Thursday, July 31, 2014

Interview & Free Book: Dane Richter

        Born in 1981, Dane Richter spent his early life growing up on a farm located about an hour east of Perth, Western Australia. A love of Enid Blyton’s works first introduced him to the world of fantasy and adventure and with time, shifted to works by Tolkien, Feist and Tad Williams which opened a wider spectrum of the fantasy genre.
        Although a deep-seeded passion for adventure and storytelling existed, during his high school years he had an aptitude for sport, excelling at track and field. Quickly rising up the ranks of Australia’s elite, he represented Australia in high jump at the IAAF World Junior Championships in 2000. He continued athletics for over a decade with personal bests of 2.19m in the high jump and 50.46s in the 400m hurdles and although he won numerous Australian national medals, a career dogged by injury saw him missing out on the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games.
        Writing was a passion for Dane throughout his track and field career, beginning in 1999 and finishing the first draft of Hunt for the Star in 2003. With education and sport a primary focus, time afforded to writing was limited. Dane honed his skill over the next few years with affiliations to Tom Collins Writers House and the Speculative fiction group KSP Writers centre, whilst penning a sequel, Rise of the Deceiver.
        Dane completed a Bachelor degree in Commerce majoring in Accounting and Marketing in 2003 and worked in coaching and education over the next ten years with a brief stint as a freelance writer in 2006, publishing 23 articles as a sports writer for the Perth metro and country based paper, Community News Group.
        In 2011 Dane was introduced to Hal Colebatch - a contributing author to Larry Niven’s military sci-fi series, The Man-Kzin Wars. With Hal’s mentoring, Dane got his start with a small independent press who published the paperback version of Hunt for the Star in 2012. In 2013 Dane released the ebook, which is available on Amazon.

Favorite reads?
        Game of Thrones - Martin, Magician - Feist, Harry Potter - Rowling

Inspirations for the book?
       There are so many! Ancient history is a big one. I became addicted to the history channel and a six-part series called "Lost Words" which delved into ancient civilizations like Aztecs, Egyptians, Norse etc. I find it interesting how religions and economy shape civilizations and their cultures.
Enid Blyton I guess would be an inspiration, as it was her books that gave me a love of fantasy as a child. I should note that my book has no fairies or chairs with wings. Swords, magic and adventure? Absolutely!
        There is a hint of Quentin Tarantino in interactions between my characters, although I would not expect many people to pick up on that. I have read stories where dialogue is just delivered and accepted by the characters in order to move the plot forward. I like my characters to question decisions, complain about their injuries and prattle off on tangents, as long as all of it adds depth to the character and story.
        Inspiring others to read my work inspires me to write. I was first and foremost an athlete and most of the people I interacted with were the type to watch a movie rather than read a book, which was disappointing as I believe that a movie will never compete with your own imagination. I remember an athletics official who said he would read my book because he knew me from the track but only if he found the time. He had already thought that an athlete could not write or write well enough. After he bought and read the kindle version he came back to me and raved about it, purchased the hard copy and an additional 5 copies to send to his cousins and friends who lived interstate. He now bothers me on a weekly basis for book 2 and when someone likes the book that much, it motivates me to keep going.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
        No, although I did have a love of being creative. In grade school I had a teacher that had "journal writing" as a subject and it was a way we could tap into our creativity. Anything was doable. Flick cartoons, drawings, short stories, poems etc. A friend of mine loved the NBA and did quite accurate copies of NBA logos in his journal. It was fun just see what I could do or what others would do.

Any Pet Peeves?
        Nothing quirky. Dishes being left on the sink?

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
       Is there even a comparison? Chocolate of course!

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
        That's a LONG story involving a former convicted felon, recreational drugs (that I didn't smoke) a group of stoners, one enthralled with his brand new cricket ball, people driving my car, fake names, taking apart someone else's car, a lover's quarrel and being thrown out of a Contract Law lecture. What I learnt from it was to never offer a stranger at the door a drink of water even if it's stinking hot outside.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
        Recently I've been listening to classical, inspirational or epic music including movie soundtracks. Fantasy and action movies are quite good but if I know the movie well then I start to remember the scene and that's not so good if I'm trying to write my own stuff. 

Do you need anything to write? 
        I used to like silence, but finding a bit of music can help. NO FACEBOOK or other distractions. I am a little weak minded in that regard.

How long do you write on any average day?
        About 4 hrs, BUT many writers will know that often the full 4 hrs is rarely productive. Sometimes its a frustrating 2+hrs of nothing but a couple of lines before a great 30 min patch where I can churn out a page or 2 of high quality, minimal-edits-required work.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
        Imagery, I've been told, is my thing. I see the story as a movie in my mind and try to utilize the 5 senses to bring it to life on the page. I'm proud to say that I've converted people who don't read or who don't read fantasy to enjoy the genre. A while ago a friend who works at Dymocks (Australia and SE Asia Bookstore chain) sold my book to a lady who gave it to her 11 year old grandson as a christmas present. The grandson made such a fuss over it that she contacted the store commending my friend on the fine recommendation and he also said that people rarely do that. A similar fuss was made by the athletics official I mentioned above, and he is in his fifties. I like to think I can capture the imagination of readers of all ages, but if you really want to know, and you love fantasy, you will have to read it yourself!

Author Info:

Edoria is at war. Artos Hestrom retreats back to his home town of Corsin where he is given the task of retrieving a powerful crystal called the Eldon Star. The ageing Artos uses lies and deceit to procure people to help him on the journey and the plight of a half-man, half-elf called Chet, provides the perfect cover. Artos' nephew, Ethan, freely volunteers to accompany him without knowing his true motives, but Ethan's death has been foreseen in a vision. Knowing that Ethan would certainly die if he continues on the journey, Artos must choose between the fate of his family and the fate of the world. 

Standing in his way is the evil Sorcerer, Ruehl, who has waged war in Edoria with his blood-thirsty hordes of Kròkos. Ruehl uses his minions to relentlessly scour the land for the crystal. Betrayals, challenges and loss set up a final confrontation with the evil Sorcerer where there can be only one victor.

*Free Book*
Ends (8/14)

Smashwords coupon is WB52K and the offer expires 14/08/14 so get in quick!
Hunt for the Star on Smashwords

Monday, July 28, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Lauren Shelton

    Lauren Shelton (1990-present) was born in Hayward, Ca and grew up in neighboring Fremont, Ca until the age of fourteen. During that time, she imagined up fantastical worlds, hoping one day she would be a part of them. When she moved to San Diego, Ca, she decided to bring her imaginations to life by beginning work on her very first novel The Hybrid.She currently lives in West Yellowstone, Mt where she was inspired to complete her first novel that was published in December of 2013. She is also currently working on the sequel to The Hybrid, due out in December 2014. 

Favorite reads?
    My favorites include a mix of different genres. The Mortal Instrument Series (Cassandra Clare), The Harry Potter Series(J.K. Rowling), Thirteen Reason Why(Jay Asher), My Life Next Door(Huntley Fitzpatrick), and any Stephen King or Nicholas Sparks novel.

Inspirations for the book?
    My biggest inspiration for The Hybrid was where I am currently residing. I grew up in Northern California, and then moved to San Diego(where I had a basic storyline started), and then moved to a place called West Yellowstone, MT (Tru's fictional town of Woodcrest Hills). I live in a town that's only a mile by a mile and completely surrounded by thick forests. Living here, I always thought, "Wow, what if there was something hidden in those trees that we don't know about? How would that pan out?" So I added to the story I had started in San Diego.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
    Yes. I was always writing stories as a kid. Most of them I still have, and plan to someday finish. (Some are just too good not to continue writing!)

Any Pet Peeves?
    Yes. Just one. People who drive too slow (I'm talking like going 5mph in a 35mph zone and they don't use turn signals). Other than that, I'm a pretty laid back person. I try not to let too much bother me. I like to stay positive!

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
    Both is best. Especially when they are wrapped in an orange plastic wrapper with the word Reese's printed across the plastic.

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
    Hmm... It would probably have to be the time that I got to sit in a 5'x10' box/room with two baby tigers! That was an experience! Never thought I would have done something like that, but I did.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
    There isn't really a specific set of songs, but there is a specific type of music for The Hybrid. I usually listen to very mellow music that eventually builds while I'm writing. Classical music helps me think, but it I don't think it would fit as a real soundtrack.
    Adele, Muse, Evanescence, Alice in Chains, Imagine Dragons, Colbie Caillat, Passenger, and Ellie Goulding would be some of the artists I would put on the soundtrack. They are some of my favorite artists. They have really great music!

Do you need anything to write? 
    I need a strong cup of coffee, a bottle of water, and some sort of noise in the background (a movie or music. NOT a kid screaming, horns honking, sirens, or anything like that.)

How long do you write on any average day?
    I don't have a specific amount of time I write a day. I usually just sit and write, and when I feel antsy(like I've been sitting too long), I get up and do something else, and then come back to my writing. I am usually writing while I'm at work, so I will usually write for  right around 6 hours of my 8 hour shift.
    I usually write anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000. To me, that doesn't seem like much, but I usually write a paragraph, and then completely change the entire thing. So, I'm not really getting further in pages, but I am definitely working on making my writing better!

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
    Personally, I always wanted to read a book like The Hybrid. When I couldn't find one like it, I decided to write it. So, I feel it should be read because it is something different to add to the fantasy genre. It is something people aren't expecting. It's a breath of fresh air, that will hopefully get more people interested in reading YA Fantasy.

Author Info:

   Gertrude is your average seventeen-year-old girl from southern California. She gets good grades, makes it home by curfew, and like most girls her age, she has issues with her mother. But lately, the fights between the two of them are growing worse. So bad in fact, that Gertrude finally makes the daring decision to move in with her grandparents, in another state. 
   Upon her arrival in the small town of Woodcrest Hills, Montana, Gertrude quickly, but reluctantly befriends a group of girls who act as though they eat sugar for breakfast. But just as she begins to adjust to her new home in the secluded town, Gertrude is informed of a ridiculous and unbelievable myth, hidden behind the trees of the forest that surround her. Instantly, Gertrude is sucked in, determined to know the truth behind the rumors that have the whole town on edge. 
   And when a mysterious and mystical stranger named Edyn, with wings shaped like leaves, comes along, risking his life by exposing not only the veracity to the legend, but secrets about Gertrude’s very own past that will change her life forever, Gertrude must decide between the life she has always known, and the life that awaits her behind the trees. 
   But will she have a choice? And will she be able to save Edyn, the man who risked everything to help her, the man she is strangely falling for, in time?

One (1) Winner
Ends 8/25 US/Can Only
  • Autographed Paperback of The Hybrid
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Snatch: Delilah Dusticle's Transylvanian Adventure by A.J.York

Delilah Dusticle has special powers, she can completely eradicate dust. With her quiver pouch of special dusters Delilah can run up walls and reaches places others just can’t. As a maid in the Fenchurch-Whittington house Delilah’s unusual skills soon lead to her being promoted to Chief Dust Eradicator and Remover. Until one day a broken heart leads to her powers taking an expected turn. 

This is the first in a series of touching and funny stories about Delilah Dusticle. Follow her on a journey of self-discovery, friendship and adventure.

In this illustrated instalment, Delilah and the Dustbusters are invited to Transylvania to cater for the Hallow Eve Ball. All is not what it seems and Count Dracula has a very unusual request for Delilah.

Excerpt from Delilah Dusticle's Transylvanian Adventure:

Delilah Dusticle has a special gift; she can wholly and completely eradicate dust. Using a duster from her special quiver pouch, she can run up walls, duster in hand, reaching all the cracks and crevices others just can’t. However, if she wasn’t concentrating or if she felt sad, the opposite would happen and dust would fall from her like heavy snow.
A sad story on the radio could start the shimmering shower of grey. Or if she was daydreaming about her boyfriend Duncan, the vacuum cleaner would simply start to wheeze silvery dust all over the floor instead of sucking it up.
Fortunately this happened very rarely as Delilah had lots of fun with her best friend Abi building up their business, Dustbusters. Since the war, grand houses could no longer afford live-in staff, and Dustbusters filled this void by offering a mansion cleaning service and staff for fancy parties. Their reputation had grown so much that they were being called on from all over Britain. Even by royalty.
Photos of Delilah and Abi were appearing on all the newspapers’ front pages, alongside interviews about Dustbusters and Abi’s line of very beautiful feather dusters. On a giant billboard at Piccadilly Circus was an advert of the Dustbusters dressed in overalls with vacuum cleaners in hand, posed and ready to clean. On the back of London buses the Dustbusters were dressed in tuxedos holding trays of cocktails. A Dustbuster could easily be recognised by the company badge, which was a shield with a duster crossed with a cocktail glass. Engraved below were the Latin words, Pulvis et servitium, meaning Dust and Service.
Delilah would sometimes pinch herself to make sure it was all real. She had come a long way from being a maid in the Fenchurch-Whittington house, where a broken heart led to her talent taking an unexpected turn. From the day Charlie Fenchurch-Whittington the third brought home his fiancée, Delilah began to lose her ability to eradicate dust. In her melancholy, she showered soft grey powder wherever she went. She made more of a mess than she could clear away and was asked to leave the Fenchurch-Whittington house.
Delilah eventually found a room and lived in solitude until a chance meeting with Abi, now the wife of the man who had broken her heart, changed everything. They became close friends, sharing their fears and joys. Over time Delilah began to feel like herself again, and together they created Dustbusters.
After Delilah had left the Fenchurch-Whittington’s household, others in their service were also let go. The family business in Music Halls was in steep decline, and they could no longer afford so many servants. This meant the whole family had to pitch in with the cooking and cleaning, and even drive their own car. It was Abi’s elegant feather dusters and her share in Dustbusters that ensured that the Fenchurch-Whittington’s were able to keep the family home, as well as their house keeper, Mrs Finch.
Dustbusters had grown so much that they even had a headquarters based in one of the Fenchurch-Whittington’s disused theatres. It was a beautifully ornate theatre, with powder blue and gold leaf cornices and paintwork. The dressing rooms were used by staff to change into their uniforms. The back offices and old workshop were used as design rooms, a repair shop for old hoovers and administration.
It certainly was an exciting and busy time. However, during quiet moments Delilah could be found sitting alone with small particles floating woefully around her, like a silent snowstorm in the forest. Secretly Delilah felt like there was something not right. No one else could do what she could do with dust, and she had started to find out that she could do more than just eradicate it.
Once, while cleaning a particularly dirty sitting room, Delilah’s eye was caught by an exceptional painting of a storm and a boat being tossed around by the waves. She began to think about Cockles, the seaside town where she had grown up, and recalled how the waves would crash over the seawalls in a storm. She stirred from her thoughts as the dust around her formed into a huge wave, roared across the room and submerged her completely. Her head emerged from the wave, and she spat out dust in astonishment.
These occurrences were happening more and more, and she did her best to conceal them. What if someone saw what she could do? How could she explain what she was doing when she did not understand herself? She felt people already thought she was unusual, and she did not want to stand out any more than she already did. As these thoughts ran through her mind, soft grey powder would settle mournfully around her. At least until she forced herself to snap out of it and eradicate the dust into thin air.
Delilah also could not shake the feeling that she was being watched. Sometimes when walking home a shadow would appear beside her shadow. This always surprised Delilah as she could not hear any footsteps, nor did she sense that anyone was behind her. She would turn to see who it was, but there would be nobody there, and the shadow would melt away as quickly as it had appeared. Perhaps it was a trick of the light or a silhouette of tree branches blowing in the wind, Delilah would think to herself.
Sometimes when alone in her house, she would feel the sensation of being observed. She would go to the window and peer out, but the street was always deserted. Delilah felt that if she told Abi or Duncan they would think she was mad, or worse they would worry unnecessarily. Delilah decided to keep all these fears to herself. At least until she could start to control her dust making episodes, and catch the person whose shadow would sometimes skip beside her own.

Author Info:
Goodreads: Delilah Dusticle and Delilah Dusticle's Transylvanian Adventure
Facebook: dusticle
Twitter: @delilahdusticle

Friday, July 25, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: David Ciccarelli

        David Ciccarelli began his writing career working in the film industry. His award-winning screenplay, "Hospitality," was made into a short film. His science fiction script,"The Alpha Six," ranked first on Kevin Spacey's Triggerstreet Production contest. He reached the semifinal round in back to back years in the AMPAS Nicholl Fellowship and the quarterfinals of the Chesterfield screenplay contest. He has also had scripts in consideration at several studios and production companies before turning to novels. 
        Mr. Ciccarelli has also worked as a film editor, background actor, video store clerk, production assistant, and high school history teacher.
        He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.
Favorite reads?
Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, David Sedaris, Kevin J. Anderson

Inspirations for the book?
        As a U.S. history teacher, I tried to make allusions to exploration, colonization, and westward expansion without getting too heavy handed about it. I am not trying to write an allegory or a moral message, but I like a story to have layers. I also re-read several books in the process of writing Mesh, not all science fiction. I was inspired by Puzo’sThe Godfather and Brown’s The DaVinci Code for structure, pacing, and use of multiple perspectives. For sci-fi inspiration, I re-read several Arthur C. Clarke novels, Niven’sRingworld, and Walter Hunt’s Dark Wing series. 

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
  I always knew I wanted to be a storyteller of some sort: make movies, plays, novels, something from the imagination. 

Any Pet Peeves?
Anything that wastes my time.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Chocolate. Does anyone ever say peanut butter? Dark chocolate with red wine, to be exact. 

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
        I don’t know about weird, I’ve done some unique things: I’ve been animated into a “King of the Hill” episode, bowled next to Weird Al, and strangest of all, chose to teach history to teenagers

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
I listen to a lot of Hans Zimmer, John Williams, early Maurice Jarre. I’ve also been on a big Scala & the Kolcany brothers kick lately. 

Do you need anything to write?  
Caffeine, Snacks, no distractions (no kids around)

How long do you write on any average day?
With a full time job, and two little boys, “average day” is not an applicable term for me. I try to write for one hour a day, even if it’s just outlining or editing. 

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
It’s a fast paced read with engaging characters and a multi-layered world. 

Author Info: 
        Twitter: @scifi_writer

Forty-four years after the disappearance of her father, Simi Duan has turned his ambitious vision into a corporate empire. Her main business is constructing space station. Her latest station, the Duan Gardens, is set to orbit further from Earth than any other outpost. This risky venture makes her the target of politicians, competitors, and militants who feel the Simi Duan is pushing society too far too fast. Zahir Bard is a recently retired diplomat for a government rapidly becoming obsolete. The United Earth Administration coaxes him back to public service to supervise the burgeoning frontier, especially the operations of Simi Duan. He agrees, as much to protect his own legacy as to protect the bureaucracy that employs him. Skulking in the dark corners of man’s prefabricated outposts is mercenary Cyril Tarsi. He has spent his adult life running from the mistakes of his youth, each contract possibly his last. He wants to find a life where he can be just a normal, anonymous citizen. His latest target might take him to that goal, or might get him killed. Desmond Colson is a twelve-year-old boy who has bounced along humanity’s path into deep space. His family’s nomadic lifestyle has left him isolated and weary. But the family’s next move is to the Duan Gardens, the literal edge of human civilization. Dez hopes that this move will finally bring the Colson family to a place they can call home. The entrepreneur. The politician. The assassin. The child. All pioneers moving deeper into the Solar System, and closer to the Mesh. ** Mesh: Book 1 consists of the previously released e-novellas: The Pioneers, The Other Side, and Horizons **

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Interview: Chess Desalls

         Chess Desalls recently authored the first installment of the YA time travel series, The Call to Search Everywhen.  She’s a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi novels, particularly young adult fiction.  She can’t resist a good fairy tale or fable.  When she’s not writing or reading, she enjoys traveling and trying to stay in tune on her flute.

Favorite reads?
          I absolutely love Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn and Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet.
Inspirations for the book?
          One morning the idea for the story title and the otherworldly time traveler, Valcas, popped into my head.  To counter Valcas, I wanted to create a female lead who was strong and relatable. That's how Calla entered the story. Calla and I met the other characters together during her journeys through time and space.  
          I never planned on writing a time travel book. Travel Glasses started out as a short story. Then it turned into a novel. It wasn’t until I got to the last third of the first book that I realized Calla and Valcas' story would become a series.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
          Yes, I did. I knew that I wanted to write a book. I just didn't know what it would be about.
Any Pet Peeves?
          Repetitive beeping or tapping drives me bonkers, especially if it's the only sound in the room.
Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
         Chocolate :o)
Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
          Nope. I haven't listened to music while writing for years.  
Do you need anything to write? 
          Oddly enough, I like to have background noise when I'm writing. Coffee shops, bowling alleys and pool halls are my favorite places to write. Being around other people energizes me, and the background noise helps me to focus.
How long do you write on any average day?
          I'll write for one to seven hours depending on how the ideas are flowing. Some days it feels like the characters are being lazy and quiet. Then there are those days where I feel like they follow me around until I sit down and pay attention to them.
Give us the number one reason to read your book.
          Travel Glasses is a breezy read that will have you wondering what will happen next.
Author Info:

When an ethereal being knocks Calla to the ground near her family’s lakeside cottage, Valcas helps her to escape by traveling to another place and time.  At first, Calla is as intrigued by the otherworldly Valcas as she is by his method of time travel:  an altered pair of sunglasses that enable the wearer to search for anyone or anywhere in the past, present or future.  That is until she suspects that his search for her was no mere coincidence. 

With her trust broken, Calla sets off on her own, taking the Travel Glasses with her.  Torn between searching for her estranged father and reuniting with the rest of her family, she tracks down the inventor of the Travel Glasses in hopes of discovering more about Valcas’ past and motivations.  With Valcas hot on her trail, Calla hopes to find what she’s looking for before he catches up.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Interview & Excerpt: Austin Pierce

          Austin Pierce is a senior at Washington & Lee University, where he studies economics, philosophy, and East Asian language & literature. Although his university does not have a creative writing major, Austin has maintained a strong presence in the field, serving as the co-founder and managing editor of the Spanish-language literary magazine Pluma. His short story Depths - building on the world introduced in Shards in the Darkness - will be published in the American Mensa Association's Calliope later this summer. Aside from literature, Austin spends his time singing, dancing, studying languages, working with multicultural groups, and running "murder mystery" style games for his friends and fellow students. After graduating, he plans to continue writing while pursuing an advanced degree.

Favorite reads? 
          As for fantasy, my favourites are His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, the collected works of C.S. Lewis, the Silmarillion and the Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, The Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooper, and The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. I'm also a large fan of Jane Eyre and the collected works of Thomas Hardy.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little? 

          Actually, no. I thought I was going to go into politics or science, but I had been enamored with many great books as a child - the Just So Stories of Rudyard Kipling; the myths of the Greeks, Egyptians, and Nords; and the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to name a few - and with time, I found myself writing. Other figures, such as Octavio Paz and Kahlil Gibran, helped me to exercise my pen as a poet, and I eventually expanded that skill in the form of short stories and novels.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter? 

         Oh I have to pick? Dark chocolate smothered in peanut butter is so good!

How long do you write on any average day? -

          Well, I'm still in school, so my time for writing is stretched pretty thin. However, on days when I can write, I generally write for two or three hours.

Give us the number one reason to read your book. 

         The world. In reading this book, you'll meet new races of creatures. And the humans are divided into rich cultures replete with history and complex relations. I've been told that the world is absolutely engulfing for the reader.

Author Info:

You can find Austin's website, with links to Shards in the Darkness and several of his other works, at (a work in progress!). You can follow him on Facebook at

The first book in Austin Pierce's Shards in the Darkness epic fantasy series is set in an engulfing world sure to ensnare and entrance any reader as they follow Tauryn and Eilyn's journey. 

Perfect for fans of the Prydain Chronicles or Lord of the Rings, Shards in the Darkness transports the reader to a world rich in cultures, creatures, intrigue, and long-ignored histories. And that world is on the brink of radical change. 
Tauryn is chasing the mystery of a set of shards only to be chased in turn by those who might actually hold the answers. A foundling raised by a village smith, Tauryn has always longed to see the world. However, his chance comes only when an attack forces the local noble to send an age-old artifact to his cousin in the capital. Although waylaid several times, Tauryn finds himself joined by several allies on his journey. 
But they aren’t the only ones on the move. Several groups accost Tauryn on the road. Primordials are resurfacing with frightening regularity. And most threatening of all, great shadows have once again infiltrated Tauryn’s homeland of Praelia. Powers from all directions are trying to obtain the shards, and at any price.


Chapter 1 – A Glimmer of Change

Glints of light flashed in the darkness; a storm was brewing, but even the streaks of lightning and roars of thunder could not incite the same terror as the rising scream. A cloaked figure ran down the corridor, a bundle clumsily wrapped in the folds of cloth. The shadows of angry caretakers took form behind her. It was from here that the grating screeches emanated. They were clawed, with wrinkled skin and hair as black as midnight.
“After her!” one of them yelled.
The cloaked figure desperately tried to pick up her pace, her hood flying off to reveal a mass of bouncing, curly brown hair as she raced down the twisting corridors.
Her feet held steady. It was her long cloak that finally betrayed her strides, catching her beneath its folds.
As she fell, the item she had been carrying broke loose, a disk of silvery-white. The disk started to roll beyond the woman’s clutches, but she grabbed it just before it could slip out of reach.
Her hunters, however, howled triumphantly, “We have you now!”
The gloating could not last long. At that moment, the cloaked woman raised the disk above her head, mumbling incoherently. The disk caught the attention of the gathering clouds, bolts of lightning lashing towards it and licking it as the woman dashed the disk onto the ground.
A cacophony of sparks and fury erupted, but it was too late. The cloaked woman had vanished. And even as the hunters stooped to gather the pieces of the broken disk, the shards vanished beyond their senses.
The fragments spun in the dark, casting glints of light in their own blackness. One of them began to fall. Reflected on its surface, the cloaked woman stumbled through a torrent of snow. She was older now, her frizzy hair gone white and her skin having taken on a pale grey tone. She cried out, but the sounds were quickly lost in a flurry of the blizzard.
Another shard followed the first. On its face, a red-headed woman tried to comfort a man who was crying relentlessly.
“There there,” she said in a matronly tone, “I told you there was no chance of it.”
As they stood, the shard began to turn over on itself, and without a moment’s hesitation, the other shards plummeted as well, until the whole mass was swarming downwards.
Myriad images flashed across their surfaces. Deep ocean currents spurned the waves into battle with the land. Clans of giants destroyed each other on mountain peaks. Patterns of sigils accompanied an incessant droning. These and more flickered in the glimmers until the shards fell so far that even their light was swallowed in the yawning darkness.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Suren Fant

Favorite reads?
          I love reading. My favorite genres are fantasy, sci fantasy and paranormal. I enjoyed Stephan King’s book, especially The Shining and The Mist. I love several Armenian writers – William Saroyan and Paruyr Sevak.
           Also one of my favorite writers is James Dasher with his The Maze Runner series.

Inspirations for the book?
          Writing is my nature. I can’t imagine myself without writing. When I finish one book my mind begins to muse about the next story, starts seeking an idea. The life surrounding me, the books I read, the movies I watch inspire me.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little:
          When I was ten years old, I didn’t. But I started writing when I was already 16 years old. At first I preferred short stories, then poems and several plays. My first novel I wrote at age 19 which called “He”. It has never been published and it is in Armenian. Then my next work was The Godless which has been published twice, the first publication was in 2011 and the second in 2014.
I daresay I had a feeling I was going to be an author. I was always attracted by books.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
          Funny. Chocolate.

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
          Oh, I’ve done several. I don’t know which one to tell. I don’t like planned life, my life is always unplanned and filled with a lot of surprises. I’m a fan of football. Sometimes I wake up and decide just put down everything and make a journey out of the country to watch a good football match.
           I think the wildest thing I’ve ever done was my trip from Germany to Armenia by car crossing seven countries. I don’t mind to make it again though.

Do you need anything to write? 
          Music. I always put my headphones into my ears and write. Not just a random music. It must suit the scene which I write about. For intense the music must be fast, hard to describe the fighting scene or a fantasy situation. Writing about love I must listen to a slow and romantic music. Music brings the words I need to write down on paper.

How long do you write on any average day?
          I usually write at least two hours in a day, when I’m working on a novel. When the idea comes I try to write about it as soon as possible. I just grab on it and don’t let it go. Sometimes I can write almost the half of the novel in a day, just not to let the idea out of my hands.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
         If you want something new, then try my books. There are a lot of similar books nowadays, there is almost the same meaning with different names heroes and heroines and in different places. Also the end of a lot of books disappoints. I try to finish my stories in the way that the reader would never expect in time of reading my book. This is intriguing.

Author Info:
Twitter: @surenfant.

Jonathan wakes up in a desert, his past wiped from his head. He’s alone having no clue who and what he is, where he has come from and where he should go. There is only one way – forward when he spots a little town in the distance. 

Empty streets, old houses, the town seems abandoned. There’s no one to ask for help, there’s nowhere to go. Jonathan wanders the town in search of any sign of life trying to bring his lost memories back, but odd visions haunt him from time to time. Soon Jonathan comes to the realization that he’s moments from death as absolutely evil dwells in the town seeking fresh souls to suck up. The seemingly dead town is only outwardly empty. 

Grey skies, no sun, no days and no nights. The town is stuck in time. With only one entrance and one exit, but the way leading to the exit is filled with creations that Jonathan has never envisioned, even in his worst nightmares. 

Who is he? Who brought him here? With a female resident – Elizabeth, Jonathan has to work his way through the horrendous town, figure out his past and find the exit.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: C.M. Skiera + Saturday Snatch

          C.M. Skiera grew up in Michigan and now lives in California with his wife and two rescue Chihuahuas. He works as a professional environmental engineer to pay the bills and has been writing since the mid 1990s. Crimson & Cream is his debut epic fantasy novel. He started writing Crimson & Cream in 1999, and after lots of twists and turns, 15 drafts, plenty of rejections, the arrival of the 21st Century and the advent of online self-publishing, Crimson & Cream has finally arrived. C.M. Skiera is currently finalizing Mirrors & Mist, book two of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy, due for release in late 2014.

Favorite reads? 
          I enjoy reading just about anything, although I lean more toward fiction than non-fiction, especially speculative fiction. Some of my all-time favorite authors are Elmore Leonard, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and George R.R. Martin, to name just a few.

Inspirations for the book? 
          Basically, there were three inspirations for The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy: The Lord of the Rings, the original Star Wars movie and Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice (A Game of Thrones) series. All three of those inspired me in different ways, and I suspect a reader could spot the influences if they looked closely enough.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little? 
          I enjoyed telling stories and being artistic from a young age, and do recall participating in an event called Young Authors & Illustrators when I was in grade school. I think being a writer of some kind was always in the back of my mind.

Any Pet Peeves? 
          I could write a book on them! Telemarketers and drivers failing to use their turn signal are right near the top, but there are too many to list.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter? 
          Chocolate, with no disrespect to peanut butter, which is delicious, too.

The weirdest thing you've ever done? 
          That’s a tough one. I don’t want to reveal any incriminating evidence, so I’ll go with something rather tame (yet it still feels weird to me): Becoming a self-published indie author.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music? 
          I used one of Kevin MacLeod’s royalty-free songs (Truth of the Legend) for my book trailer and I think his thematic instrumental music would make an excellent soundtrack to Crimson & Cream.

Do you need anything to write? 
          I always have music on, something I’m familiar with that doesn’t distract me.

How long do you write on any average day? 
          I would estimate on average, an hour a day, which is about all I can manage considering I have a day job. Some days I’m fortunate enough to string several hours of writing together, but that’s more the exception than the rule.

Give us the number one reason to read your book. 
          It’s a wild, entertaining ride through a fantastical realm with a lovable hero!

Author Info:

Hounded by watchmen, trolls, goblins, and a relentless bounty hunter, 13-year-old Jetsam dreams of the day he’ll no longer have to run for his life. 

In the mountain city of Dwim-Halloe, Eidryn and Elvar were born twins to teachers at the city’s revered School of Magic. When the new king outlawed magic, the boys’ parents were murdered. Their deaths forfeited the twins' magical birthright and made them homeless fugitives. 

Rescued by an orphan gang, the fleeing twins were nicknamed Flotsam and Jetsam. To survive as outcasts, the orphans scavenge and pilfer nightly. Their last risky foray sent them fleeing for their lives into an unfamiliar cavern. Now the boys are lost deep underground where they encounter a strange beast that will change their lives forever and begin a harrowing journey for their ultimate survival. 

Crimson & Cream is a classic swords & sorcery, coming-of-age adventure that recounts Jetsam’s adventurous tale of flight and discovery as the fugitive orphan unravels his tortured past while securing his tenuous future.

An excerpt from Crimson & Cream:

“Jetsam!” his twin brother Flotsam whispered. “Get down! We shouldn’t be here.” Jetsam’s ragged pant leg tightened from his brother’s pull. The second-hand breeches were ill-fitting for the growing youth. Jetsam’s trousers, and his wrinkled tunic, were swiped from a peasant’s clothesline. With a grunt, Jetsam jerked his leg free of his brother’s grasp.
Jetsam hung from the stone wall, transfixed on a maiden strolling in the garden below him. With the tip of his nose resting on the ashlar, his aching fingers clung to the bulwark’s lip. Jetsam’s nostrils flared at the fragrances rising in the warm night air. The toes of his shoddy boots wedged into the cracks between the blocks.
Upon first glimpse, Jetsam noticed the girl’s eyes. Her crystalline orbs drew him in, mesmerizing Jetsam. Sallow moonlight danced in her locks, shimmering like waves. Willowy and angelic, the somber lass displayed a regal air. She meandered the flagstone path amidst flowers and shrubs, drifting like a leaf on the wind. Surrounded by low hedges, she moved out of earshot.
“Jet-sssam,” Flotsam hissed again. “Stick to the alleys. This is too dangerous!” he whispered. “Can’t believe you sodding talked me into this.”
Jetsam snorted. Only had to pester you about it every day for weeks, he thought. If only you’d relax, then we could enjoy our birthday! Jetsam was amazed he convinced his brother to go this far. For months he envisioned this special adventure for their special day, but convincing his cautious twin was another hurdle. Swimming the moat was hazard enough, but creeping inside the castle through a narrow drainage chute was risky indeed. Must be the full moon, he rationalized.
“Sheer lunacy, sneaking into the Citadel—birthday or not,” the pragmatic Flotsam warned, whispering his brother’s thoughts while maintaining his sense of reason. “Turn back while we can.”
Despite the plea, Jetsam didn’t budge. Logic fell on deaf ears. Captivated by the lass, Jetsam ignored his twin’s urging.
“Seem rather fond of that wall,” Flotsam teased. “Find a soft spot?”
“Always the jester,” Jetsam replied with a smirk. “Come have a look,” he whispered.
Visibly flustered, Flotsam scaled the rough surface alongside his brother. Inside the yard, trees rustled in the midnight breeze while their branches shaded flowers and bushes from the lunar radiance.
“Let’s go inside!” goaded Jetsam, blue eyes flashing with enthusiasm. He glanced at Flotsam’s stern face. Bet he’s hungry, Jetsam connived. “Look at those apples!” Jetsam exclaimed in a high whisper. “Can you imagine eating one? Fresh and juicy—not some chewed-up core. Fill our sacks and not a one’ll be missed.” The trick to getting his brother over the wall was to convince him of the garden’s bounty. A meeting with the mysterious girl would be Jetsam’s secret birthday present.
“You’re not looking at apples,” Flotsam retorted, “and she’ll holler for the stinkin’ guard. We’ve done just fine filchin’ in town. Always enough for both of us, and then some.”
“She won’t rat us out. She looks lonely.” Jetsam turned to his twin. “How long’s it been since we talked to a girl? Can’t even remember.”
“Don’t want to get dragged to the mines over a stinkin’ lass!” Flotsam snapped with a scowl. “Just ‘cause she looks lonely don’t mean she won’t go screamin’ bloody murder when she spots our dirty hides.”
“We’ve outrun the stinking guards before and will again,” Jetsam countered, while remembering a few close calls. “Can’t ignore that fruit.” Jetsam even began to sell himself on the succulent produce. “Look, pears!” It was the girl, however, that drew him in. “I’m going over!”
With both hands grasping the wall’s top, Flotsam could only object with a grunt. Jetsam scampered to the top, hunching cat-like before dropping on all fours into the grass on the other side. Jetsam crouched and watched the lass, who remained oblivious to him. Now he wavered, as uncertainty raced into his head. With her radiant hair and immaculate gown, she looked so clean. With his greasy locks and tattered clothes, he felt ashamed. Although he acclimated to his own odor, he was certain she’d smell him. Flotsam’s right. I don’t belong here. He considered sneaking back over the wall.
“Hello?” the girl said in a melodious voice, slightly above a whisper.
Too late. Jetsam’s heart raced. He didn’t dare glance at Flotsam.
The lass kept her distance, her head tilted. Jetsam surmised she was a few years younger than he and his brother, but he had little experience with the fair sex.
“Who art thou?” she snapped, standing hands on hips, a dozen paces from Jetsam, who was still frozen on hands and knees. He noticed her drawn lips and furrowed brow. Oh, no—Flotsam was right.