Thursday, 30 November 2017

Fantasy Art Wednesday | Allison D. Reid

Originally posted by Allison D. Reid:

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Wednesday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.

Warm, golden sunlight spills onto this hidden city. Its location a well-guarded secret, you will not find it on any maps, nor does any road lead to it. Sheltered by the branches and roots of ancient trees, it seems untouched by time and the cares that plague the rest of the world. This is a city of light, of wisdom, of beauty…or so the legends say.
Many have lost themselves seeking it, both in body and mind. Some believe the desire to find it becomes a curse–one created by its inhabitants. Those who persist in their search become obsessed to the point of insanity, leading themselves ever further away. Whether or not anyone has made it to the golden city is a mystery that cannot be solved by anyone beyond its borders. Once there, it is impossible to leave. Only you can decide if that a blessing, or just an extension of the curse.
Concept Art by Snow Skadi

Risen by Roxanne Heath | Renee's Author Spotlight

Originally posted by Renee's Author Spotlight:

Roxanne Heath's interests and ambitions have changed many times over the years, but the one constant has been her affinity for fiction. Her primary hobby in childhood was writing stories, and the habit continued well into her high school and college years despite pursuing a degree in science. Her favorite genres to write are those that dabble in paranormal horror and fantasy, along with psychological thrillers.

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About the Book

Ragnarok – the cyclical occurrence resulting in the slaughter and resurgence of the universe – is once more coming to pass, taking with it the best warriors that can be offered up to the jaws of Fenrir and his monstrous kin. When three of the best and most burnt-out warriors decide that dishonor is their only hope of permanently escaping the cycle, they abdicate their homeworld and make the jump to Earth. Taking refuge in unsuspecting members of a fragmented family they find that, while the fallen soldiers of their home are returning to fight in the battle, Earth’s deceased are mistakenly doing the same. The dead are rising, and their only call is to destruction.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:

At that moment the three of them hear a snapping twig and the low sounds of someone or something shuffling through uncut grass. When they hear the wet snarl that accompanies it the three of them wheel around to see several creatures stalking out of the trees, their gait awkward and their eyes blazing yellow.

Ása is the first to her feet, reaching for the staff she’d propped against the log. She takes a firm hold on the canvas-bound grips at either end and begins to rotate them in opposite directions, feeling the internal mechanism engage. Under pressure of her grip the blades swiftly begin to protrude from inside the hollow, thick-walled staff. As the rotational abilities of Ása’s wrists come to an end the blades lock into place, a gleaming fourteen inches of sharp, oiled metal protruding from each end of the weapon. She takes several wide steps towards her enemies, giving her ample room for offensive maneuvers. Behind her and to either side she hears Ari and Egill draw their weapons, and she need not look to see where they’ve positioned themselves. She knows their tactics as well as her own.

Ása closes her eyes for a moment, taking the split second to trigger within herself an adrenaline rush that slows the scene to half-speed. She takes hold of the spear by the middle grips and begins to twirl it, positioning it to her left and to her right, picking up speed until she is essentially wielding a silver blur that makes her both lethal and unreachable. The first of the Risen makes its way into her range and she moves the spear upward, catching it under the chin with a sickening crunch as metal meets bone. Its head snaps backward and it falls. Another takes its place and she catches it in the cheek with the staff itself, watching its rotten face splatter open. With no close enemies she resumes the twirling pattern, backing up towards the sound of Egill’s voice.

The creatures take her retreat as their cue to break from a slow shamble to a fearsome rush. Ása turns away and sprints to the outskirts of the area in which they fight, crossing the mock boundaries in her head and creating a viable gap between herself and her enemies. She stacks the Risen – keeping one positioned behind the other at all times – and when the next of the monsters closes the gap she brings the spear up and twirls it, swinging it against its face twice as she finishes out the move. The momentum of the blunt force trauma to its head snaps its neck, and as the creature stumbles Ása shoves him back. He is the last to fall, and Ása returns to the others where they stand, chests heaving, among blood-stained grass and remains.

“We may be too late,” Egill says in the post-battle silence, slow to catch his breath. “They have already begun to rise.”

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Medieval Monday: Boots, Shoes, and Walking Medieval | Allison D. Reid

Originally posted by Allison D. Reid:

Early in the period, footwear was still influenced by the Romans and nomadic European tribes that came before. They were largely stiff, poor quality, stitched leather wraps with laces to hold them to the ankle—not much better than walking barefoot. In colder regions these might have been lined with fur for warmth. As the Middle Ages progressed, and trade increased, higher quality leather became available, and the crusades exposed Europe to Byzantine styles. Shoe and boot makers might be called cordwainers (12th century on) or chaucers, and as was the case with most other medieval trades, they were regulated by guilds. Cobblers, however, did not make brand new footwear. They were only permitted to repair shoes that had been made by someone else.
The types of shoes worn would be different depending on your trade, where you lived, and your social status. They might be made of leather, wool, fur, or wood. Peasants often wore poor quality knee-high boots that laced up the front. English peasants also wore a heavy shoe made of undressed leather with the hair on the outside. They were called revelins or slops. The nobility wore a high quality close-toed slipper, the design of which changed with the fashions of the day. Early on, they remained relatively plain, but in the high and late Middle Ages they may have been elongated, pointed, and/or decorated with elaborate designs. Leather shoes could be stamped, tooled, or decorated with cutouts. Shoes were not always necessary, however. As hose became fashionable for men, soles were often sewn directly into the hose.
Turnshoes were the most popular type of medieval shoe, particularly in the northern regions. These ankle-high shoes had a triangular flap that folded over the ankle and stayed attached with a latchet or thongs.  They were very plain, with no embellishments and flat soles. These types of shoes were made inside out, then soaked in a bucket of water until they were soft enough to turn them the right way. This would have been done very carefully to prevent over-stretching the leather or tearing it. Once completely dry, the shoe would be stiff again. It might have a sole added at this stage, but it could also be worn without one.
In the 14th century, clogs or pattens also became common. They were an overshoe that offered protection from wet and muddy streets. The bottoms were made of wood or cork, with a leather strap to hold them to the foot. Some had a hinged heel to make walking easier. Techniques that allowed a heavier sole to be attached to a regular shoe were not developed until the 15th century. Stacked heels did not come about until after the Renaissance period.
While some shoes were tailored specifically to the wearer’s feet, ready-made shoes in several different sizes were also available as the trade began to boom. There was little to no distinction between a right and left shoe such as there is today. Shoes might have been padded for comfort, or to correct the fit as the material stretched with wear.  Padding would have been made from materials like wool, fur, hair, or moss.
One of the most interesting aspects of this topic is that medieval shoes required a different style of walking than we are accustomed to today. To comfortably wear a medieval style shoe, one would need to point their feet forward, rather than at an angle, take a shorter stride, and land on the front of the foot rather than the heel. Roland Warzecha, who teaches historical European combat fighting, made a video explaining the body mechanics of how medieval people walked. It is less than 7 minutes long, but very informative!

Want to know more about the Middle Ages? Check out the Medieval Monday Index for additional topics.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Evenfall by Gaja J. Kos & Boris Kos

A monster does not deserve the intimacy of a name

As if waking up in an unfamiliar world isn’t enough of a surprise, Ember gains a new title to her name. Savior.

Hunted by the Crescent Prince and his lethal shadows, she accepts a young Mage’s help to navigate the land of blood magic and its many illusions. But where Ada sees the good in her power, Ember discovers something else.

An icy darkness, designed to take lives, not save them.

The only thing worse than not being able to rely on her senses—or the reality she had once believed to be true—is knowing that she cannot trust her heart. Especially as it seems to draw her to the one person in whose hands she can never fall…

Will Ember escape the thrall of darkness or will she reign in it?

Pre-order your copy of Evenfall today to find out!

Kobo | iBooks

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Key Tips On What Not To Do When Self-Publishing Your Book by Sarah Robinson | Renee Scattergood

Originally posted by Renee Scattergood:

The irony of becoming a successful writer isn’t much in the writing process itself. More often than not, talented storytellers struggle to have their books sold in brick and mortar shops because of the horrors of publishing.
Over time, the process of making written works available to the public has transformed.
Knocking relentlessly on the doors of large publishing houses is no longer the smartest way to have your manuscript distributed to your target audience.
Internet advancements now give you the chance to self-publish your book. Platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle, now allow online readers to browse, buy, download and read your books electronically.
Traditional Publishing VS Self-Publishing
Taking the traditional or the transformed publishing route has its own perks and disadvantages. Here are key things to remember before choosing what course to take:
  • Traditional publishing takes time—it takes roughly 18 months before you get your book printed while self-publishing allows you to release your book in days or a few weeks.
  • Publishers handle all activities from editing down to book distribution; self-publishing requires you to manage everything from editing and marketing your work.
  • Publishers have control over all critical decisions. On the other hand, when you choose to self-publish, you get 100 percent of the profits and retain all rights to your books.
Tips On What Not To Do When Self-Publishing Your Book
Let’s assume you’ve decided to take the transformed route of publishing your book. To ease your journey towards becoming the next self-published superstar, take a quick look at these tips on what you should not do before rolling out that book with your own hands:
Failing to catch typos
Publishing an error-free book is definitely a no-brainer tip for you as a writer. Your friends and family probably don’t mind spotting an error or two, but your readers do. Don’t fret—failing to catch typos yourself doesn’t make you less competent. In fact, it’s the result of how you, as a writer, possess a precise grip on the meaning you want to convey. A competition exists between what you see and what exists in your head.
  • To proofread your works, hire a skilled editor. Aside from grammatical errors, having fresh eyes allow issues such as plot holes, weak character developments, and other inconsistencies you don’t want your buying readers to point out, be addressed constructively.
Talking where you readers aren’t
Publishing is a business. Whether you choose to take the traditional or self-publishing route, you have to be fully-geared when it comes turning those paperbacks into actual cash. To do this, marketing plays a significant role. You can’t expect a huge fan base to grow on its own instantly, even after you’ve published your book successfully. You need to spark conversations with your readers to establish strong engagement.
  • Bank on social networking sites—Facebook, Twitter and even blogs with a huge following. Remember, your message must be tailored-fit to your target audience. A boring template won’t make you a star.
  • You can’t sell books on Amazon and expect it to reap bucks against a pool of previously published content—which, for the record could run around 600,000 to 1,000,000 books every single year.
  • If you have enough digits, hire a team of marketing specialists who can create a buzz for you while still getting a hundred percent of the profits.
Choosing Photos Fit Only for Digital Viewing
The resolution in which images are displayed on your screen dramatically differs from what your readers see on actual paper. As a rule of thumb, graphics, as seen on your computer screen, are shown at 72 dots per inch. However, the dot density of an image when reproduced in the physical paper can be higher. Thus, not all images in physical print appear precisely as unsullied as it is in digital format.
Ignoring Copyrights
If you’re not in for a legal escapade—it’s best not to take copyrights for granted. As a potential self-publishing author, you need to understand how the gift of control over your works entails weightier responsibilities. Unlike traditional publishing, you need to be wary of more legalities when self-publishing your book.
  • Avoid grabbing images and other graphic content through a basic browser search. Not all Google images you find are royalty-free.
  • Use lyrics or texts in quantities that do not interfere with the creator’s rights.
  • Evaluate the risks that come with using brand names to avoid trademark infringement.
Start Writing
The heart of every writer bleeds unique content on every page they work on—be it digital or physical paper. Share content that will add value to your reader’s life. Whatever publishing route you choose to take, always take pride in your craft, innovate!

Sarah is a passionate writer and advocate for donating stories to the less fortunate. She currently works for and enjoys reading her favourite novels in her pass time. She has a loving and very supportive family and enjoys visiting book signing events whenever she can.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Fantasy Art Friday | Allison D. Reid

Originally posted by Allison D. Reid:

Get inspired with this week’s Fantasy Art Friday, where fun fantasy artwork is combined with a writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing.

These cold, still waters are known to be among the most treacherous in the world. Many ships have foolishly sailed them, only to mysteriously vanish beneath the dark, glassy surface. Only those who dare the voyage finally learn the truth...too late. Who would ever believe  that the surrounding snow covered peaks are not made of earth and stone, but dragon? The heart of these mountains are not filled with gold and silver, but blood and fire. Will this ship manage to flee in time? Does it have any defense against the monster rising above it, or are we about to witness its complete destruction?
Unknown title and artist

Want to see more Fantasy Art posts? Find them here.

Thunder Moon by Tonya Coffey | Renee's Author Spotlight

Originally posted on Renee's Author Spotlight:

Tonya Coffey lives in southern Kentucky with her husband and two teen sons. If she isn't reading or writing a fantasy novel, you will find her sitting in front of a canvas with a paintbrush in hand.

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About the Book

Micha, King of Ancients, hoped the fighting between the realms would ease since the treat had been eliminated, yet the forest is filled with enemies who are not what they seem. They can be a plant, animal or even disguised as a friend. 

While Micha battles Shifters, old enemies and himself, Jessa struggles to regain her life. A friend, in the spirit world, guides her through the adjustments of the truth, allowing her to uncover the Wars true beginning and of a man who will stop at nothing to obtain the True Power.

Micha must tread lightly as the Shadows reorganize the kingdom, demanding a union between Micha and Roselle. His only hope for happiness is for the curse Jessa cast upon herself to be broken by a Sorcerer, a man he did not trust. Will the King get his true Queen or will evil win?

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Keep reading for an excerpt:

As I moved over a small creek, the shallow water trickled down a rock then dripped one slow drop at a time. My eyes swept the forest as I paused there. A feeling deep in my gut told me I needed to be more vigilant, so I heeded the call and listened beyond what was normal.

The drip of water echoed a slow beat and with it a faint growl surfaced. Narrowing my eyes, I searched the underbrush. Hunkering down to get a better view of the land, I tried to see where the growl came from. I could not see past my outreached hand but movements were noticeable.

I knew it was stretching it as I narrowed my eyes into the shadows but I hoped it was a raccoon or an opossum.

When nothing stood out, I sighed as I rose and stepped over the stream. With each of my steps, I lightly set my boot down—heel to toe—to keep from making any more noise than I needed.

After a few steps, the sound of paws stepping on dried leaves drifted through the night. It was soft, light as a feather dropping on the vegetation. It became louder the closer it tread. I turned to my left, ready to face what closed the gap on me.

Readying my stance, I waited but the sounds stopped. It was as if the animal knew of my readiness. I frowned. Why? I wondered.

Then as if it heard my thoughts, a growl rolled from deep inside the bushes not far from where I stood. Slowly, I reached for my sword, hoping my movements did not threaten the animal. As my hand gripped the handle, a pair of eyes, blue as the autumn sky appeared from the darkness.

A panther; black as the night around us, slipped between the branches into my line of sight. Hair erupted along his back and his ears laid back in a warning to me. I did not want to engage, however as the panther slowly moved forward, I was afraid it was inevitable.

His lips pulled back, showing me teeth as long and sharp as a dagger. Even though I did not want to fight, I knew I had to stand my ground. After all, I was not in his territory. He was in mine.

Pulling my sword from its sheath, I watched the panther. His eyes never left my movements as he came forward, still showing me his aggressive intent. Narrowing my eyes, I waited. I refused to make the first move, however I would make the last.

As I waited, watching him, something struck me as odd. He moved forward but not in a movement to attack me. Panthers were known for their stealthiest and that made me wonder why he came out of hiding to attack me. He could have jumped me from cover and I would have been useless. He would have won.

So as he made his gestures, I realized he was a decoy. He made me keep my eyes on him while…

I turned, raising my sword into the air. A second panther stood feet from me, ready to slice into my gut with one swift swipe of his claws.
I was right, I thought as I swiftly stepped to the side, keeping both cats in front of me. Smart boys…

With my next step back, the second panther sprang. His teeth barred at me. His paws outstretched, nails flashed in the moonlight. I swung my sword, hoping to not get a face full of teeth or claws. My blade hit; the feel of the metal parting flesh caused me to pull back. I wanted no part in killing him. I only wanted to keep him from killing me.

When I did, the cat cried out. A roar erupted from the animal as if it were a woman screaming to the top of her lungs. The reaction surprised me. I lowered my weapon and watched as the first panther ran to the other. It stood by the animal as it got to its feet and limped off. He watched me then narrowed his eyes, growled a warning and stepped into the underbrush after it.

What the… I stood in the forest, my mouth ajar. Panthers should not act that way…

Sliding my sword back into its home, I turned back to my castle and continued on. If it was not one thing, it was two more. I had hoped the realms would calm down and accept a new reign but the attack was proof someone did not want a peaceful union. They wanted war and I would give it to them.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

At Horizon's End by Chris Sarantopoulos | Renee's Author Spotlight

Originally posted on Renee's Author Spotlight:

Chris Sarantopoulos studied Geology in Scotland (you may hear him say aye a couple of times), then decided to diversify and did a Masters in Service Management. Alas, words and stories won him. Now he meddles with the lives of fictional characters in genres such as science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopia, cyberpunk, fantasy, high fantasy, dark fantasy, and horror (not the splatter type though). When Chris is not writing, he spends his time crafting new stories and worlds, talks to friends who considered him lost somewhere in an imaginary world, or plays video games. Oh yeah, he likes music too. And books. He lives in Greece, and if you happen to spend time there, contact him. He may be able to arrange a meeting.

His work has appeared on Beyond Imagination, Voluted Tales and Eternal Haunted Summer among others.

You can sign up for his newsletter for updates and news at

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About the Book

Death made a mistake.

The Man Who Fed On Tears always knows whose time it is to pluck from the world of the living. His existence is one of a symbiosis between his need for the tears and woe he causes to those closest to the deceased, and the natural order of life and death to which he is bound. He never questions himself or his actions and has never made a mistake. Until now.

Stella is a four-year-old girl who misses her mommy and wants to see her again. She doesn’t yet understand the concept of loss, so when she sees close family members crying, she tries to stay cheerful and optimistic. After all, Mommy said they’d see each other again when the time comes At Horizon’s End. So if they’ll meet again, why is everyone crying?

Get it today on Amazon!

Keep reading for an interview with the author:

Why did you decide to be a writer?

Unlike most writers, I didn't always want to be one. Occasionally, I felt the urge to write something, but I had a little voice in my head (a very loud one) that dissuaded me every time I tried it. I'm very happy I silenced that voice eventually.

Do you have a "day job"?

I'm on a fixed term contract with the Municipality of the city I live in, and once that's over I'll be unemployed again.

How often do you write?

When I was unemployed I wrote or edited six days a week, for five hours each day. Now that I have a job, I try to write or edit for two hours during week days and another five hours on Saturdays. Sundays are write-free days.

What is the quirkiest thing you've ever done while writing?

Forget to eat. It sucks when it happens. Also, being bilingual and deep into my main character's point of view, I have sometimes answered as that character. In English (remember, I'm Greek, therefore I speak Greek)

What authors have most influenced you?

In no particular order: Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, G.R.R.Martin, R. Scott Bakker, Peter V. Brett, Richard K. Morgan, Stephen King

What are your goals as an author?

I'd like to get a foot into traditional publishing but I keep my options open with self publishing and small presses. Five years from today I'd like to have published not only my two yet-unpublished novels, but perhaps another two. One more at the very least. I'd like to start having a steady readership, and of course I'd like to have learned a thing or two about book promotions and marketing.

What is the best compliment you've ever received as an author?

A couple of weeks ago, a twitter follower complimented my latest short story (At Horizon's End). Why was it so nice? Because I hadn't advertised my work to that follower (or anyone else on twitter for a long time) and he not only spent money on my work, but he also took the time to let his followers know about my story. We had never spoken to each other, didn't know one another, but he did all that for me.

What is the worst writing advice you've ever received?

Write ten books per year. Sorry, that's not how I do things. I can't work like that.

How many books do you have on your "to read" list?

I'm on the third book of The Expanse so the rest are in my "to read" list. Mistborn is there as well, the second trilogy of R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing and so so so many more.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I wanted to learn as much as possible about marketing and promoting my work, preferably before I published my first novel. Which is why I'm publishing my short stories and trying things out.

What is your writing process?

First, extensive planning and outlining. I use a modified version of the Snowflake method for my novels. For my short stories, I use the 7-point system. After outlining, I draft the story. For a book, I usually need three months, maybe less. Once that's done, I put the story away for at least a month. Then I start revising and editing it. I usually go through fifteen to twenty revision and editing rounds. Then it's off to my beta readers. Once I get all their feedback I start revising and editing again, but it's hard to tell how many rounds of edits it takes me.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Drafting takes three months. Revising and editing it takes up to two more years. Planning and outlining takes at least another six months.

Have you ever wanted to put one of your characters together with a character from one of your favorite novels? What characters would you choose and how would their meeting go?

You've caught me off guard. The thought has never crossed my mind, so it's something I have to consider.

What inspired your current work?

The effect modern technology has on us, and even worse, the effect and impact future technology will have on our world.

Do you have anything specific you'd like to say to your readers?

I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you. If you ever come to Greece, let me know. I might be able to arrange a meeting or something.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

#WIP Wednesday: #NaNoWriMo Progress | Renee Scattergood

Originally posted  Renee Scattergood:

I’m in week 3 of NaNoWriMo. It’s day 15, which means we’re halfway through. I should be at 25k words, but I’ve fallen a bit behind. Only by a little over 2k words though, so I will be able to catch up fairly easily. I might do some writing over the weekend to catch up.
The story is going well too. I’m really happy with it so far. After the first draft is done, I’m going to have to work out a lot of the world-building details, plus I’ve introduced a few other characters that weren’t originally planned for.
It’s going to be a pretty cool story when it’s done though. I can’t wait for you all to read it now! 

#SciFi & #Fantasy Book Bonanza - 99 Cent #Kindle Books!

Get 99 cent Science Fiction & Fantasy books on Kindle until the 26th of November!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Cassidy by Andrew Gates | Renee's Author Spotlight

Originally posted on Renee's Author Spotlight:

Formerly an on-site educator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, Andrew Gates is now a Virginia-based science-fiction writer and magazine contributor. He is best known as the author of the Color of Water and Sky series.

Gates has always been fascinated by science-fiction and fantasy ever since he was a kid. His writing style has been compared to that of Isaac Asimov, author of the Foundation series. Gates's multiple POV writing style focuses on world-building and large scope politics. Though his stories take place in a fictional world, his characters are realistically portrayed and grounded in reality.

When Andrew Gates is not writing, he enjoys running competitively and watching films.

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About the Book

The world thinks them dead. But they are very much alive. After a deadly attack from an unknown enemy, Captain Sara Gessetti and Lieutenant Damien Saljov are separated from the Cassidy X20 experimental submarine and left to drown in the depths of the Atlantic. Cut off from society, from technology, even from each other, both pilots struggle to survive in this harsh new world, where danger lurks around every corner. But they are not alone. The surface holds many dangers, and some of them come from within...

From the pages of The Color of Water and Sky, this official spinoff story takes place in parallel to books 1-3 in the series.

Get it Today!

Amazon | Smashwords

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Carter opened his eyes and looked himself in the mirror. The suit fit him well. He was not accustomed to seeing himself so dressed up. He made sure his tie was straight, then ran his fingers through his hair.

He took a deep breath. This was it. This was the moment he had been waiting for.

Carter grabbed the holographic projector from the sink top and held it firmly in his sweaty hands.

"Here we go," he said aloud.

The 32-year-old engineer turned and walked out of the men's room. The black hall outside was bustling with well-dressed men and women, quickly making their way through the office complex. Carter tried not to get caught up in the excitement of it all. He held his projector firmly in hand and proceeded to the committee room. It did not take long to get there. He pressed on the thick door and hastily proceeded through.

Some of the elected officials, or EOs, were already present. Their chairs faced him as he entered the room. A massive crimson flag hung above their heads, adding a bit of color to this otherwise dark interior.

A young Navy guard in a white suit approached him.

"Name, sir?" the man asked. He looked about 20, not much older than Carter was when he first enlisted.

"Dr. Carter Brown," he answered. He pulled out his ID. "I am here for the hearing."

"My apologies, Dr. Brown. I did not know it was you. I expected someone..."


The Navy man was silent. He simply motioned to an empty chair behind a desk facing the EOs.

"Please," he said.

Carter followed the guard's order and took a seat behind the desk. A glass of water was already waiting for him. He instinctively took a sip as a few more EOs arrived and took their seats. It was not long before Deborah Otto, Chairwoman of the Oceanic Committee, arrived. Her bright white suit stood out in the world of black.

She took a seat and moved the microphone to her mouth.

"Good morning, everyone," she said. Her voice echoed throughout the room. "Thank you all for coming. I know it is never easy to come back to work after the New Year celebration."

This had been the first day back to work for most of the city following the bicentennial, but not for Carter. He had worked tirelessly over the last few days, making sure everything was right for his presentation.

"I would like to especially welcome our guest today, Dr. Carter Brown," Otto continued.

Carter was not sure how to respond to this introduction. He simply waved back. He felt the EOs glare back at him. He must have been doing it wrong.

"The purpose of this hearing today is to evaluate Dr. Brown's proposal to grant funding for the testing of his new exploratory ocean vessel. We will hear testimony firsthand from Dr. Brown himself and open the floor to questioning from members of this committee."

Otto paused and looked to her colleagues as if waiting for confirmation to proceed.

"Are we all ready?" she asked.

There were nods all around.

"Very well," Otto said, turning back to face the room again. "I see no reason to delay. Dr. Brown, I look forward to hearing what you have to say. The floor is yours."

Here it goes.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Saturday Sneak Peeks: Defender of the Chosen (A God's Deception Book 1) | Renee Scattergood

Originally posted by Renee Scattergood:

Designed by Kathryn Jenkins at Magical Designs

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Saturday Sneak Peek, but that’s probably because I haven’t written much in a while. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I’m on a writing spree…
I’m working on the first book in my A God’s Deception series, so I’m going to give you a little sneak peek of that. Keep in mind, these sneak peeks are totally unedited versions, so it could change in the final version of the book. But at least it gives you a taste of what’s to come!

“I really miss the old executions,” he said. “I was disappointed when the council changed to a more humane method of execution, labeling the old ones archaic and unnecessary. I’ve always believed if someone committed a crime, they deserved whatever punishment they received.”
He’d go on like that for hours, describing every detail of the execution she faced. It wasn’t as simple as being dunked in scalding water. They were going to slowly pour small buckets of boiling water over her until she died. After each bucket was dumped they’d wait for her cries to die down before doing the next.
“Eventually, your skin will seem to just melt off your body, but even then you won’t die right away. The torment can go on for hours or even days before you die. The best part is everyone in the city will be lined up to take their turn in dumping the scalding water over your body.” He ran his hand down her body as he said this.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek. I’m hoping to release the books in this series starting late next year. If you’d like to read some of my other work, Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episode 1 – 6) is a free download. You can also get Shadow Stalker Part 2 (Episodes 7 – 12) by signing up here.

Salvation's Dawn by Joe Jackson

Now a 6-book epic fantasy series!

In another time, another life, Karian Vanador was among the greatest of demonhunters.

Now, resurrected two centuries later, she is left fractured and alone. Her prowess remains undiminished, but does she have the fortitude to face the latest threats from the demons? A civil war brews on a distant island, the work of demons apparent in its progression. Assigned to an unlikely group of young heroes, Kari must draw strength from them even as she provides it, and unravel an underworld plot before Citaria is plunged into worldwide war again.

Can she find her purpose and destiny in this new time and place, and conquer the demons within before she faces the ones without?

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Friday, 17 November 2017

Author Spotlight: Adam's Stepsons by M Thomas Apple | Renee Scattergood

Originally posted by Renee Scattergood:

Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have M Thomas Apple visiting with his science fiction novella, Adam’s Stepsons. He’ll be sharing an excerpt from the book, but first, let’s learn more about the author!
A native of Upstate New York, M. Thomas Apple gave up his high school dreams of becoming the next Carl Sagan and instead studied languages and literature at Bard College and creative writing at the University of Notre Dame du Lac. Even after somehow getting hired to teach intercultural communication at a university in Kyoto, Japan, he is still trying to apply ideas from quantum mechanics to language teaching and research. He lives in a quasi-traditional Japanese house co-designed with his wife and partially decorated by his two daughters, nestled in the foothills of the mountains and surrounded by lots of cedar and cicada.

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About the Book

Dr. Johann Heimann designed the perfect soldiers: superhuman in strength and intelligence, immune to sickness and disease, programmed to lead the United Americas to a quick victory in the Mars Colony War. But Heimann didn’t anticipate the military’s unrealistic demands, or his own emotional responses to his creations. And now Number Six is calling him “Father”! What exactly is going on during the clones’ personality imprinting cycle?
As Heimann starts his investigation, Number Six grows in confidence and self-awareness…and both discover the project hides a secret even Heimann, himself, doesn’t suspect…

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Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Rockets streaked across the deepening blue Martian sunset. The aircraft shuddered as explosions on either side buffeted it. Gritting his teeth, Six swerved to meet the oncoming attack squad. His Mars warplane shuddered again. Behind his head steam suddenly sprayed from a fractured coolant panel. Holding the throttle steady with his left hand, he rapidly flipped the switches on his right. The steam dissipated, but he still felt a burning sensation on his neck.
“Bogey at 5 o’clock,” he heard from his helmet speaker. Without turning to look, Six yanked the throttle upright and to the left, executing a perfect barrel roll. He fired before checking to see whether the laser guidance system had locked properly.
Strange thoughts came unbidden: First you got Hansen, be damned if you…I’m hit! Systems failing. Uncle…
“Target acquired,” the voice announced, five nanoseconds after the shots ripped a jagged strip into the adversary’s fuselage. For some reason, Six had the impression that he had done this before. A vague memory surfaced, a memory of nearly blacking out from the g-forces. He felt disquieted.
The plane on screen burst into flames and began its downward trajectory to the Martian soil.
“Target destroyed,” Six reported emotionlessly.
“Stand down and prepare to return,” the voice ordered.
Tapping the control panel in front of him, Six plotted a course back to Mars Colony One. Without checking his instruments, he knew the ETA was five point four minutes.
He paused, releasing the controls briefly.
Where had he learned that? The educational machine?
He raised a hand to adjust his helmet. Suddenly an image appeared in his head: upside down, careening across the rust-red rocky landscape, desperately struggling to eject…a stuck canopy…dislocated shoulder…pain…
“Pilot, disengage. Computer, end simulation.”
The same female voice as inside his helmet, only this time from a wall speaker in the outside room.
The clone blinked twice in rapid succession. The image disappeared. So did the Martian panorama. In its place stretched a series of connected flat screens with a raised fist holding a multicolored torch, the logo of the United Americas. The door to the simulator opened, and artificial light streamed in.
Removing his helmet, Six paused to stare at the logo.
The image had been so real.
Had he already been to Mars? Had he been shot down? No, it couldn’t be. They said his training was not yet complete. A video, then? No, none of the training videos from the library were first-person perspective.
Six tilted his head, pondering. It made no sense. He didn’t like things that made no sense.
“Six, log out and report to Doctor Heimann in five minutes.”
“Yes, sir,” the clone mechanically answered, withdrawing a thin filament from the panel in front of him. The filament smoothly retracted into the socket behind his right ear, and the logo on the screens disappeared. In its place, blackness, and the clone’s faint reflection; his light brown face marred only by the number 6 in red on his left cheek.