Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell

If you’ve read a book by RJ Scott or V.L. Locey to name two authors quickly off the top of my head, well, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  If you read some or all of the stories  in The Christmas Angel series by various authors, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  And of course, if you’ve read Forever In The Sun (co authored with RJ Scott) or Fallout,  you’ve seen a cover created by the artist for a book she’s written.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plus if you are a follower of either RJ Scott or VL Locey or the MM Hockey Romance Group, then you are familiar with the adorable chibis that Meredith Russell draws of the characters of the Harrisburg Railers hockey players and their mates and families.  I’m hoping she will extend it to the Rush soon.  Here is the first chibi she drew.  It’s Tennant Rowe! The others can be found here at

Railers Chibi-style promo pieces

Adorable, right?  If you are a fan of the Harrisburg Railers series by RJ Scott and VL Locey, then you know Ten is featured in a very special story that’s to be released this summer, June 30th 2019.  Here’s a look at the cover by Meredith Russell, of course|
Now onto our interview….

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Meredith Russell on Art, Book Covers and Much More

  • How long it takes to put together a cover draft and whether or not they make multiple drafts to show authors/publishers?

Making a draft varies author to author for me. Some come with ideas, or a set style they’ve adopted, or images they’ve found themselves and so we go down one route and a single draft, and it’s a rather painless process. Then others need to see something to help decide what they actually are after from a cover. I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to exactly how long I spend on a draft. There are various stages I go through – getting any info or ideas from the author, looking at what images are available and which might work together, some back and forth with the author as to whether images fit with what they’re after, and finally the cutting/pasting/making etc of the draft. The time adds up but usually after a few days I have something to show them and a starting point to tweak into something final.

  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere (like Shutterstock

I work pretty much exclusively with images from stock sites so I am limited in some ways to what I can find on them and how I can maybe manipulate them into what we need. However, I would love to venture into digital art but I haven’t found the time to devote myself to figuring it out or getting the resources I’d need. I’ve had fun creating some simple drawings for RJ Scott, and a couple of others, who have had me turn their characters into little cartoon people though.

  • How much input comes from the author and/or storyline?

Again it varies. Some authors have a set idea of what they want. Some (naming no names lol) come to me requesting a man with brown hair and give me a couple of details about the story’s setting. I do like to know about the storyline or at least key moments or places that can be incorporated into the cover.

  • How did you get to become a cover artist?

What feels like a long time ago now, I used to do bits of fan art, mostly fanfiction banners for myself and some other writers. When RJ Scott went on to self-publishing she asked me to create her a cover and it went from there.

What mediums do you use? 

I work on a pc. I do have a pen and tablet that I use for drawing the cartoon characters (see above), but also a lot of those do actually start out as pencil and paper sketches that I then digitize and use as a guide.

Do you have a favorite cover you have done? 

Oh that’s a tough one. I recently did a set of seven covers for a series called The Christmas Angel. I liked how they turned out along with the challenge some of them offered considering they were all set in different time periods. A few others I really like include Liam Livings’ And Then That Happened, RJ Scott’s Boy Banned, KC Wells’ A Christmas Promise, and an as yet untitled merman cover I created as a premade that Amber Kell bought off me. Somebody should poke her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?

I do. I really love Jay Aheer’s work. She does some beautiful pieces.

Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?

I don’t think so much as a child. I was more about the title and blurb, particularly considering what was popular in way of covers back then, or at least for the kinds of books I was reading. It wasn’t until maybe early twenties where I started being tempted by pretty covers, quite a few being the YA type books, or having a striking female model on them.

What do you find most rewarding as a Book Cover Artist?

I just really enjoy getting to work with the authors. I enjoy the sharing of emails, building a working relationship and even friendships.

If you could ask yourself a question, what would it be?

It would be, ‘Have you remembered about that request you got over on Facebook?’ Seriously, I have a terrible memory and am constantly emailing myself or telling people to send details in emails as my inbox is something I have open all day whilst on my computer and can easily check on my phone when I’m not at my desk.

From the Christmas Angel series…

For both the Author and Cover Artist:

  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?

Firstly, as an attention grabber. If you’re looking for something beyond the regular authors you read, the title and cover are the first things you’re exposed to so it helps if they make an impression. And secondly, covers can be a way of making a brand for authors. It might be they all have a set look – so maybe a single model on the cover, or simply keeping the font for their name consistent for all their books.

  • How has the eBook format changed that , if any?

I don’t think it’s changed it too greatly, in that whether you’re walking a row of books in a store or scrolling through online pages of somewhere like Amazon, covers are there to grab your attention.

  • What trends do you see in Book Covers in the industry? Past, present, and future?  {for example the rise of the naked half male torso, model overuse, generic covers ,etc.)

I think like with everything styles come in and out of fashion. There was the time of the headless models, shirtless torsos, two models, touched up single image covers,  Recently, for me at least, it’s been focusing on a single model on covers, for example The Christmas Angel series and having just one of the characters on there. And unfortunately, because cost is a factor for many authors when paying for cover art, repeated use of models from stock sites is difficult to avoid, but it offers artists the challenge to try and use them differently.

  • How do you feel about them?

Personally, I think the only trend I didn’t like was the headless men one. I know it was a way to make use of limited models in the earlier days, plus allows readers to form their own image of the character simply from whatever descriptions the authors wrote about them, but for me, I just wasn’t a fan. Otherwise, each trend has its place and does its job. There’s a risk of all books looking the same, but that’s then up to the artists, and also the authors and their input, to put their own twist on what’s popular.

  • Anything you would like to share with our readers?

If you’re interested in my work both as an author and cover artist you can view details at my website meredithrussell.co.uk, or find me over at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/meredithrussellauthor. Thank you.

 

About Meredith

Meredith Russell lives in the heart of England. An avid fan of many story genres, she enjoys nothing less than a happy ending. She believes in heroes and romance and strives to reflect this in her writing. Sharing her imagination and passion for stories and characters is a dream Meredith is excited to turn into reality.

Meredith Russell’s Media links
I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s spotlight with Meredith Russell.  It has been a joy getting to know her further.  Please check out more of her artwork and stories at her website listed above.
We have more Artist Spotlights Scheduled. The schedule to date (with links in case you missed one):
February 09:  Aisha Akeju
February 10:   Garrett Leigh
February 17:   Meredith Russell
February 24:  Reese Dante
March  3           Paul Richmond

Cover Artist Giveaway:

Please don’t forget to leave comments or questions for our artists to be entered into our Book Cover Artist Giveaway, a Gift Certificate for $10 the person chosen.  Please leave a email address where you can be reached.  Open until St. Patrick’s Day.
Now for this week’s reviews and tours.  Happy Reading and Listening!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 17:

  • Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A MelanieM Review: Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

Monday, February 18:

  • Release Blitz Milo by Lily Morton
  • Amy Lane Author Guest Post
  • Harmony Ink YA John Goode
  • An Alisa Review: Port in a Storm (Kitten and Witch #1) by K.L. Noone
  • A MelanieM Review: Wolff (Redemption #1) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lucy Review: Shine (Uncorked #4) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review: For the Clan by Archer Kay Leah

Tuesday, February 19:

  • Book Blitz for Blood Lust by L.E. Royal
  • Cover Reveal – Broken by Colette Davison
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ithani (The Oberon Cycle #3) by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: My Fair Brady by K.C. Wells
  • A Lucy Audio Review: Rocking the Cowboy by Skylar M. Catesj and  Colin Darcy (Narrator)

Wednesday, February 20:

  • Ostakis by Angelica Primm
  • Review Tour – Sam Burns – Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan
  • Cover Reveal,- The Rising by Morgan Brice
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A Lucy Review: Sweet (Uncorked #5) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan Harbor Cycle #8) by Sam Burns
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: No Fae is an Island (Endangered Fae #4) by Angel Martinez

Thursday, February 21:

  • BLOG TOUR Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock
  • An ALisa Review: The Romantic by Elodie Parkes
  • A MelanieM Review: Gage (Redemption #2) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lila Review The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon by Megan Derr
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin

Friday, February 22:

  • OLD SINS by Charlie Cochrane Tour by Charlie Cochrane
  • Release Blitz – Jay Northcote – Better Place (Rainbow Place #3)
  • DSP PROMO Andrew Grey on Reunited
  • Book Blast – Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • An Alisa Review: Ace of Hearts by Caitlin Ricci
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Broken Alpha (The Alpha/Omega Verse #1) by D.C. Juris
  • A Caryn Review: Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock

Saturday, February 23:

  • Release Blitz Signal – Kris Jacen – Step Up With Me
  • “Ithani” by J. Scott Coatsworth Mark (OWL) Tour
  • A MelanieM Review:  Step Up With Me by Kris Jacen
  • A MelanieM Review Waiting on the Rain by Freddy MacKay

A Free Dreamer Review: Blood Echo by L.E. Royal

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

When her abusive father finally goes too far, shy seventeen-year-old Rayne Kennedy finds that her savior is far from an angel. Lost and alone she is completely enraptured by the beautiful but murderous, Scarlett. Taken on an adventure by the vampire’s well-intentioned sister, Rayne is drawn into Vires, a dark and dangerous vampire world, where humans are little more than natural resources to be exploited.

In a society that has been turned upside down while learning to live inside its constraints, Scarlett Pearce may not be much more than a slave to a power-hungry Government and the violent bloodlust that consumes her may be all her own. Before she loses herself in a world unlike anything she has ever known, Rayne needs to find Scarlett and the answers to those questions.

Vampires aren’t necessarily my favourite fantasy creatures, but every now and again I like to read a vampire novel. And “Blood Echo” promised a rather unusual take on vampire romances.

Before I start with my criticism, I want to say that it’s entirely possible I read the book at the wrong time. I was already in a bad mood and feeling down and “Blood Echo” made me feel even more depressed and grumpy. So my judgment is probably coloured by that.

First of all: This books comes with a warning for “torture, bloody violence and death” . And that warning is there for a reason, so don’t ignore it.

Like I already said, this story didn’t make me feel good. And that’s fine, I like dark stories, but something about “Blood Echo” just rubbed me the wrong way. It all seemed so bleak and hopeless and there was so much senseless violence and tragedy, I always dreaded having to keep reading a little bit.

Rayne was an okay character, if a little naive and awfully innocent at times. But that was understandable, her teen years weren’t exactly easy and didn’t give her much opportunity to do normal teen stuff. Though I must admit I mostly felt sort of indifferent about her.

Scarlett was… complicated. I like complicated MCs who blur the line between “good” and “evil”. I’ve read plenty of MCs who do horrible stuff but who were still somehow redeemable. Scarlett did plenty of awful things, but I never quite got the “redeemable” bit. Yes, she has her reasons, but still. It was the little things that made it so hard to believe there was anything good in her. She broke Rayne’s arm and while it was an accident and she healed it, she never even apologized for it., for example. I feel like an apology every now and then would have gone a long way to making me think of her as anything other than purely evil.

I didn’t really feel the romance. Rayne is very insecure and I have to agree with her. Why would gorgeous Scarlett pick a simple mortal girl, when she has so many other options? And they barely even knew each other, so it couldn’t have been because of Rayne’s character. Rayne’s “love” felt more like an unhealthy obsession to me, especially since Scarlett seems to be the first ever person she’s felt any sort of attraction for.

The publisher has tagged this with “sex content: explicit” and I actually feel kind of cheated. There was exactly one explicit sex scene, which was interrupted. When Rayne loses her virginity, it’s completely fade-to-black and other than that, we barely even get kisses. The author isn’t shy about explicitly depicting bloody violence, so why no explicit sex?

There were parts of the book that I found interesting. I liked the idea of a vampire city with very strict rules. Scarlett’s younger sister was a great supporting character and added a little variety to the otherwise rather evil vampire society.

I feel like the book got better towards the end, so I will read the next part, in the hopes that this upward trend continues.

The cover by Natasha Snow shows a hand with blood dripping from the fingers. I like the concept of it, I think it fits the tone of the story pretty well. But I find the execution a little lacking, the bloody fingertips look a bit like gloves.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details: ebook, 299 pages

Published December 3rd 2018 by NineStar Press

More On Book Covers And Cover Artists ~ This Week Garrett Leigh! Our Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Author and Artist: Garrett Leigh

More On Book Covers And Cover Artists

 This Week the Fabulous Garrett Leigh!

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

When I am looking at book covers, I can spot a Garrett Leigh cover just at a glance.  It has a certain style, a tone, a composition that states that yes, this cover was created by Garrett Leigh, and no other.

When sending out Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words questions, Garrett Leigh not only snapped immediately to mind because of the instant recognition factor in her covers but because Leigh is also an author as well.  Leigh is in a unique position in that a Garrett Leigh novel can have (although not always) a Garrett Leigh cover, one perfectly tuned to the story and characters within.

I can think of only a few other author/artists off the top of my head in a similar position.  Meredith Russell, LC Chase are among them.

So we are lucky to have Garrett Leigh here today answering our questions about books, cover artists, the future of covers, and much more.  Check it all out below.  Also the link to Garrett Leigh’s design website, Black Jazz Design.  Don’t miss out on the gallery there and all the many book covers.  Such a delight!

From Garrett Leigh:

Cover Book and Cover Artist Questions:

  • How long it takes to put together a cover draft and whether or not they make multiple drafts to show authors/publishers?

The time frame varies from job to job. For example, I’ve worked on a series cover today, book 6, that took me half an hour, as we already knew which model we were using, and exactly how the cover would look. Over the weekend, I did a job for a publisher that required three markedly different drafts, before one was chosen to work on further.

  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere (like Shutterstock)

I’m a photographic artist, so most of images come from stock sites, or my husband’s collection (he is a pro photographer/videographer). Stock sites are invaluable, though.

  • How much input comes from the author and/or storyline?

Again, it depends on the job. Some authors have a clear idea of what they want, and the book is already written, and some have no clue and want their art before they start writing the book. When working with publishers, you also have to consider house style.

As far as the story itself is concerned, the most important aspect is the tone. I wouldn’t want to make a super gritty thriller cover for a cute holiday romance.

  • How did you get to become a cover artist?

Entirely by accident. I wanted something specific for a book of my own, so I made it myself and went from there.

  • What mediums do you use?  

Photoshop, Illustrator, Daz, Wacom.

  • Do you have a favorite cover you have done?

That’s like asking me to choose between my children, but I do have a few I don’t like. And no, I’m not saying which ones, haha.

  • Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?

Loads. We’re super lucky in the romance genre in that there are dozens of stellar artists to choose from. And I’m good friends with a few too—Kellie Dennis, Jay Aheer, Meredith Russell.

  • Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?

Not that I can remember, but I mainly read Enid Blyton, so…

  • What do you find most rewarding as a Book Cover Artist?

When a job “clicks” and the author is over the moon. It makes the trickier jobs worthwhile.

  • If you could ask yourself a question, what would it be?

Where the hell did you put the spare laptop you bought for camping last year?

For both the Author and Cover Artist:

  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?

The cover is equally, if not more, important as the blurb. I choose my books with my eyes first, and if a book has a crappy cover, I’ll scroll on by unless it’s been specifically recommended to me.

  • How has the eBook format changed that, if any?

eBooks have been around as long as I’ve been a professional artist, so I honestly couldn’t say.

  • What trends do you see in Book Covers in the industry? Past, present, and future?  {for example the rise of the naked half male torso, model overuse ,generic covers ,etc.)

Chalkboard cursive fonts are still in, with warm happy colours. But the moody black and white hero is a long time favourite in the romance genre.

  • How do you feel about them?

Naked torsos? I’ve produced many covers with torsos, and read many books with them on the cover. I think they’re awesome if they suit the book.

  • Anything you would like to share with our readers?

I bought a cheap laptop last year so I could write on a camping trip. If anyone has any ideas as to where I might have put it, that would be amazing.

About the Author/Artist:

Bonus Material available for all books on Garrett’s Patreon account. Includes short stories from Misfits, Slide, Strays, What Remains, Dream, and much more. Sign up here: https://www.patreon.com/garrettleigh

Facebook Fan Group, Garrett’s Den… https://www.facebook.com/groups/garre

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer, cover artist, and book designer. Her debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards, and was again a finalist in 2017 with Rented Heart.

In 2017, she won the EPIC award in contemporary romance with her military novel, Between Ghosts, and the contemporary romance category in the Bisexual Book Awards with her novel What Remains.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess.

Contact Garrett Leigh at:

Website
Twitter

 

 

 

 

More to come next week with author/artist Meredith Russell .  Meanwhile keep checking out our reviews and our covers below.  What do you think of them?  Do they grab your attention?  I love quite a few this week.  Have a great week.  Happy reading to all!  And Happy Valentine’s Day!

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

 

Sunday, February 10:

  • More On Book Covers And Cover Artists ~ This Week Garrett Leigh!
  • Our Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A Lucy Review Full Bodied (Uncorked #2) by Shea Balik

Monday, February 11:

  • Release Blitz NOBLE HOPS by Layla Reyne
  • Release Blitz – Outlaw Girls – Miss Merikan
  • PROMO Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin
  • An Alisa Review: How Not to Blend  (Lovestrong #1) by Susan Hawke
  • A Lucy Review: Snowed In: Jonah and Cooper by Kris T. Bethke
  • A MelanieM Review: In Case You Missed It (#lovehim #3) by S.M. James
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Battle of Will by Sasha L. Miller

Tuesday, February 12:

  • TOUR Kicking up My Heels by Liam Livings
  • Release Blitz – In Case You Missed It by S. M. James
  • Andrew Grey on Rebound
  • An Alisa Review: Stepbrother’s Secret (Men of Meadowfall #6) by Anna Wineheart
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Rebound by Andrew Grey
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: How to Be a Movie Star (How to Be #2) by TJ Klune
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Familiar Demon (Familiar Love #2) by Amy Lane

Wednesday, February 13:

  • Release Blitz – Damaged by Tricia Owens
  • PROMO The Vampire’s Quest by Damian Serbu
  • Blog Tour – Darkness Dawns by Zakarrie Clarke
  • An Alisa Review: Square One by Dale Chase
  • A Stella Release Day Review: How to Be a Movie Star (How to Be #2) by TJ Klune
  • A Jeri Review: Damaged by Tricia Owens

Thursday, February 14: Happy Valentine’s Day ❤️

  • Release Blitz for Sam Burns – Eagle In The Hawthorn
  • An Ashlez Audio Review: Road of No Return: Hounds of Valhalla MC (Sex & Mayhem #1) by K.A. Merikan and Wyatt Baker (Narrator)
  • An Alisa Review: Hidden Hearts (Bad Valentine #3) by Clare London
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Blood Echo by L.E. Royal
  • A MelanieM Review Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane

Friday, February 15:

  • Tour and Giveaway:Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane
  • Release Blitz – Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • A MelanieM Review: Peony Lanterns by Patricia Correll
  • A Lucy Review Blush (Uncorked #3) by Shea Balik
  • A Lila Review: Faeted Box Set By Caitlin Ricci
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review :Royal Guardian (Rise of the Symbionts #1) by Jo Tannah

Saturday, February 16:

  • A MelanieM Review: Little (Trenton Security #2) by J.M. Dabney
  • Release Blitz – Nell Iris – Snowed In: Nen and Anani

 

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Contact (A New World #1) by M.D. Neu

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Mirtoff is Speaker General of the Nentraee people, who are divided into seven clans. Their home world is gone and now they live in 450 ships, searching for a new home. They have had disastrous experiences with other species so when they find evidence of intelligence on Earth they are wary, but with morale down and ships needing repair they decide to make contact. While Mirtoff may have peaceful intentions, General Gahumed as head of the Nentraee military, does not. Mi’ko is the Vice Speaker and plays a huge role in this book, though his POV is rarely shown. Almost all of the Nentraee POV is shown through Mirtoff. She is a good leader for her people and makes the alien hopes and fears clear and easy to empathize with.

The rest of the book book shows Todd’s POV. Todd’s brother Brad works at NASA and comes to warn them of the aliens’ immediate arrival. While Todd believes him, even though they are estranged, Todd’s husband Jerry is not convinced. Todd and Jerry go to the airport to pick up their friend Dan, former military, who is coming to visit. This is how the reader really gets to know Todd by his reaction to the news and his interactions with those closest to him. They are all together as the President of the United States makes the announcement that we have first contact with an alien race. Although other countries are mentioned and the United Nations plays a role, this is very American centric. As you can imagine, humans panic. I think the relatively peaceful time period after the announcement, supposedly due to good planning with use of the military, shutting down the stock market, and stopping all travel, is optimistic.

The aliens are confused and worried about human violence; they want to limit contact to scientific and diplomatic relations at first, but quickly realize they have to be more social than is customary for them. As with all science fiction, looking at humanity’s strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of an alien race is jarring. Since they are interested in trade and technological advances, Mi’ko focuses on Silicon Valley, wishing to do business with the company Todd works for. Todd becomes an unlikely central figure moving forward.

The depth comes from the author showing the family, friends and coworkers of all the principals. This helps to engage with the story emotionally, but I still felt removed for some reason. I will say although it is mentioned how different the Nentraee are to humans, their thought processes don’t seem different at all–they care and worry about the same things we do. Their history seems similar. The politics have only just begun as everyone vies to gain power and make money. This could really be expanded upon and I expect it will be in future books. I enjoyed this book and would be interested in reading more. That’s a good thing because after all the world building, this ends abruptly with a to be continued. By the way, this is a science fiction book that has a few gay characters, so don’t expect a romance.

The cover art is by Natasha Snow. I like the darkened view of Earth with all the lights on staving off the dark cold of space and the one ship making contact, carrying the hopes of their people.

Sales Links:k NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published January 21st 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN 139781949909883
Edition Language English

A VVivacious review :Diamond Heart (Cherrywood Grove #2) by M.A. Hinkle

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Gareth and Morgan change schools when Gareth gets expelled from their old school because of in-school fighting. Gareth fears that Morgan might not ever be able to make friends and enjoy life due to the crippling anxiety that rules his life, but as Gareth is going to find out Ainsworth Academy is a school like none he has been to before. As Morgan starts opening up and finding new ways to overcome his fears, Gareth finds himself lost because after all who is he if he doesn’t need to be protecting his brother.

This book was such a feel-good story. I truly loved it. While reading “Death of a Bachelor” I was very confused about what was going on with Morgan and Gareth, so finally getting to know the whole story was beyond enlightening.

Gareth is a boy who has defined himself as a jerk just so he can escape further examination from other people and himself but when he starts making friends with Felix, he realises that he can no longer ignore the decisions that make him what he is. Increasingly, he finds himself adrift when he wonders what his life is if it isn’t looking out for Morgan. Gareth has an amazing arc in this book where he gets to grow up and face his fears and own up to who he is.

Morgan is amazing in his own right and it was beautiful to see him blossom under the right atmosphere. Morgan’s anxiety is debilitating but I loved the fact that Morgan never hesitates to confront and overcome his fears.

Felix is amazing, I have loved him ever since “Death of a Bachelor” because he is the most adorable character ever. I can’t think of a single person more adorable then Felix. God, I want to give him all the happiness in the world. I liked how Gareth and Felix help each other confront their fears and be better. In a way, it is amazing how they both help each other get closure regarding the deaths of their respective mothers.

This book was amazing it follows the coming of age of three unique characters who I really loved even though Gareth was a little slow on the uptake initially but once things start going it is amazing to see these three grow up and try to figure out who they are.

The “LGBT Whatevers” is like my favourite band because God, I loved all the band members, Sarah, Alex and Zach.

This story was amazing and getting to follow Gareth on this journey of self-discovery really made me smile.

The title of this book is so appropriate. In hindsight, it really fits Gareth who is too busy crushing his feelings till his heart has become a diamond from the pressure of it all.

Cover Art by Natasha Snow aka my favourite cover artist ever. I loved the cover for this one, the colours on it are beyond beautiful.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published February 4th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN 139780463182789
Edition Language English
Series Cherrywood Grove #2

BLITZ for Diamond Heart (Cherrywood Grove #2) by M.A. Hinkle (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Diamond Heart

Series: Cherrywood Grove, Book Two

Author: M.A. Hinkle

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 4, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 60900

Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBT, contemporary, YA, high school, twins, arts/music/theater, gay, ace, panromantic, gender-bending, learning disability/social anxiety, family drama

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Synopsis

Gareth has a problem. He got expelled. Now he and his twin brother, Morgan, have to start over at an artsy new private school, and it’s all Gareth’s fault. Not to mention Morgan’s crippling social anxiety and Gareth’s resting jerk face aren’t making them any friends, and their father is furious with him. Gareth could live with this, but Morgan’s mad at him too, and Morgan is the only person alive who can make Gareth feel guilty.

Good thing Gareth has a plan. Cute, bubbly Felix, a student at their new school, has a crush on Morgan, and they both want to act in their school’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Gareth figures it’s the perfect way to help Morgan come out of his shell and set him up with Felix. Then, maybe Morgan will forgive him, and Gareth can go back to not caring about anything or anyone.

But Gareth has another problem. He’s been cast as Oberon, and Felix is Titania. Oh, and Morgan doesn’t like Felix back. And maybe Gareth is enjoying the play and making new friends and having a good time at his new school. And maybe—just maybe—he’s got a crush on Felix. Can Gareth keep up his tough-guy act long enough to repair his relationship with Morgan, or will Felix get caught in the fallout of Gareth’s dumb schemes?

Excerpt

Diamond Heart
M.A. Hinkle © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Everything started when I punched a guy in the face, but I only realized this was more than a regular Tuesday once my twin brother Morgan got home from school looking like he’d been hit by a truck.

Not literally. Morgan resembled the guy on the cover of a romance novel—not Fabio, the Twilight knockoffs, where they were angsty instead of buff. Morgan’s hair was always windswept, except when he pulled it back as per the school dress code. While our school had a dress code, at least it was gender neutral, so anyone could wear whatever they wanted as long as their skirt hit below the knee and their hair was kept out of their face.

Morgan’s hair is always kept out of his face, is what I’m saying.

I was hoping word hadn’t gotten around school, but what a stupid hope. Morgan was ashen. I got to my feet. “Morgan—”

He shook his head without changing his expression.

Crap. I tried to stand still as Morgan went through his getting home ritual: shoes placed in a neat straight line next to the door, tie loosened but not taken off, laptop removed from bag, bag hung on the hook next to the empty one where mine belonged. I put my hands behind my back so he wouldn’t see me digging my fingernails into my palm.

Morgan finished and turned to me. I couldn’t read his expression. “So what happened this time?”

I tried to make my mouth work. But for one thing, I had a bad feeling Morgan already knew the answer. For another—

If he didn’t already know, explaining would be impossible. This went deeper than being dumb and teenage and angry. This was about Morgan and his nerves and me protecting him the only way I knew how. If I could explain it out loud, I wouldn’t have been in this mess. I could have talked things out with Warren Beauregard III (really, truly his name in the year of our Lord 2016) the way Sesame Street taught me, and we would sing a song, and everyone would have gone home happy after learning about the letter of the day.

But before I could figure out how to put it into words, my father came downstairs.

My father—excuse me, Dr. Trevor Lewis, PhD and some other fancy letters—was a professor of Welsh literature. He spent most of his time buried in books written in a language barely anyone spoke, writing papers seven other people would read. Whenever he tried to tell me about it, my soul left my body from sheer boredom.

I didn’t see him much. In order to focus on his research, Trevor taught night classes, which meant all the good people working full-time jobs and going through school snored their way through his English 101. Therefore, he was at home while I was in school, and I was at home while he was at school. It worked well. I didn’t have to see him and remember we looked alike and I hated it, and he didn’t have to see me and remember the family disappointment.

“Let’s sit in the parlor, boys.” His voice was cool.

The change of scenery wasn’t for anyone’s comfort; the furniture was so old it doubled as a torture device. Morgan and I took our usual spot on the couch, Trevor in the chair across from us. Morgan chewed on his lower lip. I wanted to do the same, but I also didn’t want Trevor to see he had me over a barrel.

“The principal decided to avail me of a number of things about you, Gareth,” said Trevor, after a long, long minute of staring at me. He still hadn’t raised his voice. “He said you are, in most respects, a brilliant student. A leader in class discussions, consistently high achieving on standardized tests, and well liked by your teachers. I was aware of all of this.”

I did not relax. Before everything else, Trevor was a rhetorician. He was not reassuring me; he was laying out background before he launched into his thesis. According to family legend, when he defended his dissertation, the evaluators only asked one question apiece because his argument about whatever he studied was so watertight.

“What I did not know is you have also been consistently on the verge of expulsion from the moment you started high school. I don’t see the point of going into detail of the reasons. I’m sure you’re aware—swearing, uniform violations, lashing out at other students.”

The expulsion part was news to me, which was not going to help my case.

Trevor waited, not to see if I wanted to respond. He was pausing for effect. “And it has only been by the grace of the aforementioned good qualities and my not inconsiderable donations to your school that you have not been run out for conduct unbecoming a member of their academy.”

I bit my tongue. Literally. It hurt. Sometimes, I appreciated Trevor’s frankness. Take when he talked about college. He always said, “I expect both of you to attend either the school where I teach or the University of Wisconsin, unless you get into an Ivy League college.” It might sound controlling, but I knew exactly where I stood with him—in the garbage.

“You’re getting kicked out?” Morgan asked, as though I should have led with it when he came in the door.

“I guess, but I just found out too.” I didn’t even know my school expelled people. Then again, I was the only kid ever written up for fighting on school grounds.

Morgan stiffened like we were going over the first drop on a roller coaster, only there was no track at the bottom to catch us. “I can’t stay there by myself.”

Now that was news to me. Among other things, Morgan was valedictorian, first chair violinist in orchestra, and student council secretary. (He’d be president, but then he’d have to talk.) All the teachers thought he was God’s gift to academia, and he’d been fielding college recruiters since we were in eighth grade. And everybody adored Morgan. Girls wanted to bang him, guys wanted to be him/possibly also bang him, nonbinary people high-fived him, et cetera. I wasn’t exactly an outcast, but I wasn’t anyone’s first choice for gym, either.

Trevor’s expression was unreadable. Behind his glasses, his eyes were the color of a freezing winter sky. My father had never been cuddly, but he used to talk to us more, before my mom killed herself four years ago. Suicide should have been the low point, but things only went downhill in our family from there. After the funeral ended and all the flowers were thrown away, we never talked about her again. I hadn’t bothered trying, but Morgan had, and Trevor dismissed him. Not in so many words, maybe, but we got the hint.

Anyway, as long as Morgan was calm and under control, he and Trevor had long and involved conversations about books and crap. But the second Morgan faced something more complicated than precalculus, Trevor was out the door faster than blinking, leaving Morgan alone with his deep-breathing exercises. And me. I always cleaned up the mess, whether or not I made it.

To be fair, I usually made it.

I got to my feet, one hand clenched in a fist. I wasn’t going to hit Trevor—no use. It wouldn’t get a rise out of him. But the pain helped me concentrate so my voice would come out calmly, the same way it did at fancy dinner parties when one of Trevor’s too-rich friends asked me a question that drove me up a wall. I knew Morgan hadn’t meant to say anything out loud, nor would he appreciate it if I answered him right now. So I put on my best Trevor face and pretended Morgan wasn’t hyperventilating beside me. “Well, this is all pretty shitty. When do I find out?”

Trevor’s expression hadn’t changed an inch; he might have been staring at one of the insipid paintings hung on the wall. “You’ve been suspended for the rest of the week while they decide. In the meantime, I suggest you research alternative options. I have enough work preparing for midterms.”

I bit the inside of my cheek hard enough to taste blood so I wouldn’t answer. Morgan was about ready to barf all over the fancy Persian rug, but he almost always was. I couldn’t tell if it was worse than usual.

“You wanna help me search?” I asked. If I didn’t give Morgan some kind of out, he would sit there until the end of time, caught in his own head.

Morgan stood, jerkily. He nodded at Trevor and followed me upstairs.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

M.A. Hinkle swears a lot and makes jokes at inappropriate times, so she writes about characters who do the same thing. She’s also worked as an editor and proofreader for the last eight years, critiquing everything from graduate school applications to romance novels.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Book Covers and Artists! This Week’s Spotlight Artist: Aisha Akeju Our Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Cover Art by Aisha Akeju

Book Covers and Artists!

 

I’m so very excited about this month and perhaps into March.  We are getting back answers from artists and publishers to our questionnaire on Book Covers and Book Artists.  We asked how they came to work on covers,  what they thought about the current state of book covers, their inspirations, role models, and even the process the authors went through so see covers for their stories.  So many questions to help us get insight into an aspect of our stories we love and that, frankly, fascinates us, me especially.

We have sent out our questionnaires to many of our favorites artists and publishers who have been gracious enough to answer back so our Sundays will be full this month and probably into March with answers and insights from everyone from Garrett Leigh, Reese Dante, NineStar Press, Riptide Publishing, Meredith Russell, Dreamspinner Press, and more.  I can hardly wait myself.

For me, even before I could read, it was the cover that grabbed my attention, made me want to reach out for it.  Want to know what was inside…  Just as it was for so many others.  Book covers draw us to the story inside.  It makes us want to ask that question “what is that book about”?  Even before we read the blurb or are old enough to know what a blurb is. It’s the cover that tells a story, catches our eye, “says Read Us!”.  If the artist does their job.  That is.

For those great covers?  One glance and you’re hooked!  My eye slides by, boom and back it goes.  I  need to examine that cover and book closer.  I pick it up, turn it over, look at it, and often buy the story.  Job done.  It’s always been that way.  Gothic, fantasy, science fiction, name the genre…I still have the books and can go fish out the story and the cover artist that hooked me.

I can still remember the great Anne Cain cover’s for the first edition of J.L. Langley’s My Fair Captain.  Hot damn as they say.  It may have been the first of the half naked torso covers but to this day for me, it’s still one of the hottest.  *fans self*  All others have been just pale reproductions in my mind next to that one.  Fair?  No, but that is the power of that first impression.

Anne Cain has left a lot of those!

So have all the artists who has participated in Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words first venture into insights on Book Covers , Artists, and, their current role in Publishing.  We hope you enjoy it.

First up in our artist spotlight is someone I have long admired.  I found Aisha Akeju through the many stories of Megan Derr, Mell Eight, and other authors at Less Than Three Press.  They are unfailingly fantastical, highly artistic, incredibly imaginative,and always, always, make me look closer.  I just love her works.

You probably have seen her covers if you have read a Megan Derr story.  I have included the link to her website.  Please check out her covers there, also on the LT3 website as well.  They always have a section on the cover artist for each book you buy. I love that about them!  I have included a link to Less Than Three Press as well.  Gp and check out all their new releases as well as the covers!

 

This Week’s Spotlight Artist: Aisha Akeju

 

Megan Derr at Less Than Three Press forwarded me your email with questions for cover artists and while I can’t answer all the questions for lack of time, I’ve answered some of them below. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about something I love and I hope my answers are helpful!

AISHA AKEJU

aisha-o.com

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  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere?
I’d say about 90% of my covers are comprised of stock material, and about 10% are elements I’ve had to create for the covers. Because sometimes a request is so unique you can’t quite find what you’re looking for.
  • How much input comes from  the author and/or storyline?  
Pretty much all of it, I’d say. I work off of a cover request sent to me from the publisher. I wouldn’t know where to start without it. The cover request includes the book title, author, number in a series if applicable, and what the author would like to see on the cover. It also includes a brief blurb describing what the book is about. I’ll then do my best to fulfill the cover request.
  • How did you get to become a cover artist?
About eight years ago, a friend who I’d done some art for suggested I reach out to Less Than Three Press and offer my services as a cover artist. So I emailed, fingers crossed, and I was lucky enough to be picked up as a contractor. The rest, as they say, is history.
  • Do you have a favorite cover you have done?
I have quite a few favorites! Too many, probably. I quite like Dust on the Wing by Parker Foye, Hellbeasts by Katya Harris, A Honeyed Light by Freddie Milano, and The Neighbor by Bernadette Chapman. But I find I’m most proud of the covers that requires me to flex my graphic design muscles a bit. A few are: Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust by Lynn Darrow, The Devil You Know by Camilla Quinn, Defying Convention by Cecil Wilde, and The Show Must Go On by Buggy Brooks.
^^^^^^
  • Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?
Natasha Snow! She creates stunning covers and I’m honestly in awe of her talent.
  • Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?
Oh, absolutely! I always gravitated towards the books that had covers I found appealing. I think it’s just natural when it comes to books. It’s perfectly fine to judge a book by its cover. You’re putting a lot of trust into a product you’re not sure about beyond a blurb. It certainly helps if the packaging is nice to look at.
  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?
I think the book cover is integral to selling books. It’s the packaging that’s responsible for catching a reader’s eye and hinting at the story within.

About Aisha Akeju

A New Yorker born and raised, creativity has always been a part of Aisha’s life and is, in fact, in her blood. The daughter of an artist and museum director, Aisha picked up a pencil before she learned her ABCs, learning to draw at her mother’s knee and “borrowing” art supplies from her mother’s drafting table when she grew tall enough to reach. Her love of art has only been matched by her love of books, becoming a voracious reader at an early age after falling in love with the written word after her first taste of Green Eggs and Ham, and becoming a published author by the time she was nine years old. Her passion for art and books helped shape Aisha into the illustrator and graphic designer she is today. Her love of fantasy and pop culture weaves itself into her life and her work.

Aisha graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Illustration, and prides herself on her unique style in all her endeavors. With several years of experience under her belt, Aisha currently works as a freelance designer, creating book covers and promotional images for independent presses, publishing houses, and self-published authors. In her spare time, Aisha illustrates for fun and profit, crochets gifts for friends and family, plays mom to a slightly evil and completely ridiculous cat, enjoys table-top gaming, and is a harcore kpop fan.

To learn more about what Aisha can do for you, please see her offered services and read testimonials from satisfied customers.

 

 

That’s our Artist of the Week.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Next week we have Garrett Leigh, who is both an artist and an author.  Let me know if you have any questions for our artists in advance!

 

Meanwhile check out the covers below for the upcoming reviews.  How do they strike you?  Do they tell you a story?  What are they saying?  And then check out what our reviewer has to has say about the covers and their relation to the story they are reviewing.  Interesting stuff!

 

Meanwhile have a great week! Stay warm if you are caught up in the polar vortex!  And always happy reading and listening!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 3:

  • Book Covers and Artists! This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • This Week’s Spotlight Artist: Aisha Akeju
  • A Barb Review His First Family by Victoria Sue

Monday, February 4:

  • HARMONY INK PROMO Andrew Demcak 2emails
  • DSP PROMO Sean Michael on Educating the Professor
  • Alisa Review: Omega Teacher’s Secret (Men of Meadowfall #5) by Anna Wineheart
  • A MelanieM Review: Gage (Trenton Security #3) by J.M. Dabney 
  • A Jeri Review Rewind by Rowan Shaw
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Tracker Hacker (Codename: Winger #1) by Jeff Adams and John Solo (Narrator)

Tuesday, February 5:

  • Release Week Blitz Not Dead Yet by Jenn Burke
  • BLITZ Diamond Heart by M.A. Hinkle
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Educating the Professor by Sean Michael
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Rebuild My Heart (Lexington Lovers #4) by Ariel Tachna
  • A Lucy Review: Bubbly (Uncorked #1) by Shea Balik
  • A Lila Review: Not Dead Yet (Not Dead Yet #1) by Jenn Burke

Wednesday, February 6:

  • Series Blitz – The Knights Club Series – CJ Baty
  • Review Tour Marina Vivancos – Rat Park
  • DSP PROMO Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga on Syncopation
  • An Alisa Review: In the Lion’s Den by Abigail Kade
  • A Stella Review: Rat Park by Marina Vivancos
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Inside Out by Aimee Nicole Walker

Thursday, February 7:

  • Release Day – JJ Harper – Gage (Redemption Series
  • Release Blitz – My Anti-Valentine Collection – DJ Jamison
  • DSP PROMO M.D. Grimm on Eye of the Beholder
  • A Caryn Review No Fae is an Island (Endangered Fae #4) by Angel Martinez
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Ruff Trouble by Sharon Maria Bidwell
  • A Lila Audio Review A Fool and His Manny (The Mannies #4) by Amy Lane and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)

Friday, February 8:

  • Gage, Trenton Security Book 3, by JM Dabney Blog Tour
  • Review Tour – The Other Book – Roe Horvat
  • Release Blitz – TL Travis – Forgive Me Father
  • An Alisa Audio Review From a Jack to a King by Scotty Cade and Kenneth Obi (Narrator)
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review Hexhunter (Hexworld #4) by Jordan L. Hawk
  • A MelanieM Releases Day Review: Eye of the Beholder by MD Grimm
  • An Ali Review : The Other Book by Roe Horvat

Saturday, February 9:

  • Joe Cosentino on Drama Castle (A Nicky and Noah Mystery Story)
  • Series Review Tour – NASU and ENRAI (Blood Sealed Book 1 and 2)

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Escaping Mortality (Escape Trilogy #3) by Sara Dobie Bauer

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

And the finale of the Escape Trilogy lived up to all expectations! Andrew and Edmund found the Elder just in time to save Edmund’s life. But…and it’s a very big but…the Elder seems to have a connection to Edmund that Andrew doesn’t share. And it’s something that might make or break his relationship with Andrew. Oh no…just when I thought it was safe and my favorite vampire couple was going to be able to live happily ever after—literally—it appeared something was going to stop that from happening.

But I digress. In this installment, Andrew, Edmund, and yes, the Elder, Michelle, and Felipe all continue their sea voyage to England after Edmund’s life is saved by the Elder converting him to a vampire. But when they arrive at Edmund’s mother’s estate, they find that she’s more than physically ill—her mental faculties are failing as well. The adventure in this story lies in finding out what is going on with Edmund’s mother at the same time Andrew is learning just exactly what Brien, the Elder, plans for Edmund, because it’s very evident that Edmund has changed—and not just to a vampire. As the blurb states, Andrew has to battle for his heart and his soul.

No spoilers here. All I can say is that those who read this trilogy will love the complexity churned up by Sara Dobie Bauer’s imagination. And as much as I’d like to say this can be read as a standalone, it really should be read after the first two. None are very long so they are easy to devour. I highly recommend this book, and this series, to those who enjoy MM romance with a bit of vampire thrown in.

The cover by Natasha Snow is perfect for this story and is done in the same theme as others in the series. Very attractive!

Sales Links: 

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:ebook
Published January 28th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781949909913
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesEscape Trilogy #3

 

An Alisa Review :There’s Something about Flying (There’s Always Something #3) by Schuyler L’Roux

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

After walking away from Gerry, Thom is back home in Minnesota living his best life. He’s flying through the air, embracing the sexual power he reclaimed in a lonely dungeon with Gerry. Yet when Gerry arrives unannounced and full of inexplicable hope, Thom has another choice to make. Does he let Gerry go and finally close the book on their tryst? Or does Thom open up his heart to the reality of their past and the potential of their future? The third and final chapter of the There’s Always Something trilogy stays true to form: there’s always an ending.

Hmm, I can’t agree that Thom is living his best life just trying to get Gerry out of his head.  Both of these men have made mistakes with their relationship and finally they have a chance to clear the air.

I still can’t say what I really feel about these characters, I didn’t like Thom’s actions in the last book and the way he acts when he sees Gerry again didn’t help.  I liked seeing Gerry and Thom finally actually having a real conversation was good for both of them.  As promised there is an ending even if I think there could have been more to it.

Cover art by Natasha Snow is nice and is in similar style to the others in the series.

Sales Links: Nine Star Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 13,100 words

Published: December 24, 2018 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-949909-77-7

Edition Language: English

Series: There’s Always Something #3

New Release Blitz for Contact (A New World #1) by M.D. Neu (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Contact

Series: A New World, Book One

Author: M.D. Neu

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 21, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 71800

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

A little blue world, the third planet from the sun. It’s home to seven billion people—with all manner of faiths, beliefs, and customs, divided by bigotry and misunderstanding—who will soon be told they are not alone in the universe. Anyone watching from the outside would pass by this fractured and tumultuous world, unless they had no other choice. Todd Landon is one of these people, living and working in a section of the world called the United States of America. His life is similar to those around him: home, family, work, friends, and a husband.

On the cusp of the greatest announcement humankind has ever witnessed, Todd’s personal world is thrown into turmoil when his estranged brother shows up on his front porch with news of ships heading for Earth’s orbit. The ships are holding the Nentraee, a humanoid race who have come to Earth in need of help after fleeing the destruction of their homeworld. How will one man bridge the gap for both the Humans and Nentraee, amongst mistrust, terrorist attacks, and personal loss? Will this be the start of a new age of man or will bigotry and miscommunication bring this small world to its knees and final end?

Excerpt

Contact
M.D. Neu © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Maintenance drones passed the Speaker General’s window as Mirtoff stifled a yawn. How long would they be here this time? The fleet stopped in a holding pattern while repairs were performed, the darkness of space surrounding them. Soft light from the window surround bathed her in a warm glow as she brushed away the few strands of hair that dropped from her tightly braided bun.

The past several months had been difficult, and she’d had little sleep. The suffering of her people weighed heavily on her. Mining Ship 9 had a malfunction in one of its storage bays while on an Ĩ-type asteroid pulling out much-needed water, nickel, cobalt, and platinum. One hundred and fifty people died that day.

She perused her terminal, chairs, conference table, and sofa. At times her office was claustrophobic. It’s bigger than what most of my people have. She gathered her scattered thoughts and sipped from the now warm cup of tuma.

Faa was curled up on the couch. Their gazes met, and a comforting smile filled his face. He closed his big green eyes and nestled his gray, fur-covered head onto one of the sofa’s pillows for a nap. His tail shifted gently back and forth.

He’s calm today.

They’d been inseparable since he was plucked from the wreckage of Agricultural Ship 15 ten years ago when he was a seyas. Perhaps a month old. She had been consoling survivors and reviewing the damage. Twelve people died that day, including her sister-in-law.

Faa still suffered from nightmares, but he had always been a sensitive cádo. If he could communicate his pain and fear better so she might help him, maybe it wouldn’t bother her so much, but the cádo were limited in that manner. She always considered it so unfair to them, particularly Faa.

Sighing, Mirtoff took a final swallow of her tuma, savoring the last of the now warm liquid, preferring it chilled as it should be, but unwilling to cool it again. The sweet, spicy flavors were still there, so the taste was pleasant enough. Turning her attention back to the chaos of her desk and the report-filled datapads, she rubbed her temple. The people and the cádo were weary of traveling through space. It had been too long.

If J’Veesa had intended Mirtoff and the Nentraee people to wander the stars, she would never have created their world, even if it was gone now. They had a home once.

They needed to find somewhere they could build a new life, a new world. They needed off these ships.

She glanced out the window again at the 450 ships carrying her people. How long would it take them to find a home?

Of course, there were other worlds and other civilizations, but none that fit her people and their needs. J’Veesa never meant for the Nentraee to be worshiped like gods; there was only one God, J’Veesa. Many names, yes, but there was only one.

They needed to either find a world void of life or one with a civilization they could work with and learn from. Their first choice was a world with equals on it.

What if they never found one? What if the ships stopped working? What if they were forced to do what some in the military had suggested? What if they had to take advantage of a lesser civilization? Or worse, what if…

“Enough,” she huffed and turned back to the reports.

Faa startled and glanced up at her. “Provider?” he asked in a soft murmur. His speech was poor but understandable.

“It’s nothing, little one. I’m sorry.”

He shook his head and settled back in his chair, his big eyes not leaving her.

She grabbed one of the datapads to review. Agricultural Ship 23 was still under repair, forcing the other agro ships to increase production and require rationing. Again. She sighed.

There was a chirp at the door. Odd. Is it that late? Faa’s eyes didn’t leave her, but his floppy ears perked up.

Her aide, Danu, was gone for the day. The lines of her mouth softened into a smile when the visitor’s image appeared on her desk monitor. She tapped a button on the screen, and then the door opened swiftly and Mi’ko entered.

“Vice speaker, tell me you’ve brought good news,” Mirtoff’s brows raised, and her lips pulled up at the edges. “Would you like a tuma? It’s a little warm, but it’s still good.”

Faa looked at the vice speaker; his eyes softened and his muzzle twitched. If anything happened to her or her family, she wouldn’t be surprised if he chose Mi’ko as his new Provider.

Mi’ko regarded her with his aging, aqua eyes. The wrinkles around his mouth turned up into a smile as he spoke. “No, thank you, Madam Speaker.”

He was still in his traditional gray suit. She wondered if he’d been home yet. His brown hair was neatly groomed and pulled back, past his shoulders. His lopsided tieback was coming loose, which allowed a few wisps of hair to fall free.

“I have news,” Mi’ko said. “The signals we’ve been studying have promise. We locked onto the frequencies, followed them, and found more transmissions.” He typed on his datapad and a three-dimensional holographic image lifted from the screen, revealing a small solar system. He pointed at the third planetoid, and it zoomed in. “I think this might be what we’ve been looking for.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

M.D. Neu is a LGBTQA Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man, he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric, his husband of eighteen plus years.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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