Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Promo: Ashes and Blood by Katie Zaber



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn commenter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

“I’ll start at the beginning. Long ago, before roads, before we built structures, before medicine was discovered, before the government was created, before man gained any knowledge, there were The Five. Independent from each other, The Five had a mutual respect for one another. They knew their roles in the world and their duty. They were gods…”

An adventure begins when an otherworldly tree captures the attention of Megan and her friends. The environment morphs around them, transferring them to an exotic planet. Stuck in a rural town still maimed by the plague, a chance encounter with a familiar face gives Megan and her friends some security during their adjustment period.

While settling into new, promising lives, they are attacked and stalked by planet Dalya’s humanoid inhabitants, who focus on Megan. One dark night, after an epic, magical attack, the Fae King’s knight is sent to fetch Megan. When she wakes up a prisoner, she learns that there is much more to this strange world, and it is oddly more like her own than she ever would have expected.


Read an Excerpt

Megan

It gives me chills to stand in front of the forest that morphed in front of my very eyes. I’m hesitant to walk through the tree line and down the path. The last time I walked down a path for leisure was a week ago. We had planned a picnic. Something simple, always easy to organize and do. It wasn’t hard planning our walk to Brynjar’s cabin today. What could go wrong?

I try hard not to think of all the possible outcomes—from returning to Earth to traveling to a completely new world.

Sarah and Dana were able to walk by without stopping to take notice or reflect. Ciara paused for a moment and then smiled gleefully, saying she had a good feeling.

I don’t. I feel dizzy, angry, and like I need to vomit. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go into the woods that changed my life, I don’t want to meet Brynjar, and I don’t want to go back where it all started.

I don’t.

About the Author
Katie Zaber writes new adult fiction. With multiple projects spanning from being transported to an alternate universe, to past lives, reincarnation, and trapped souls, to prophesied pregnancies—there are more stories to tell. She lives in North New Jersey with her boyfriend.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Dalya-Series-110665970357251
Website: https://zaberbooks.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Blood-Dalya-Book-1-ebook/dp/B087YJ8W87/ref=sr_1_1

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Promo: The Thief’s Betrayal by Cassondra Benton

Good morning, squiders! I have a fantasy novel for you today.



Fantasy Fiction
Date Published: February 4th 2019
Publisher: Rebel Press

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Someone is murdering the citizens of Kira’s village, and her fellow thieves are being blamed. Desperate to clear their names and restore the reputation of the guild, Kira embarks on a dangerous mission to infiltrate the palace and enlist the help of the king and queen.
One man stands in her way, Chaol, the head guard, who threatens to steal the thief’s heart.
And he’s not the only one. Her childhood crush on Badrick might finally be developing into something more than friendship. But only if they can figure out who is threatening to kill them before it is too late.
Kira wants to trust Kingsman, the man who took her in and raised her as his own, but she is starting to wonder if he has been lying to her all along.
Can the three men closest to her keep Kira safe long enough for her to carry out her plan to save the village? Or will the secrets they have kept from her destroy her happiness—and her life—before she has a chance to clear her name and prove the innocence of those she cares about the most?


About the Author

When Cassondra was growing up, if she wasn’t competing in sports, she was usually writing, reading, or drawing. It wasn’t long before she formed an addiction to the thrills of fantasy, which led her to write her debut novel, The Thief’s Betrayal. Cassondra is currently attending college. She was born and raised in Southern California where she lives in a home overflowing with books.


Contact Links


Purchase Links



RABT Book Tours & PR

See you next week!

How to Celebrate a 10th Anniversary of a Book?

It’s crazy, squiders. My first book, Hidden Worlds, is 10 years old.

(The first edition came out Dec 2009, and the revised second edition, published through Turtleduck Press, came out in late 2010, complete with change in pen name and everything.)

First of all, wow, where the heck did the time go?

Second of all, wow, that’s kind of a big deal, and it feels like I should do something to celebrate.

But what? And how?

I’ve not had a book reach a 10th anniversary before.

Do I put out a new edition, with new material? What kind of new material? Notes on how the story came together? Old unpublished versions of scenes (and man, do I even know where those are?)? New stories in the same universe (I wrote one recently for my newsletter subscribers)?

Do I put out related swag? Bookmarks? Character profiles? Art of the characters?

Do I do a whole promotional blitz?

What would you, as a reader, be interested in seeing? What would be really cool to see in relation to a book that’s been out for a while?

Too many options. Woo.

(Do you know of any other books that did cool things for their anniversaries? I’d love to check them out.)

Promo: Phantom Frost by Alfred Wurr

Morning, squiders! Hope you’re having a good Thanksgiving week, if you’re somewhere that celebrates such things, and if not, hopefully you’re at least not buried in snow, like I am.

Today I’ve got a sale for you. This book sounds super cool, not going to lie. The book is normally $5.99, so if it sounds interesting to you too, it’s a good deal.



Sci-fi Fantasy
Date Published: October 2019
Publisher: Wurreal Games

On Sale for $.99

A unique sci-fi/fantasy crossover novel set in the universe of the forthcoming Wurreal Games video game.

Shivurr remembers little before the Bodhi Institute, the secret government installation where he’s been held and studied like a lab rat for the past decade.

It hasn’t been all bad, though, for a soda-pop-loving sci-fi fanboy, especially in 1983. He’s got all the TV, movies and arcade games he could ever want. But lately, flashes of his forgotten past have invaded his dreams: visions of an ancient chamber where the mysteries of his origin may finally be resolved.

Compelled to find it, Shivurr embarks on a quest, fleeing the facility in the dark of night. Escaping is easy; the Bodhi Group guards didn’t dream he’d ever try. The Nevada desert is dangerous for warm bloods; for a snowman, it’s pretty much suicide, even for one with his seemingly magical command of frost and ice.

Hunted by Bodhi Group agents, keeping to the shade when he can find it, he’s determined to survive; he’s got a feeling the world may depend on it. And, if he doesn’t, well, everyone melts eventually, right?


Excerpt

Chapter 1

Lunar Crater

No matter how cool you are, everyone melts, eventually. Those words echoed through my head as I raced across the desert floor, heading northeast toward Lunar Crater, under the Nevada sun. Where I had heard them before, I couldn’t recall. My memory wasn’t what it used to be, but I would hear those words spoken to me in my dreams sometimes, stepping out of the inky black fog of my damaged memory. I think someone close to me had said them ages ago. They were strange words since the only person I knew of for whom melting was a concern was me. Regardless, seldom before was that fate as likely to occur for someone—that being me—as it was today.

I’d been gulping dry air and daydreaming of cold cans of soda pop, muttering product slogans to myself to keep my spirits up for several miles now. Steam rose from my icy shoulders, trailing me in wisps, disappearing into the dry desert air a few feet back. My cold feet left wet footprints on the sandy ground that soon evaporated into nothingness. I kicked a loose rock, stumbled, but caught myself before falling.

Without more moisture, I’ll soon be eating dust, I thought. Just a hot mess for the agents to find. Scratch that—my corpse won’t be around long enough. I’ll melt away, leaving only a trail of faint roundish footprints leading nowhere. They’ll think I flew away, picked up by Soviet agents in a helicopter. I’d love to see Dixon’s face, thinking the Reds got me.

Nineteen hours earlier, I’d escaped a prison—the labs of a top-secret research facility called the Bodhi Institute. For about a decade, I’d been an unwilling participant in more experiments than I care to remember. I’d slipped out a side door in the middle of the night with a small cache of supplies provided by my best friend, Scott. It was easier than expected, but I guess I didn’t seem suicidal to the Bodhi Group watchmen. The weak part of me wished I were back there: trapped but cool, a glass of ice water in hand, watching TV, reading a book, or taking a nap. But my nightmares made that impossible. I’d ignored them for months, while they haunted only my sleep. But when they’d invaded my waking hours, I had to go. I had to find answers. I had to find the ancient chamber that stood at their epicentre and that some instinct told me lay ahead of me, in the desert waste.

I didn’t know who I was or where I came from. Not really; not fully. Sure, I remembered most of the years of my detention with crystal clarity. I knew what I was: an organism of snow and ice, unique in all the world. A snowman, they called me; cold hands with a warm heart. I knew what I was capable of; even with no legs, my feet run like the wind and allow me to jump as high as I am tall. I can do other things—things that frighten and astonish people, people like those chasing me. So much so, they’d locked me up and studied me like a lab rat for the past decade. I remembered all that, but little to nothing further into my past than my capture and imprisonment. And I remembered my name, Shivurr, but it was a name, an identity, that lacked history or context, which was both freeing and frustrating.

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About the Author




Alfred Wurr is a Canadian author, video game and software developer, computer scientist, and former Olympic wrestler.


Contact Links




Purchase Link

On Sale for $.99




RABT Book Tours & PR

I should be back Friday to tell you how Nano went. Eat some mashed potatoes for me, squiders.

Promo: House of Ash & Brimstone, by Megan Starks

Good morning, squiders. I’ve got a book promo for you! Today’s offering is a paranormal romance, House of Ash & Brimstone by Megan Starks.

Hell has come to collect…

…but Gisele Walker has no plans to pay the debt.

As a half-demon paranormal bounty hunter, Gisele is used to flirting with death, but stealing a curio and opening a portal to Hell’s demon court is more than your average day job.

Now, she’s partnered with an infuriatingly handsome demon, Shade, who has more levels of grey than she can count.

Who can she trust to help save the city as Baltimore burns to the ground and ghouls roam the streets?

With a white-hot attraction burning between them and secrets blocking their path, Gisele must face her past and venture into the twisted heart of the demon royal court.

But with no memory of her past…

…will she be able to save their future?

Read an Excerpt

A jumble of computer equipment and business supplies littered the office floor. Orange, blue, and manila folders spilled from an overturned metal cabinet. And in the shadows, Shade sat slumped in her green swivel chair, the hundred-page contract in his hands. He’d torn half of the place and the whole of her desk apart. He’d rummaged through her files, knocked over her pen and paperclip jars, and ripped the bottom right drawer out completely, dropping it on the floor. It was the drawer she kept locked—the drawer she’d left the contract in.

Clearly, it was what he’d been searching for.

“Real mature,” she said, irritated with his reckless, temperamental violence and his blatant disregard for her privacy. “Find what you were looking for?”

No doubt he planned to tattle on her to their boss. Her contract aside, the grimgolem was going to blow a gasket when he accounted for the damage to their computers alone.

“I hope it was worth it for you,” she continued, “because I am not cleaning this up.”

Rather than glare at her, he looked away. His brows drew together, lips pressing a tight line. “It wasn’t supposed to happen this way,” he said, voice raw. “They’ve tricked me.”

“Who has?” Gisele asked, but he ignored her.

The muscles in his arms corded as he gripped the contract tighter, crinkling the thick stack of pages, and she knew who he meant. He really was working with them—the elghoul and its master. For them. Working against her.

Son of a gun.

She chucked a stapler at him hard enough to bruise his chest, then crossed the room, closing the distance until she could have yanked him up by the collar of his soiled, bloody shirt. Instead, she smacked her hand on the desktop. Wood splintered.

“The woman in this contract? Who is she?”

“I can’t tell you that,” he answered, not even looking at her. Not even now. He sounded so defeated. “They’re going to kill you, and they’re going to use me to do it.”

“But why?”

“Because they’re cruel.” Bitterness swirled in his voice. “Because they can.”

And if they demanded it of him, he’d do it, just like that? What kind of a cold-blooded monster was he?

“Are you going to?” she asked, dreading his answer. “Going to rip me apart with your claws? Tear my throat out?”

The image of him, darkly winged and terrifying in the Office of the Paranormal, came crawling back, unwanted.

“Would you really do it?” she asked. It hurt, but she needed to hear him say it. “What happened to ‘I’ll protect you, so you don’t have to be afraid’?”

His little declaration hadn’t even lasted four hours.

“I won’t have a choice.”

About the Author:
Megan Starks is the award-winning author of the Gatewalkers urban fantasy series and a game writer at Obsidian Entertainment. A Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, Writers Guild of America award nominee, and Pitch Wars alumna with an MFA in fiction, Megan enjoys reading and writing paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and fantasy novels. Whether it’s dark demons, brooding vampires, howling werewolves, or feisty witches, Megan loves it all.

When she’s not penning novels about magic and strong, kick-butt heroines, she enjoys playing video games and spending time with her husband and their cat, Sushi, in California.

Look for Night of Sunder & Sorrow, the sequel to House of Ash & Brimstone, coming in Spring 2020.

Get a free prequel to House of Ash & Brimstone by joining Megan’s mailing list at: http://www.fictivate.com/books

Crave more #Gatewalkers? For updates and to chat about writing, video games, coffee, and cute kitty-cats, come hang out on any of the author’s social media sites.

Social media links: Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fictivate
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fictivate
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/fictivate
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16069896.Megan_Starks
Bookbub: http://www.bookbub.com/profile/2811299533
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Megan-Starks/e/B07YBKHQBV/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dwlkwf

Buy links: The book is $0.99 during the tour.

Amazon: https://smarturl.it/Gate1Amz
Amazon Print (won’t be live until released day): https://smarturl.it/Gate1AmzPrt
BN: https://smarturl.it/Gate1BN
Kobo: https://smarturl.it/Gate1Kobo
iBooks: https://smarturl.it/Gate1iBooks
GoodReads: https://smarturl.it/Gate1GR
Publisher (City Owl Press): https://smarturl.it/Gate1CO

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MileHiCon Aftermath (and More Pictures)

Woo, sorry about missing the second update last week, Squiders. It turns out that the combination of the spouse’s surgery and Fall Break was a bit of a mess.

But the con went really well! I had a great time.

Friday was my FTL travel panel, which went okay. Myself and the rest of the panelists had all come to the same conclusion with our research, in that it will probably be achieved via manipulating spacetime (warp bubbles, wormholes, etc.) yet the audience kept asking questions about accelerating matter past the speed of light, no matter how much we emphasized that that continued to be impossible. So! That was a thing.

Otherwise Friday was pretty chill, just getting the lay of the land, chatting with friends, checking out the dealers’ room and the art show. (If I had unlimited money to spend, the art show would be a dream.) I also wrote a thousand words on a scifi horror novella I’ve been working on and drew a picture for a story/art exchange I signed up for.

Saturday was pretty fun. Based on the costume dry-run, I bought re-wetting eye drops to go with the contacts, which made a world of difference. I wore the contacts for an hour and a half last Tuesday, and my eyes hurt for, like, 12 hours afterwards. But I wore them for eight hours on Saturday and was fine.

The costume turned out well, but was apparently not obviously a costume (though I got a lot of double-takes after people made eye contact with me, which was kind of fun). I was chatting with a friend when someone came up, stated they were taking pictures of all the cosplayers, asked for and took a picture of my friend, and then meandered off.

(My husband says that it looks like I’m dressed up for a presentation. Ha! Matches Book!Crowley, I suppose.)

Saturday morning I had a fandom panel, which are honestly my favorite, because we can all happily geek out together. Same friend from above was on the panel with me, and we discovered that we went to the same university, at the same time, and hung out with the same people, and yet had somehow never met at that point in time. (We met at a writing group about five-ish years ago.) Life is weird.

Mid-day Saturday I had a spot at the selling/signing table, and sold a decent amount of books and had good interest in general, which is always very lovely. Also, the other authors I was there with were great, and we talked marketing techniques and what was working and not. That’s really part of why I come back to this con year after year–the people who run it are lovely, and the other authors are just so great, and everyone’s willing to chat and network and share.

My friend Christy (the Aziraphale to my Crowley) showed up near the end of that. She couldn’t stay very long, unfortunately, but we had fun while she was there. And it turns out if you have both an Aziraphale and a Crowley, it becomes obvious you are cosplaying and people say nice things.

Near the end of Christy being there was the mass author signing, during which we discovered another Aziraphale and Crowley, played by Carrie Vaughn and her friend Wendy (whom I didn’t get to talk to for very long, but I liked immensely). So that was also fun.

Pictures, as promised (though the lighting is a little off, on which I blame the con):

Doppelgangers! Oh noes!

After the signing I had a panel on identity vs. memory, which was pretty interesting when I was doing research on it, and the panel itself was interesting (someone complimented me on in the bathroom afterwards), but I felt kind of useless, because half the panel was a psychologist and someone experienced in traumatic head injuries. Ah well. Can’t win them all.

Sunday I decided to bring the bigger, mobile one along because I realized he would totally be into the Critter Crunch, which is a robotic fighting competition ala Battle Bots. (Although, I learned this weekend, it turns out that the MileHiCon Critter Crunch is actually the FIRST combat robot competition, starting in 1987.)

So we spent Sunday morning watching the 2 lb. competition (BMO’s favorite was Sister Christian, one of those punching nun puppets that had been modified to shoot fire out of her mouth) and then the later afternoon watching the 20 lb. competition. The three hours in between we made rockets with the other kids and had some quiet time, where BMO designed cities on his tablet, and I wrote another 1000 words and drew some more pictures.

I wanted to show you guys the all-robot melee at the end of the competition, but it wouldn’t upload, so instead you get Toast vs. SOL. (Toast was advertised as being fully autonomous, and SOL stands for exactly what you think):

Of course, now the BMO wants to build a robot for next year, so that’s a thing. Mechanically I’m sound, but me and electronics have never gotten along so well (and I have the soldering scars to prove it). But hey! It’s a possibility.

So that was the con this year! It was lovely, I only got a little sick afterwards, and I have next year to look forward to.

How was your weekend, squiders?

Promo: Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall

Morning, squiders! Happy Tuesday! Today I have Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall for your perusal. (There’s an excerpt at the bottom as well.)




YA Fantasy
Date Published: June 18th 2019
Publisher: Capital Station Books

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Magic. Sailing. A murderer among heroes.

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.

In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

A fast-paced flintlock fantasy for those who enjoy How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, Unsouled (Cradle Series) by Will Wight, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

About the Author


Shami Stovall relies on her BA in History and Juris Doctorate to make her living as an author and history professor in the central valley of California. She writes in a wide range of fiction, from crime thrillers to fantasy to science-fiction. Stovall loves reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing about herself in the third person.

 

Contact Links




Purchase Links





Excerpt:

I outlined a fresh grave for the cemetery as bells rang from the isle’s tower, signifying the start of the celebrations. The soil reeked of ammonia and rot, but the crisp morning breeze washed the scent away, dispersing it over the ocean. I removed my shirt, allowing the wind to cool me while I worked.

Every ten years, the people on the Isle of Ruma gathered to watch the fledgling phoenixes bond with a few chosen mortals. Lamplighters did their duty despite the glorious sunshine, each lamp’s fire representing the flames of phoenixes. Merchants cleared their horses and carts from the main road in anticipation of the crowds.

This was my second Day of Phoenixes. A decade ago, on my fifth birthday, I missed the bonding ceremony to attend my father’s trial. He was convicted of murder, but because he hadn’t been born on the island, he was taken to the mainland for final judgement. That was the last time I saw him.

Although the last Day of Phoenixes had been inauspicious, I intended to change that. Once I had finished digging a shallow grave, I would make my way into town.

I slammed the shovel’s head into the dirt and scooped deep. The cemetery sat near the edge of the island, far from those gathering to observe the hopeful students trying to win the favor of the phoenixes.

Tradition stated that anyone who handled sewage, waste, and dead bodies wasn’t allowed to attend the bonding ceremony, which was just my luck. After my father was sent away, I could’ve been given to any profession for apprenticeship. I could’ve gone to the carpenter and learned the craft of woodworking, or I could’ve gone to the silversmith and learned the art of fine metal work, but misfortune hounded me like a shadow. I was given to the gravekeeper, slated to dig corpse-holes until the end of time, forever exiled from the festivities.

I still intended to go. Even if it meant ignoring the traditions of the isle—something unheard of on our tiny spit of land—no one could stop me from proving myself to a phoenix. No one.

I scooped another mound of dirt and tossed it to the side.

“You look deep in thought, Volke,” my fellow corpse-hole apprentice, Illia, said. “What’re you planning?”

“I’m waiting for the trials to begin.”

“And then what?”

“You’ll see.”

Illia sat in the shade of a cypress tree, her legs crossed and her chin in both hands. Most people hated the thought of sitting on graves, since it was supposed to bring bad luck, but Illia wasn’t like most people. She leaned back on a headstone and exhaled as the ocean wind rushed by, catching her wavy brown hair and revealing the scars on the side of her face.

 She held a hand over the marks, like she always did. The moment the wind died down, she pulled some of her hair around to cover her scars, hiding the old knife wounds that had taken her right eye.

 I finished one half of the grave and huffed.

Illia and I lived in a tiny cottage on the edge of the cemetery, apprenticed to Ruma’s sole gravekeeper. We both held the glorious title of gravedigger. Like me, she had no family. Well, we had each other, and Gravekeeper William, but he hardly counted.

For ten years, Illia and I had considered ourselves brother and sister, and siblings always know each other’s mood. Illia displayed all the telltale signs of irritation—narrowed eye, rarely blinking, her mouth turned down in a slight frown. She hated the fact I was keeping secrets from her. If I didn’t explain myself quick, she’d exact her revenge.

“I don’t want to become the next gravekeeper,” I said as I threw a mound of dirt off to the side.

With an eyebrow sarcastically raised, Illia asked, “So you’re going to impress a phoenix and leave this place, is that it?”

“That’s right.”

“Only two phoenixes were born this year,” she said, wagging her finger. “And the schoolmaster has already picked his two favored disciples to win the right to bond. No one wants you to take a phoenix from either of those try-hards.”

“I don’t care.” I scooped out another clump of dirt, my grip on the shovel so tight it hurt. “Bonding with a phoenix is too important. Besides, no one on this isle likes me anyway. Why should I start caring about their opinions now?”

Promo: The Mercenary Code by Emmet Moss

Good morning, squiders! Today I have a promo and excerpt for you for Emmet Moss’s new epic fantasy novel, The Mercenary Code, which is book 1 of the Shattering of Kingdoms series.


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Epic Fantasy
Date Published:  May 2019

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The Shattering of Kingdoms, Book 1
Break the Code. Shatter the World.

Centuries ago, the murder of a beloved king tore apart the Kingdom of Caledun. The land was plunged into chaos and thousands perished in the aftermath. A new order was established in an attempt to return Caledun to its former glory. It failed, but in its place rose the beginnings of the Code.

During this same period, the mystical caretakers of the Great Wood retreated from the world of Kal Maran, their disappearance an ominous harbinger of the suffering that was to follow. The Great Wood now grows out of control. Cities, towns, and villages have fallen before the relentless march of the forest. Without the former guardians to keep her tame, the wood has become a place of peril, and dark creatures of legend now hunt beneath its leaves.

The summer season is now a time of armed conflict. The fall of the old monarchy has brought about a ceaseless cycle of combat. Grievances are settled by the strict tenets of a binding Mercenary Code and the men who would die to preserve its honour.

However, change is in the air. Political rivalries have escalated, and dire rumblings of a revolution abound. Thrust to the forefront of the shattered land’s politics, a mercenary fights for more than just riches. In the north, a borderland soldier wrestles with his own demons and looks to find his true purpose. And in the shadow of the Great Wood, a young man’s chance encounter with a strange visitor gives hope to a land divided.



Excerpt
chapter IX

Bider’s gaze wandered over the assembled enemy troops camped beyond bow range on the outskirts of the city. At least a thousand men lay to the west, another four hundred were guarding any attempt at a sortie from the south gate. A dozen distinct banners flapped in the strong wind, with each company standard easy to distinguish from Bider’s elevated vantage point. He studied the banners and counted only one northern company among the groups to the south. Most were unfamiliar him, and his eyes settled uneasily on the symbol of the black hyena belonging to Khali’s Reavers.

Nudging Orn, Bider gestured out towards the standard. “What’s the story behind the Reavers?” he asked. “You’ve been around since the early days of the Fey’Derin.”

“The Reavers are a bad lot,” Orn said, spitting over the wall. “A very bad lot.”

“That’s what I know, not what I want to hear,” Bider pressed.

Orn gave his companion a deliberate once over before answering. “Over the last century or so, there have been several unspoken rules in our profession,” he began, “One, is to always minimize casualties of the innocent, especially women and children. Another is to always accord captured officers fair and just treatment. Although such rules were never written into the Code, mercenary companies don’t take kindly to torturers —”

“So Khali’s men tortured officers?” Bider interrupted with alarm.

“If you’re going to interrupt, I’ll stop right here and now,” Orn growled. “Now are you going to shut that trap of yours or not?”

“Yes, sorry.” Bider answered timidly.

“As I was saying, there are several actions that are widely frowned upon. The last revolves around a company’s base of operations during the winter months. Be it a temporary encampment, or a permanent home city, it matters not. You leave the men and their families alone. There’s plenty of time for killing when the spring arrives.” Pausing to take a long sip from his ever-present flask, Orn shot Bider a suspicious look. “You won’t say anything to the Captain now will you?” he glared.

“Not as long as I hear this story …” Bider responded carefully.

“Well, it was three seasons ago, the year before you came on as a recruit, and the company was staying south for the winter. It was the first time the Captain chose not to take us back north to Briar, instead planning to stay near the eastern edge of the Caeronwood. Sergeant Fenton and the Lieutenant left the autumn campaign early with our newest recruits and built a relatively comfortable camp for the men. Rumours began to swirl by season’s end that a few southern companies had been contracted out later than the usual, and many mercenaries across the region speculated at what might be developing. Seems a few of the nobles in the Protectorate territories held the northern companies in some contempt, deeming them unfit to fight in southern lands.”

“But the Code states that the whole of Kal Maran is fit for any company to do battle,” Bider retorted.

“That’s right, but it doesn’t mean it sits well with some of the noblemen hereabouts. The Code isn’t perfect, and men’s hearts can be easily twisted, even by the most mundane of things,” Orn continued. “After the Battle of Cobourne, where the Fey’Derin fought for Lord Erion Brawn, word escaped that an early winter bounty was out on our company. It seems the Captain’s choice of employer over the years had angered certain factions, most notably Lord Yarr and his ally Duke Garius of Imlaris.”

“I’m not familiar with that name.” Bider said.

“He paid a large price to spearhead the campaign against our recruits. They hit the camp before we could muster our strength and warn them. That twelve of the fifty-six men survived, including Lieutenant Burnaise, is something of a miracle. It was a slaughter, and our young men had no chance. Bran, that big brute of an Axeman, still sports a nasty scar under that beard of his, but at least he survived, unlike many of his friends.”

“And it was Khali’s men that attacked?” Bider hesitated to ask.

“Aye, it was. They showed no quarter. Women who had arrived from the north or sweethearts from the nearby towns, it mattered little. Khali’s men murdered them all. Sergeant Fenton died trying to protect his young son and wife,” Orn replied gloomily.

“The Captain was cold that day. He showed no emotion, and yet we all knew he was hurting. His vengeance was swift and as unmerciful as the unjust attack. He mustered half the company and ambushed Garius as he travelled between cities. No one walked away from that battle unscarred. Captain Silveron ignored the man’s pleas for mercy and took his head, sending it in a box to Gadian Yarr.  Then we travelled north, taking a winding road through the Erienn mountain range, passing by Dragon Mount and the Silveryn Mages.”

“And the Reavers?” Bider asked, entranced by the sorrow etched in the storyteller’s words.

“We fought them the following season. Sergeant McConnal nearly destroyed their vanguard single-handedly, and the Captain, well he was both terrifying and awe-inspiring to behold. We haven’t seen those bastards in well over a year now, and it’s all any of us involved in that ambush can do to hold our tempers in check. There’s a reckoning still to come. The Captain swore on those dead men that he would kill the man who coldly slaughtered those innocents, and if I know the Captain, that day is coming.” Orn hung his head as he finished, staring solemnly at the ground.

A long moment passed, and Bider felt a pang of guilt knowing that he had reopened old wounds. Ignoring Orn as he took a second and then third pull from his silver flask, Bider slipped down the stone staircase and left his friend alone with his thoughts.



About the author:

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Emmet Moss lives in Canada with his family and cat. He is a sports enthusiast and an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction. The Mercenary Code is the first installment of his Shattering of Kingdoms epic fantasy series. Book two, The King’s Guard, is set for release in Fall 2019.






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Review: In Search of a Witch’s Soul

Good morning, squiders! Today’s I’ve got an urban fantasy noir story for you.


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Urban Fantasy Noir
Publisher: Ink & Magick
Date Published: March 5, 2019

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Human, private detective Anna Caill isn’t keen on the prohibition of magic enacted by the 18th Amendment, but she won’t deny it’s good for business. The coppers couldn’t care less about the witches’ problems, giving her any number of clients to choose from.

When mysterious witch Jesse Hunt saunters into her office, he and his case will test her limits. While a killer stalks the magical underworld, Anna is hired to find Jesse’s friend, the high priest of an ancient coven.

As her case unravels, Anna is forced to confront her addiction to a dark spell in this urban fantasy noir.


About the Author

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D. writes stories she wants to read. Her love of the worlds of fiction led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, crafting, watching anime, Korean television, Bollywood, or old movies. She may also be getting her geek on while planning her next steampunk cosplay with friends.

She lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cat (Yin).


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Review

There’s a lot to like here. I love the world, which is a mixture of historical and urban fantasy. The story takes place in an alternate prohibition time period, where witches (which are tangibly different from humans) are known about and, if not fully accepted into society, somewhat integrated.

The noir elements are well done also, and I didn’t see the twist at the end coming at all (though it is properly foreshadowed–I just fell for the misdirection), so kudos on that. It’s a quick read, and the story moves along well.

Really my biggest issue was Anna, our main character. She’s a great private detective and her voice is fine, but man, does she have a major blind spot a mile high. I know noir main characters need to be flawed, and it is standard to have said flaw be related to their relationships, but it was obvious from the first flashback that she was operating under incorrect assumptions, and there’s no growth in said flaw throughout the book (and, indeed, it gets worse). I liked her well enough otherwise, but this was a major issue for me, and I don’t know if I would read another book following her unless I knew there was some sort of resolution in this area.

Bottom line: great, unique world with fun worldbuilding, fast read. Some characterization issues for me, but that’s completely arbitrary and another reader might not be bothered. I’d recommend picking it up if you like urban fantasy or noir with different-than-the-norm elements.

Guest Post: The Sea of Distant Stars by Francesca G. Varela

Good morning, squiders! Happy Thursday! Today I have a guest post about writing process for you from Francesca G. Varela, who is currently doing a virtual tour for her science fiction book, The Seas of Distant Stars.

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Literary Science-Fiction
Date Published:  August 7th, 2018
Publisher: Owl House Books
 
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Agapanthus was kidnapped when she was only two years old, but she doesn’t remember it. In fact, she doesn’t remember her home planet at all. All she knows is Deeyae, the land of two suns; the land of great, red waters. Her foster-family cares for her, and at first that’s enough. But, as she grows older, Agapanthus is bothered by the differences between them. As an Exchanger, she’s frail and tall, not short and strong. And, even though she was raised Deeyan, she certainly isn’t treated like one. One day, an Exchanger boy completes the Deeyan rite-of-passage, and Agapanthus is inspired to try the same. But, when she teams up with him, her quest to become Deeyan transforms into her quest to find the truth―of who she is, and of which star she belongs to.
Excerpt

It had been so long since Agapanthus had really swam—train-swam, counting her strokes and holding her breath until either her forehead ached or the upper, back end of her throat began to complain. Now she just floated, usually. Maybe a steady, parallel lap from one end of the shore to the other. She wasn’t even sure what she thought, anymore. Part of her had given up on the right-of-passage, but the other part of her wanted to prove it to them. What if she did it? What if she really did it, and she emerged from the small round boat to a feast and cheering crowds, and Leera would cup her chin in her warm hands and say, smiling, “I can’t believe it,” and Pittick would at first rest his hand on her head, but then hug her, and she couldn’t even imagine what he would say. Something about how he was wrong. About how much stronger she was than any of them had guessed. Something about being proud.

Agapanthus looked down at her legs. They were coated completely in red sand, no skin showing at all. She stood and brushed off the clinging particles. They felt like little teeth boring into her. Drops of mist speckled the edge of her cheek as the wind climbed over the Waters. She was going to brush the droplets away, but, instead, she left her fingers splayed over the side of her face as she stared out toward Shre. If anyone saw her, they would think she was odd—just staring with her hand up like that, her other hand wrapped over her ribs, her shoulders fallen, like the Contact’s had been. But no one was there to see. That was the good thing about being alone. One of the few good things.

 

Guest Post – My Writing Process

A lot of people ask me where I get the inspiration for my novels. Sometimes, a character pops into my head from nowhere—from the ether, it seems. They are real, and alive, and I know instantly that they are the one I should be writing about. Other times, I see a vague image—a quiet, numb sunset on another planet, or a girl looking up at a field of stars in the broken wilderness of some future world. This image is my sole starting point. Other times, I have a message I want to spread; a plea to protect wild places, an invitation to enjoy the connection we share with all things, or a warning to not take this connection for granted.

For the most part, I usually begin my novels blindly. I have an idea where things will go, but I let the writing take me there.

The hardest part for me is getting started. Back in high school, when I wrote my very first novel, I learned that the only way to not to get overwhelmed by the length of a novel is to go word by word. To think of writing 60,000 or more words when the pages are empty—well, that’s intimidating. But to think of writing your first 500 words—that’s achievable.

Typically, my daily goal is 500 words. Once I hit that mark, I feel accomplished for the day. 500 words a day will get you to a full-length novel in only a few months, if you’re diligent. And, even if you take a few days off here and there, or take a break when you’re off on vacation, you’ll still make good time. Using the 500 words a day method, I finished my second novel—Listen—in about nine months, and I finished my newest novel, The Seas of Distant Stars, in about six months.

Once the writing is finished, I take time to edit. First, I read through and fix up any issues with the plot or character development. Then I read it again and make grammatical corrections and changes to the prose. Then, and only then, do I let friends and family read it and give me feedback.

I long ago decided to keep my books a secret until they were finished. So, every time I’m working on a novel, no one is allowed to know what it’s about until it’s done. I guess this is because I want the story to be purely my own for a little while. Some of the best writing advice I can offer is to write like no one will ever read it. Write for yourself. Take chances. Be creative. Be edgy. Get those words on the page. After all, the only way to write a novel is by actually writing it! So, write a little each day, and let your instincts and imagination guide you.

About the Author

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Francesca G. Varela was raised in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. In 2015 she graduated from the University of Oregon with degrees in Environmental Studies and Creative Writing, and she then went on to receive her master’s degree in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah.

Francesca’s dream of becoming an author began in third grade, and her writing career had an early start; she wrote her award-winning first novel, Call of the Sun Child, when she was only 18 years old, and she wrote her second novel, Listen, when she was only 20.

When not writing or reading, Francesca enjoys playing piano, figure skating, hiking, identifying wild birds, plants, and constellations, and travelling to warm, sunny places whenever she can.
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