A New Adventure!

So I haven’t been too active on this site for a while. Well, that’s about to change. This year I have decided to participate in InkRipples. I guess the best way to describe it is a themed blogging effort created by Kai Strand, Mary Waibel, and, one of my favorite editors, Katie Carroll. You can find all three of them in guest posts on this site’s archives.

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Each month, I will write a new blog post (or posts) with the predetermined theme. What are the themes? How about this:

January:           Book covers
February:         Genres
March:              Tropes
April:                Revision
May:                  Fairy Tales
June:                  Blurbs
July:                   Heroes/Villains
August:             Author Options in Publishing
September:      World Building
October:            Career vs Hobby
November:       Finishing that Book!
December:        Goals
I’m not going to guarantee I’ll make a post for each one, though that is one of my goals. Hmm, if I reach the goal, I may have to write about it in December. If you want to see what other participants are writing about, search Facebook and Twitter for #InkRipples.

Book Covers

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” That’s the old cliché. And while I agree with it, I think you can tell a lot about a book by its cover.

One glance at a book cover and anyone who reads more than a book a year has an educated guess at the book’s genre. If you see dragons, swords, and mysterious hooded figures, chances are, you’re holding a fantasy novel. A space station, planet, or space ship…you’ve found fantasy’s sibling science fiction. And how hard is it to identify a suspense or mystery novel? What about romance? Hello, Fabio.

Now look at the font. If the title of the book is written in larger letters than the author’s name, you’re likely holding a newer author or a B-list author. If the author’s name appears huge and the book title much smaller, you have the tried and true author who the publisher knows is going to sell a lot of books based upon name recognition alone.

It really doesn’t matter if you can judge a book by its cover. Book covers sell a lot of books. They give me valuable tools to use while selecting my next read. Maybe I want a new sci-fi novel by that author who has sold movie rights to most of his books. Maybe I’m in more of a mood for an as-yet-undiscovered mystery by an author who has a couple books out, but she hasn’t made it big. I can find my book based on the cover alone.

I’ve written in the past about book covers, I won’t bore you by recapping those posts. But I will leave you with the images of my book covers, a link to a post with my cover artist, CK Volnek, and a link to her website. What can you predict about the covers she’s designed?

Scavenger of Souls Blog Tour with Joshua David Bellin

I’d like to welcome Joshua David Bellin back as his blog tour nears its end. Joshua is the author of Survival Colony 9 and now its sequel, Scavenger of Souls. I’ve only read the first few pages of Scavenger of Souls, but it’s looking at least as captivating as Survival Colony 9. Click on the Rafflecopter link after the except for a chance to win an autographed copy of Scavenger of Souls. (Check back here for a review soon!)

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About the book:

 

Querry Genn is running out of time. He may have saved his survival colony and defeated a nest of the monstrous Skaldi, but that doesn’t mean he has any more answers to who he is. And Querry’s mother, Aleka, isn’t talking. Instead, she’s leading the colony through a wasteland of unfamiliar territory. When they reach Aleka’s destination, everything Querry believed about his past is challenged.

 

In the middle of a burned-out desert, an entire compound of humans has survived with plenty of food and equipment. But the colonists find no welcome there, especially from Mercy, the granddaughter of the compound’s leader. Mercy is as tough a fighter as Querry has ever seen—and a girl as impetuous as he is careful. But the more Querry learns about Mercy and her colony, the more he uncovers the gruesome secrets that haunt Mercy’s past—and his own.

 

With threats mounting from the Skaldi and the other humans, Querry must grapple with the past and fight to save the future. In the thrilling conclusion to the story that began with Survival Colony 9, Joshua David Bellin narrates a tale of sacrifice, courage against overwhelming odds, and the fateful choices that define us for a lifetime.

 

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Age: 12+

Release date: August 23, 2016

For order links, visit http://joshuadavidbellin.com/my-books/

Available in hardcover and e-book

 

Praise for Survival Colony 9:

 

Tantalizing mysteries abound among the human and inhuman inhabitants of the bleak landscape, and the post-apocalyptic plot is satisfyingly full of twists.—Booklist

 

Joshua David Bellin brings serious game in a post-apocalyptic thriller that collides breathless action with devious world building and genuine heart. A terrific novel!—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot & Ruin and V-Wars

 

Set in a gritty post-apocalyptic world, Survival Colony 9 is both an adventure and an exploration of what it means to be human.—Margaret Peterson Haddix, New York Times bestselling author of the Missing Series

 

Scavenger of Souls

© 2016 by Joshua David Bellin

 

 

Chapter One

 

Aleka looked out over the land and frowned.

 

She stood at the crest of a low hill, squinting in the sunlight, the lines deepening around her mouth. I tried to read her expression, but as usual I failed.

 

This was Aleka, after all. Her close-cropped, graying blond hair framed a face she could turn into a mask at a moment’s notice. I’d been studying that face for the better part of a week, and I still had no idea what was going on behind her deep gray eyes.

 

Aleka. My mother. And as much a mystery to me as my own past.

 

After a long minute she spoke the name of her second-in-command. “Soon.”

 

Soon, a big guy with what might have been called a pot belly in a different time, came up beside her.

 

Aleka surveyed the unforgiving landscape, the lazy glint of river the only sign of movement in the waste. “How long?”

 

“A week. Maybe two if we’re extra careful.” He searched her face, but he must have come up empty too. “Why?”

 

She didn’t answer. The others had edged closer, listening. Any conversation that hinted at our dwindling supply of canned goods got their attention.

 

But after another long look over the barren land, she turned and strode back down the hill, refusing to meet any of our eyes. Everyone watched her go in silence, until she disappeared behind a clump of rock that stood at the base of the hill.

 

“Well, that was enlightening,” Wali said.

 

There were sixteen of us, the last survivors of Survival Colony 9. Five grown-ups counting Aleka, Soon, our camp healer Tyris, our craftswoman Nekane, and the old woman whose name no one knew, a wraith with wild white hair and a threadbare shift the same drab gray-brown as our uniforms. For the past week we’d been carrying her on a homemade stretcher, while she gripped her late husband’s collection container, a scuffed, bottle-green jar overflowing with scraps of hair and fingernails. She was amazingly heavy for a woman who’d dwindled to skin and bones.

 

The rest of us were teens and younger. Wali, with his shaggy hair and bronzed muscles, the oldest at seventeen. Nessa, the only teenage girl left in our colony since the death of Wali’s girlfriend Korah. Then there was Adem, a tall skinny awkward guy who communicated mostly with gulps and blushes. And the little ones, seven of them total, from ragged five-year-old Keely to knowing Zataias at age ten, with straggly-haired Bea in the middle.

 

And that left only me. Querry Genn. Fifteen years old last week, and thanks to an accident seven months ago, with no memory of the first fourteen.

 

Only my mother held the secret to who I was. But she wasn’t talking.

 

She hadn’t said a word to me the whole week. That entire time, we’d been creeping across a desert landscape of stripped stone and yawning crevices, the scars our ancestors had cut into the face of the land. For six of those seven days we’d been carrying the old woman. Aleka had driven us at a pace unusual even for her, with only short rests at the brutal height of day and long marches deep into the night. What she was hurrying for was another thing she wouldn’t talk to me about.

 

When we’d left our camp by the river, the old woman had babbled on about mountains somewhere to the north, licking her lips while she talked as if she could taste the snow-fresh air. She’d described green grass as high as our knees, wind rippling across it so it seemed to shimmer like something she called satin. She’d told us about yellow flowers and purple ones, trickling water so clear you could see brightly colored fish darting among the submerged stones. Clouds, she said, blanketed the mountain peaks, cool and white and soft, unlike the oppressive brown clouds that smothered the sun but almost never rained in the world we knew. At first I refused to believe her, told myself that half of what she said had to be exaggerated or misremembered or just plain crazy. But like everyone else, I’d fallen in love with the picture she painted. None of the rest of us had seen mountains, not even Tyris, who’d been two or three years old when the wars started. After a lifetime in the desert, the prospect of mountains rearing up out of nowhere, white and purple and capped with gold from the sun, was irresistible.

 

By now, though, it seemed even the old woman had forgotten where we were headed. She’d lapsed into silence, except for the times she stroked her collection jar, mumbling to it. She slept most of the time, sometimes beating her hands against her chest and mouthing words no one could make out. But even when her eyes opened, her glassy expression showed no awareness of anyone or anything around her.

 

We set her stretcher down in the best shade we could find and stood there, waiting for Aleka to return. Nessa held the old woman’s gnarled hand and sang softly, something the old woman had sung to her when she was a kid. I tried to organize a game with the little ones, but they just flopped in the dirt, limbs flung everywhere in postures of dramatic protest. I’d learned the hard way that you couldn’t get all seven of them to do anything at once, but occasionally, if you got one of them doing something that looked interesting enough, the others couldn’t stand to be left out.

 

Today, though, it wasn’t going to happen. A fossil hunt usually got them going, but this time even Keely wouldn’t bite when I told him an old, rotting buffalo skull was a T. rex.

 

“I don’t want to play that game, Querry,” he managed weakly, before putting his head down and closing his eyes. “It’s boring.”

 

Without warning, Aleka stalked back to the group. To my complete surprise, she took my arm and pulled me away from the others. I stumbled to keep up with her long strides. When we reached the rock where she’d hidden herself before, she stopped, so suddenly she just about spun me around.

 

“Querry,” she said. “We need to talk.”

 

“We’ve needed to talk all week,” I said under my breath.

 

She heard me. She always did. “That will have to wait. This is priority.”

 

“Something else always is, isn’t it?”

 

We faced off for a moment.

 

“I’m asking you to be patient,” she said. “And to believe I’m working on this.”

 

“Fine.” I wished for once I could meet her on even ground, but she had a good six inches on me, not to mention at least thirty years. “Let me know when you’ve got it all worked out.”

 

If I thought I’d get a reaction from that, I was wrong. Her face went into lockdown, and I was pretty sure the conversation was over. But then she asked, “What is it you want, Querry?”

 

“Answers,” I said. “The truth.”

 

“Answers aren’t always true,” she said. “And the truth isn’t always the answer you want.”

 

“Whatever that means.”

 

She glared at me, but kept her voice in check.

 

“It means what it means,” she said. “For one, it means that Soon’s estimate is wildly optimistic. I’ve checked our stores, and we have only a few days of food left. If we’re even stingier than usual. Which is a risk, since there’s nothing here to supplement our supplies.”

 

“Why would Soon. . . .”

 

She ignored me. “And it means the old woman is failing.  Earlier today she asked me if she could talk to Laman.”

 

“You’re kidding.”

 

“I wish I were.”

 

I stared at her, not knowing what to say. Laman Genn had led Survival Colony 9 for twenty-five years. But like so many of his followers, he’d died a little over a week ago, just before we set out on our journey.

 

Died. Been killed. I tried not to think about it, but I remembered the nest, the bloody wound in his side, the creature that had torn him open.

 

The Skaldi.

 

The ones we’d been fleeing all our lives. Monsters with the ability to consume and mimic human hosts. It was hard to believe anyone could forget them. Even though we’d destroyed their nest, I kept expecting them to reappear, like a second nightmare that catches you when you think you’re awake and drags you back under.

 

“Any more good news?” I said, trying to smile.

 

She didn’t return the offering. “The children are failing too,” she said. “Keely and Beatrice especially. If we run out of solid food. . . . We forget how fragile they are. And how many of the little ones simply don’t make it.”

 

I turned to look at the kids, lying on the ground like so many dusty garlands. “What can we do?”

 

She didn’t say anything for a long time, and her gaze left mine, drifting to the desert beyond. I thought she wasn’t going to answer when her voice came again, as far away as her eyes.

 

“I know this area,” she said. “Or at least, I did. None of the others has been here—Laman seems to have avoided it assiduously. But I was here, once upon a time. So long ago the details are fuzzy. Either that or it’s . . . changed.”

 

I glanced around us, as if I expected to see something I hadn’t noticed before. “Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

 

Her shoulders inched in the slightest of shrugs. “I didn’t want to give anyone false hope. They were excited enough about the mountains. And I wasn’t sure I could find it again. I’m still not sure.”

 

“What is it?”

 

She waved vaguely toward the northwest. “A sanctuary, or as much of one as we’re likely to find in this world. Not mountains, but a canyon. Shaded, protected from the worst damage of the wars. The river gains strength as it flows through, nourishing what grows on its banks. If we could only reach it, there might be a chance for the most vulnerable members of the colony.”

 

I studied her face, as still and remote as the surface of the moon. This time, though, I thought I caught something there.

 

“If this place is so great,” I said carefully, “why did Laman stay away from it?”

 

Her eyes snapped to mine, and for the briefest second I imagined I saw a glimmer of fear.

 

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Launch party portrait 2

About the author:

 

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). He taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to fiction. Survival Colony 9 is his first novel, with the sequel, Scavenger of Souls, set to release on August 23, 2016. A third YA science fiction novel, the deep-space adventure/romance Freefall, will appear in 2017.

 

Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

 

To find out more about Josh and his books, visit him at the following:

 

Website: http://www.joshuadavidbellin.com

Blog: http://theyaguy.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheYAGuy

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joshuadavidbellin

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7393959.Joshua_David_Bellin

 

If this excerpt interested you, and you’d like to have more information about Joshua David Bellin and Scavenger of Souls, check out the other stops on the blog tour:

8/16     Dianne Salerni: Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction

http://diannesalerni.com/blog/

8/17     Stephanie Keyes, Author

www.stephaniekeyes.com

8/18     Margo Kelly

http://www.margokelly.net

8/19     Kat Ross

http://katrossbooks.com/index.html

8/20     Christina Farley

http://christinafarley.com/blog/

8/21     JeanzBookReadNReview

http://jeanzbookreadnreview.blogspot.co.uk/

8/22     Gold from the Dust

http://www.darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com

8/25     Yvonne Ventresca’s Word Pop

http://yvonneventresca.com/blog.html

8/26     Strands of Thought

https://kaistrand.blogspot.com/

Introducing J.D. Waye and The Harvesters

So the title sounds like I have a band here. And with a name like The Harvesters, you can bet they’d play both kinds of music: Country and Western. (Queue Theme from Rawhide) Sorry, I had a Blues Brothers moment there. No, J.D. Waye is an author, and her new book is called The Harvesters. I haven’t read the book yet, it doesn’t come out until next week, but as far as I know, it’s not about Mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or gettin’ drunk, so until I’m proving wrong, I’m going to say it’s not Country or Western. What it is is some good, old-fashioned, aliens coming to Earth and ruining everyone’s day, sci-fi. And I’ve been looking for some of that lately. So I pre-ordered a copy. After I introduce you to J.D. Waye, perhaps you’ll do the same.

THE HARVESTERS-medium

Tell us about yourself.

I live kind of an ordinary life. There’s always someone or something more important, more exciting, than talking about myself.

Tell us about your book.

The Harvesters is about how people react when faced with a crisis, when their hopes and dreams come to a crashing halt, when they have to re-invent themselves to cope…you know, like real life.

Who is your target audience?

This book is targeted to teens in high school, but could also appeal to younger and older readers. So…almost everyone. Hopefully.

Is this book part of a series? If so, how many volumes do you plan to write?

The Harvesters is not yet part of a series, written as a stand-alone book, but has the potential to be developed into three volumes. I’m currently coming up with scenes for the second book, seeing if it will work.

How long did it take to write?

It took about four months to write the first draft, but the concept itself took years to form. It didn’t work the first time around, so I shelved it for a few years before changing the point-of-view. And alas…editing…dreaded editing…took longer than writing the actual book.

What are some books that influenced/inspired you in the writing of this one?

This book was more inspired by movies than by books, which is why it is formulated to a screenplay plan. (Let’s take a moment to salute Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder.)Alien and Aliens, with their creepy strobe-lights and sirens. War of the Worlds (the new 2005 version). Independence Day (love the comedy). And of course, District 9 (ordinary events colliding with extraordinary circumstances).

Who are your favorite authors?

Listing my favorite authors is hard, because it changes all the time. These are a few that I enjoyed reading as a teen:

Frank Herbert (Dune, and the rest of his series)

John Wyndham (The Chrysalids, The Day of the Triffids)

Ray Bradbury (The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451, and everything else by him)

And now, anything by John Scalzi. Brilliant. Mind-blowing. Funny. Thought-provoking.

On which aspect of your writing do you work the hardest? (Characters, plotting, prose, etc.)

Characters come naturally, springing to life all on their own. Plotting is difficult, but oh so satisfying when puzzle pieces fit together. What’s hardest are the bridging scenes, linking images together into a coherent whole, describing events that make one scene flow seamlessly to the next. And what is most challenging is finding the time to write, then stopping creative outbursts for real life tasks.

What’s next?

I’m currently working on part 2 of Chago’s story – an Andes adventure where Chagojoins a team of scientists trying to save a wildlife species he was responsible for driving to the brink of extinction. After that, who knows…maybe spirits clashing with ghost hunters in a Scottish castle; maybe deception and persuasion between Victorian evolutionists; maybe the next book in The Shadow People series…

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/73-our-authors/authors-w/501-j-d-waye

https://jdwaye.wordpress.com/

Susan Royal Remembers the Bookmobile

In celebration of Susan Royal’s new book, Xander’s Tangled Web, coming out next week, she’s here to share a childhood memory and a little about the book. To add to the excitement, I’ll be over at her site sharing a bit about myself. So after you read this, go over to her site to see what I’m up to. Here’s Susan.

I’ll never forget my childhood visits to the Bookmobile. An unassuming trailer dispatched every other week from the large central library in downtown San Antonio, Texas, it rested in the parking lot of the shopping center near our home for the entire day. Its presence beckoned me with as much anticipation as a picnic or day at the pool, because it represented adventure, escape and fantasy.

While my mother did her weekly grocery shopping, my sisters and I spent the morning hanging out there, prowling the shelves and deciding which books we’d take home. They lined the walls from floor to ceiling on either side of the trailers with open doors at each end. Once we made our decisions, we checked out at a miniscule table at the front where an attendant sat. And you guessed it, they were reading a book.

In early summer, I stood before the shelves, the breeze from the open doors stirring the hair on the back of my neck. I picked up volume after volume, poring over illustrations, reading dust jackets, author notes and sometimes a chapter or two. By the time July rolled around, it was a good idea to visit as early in the morning as possible or be forced to endure the humidity and the sweat trickling down the small of my back. Those days, I grabbed books with the most interesting looking covers and left as quickly as possible, in search of a cooler spot.

Once I began reading, I journeyed far away from that little trailer sitting in the parking lot under the hot Texas sun. My travels took me somewhere far north where I rode a sled down an icy hill or made a snowman. Other times I might sail to a tropical island, eat pineapple and sleep in a hammock. Or I might pay a visit to the past and ride on a wagon train or hunt buffalo with the Indians. Or go on the crusades with gallant knights in the middle ages. Some of my most favorite childhood trips were the ones where I visited magical places that only existed in the author’s dreams.

Those days are long gone, but I’ve never stopped having that wonderful feeling of expectation whenever I pick up a new book and get ready to start a new journey.

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When Princess Mena vanishes without a trace, Xander must deal with gypsies, love potions and half-truths before unraveling the mystery.

Blurb:
After a late night visit to Battington’s marketplace, Princess Mena vanishes without a trace. Merchants are frantic, because King Leander has called for a curfew and postponed the Spring Festival until further notice. Certain his former constable is the man for the job, the mayor hires Xander to investigate, hoping he can solve the mystery in a hurry so things can go back to normal.

But Xander’s not so sure that’s possible, because there’s romance involved, and he knows when that happens folks who are normally very sensible seem to lose all reason. In addition to sorting out truths, half-truths and outright lies, he must deal with gypsies, love potions and an illegal moonshine operation before he gets to the bottom of things.

Xander’s Tangled Web (fantasy, mystery)
http://bit.ly/1X3ZY6r
In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)
http://tinyurl.com/bqbxm41
Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
http://tinyurl.com/85vgye3
Not Long Ago book trailer

All books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads
http://susanroyal.moonfruit.com
http://susanaroyal.wordpress.com

Bio photo

Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan shares a 100-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town with a ghost who likes to harmonize with her son when he plays guitar.

Mother to three children and their spouses, she has five grandchildren who are all unique and very special. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. Her grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. She learned about growing up during the depression from her father and experienced being a teenager in WWII through her mother’s eyes.

Susan loves taking her readers through all kinds of exciting adventures. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On. They are time travel adventures about two people who fall in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Out this fall is her YA fantasy, Xander’s Tangled Web. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.

Want to know more? Visit susanaroyal.wordpress.com or susanaroyal.moonfruit.com for a peek inside this writer’s mind and see what she’s up to. You never know what new world she’s going to visit next.

Another Visit to Nantes, France

I’ve been holding onto this photo for a while, wondering what sort of post to put together. It dates back to December of last year, and the class of high school students in Nantes, France who read the first two chapters of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud and then wrote what they thought would come next. While I enjoyed all of their efforts, I allowed readers to vote for their favorites. You can check out the whole project here. The whole class received some stuff relating to my book, and the groups chosen as winners received paperback copies of my book.

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Right now Amazon is selling the paperback copy of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud for $3.66, and I just found out the sequel, The Squire and the Slave Master, should be available in paperback in September (the eBook is available now), so I thought this a good time to share this class photo and re-post the winning stories.

Group 3 Chapter Three

The Forest of Doom

“Cedric, I have never been this far.” Owen said. “Have you already travelled to the Land of Fire?”

Cedric grinned “Haven’t any of your books recounted the story of the wizards?” Cedric asked.

“No, you of all wizards should know these stories have been forbidden since the Wizard Rebellion.”

“Indeed Owen, they have been banned. We are bred within the Land of Fire. Wizards have always been linked to dragons and witchcraft. But each of you forgets, wizards are the descendants of fire”

Owen then remembered himself at a younger age, trying to understand the origin of wizards by entering Old Master Dennison’s chamber. One day he had managed to get inside and the sight before him was beyond imagination. He had seen shelves of ancient writings dating back to the Age of Light! At that moment Master Dennison had rushed in and pulled him out of that room. From that day on the room had always been locked…

“Owen, I am returning to my ancestral land” Cedric said.

As they were silently moving forward, they suddenly heard something rustle in the branches. Was it an animal or a human being?

“Owen! Ride as quickly as you can! Someone has been following us!” shouted Cedric. He rode as quickly as he could, not daring to look behind. He knew Cedric was right behind him but he saw none of their foes.

Owen had never fully trusted Cedric. His mother had been killed by non-traditional magic. And the king’s bastard would never forget such a thing.

“Owen! We can stop now,” called Cedric.

Owen awaited the arrival of the wizard to ask him: “What was that?”

“Dark Magic, Owen” answered Cedric with no further explanation.

“But what was it, an animal?”

“I do not know. But trust me, running was the only solution. Dark Magic is very dangerous. However this means we are followed.” Who could possibly be following them? Nobody knew they had left the castle. Except… maybe…

“Riders approaching!” shouted Cedric.

Strangely enough they seemed to be soldiers from Wittentun. As they approached, Owen recognized them.

“Friends, how come you are so far from the castle?” inquired the young prince.

“Queen Andrea sent us. We have come to help you. Since your departure things have changed. There have been more and more occurrences of witchcraft within the realm.” answered Ansfrid, one of the most fierce and truthful soldiers to be found in Wittentun.

The bastard started asking himself questions. Could he really trust Queen Andrea? What was she doing during his absence? He did not like the feeling of his father being left alone with her.

“Ansfrid, you may escort us to the Land of Fire but no further. Send the two other riders back to Wittentun, and make sure they inform us of our Queen’s next actions.” ordered Cedric.

“I do not trust my mother-in-law,” Owen whispered to him.

“A good thing” he answered.

“Tomorrow, we shall reach the Forest of Doom, it will be the first step of our adventure,” Cedric announced.

“Good, the faster we get out of that place, the better” Ansfrid pointed out. “The forest of Doom is the legendary culprit of darkness. It is said dark forces and evil wizards live there, awaiting doomsday.”

The small group settled in the forest as the moon appeared even brighter in the sky. During the night Ansfrid woke Owen and Cedric.

“There was something over there, it was coming our way!”

“Cedric, look out!” hollered Ansfrid.

A black arrow missed Cedric’s throat “Everyone under cover!” shouted the soldier. Once again they had not seen the person behind this treachery. The sun was rising, peeking faintly through the trees, so the three companions decided to set out.

They finally arrived at the forest of Doom. Here the forest was so dense they could not see any ray of sunlight. It was the most ominous place Owen had seen until now, and this was not his normal life being a bastard prince.

After a few seconds of hesitation our three saviors entered the Forest of Doom. The first thing they saw was a sign. It said “Beware!!” with blood and the placard was mounted on a dead person’s body. Cedric took no notice of it, however, the others looked at each other in a strange manner.

“Come on you scaredy-cats. This is nothing compared to what you are going to see in the Land of Fire.” sniggered Cedric…

And of course he was right. The quartet had a perilous journey ahead of them. Owen, Ansfrid and the soldier followed Cedric and passed the hanged man disgustedly. Even though it was the morning and the sun was shining, they lit up torches. The canopy eclipsed the daylight completely and the obscure woods showed no sign of friendly life.

“Are you sure passing through this forest is the only way?” questioned Owen with an unsteady voice. He was of a brave kind but this place seemed so hostile that he was becoming more afraid as they were carrying on.

“Stop casting doubts on my decisions. There is no better way of reaching the Land of Fire fast. We may encounter some undesired and aggressive creatures but do not worry, we will survive.” answered Cedric in a calm and confident voice. Owen looked at him with shocked eyes but tried not to show his fear; the thought of dying had never been so realistic.

They walked for hours and hours without stopping and luckily did not meet any attacking creatures or evil wizards. In fact, they had not seen any living being since they had entered the forest. At the end of what seemed a day they decided to stop and sleep for a few hours.

“Getting rest is very important. If we are tired and stop at irregular times we will lose track of the days. The wizards who live in this forest use dark magic to confuse the rare people who enter it. Legends say that some travelers get so lost and mentally disoriented because of dark magic that they never get out and haunt the place forever.” warned Cedric.

Now Owen was in a constant state of anxiety which exhausted him even more. He fell asleep in no time knowing that Cedric was staying up as watchman. But the three men had walked a very long distance and Cedric’s level of attention was unusually low.

The area was plunged into the dark except for the petty fire they had lit. The red flames projected worrying shadows on the surrounding trees. The air and the very flat ground were humid and cold. Cedric estimated the sky to be now dark and the moonlight lighting the landscape, but he could not be sure because of the trees concealing the firmament. He had done his job well, Owen and Ansfrid were fast asleep and it would be harder for dark magic to affect them. He knew well enough that this was the time wizards or creatures came out and looked for easy victims.

At first he heard nothing. A complete silence fell on the gigantic forest. Anybody would become crazy with such a deep and unsettling stillness and absence of sound. But Cedric had already experienced it and knew it would not stay this way for very long. Strangely it did. For too long… The quietness was paralyzing, Cedric had never seen such an unusual blackout in the Forest of Doom and it kept him from moving. His heart started beating faster and his breath was the only thing he could hear. His fellow travelers were still sleeping but he could not even detect their breathing. Suddenly the very few remaining flames of the fire disappeared in a split second. Cedric shivered it was now very cold and the night was pitchblack. A thought came across his mind. Maybe they were lucky and had stopped in an area where there was no dark magic to be found. Maybe it was just a very cold night and wizards and creatures did not come out of their hideouts. With this cheering reasoning, Cedric decided to close his eyes for a few minutes. He was drained and would not be able to stay up until Ansfrid’s watch turn. The silence was still complete and about half an hour went by before Cedric opened his eyes again. His heart stopped for a couple of seconds. All around their campsite about a hundred grey spectres floated in mid-air. They were terrifying. They were all different but had the same empty look, there were no eyes in their sockets just black holes. Cedric then understood they were the lost travelers he had mentioned earlier. It was not a legend! He knew they would not waste their time on him, he knew how to protect himself. But they were going to try to take control of the three other men when they woke up. A single look in their eye sockets and they would start to be confused and lose their memory. Cedric had to find a way to warn his sleeping companions without them looking first at the phantoms. If he moved or tried to protect them, the ghosts would come closer towards them and attack the three other men straight away. But something else saved them from the threatening ghosts…

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a blast blew up all the shades. At first Cedric did not know what it was but then he remembered: it was a dark magic spell. So the person behind the spell was not actually trying to save them but to attack them without being interrupted by the specters. Owen and Ansfrid woke up with a start. Cedric said they were in danger so without further thought the four men jumped on their horses and fled without even looking behind them.

However, they had forgotten dark magic always attracts ancient creatures…

When they finally stopped, Owen instantly asked: “Cedric, what happened?”

After a few moments, he answered: “Dark magic, Owen, dark magic… A wizard was going to assault us with obscure enchantments…” he answered as if in a trance.

As he finished his sentence, a very strange creature of some kind appeared between the trees. Under his breath Cedric whispered “Oh my God, it cannot be! It is the legendary Cacus!”

Cacus was supposed to have been killed during the battle of the Eagles. The legendary creature standing before them was a fire-breathing giant and the only way to kill it would be to shoot directly at its neck, where its heart was supposed to be. “Damn, I completely forgot. Legendary creatures are attracted by dark magic.” Whispered Cedric.

Cacus ran straight at them with his gigantic hammer. Owen tried to break the creature’s weapon with all his strength. Cacus saw him coming and swung its hammer at Owen’s head. The prince fell to the ground, his armour scattered to pieces. Ansfrid with all his courage, charged the giant but had to draw back because of the fire which blazed out of its nostrils. Cacus was going to unleash its final blow, when suddenly a black arrow the size of a spear appeared from nowhere, piercing the creature’s nape. The legendary beast fell abruptly to the ground. “Owen, are you alright?” shouted both of his companions.

“Yes, I am” he said “Thanks to her!” Owen was pointing in the direction of Yara who was running towards him to help him up.

“What are you doing here?!” asked the young man in surprise.

Group 15 Chapter Three

After one straight day of walking, Yara, Owen and Cedric found an inn in Goblinshire, where they could sleep, eat and have a drink. After drinking a little too much, Cedric, Yara and Owen had become the best friends in the world.

“I don’t know how I could sleep with the awful smell”, said Cedric unconsciously.

“Yes, I won’t feel safe knowing that those thieves are hanging around”, Owen replied.

A few goblins at a neighboring table were looking at the three friends in an offensive way.

Cedric decided it was the best thing to do to insult Indicus, brother of Sativarius, King of goblins. After one minute, the tavern was a real wrestling ring. The strength of Owen, the intelligence of Yara and the magic of Cedric, allowed them to win the battle in no time. But only one goblin escaped: Jack Horror. He told king Sativarius, who decided to form a small army of thousands of the best creatures of Goblinshire. Aware of nothing, the three friends continued their route to the great wizard through the arid desert of Kussland. But the journey was long and the weather was hot and it was now at three days of walking when they arrived at the magical city of Frisianton. They were running short on provisions and the goblins were close to arriving in the town. That was when things started to be bad.

“Oh!” Cedric said.

“What is the problem?” replied Owen

“Goblings are heading to Frisianton from the east and will be there in a few days, we have to move faster. What’s the problem with a few goblins when we have beaten a hundred!” said Yara, joking. And what if there are thousands of trolls, ogres, orcs, goblins and a Sonarian dragon?”

In a second, their material was packed and the friends moved to Frisianton as fast as possible to form their own army and fight fiercely the vicious goblins. After walking for two and a half days they finally arrived at a billboard indicating that they were close to the city, creating a release for the three young adventurers, but it was nothing compared to what they were about to discover…

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Introducing Martine Lewis

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Martine Lewis, the author of the young adult title, Crossing the Barrier: The Gray Eyes Series Book One. She’s also hosting a book giveaway on Goodreads!

_JEF6320Why don’t you start by telling us about yourself.

This is always the hardest part, isn’t it?

We’ll get the hard part out of the way first.

I start writing when I was eleven years old, and have written on and off ever since. I wrote mostly fanfictions and some bad originals when I was younger, mostly inspired by people I knew. Fanfiction was a good way to hone my skill and when I tackled the writing of my own original fiction, I was ready.

Now, I write original fictions with no end in sight.

On a more personal side: I work full time as a Project Scheduler/Planner to pay for my “writing addiction”. Hopefully one day, my writing will support itself and me, and I’ll be able to do it full time.

As a Project Scheduler/Planner, you probably don’t have the organizational problems that plague me and so many other authors.

Tell us about Crossing the Barrier.

It’s the story of a football player who falls for a band girl. It was heavily inspired from my attending high school football games here in the suburb of Houston. I came to love the atmosphere at those games, and I got to know a lot of the parents. It’s an interesting world, where the players are very devoted to the sport, and the band is having the time of their life, and I wanted to explore it more.

It turns out this book worked very well in the universe I created. While this is the third book I wrote in that universe, it was only fitting that it would be the first one to come out. It worked best in the series timeline.

Blurb:

High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head.

Lily Morgan can feel everyone’s emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai.

Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily’s secret too big to accept, even for him?

Who is your target audience?

I would say young adult/new adults between the age of 16 and 20.

How many volumes do you plan to write in the series?

This book is part of a series of six, the Gray Eyes Series.

A few days ago, I received the development edit comments for book 2, and I am currently revising book 3 to send it to my legal reviewer. All my books go through her. I think it’s important for me to get my legal facts right and I take good care in doing just that.

I will complete the first draft of book 4 in April during Camp Nano. I began in November and got halfway through before I had to go back to book 1 (Crossing the Barrier) to address my copyediting comments.

Book 5 is written, at least a first draft. I should begin my first revision of it in September.

Book 6 is the only one that is not yet written, at least in part. I should be writing it during Nanowrimo this coming November.

It certainly sounds like you’ve got a great start on the series. How long did it take to write?

Usually, I can write 95,000 words in a month. I use challenge months such as the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo), Camp Nano and Junowrimo to complete my first drafts, and off months to plan. It works for me to have the pressure of a challenge in order to obtain a good word count by a certain date. I think my first draft is by far the easiest part to write.

Then I do revising, at least two passes, then the editing cycle.

I’ve always wanted to try the challenge months. They don’t fall at good times for me.

What are some books that influenced/inspired you in the writing of this one?

This particular book wasn’t inspired by any books. It was mostly inspired by what I witnessed at the football games I attended.

Who are your favorite authors?

While I write Young Adult, Cambria Hebert, who mostly writes New Adult, is a big inspiration for me. I especially like her #Hashtag Series, which I read three times in the last year. I also like CM Doporto and her University Park Series, and Tammara Webber’s Easy.

And of course, I would be remiss not to mention JK Rowling. She really created a wonderful universe in which I took an enormous pleasure to write in. I wrote hundred of thousands of words of fanfiction in the Potterverse.

J. K. Rowling? Would I have read anything she’s written? Joking. I too am a huge potter fan. I recently read the series with my oldest son, now I’m on book three with my youngest.

On which aspect of your writing do you work the hardest? (Characters, plotting, prose, etc.)

Prose. English is my second language and I do struggle with it a lot. My first draft reads like a paper from a third grader. The words are not very diverse and the phrases are frequently worded using French grammar. That’s why I do so many revisions. That’s why I put so much importance in my editing effort too. I have surrounded myself with editing professionals who know English is my second language and are a great help in varying my vocabulary and finding the right word for what I’m trying to say.

Characters are sometimes a challenge too. While I was writing book 4, or trying to, Malakai, my main character of book 1, kept on talking to me. In fact, he was talking so loud, I couldn’t hear the characters of book 4. That’s part of the reason I couldn’t finish book 4 during Nano, like I would usually have done.

Now plotting is usually not very hard as long as I have an idea already in mind. Subplotting can be challenge sometimes but after a long drive, I can usually figure it out… Yes, I love to plot while I’m driving. There is nothing else to do!

From what little I know of you, I’d have never guessed English wasn’t your first language.

What’s next?

The second series, believe it or not. I plan to be around for a long long time.

Starting in 2017, I will begin writing the Blue Eyes Series which is set in the same universe but with different characters. If my schedule holds – remember, I’m a Project Scheduler by profession – I should write book 1 of the Blue Eyes Series for Camp Nano in April 2017, and book 2 for Nano in November 2017. Let’s see if the schedule will hold.

Crossing the Barrier eRev09-eBook
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Don’t forget to enter the Goodreads book giveaway.

The Way to Her Heart by Amy Reece: Book Tour and Giveaway!


Will a mysterious disappearance bring two broken hearts together…or tear them apart?


THE WAY TO HER HEART by Amy Reece 
YA Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Release Date: March 29, 2016
— SYNOPSIS —
No amount of counseling can bring Josh Harris back to his old self.
After a tragedy that changed his life forever, eighteen-year-old Josh has lived in a year-long fog of medication and confusion. It’s all he can do to not think about his dad—a culinary genius who raised him in the kitchen. Thankfully, Josh inherited his golden palate and sixth sense for cooking, which is the only thing that makes sense anymore.
For a seventeen-year-old girl, life can’t get much worse…
Bernie Abeyta is a senior in high school and lives with her drug-addicted mother, but has managed to keep her grades up so she can get into college. With her father in prison and her mom’s sleazy boyfriend getting too close for comfort, Bernie turns to her best friend Gabby Rodriguez for help, but discovers Gabby has gone missing. Distressed over her friend’s sudden disappearance, Bernie resorts to living out of her car while she looks for answers and tries to avoid foster care.
Part love, part mystery, part cookbook—and all heart.
During economics class, Josh finds himself captivated by his new project partner, Bernie. As they grow closer, he insists Bernie move in with him and his mother. Furthermore, he offers to help look for Gabby.
Bernie refuses to believe Gabby ran away, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery—no matter how great the danger to herself.
Will Bernie’s gritty life be too much for Josh to handle? Or will he fight for The Way to Her Heart?

 

— PURCHASE YOUR COPY! —

 

— EXCERPT —
October

Josh

She cut her hair. Josh realized he was staring at the girl in the next row and pulled his gaze back to his notebook as the teacher droned on about supply and demand curves. I don’t care for short hair on girls. Yet he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. He didn’t even know her name. On Friday her hair had been long, the silky black tresses reaching below her shoulder blades. Today, he could see the back of her neck. He could see how long and slender it was and watched as she reached around to feel it, seeming surprised, perhaps still unused to the short cut. She pushed the long front layer behind her ear. The purple streak is kind of cute, though. He once again forced his gaze back to his notes, reminding himself that he had a girlfriend; a beautiful girlfriend with long blonde hair. Focus, Harris. Get your mind off the pretty girl with the short hair. She was pretty. He’d always thought so, even though he didn’t know her name. He’d heard it; wasn’t it something weird? Enough! Supply, demand. That’s all you need to think about.“So, for the next few weeks you will be paired up with one of your classmates as we launch a new project designed to help you experience some of what it takes to create and stick to a household budget.” Mr. Griego picked up a stack of index cards from his desk. “I have created a scenario with careers and incomes for each couple. Some of you have children, and some don’t. Every few days you will get a new financial situation you have to deal with. Each week of this project will be the equivalent of one month for your budget. You will turn in a complete six month budget, along with a written report at the end of the project. Each couple will also give a five-minute oral presentation.” He started calling names and handing out index cards. There were groans and titters of laughter as the names were called because some of the couples were same-sex. “Josh Harris and Bernie Abeyta.” No one in the class said anything or laughed at the pairing. Josh wasn’t surprised; he had pretty much fallen off the radar over a year ago. He stood and walked to the front of the room to retrieve the index card.

“Who’s Bernie Abeyta?” he asked quietly. Great. I’m paired with a guy. Just what I needed.

The girl with the short, purple hair raised her hand. “Me.” She sounded bored.

“Okay. I’m, uh, I’m Josh.” He stood in front of her desk, awkwardly shifting from side to side.

“Yeah. I’m Bernie.” She glanced up quickly, meeting his gaze, then looked away.

“You have the last fifteen minutes of class to exchange contact information, phone numbers, email addresses, whatever you need to get in touch with your partner. Most of the project work will need to be on your own time as you will need to visit grocery stores and do some online research,” Mr. Griego said.

Josh sat down in the newly vacated desk in front of Bernie. “So.” He waved the index card. “One of us is a teacher and the other is an attorney. Which do you want to be?”

Bernie shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter to me. You choose.”

He looked at her, a half-smile on his face. Close-up he noticed that she had beautiful, smooth, light-brown skin and her eyes were so dark they looked black. She didn’t wear much makeup; she didn’t need to. “Fine. I’ll be the teacher. You can be the attorney.” She looked up quickly. “Is that okay?”

She shrugged again. “Sure. It doesn’t matter. Do we have kids?”

“Yeah, we have two: an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son. So, I guess we should exchange phone numbers and email.” He scrawled his information on a page of his notebook and tore it out, handing it to her.

She took the page, staring at it blankly for a moment before tearing a piece of paper out of her own notebook. “Here’s my email.”

He looked at it. “What’s your cell number?”

“I don’t have one. Just the email.”“Oh. Okay.” Josh had never heard of anyone his age who didn’t have a cell phone. “So, do you want to get together tonight to get started on this? We could meet at my house. Or yours. Whatever you want.”

“Yours. Here.” She pushed the paper back at him. “Write your address. I have to work until seven. I can be there around seven-thirty. Is that okay?” She didn’t meet his eyes.

“Uh, sure. That’s fine. Here.” He handed the paper back. “Do you need a ride or anything?”

“No.”

“Oh. Great. So, I’ll, uh, see you tonight. I guess.” He had never been so tongue-tied around a girl.

“Yeah.” She turned her attention back to her notebook, clearly dismissing him.

Josh returned to his seat, chagrined. I seem to have lost my touch. Then again, he hadn’t really been trying very hard for a long time. He used to be much better at this whole thing: friends, girls, talking. Now he simply didn’t have the energy anymore. It was October of his senior year and he was biding his time until he could graduate and move on with his life. She’s really pretty, though. He groaned inwardly as he packed his notebook and shouldered his backpack. He knew he had no business noticing how pretty his new partner was; he should be thinking about how gorgeous his girlfriend had looked in her cheerleading uniform that morning during the pep rally. She was beautiful, sweet, and had stuck by him through a seriously dark time in his life. He had really been phoning it in lately with Kayleigh. Jeez, he could do better. He merged with the flow of humanity in the hallway, determined to do right by her, starting tomorrow at lunch.

 

— ABOUT THE AUTHOR —
Amy Reece lives in Albuquerque, NM, with her husband and family. She loves to read and travel and has an unhealthy addiction to dogs. She believes red wine and coffee are the elixirs of life and lead to great inspiration. She is the author of The Seeker Series (YA paranormal) and The Way to Her Heart (YA romantic suspense).

 

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