island city ruled by magicians. Here, peace and prosperity are maintained with the assistance of Unseen Spirits bound to the service of the Lords Magician. The Spirits must be kept in good humour by the performance of all kinds of shows, dance, drama and music. Jane is one of many people kidnapped from the outside world and forced to contribute to these entertainments for a set period of service.

Only Jane is having none of it. She will not perform for her kidnapper, Lucian Palafox, but agrees to undertake an apprenticeship with another magician impresario, provided she is taught magic in return. Jane's forays into magic lead her deeper within the mysteries of Spellhaven, her rivalry with Lucian escalates and the quarrels between them grow strong enough to shake the city to its foundations.

Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Release Date:  August 17, 2017
Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing

Exclusive Excerpt:

Next morning, Jane woke with a headache and a restless twitch in all her limbs. When she looked at the clock, she was unreasonably distressed to see how early it was. She could not wake anyone else at 5 o’clock but she could not lie in bed so hot and feverish. She disentangled herself from the bedclothes and crept to the window. Mary, with whom she was sharing the room, did not stir. Jane pulled back the curtain to look out on a hazy view of fields and wooded hills. It would be cooler up in those woods, she thought, and a walk before breakfast would shake out her muscles.

She was at the bedroom door before she realised she ought to get dressed, but she could only see her outfit from last night, an expensive silk dress, specially cut to perform in. She could not remember where her day clothes were or take the time to look for them. She had been a supporter of the Rational Dress movement since she became a music student, so she never wore stays, but even in the country she could not go out of doors without underwear. So she put on her bodice, petticoat, and stockings, with her nightgown back on over the top. She left her hair in its wispy night time plaits. She went downstairs and found her walking shoes and an ancient tweed jacket, which went on over her nightgown. She collected her music bag, with the vague thought that she might find somewhere to practice while she was out.

After that she could stay indoors no longer. She let herself out of the cottage and went down through the garden. She had not been in this part of the Chilterns before. She and her friends had borrowed this place for a few days as a base for last night’s concert, and a weekend where they could practice together, but they had arrived the previous day and not done much exploring so far. All the same, Jane knew where she wanted to go; into the hills she had seen from upstairs.

An hour later, she climbed up a steep path between banks of beech trees. At the top, she came out onto a turf ridge and paused to catch her breath. When she looked back, she could not see the cottage, which must be tucked into a curve somewhere below, but it did not matter. She was not ready to turn back yet, though she wished she had brought a flask of tea with her, and maybe some bread and butter. If she diverted from the path, she could look for a farm to ask for a drink of milk, but she had no money with her and anyhow, her headache tightened its grip at the thought of any delay.

The sun was high overhead when she came to a small stream in the shade of some rocks. She knelt and scooped up the cold water in her hands, swallowing small grateful mouthfuls until her teeth hurt. Then she splashed her face and neck. She pushed back the sleeves of her borrowed jacket to bathe her wrists and saw a new mark on her left forearm. It was about the size of her palm, with a sharper edge than a bruise, like a sore shadow under her skin. It was the shape of a spider, with a round body and long, crooked legs. She stared at it, jolted out of the daze in which she had walked all morning.

She did not know where she was by now or where she was going. Her jacket was too hot, the other clothes too insubstantial to wear without it. She had seen nobody except at a distance and from here, high in the hills, she could see only stones and turf, or tangled scrub in the valleys below. Her headache was as painful as ever and grew worse every time she stopped, even for a few minutes. She thought she must be ill; in a fever, maybe about to come out in blotches all over her body. And if she was ill, she ought to go back to her friends or try to find a village with a doctor. But these possibilities made her nauseous and she sprang to her feet to hurry onwards instead.

Follow the tour to read guest posts, reviews, and exclusive excerpts!
https://saphsbookpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/08/book-tour-schedule-spellhaven-by-sandra.html

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing eBook:  

Mirror World Publishing Paperback:

Amazon US:  
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spellhaven-sandra-unerman/1126613810?ean=9781987976342

Meet the Author:



Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in SF and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. In 2016, these included stories in Three Drops from a Cauldron, the Midwinter issue and Aurora Wolf, the September issue, both available online. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.

Connect with Sandra :

Website:
https://sandraunermanwriter.com/

Amazon Author Page:
https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Unerman/e/B0034NS9VM

Goodreads Author Page:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6566116.Sandra_Unerman

Goodreads Book Page:

Monday, 14 August 2017

Guest Post: Back and Better by Elliott Baker...

2007 I began to write a story that had been in my head for years. A friend turned me on to NANOWRIMO a magical concept and creativity catalyst that I’ll write about in a later blog. In 2008, I attended my first New York conference armed with my one hundred and forty thousand word completed novel, (Insert laugh track here.) confident that the world would soon be at my feet and throwing money at me.

In 2013 (Yep, five years.) after numerous (Def. Too many to count) edits, and submissions to agents, someone suggested I submit to those publishers that accepted direct submissions. Many do not. So, I sent The Sun God’s Heir to four publishers and received back two contracts, both from smaller, but reputable publishers. I accepted with joy the one from Musa Publishing.

Now, people will line up and throw money at me. Nope, not yet. It took eight months of waiting, and then a couple months of edits before my masterpiece was ready to release. Now? Nope. SGH was released in late July, 2014 and Musa went out of business seven months later. First let me again thank the folks at Musa. They acted honorably with me and whatever regrets I might have came as much from my own ignorance as from their difficulties.

The Sun God’s Heir was back on the street. Still no folks lining up to throw money. I’ll admit the night I received the email from Musa to let me know they were closing in a week, was a dark and stormy night. Seven years.

A year has passed and I have completely re-edited RETURN, Book One, written REBIRTH, Book Two, and REDEMPTION, Book Three, in the trilogy and plan to release all three this year under the series name The Sun Gods Heir. The lesson learned: Do not rush to battle. The amount I’ve learned in this last year staggers me. More than in the first seven. Whether folks will line up and throw money is unknowable, but to all of the writers and creatives out there, I salute you. Work is work.

Here's a glimpse at RETURN...

For three thousand years a hatred burns.

In ancient Egypt two brothers are disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When Pharaoh dies, the physician takes the knowledge given and goes to Greece to begin a new mystery school. The general makes a deal with the priests and becomes pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.

Seventeenth century France has two souls incarnate, one born the child of a prosperous merchant, the other, determined to continue a brutal incarnation begun long ago.

The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.

 After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.

Get your free copy of RETURN on Amazon.

And a brief intro to REBIRTH...

Set against the wave tossed years of white slavery and Barbary pirates, this is the epic story of René Gilbert and a journey that defies time as he draws on a larger awareness earned in previous lifetimes.

The plague’s dark fingers curl around Bordeaux. René must return home to save those he loves. But first he has to escape a Moroccan sultan’s clutches. In Bordeaux, an enemy waits, filled with a hatred three thousand years old. Only René can defeat this dark power, and only if he reclaims his own ancient past. In this arena, death is but the least of failure’s penalties.

Read more of REBIRTH on Amazon.

Award winning international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, The Sun God’s Heir. A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott's Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Cover Reveal: Bewitching Hannah by Leigh Goff...


Being a witch is the last thing she wants…


Bewitching Hannah
Leigh Goff

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing
Publish Date:  September 17, 2017
Genre(s):  YA, Fantasy, Romance

About Bewitching Hannah:

Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a troubled legacy of magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful Chesapeake witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W, a Calvert descendant who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead. Engaged in a deadly game without knowing who her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she will survive, and if she loses she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

Pre-Order Links:

Mirror World Publishing eBook: 

Mirror World Publishing Paperback:

Amazon: 

Kobo:

Barnes & Noble:

Meet the Author:

Writing Enchanting Ever-Afters ♥


Leigh Goff grew up in Maryland where she resides today. Her writing is inspired by an eclectic childhood, a vivid imagination, and compelling historical events. After taking several writing courses in college and attending professional writing workshops after she graduated from the University of Maryland, she joined the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. 

Connect with the Author:

Facebook:

Twitter:

Amazon US:  

Goodreads Author Page: 

Blog: 

Pinterest:

Publisher Website: 

Author Website: 



Monday, 7 August 2017

It's All Greek...

Practically everyone has heard of the idiom ‘It’s all Greek to me’ or ‘It’s all Greek’, meaning that something is not understandable. Another translation is "Graecum est; non legitur" ("it is Greek, [therefore] it cannot be read"). I believe William Shakespeare used this line or something close to it in his play Julius Caesar. Regardless of the origin, when people don’t understand people, words, cultures or even other species, there’s a breakdown in communication. And that’s not good. Wars can start, marriages break down, and relationships fail.

In the first book of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series, Lost and Found, the main character, Meagan Walsh has the psychic ability to talk to animals. Imagine possessing the ‘power’ to be a diplomat between animals? To bridge that gap, and find common ground. In the first book of The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series,  The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, my main characters are given a ‘Babel’ necklace. The main purpose of this necklace is to break any language barriers while on a mission in the past so that my characters will be able to understand and talk to everyone they meet. Boy, I could have used one of those Babels in French class!
humans?


One thing we can all understand is food! It’s universal and we all need food to survive. So I thought I’d share this awesome recipe my hubby made for me recently. It’s called Greek Shepherd’s Pie, and trust me, your taste buds don’t need a translator for this dish! Opa!

BBC Good Food
GREEK SHEPHERD'S PIE

Feta Potato Topping

5 cups (1.25 L) cubed peeled potatoes
¼ cup (60 ml) butter
¼ cup (60 ml) sour cream
¼ tsp. (1 ml) freshly ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. (1 ml) salt
¼ tsp. (1 ml) freshly ground pepper
1¼ cups (310 ml) shredded feta cheese

COOK potatoes in boiling salted water until tender; drain.

ADD butter, sour cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mash until mixture is smooth. Stir in feta cheese.

COVER and set aside while you prepare the filling.

Meat Filling

1½ cups (375 ml) chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
2 lb (1 kg) lean ground beef
1 can (14 oz/396 g) diced tomatoes
¼ cup (60 ml) dry red wine or canned beef broth
1 tbsp. (15 ml) mint, crumbled
1½ tsp. (7.5 ml) cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 ml) oregano, crumbled
¾ tsp. (4 ml) salt
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) allspice
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp. (1 ml) freshly ground nutmeg
¼ cup (60 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Paprika

PREHEAT oven to 400° F (205° C)

USE a large skillet or Dutch oven set over medium-heat. Saute onions and garlic in oil for 2 minutes. 

ADD beef and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

STIR in the next 9 ingredients (tomatoes through nutmeg).

BRING the pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

TRANSFER mixture to a greased shallow 3 quart (3 L) baking dish. Spoon feta potato topping over meat mixture and spread decoratively. Sprinkle with paprika. May be prepared to this point and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

BAKE, uncovered, at for 40-45 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbly.

And there you have it! A feast fit for any family who loves to try culturally-flavored recipes, and dares to venture the road less traveled. Want more adventure and excitement in your reading life? How about a trip to Fairy Falls? Or jump into the Arch of Atlantis for a blast in the past? Just remember to pack lightly.