14 November 2014

Blogger Book Fair and Giveaway! Featuring Kayla Curry

It’s the last day of the Speculative Fiction Blogger Book Fair. I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting some of our authors here on my blog. Visit the BBF website for the complete list of authors and giveaways, and then go VOTE in the BBF Reader’s Choice Awards!
Today's guest is the awesome Kayla Curry, author and blogger, and mastermind behind the Blogger Book Fair.

Where the Carnies Are

Fantasy | New Adult

Olive is having a very bad day. She caught her boyfriend cheating on her, she lost her job, and she stumbled into a portal leading to a secret carnival kingdom which she can’t escape. The good news is she meets an eccentric, but stunningly handsome knife thrower. The bad news is she can’t go home for another two months. 

The world she lands in is full of sideshow characters, terrifying amusement rides and her biological parents’ past. She was born a carny, but raised as a normal human. Magic lives in her blood, but it hasn’t reached her heart. To find out who she really is, and why carnies are disappearing, Olive must deceive the king with the help of Alex the knife thrower. 

Olive and Alex play a dangerous game with their emotions when they decide to have a fling during Olive’s stay. They both lead very different lives and being together would mean one of them giving up the life they've always known. 

Tricks and traps are around every corner in this kingdom. Few can be trusted and Olive will need all the help she can get to make it through unscathed.

Buy Links:
Only $.99!

Where the Carnies Are Excerpt


I looked around for the nearest sign of life. A faint light glittered from across a field of wild grass. It was far away, but not so much so that I couldn’t get there. Though I dreaded walking through the field in my heels. Sighing, I grabbed my purse, locked the car up, then stuffed my keys into my purse and turned for the light. The ditch was cleared without injury, and I gained a little confidence. The moon was full. The stars shined. I paid more attention to them than the terrain I was traversing. But, who could blame me? I hadn’t seen the stars in a while. The city was too good at hiding them.

The air changed. Traces of music reached my ears. Carnival music? And the smell of cotton candy accompanied it. The music grew louder as I approached and the smell grew stronger too.

After a few more steps, a bright light flashed before me. I was caught off guard, then stumbled and fell, landing face down on a springy, bouncy, flat surface that felt like a giant dodge-ball. Even in the darkness, I could tell that it was yellow. I pulled myself up to a sitting position and gazed at the tall yellow walls to my left made of the same material I was sitting on. I thought I might be in a giant bouncy house.

Panic struck as I realized I couldn’t see my car, or the field I had just been in. What happened? I couldn’t be dreaming. Could I?

13 November 2014

Blogger Book Fair and Giveaway! Featuring Lia Davis

The Speculative Fiction Blogger Book Fair continues! Until November 14th visitors to the participating blogs will find free and bargain ebooks. They'll also get a chance to enter drawings for Amazon gift cards ($50, $30 and $20). Be sure to read to the end to enter the giveaways, and then go VOTE in the BBF Reader’s Choice Awards! Visit the BBF website for even MORE.

Next up is Lia Davis—Welcome!

War's Passion (Sons of War #1)

Fantasy | Adult

After losing her parents in a brutal attack from a monster straight out of her nightmares, Gwendolyn Preston tries to pick up the shattered pieces of her life. Along with her best friend, she moves to a small fishing village on the coast of Maine to find a new life away from the nightmares that haunt her. Just when she believes her life could go back to normal, the deliciously dark and handsome Markus Sullivan disrupts her hopes to grieve in peace.

Markus drew the short straw when it came to being the liaison between his father, Ares—God of War—and his brothers. When he discovers that the earth bound demi-gods, known as the descendants, have banded together to start another rebellion against the gods, it becomes his number one priority to stop them.

That is until he meets Gwen, the granddaughter of Aphrodite, and the next target of the descendants. Together, their path is rife with passion and danger. It might take more than the son of War to win this battle ... Gwen herself.
Buy Links:


War’s Passion Excerpt

Markus closed his eyes as he stroked his fingers over the keys of the baby grand piano in the great room. The music flowed and filled the air around him, and twined in his soul. He loved the peace it offered. Each note calmed his inner beast in a way nothing else did.

A shift of energy made him opened his eyes. Releasing a low annoyed groan, he stared into Aphrodite’s sky blue gaze. She wore a white pants suit and her blond hair hung in thick waves around her shoulders. He stopped playing and slammed the cover over the keys.

The goddess straightened from where she leaned over the side of the piano and folded her arms. “Why did you stop? You know I love to hear you play.”

Standing, he gave her his back and peered out the French doors leading to the gardens in the backyard. “What do you want, Aphrodite?”

12 November 2014

Blogger Book Fair and Giveaway! Featuring Peter Dawes

It’s Day Three of the Speculative Fiction Blogger Book Fair! From November 10-14th visitors to the participating blogs will find free and bargain ebooks. They'll also get a chance to enter drawings for Amazon gift cards ($50, $30 and $20). Be sure to read to the end to enter the giveaways, and then go VOTE in the BBF Reader’s Choice Awards! Visit the BBF website for even MORE.

Please give a warm welcome to our next guest!

Rebirth of the Seer (The Vampire Flynn #2)

Supernatural/Paranormal | Adult

Flynn’s quest for redemption continues in the second installment of The Vampire Flynn.

Condemned by the Supernatural Order and sentenced by their High Council to die, he and his watcher Monica must avoid capture while deciphering a riddle left by Lydia Davies. The mission takes them from Philadelphia to the Windy City of Chicago, with a master seer named Julian nipping at their heels. There, they are joined by wary allies and a cunning vampire who is bent upon exposing the full hypocrisy of the Order.

The hunter becomes the hunted. The villain transforms into a champion. But even as Peter begins to emerge from the crimson shroud of his alter ego as a newly-gifted seer, he finds himself placed on a game board he would have sooner avoided. A destiny trails him, but so does the realization that he has become a country without affiliation, about to be presented with an offer too enticing for him to simply refuse. And while the Order’s band of gifted humans might be misguided, are they beyond redemption themselves?

What remains to be seen is who might be right – the ones who remember the murderous assassin, or the few who believe in the heart of a hero nobody asked for.

Where would your wager lie?

Buy Links:
Only $.99!

Author Bio:

USA Today Bestselling Author. Writer of the Vampire Flynn Series and Deathspell books, published by the micro-press Crimson Melodies. While primarily a novelist, he has also contributed to the story cycle Red Phone Box, and the short story anthology, Nocturnal Embers. 

Always working on something new, Peter leaves it up to the reader to decide if it's by sunlight or candlelight.

Connect:
Website | Twitter | Facebook
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11 November 2014

Blogger Book Fair and Giveaway! Interview with Tracy Falbe

It's Day Two of the Blogger Book Fair! From November 10-14th, visitors to the participating blogs will find all kinds of free and bargain ebooks. They'll also get a chance to enter drawings for Amazon gift cards ($50, $30 and $20). Be sure to read to the end to enter the giveaways, and then go VOTE in the BBF Reader’s Choice Awards! My guest today is the amazing Tracy Falbe.

Tracy Falbe is a writer of indie fantasy for people who don't do what they're told. She lives between a little lake and a pond. The water is a great comfort to her. She loves both dogs and cats. Writing is her chosen craft, and she's slowly building a decent little business out of it.

Connect:


~Interview~

When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing stories since grade school. In my teenage years I wrote two novels, but I never did anything with them. In 1997, when I was 25, I began writing seriously and produced what became my first novel Union of Renegades. Now all of these years later, I am publishing my tenth novel Journey of the Hunted.

What inspires your writing?

I take my thoughts and feelings from what is happening in the world and what has happened in history and express them through fiction. Big issues like war, slavery, patriarchy, and Nature inspire me. I also like to ponder how people deal with difficult circumstances that demand sacrifices.

10 November 2014

Blogger Book Fair and Giveaway! Interview with D.H. Aire

Today we're kicking off the Blogger Book Fair, master-minded by author and blogger Kayla Curry. The focus this time is on speculative fiction—Yay!—From November 10-14th, visitors to the participating blogs will find all kinds of free and bargain ebooks. They'll also get a chance to enter drawings for Amazon gift cards ($50, $30 and $20). Be sure to read to the end to enter the giveaways, and then go VOTE in the BBF Reader’s Choice Awards!

D.H. Aire has walked the ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem and through an escape tunnel out of a Crusader fortress that Richard the Lionheart once called home. He’s toured archeological sites from diverse cultures that were hundreds, if not thousands of years old… experiences that have found expression in his writing of his Highmage’s Plight Series.

D.H. Aire’s is the author of two novels: Highmage’s Plight and its sequel Human Mage. A number of his short stories appear in Separate Worlds first anthology, Flights of Fantasy, Vol. 1 (available on Smashwords.com and BarnesandNoble.com). His story, Crossroads of Sin, appears in the anthology RealLies (2013).

Highmage’s Plight, upon which Dare2Believe is based, is published by Malachite Quills Publishing. Link to the ebook to read sample chapters at: Amazon. (Also available in print on Amazon.)

The author is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and currently resides in the Washington DC metropolitan area.

~Interview~


When did you start writing?
I started writing as a teenager, but really started writing and sending out stories, which earned me rejection letter after rejection letter while in college. Those rejection letters, even when they came with advice or an encouraging line, hurt. So, I suppose you could call me a "closet writer." I wrote my stories and re-wrote them, draft after draft, just for myself for the next twenty years before sending one off to a contest, which offered publication in an ezine. I won and ended up serializing two of my books in my Highmage's Plight Series as well as excerpts from two others (all now published).

The story that earned me that encouraging line with the rejection letter so many years ago (after I don't know how many revisions at this point) appears in my debut novel, Highmage's Plight.

07 November 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014!

Greetings, dear readers!

It's the first Friday of the month, and time for A Drift of Quills to get together and chat about books and writing.

You may also have noticed that it is November, and November means NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). While Patricia is off flitting about the countryside, Kristie and I are knee-deep into the crazy, wonderful writing frenzy that is NaNoWriMo.

Do you know what that means? Hundreds of thousands of people around the world leap headlong into the challenge of writing a novel (50,000 words long!) in thirty days. (Though if I wrote through Thanksgiving Day, I would probably be stuffed and roasted!)
Writing is a passion. A passion driven by voices we hear in our heads. Driven by stories that need to be told.  Don’t be afraid to let them out. Nurture them like they are your children and let them blossom into fruition. Most of all—live your dream.  
~Vivienne Courtoise
I love writing—and yet I struggle to write. Last year I let someone convince me not to participate in NaNoWriMo. "You can set your own thirty days any time of the year," he said. So I did.

And I didn't.

As a result, I wallowed for a long time in stinking pit of discouragement and gloom and doom.

The thing is, I like the challenge of that goal, and I like the little competitions between buddies. I like the Pep Talks and the camaraderie and the sense of excitement. So here I am again, pushing up my sleeves and leaping into the frenzy of thirty days of literary abandon.

You might see me around, but then again you might not. The effort is a little intense.

Not for the first time, I've found that my best writing time is at night. I can't blame Hubby for objecting, so I'm trying my best to reroute my productivity and do most of my writing in the morning. So far, no luck! If anyone has any helpful ideas about reprogramming the ol' gray matter, let me know!

In the meantime, here are some good ways to get some work accomplished, whether you are a morning person or a night owl:
  1. Schedule your time, whether it's five minutes or five hours. Own it.
  2. Turn off the distractions (tv, phone, husband—I mean internet, radio, etc.…). Some days I write better with music playing in the background, some days not so much!
  3. Make sure you've got a supply of chocolate within easy reach. And a beverage. I've heard water is good for you.
  4. Do some warm up exercises. Jumping jacks are great if you can handle it, but ten minutes of free writing are also recommended. Try WriteOrDie, if you dare. Or just open up a blank document, set a timer, and write as fast as you can. Content, grammar, and logic don't matter. It's very … freeing.
  5. Take breaks. I know it sounds counterintuitive ("I just HAVE to finish this one scene/word quota/whatever!"), but your body needs to move and that movement can actually provide you with time to work through a scene or come up with something wildly awesome. Mindless chores are the best for that kind of thing.
  6. When you must stop, leave off in the middle of a scene. Or even as sentence. You probably already know which direction it's going, and it's easy to pick up again.
  7. Before you start a scene, make a quick sketch of what it needs to include. Again, you're not striving for a Pulitzer here. Just get down the bare bones.
  8. I haven't had much success with this, but I like Chuck Wendig's advice to "Write with your internal editor gagged and shoved in a box." I need to find a nice, roomy box for my inner editor to kick back in.
  9. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Kristie says so, and I trust her.
  10. What, you were looking for a nice, even number of suggestions? Ha!
~  ~  ~  ~  ~

PATRICIA REDING
Author of Oathtaker

I admit I’ve never participated in the event known as NaNoWriMo. I can’t even pronounce it, and I have to check other sources for how to spell it every time I need to use the word, or acronym, or whatever it is. Suffice it to say, I don’t know much about it. Still, from what I’ve heard, it sounds like an amazing venture …

The closest I’ve ever come to a NaNoWriMo effort was during a summer week when the rest of my family went camping. Blissfully alone (and, I confess, not lonely), I set out to write the opening of my new story …

… (Read more!)
~  ~  ~  ~  ~

KRISTIE KIESSLING
Author of the short story, Sanguis Dei and a poetry collection, Light and Dark

NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is upon us! If it's possible that you've never heard of it, the NaNoWriMo website says this:

"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30."

Sound crazy? You bet! But it's wonderful, too. Why? 

... (Read more!)


Stay Tuned!

Next week (November 10-14) I'm participating in the Blogger Book Fair. All week long! What's in it for you, you ask? Why ... BOOKS! And... GIVEAWAYS! What could be more important than that?
~  ~  ~

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

What do you like best about it? Hate most?

What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard for a marathon writing stint?


31 October 2014

Book Review: The Shadow of What Was Lost

Whim struck, and I went with it. Author James Islington is being compared to the likes of Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss—and while I can see that influence on his writing, don't  let it fool you into thinking he can't "do his own thang." He did, and pretty well, too!

It has been twenty years since the end of the war. The dictatorial Augurs - once thought of almost as gods - were overthrown and wiped out during the conflict, their much-feared powers mysteriously failing them. Those who had ruled under them, men and women with a lesser ability known as the Gift, avoided the Augurs' fate only by submitting themselves to the rebellion's Four Tenets. A representation of these laws is now written into the flesh of any who use the Gift, forcing those so marked into absolute obedience. 

As a student of the Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war fought – and lost – before he was born. Despised by most beyond the school walls, he and those around him are all but prisoners as they attempt to learn control of the Gift. Worse, as Davian struggles with his lessons, he knows that there is further to fall if he cannot pass his final tests. 

But when Davian discovers he has the ability to wield the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything. To the north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir. And to the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is…

I am still—after so many books that I’ve lost count—puzzling over the general aversion to prologues. I can’t remember one that actually turned me away from a book, or even one that made me wonder how much further I’d read. James Islington’s “The Shadow Of What Was Lost” begins with a highly intriguing prologue, and the first chapter piqued my interest even more. I really wanted to see how they were connected. I sped through the first several preview chapters available on Amazon, gasped in indignation at the interruption, and promptly bought the novel.

I very rarely do that. If I have to think about whether or not I really want to purchase a book, I am inevitably reminded of the others already waiting on my copious To-Be-Read list and choose to pass. Not this time.

While Davian, the main character, does things that make you wish he could hear you shouting at him to stop! stop!, he is also clever and quick. We’re uncertain of his exact age as the book begins; he’s young, but he isn’t completely overflowing with immaturity and age-associated stupidity, either. The balance makes him believable. His associate, Wirr, drew my suspicions early on, but I liked that. Is he friend or foe? Must read to discover the truth!

I did struggle with the names; too many of them were too similar to make for easy remembering. Still, the character roster is not difficult to follow. Rather than a legion of main characters, we’re limited to three, and the secondary characters are handled skillfully and given personalities and realities of their own. The main characters are believable and enjoyable. Much to my delight the female lead, Asha, is plucky and smart. She can do things on her own—and does—without coming across as “too” anything. (Too tough, too strong, too well-trained for her age/circumstances…) I loved that the characters continued to develop and grow throughout the story, and the end of the first book is clearly not the end of that progression.

The world this takes place in is easy to envision. It is detailed without overburdening the reader, and the magic is well-crafted, and discovering through Davian’s eyes how it really works seems natural. I am curious about the creation of the Tenets; how does this work to handily tattoo anyone who uses the Essence for the first time?

There are some unpolished places in the novel, like far too many chapters that end with the characters sleeping (far too easy to put the book down there. I mean really, what’s happening to hold my interest?). Some of the scene breaks suffer the same invitation for the reader to set the book aside. I am also amused at the number of times invisible surprise guests show up in one’s bedchambers. The word “okay” perpetually distracts me. Modern slang rarely fits into the pseudo-medieval setting of most epic fantasy. There are several other word misuses—annoying, but not enough to turn me away from what is really a good tale. Less of the passive voice would make the book even stronger.

There are some wonderfully humorous lines: “It’s not like they can execute us more,” says Davian to Wirr when Desrialite soldiers are killed. And speaking of people being killed, the characters seem to accept the deaths of their friends and acquaintance and move on—within days if not hours. There are a *lot* of deaths, and while a few scenes qualifed as “bloody,” I didn’t find them gratuitously so. With one exception—which seems a shame, because it didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the book (and was just icky enough for me to leave it off my list of Flinch-Free Fantasy. Bummer!).

My nit-picking aside, Mr. Islington has provided a fun, fast-moving read with great characters and interesting twists. I’m looking forward to Book Two.

You can find The Shadow of What Was Lost HERE on Amazon.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Have you read this book? What did you think?

What's the last great book you read?