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A Veil of Shadows (The Shadow Gate Chronicles #2)

by Michael W. Garza

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release Date: September 22nd 2017

NeverHaven Press

 

Summary:

A desperate search leads to a new world

Naomi and Gavin are on the run. Having narrowly escaped Azzmon’s clutches, they find themselves hunted by Malick, another Shade Lord. He has amassed an army of foul creatures, and the city-state of Tarravale stands on the brink of chaos. Naomi’s ability to open Shadow Gates makes her an alluring target, and the Shade Lord will stop at nothing to possess her. The children must find a way to escape before their new world is buried in an unwinnable war.

Excerpt:

Naomi was desperate to get away. She looked for any opening in the crowd but found a growing sea of figures filling in the shadows of the night. Another surge pressed up against her back, and she stumbled forward as someone pushed her from behind. Naomi fought to get back into the crowd, but something grabbed her hand. She was yanked out into the line of dancing fiends, lunging around the fire before she remembered her armor. The drunken, foul thing she’d stripped at the edge of the foothills had been one of the goblins, and it was apparent they expected her to join in on the dance.

The beat came from a row of goblins seated in a line close to the fire. The creatures slammed their fists on crude instruments in a semi-coordinated arrangement. Naomi was pulled into a loose circle, prancing around the musicians. Terror instantly set in and she froze. It took two well-placed jabs in her side to get her moving again.

It all started with a hop. Naomi focused on the creature in front of her and did her best to ignore the hooting and hollering of the surrounding spectators. She caught on to the steps as her growing panic mixed with a strange determination to get it right. It took a few moments for her to grasp the basic moves, and then she added in a few of her own to make it her thing. She tried to forget that she was boogying in the very center of an enemy camp. Her mental block had little effect on keeping out the roar of the crowd, but it allowed her to remain focused on what she was doing.

Her unfitted armor came with its own share of issues. The chest plate was too big for a teenage girl while managing to be too short at the same time. Naomi was forced to hold onto her helmet with both hands to keep it from slipping off as she danced. The pace of the drums picked up, encouraging the performers to do the same. The train of goblins moved at an alarming speed, and before long Naomi had to hop, skip, and jump to keep up. The entire ordeal culminated in a group howl that scared her half to death.

A sudden bellow of applause from the crowd mixed with shouts and whistles. One of the onlookers seized Naomi by the shoulders and shook her furiously. She thought he might strike her before he finally lifted his head back and laughed as loud as a foghorn. The man let her go, and she stumbled backwards. The goblins broke from the line, and Naomi found herself alone by the fire. Her predicament quickly shifted from bad to worse. The surrounding sea of goblins unlatched their armor, and it wasn’t long before Naomi was the only figure wearing a helmet.

The attention started with a few glances, first from the goblins and then the men and serpent-kind as they headed back to their own gatherings. Naomi walked away, keeping a straight line for the open divide between the goblin circle and an adjacent gathering of men. She heard the patter of boots following after her. They called out in the goblin’s foul language, but she didn’t dare turn around. The calls echoed from one gathering to the next, and the commotion was enough to draw several curious eyes.

The first real sign of trouble came from a hard pinch on her arm. A hand took a firm hold of her cloak and wouldn’t let go. Naomi strained to pull away but couldn’t. She saw figures moving toward her from the corners of the gathering. The goblins appeared to know something was up, and her chances of escape shrank by the moment. She finally gave in and spun around, coming face to face with a goblin’s bulbous head, its eyes glowing bright yellow in the firelight. Another powerful pull flung her around in the opposite direction, and she was sure the ruse was up.

 

 

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About the Author

Michael W. Garza often finds himself wondering where his inspiration will come from next and in what form his imagination will bring it to life. The outcomes regularly surprise him and it’s always his ambition to amaze those curious enough to follow him and take in those results. He hopes everyone will find something that frightens, surprises, or simply astonishes them.

 

 

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Nostalgic Rain: Excerpt and Giveaway

Nostalgic Rain: Galaxies Away
by A.S. Altabtabai
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: July 1st 2017

Summary from Goodreads

What seventeen-year-old Leland finds in the abandoned basement of his house is something he will never forget.

Leland lost his father when he was seven. Since then, he has successfully adapted to the awful life of being a student, the man of the house, and a father figure to his two younger siblings. All of that changes when he and his best friends stumble upon a secret in his deserted basement, and fall into another dimension with three moons, foggy woods, and an ancient castle-Oremanta.

Learning who he really is, how he came to this remote planet, and the shocking, ugly mystery of Oremanta aren’t as bad as the quest he finds himself obligated to complete-killing someone he never thought he’d meet in Oremanta to save everyone.

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Excerpt:  

Chapter One

Voices

The ceiling, barely visible in the dark room, greeted Leland. He didnt know how long hed slept, but that didnt matter much. It was summer. A thump resounded in the atmosphere, and it mixed with the squawking of birds and the chirping of grasshoppers. Leland rose from the sweat-soaked sheets of his bed and went to the window overlooking their small house garden. The sky was a mixture of red, orange, and yellow on one side, where the egg-yolk sun rose, and black on the other. In between the two, various degrees of blue adorned the horizon. Its dawn.

Be it summer, spring, winter, or autumn, all dawns in Temblewood City were cold. Leland put on his red hoodie, the one he got last year on his sixteenth birthday from Jennifer, his best friend, and stomped down the wooden abodes creaky stairs. Lelands heavy-lidded brown eyes skimmed the familiar dilapidated furniture of the living room, but he didnt dare complain. It was his grandfathers house, and he had lived here with his mother and two little siblings for ten years now since his father had died.

Today, he didnt want to drink coffee. Drinking coffee meant staying awake and alert for a long period, and he didnt want any of that. He wished he could sleep for the rest of this summer. Instead of coffee, Leland headed to Jaimes Café, a place more popular than Starbucks in Temblewood City, and bought a cup of hot chocolate. The cup was so hot he had to wrap it with two layers of napkins.

This summer was different from the last. Last year, hed seen Jennifer and Dylan almost every day. Hed gone hiking and horse riding and fishing, and hed camped on Mount Lamen, which wasnt a good ideathey had ended up lost for two days with cops searching for them. But now he was running from everyone and everything. Jennifer and Dylan were calling every day, and hed been creating excuses to be alone. But he missed them. A lot. The most awful thing in life is changing into someone worse but not realizing it.

Leland sat on a wooden bench not so far from Jaimes Café and gazed at the road, which was gradually getting more crowded with cars and people. A young man wearing a black suit and a red tie sat beside him. The man, who genuinely smelled good, scrolled down his phones screen, checking his Twitter timeline. Yeah. Thats what normal people do. They work and they socialize and they live. Leland missed that. Fear can paralyze ones mind and create thousands of fake barriers.

A raindrop fell on Lelands cup. He stared at the gray clouds in the sky, and an army of a million other drops flooded the ground. Thats why he hated Temblewood. It would rain any time of year, and Leland despised rain. He knew it was going to be a bad day. All rainy days are bad. The day his father died had been a day of heavy rain and dark memories he wished he could forget. But that was impossible because it was impossible not to have rain throughout the year. And every time it rained, a powerful resurrection of that day occurred.

Leland realized the suited man beside him had left at some point during his deep and useless thinking session. It seemed Leland was the only one on the street now. He put the hoodie cap on and walked underneath shop awnings on his way back home. Now that he thought about it, Leland hadnt learned much from his absent father.

But there was one sentence that kept ringing in his head. Leland wasnt even sure how or when or why his father had told it to him: The more you feed your fear, the more you become imprisoned by it.

***

Karla and Fred giggled and ran in the corridor. Theyve grown up really fast. I cant believe theyre starting to write and read already. Karla opened the door wide and nestled between Lelands arms. She curled and made herself comfortable in his hands.

You cant touch me now! she told Fred, sticking her tongue out.

Youre cheating! Fred replied, his palm on his waist.

Hey, you two, Leland said. Youre supposed to be in your beds now, arent you?

Were waiting for Aunt Abbey! Karla said. Mom said we can stay up late tonight.

Leland had totally forgotten that. His aunt, Abbey, was coming back to Temblewood from Todland, a city five hours away by plane. She worked as a nurse there. The last time hed seen her was a year ago when she came for New Years Eve. Shed brought them two bags of Made-In-Todland-Only candies. Leland hoped shed bring them again this time.

Lelands room was the smallest in the house. In one corner was his bed and in the other was a desk and a bookshelf with many Xbox games and a few novels. The only good thing about the room was the window that overlooked the street.

Fred toured Lelands room. He flipped the pages of a book he could barely carry and then dropped it when the doorbell rang. It was more of a noisy croak rather than a musical sound.

Abbey had arrived.

***

Lelands grandma, glued to her usual spot on the worn rocking chair shed bought right after Lelands birth, glimpsed him for a moment and then rolled her eyes back to the TV.

Where have you been all day? she complained, switching channels. Your aunt is here, for Gods sake.

On the table in the living room sat a cake with Welcome Home written on it. The living room was lit by an old, handcrafted chandelier, but it did its job quite well. Leland hugged his aunt. She hadnt changed much.

Hows everything? Leland asked.

Perfect! She replied, taking a bite of her cake. Everything is too perfect!

Great. Im glad. He took a seat beside her. Fred and Karla were on the ground playing rock, paper, scissors. His grandfather, Richard, was listening to the news, his ears touching the radios speaker.

What about you? Abbey asked.

Im fine, Leland replied, faking a smile.

No, hes not, Lelands mother said, cutting cake for Fred and Karla, pretending not to care much about the issue. Somethings wrong with him. He hardly leaves hisvroom.

Lelands face flushed. He felt stupid for not realizing his mother must have felt something was wrong with him. This meant Dylan and Jennifer, his friends, likely also noticed.

No, its just—” Leland said, attempting to fake an excuse.

Is he always alone? Abbey asked.

Almost, Maria, Lelands mother, replied.

And hes not eating a lot?

Yes.

Lelands heart raced. Theres no way Abbey would know what hed been through lately. Shed been away, and he made sure no one knew.

And he doesnt talk much? Abbey asked.

Yeah. Only a little, Maria answered.

Abbey clapped her hands and cried, Hes in love!

All eyes turned toward Leland. But he was relieved. She knew nothing after all. Leland pretended her assumptions were correct. He gazed down and said nothing in reply.

Theres nothing to be ashamed of, Leland. Weve all been through this before, Aunt Abbey said, and then her voice dropped to a whisper. And dont chicken out. Women hate that.

Leland didnt know how to reply, so, rather awkwardly and loudly enough that everyone stared at him again, he said, I like her.

Okay. Thats enough for today. Leland had paid his social dues and now he had to leave. Embarrassed, Leland said, I gotta go.

And he went back to his room.

***

Leland collapsed into his bed with Les Miserables in his hand. Hed bought it a month ago from Harrys Bookstore, a local shop at the end of the street. Leland read a book or two per year, but he wished he could dedicate more time to reading. He read some pages then put the book on the bedside table. With the lights on and the window opened, Leland dozed off without realizing it. Deep in his sleep, Leland woke up, sweating and trembling in fear. His breath quickened and his heart hammered against his chest. It had happened for the fifth time this week.

Voiceshundreds of thousands of throatswhispered in Lelands ears and mumbled words he couldnt understand. And it seemed he was the only one hearing them.

For Gods sake, what the hell is going on?

About the Author

Medical student, writer & travel passionate.

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Sprint Writing

Hi there! Becca and I have joined together to do a writing adventure. It’s called Sprint Writing!

What is sprint writing?

It’s a timed writing exercise to write as quickly as you can for a set amount of time. You can take on a suggested prompt or dare, too!

Why take part in a word sprint? To rev up your writing momentum, and get you sprinting past your inner editor. —NaNoWriMo

For some writing tips, visit here!

Enjoy!

How’d you like it? We challenge you to join in on this adventure! Comment or tweet with your writing time and word count. We’d love to hear about your experience and suggestions on what you’d like next. Questions, concerns, fun tidbits and challenges that you want to see. We look forward to hearing from you!

Jadeite’s Journey: Excerpt and Giveaway

Jadeite’s Journey
by Lucinda Stein
Genre: YA Scifi
Release date: January 24th 2017
Inkspell Publishing

Summary:

When romance turns deadly…

Jadeite’s perfect world comes crashing down on her. In the futuristic world of United Society, her only problem has been how to act around the cute boy on the air shuttle. But Jadeite’s world changes when she comes across a man who looks alarmingly like her father. Clones were declared illegal years ago. When she sees her father, a robotic engineer, headed to the Dark Edge of United Society, she follows him and uncovers her father’s secret life.

Jadeite shadows her father past the boundary of United Society and into a primitive world of canyons and high deserts. She learns her father is a Ridge Runner passing between the two worlds. Even more alarming, she discovers her younger brother, Malachite, is sick and requires medicine only available from over the Ridge. After her father is arrested, Jadeite takes his place in order to save her brother’s life.

But her world turns even more precarious after she breaks up with her obsessive boyfriend, Mattie. Jadeite soon learns his threats are more than words, and she finds her life is in jeopardy.

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Book Trailer:

Jadeite’s Journey Trailer from Lucinda Stein on Vimeo.

  1. About the Author
    A school librarian for over twenty years, Stein now writes fulltime. Sanctuary: Family, Friends, & Strangers was a 2015 Colorado Book Award finalist. Three Threads Woven, was a 2010 WILLA Finalist. Her story, Sulfur Springs, won First Place in the 2011 LAURA Short Fiction competition. Her stories have appeared in Pooled Ink, The South Dakota Review, Fine Lines, and Women Writing the West online.
    When not writing, she hikes desert canyons and alpine trails. She loves anything vintage, her shelter-rescued dog, Opie, and, most of all, her husband, Rob.

Excerpt:

Jadeite woke to Mattie holding a cool gel wrap to her forehead. She was propped on one of the chairs that lined the dance floor.

He offered her a drink of punch. “This will revive you. Oh, and I told the principal to tone down the heat.”

Guess Mattie’s power extended to the entire teaching staff.

“I’ll give you a break for a couple of dances, then we have to get back out there, don’t we?”

His expression made the request into a barely disguised order.

Jadeite nodded and looked away. She hated this guy, absolutely hated him.

It was after midnight when the event ended. She stifled a yawn as Mattie escorted her to the waiting shuttle.

They had driven a few minutes when Mattie lowered the partition between the front and back seats. The driver idled outside the public air-shuttle station where lights revealed a shuttle packed with passengers. The passengers, all adults, sat facing forward. None were reading, visiting, or talking via phone waves.

“Driver, take us to the bistro near the school.”

“Yes, sir.” The tinted window slid up again.

Jadeite stared at the passengers as their shuttle moved ahead. Why would people be transported at this late hour? United Society prided itself on daytime shifts for everyone. One woman looked confused, sweeping her eyes from side to side at those around her. As their private shuttle took off, Jadeite glanced back. She could have sworn a man’s face at the window was cloaked in fear.

She turned to Mattie. “Why are all those people on the transport so late at night?”

He wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “Don’t worry that pretty little head of yours. Those people are being transported to other areas in United Society.”

That’s what they’d told Electra about her parents.

About the Author:

A school librarian for over twenty years, Stein now writes fulltime. Sanctuary: Family, Friends, & Strangers was a 2015 Colorado Book Award finalist. Three Threads Woven, was a 2010 WILLA Finalist. Her story, Sulfur Springs, won First Place in the 2011 LAURA Short Fiction competition. Her stories have appeared in Pooled Ink, The South Dakota Review, Fine Lines, and Women Writing the West online.
When not writing, she hikes desert canyons and alpine trails. She loves anything vintage, her shelter-rescued dog, Opie, and, most of all, her husband, Rob.

Author Links:

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The Mark of Noba Excerpt and Giveaway

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The Mark of Noba (The Sterling Wayfairer Series #1)
by G.L. Tomas
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: August 25th 2015
Rebellious Valkyrie Press

Summary from Goodreads:

Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. He’s been slipping into the background his whole high school career—distracted by his mother’s mental health, unsettled by the vivid dreams that haunt him at night, and overshadowed by the athletic accomplishments of his popular best friends. But this year is going to be different. He’s going to break a few rules, have some fun, and maybe even work up the nerve to ask his crush out on a date.

But things don’t go exactly as planned. Students are disappearing, Sterling starts losing time, and it all seems to center around Tetra, a girl no one else seems to notice but him. When he finally tracks her down for answers, they aren’t what he expects: He and Tetra hail from a world called Noba, and they’re being hunted by a Naga, a malevolent shapeshifter that’s marked them for destruction.

Tetra and Sterling have distinct abilities that can help them fight back, but their power depends heavily on the strength of their bond, a connection that transcends friendship, transcends romance. Years apart have left their bond weak. Jumpstarting it will require Sterling to open his heart and his mind and put his full trust in the mysterious Tetra.

If he doesn’t, neither of them will survive.

image

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Excerpt:

Grey and I weren’t on the same wavelength when it came to girls as Kip and I were. There’s no way Kip didn’t notice the new girl; he never missed a new face.
“Hey, anyone notice that girl in gym class the other day?” I leaned my elbows on the table and checked to see no one was listening. Grey and Kip faces distorted in confusion.
I popped open my can of soda, but didn’t take a sip. Everything I was about ask required my complete concentration.
“What girl?” Grey asked.
“You know?” Both of them hadn’t caught the hint. “The one from the fitness test? Pretty. Type 5. Athletic?”
Kip groaned under a muffled laugh and scooped Jell-O from his cup. “I think I would remember a girl with that description.”
I studied the cafeteria. It was a good thing lunch period was split between two periods. Less people to look through. She wasn’t hard to find. She was the only person sitting by herself. That was a form of social suicide, but it must’ve been by choice. I leaned forward, pointing.
Grey laughed. “What—the new girl?” He shoved a scoop of rice pudding in his mouth. The smell of coconut, cinnamon, and vanilla overwhelmed his spot. I should’ve brought a better item to bargain with Kip. It would’ve been mine if I had.
“Yeah, if by new, you mean since a couple weeks ago.”
Grey dropped his spoon, and met me with dark eyes. “Dude, she just started like yesterday. I think we would’ve noticed if she’d been going since the start of the year.”
Huh?
Kip studied her from a distance. He was never good at hiding when he was attracted to a girl. “She’s definitely nice.”
I hoped I didn’t have to spell it out. I was wrong. There was no way they’d only just noticed her. Surely this was an oversight.
“You don’t remember yesterday? During the fitness test? She was the only person who finished the ballistic climb.”
That got a reaction out of Kip. He interrupted me, waving hands and fury alike. “Hold on, Wayfairer. There wasn’t a person in class who finished that climb.”
“Uh, ya-huh. Only person who did.” Jocks. They never let you get away with challenging their loss.
Grey stopped our arguing, hoping to get to a point. “What is this about, Ster?”
“You guys don’t remember her from gym?” Kip and Grey shook their heads, denying any claim to the new girl or what happened in class.
Grey laughed and picked up his pudding. “No, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. She started yesterday. Not at the beginning of the school year. Yesterday. Get a grip, buddy.” Grey reached out to shove my shoulder.
“So you guys don’t remember her from PE? Or anything?” I asked. I wasn’t letting it go. It had started as a friendly inquisition but was turning into a full-fledged debate.
Kip shrugged. “Well, if she’s been going here all year, what’s her name? Oh, uh, and what’s her number too? I might need that come Homecoming.” Kip laughed. Neither of us found him funny.
I wanted to answer, but I didn’t know it. She didn’t speak to anyone, she never handed in assignments that revealed her name, and every person I asked had no idea who she was. It was as if she came to school every day to make sure we’d cross paths and exchange awkward stares. Something about it now seemed…creepy.
“I don’t know. But the fact that none of you acknowledge what happened weirds me out a little.”
Grey pursed his lips and looked over my shoulder. He widened his eyes as he finished off his dessert.
“You know what’s creepy?” Grey asked, as my body tensed.
“What?”
“She’s staring at you right now. Either she’s got supersonic ears or maybe you’re right. Maybe she’s creepy,” Grey joked.
Kip laughed with him as I turned around. Grey wasn’t wrong. She was staring right at me. She kept staring. I don’t know why, but I…

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About the Author:
Guinevere and Libertad go by many superhero aliases. Whether you know them by G.L. Tomas, the Twinjas, or the Rebellious Valkyries, their mission is always the same: spreading awareness of diversity in books. Oh, and trying to figure out the use for pocketless pants!

They host other allies and champions of diversity in their secret lair in Connecticut.

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The Key of Alanar: Author Interview and Giveaway

KeyOfAlanarTourBanner1
The Key of Alanar by Rory B. Mackay
(The Alanar Ascendant #1)
Publication date: August 15th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Book Summary (Goodreads):

Lasandria: an ancient, advanced civilization, consigned to oblivion by the greed and power-lust of its own people. The coming apocalypse heralds the arrival of a new evil that will ravage the world of Alanar for an entire age. Yet on the eve of Lasandria’s destruction, the ethereal overseers of the mortal realm grant a dispensation—a promise of hope for the future.

That hope lies with an orphaned teenager named David, born some ten millennia later; a boy whose isolated and uncertain existence leads him on a journey upon which hinges the fate of not just his world, but countless others.

On the run from a brutal military force, David’s quest is one born of shattered dreams and tainted by the thirst for revenge. As an inter-dimensional war that has been waged since the beginning of time threatens to consume his world, the dark force that destroyed Lasandria lurks in the shadows, ready to take possession of the one thing that will either save Alanar or destroy it: David.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00050]
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Author Interview

Tell us a little about yourself. How did you begin writing? What inspires you to write?

My writing journey began at a young age. I was a highly creative child, forever lost in my imagination and often not entirely in touch with the ‘real world’ (what can I say, the world of my imagination was just so much cooler ;)) I created my own comic books and stories, and every day when I walked my dog after school, I would imagine my own imaginary series of science-fiction/fantasy adventures unfolding in my head. Some of the ideas from those childhood imaginings actually made it into the series of books I’m now working on!

I knew from quite a young age that I had stories I wanted to be able to tell. In particular, I began creating what would form the basis of a fantasy/sci-fi series when I was about 16 years old. Progress was very slow. School kept me busy, then studying for my social science degree and working. As both a slow writer and a crippling perfectionist, it took me a great many years to finally complete my first novel “The Key of Alanar” (released last September). Perhaps confusingly, my first published novel, “Eladria” (published 2013), was released prior to “The Key of Alanar”, even though it was written after it (although I since went back and completely edited and virtually rewrote “The Key of Alanar”).

“Eladria” serves as a prelude to The Alanar Ascendant series, in much the same way as The Hobbit serves as prelude to The Lord of the Rings. I’m now working on the next book in the series. It’ll be wonderful to finally complete this writing project that has consumed so much time and energy over the past two decades. If I never write again after this, I guess I’ll be satisfied, as I’ll have said everything I ever set out to say. It’s all in these books, which are not only action-packed adventures, but thoughtful, reflective, philosophical books exploring some pretty major life themes. My novels are reflections of my journey through life; the hardships, the challenges, the wisdom gained and lessons learned.

What inspires me to write is the knowledge that words can transform and heal. According to Joseph Campbell, stories are one means by which we process reality, make sense of our lives and develop a sense of identity and community. Stories can awaken our sense of wonder and awe about life and the universe around us; they can expand our knowledge, challenge our assumptions and broaden our spiritual horizons. I’ve always believed in the power of words and stories, and although not a hugely prolific author compared to some, I wanted to tell some interesting, emotionally and spiritually authentic stories that might inspire and challenge people, making them consider themselves and reality in different ways.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

My books will appeal to lovers of fantasy and science-fiction, as well as fans of visionary fiction; stories with an underlying message and themes dealing with all facets of life. But really, one can enjoy the book on whatever level they want; the themes are quite subtly intervowen and tie in with the story and characterisation.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

‘The Key of Alanar’ was originally titled ‘The Journey: Awakening’; ‘The Journey’ being the original title of the series. I wanted something a little more dynamic and unique, however, and one day the title ‘The Key of Alanar’ popped into my head, because that is an object that is a crucial focus of the story. I think it sounds quite cool! The series later became titled ‘The Alanar Ascendant’, and that was a name I struggled to come up with, but I’m happy with it!

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

The cover was designed by Damonza, a company that design beautiful, extremely high quality book covers. I worked with a designer named Grady who I found extremely helpful and obliging and I’m delighted with the results. I had a very clear idea what I wanted, and this is pretty much exactly as I envisaged it. It captures the feel and energy of the book somehow. From the very start I felt the cover was going to feature the lead character stepping into the gateway, and would have amazing blue and purples.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Without a doubt, the lead character, David. The book is an intensely personal telling of his story; the mystery surrounding his origins, the tragedies that befall him and his subsequent fall from grace and eventual, possible, redemption. He’s a complex, flawed character and I risked making him potentially even a little unlikeable at times, as his judgement is clouded and he finds himself stumbling down some dark paths. He’s a hero but he’s also extremely human character; he makes mistakes, he learns and he changes immensely throughout the course of the story. I love this character especially because I put so much of myself into him, and he’s also alive to me somehow; he exists in my head, my psyche and my heart.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

Ha, I like all my characters in one way or another. The one I least like, however, by virtue of the fact he is a supremely terrible person, is the main antagonist, Zayron. I knew I ran the risk of Zayron becoming just a generic, moustache-twirling bad guy, so I tried to explore what makes a villain a villain. Initially Zayron is a very shadowy and mysterious character, relegated to a sinister background presence, but as he takes centre stage I get to paint him as the dangerous psychopath he is. Having studied psychology, I spent some time exploring the nature of sociopaths and psychopaths; how they think, how they function and what makes them what they are. I managed to weave this into the story and offer a little glimpse into what potentially makes people go bad.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

I can’t tell you how long I worked on this novel. We’re talking years and years. I’ve rewritten it dozens of times, changing virtually every sentence at one time or another. I finally got to a point where I’m actually really happy with it; finally, after all these years, satisfied! Of everything I’ve ever worked on my entire life, this book is the thing I’m most proud of. I actually don’t think there’s anything I’d change.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

When I initially came up with the idea for this book and series, back in the late 90’s, I envisaged it as a series of movies or a serialised TV series. I was a little ahead of my time: serialised TV series based on books is now a pretty big thing, but it was virtually unheard of back then. I’d love to see my books brought to live on the screen. Many people have commented on the vivid cinematic nature of my work, and how marvellously it would lend itself to the screen. Part of the reason for this is that, as I come up with the books, I see them as movies unfolding in my head.

What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?

I combine the classic epic fantasy quest with a sci-fi twist and a philosophical undertone that I think is maybe a little reminiscent of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. When creating the series, I was quite inspired by that, and JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Please take a look at my website www.dreamlight-fugitive.co.uk. You can learn all about my books; read about the background, characters, see artwork, read interviews, reviews, etc and also read the first several chapters from both books — and download free short stories that serve as lead-ins to the books. I offer a wealth of material on my site, so do check it out! There’s even a free music soundtrack to my first novel that can be downloaded in mp3 format.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m going to complete The Alanar Ascendant series. In all, there will be four books: ‘Eladria’ and ‘The Key of Alanar’ (both now published) and the final two books in the series, tentatively titled ‘Shattered Time’ and ‘War of the Gods’. After that, I have some ideas for a couple of more fantasy series, maybe with a more Young Adult tone.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Marketing is one of the hardest things in the universe in the publishing world right now. The market is so saturated, it’s extremely difficult standing out in the crowd when over 4,000 books are being published every single day. So the help of my readers is essential! Word of mouth is essential to all authors; so telling other people about my books, writing reviews and sharing via social media is immensely helpful. I don’t think readers really know how much power they have in helping an author to succeed. I appreciate every single review and all of the wonderful support I have received from people.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Publishing is fraught with both opportunities and challenges these days. Traditional publishing and self publishing both have pros and cons. I’ve done both, and to be honest, I would recommend that authors work extensively on building their own platform (something I have not been good at, I must admit), and forming relationships with readers and tapping into the market for their book. Oh, and making sure that their book is the very best it can possibly be. I’ve learned that, as a writer, I never stop learning and developing my skills.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

To both writers and readers alike; keep dreaming, keep pushing boundaries and keep appreciating the magic in not just fiction but the everyday world around us, for one of the functions of storytelling is to awaken us to that natural, everyday magic. Sometimes the more we dream, the more we awaken.

And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

David knew he was in mortal danger. The darkness was impenetrable and smothering, the air thick, musty and cold; the silence broken only by the drumming of his heartbeat and the uneven motion of his breath as it passed in and out of his body.

Although now a young man on the verge of adulthood, David felt as vulnerable and defenseless as a child as he crouched down low, praying that he would remain unseen by whatever it was that pursued him. He could feel its presence all around, an ancient, primordial evil, lurking amid the blackness; reaching out, sensing, searching—for him. There was no escaping it. It was too strong, too powerful, and it was getting closer by the second. Closer and closer…

Overcome by desperation, David realized that he couldn’t give in to it. He had to do something: he had to try to escape. He picked himself up from the ground and began to run. Squinting in the dark, he could barely see more than an arm’s reach ahead, but he relied on every other sense, not least his intuition, to guide him. He got only a fleeting sense of the environment around him as he ran: cavernous, cold and forbidding.

The moment David started to move, he had made himself visible. Behind him the enemy’s minions gave chase. Demonic shadow men, they were little more than soulless husks, like corpses animated by whatever dark force was pursuing him.

Hastening his pace, David raced as fast and as far as he could until he was forced to stop dead in his tracks. The path ahead was obscured by a gaping abyss. There was nowhere left to go.
Staring ahead, he saw a figure appear on the other side of the chasm: a girl, illuminated by a pale white light. She was around his age, perhaps seventeen or eighteen, dressed in a blue-violet tunic and trousers, with dark locks of hair falling to her shoulders. She reached out her arm and called to him from across the abyss: “David!”

He didn’t know why, but she seemed intimately familiar to him, as though he’d seen her face a thousand times before. But where? Struggling to process his memories was like trying to piece together a thousand half-forgotten dreams. Whoever she was, he knew that she was there to help him. If he could just get to her…

But almost the moment he stopped his pursuers were upon him. He felt their nails digging into his skin, drawing blood as they grabbed hold of him and reeled him back. With deformed faces contorted with malice, their was skin pale, thin and blistered, and their eyes sunken, reddened and leaking pus. He tried to fight them off, to break free of their grasp, but they were too strong and they quickly overpowered him. A pair of bony hands grabbed his throat. He struggled as they tightened their vice-like grip.

As he choked, David felt a wave of darkness crawling over his skin, penetrating his body and mind, seeping into and overwhelming him. It consumed him from the inside out, like a cancer devouring him until there was nothing left but a void of blackness.

David sat bolt upright in bed, his skin covered in sweat and his chest heaving for breath. Disorientated, it took him a moment to realize where he was and what had happened.

A dream…it was only a dream. It had felt so real, the images and sensations so intensely vivid. His pulse racing, he felt nauseous and his throat was tight and constricted, as though someone had indeed been trying to strangle him.

He crawled out of bed, feeling as though he’d been mauled by a wild animal. Wiping a band of sweat from his forehead, he pulled back his curtain and peered out the window. It was still the middle of the night; the velvet black sky punctuated only by the twinkling of distant stars.

David lit an oil lamp and carried it through the house to the washroom. He set the lamp down by the basin and poured some water from the ceramic jug. Splashing his face with the cool water, he tried to wash away the nauseating sense of terror.

He dried off his face and hands and filled a large glass with water. He was about to take a sip when something caught his eye. It was his reflection in the mirror. Somehow drawn to it, he gazed into the mirror as if seeing his own reflection for the very first time: his tousled shoulder-length dark hair framing a tanned, square-set face, illuminated by the flickering lamplight. His glistening dark eyes seemed to draw him in, as if they were a gateway to a whole other dimension; a hidden world that seemed to promise answers to questions he hadn’t yet dared ask. He snapped out of his strange reverie when he inadvertently tipped his glass and spilled the water.

By now he felt calmer and the specifics of the nightmare that had so disturbed him slipped away like grains of sand through outstretched hands. Returning to the warmth of his bed, he was soon overcome by a wave of sleepiness and any lingering thoughts pertaining to his dream were dispelled as he drifted into an altogether more restful sleep.

AUTHOR BIO:
Rory
A natural born writer, thinker and dreamer, Rory Mackay was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1979. As an ardent student of Vedanta, Zen and Taoism, one of Rory’s true passions is exploring the potential of fiction and art to elevate mood and expand consciousness.

Rory is the author of the visionary fantasy/sci-fi novels “Eladria” (2013) and “The Key of Alanar” (2015), as well as a translation and commentary of the Tao Te Ching (2014) and several short stories. He is in the process of writing a self help book and writes a regular blog at http://beyondthedream.co.uk. His website is http://www.dreamlight-fugitive.co.uk.

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Poison Book Blitz and Giveaway


Poison (Wind Dancer #1)
by Lan Chan
Release Date: September 1st 2015
Dominion Publishing


Summary from Goodreads:

Since the night her mother was murdered, sixteen-year-old Rory Gray has known one truth: There are no good Seeders. 

In post-apocalyptic Australia, the scientists known as Seeders have built a Citadel surrounded by food-producing regions and populated with refugees from the wars and famine. To maintain their control, the Seeders poisoned the land and outlawed the saving of seeds.


It’s been six years since Rory graced the Seeders’ circus stage as the Wind Dancer and still the scars on her body haven’t healed. Even worse are the scars on her heart, left by a Seeder boy who promised to protect her.


Now the Seeders are withholding supplies from Rory’s region for perceived disobedience. Utilising the Wanderer knowledge she received from her mother, Rory must journey to the Citadel through uninhabitable terrain to plead for mercy.


However, the Citadel isn’t as Rory remembered. The chief plant geneticist is dying and rumours fly that the store of viable seed is dwindling. The Seeders are desperate to find a seed bank they believe Rory can locate, and they will stop at nothing to get it. 


To defy the Seeders means death. But Rory has been close to death before–this time she’s learned the value of poison.


Recommended for fans of The Hunger Games, strong protagonists, circuses and nature!

Excerpt:

I run until it feels like my lungs will burst and every drag of air is excruciating. Then I stumble around in the dark for hours until I finally give up and start to climb again. I go up as far as I can, as high as the branches will support me, and wait for the coming dawn.

I’m awoken by the hollowness in my stomach. My eyes are grainy and the light is too bright, but I force them open. I’m way above the first canopy, and this high up, the forest is covered in a layer of mist so dense it could be snow.

But no layer of weather would be magical enough to obscure the other sight. High above the treetops, pushing upwards so the tips of the skyscrapers disappear into the clouds, is the Citadel. I hadn’t even noticed it was so close. On this level, the Iron Gates and the six-metre wall surrounding the Citadel are obscured by trees. Besides Warden Tower and the distant gleam from the dome over the Forgotten Garden, the skyline has changed dramatically from what I once knew. Skyscrapers have risen and fallen, and there’s a sense that the entire city is slowly expanding over the mountain it rests on.

It feels wrong to be trying to get back into the Citadel after so long. I barely escaped the first time, and only because I suspect Papa made some kind of untoward deal with the Seeders in exchange for my freedom. Yet seeing it so close, knowing it’s not just a figment of my imagination, fills me with a sense of urgency.

I’m not ready. I don’t have enough information about what I’m getting myself into. So I do the only thing that comes naturally when I’m unsure. I start to climb and don’t stop until the branch I cling to is little more than sapwood. I seat myself with my belly against the tiny leader branch and hug the tree as it sways precariously against the prevailing wind. In this moment, I actually feel like I’m a part of the eternal dance between the earth and the sky. The branch tips horizontally, and I close my eyes and pretend I’m on a ride at the fair that accompanies the circus around the regions.

I smile and then catch myself as a sickening thought occurs to me. Do I really love soaring over the earth, or is it something the Seeders have planted in me by conditioning? If it’s the latter, does it say something about me that I’ve embraced being up so high?

Buy Links:
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**Poison (Wind Dancer #1) is on sale for $0.99 for
the week of September 7th-11th!**
 

About the Author:

Lan Chan is a writer, gardener and professional procrastinator based in Melbourne, Australia. She is still waiting for her super powers to manifest but until then she writes young adult novels featuring strong female protagonists, minority characters and has a particular interest in dystopias and urban fantasy. Lan’s debut novel POISON, the first in her WIND DANCER series is due for release in September 2015.

Author Links:

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The Lemorian Crest Book Promo

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The Lemorian Crest (Cobbogoth #2)
by Hannah L. Clark
Release Date: July 2015

Summary from Goodreads:

After being raised from infancy in Boston, Mass., Noria (a.k.a Norah Lukens) has no idea what to expect upon entering New Cobbogoth, where she never would have guessed that paths of light can make you vanish; doors can lead to realms both near and far; myths and legends are actual history; a mere kiss can seal two souls as one; and, of course, a stone is never “just a stone.” Her Uncle Jack’s stories never could have prepared her for the magical and dangerous place her native realm is turning out to be.

When the Gihara’s promises begin to crumble, her best friend and soul-mate Jamus (a.k.a. James Riley) is in more danger than ever. Then when his father Lylend abandons her to search for an ancient relic called The Lemorian Crest and she is taken captive by the very people she’s risked everything to save, Noria begins to lose faith in the Cobbogothian gods and the mission they sent her home to accomplish.

Only when a series of new friendships and loyalties are forged in the most peculiar of places, does Noria dare hope again. Hope for Jamus’ safety, for their future together, and for the survival of the entire Cobbogothian race.

Book 1: Uncovering Cobbogoth was published in 2014 by Cedar Fort Publishing.

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Book One:

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Book Excerpt:

At her wits end where James’ safety is concerned, Noria and two new friends set out to rescue him. Before they can get too far, they are intercepted by an old acquaintance—a figure that Noria’s friends believe to be dead. But Noria soon learns Totherma’s interception is a godsend. She has a much less dangerous way to locate James.

Dark Matter Doors

Totherma waved her hand, and suddenly three circles of light appeared on the ground on either side of us.

“I’ve seen those before!” I said.

“Do you know what they are?” she asked.

“They look like the Venn diagram,” I shook my head. “But I don’t know what they’re called here. They just appeared before one of my visions of James. And then . . . it was like—well, I saw myself over there, but then I was here. It was like I was . . .”

“In two places at once?”

“Exactly!”

Totherma nodded, as though being in two places at once was exactly what she expected me to say. “These,” she said, gesturing to the circles, “are a dark matter door. And yes, they are exactly what their name implies—a door that opens a passage into dark matter.”

“Dark matter?” I breathed.  Samir, my old physics tutor, had taught me about dark matter in our lessons. Dark matter was the space between space. Earth’s physicists still weren’t exactly sure what it was or did, but Totherma was most likely about to tell me. After being here a while, I thought I might already know.

“Is dark matter what you call the matter between realms?” I asked.

Totherma beamed down at me, like a proud teacher admiring her favorite pupil. “Yes. That and everything else. There is dark matter all around us right now; we just can’t see it because it’s in a metaphysical sphere.”

“Like a spirit world?” I asked.

“Some in the Olden Realm have called it that. You may have also heard it referred to as the Fairy Paths, or the Underworld, or Ley lines. In a way it’s all of those things. Right now, all you need to understand is that it’s a way to get from one place to another very quickly.”

“Like a hoption hole,” I said.

Totherma nodded slowly. “Similar, but hoption holes can only be used within the sphere of a single realm. Dark matter doors have the ability to take you to different realms entirely.”

“So James is in a different realm?” I asked, alarmed.

“I didn’t say that.”

“But if he was, a dark matter door could take me there?”

“Precisely,” Totherma smiled. “The other difference between a hoption hole and a dark matter door is that you cannot pass through a hoption hole without your body, whereas with a dark matter door you can’t pass through with it.”

I realized what she was saying. “So the other day, when I saw myself in two places at once,” I began, trying to wrap my mind around what she was saying, “it was because my soul had separated itself from my body?”

Totherma nodded.

I shivered in spite of the warm night. It was what I’d suspected that night in my neutralocite cell.

Finally, Totherma moved over to one of the circles of light. “Now watch carefully so I don’t have to do this twice.”

I nodded, keeping my eyes fixed on her.

She floated into the circle. As soon as she was directly over its center, she vanished.

I blinked at the circle. “Totherma? Totherma, where are you?” I called.

Can you hear me, Noria? It was Totherma’s voice. I jumped, spinning around to find her, but no one was there.

I’m in your head, libkin. Traveling through dark matter allows me to speak to your soul.

I turned back to the circles of light. For the first time, I noticed there was a peculiar design inside one of the circles. It was simple, but elegant and something about it reminded me of the crop circles “aliens” left in barley or cornfields back in the Olden Realm.

I’d just completed this thought, when Totherma was back. She floated out of the circle with the design, and hovered in front of me again.

“I apologize for not asking permission first,” she said, “but I find the first time goes easier that way.”

“I don’t understand,” I said. “Is this how you were able to meet Uncle Jack outside the Caves of Aegissida all those years ago?” A dozen questions flooded my mind. “Is this how you were able to help me stop Cifer from figuring out I had the Haven?”

“Yes. What you see before you—this image of me—it is not really me,” she said. “Or I should say, it is not really my body standing before you. It is my soul, correct?”

I nodded.

“And my body is back in my own rodãor, safe and sound.”

“But why not come in the flesh?” I asked, still confused.

“Because my body cannot pass through the dark matter. Only metaphysical matter can.”

“Like the Dogrils without Cobbogothian bodies?” I asked.

“Yes, and if you still wish to see Jamus,” Totherma explained, “I can take your soul to see him through a dark matter door.”

“Really?” I asked. “You can do that . . . right now?”

“Libkin, I am the Opalian Eye; there is very little I cannot do.” Her proud words hung in contrast to the self-deprecating twist of her mouth.

I smiled up at her. She gave all the appearance of a “Grand Lady” and yet it was refreshing to see that she was able to make light of her power, in spite of her position. I liked her more and more.

“So how does it work?” I finally asked

Totherma paused a moment, as though she was carefully mulling my question over. “Let’s see, I could keep you here for years and years, trying to explain it to you, or, for the sake of what’s at stake, I could just show you.”

I hesitated a moment. I didn’t love the idea of leaving my body here in the open while Totherma took my soul through one of these dark matter doors. But I closed my eyes, picturing James—saw him writhing, broken and burning up as though I was right there in the room with him.

It was all I needed to make up my mind. “Show me,” I said.

Totherma smiled and then reached out, as if to take my chin in her hand. “First, I need permission to help your soul out of your body.”

“Permission?” I asked.

“Yes. Whenever a situation warrants it, I like to ask permission before I enter another’s body. It is your body, after all. Only the Dogrils and Cifer invade others’ minds and bodies so thoughtlessly.”

“You have my permission,” I said, my voice shaking a little. It was one thing for Totherma to randomly show up in my mind, it was quite another to wait, knowing that she would any second.

“Good. Now lie down here,” Totherma pointed to one of the circles without a design in its center. I did as she said and situated myself where she indicated on the ground.

Next she moved into the opposite circle.

A sharp zap zinged through my body.

Then I wasn’t lying on my back anymore. Instead, I stood in the opposite circle with Totherma, staring down at my body still lying in the first.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

I swallowed. “I think so.”

“Good kyndie.” Totherma then drew my attention to the third circle. It overlapped the other two; all were connected, creating a Celtic looking version of Borromean Rings—three circles all linked together in a sort of triangular design.

I tried really hard not to think about how weird it was to see myself lying there. “Am I—am I still breathing?” I asked.

Totherma reached up and smoothed my hair—or my soul’s hair. It was a peculiar sensation, and I was surprised to find it was far more potent than if she’d done it while I was in my body—like I didn’t feel the motion in my head but throughout my entire being.

“You are just sleeping very deeply.”

I nodded, letting out a shaky breath. I wondered how much more of the impossible it would take before I got used to this place.

“Now,” Totherma continued, “do you see the design in these two circles?” She pointed at the two circles with the crop circle designs.

Again, I nodded.

“These designs are maps—maps to particular paths that run through the dark matter. There is a different map for every path.”

“How many paths are there?” I asked.

“Many. You will soon memorize all of them as I have. It is one of the reasons the Gihara gave you an extraordinary memory.”

“Really? I’ve always thought it was just one more reason to consider myself a freak.”

Totherma tut-tutted. “By the time you’re old, libkin, you’ll realize just how much you take it for granted.”

I smiled back at her. “So where does this map lead?” I asked, directing her attention back to the dark matter doors, to the second circle in particular.

“This map is the map to your soul.”

“Is this the map you used when you helped me defeat Cifer in Earth’s realm?” I asked.

“Almost. I had to make a few alterations so I could first pass into Earth’s realm.”

I shook my head. “You can do that—just change the maps when you want?” Samir would’ve loved to experience this.

To demonstrate, Totherma waved her hand over the third circle in the dark matter door.  Suddenly, the design in the center changed. This design was different than the first, but still simple.

“This map will take you to your friends over there on the shore,” she said. She waved her hand again, and a slightly more complex map appeared in the circle. “This one will take you back to Resistance headquarters.”

“How do you know where they all lead?” I asked in awe.

“Because I created them all. It’s one of the powers of a Space Shifter. We are the only ones who are permitted by the Gihara to open dark matter doors and the only ones who can create paths through the dark matter.”

Totherma waved her hand a final time, and this time an extremely intricate map appeared. It was different than the others, with several flourishes and spirals leading every which way.

As I looked down at it, I noticed something else that was different from the others. There was a small blue light pulsing at the center of the map.

“What is that?” I asked.

Totherma grew serious now. “In the dark matter you will see the souls of every living thing.” I could feel her eyes on me. “But the souls that you are bound to—the way you’re bound to Jamus—will call to you by shining brighter than the rest.”

I turned to look at her, but she directed my attention back to the circle.

“That pulsing light right there,” she said, “is Jamus’ soul calling you.”

I breathed out, my heart lurching in response to James’ light. “Then he’s still alive?” I whispered.

Totherma smiled gently. “Yes, libkin. He’s alive.”

It was as though her words were electricity, spurring me into motion.

“Wait, Nor—.”

But before I knew what I was doing, I’d rushed for the dark matter door. The next instant, everything went silent and black. I waited, my heart beating with nothing but the thought that James was still alive.

Then the blackness vanished. Soul-shaking noise and neon colors blasted me like icy water. Shapes of light appeared, bleeding against the darkness like smeared chalk on a black canvas. There were outlines of trees, giant fireflies, rocks, grass—water teeming with light and energy and noise.

I stood in wonder, as a path of light—a path very similar to the Drusy Path—flashed out in front of me like car lights racing over a darkened highway.

I moved toward it, ready to find James—ready to rescue him from the torture he’d been enduring for at least two weeks—when a sharp screech to my left stopped me. I turned to see what it was.

I screamed as a frothy fanged Dogril sped for my throat.

About the Author

hannah clark

Hannah L. Clark lives with her husband and two children in the Rocky Mountains. She has always known she would be a storyteller. In 2006 she graduated from Utah Valley University with a bachelor’s degree in English and immediately began writing her first novel.

Uncovering Cobbogoth was Clark’s first book in the seven book Cobbogoth series based on her mythological brain-child, The Legend of the Cobbogothians. It was released in May 2014 through Cedar Fort Publishing. Book 2 in the series, The Lemorian Crest will be released in Summer 2015.

Clark loves running, mythology, singing while playing the guitar, herbal tea, escaping into imaginary worlds, and being with her peeps. Like her heroine Norah, she also kind of believes that trees might have souls, but must clarify that she has never actually hugged a tree. The closest she has ever come to that kind of bizarre behavior was the time she hugged the pillars outside Harry Potter Land. Which, all things considered, is not bizarre at all if you take into account how exquisitely happy she was to finally be there. 😉

Author Links:
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Silverwood by Betsy Streeter
(Silverwood #1)
Publication date: March 15th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Synopsis

A story of finding where you belong, even if it involves time travel, shape shifting, and hacking.

Helen Silverwood, fourteen, is sick of life on the run with her mom and her younger brother. Nothing makes sense. She doesn’t understand why she has recurring dreams of shape-shifting creatures, why her mother is always disappearing, and how her brother can draw things that haven’t happened yet. Most of all, Helen longs to know what happened to her dad—is he imprisoned, a fugitive, or gone forever?

When someone blows up the apartment where Helen lives, the stories of the ancient Silverwood clan—and her role in it—begin to unravel. All Helen wants is to feel like there’s someplace she belongs—but getting there will prove very, very complicated.

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Book Excerpt

TROMINDOX

A young couple stumbles out the back door of a nightclub into a narrow alleyway that would look a whole lot worse in the daytime. Distant streetlights reveal a hint of the garbage strewn around, and the shadows mask the dilapidated state of the surrounding buildings. The door itself sits in the mouth of a giant, cartoonlike face spray painted on the wall.

Deafening music and red-orange light shoots out the door while it is open, bouncing off the alley walls, and muffles again as the door closes to just a crack. There is no knob on the outside of the door; someone has wedged in a piece of wood to hold it open.

The couple start out laughing and joking, leaning on each other – their shape is all skinny jeans and mohawks mixed with the glint of jewelry – but shortly their voices turn more argumentative. Maybe someone committed an offense, perhaps there’s a breakup in progress. Soon the young woman breaks away from her date, pries open the door, and storms back into the club. Loud music and lights again, muffled and dark again. The young man leans his back against the wall, his arms crossed in anger. He needs a minute to collect himself.

A lone figure comes down the alley. Unusually tall, dressed in a dark coat, crushing garbage under its motorcycle boots. Lit from behind by the street lights, it resembles a shadow that has come loose from the wall. The young man is too distracted with replaying the conversation of a few minutes ago in his head, trying to figure out what he said wrong, to notice that the figure has come within a few feet of him.

“You know you really ought not to be out here at this late hour,” the figure says.

The young man jumps, then regains himself. “Yeah, whatever.” Who is this guy telling him what to do. The only people who go out back by themselves are the ones who want to be, by themselves.

Before the young man can add anything – like a string of expletives – a needle-like protrusion shoots out from the figure’s forearm and directly into the young man’s abdomen.

The young man freezes, stares straight ahead, then looks his assailant in the face. It’s a pale face, the face of a Tromindox that has not fed in some time. The victim tries to push off from the wall, but the venom deadens his arms and legs. He slides downward into a sitting position. His skin turns black, his spiky hair becomes a mass of tentacles.

Soon there is nothing left of him but a terrified pair of eyes in a puddle of writhing black.

The Tromindox reels in its prey, like a glob of oil pulling in a wayward drop.

Satisfied that it has the upper hand, the creature takes on a more humanlike form, turns and shuffles away. It is already buzzing with energy from all of these new thoughts.

The door scrapes open again, the bright light temporarily blocked by a fat man in an undershirt heaving a huge bag of garbage into the trash bin. He takes a quick look up and down the alley, wipes his hands on his pants, and goes back in.

Later, the young woman will come back out and see that her date has left. She will take this as a sign that they have broken up, and will not call him for a week. It won’t be until he has missed several days at work that someone will unlock his untouched apartment, see that no one has been there, and file a missing persons report.

About the Author

Betsy Streeter grew up on a steady diet of Star Trek, The Muppet Show, Atari, and musical rehearsals in her family’s living room. Her habits of making up stories and drawing and painting on everything within reach eventually led to degrees in art and communication from Stanford University. She has worked in film and video production, design, and video games, and has served as president of a community theatre. She and her family are voracious consumers of books, music, movies, art, action figures, and musical instruments, resulting in inadequate storage space. Betsy has published single-panel cartoons, comics, art, and short fiction in paper, digital, graffiti, and tattoo form. She lives in Northern California with her husband, son, daughter, two peculiar and disruptive cats, and a mellow but hungry tarantula.

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Light Messages

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