Xenia Melzer on Writing, Stories and the latest in her Gods of War series, Ummana (author interview)

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Ummana (Gods of War III) By Xenia Melzer
DSP Publications

Cover Art by Aaron Anderson

Available for Purchase at DSP Publications
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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Xenia Melzer here today talking about writing, stories and her latest in the Gods of War series, Ummana. Welcome, Xenia.
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  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

Hmm, that’s a good one. Often, I don’t realize how much of myself I have poured into a character until it’s too late. Writing is a journey to yourself in that respect. As for my Gods of War series, I scatter character traits generously. Casto’s stubbornness has a very real model, but I’m not going to tell or she’ll kill me. Hulda is my ideal of an independent, confident woman. I want to be like her, at least a bit, and I want my daughters to follow her example. So yes, I do pour a lot of myself into a book, and sometimes into a specific character, but mostly, I try to distribute evenly. When the character becomes too much like myself, I chicken out and rewrite.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your own worlds and cultures?

Weelll… I only started out as a writer last year and, so far, I have only fantasy books out, Ummana being the third. But I do have my first contemporary coming up this year. Making up your own worlds has a lot of benefits. You can decide on the rules, which makes it easier to cheat and it’s harder for people to call you on your mistakes, because, hello, it’s YOUR world. This said, I actually enjoy research as long as it doesn’t get too tedious. I realized that when I did my first contemporary novel. If I’m interested in a topic, I more or less assimilate the info with one read. Unfortunately, not every topic that comes up in a book is interesting and that’s when research becomes a chore. I’m currently working on a book where I have to research MMA. Let’s just say, the YouTube videos are fun and eye candy (mostly; before they start bleeding all over the place) and the terms for the different moves are hard to remember.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Oh yes! As a teenager, I read everything fantasy. Eddings, Tolkien, Pratchett, Lovecraft, Holbein, you name it, I probably read it. And my first book out is a fantasy series, so I stayed in character. Sometimes, I read romance books, but I mostly found them boring or too predictable. Now that I’m older, and perhaps wiser, I see the merit in romance books and I can see my writing going in that direction. A HEA is not to be sneezed upon!

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it? You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

Yes. One time simply because I got stuck and couldn’t find my way out or forward. That story is still on my laptop and I’m determined to see it through. I’m still hoping for divine intervention… The other times, it was when I was working on Gods of War. I already had the first three books more or less written down when I finally found the courage to send the manuscript out and in the three years I was working on the series, I had to stop more than once. Especially when it came to Sic. His story is hard for me to tell, because there’s so much darkness in it, but I can’t change it either. It’s how it has to go and that hurts sometimes.

I also had the opposite effect as well. Daran, for example, is a character whose story I love to tell. Most of the time it’s fun – or at least interesting – to follow him on his path.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer? Now and growing up?

There’s more than one. I love the works of Ottfried Preußler. He’s a German author who is probably most famous for ‘The Little Witch’, a children’s book every adult should read. The way he turns a complicated matter – being true to yourself – into a funny and heartwarming story every child can understand, has me awed every time I read the book.

Then there’s Terry Pratchett. Of course I would never compare myself to him, because in my opinion he plays/played in a different league. But his way with words, his very unique view of the world, and his ability to transfer that view into an entertaining series that still carries a deeper morale is simply awesome.

I also love the work of Neil Gaiman. I like his style and the way he can spin a plot until the reader doesn’t know right from wrong anymore. Just read American Gods. Or watch it.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I’m torn. I have to admit, I’m one of those old-fashioned dinosaurs who need the feel of actual paper under their fingertips to be satisfied. Until my husband force-gifted me with a kindle, I was strictly opposed to ebooks. Now, not so much anymore. I still love having books in my shelf and when I really like a book, I still buy them as paperback or even hardcover. The good thing about ebooks is, they are less expensive, always available (no pesky re-prints), you can carry a small library on your device, and they give readers a chance to try out new authors. They are also a good medium for novellas. The downside is, the market is swamped. There are so many authors and publishers competing for the reader’s attention and that makes the market harder to navigate. I honestly don’t know where this is all going, but I’m sure ebooks are going to be a dominant part of the future book market.

  • How do you choose your covers?

To be honest, I don’t know. I always liked it when the books of a series also had a visual connection with each other. Aaron Anderson, the graphic designer who does the covers for Gods of War, sent me various images he had created from the info I had given on a questionnaire. I had a vague idea what I wanted and he kind of looked into my head and designed the perfect cover. The burning stone with the rune is the centerpiece of each cover and the color scheme reflects either the characters in the book or the main tone. Casto was blue, because that’s Casto’s and Renaldo’s color in more than one respect. Love and the Stubborn showed more realistic flames in orange, to emphasize the heat between Casto and Renaldo. Ummana has a white flame, because the story focuses more on Sic. And I can already tell that Braving the Storm, the next in the series, has a green color scheme, because it is about Daran.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

After Ummana, Braving the Storm will be out in November. And I have my first contemporary novel, A Dom and His Writer, out in October. Currently I’m working on my first paranormal story, the fifth part of the Gods of War series, and the next contemporary novel, a sequel to the A Dom – story. So I won’t be bored anytime soon. 

Blurb

In war, loss is the price of victory, and the cost of love is sometimes pain.

 

After Renaldo and Casto finally celebrate their marriage, the time has come for revenge against the followers of the Good Mother who tried to kill Casto—though this time, the Gods of War won’t use bloodshed to take Medelina.

 

As a member of the Confederation of the Plains, Medelina answers to Ummana, the head of the alliance… and Casto is heir to the throne of Ummana. Accompanied by their most capable mercenaries, Canubis and Renaldo travel to Ummana to make Casto king.

 

They’ll face the Council of Elders, Lord Aran, Casto’s father, and Princess Anesha, Casto’s sister—none of whom are happy about the king’s return. For Casto, the city is a reminder of a terrible childhood, and Renaldo can only helplessly watch his beloved fight a seemingly hopeless battle.

 

Through trickery and political scheming, vengeance against the Good Mother is finally within their grasp—but their success might be bittersweet. Not everyone will return to the Valley with Casto and Renaldo.

About the Author

Xenia Melzer is a mother of two who enjoys riding and running when she’s not writing stories. She doesn’t like beer but is easily tempted by a Virgin Mojito. Or chocolate. Truffles are especially cherished, even though she doesn’t discriminate. As a true chocoholic, she welcomes any kind of cocoa-based delight.

You can contact her through her website: http//www.xeniamelzer.com

Or befriend and follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/xeniamelzer/

Amy Rae Durreson on Writing and Recovery (DSP PUBLICATIONS GUEST POST)

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Recovery (Reawakening #3) by Amy Rae Durreson
Published May 9th 2017 by DSP Publications

Available for Purchase at

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Amy Rae Durreson here today talking about writing, characters, and her latest story in her Reawakening series, Recovery.  Welcome, Amy Rae!

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 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Amy Rae Durreson

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Hmm, I think this is less about character traits than experiences. I’m a fairly quiet, easy-going person—some of my characters are too, but others are completely the opposite. What is more important, in my view, is finding enough common experience that you can emphasize with the character. Unlike Raif in Recovery, I’m not a twenty-something ex-resistance fighter on a quest to wake a sleeping dragon, but I have many experiences of anxiety, of not being sure what to do next with my life, with travelling to new places, and meeting people who are more complex than they seem at first. All of those are stepping stones to getting inside a character’s skin, even one who is superficially very different from me.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

For me, the difference is in how the writer presents the character to the reader. If the reader is expected to admire and idolize a character without question, that’s a Sue/Stu. If the reader can emphasize with them and see their flaws and hesitations, then you have a real character. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using bits of your own life to create a character. The problem arises when you demand that everyone worship your self-insert as flawless.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I just going to sit here and laugh hollowly. I do enormous amounts of research when I’m writing a fantasy novel. I look for historical analogues to my fantasy setting and mine them for little details which I can integrate into my imaginary world. For Recovery, I read a lot about Renaissance Venice, which is the inspiration for Aliann, the main setting, but I also read a lot of travel writing, from various centuries, and researched details from the design of an early printing press to formal garden design in medieval Europe to the history of pirates in the Mediterranean. Recovery was actually a fairly light research book—the previous book in the series, Resistance, was much more demanding—I learned enough about the bubonic plague for that one that I actually managed to pass the CDC’s online CPD module for ER doctors despite being an English teacher in real life (easier than it sounds—it was multiple choice and I guessed a few). I also read quite broadly on topics which look like they might come in handy for later books. Nothing is ever wasted.

Needless to say, I get twitchy whenever someone tells me that is must be so lovely to write fantasy where you can just make stuff up (my mother is notorious for this).

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

The first book I remember reading is The Ladybird Book of King Arthur Stories. The first I remember loving so hard I cried when the library wouldn’t let me keep renewing it was Diana Wynne Jones’ Charmed Life. I was pretty much doomed to write fantasy.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

No, but there are some stories I couldn’t have written any earlier. A Frost of Cares was like that—it was the final cathartic stage in a long process of healing. I went through a relationship similar to the one Luke has with his ex in that book, and it left its mark on me. I wasn’t ready to write about it for a long time, but now I’ve written that book, it seems to have lost its power to hurt me. The story I’m working on at the moment is hard, and is drawing on a lot of issues I encounter in my day job to do with childhood trauma, but in a way that’s actually feeding back positively—I’m all the more determined to take those problems seriously, having been inside my characters’ heads and considered them from a different perspective.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I’ve given up trying to write HFN—I always end up making it HEA by mistake. I like to think that at the end of my books, all my couples have the potential to continue living happily together. For some of them, I even have little bits of personal headcanon (I know, for example, that after he retires, Siôn from Spindrift likes to go and sit in the back row of Mattie’s lectures and listen to him being passionate and inspirational. Mattie’s got a beard and a belly and a bald patch by then, but Siôn still thinks he’s the most beautiful thing in the entire world).

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I’ve always enjoyed romantic subplots in my reading, but I didn’t read any pure romance until my early twenties. I was spending every other weekend with my boyfriend at the time, who was studying on the other side of the country, and before I headed back to the station I’d buy myself a few romances to see me through the journey home (fellow Brits with experience of Sunday travel will know why one book alone was not enough). They brought me a lot of comfort, but my reading was restricted to a few authors. It wasn’t until I got my first e-reader and discovered m/m that I really started reading lots of romance. That probably explains why I always have a lot of plot in my novels—my roots as a storyteller lie in other genres and I have to weave the romance around those instincts.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

I can definitely see the influence of the books I read a kid in my own writing—I loved Susan Cooper and Diana Wynne Jones, as well as the warmth and benign eccentricity of Noel Streatfeild. As a teenage writer I was lucky enough to stumble across a copy of Ursula K LeGuin’s essay collection The Language of the Night in my local library. I read it over and over again and it completely changed the way I approached writing. As a adult reader, I find it harder to identify recent influences—I read a lot, and absorb it all into the churning creative mess that is my subconscious. A lot of the writers I love most tell very different stories from me, in very different ways.

How do you choose your covers?

I’m very lucky in having Dreamspinner’s art department create my covers. Catt Ford has done all the covers for the Reawakening series and I love them. I don’t know how she transforms my vague ramblings about character and setting into such lovely things, but I’m glad she does.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

Usually the most recent one, simply because it always feels the most vivid and alive to me. Looking back at past works, some have faded in my head a bit and others shine a little brighter. A Frost of Cares and Resistance will always make me proud, I think. Frost because I did something I’d never done before and it worked better than I expected, and Resistance because I’m damn proud of how I put that story together. There were a lot of tears shed over that book, but the end result was beyond what I thought I could do. Ironically, those two are respectively my most and least successful books.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m working on another ghost story at the moment—this one set in the Scottish borders in an old orphanage with a dark past. There will also be more fantasy. I’m currently playing around with an idea for something fairy-tale inspired with a ridiculously over-the-top love interest with secret motives. There will be more Reawakening books, but they’re on hiatus until I get the last traces of Recovery out of my imagination and figure out how to end the next one.

Blurb

Resistance, exile, plague. Raif has survived them all, but now he finds himself in search of a new purpose. Traveling north to wake the dragon Arden, he hopes he has finally found a leader worthy of his loyalty, but Arden turns out to be more of a frivolous annoyance than an almighty spirit lord. Now bound to Arden’s side despite his frustration, Raif follows the dragon to the rich and influential lagoon city of Aliann, chasing rumors of the Shadow that once cursed his homeland.

With the election of a new duke at stake, Raif struggles to make sense of the challenges he meets in Aliann: a conspiracy of nixies and pirates, selkie refugees in desperate need of a champion, a monster that devours souls, a flirtatious pirate prince, and a machine that could change the world. For nothing in the city of masks is what it seems, from the new friends Raif makes to the dragon he follows—or even himself.

About the Author

Amy has a terrible weakness for sarcastic dragons, shy boys with sweet smiles, and good pots of tea. She is yet to write a shy, tea-loving dragon, but she’s determined to get there one day (so far, all of her dragons are arrogant gits who prefer red wine). Amy is a quiet Brit with a degree in early English literature, which she blames for her somewhat medieval approach to spelling, and at various times has been fluent in Latin, Old English, Ancient Greek, and Old Icelandic, though these days she mostly uses this knowledge to bore her students. Amy started her first novel twenty-one years ago and has been scribbling away ever since. Despite these long years of experience, she has yet to master the arcane art of the semicolon.

Social media:

Twitter: @amy_raenbow

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amyrae.durreson

Blog: https://amyraenbow.wordpress.com/

Marguerite Labbe on Writing SciFi, and her latest release ‘Pandora’ (author guest blog)

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Pandora by Marguerite Labbe
D
SP Publications
Release Date: April 25, 2017

Available for Purchase at

 

amazon square borderB&N border

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Marguerite Labbe here today talking about her latest release, Pandora.  

Welcome, Marguerite!

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This Scardy Cat Luddite Wrote a Creepy Sci-Fi

by Marguerite Labbe

I am a fan of mixing up genres when I write. I’ll do a little paranormal and mystery with my romance. Spin together myth with contemporary. Since I read all genres, I love writing most of them too. And though I’ve added a touch of horror to some of my other stories, until Pandora I have never written Science Fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Science Fiction. My first love was fantasy, but my Dad’s Frank Herbert books fascinated me and I think I first read Dune in the sixth grade. I’m a huge fan of science fiction shows, probably more a fan of them than I am of the shows based off comic books. (Shhh, please don’t tell my husband.) But writing Science Fiction myself seemed way out of my league.

I just bought my first smart phone last year after much pressure from my husband who was dismayed that I still had a flip phone. He called me a Luddite. The flip phone did everything I needed it to which was have something on me in case of an emergency and to call for a ride home from my commuter bus. A smart phone was too smart for me. I couldn’t find anything I needed at first. I used to love video games, back when it was on the classic NES system. But then more buttons were added to controllers and my brain shut down. I love watching my son and husband play because I enjoy the stories and graphics, but when I try it’s pretty much punching random buttons and hoping for the best.

As for the horror part, though depending on your level of comfort Pandora may be more creepy than horror, horror movies have terrorized me since I was a kid. Yet I was drawn to them. It was a love/hate relationship. I wanted to know what happened, I wanted to watch, but I wouldn’t sleep without a light on for months. To this day, I have to be careful with what I watch. When I saw Grudge, I was a grown assed woman hiding under the covers, trying not to wake up my husband to keep me company. My son loves horror. He accidentally saw Alien when he was three. I walked into the living room, it was on and my son thought the monster was the coolest thing he’d ever seen. I hid from that movie during my childhood, though I love it now. My son likes to put on Paranormal Activity while I’m writing. He knows that stuff freaks me out. And he’ll wait until I’m distracted and freaky part is about to come on and go “Mom, look!” Just to watch me jump.

So when I came up with the first scene idea, of Riff waking up trapped alone in the prison I knew I would probably scare myself a couple times. (I did, though I’m not saying which scenes.) But I hadn’t thought of mixing in Science Fiction until a few friends asked me to join a dark sci-fi anthology. My first thought was no way. I’ll read all the stories, but I couldn’t possibly write one myself. Then one of my muses poked me and said, “Hey… don’t you think that story you never finished would work so much better on a space prison ship? You don’t plan on leaving me trapped forever in that story do you? Withering away, dying for lack of attention?”

One thing I’ve learned since my muses adopted me, They Always Win. Always. I have one, the one poking me above who will just give me the big, brown, sad eyes or dramatic quips like that. I think the sad eyes are the worst. The other one gets a gleeful look and goes, “really, watch this.” And then I know I’m in trouble because he will keep throwing crazy things at my brain, keeping me hopping and turning me around until I’m doing exactly what he wants. And he doesn’t shut up.

So if you write, and you have muses like mine, let them win. They know more than I do and they’re always right about the direction a story should go. In case of Pandora, Science Fiction, Horror, with a little bit of romance. I hope you enjoy.

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Excerpt

Sanity returned in dribbles of half-lucid thoughts. Those brief flickers of consciousness brought the scent of dried blood and bloating flesh rotting in the stale air. They awoke the pain that stabbed through Riff’s body. The temptation to sink back into madness, to let the sounds of distant drums, wild music, and piercing screams take over, to become part of the chaos again and its dancing obscene figures, won more times than Riff could count.

But the sanity always returned, and finally, with a start, Riff came to full clarity in a silent cell. The memory of hazel eyes hard with irritation first in his thoughts. It was never quiet in the penal wing, not even in the middle of the night. Snores came from the cell beside him, grunts and distressed whimpers from farther down the corridor, the continuous hum of the ship’s engines. Never a silence this pregnant with foreboding.

Riff smelled the carnage around him, and it made him reluctant to open his eyes. He didn’t want to see it as well. Seeing it would make it real, and fear was a living creature inside him, screaming to get out. Sharp pains stabbed his wrists, and his body ached with numerous bruises.

He had vague memories of a strange man with short near-white hair and bottomless eyes. They’d found him in a hiber unit on the derelict. The only sign of life on the entire yacht. Riff’s salvage team had rescued him and taken him aboard. Noyes. Yes, that was the name.

The memories afterward were even hazier. A confrontation with Vidal. Another with Jakobsen. Rioting. Quick flashes of violence and lust, of hurting and being hurt, taking and being taken, all mixed in with that insane music. Even now he could hear the drums in the rapid beating of his heart, hear the reedy instruments in the whistle of his breath through a broken nose.

What happened to them, to the ship… or was he just hallucinating and Vidal had gone too far with his sadistic pleasures? He’d been ready to kill the last time Riff had seen him.

Riff forced himself to draw a deep breath despite the stench. This wasn’t him. He didn’t let fear rule him. He had to assess the situation, calculate how bad it was, then make a plan. Otherwise he’d be trapped here, a broken, terrified mess, and he’d deserve whatever punishment came his way.

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Blurb

Haunted by the screams of the men he murdered, ex-Marine medic Riff Khora is serving a life sentence on board a prison ship. Seeking more punishment for his crime, he strikes a deal with the corrupt Captain Vidal—an exchange of pleasure and pain—and forges a new life leading the team that surveys space wreckage for salvage.

Ship engineer Zed Jakobsen’s psychometric abilities make prison a sentence worse than death, and the barrage of emotional stimuli is an unending torment. His only regret is that he didn’t kill the monster who sent him to prison, and only a glimmer of hope to escape a judgment he doesn’t deserve keeps him clinging to a brutal existence.

When they board derelict ship Pandora and discover a lone survivor, the hell of prison life plunges into abject horror. An epidemic of violence and insanity consumes their ship, driving the crew to murder and destruction. Mutual need draws Riff and Zed together, and their bond gives them the strength to fight a reality they cannot trust. But Vidal possesses the only means of escape from the nightmare, and he’s not letting anyone leave alive.

About the Author

Marguerite has been accused of being eccentric and a shade neurotic, both of which she freely admits to, but her muse has OCD tendencies, so who can blame her? She loves writing stories about the beauty of love with all of its fascinating quirks and the strength of family, whether it’s the family you’re born into or the one you create. Marguerite was born in New Hampshire, grew up as a military brat, moving from one end of the U.S. to the other before settling down in Southern Maryland. She married her next-door neighbor and best friend, and they have one son and two cats who rule them. To her dismay, she has failed to convince her Alabama born husband to move north, where being a passionate Red Sox fan is perfectly normal. She runs Apocrypha Comics Studio with her husband and they often trek off to comic book conventions on the weekend where they celebrate all manner of geek culture. In her spare time she loves reading novels of all genres, enjoying a table top role-playing games with her friends, many which end up on the Role With Us podcast, and finding really good restaurants where she can indulge in her love of food and wine.

Social Networking Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marguerite.labbe.3

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargueriteLabbe

A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Witches for Hire (Odds Jobs #1) by Sam Argent

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5
All recovering drug addict and witch Jeremy Ragsdale wants is to shamble on to the next job without any disasters. Instead, the temp agency saddles him with a fellow witch who hates him, an Amazon one violent outburst away from deportation, and a knight from another world as his boss. Even worse, their jack-of-all-trades magic business stumbles upon a conspiracy to kill Desmond the Great, Atlanta’s sexy star magician. Jeremy must prevent it without letting his colleagues know that he not only has ties to the energy vampires behind the plot, but that his past misdeeds might have instigated the attacks.

Despite Jeremy sporting a suit and tie like a good witch, his lies snowball to bite him in the ass. The lack of trust brewing between him and his teammates could cost Desmond his life and Jeremy his progress on the straight and narrow path if his secrets are revealed. Because no matter how much Jeremy has reformed, there’s still enough bad witch in him to kill anyone who messes with him or the people he cares about.
Review: A combination of the gorgeous cover and the interesting blurb made me beg for a copy of this book.
I have mixed feelings about “Witches for Hire”. At times, it was simply brilliant. At other times, it was rather confusing and left me feeling like I was missing a prequel (I checked – there isn’t). There’s so much backstory going on here and we’re only fed bits and pieces at a time and I often felt like there was more to know than what we get told.
This being a DSP title, this really isn’t your typical romance. There’s lots and lots of (very hot) sex pretty much right from the beginning, but the romantic feelings take their time. That’s one of the things I like so much about this publisher: The books are rarely “just a love story” and “Witches for Hire” is a good example of that. Yes, there is sex and love involved, but there is so much else going on, it’s just one part of the whole story.
The world this book is set in is very interesting. There are all sorts of supernatural creatures – witches, werewolves, demons and many more  – and even some otherworldly ones. The world building was quite expansive and yet a bit lacking at the same time. I’m still not entirely sure how the agency works, tbh.
The MCs are certainly an interesting bunch. Each of them has their secrets, which are never fully revealed, even when it’s their pov. Even though the author used more than the two traditional POVs, there was no head-hopping and confusing POVs. Instead, it felt like I really knew each and every character intimately. That was really quite well done.
The plot itself was full of mysteries. There’s a lot of violence and the occasional bit of gore, so beware. Personally, I didn’t mind that. It somehow just added to the whole atmosphere of the book. It’s certainly not a pretty story and I liked that.
The romance part was addicting as well. I honestly wasn’t sure who would end up with whom and I’m still not sure if it will stay that way in the next part of the series. I loved the tension and could totally relate to Jeremy’s conflicted feelings. It really made me quite sad at times.
Overall, I liked “Witches for Hire”. I think I’ll read the sequel too. The book seemed to be getting better toward the end and I’m not quite ready to let go of Jeremy and the others.
Cover: The cover by Catt Ford is absolutely gorgeous. So badass and mysterious!
Sales Links:   DSP Publications | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 314 pages
Expected publication: April 4th 2017 by DSP Publications
ISBN139781635333527
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesOdd Jobs #1

A Lila Release Day Review: The Mystery of the Curiosities (Snow & Winter #2) by C.S. Poe

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Life has been pretty great for Sebastian Snow. The Emporium is thriving and his relationship with NYPD homicide detective, Calvin Winter, is everything he’s ever wanted. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Sebastian’s only cause for concern is whether Calvin should be taken on a romantic date. It’s only when an unknown assailant smashes the Emporium’s window and leaves a peculiar note behind, that all plans get pushed aside in favor of another mystery.

Sebastian is quickly swept up in a series of grisly yet seemingly unrelated murders. The only connection tying the deaths together are curiosities from the lost museum of P.T. Barnum. Despite Calvin’s attempts to keep Sebastian out of the investigation, someone is forcing his hand, and it becomes apparent that the entire charade exists for Sebastian to solve. With each clue that’ll bring him closer to the killer, he’s led deeper into Calvin’s official cases.

It’s more than just Sebastian’s livelihood and relationship on the line—it’s his very life.

The Mystery of the Curiosities is an intellectual interpretation of a murder mystery. I’m not a mystery reader. I never read any of the classic or watched any mystery programs. But, this series drew me in with great characters, interesting clues, and a lot of new facts. Like Sebastian, I love to know a lot of useless facts and information.

If you are looking for a realistic contemporary story, this isn’t one. You must give the characters, but especially the events, a lot of leeway. The facts, the settings, and most of the clues in the book are real, but everything is a bit over the top. Solutions come quick, and a sense of mysticism surrounds the story.

Sebastian’s dad is one of my favorite characters and Neil is a close second. There’s great banter between Calvin and Sebastian, and their relationship works great with the clues. The settings were very detailed and it was easy to understand their importance and how all the details added up in the end.

If you’re into detective’s stories with an intellectual edge, this is a good book to read. It moves fast and keeps the reader wanting to know more about the next clue. Looking forward to other installments in this series.

The cover by Reese Dante fits perfectly with the events of the story and gives the reader another good look at Sebastian. Also, it matches the first one in the series.

Sale Links: DSP | Amazon | Nook

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published: March 7, 2017, by DSP Publishing
ISBN: 9781635332650
Edition Language: English

Series:  Snow & Winter
Book #1: The Mystery of Nevermore
Book #2: The Mystery of the Curiosities

Adrian Randall on Writing, Characters and his latest novel ‘Countermind’ (author interview and excerpt)

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Countermind by Adrian Randall
D
SP Publications
Cover art by L.C. Chase

Available for Purchase from

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✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Adrian Randall here today.  Thank you, Adrian, for sitting in our Interview chair and answering a few questions for us:

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

It’s not really a question of how much as it is which parts. In the case of Countermind, Alan Izaki is a fugitive psychic, hacker, and thief on the run. Jack Smith, a government agent trained in a classified school of “counter-psychic” techniques, is trying to arrest him. The two of them run at very different temperatures: Alan is angry and indignant, whereas Smith is cool and conniving. I’m a pretty mild-mannered guy myself, so both of these characters represent very different extremes from me. But the nice thing about fiction is that you get to engage in behaviors that are a bit more outrageous than anything you’d do in real life.

  • Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Writers should write what they know, which isn’t to mean that they should play it safe. Rather, they should go out and learn. The benefit of setting your story in this universe (or one close to it) is that you end up learning lots of cool stuff. Writing Countermind meant learning about topics ranging from hacking to spies to quantum physics and even video games. The risk is that you’ll get some details wrong, and actual experts will catch your mistakes and call you out on them, but it’s a risk worth taking.

  • Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Probably, but I was a well-read kid so it’s hard to know which books influenced my writing and how. It doesn’t help that Countermind is a pretty adult novel, so it’s hard to say it was influenced by anything I read as a kid. I’ll say that one of the most formative books I read early in my life was A Wrinkle in Time. What that book taught me was that science fiction may be crammed full of big, cosmic ideas, but it can still be about the characters and their journeys. It taught me that genre fiction should still be character-driven. So I tried to make sure Countermind’s crazy plot also had a human heart pumping at its center. This weird little paranormal cyberpunk thriller is still, at bottom, a drama.

  • Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I had a couple works in progress that I’ve had trouble revisiting lately, just due to the current political climate. I started Countermind at a time when things were, if not perfect, at least more optimistic. It was easier to write dystopian literature without getting too bummed out. When I revisit these other projects, I’m going to try to make them a bit more hopeful, even if just because that’s what I need right now. (I’m also getting interested in the current “solarpunk” fad, for the same reasons.)

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

At the end of Stardust, Neil Gaiman writes that though the heroes were happy together, it wasn’t ever-after, “for Time, the thief, eventually takes all things into his dusty storehouse, but they were happy, as these things go, for a long while.”

But my own opinion is a little less certain. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that one of Countermind’s characters doesn’t believe in happy endings, either for-now or ever-after, and is very surprised to end up getting both.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I haven’t been publishing long enough to have an informed opinion from a business standpoint, but, as a consumer of books, it’s been a godsend. You can read anything anywhere at any time without lugging pounds of paper bricks around with you. That’s revolutionary. But for those particular books that have special sentimental value to me, I do like to buy and display “analog” editions. (On that note, if you order Countermind from DSP Publications’ web site, you can get a free digital copy with the physical version, so it’s the best of both worlds!)

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Like I said, I haven’t been publishing long enough to have much perspective on this process. I had lots of ideas about what Countermind’s cover look like, and I passed these along to the cover artist, but I mostly wanted them to have the freedom to surprise me with their own vision. And I’m so glad they did. I fell in love with L.C. Chase’s cover as soon as I saw it. The cool tones give the whole thing a very noir feel. Alan’s fixing the viewer with a guarded, wary look that really captures the character’s personality. And the arrangement of the cover’s elements, with Alan’s face, the Hong Kong skyline, and the text all at right angles to each other, puts the reader off-balance before they even open the book. It’s perfect.

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m not sure. I have a few ideas in mind, and a few projects in progress, but it’s a matter of deciding which of them needs to be written. We’ll see!

Blurb 

In a postprivacy future, secrets are illegal and all communication is supervised. Telepaths are registered and recruited by a government with no qualms about invading the minds of its citizens. Fugitive psychics are hunted by the Bureau of Counterpsychic Affairs, or Countermind.

Alan Izaki is one such fugitive, as well as a hacker, grifter, and thief.

Countermind agent Jack Smith is hunting him through the twisted underbelly of Hong Kong.

But Alan possesses a secret so dangerous and profound it will not only shake Smith’s loyalties, but the foundations of their society.

And Alan isn’t the only one on the run. Rogue psychic Arissa binti Noor escapes Countermind, in search of brilliant game designer Feng Huang. She hopes that together, they can destroy the government’s intrusive Senex monitoring system.

Their goals seem at odds, and their lives are destined to collide. When they do, three very different people must question their alliances and their future, because everything is about to change.

Excerpt

It was past midnight, and some parts of Hong Kong actually did sleep at this hour. The pawnshop was near Kwai Chung, its customer base mostly local workers pawning valuables just to squander their money on the races, men who wouldn’t have the resources to track down the goods they’d put up as collateral. Alan had chosen the shop for its proximity to a body of water, and it was just a minute’s hard sprint to the nearest container yard, then through that to the channel.

Alan charged downhill on roads still slick from the afternoon’s rain, gleaming with the reflected glow of the city. No neon signs or electronic billboards, just streetlamps and a few lit office windows. Droplets ran in steady trickling streams off the buildings, canopies, streetlights, AC units. Steel shutters of closed storefronts shimmered wet, and Alan’s skin glistened in the damp air. He didn’t hear any pursuing footsteps, didn’t bother turning his head to check.

He’d only gotten a brief glimpse of the attacker in the pawnshop, but that had been plenty. The man looked just a few years older than Alan, Eurasian, tall and lean, hale, clean-cut, clean-shaven. His attire had been dark but utterly nondescript. There was an impression of a black suit jacket, black slacks, and a black button-down shirt (but no tie, and open at the neck). Alan hadn’t the time for more lingering impressions, but the man would’ve been attractive under more civil circumstances.

The man wasn’t the shop owner, and was too well-dressed to be another crook or a triad member. That probably meant law enforcement, ample reason for Alan to make the quickest possible escape without sparing even a backward glance.

Alan vaulted from the sidewalk over a steel railing, dashed across the street, leapt another rail, and charged down a covered stairway, letting gravity lead his charge toward the water, angling toward the red lights atop the cargo-loading cranes just visible over a row of gently swaying palm trees. He hit the next street with such speed he lost some momentum to a brief stumble. A red-and-silver taxicab blared its horn at him, and Alan ducked under the canopy of a shuttered dim-sum shop to get his bearings. He glanced up at the building corners in the nearest intersection and spotted the closed-circuit cameras. He couldn’t see which way they pivoted in their housings, but didn’t think they’d have a clear look at him where he stood. Just to be safe, he’d have to circle around, keeping shy of major streets if he was to stay clear of any more traffic cams, though his pursuer couldn’t be far behind.

Or was it pursuers? The man had attacked Alan alone, not a standard practice for an officer of one of the world’s most famous police forces. If he was a government agent, he had to know what Alan was, right? And what such agent would be so reckless as to challenge a rogue telepath completely solo? Alan doubted even a state psychic would risk such a confrontation, and this man had given no sign of being a psychic himself, had not attempted any telepathic attacks, relying entirely on physical force. Who was he?

Whatever he was, if he caught Alan, it would mean death or worse. He had no need to know who this man was, only to escape him.

Alan pulled his jacket tight around him and popped the collar up. He turned a corner for a side street with fewer cameras and fewer lights and strolled a leisurely path into the shadow of an elevated highway, traffic rumbling above him. From there, he made his way through a hole in a chain-link fence he’d prepared earlier tonight with the help of his bolt cutters, slipping into the container yard, and then he sprinted across the yard toward freedom.

He ran straight into the agent.

The man stepped around the corner of a container and flashed Alan a razor smile as he kneed him in the stomach, allowing Alan’s own momentum to double him over. Then the man threw Alan into the side of the steel container with a clang that echoed inside his head as his arm was twisted behind his back. Alan was strong for his size, but the agent was using some sort of judo leverage shit. Alan tried to wrench free, nearly succeeded, and then the man compensated for his strength by spinning him into the side of another container.

The man tightened his hold and hissed into Alan’s ear.

“How many counts of resisting arrest?”

Alan gasped, gulped, and tried to talk his way out, forcing the words. “Come on, man. You never said you were arresting me.”

“I thought it was implied. You did flee.”

“After you shot me!”

“With a government-issue ranged electroshock device. Pay attention.”

The agent tripped Alan roughly to the ground and buried his knees in Alan’s back. His hand forced Alan’s face against the concrete, and Alan wheezed as the air was squeezed out of his lungs.

Alan screwed his eyes to the edges of their sockets, trying to see up through the corner of his eye. The light of a passing ship winked between the container towers and slid over the man’s features: dark eyed, dark haired, darkly smiling.

“Resist some more,” the agent said. “I don’t need to excuse brutality, but it helps with the paperwork.”

Alan realized—a bit belatedly and with scant sense of relief—that he was now very much in danger of physical harm.

He expanded his thoughts outward and upward, seeking out the luminescent glow of his assailant’s mind as if reaching for a firefly in the night. He found it, wrapped telepathic fingers around it, and squeezed tight.

There you are, Alan thought at him.

Fleeting impressions of the man’s surface cognitions filtered through the permeable membrane of Alan’s consciousness: mild surprise, then recognition, and then a strange kind of resigned satisfaction.

“And there you are,” the man whispered

.

About the Author

Adrian Randall is a PhD and a dual-class bureaucrat/scientist. A native Floridian, he lives in Alexandria with the love of his life and their many beautiful board games. He has a tenuous grasp on reality, owing to a steady diet of novels, comics, and other distractions. All his ideas start as character backstory for MMOs and RPGs, and he does all his writing while listening to video game soundtracks. So if he’s gaming instead of working on a book, it’s not procrastination, it’s workshopping. He usually spends his free time geeking out about some damn thing or another. You can geek out with him through any of his social media channels. If he doesn’t respond, it means he broke his phone again.

Twitter: @cyberpreppy

Tumblr: cyberpreppy.tumblr.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/cyberpreppy

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Countermind by Adrian Randall

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5* with notations

countermind-by-adrian-randallIn a postprivacy future, secrets are illegal and all communication is supervised. Telepaths are registered and recruited by a government with no qualms about invading the minds of its citizens. Fugitive psychics are hunted by the Bureau of Counterpsychic Affairs, or Countermind.

Alan Izaki is one such fugitive, as well as a hacker, grifter, and thief.
Countermind agent Jack Smith is hunting him through the twisted underbelly of Hong Kong.

But Alan possesses a secret so dangerous and profound it will not only shake Smith’s loyalties, but the foundations of their society.

And Alan isn’t the only one on the run. Rogue psychic Arissa binti Noor escapes Countermind, in search of brilliant game designer Feng Huang. She hopes that together, they can destroy the government’s intrusive Senex monitoring system.

Their goals seem at odds, and their lives are destined to collide. When they do, three very different people must question their alliances and their future, because everything is about to change.

If there was ever a book I could divide up and give different ratings to, it would be Countermind.  Its taken me a while to decide how exactly to approach this review because I have such mixed emotions over this story.  If I had my druthers, the ratings would look something like this:

Rating: 2.5 stars for 50 percent of the book
Rating: 5 stars for the remaining 50 percent of the book

And that changes as I remember different parts, both good and bad.  Sometimes its 60/40 or 40/60.  Or even 30/70.  Really, this book confounds me.

Most of the lower ratings would come at the beginning, and yes, the middle as well.  The fragmented narrative, even from present day to future, from character to character (s) in the plot timeline was confusing at best, incoherent at its worst.  It was like getting snatches of plot and people only to be thrown into another situation entirely.  Jarring doesn’t begin to describe how a reader feels. Its so densely packed with information and plot threads that its overwhelming and the leaping here and there only serves to make a reader lose track of what has just been laid out in the short previous section.  Really, I started taking notes.

But I plugged along as this was an ARC I’d been given (and I’ve never had a DNF yet) and a funny thing happened.  Randall abandoned his broken storytelling, the narrative became linear and Countermind evolved into the story it could have been all along.  It turns into an masterful tale of suspense, an alternative universe where psychics are sought because they are regarded as both dangerous to the States as well as a highly regarded commodity or tool for the government to use depending upon their personality.  Randall also brings all those previously unconnected or loosely connected puzzle pieces together and locks them into the drama so now we are firmly invested in these characters futures (if they have any) and the next precarious, breath-taking turn of the page.

Why oh why didn’t this happen sooner?

I can understand if the author didn’t want us to connect the dots early on but surely there was another way of doing it other than frustrating the heck out of a reader and making the book as disjointed as this was in the beginning.

Even at the end, the author just can’t leave things alone.  Unless, Randall is planning on this being a series which is possible.  There is that whole thing about Korea and….no, I won’t go there.  But I thought that was more than a tad absurd too.  Damn, forgot about Korea.  Should have cut that out altogether, unless of course, there’s a sequel coming.  Wouldn’t surprise me at all.   See what I mean about this story? Shakes head.

What to tell you.  Well the great bits about this story are just that…really great.  Mind-bending, suspenseful, hold your breath, just loved it great!  And the stuff I found absurd, dense, and fragmented?  Bad enough to make you not want to plow further into the story.  But I found it worth it.  It all depends upon if you like this genre enough to want to read Countermind.  If you do, tell me what you think.  I’m truly interested.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is terrific.  Works great for the character and storyline.

Sales Links

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Book Details:

ebook, 286 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2017 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1635332699 (ISBN13: 9781635332698)
Edition LanguageEnglish

In Our New Release Spotlight: Quarry (The Vampire Guard #2) by Elizabeth Noble (author interview and special excerpt)

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Quarry (The Vampire Guard #2) by Elizabeth Noble
D
SP Publications

Available for Purchase at

DSP Publications

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 and Google Play

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Elizabeth Noble here today. Welcome, Elizabeth. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest novel.

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Thank you for having me on your blog today! I loved the questions you sent.

Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?

The short answer to the first question is yes. I do a bit of a combination and my story planning is something akin to chaos. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know how I pull it all together to create a book. I know there are authors who have detailed outlines for every chapter.

I’m not one of them.

Generally, I start out with a few scene ideas that turns into a plot. Then I’ll complete a rough story synopsis and general outline for the book as a whole. My outlines or story overviews are mostly a few lines of this, that, and something else that needs to happen somewhere begin Chapter 1 and The End. I take those few scene ideas and write a story around them. No one is more surprised than I am at how I interconnect those scenes. It’s a discovery and journey I love taking with each and every book.

As to the second question, the why…I really have no idea. I’ve accepted that’s simply the way my mind works. I’ve tried various method of detailed outlines or mind maps and they turn into a log jam every time.

How early in your life did you begin writing?

Honestly? Before I could write. I remember when I was very little making up and telling stories to anyone and everyone who’d listen. I think at that time in my life I was a constant chatterer and probably drove those around me nuts. I lived with my grandparents and though I have siblings I spent very little of my life with them. So, in essence, I grew up an only child. My grandparents, particularly my grandfather, loved books and encouraged my storytelling. I think they were happy when I learned how to write, however. I was always gifted with pads of paper and pencils!

Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?

I don’t remember being read to, but I’m sure I was. I do remember reading books even before I started school, and I remember my grandmother teaching me to read. She used to get frustrated when I was in early grade school and only brought home books on birds and wildlife from the library instead of storybooks.

The books I loved the most as a child were ones like Black Beauty, King of the Wind, Call of the Wild and Lassie. After those I loved books by Jules Verne and read all of them.

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Blurb

The members of the Vampire Guard—Jonas Forge, spy and soldier turned cop; computer hacker extraordinaire Blair Turner; Declan, thief, con man, and ex-pirate; and medical examiner and werewolf Dr. Lucas Coate—face a dangerous and elusive enemy.

And this time, it’s personal.

Over the course of three hundred years, a man has touched each of their lives in ways they are only just realizing. When a hunt for a psychotic killer in the present resurrects memories and clues from the past, they discover how they have been affected and are bound by the existence of a ruthless vampire criminal. Now, while preventing a heist at a high-tech art show and thwarting several large-scale explosions, the team must employ their unique blend of science and supernatural abilities to put an end to the machinations of the man toying with their lives.

This time, he won’t slip through their fingers.

This time, it’s more than a case. It’s a hunt, and Forge, Blair, Declan, and Lucas won’t stop until they’ve captured their quarry.

Excerpt (this was one of those scenes that lead to the rest of the book):

Jonas laid his hand on Declan’s shoulder for a few beats. “It’s okay.” He settled on the ground beside Blair and pulled him close. “You’ll be fine.”

Blair reached over and ran two fingers down Jonas’s cheek. “You’ll do okay without me.”

Jonas sighed and shook his head. He shifted his weight so he squatted as much as possible behind Blair instead of beside him and slipped his hands under Blair’s arms.

“Ready?” Declan asked. Jonas nodded.

“We can do this,” Lucas said. He, along with Ori and Kai, positioned themselves with Declan at various points along the chunk of concrete pinning and trapping Blair. Even with all four of them, it was a strain lifting what had at one time been a wall. They got it up far enough so Jonas could haul Blair out.

Blair shouted through clenched teeth and shuddered. He reached around and gripped Jonas’s shirt with one hand. Shifting him carefully, Jonas hefted Blair up and held him in his arms.

“I don’t want you to die,” Blair whispered. He rested his head on Jonas’s shoulder and ran his fingertips over Jonas’s cheek again. “Declan promised he’d take care of you.”

Jonas raised his eyebrows and sighed. Declan pinched the bridge of his nose for a few seconds and said, “He’s lost a lot of blood.”

Jonas leaned to the side and stared down at the dark puddle under the chunk of concrete. “I see.”

Blair gasped a few times and touched Jonas’s face again. “Don’t die. You don’t have to die if I do.”

“I have no plans on dying, and you’re not going to either. Not today anyway,” Jonas said softly.

“Normal folks die from blood loss. You vamps are cool. All you do is become delirious.” Lucas patted Jonas’s arm. “Get him on the stretcher so I can see what we need to do.”

Once Blair was on the stretcher, Lucas ripped the material covering his leg. Bones stuck out in places they shouldn’t have, and his leg bent sideways right below his knee.

Lucas reached up and put his hand on the side of Blair’s neck. “The good news is, you’re a vampire, and this will be healed in a week or two. The bad news is, you’re a vampire, and there isn’t a lot I can do about painkillers.”

Blair licked his lips and nodded. “Quick. Do it quick.”

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About the Author

Elizabeth Noble lives by the adage “I can’t not write”. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t make up stories and eventually she learned how to write them down. A part of every day is spent living in worlds she created that are filled with intrigue and espionage.  Using a real love of scifi and urban fantasy highlighted by twisty plots she crafts stories taking place in a slightly altered version of our world.

When she’s not chronicling the adventures of her many characters Elizabeth is a veterinary nurse living in her native Cleveland, Ohio. She shares her little brick house with an adorable canine princess and her tabby cat side-kick. Elizabeth is a fan of baseball, basketball (go Cavs and Indians!) and gardening. She can often be found working in her ‘outside office’ listening to classic rock and plotting her next novel waiting for it to be dark enough to gaze at the stars.

Elizabeth received several amateur writing awards. Since being published, several of her novels have received honorable mentions in the Rainbow Awards. Her novel Jewel Cave was a runner-up in the 2015 Rainbow Awards in the Gay Mystery/Thriller category. Ringed Love was a winner in the Gay Fantasy Romance category of the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

Please visit Elizabeth Noble at:

Visit The Vampire Guard:

  • The Vampire Guard website: http://bit.ly/232TyHH
  • Email members of The Vampire Guard:  jr.vampx@gmail.com

Other links:

A MelanieM Review: Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine

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Rating: 3 stars out of  5

skyships-over-innsmouthTwenty winters have passed since the Cataclysm brought down society and robbed people of their memories. Humanity, vastly reduced in numbers since the initial chaos, has started anew in Canal City with the aid of library books and steam technology. The Scout and Ranger Corps was established to search for possible survivors and to replenish dwindling resources.

Dev is the captain of the scout airship Smoke Sparrow, and Shay is the scholar of their newest expedition. Their destination is Innsmouth, Massachusetts, a small fishing town that is mentioned in obscure books but shows up on no maps. Might its secrets offer answers? But within the fog-covered, ruined hillside town by the bay lurk unspeakable dangers and horrors beyond imagining. The expedition team soon learns that Innsmouth is one town that should have been left forgotten.

Skyships Over Innsmouth by Susan Laine is more of a horror steampunk story than a romance.  Taking place in a post apocalyptic world, Laine imagines what’s left of humanity living without memories of their past, in small societies run by steam and cobbled together knowledge from left over books.  The event that wiped out their memories and killed most of the world’s population?  Only mentioned by name, the Cataclysm, it brought the world almost to oblivion.  No one living can remember past “twenty winters”, and most of those alive are young.

Its a fascinating foundation.  Our main characters live in a place known as Canal City (its familiar name we will find out only towards the end of the story).  All the people, Shay, Dev, even the remarkable Malia (one of my favorite characters) is mostly a blank slate.  They have no history, no past, and unfortunately, that lack of foundation to their characters, leaves them shallow and lacking.  I understand that its part of the narrative but it left its mark here on the men too. Malia is a stunshine gun wielding, armor wearing security guard for the Smokey Sparrow. She’s the most vivid, sparkling character in the entire story.  I loved her.  She outgunned, out powered and basically out charactered every darn thing in this  story.  Not good for Dev and Shay. Even the villain.

Laine did spooky rather well.  The atmosphere over the town of Innsmouth practically shouted “run, you fools”.  Typically, no one ever listens.  I loved some of the descriptions of the town, the evil elements I can’t describe here without giving away plot points, and a host of other vile goings on.  I liked those.  But they kept being interrupted by Shay and Dev and a romance I never, ever believed in, not once.    It went from shy, “I Lurve You” glances, to instant hot in love.  I never felt any real connection between the two, all while trying to escape the town, and save themselves and others.

Nope, I wanted more  of Malia.

The explanation, when it came…well, I’m not sure that I understood it all.  But Malia was there kicking butt and somehow it all came together.  The almost to the end was smashing!

As a horror/adventure tale, I liked Skyships over Innsmouth by Susan Laine.  Definitely not as a romance.  Its really up to you.

Cover Art © 2016 Staf Masciandaro. I liked the cover art.  Spot on for the story.

Sales Links

DSP Publications

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Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1634769902 (ISBN13: 9781634769907)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen #2) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Mad Lizard MamboKai Gracen has no intention of being anyone’s pawn. A pity Fate and SoCalGov have a different opinion on the matter.

Licensed Stalkers make their living hunting down monsters and dangerous criminals… and their lives are usually brief, brutal, and thankless. Despite being elfin and cursed with a nearly immortal lifespan, Kai didn’t expect to be any different. Then Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court, arrived in San Diego, Kai’s not-so-mundane life went from mild mayhem to full-throttle chaos.

Now an official liaison between the growing Sidhe Court and the human populace, Kai is at Ryder’s beck and call for anything a High Lord might need a Stalker to do. Unfortunately for Kai, this means chasing down a flimsy rumor about an ancient lost Court somewhere in the Nevada desert—a court with powerful magics that might save Ryder—and Kai’s—people from becoming a bloody memory in their Merged world’s violent history.

The race for the elfin people’s salvation opens unwelcome windows into Kai’s murky past, and it could also slam the door on any future he might have with his own kind and Ryder.

Rhys Ford’s dark, snarky fae mongrel Kai Gracen is back in Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen, #2) by Rhys Ford and never has a folded, jumbled up world looked so scary or  so good.  Now unhappily serving as a sort of go between for Lord Rider and the humans the sidhe are interacting/living with, Kai is once again called in for a favor.  One he wants to be paid handsomely for as he desperately needs the money to help out his sick mentor/father figure Stalker.  That the mission seems a little insane is about par when Kai considers that he’s dealing with Ryder the sidhe Lord he can’t seem to get out of his head and sidhe magics that he wants nothing to do with.

I really could read about Kai Gracen and his gritty conglomerate of a world all day long and never tire of either.  Somehow Ford has managed to gather all the elements I love about the Fae (not your kiddies elves) and fantasy, throw them in with action/adventure with a great deal of mystery and UST, rub in a ton of dirt, grit and a big smattering of blood (yep always blood) and car chases to come up with a whomper of a tale.

Molding this universe must be like having the most twisted set of maps ever, laid out on Playdoh and crammed together by a child on a sugar high.  Plains weave and warp, mountains are closer than they appear. Or are they?  Oh, look pretty butterflies.  But don’t touch or they may kill you.  Nothing like having a story where I wanted to just sit and examine the landscape, the flora and fauna for a bit.  Heck I wanted a whole new Natural History guide as the author’s imagination soars freely through the desert skies on dragon wings and lopes scarily along in herds.

Its up to the Stalkers to navigate these daunting territories and Kai Grace is among the best.  That’s one of the reasons he’s been requested to head up the team to go looking for this mythological lost court deep in some Fae Mountains.  Yep, like Kai, it smells rank too.  But he needs the money.  So to outfit such a endeavor, Kai heads to all the people who support the Stalkers and who helped raise him.  Some we met in the first story, Black Dog Blues, some are new.  The machines needed to transport them will conjure up images of Mad Max as armored monsters capable of getting them to their location, each as unique as their wonderful creator.  I love all the secondary characters here.  They are as elemental and tough as the desert they live on.  You can see how each contributed to Kai, the person who stands before them.  I don’t actually say Fae because Kai considers himself more human than Fae no matter what his biology says differently.  His outlook is human.  And when contrasted to Ryder’s, you get that absolutely.

There’s so many twists and turns here, lost cities and yes, be still my heart, dragons.

Ford also has some answers to Kai’s back history, startling ones, while opening new questions for future stories.  This is a standard procedure for Ford and one I also always look forward to as it means another story.  Bring it on!

Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen, #2) by Rhys Ford once again soars, rocks, and scrambles through the gritty urban fantasy world and brings us a story you won’t be able to put down until it over.  I love this character and series, and can’t  wait for more.  Its really not a romance, all that UST running around.  Its high action, swiftly paced, tons of twists and turns, and yes, fae (light and dark) and dragons!  If that’s your thing as its definitely mine, I highly recommend this story and the one preceding it.  I love them both and think you will too.

Cover art shows Kai and a special dragon.  Love the colors, and the design.  Perfection.

Sales Links

DSP Publications

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 13th 2016 by DSP Publications
ISBN 1634777441 (ISBN13: 9781634777445)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Kai Gracen – add to Goodreads here:

Note from DSP Publications: Spend your weekend with Kai Gracen! Mad Lizard Mambo by Rhys Ford will be released on the DSP Publications website 3 days before other retailers, on September 10. Additionally, eBook one in the Kai Gracen Series, Black Dog Blues, will be 99 cents September 6-13, 2016.