Review of Alien Contact for Kid Sisters

Happy Wednesday, Squiders! Today we’ve got a review for Alien Contact for Kid Sisters, by Edward Hoornaert. The book is free while its review tour is on, so if this sounds interesting to you, check out the buy links below. It’s science fiction romance.

Alien Contact for Kid Sisters cover

Marianne Harmon is sick and tired of being just the kid sister of the famous queen of Kwadra Island. Although she daydreams about being a warrior, when rebels bomb the royal ball she’s shunted to one of the many tunnels that honeycomb Kwadra, where she awaits a captain of the valiant Royal Guardians.

Quinn Lebatarde, a scam artist fleeing the police, dons the uniform of a Royal Guardian killed by a tunnel collapse. When Marianne mistakes him for her bodyguard, Quinn can’t decide whether to save the feisty maiden, fall in love with her—or kidnap her. With bloodthirsty rebels pursuing them and a treasure map in his pocket, what will he choose?


“Fifty, fifty-five, sixty,” the white-haired tourist said. “There you go, chief, paid in full.”

Chief? Quinn Lebatarde’s lips tightened at the insult, but almost immediately, he grinned. The tourist’s Rolex watch shouted money to burn, as did his expensive digital SLR camera. Quinn pocketed the money but held onto the cheap, plaster replica of an ancient Kwadran woodcarving the man and his wife were buying.

Time for some fun. Hordes of tourists crowded the streets, celebrating the birth of the heir to Kwadra’s throne. Business was great. Only three more ‘carvings,’ a mask, and some miniature totem poles remained on his rickety street-side table. And now the prospect of conning this man made Quinn’s day even brighter.

“All original,” he said in the thick accent and broken English dumb tourists expected. If you spoke too well, they didn’t believe you hailed from an alternate Earth. “Historic. Maybe I sell too cheap.”

Instead of giving them their mythological monster from Kwadra’s distant past, he clutched it to his chest. Not hard, though. The trashy fakes broke under the least pressure.

“Too cheap, ahha. Thirty dollah more.”

“We had a deal,” the tourist’s wife said.

With a loving fingertip, Quinn stroked the carving’s ugly, wide-open lips. “Fifty dollah more.”

“Now wait one minute,” said the man. “Isn’t this against the law or something?”

“You no on America now. Merkin law useless.” Merkin was Kwadrans’ slang nickname for Americans, with sexual connotations most of them didn’t know—despite English being their native language, not his. “Where you from you no know that?”

My Review:

I’d give this, oh, 3.5/5. I waffled a bit with this whole thing. I get review requests quite a bit, but this isn’t a review blog (aside from one here and there) and for some reason, whenever I do sign up for something with a deadline for the review something invariably shows up to make it difficult. I liked the excerpt but not the title, but I did eventually go for it (as you can see).

I received a copy for free (as can you through Nov 2) from GoddessFish Promotions. The waffling continued while I read the book. There are some aspects that are really cool. The setup of the “aliens,” who are from an alternate version of Earth, is distinctly different from most things I’ve read. The worldbuilding and culture is neat. The plot carries along at a good pace and has plenty of action to break everything up.

My biggest issues all stem from the characters, and I even feel a little waffle-y on this front. The characters are not flat or caricatures–they are well developed and have varying flaws and strengths–but they didn’t feel quite real to me. I mean, they did at points, but occasionally they would be…I’m not even sure. Too much to be real? Too intense? Not really sure how to describe it, but it would sometimes pull me out of the story. However, Elfy is my favorite character.

This is the second book in the series, and a third one is coming out soon. Like many romance series, each book revolves around a different couple. I’d recommend it if you like romance and are in for some cool worldbuilding.

Author Bio:

What kind of guy can write romance? A guy who married his high school sweetheart a week after graduation and is still living the HEA decades later. A guy who’s a certifiable Harlequin hero in his own right—he inspired Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Rita Award finalist Mr. Valentine, which is dedicated to him.

Ed started out writing contemporary romances for Silhouette Books, but these days he concentrates on science fiction and sf romance. In addition to novelist, he’s been a teacher, principal, technical writer, salesman, janitor, and symphonic oboist. He and wife Judi live in Tucson, Arizona. They have three sons, a daughter, a mutt, and the galaxy’s most adorable grandson. Visit him at



Subscribe to Ed’s World (newsletter):

Pick up the book:

( Amazon  | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Smashwords | Kobo Books | Barnes and Noble | Apple itunes )

Edward Hoornaert will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $10 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wattpad and Tea

First of all, Squiders, if you haven’t given me feedback on Tuesday’s post for the nonfiction format, please do so. My brain does not always follow the most logical of paths and input would be great.


A few months ago I received a letter in the mail inviting me to subscribe to a magazine. I imagine you guys get these sorts of things as well. I tend to ignore them, because the last thing I need in my life is more magazines, but I decided to go ahead and get this one since it wasn’t too expensive. It’s called Scotland, and my justification was that I have always wanted to do some Celtic fantasy–especially Scottish over the more common Welsh and Irish, since that’s where my heritage lies–and that it might be a good place to get some story ideas.

I have gotten two issues thus far, and mostly it has just made me want to go to Scotland (I spent a day there once when I was 16 as part of a whirlwind tour of the British Isles, and so did not really experience very much). They talk a lot about old manor houses and castles, which could be useful, though nothing’s caught my eye as of yet.

Of course, subscribing to one magazine means they like to see if you’ll subscribe to others (I think I’ve been offered all the parts of the United Kingdom at this point), but today I received my first related catalogue. At first I was very excited–I opened it up, and the first page is full of tea and tea-related snacks, and the latent British in me had to put the catalogue down out of excitement. Unfortunately, once I got further into it, I realized it’s an American company selling kitschy UK-themed stuff and I am kind of over the whole thing. (They sell things in Campbell of Argyll tartan. That tells you something. Never buy anything in Campbell of Argyll, it is not an official tartan and only one person is allowed to wear it, and it is not you.)

I do like a good tea, though. But in retrospect theirs are overpriced and can be bought locally for much cheaper, even the imported stuff.

(We should do afternoon tea. Or coffee and cake, like they do in Germany.)

Moving on to relevant things, do you remember us talking a few months ago about Wattpad? It’s a free platform where people can write and/or read stories. Some people have even found commercial success through it if their stories caught enough attention. I joined in August and have mostly been reading other stories. They’re not perfect, but I’ve found some ones that are pretty decent.

Anyway, I’ve started putting up parts of the scifi serial I’ve been working on once a month for the last seven years up there, kind of as an exploration of the platform but also to get feedback on the story itself. If you’d like to read along and help me out, you can find the story here. (Otherwise, my profile is here.) Thus far I’m getting about 4 or 5 views each time I put up a part, but I have no idea how people are finding it.

So I don’t have any conclusions about the platform yet. Anyone else use Wattpad, either for writing or for reading? Have thoughts about tea? Anything else new or exciting?

Let’s Talk Format (also MileHiCon)

Okay, Squiders. The winner of the nonfic subject poll was submission and publication, so I’ve gone ahead and outlined that subject. I’ve tentatively called it a “quick” guide, but now that I’ve outlined it, it’s kind of massive, so I may have to rethink that.

Anyway, my general plan is to talk about the different types of publication, and then go through the submission/publication process by type of work (short story, novel, novella, etc.). I’m also going to have a “troubleshooting” section.

Which seems more logical to you?

  1. Organize the topic by publication type. So have all the self-publishing together (with the different work types as subsections), all the traditional publishing, and onward.
  2. Organize the topic by work type. So have a section, for example, for short stories, and then have subsections inside that for self-publishing, traditional publishing, etc.

Both seem like they could be equally useful (for example, if I do by work, someone who writes only short stories would have all the information they want in a single section, but if I do it by publication type, then someone who’s only interested in traditional publishing would have all that information in one place…), so I thought I’d see what you guys thought, especially since you’re my guinea pigs.

I suppose I could try it both ways here and see which works better in the end. Anyway, thoughts? Which would work better for you?

Also, if you have specific submitting/publishing questions or topics, let me know and I’ll incorporate them if I’m not already.

Also, as a reminder, I’m going to have a table at MileHiCon again this year! (Well, technically, it’s a table for Turtleduck Press, but since I shall be the only one manning it due to life eating people…) So if you’re in the general area of Denver, Colorado the last weekend of October, you should come and say hi!

Anyway, hope you’re having a lovely October! Let me know what you think about the format.

Depth of Setting

Well, Squiders, I’ve talked about Holly Lisle’s revision class before and how helpful I have found it when putting together my own revision process. I still reference the class often, even though I’m working on my fourth revision since I took it the first time.

There’s one lesson, Lesson 7, that deals with setting. As I mentioned sometime recently, setting is something that I’ve only recently come to appreciate as an author. I normally skip lesson 7. I did it the first time through the process, but found it unhelpful, and so skipped it for the next few novels (which were, coincidentally, Shards and City of Hope and Ruin).

But as you guys know, I’m working on the revision of the first book of a high fantasy trilogy, one I’ve been working on for more than half my life at this point (sheesh). I decided I needed to do lesson 7 for this one because of the complexity of the setting. This first book takes place entirely within a non-human species and their homeland, and it’s been hard work over the years dealing with mythology, customs, geography, history, and all the miscellany that comes with building your own society from scratch.

You see, lesson 7 is about setting, but it’s not about the layout of your world–it’s about how your world works. The customs. The philosophy. The way your magic system works and its limitations. What items are available to your characters and why they’re needed/make sense. The objects that make up your world–the doors, the buildings, the plants, the animals.

And I got to tell you, I put this lesson off for a long time. I reached it at the beginning of September. I read back over the lesson. And then I avoided it for approximately three weeks. The thought of having to go back into the story and pull out what made the world work–or didn’t–was overwhelming.

But I finally got my act together and went into it. And I’m so glad I did. Just by going through how the world was designed to work and how it was presented in the current draft actually helped me work through a ton of worldbuilding issues that I’ve been struggling with for years. I hadn’t expected that at all, especially not with how useless the process was with my YA paranormal.

It just goes to show you, again, that each novel is individual and has its own needs.

Of course, now the next step in the progress is to consolidate everything that’s wrong with the novel (the list is practically novel-length itself) and then put together a plan of action for fixing things (and, to be perfectly honest, rewriting most of the dang thing).

Ever tried something in revision that proved to be way more helpful than you expected? Thoughts on setting/worldbuilding?

Bad Characterization at Work: Scooby Doo

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about Avatar: the Last Airbender and its excellent treatment of its characters. The larger, mobile one is now back on Scooby Doo, which was a favorite of his about two years ago, so much so that he dressed up as Scooby for Halloween.

Steal this image and I will hunt you down.

(Cherish that picture. You will probably never get another.)

(Also, this was actually the third Halloween my husband and I spent as Shaggy and Daphne. Before we had offspring he had a stuffed Scooby that he used to wear on his shoulder like a pirate’s parrot.)

(Crazy things happen when dressed up as Shaggy and Daphne. The stories I could tell.)

(Also, my husband kind of looks like Shaggy in general, so much so that when we went to Universal Studios Hollywood for our first anniversary, the Shaggy and Scooby went right for him when they came out.)


Now, there are a million versions of Scooby Doo, and I realize that some versions treat character better than others, but in general, Scooby Doo is an exercise in stereotypes. And, funnily, the stereotypes vary from version to version, but pretty much all of them are unflattering to all involved.

Let’s go over them all in general terms shall we:

Fred: Fred is often portrayed as a dumb jock or as an airhead.
Daphne: Daphne is a pretty girl concerned mostly with shoes and clothes (and boys, in some versions).
Velma: Often the only one of the group with any brains, but also often portrayed as not attractive. Apparently completely blind without her glasses.
Shaggy: Dumb stoner obsessed with food.
Scooby: Scooby actually suffers from stereotypes less than the others. Is it because he’s the “lead” character? Because he’s a dog? A lot of times he gets stuffed into the same categories as Shaggy, but even then he tends to be more observant and occasionally find clues.

We’re not touching anyone else, because that’s madness.

And yet, the show has hung on for almost fifty years.

Now, of course, some of this is format. Scooby Doo, in most of its iterations, is episodic, and there’s only so much characterization you can stuff into a 20-minute episode. And, with such a large cast for such a short time slot, it makes sense to use stereotypes as people can readily identify them in the cultural norm.

Part of it may be the longevity of the characters at this point. If you did a new series and tried to give the characters arcs, would people accept that? The series that our library has, Mystery Incorporated, which ran from 2010 to 2013, tries to some extent, and, really, it’s all bad. That’s the choices they made, not necessarily an argument against giving the gang some characterization in general. (Like, do we really need to pair Velma and Shaggy up? And also we switch Velma’s normal stereotype for naggy girlfriend which is the worst.)

Would you agree with me that the characterization in the Scooby Doo shows is bad? Any thoughts on why or why not? Who’s your favorite member of the gang? (Mine’s Velma in most cases but Shaggy in some versions.)

Long Tour Aftermath (and a shark)

Happy October, Squiders! Though the leaves have not turned and today is the first real autumn-y day of the year. Get on it, autumn.

Anyway. Siri’s and my long blog tour for City of Hope and Ruin has come to an end, and now I can comment on it and whether or not I felt like it was worth the time and money. Just to recap, we bought a multi-month tour, which ran from July 14 to Sept 29, and each week we’d provide a guest post, interview, or something along those lines for that week’s blog, depending on what they wanted. (Some weeks we had two blogs scheduled.) On the day the blog post went live, we’d stop by the post a few times to answer questions and thank the hosts, etc.

We used GoddessFish promotions, which, coincidentally, is also where I get some of the promos I post here, such as The Ever Fiend from Monday.

So, results. I feel like we got a lot of great comments on the stops, and people seemed generally excited about the book.

Now, sales? They haven’t been amazing, and I don’t know that they can directly correspond to any of the tour stops. Actually, a fourth of the sales we’ve made since the start of the tour to today have been since the end of the tour, whatever sense that makes.

There is a definite bump of adds to people’s “To Read” lists on Goodreads with each tour stop. Whether that will translate into ongoing sales in the long run, I can’t say. We’re still sitting at a 4.15 score on Goodreads, which is pretty good.

We did get some reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon from the tour, which is very nice. (We’re sitting at a 4.5 score on Amazon, but there are less ratings there since Amazon doesn’t let you leave a rating without a text review anymore. Unless I’m crazy.) You guys know how crazy it is to get reviews, so it’s almost worth it just for that, especially since everyone liked the book.

(If you don’t know how crazy it is to get reviews, it’s like pulling teeth. Leave reviews. Authors will appreciate it, even if you didn’t like the book. I mean, as long as you’re not mean about it. Mean reviews are the worst.)

Would I do it again? Hmmm, not sure. In the direct work to sales ratio, the results weren’t great. But the reviews are nice, and it was a good way to reach a ton of people I never would have otherwise.

(The last three stops, if you want to see them:

Blurbs, bios, excerpts and links at all stops, as usual.)

Now that that’s over with, who wants to see the shark I sketched this morning?


Now that I’m doing sketchtober, I remember that shading has always eluded me. I also tried to draw my youngest, but she kept moving.

You’ll also be pleased to know that I continue to take my revision planning seriously.


(Next to market it says “things to buy, rumors to overhear” in case that’s unreadable.)

How are you, Squiders? Other authors, any marketing things that have worked well for you? Non-authors, what are your feelings on sharks?

The Ever Fiend by Randy Ellefson

Happy Monday, Squiders! I’m pleased to introduce The Ever Fiend by Randy Ellefson. Randy’s also giving away a giftcard as part of his book blast, so look for the entry info at the bottom of the post.


Only a fool steals from a wizard.

Talon Stormbringer thought he knew the risk of stealing from Viland Shadowbreaker – until he got caught. The wizard will spare him if Talon performs a service – fetch the deadly silver elixir from the Everway, a supernatural land that Talon assumed wasn’t real. Only children believe the stories about what lies within – lost souls, corrupted magic items, and mysterious destinations that most people never escape. Ruling over it all is the Ever Fiend, a bogeyman that people use
to scare unruly youngsters into behaving.

Talon agrees to go, if only to stop Viland from doing something unholy with the potent elixir once retrieved. Joining him are a band of people he can’t trust. Their leader, a sorelia with nefarious plans of his own. The sorelia’s battle-trained mynx, a large cat who obeys only its master. An alluring swordswoman who wants to enchant her blades with the elixir. A cocky guard whose bravado might prove more liability than asset. A warrior kryll whose curiosity about the elixir might cost him more than his life. And a tortured Knight of Coiryn who seeks redemption in a place where most are damned. Of all the things they might discover on their journey, one is the most obvious and yet the hardest to learn…


Suddenly freed, Talon squeezed his sword, flexed his limbs, and weighed some options. Quick as he was, no sword could fly faster than words. And while the taller shadow was likely the wizard, he had no idea to whom or what the other shadow belonged, and had to know before launching an attack. Besides, he could hardly assess his foes with his back to them. He slowly
turned around, a scowl on his face.

A black-robed, balding man stood beside the empty pedestal, a reassuring smile on his swarthy face. Perhaps he was a Marulan from across the Antaran Sea. But Marulans were thought to be mostly savages, their skins as black as their deeds, and not wizards with an air of sophistication and opulence. The man did not have an accent that Talon could hear. The long face, nose, and limbs matched what Talon had heard from stories. The dark eyes of Viland Shadowbreaker observed him coolly.


Randy Ellefson has written fantasy fiction since his teens and is an avid world builder, having spent three decades creating Llurien, which has its own website. He has a Bachelor’s of Music in classical guitar but has always been more of a rocker, having released several albums and earned endorsements from music companies. He’s a professional software developer and runs a consulting firm in the Washington D.C. suburbs. He’s married and loves spending time with his son and daughter when not writing, making music, or playing golf.

FREE eBook:


FaceBook (as author):

Randy will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $10 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway