Crazy Scottish Love: Blitz

Crazy Scottish Love
Jessie Donovan
(Love in Scotland, #1)
Publication date: October 15th 2018
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

Tired of the online dating scene and her nagging mother, Donella Spencer braves her eccentric extended family and heads for a month-long visit to Scotland to stay with them. As long as she keeps to herself and avoids her family as much as possible, it should be easy to relax, right?

What she doesn’t count on is running into Robbie Campbell, the guy who tried so hard to ditch her nearly twenty years ago that it took a search and rescue team to save her. Not only that, she doesn’t expect to fall for Robbie’s daughter’s big, brown eyes and agree to hold a themed costume party for Donella’s 31st birthday. One that involves her relatives dressing in nineteenth century safari garb and dusty, old animal outfits.

And none of that even begins to address her grandmother’s attempts to matchmake and marry off Donella within the month.

It’s going to be one long, trying summer in Scotland. However, sometimes the strangest situations can show what someone needs in life. Because if Donella falls in love with a man who can put up with her family, she may finally have her happy ending in sight.

Provided her relatives don’t drive her crazy first.

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EXCERPT

However, the peaceful sound of the wind and seagulls as Donella enjoyed the enchanting sight didn’t last. Something smacked her on the side of the head. She lost her balance and fell on her ass.

After a string of profanities that would no doubt earn her a scolding later on, Donella slowly sat up and touched the side of her head. Looking at her fingers, there wasn’t any blood.

A Scottish male voice she didn’t recognize shouted, “Are you all right?”

Donella looked in the direction of the sound. A tall guy with short, reddish-brown hair rushed toward her.

Before she could do more than open her mouth, a large black and white dog dashed past the man and stopped in front of her. He promptly put his nose to her privates.

He bumped and sniffed around, reminding her why she preferred cats. Sure, both sniffed butts, but at least with cats they sniffed other cats and left her lower body well enough alone.

The dog rose its head, a bright green ball in its mouth. The dog dashed back toward the man and dropped it at his feet.

She’d found her attacker. “Is that how you always welcome tourists to the island? By pelting them with hard balls and knocking them on their butts?”

The corner of the man’s ticked up. “Well, to be fair, only a tourist would be dressed like that. So you would be an easy target for anyone who was out to find them.”

She wasn’t embarrassed about her yoga pants and T-shirt. A combined thirteen-hour plane ride wasn’t meant to be a fashion show. “I’ll make sure to mention how the locals hit tourists and insult their attire on my online review.”

He shrugged a shoulder. “I doubt you’ll do so. After all, it would affect everyone on the island, and I don’t think you’d want that.”

Before she could ask how he knew she wouldn’t, a little girl of about six or seven peeked her brown-haired head out from behind the guy and stepped to the side, holding one of those ball-tossing things dog owners liked to use. She glanced up at the man. “Should I say sorry? I didn’t mean to hit her.”

Donella suddenly felt like an ass. She wasn’t the best person with kids, but from her own childhood, she knew full well how mini-disasters could happen without warning.

The man placed a hand on the little girl’s shoulder. “I’d apologize to Donnie now or you’ll have to face old Mrs. Spencer later.”

The girl’s eyes widened, but Donella focused on the man’s revelations. “How do you know who I am?”

“Putting aside how your gran’s been going on about your visit for weeks, this isn’t the first time we’ve met.” He bowed his head. “Robbie Campbell, at your service.”

A memory from twenty years ago, of her being stranded on a tiny slip of land with water on one side and a small cliff behind her, came rushing back. She pointed a finger. “You. You’re the reason the police and fire brigade had to rig a harness and rescue me.”

He put up a hand. “Don’t blame me. You were the annoying ten-year-old following me around all summer. Everyone around here with good sense knows not to go out there when the tide’s about to come in.”

Donella narrowed her eyes. “Local knowledge that relies on ‘good sense’ only works if you live here. You should’ve known that and warned me.”

Again, he shrugged one shoulder. “I was almost thirteen and assumed I was king of the world at that point. Besides, an American always on my heels was a nuisance. My mates teased nonstop and I wanted it to end. Stranding you during high tide did the trick.”

She growled. “I could’ve drowned.”

“But you didn’t. Who do you think called the authorities to rescue you?”

Donella searched her mind for a good come back. They never came when she needed one.

Before she could even sputter something halfway witty, the little girl asked, “Why are you angry at my daddy?”

Author Bio

Sign up for Jessie’s newsletter and never miss a release or special: http://jessiedonovan.com/newsletter

Jessie Donovan has sold over half a million books across multiple formats, has given away hundreds of thousands more to readers for free, and has even hit the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists. She is best known for her dragon-shifter series, but also writes about magic users, aliens, and even has an upcoming crazy romantic comedy set in Scotland. When not reading a book, attempting to tame her yard, or traipsing around some foreign country on a shoestring, she can often be found interacting with her readers on Facebook. She lives near Seattle, where, yes, it rains a lot but it also makes everything green.

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The Scythian Trials: Guest Post

The Scythian Trials
Elizabeth Isaacs
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication date: October 16th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction

Descendants of the Amazons, the Scythians work alongside prominent governments but answer to no one. Warriors living on the fringe of civilization, they live by one credo: Strength through Equality. Power through Knowledge.

Nya Thalestris is the brightest Scythian of her generation. Strong, capable, ruthless, she is sure to earn a spot in the Trials, a time-honored mating ritual responsible for the evolution of her species.

Abducted by their sworn enemy, the Drahzda, Nya is forever altered and spirals out of control. The Society sends in Jax Nickius. Infamous psychologist and one of the most brutal warriors of their kind, he discovers triggers planted in Nya’s mind. As Nya solidifies her spot in the Trials, Jax develops a plan to help her heal—while pursuing her as a mate. But, Nya’s attraction to Jax is at war with her instinct to never let anyone get too close.

During the Trials, Nya’s repressed memories surface, revealing a new enemy—one from inside the consulate walls—and a traitorous alliance on the horizon that could irrevocably change the course of history.

Since before the Bronze Age, the Society has managed to safeguard humanity from itself … until now.

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Guest Post

Top ten things most authors secretly do

10. Keep a running list of metaphors and similes they love so they can use them at a later date.

9. Talk to themselves.

8. Eavesdropping on stranger’s conversation and then mentally flesh out that discussion as a scene.

7. Keep a notebook handy at all times in case inspiration hits.

6. Snap pictures of people for future hero/heroine inspiration.

5. Google ways to kill, blow up, maim or poison people.

4. Observe strangers from afar while mentally creating dialogue to match the people in the scene.

3. Use the street view feature on Google Earth to more accurately portray places they may not have yet visited.

2. Have impassioned discussions regarding such riveting subjects as the importance of the Oxford Comma or whether ellipses are evil or not.

1. Plot the demise of their past enemies in their next book.

 

About the Author

Elizabeth is an author, teacher, and publishing professional who began her career as a national presenter for Resource Profiles, where she developed teacher seminars designed to foster creative brain stimulation. Moving into formal education, she helped at-risk students improve their writing skills as well as created and implemented a creative writing/blogging program that centered on teaching the 21st-century learner. Works stemming from this initiative were published online and seen in over 40 countries.

Elizabeth receives invitations to speak nationwide at schools and book clubs. She co-founded the popular book site, Chirenjenzie, which reaches thousands of people throughout the world. The writer support and reader interest group promotes and interacts with followers on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and various other blog sites. Elizabeth has a Master’s degree from Austin Peay State University, where she studied classical opera. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.

“The Light of Asteria” received Honorable Mention at the New York Book Festival. Her newest work, “The Scythian Trials” will be released in 2017 by Vesuvian Media.

For more information, please visit www.elizabethisaacs.com

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Burden of Proof: Top Seven List

BURDEN OF PROOF
FBI Rapid Response, #1
by
DiANN MILLS
  
Genre: Inspirational /Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: October 9, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

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Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder.

 
As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.
 
PRAISE FOR DiANN MILLS: 
“The tension level rises as layers of lies are peeled away in multiple plot twists.” —Library Journal

“DiAnn Mills is a master of fast-paced and intricately plotted romantic suspense.” —Colleen Coble, Bestselling author

“[A] fast-moving, intricately plotted thriller.” —Publishers Weekly
CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER! 


 

I live in Houston, Texas, and I love my city. We’re known for our heat, humidity, Harleys, and horses, but I call it home.  The following are seven reasons why I love Houston.

1. Diversity. It’s the most diverse city in the country. I’m proud of our multi-cultural city.

2. H-Town: Although some may complain about heat and humidity, I thrive in it.

3. Entertainment. If I’m in the mood for a play, sports, movie, shopping, music, rodeo, historical sites, or nature activities, it’s all here!

4. Restaurants. I prefer vegetarian cuisine, and I have a huge list of favorite restaurants all over the city.

5. Coffee Shops. I’m a coffee snob, and I don’t mind claiming the title. In Houston, coffee is a connoisseur’s treat.

6. Friendships. Relationships with others is important to me, and in Houston, we have many people for those special times!

7. Bookstores. Love love bookstores, and there are plenty to choose from with unique personalities.

 

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
 
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014.
 
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. 
 
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers.
 ║ Website ║ Facebook  Twitter   
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║ YouTube Pinterest ║ Google+ BookBub
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OCTOBER 9-18, 2018
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

10/9/18
Excerpt
10/9/18
Author Video
10/10/18
Review
10/11/18
Top List
10/11/18
Top List
10/12/18
Character Interview
10/13/18
Review
10/13/18
Excerpt
10/14/18
Playlist
10/15/18
Review
10/16/18
Review
10/16/18
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10/17/18
Video Guest Post
10/18/18
Review
10/18/18
Review
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Death by the River Blitz

Death by the River 

Alexandrea Weis & Lucas Astor
Published by: Vesuvian Books
Publication date: October 2nd 2018
Genres: Horror, Young Adult

A high school “American Psycho.”

SOME TRUTHS ARE BETTER KEPT SECRET.

SOME SECRETS ARE BETTER OFF DEAD.

Along the banks of the Bogue Falaya River, sits the abandoned St. Francis Seminary. Beneath a canopy of oaks, blocked from prying eyes, the teens of St. Benedict High gather here on Fridays. The rest of the week belongs to school and family—but weekends belong to the river.

And the river belongs to Beau Devereaux.

The only child of a powerful family, Beau can do no wrong. Handsome. Charming. Intelligent. The star quarterback of the football team. The “prince” of St. Benedict is the ultimate catch.

He is also a psychopath.

A dirty family secret buried for years, Beau’s evil grows unchecked. In the shadows of the ruined St. Francis Abbey, he commits unspeakable acts on his victims and ensures their silence with threats and intimidation. Senior year, Beau sets his sights on his girlfriend’s headstrong twin sister, Leslie, who hates him. Everything he wants but cannot have, she will be his ultimate prize.

As the victim toll mounts, it becomes crystal clear that someone has to stop Beau Devereaux. 

And that someone will pay with their life.

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EXCERPT

Beau strolled down the elegant curved mahogany staircase of his parents’ plantation home. He stepped onto the hardwood floors and caressed the newel post at the end of the steps. Shaped like the head of a horse, the bit pulled taut in its mouth, he admired the pain carved into the creature’s bulging eyes.

He headed along the hallway, tugging his book bag over his shoulder, the occasional moan of the floor echoing around him. He glanced at a massive gold painting of New Orleans he liked, bought by some dead relative a century ago. Family portraits of other deceased members of the Devereaux clan littered the white wainscoting covered walls. He passed the tall cypress door to his father’s office, not bothering to check inside. His old man was an early riser and probably on his way to the brewery.

At the end of the hall, he turned down a slender corridor to the kitchen and the entrance to the five-car garage. He enjoyed the quiet in the morning after his father went to work and before his mother crawled out of bed. It made him feel like it was all his, for a little while anyway.
In the kitchen, Beau went around the beaten copper-covered breakfast bar to the refrigerator.

His father appeared, holding a coffee mug.

Beau froze, almost afraid to move when he spotted him.

Gage Devereaux rested his hip against the black granite countertop. Tilting his head slightly, he inspected his son. In his usual attire—a long-sleeved shirt and slacks—he came across more like a casual businessman than a ruthless capitalist. Except for their height and physical prowess, Beau felt he had nothing in common with his father.

He attempted to relax by shifting his book bag on his shoulder. “Didn’t expect to find you still home.”

Gage set his mug on the counter. “I wanted to speak to you before you left for school.”

The hint of condescension in his father’s voice tightened his chest—it usually signaled a lecture.

“I got a call from Ms. Greenbriar yesterday afternoon. She said you visited her office after a run-in you had with Carol Foster’s boy.”

Beau’s fingers twitched, the way they did when his aggravation got the better of him. Great. The idiot woman had called his father. The last thing he needed was Gage Devereaux up his ass.

“Derek is dating Dawn’s sister, so I often see him at school.” He tempered the irritation in his voice, not wanting to annoy his father. “I was talking to Leslie when Derek walked up. I accidentally caught him with my elbow when I turned around. I apologized and everything is fine.”

He waited, analyzing every move his father made, searching his hard eyes for an inkling of his mindset.

“I’ve spoken to you before about this.” Gage came around the breakfast bar. “This family is in a precarious position with everyone in town. I don’t want your actions threatening our business or our good name.” He gripped Beau’s shoulder. “What have I always told you? What is our rule?”

Beau cringed as the words he’d spent a lifetime dreading screamed through his head. He faced his father, standing at attention. “Self-control in all things. Never let anyone see who you really are.”

Gage leaned closer. “No matter what anyone says, no matter what they do, you walk away. This includes your girlfriend. Do you understand?”

Beau stiffened at the low, menacing tone in his father’s voice. “Yes, sir.”

Gage lifted the left side of his mouth ever so slightly. “Go to school.”

Beau stood by the breakfast bar, not moving a muscle as his father headed to the garage. The door clicked shut and a trickle of sweat ran down his temple. His jaw muscles cramped from clenching, his heart rate slowed, and he glanced at his fists. His father’s warning spinning in his head, Beau slammed his hand down on the copper bar.

Anger like molten lead ran through him. Beau sucked in deep breaths to calm himself—something he remembered from a long-ago therapy session. Then he relaxed his hand on the bar, checking the indent he’d left in the copper. He wiped the smudge away, stepped back, and raised his head.

I am the master of control.

About the Author

Lucas Astor is from New York, has resided in Central America and the Middle East, and traveled through Europe. He lives a very private, virtually reclusive lifestyle, preferring to spend time with a close-knit group of friends than be in the spotlight.

He is an author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche. He likes to explore the evil that exists, not just in the world, but right next door behind a smiling face.

Photography, making wine, and helping endangered species are just some of his interests. Lucas is an expert archer and enjoys jazz, blues, and classical music.

One of his favorite quotes is: “It’s better to be silent than be a fool.” ~Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Having been brought up in the motion picture industry, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her award-winning novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story memorable. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans.

 

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Your Echo: Blitz

Your Echo
By Katia Rose
(Sherbrooke Station, #2)
Publication date: September 12th 2018
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance

Book Synopsis

How do you teach a rock star how to meditate?

The number one question on Stéphanie’s mind sounds like the start of a bad joke, and life would be a whole lot easier if she actually knew the punch line.

Her meditation coach job description said nothing about private lessons for the most infamous lead singer in Montreal, but somehow Stéphanie still finds herself sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat, right next to a pierced and tattooed music legend who’d rather be anywhere else.

Meditation classes are Ace’s final chance to convince his record label that the last bender he went on really was his last. The demons that have sent him to the bottom of countless bottles might not give a damn about ‘soothing rhythmic chanting,’ but it’s either this or game over for his career.

He’s not what she wants. She’s not what he’s looking for. Yet somewhere amidst all the incense fumes, the lines between student and teacher get blurred.

Even as their deep breathing exercises become nights filled with panting and gasps, Stéphanie can’t ignore the darkness that never quite leaves Ace’s eyes. It’s a darkness she knows far too well, and if she’s not careful, the cost of helping Ace find his way might just be losing herself.

Your Echo is part of the Sherbrooke Station Quartet, a series of steamy rock star standalones from author Katia Rose.

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Excerpt

It seems so unfair that the beliefs I’ve worked years to build, the mantras I’ve chanted to myself for hours on end, can all be shaken right down to their foundations with just a few questions from Ace.

I want to hold myself above the doubts, to brush off his words as part of a stupid game, but there’s also a part of me that craves to know what else he has to say. There’s a part of me that wants to let him swing a wrecking ball at everything I think I know and see how much of it holds.

About the Author

Katia Rose is not much of a Pina Colada person, but she does like getting caught in the rain. She prefers her romance served steamy with a side of smart, and is a sucker for quirky characters. A habit of jetting off to distant countries means she’s rarely in one place for very long, but she calls the frigid northland that is Canada home.

Author Links

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Keeper of the Bees: Excerpt

Keeper of the Bees
by Meg Kassel
Genre: YA Paranormal

Release Date: September 4th 2018
Entangled Teen

Book Summary

Beauty and the beast like you’ve never imagined!” —New York Times bestselling author Pintip Dunn


KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.
Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.

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Excerpt

“Will I see you again, Dresden?”

My throat goes dry and raw and aching. “Do you want to?”

However she answers will be excruciating. There will be no recovering from this encounter. From the memory of her touch and her wide, trusting eyes. Good gods, from her embrace.

She nods.

I am doomed. “I’ll find you later. I’ll…” What? Knock on her door and ask her aunt if I can invite her to the movies? Not in this universe. “I will see you again, Essie. I’m not sure when.”

“I’ll look for you,” she says, finally releasing her hold on my T-shirt. “Be careful.” And she’s gone, disappearing into the woods, back toward the trail.

About the Author

Meg Kassel is an author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson’s School of Design, she’s been creating stories, whether with visuals or words, since childhood. Meg is a New Jersey native who lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter.

As a fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, she has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart® winner in YA and a double 2018 RITA® finalist for her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows.


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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!

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

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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.

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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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