I love a variety of books from romances, to teen fantasy, to horror. I enjoy the artwork and storylines in graphic novels, and have been known to pick up childrens' books if the book description hooks me.
Welcome to the book tour for Got Trouble by Dave Dobson! Read on for more details and an exclusive excerpt!
Publication Date: January 3rd, 2023
Trouble can find you anywhere
When your day starts at 11 pm, it’s a long way to sunrise. Glynnis Cary is stuck working as a night manager at the Gas-O-Mart. Her husband Keith’s idea of romance is buying her grocery store flowers, usually only when he comes home drunk. Her son is in trouble at school, skipping out with his girlfriend, and keeping secrets. Big secrets, ones that may turn out to be both lucrative and felonious. Keith’s bumbling unexpectedly makes Glynnis the target of multiple murderous enemies and a lot of bullets. Way more bullets than is reasonable. On the run with a new friend, one whose life she’s just inadvertently destroyed, Glynnis has to rely on her gut, her grit, and her ability to spin big lies to find a way to survive.
Got Trouble is a new novel of suspense, thrills, humor, and one woman’s attempt to just have something go right. For once. For crying out loud.
Content warnings: Coarse language, some gun violence
Her breath was still coming fast. She tried to calm herself down, but that was nearly impossible. Her rear right window was a web of silver-green cracks. There was a jagged hole in the lower back corner, framed with a splash of radial lines and white fragments. She had no idea where the bullet landed. Or where the other one that had hit the car had struck. Or if it had hit anything important. The car had shown no ill effects in driving, and the gas tank hadn’t exploded. Or whatever it should do. She suddenly felt the need to look down at herself. Her breath sped up again. She’d heard of people not realizing they were shot. But she seemed to be unharmed. She lifted her sweatshirt, looking for blood, and felt all over her arms and back, but she seemed to be whole. She realized she wasn’t wearing her seat belt, and she felt guilty. Then she felt like that was stupid, because taking the time to buckle in would have gotten her shot and killed. Then she felt like THAT was stupid, because if she ever had needed a seat belt, it was when she was flying out of a parking lot in a hail of gunfire.
A native of Ames, Iowa, Dave loves writing, reading, boardgames, computer games, improv comedy, pizza, barbarian movies, and the cheaper end of the Taco Bell menu. Also, his wife and kids.
In addition to his novels, Dave is the author of Snood, Snoodoku, Snood Towers, and other computer games. Dave first published Snood in 1996, and it became one of the most popular shareware games of the early Internet. His most recent project (other than writing) is Doctor Esker’s Notebook, a puzzle card game in the spirit of escape rooms.
Dave taught geology, environmental studies, and computer programming at Guilford College for 24 years, and he does improv comedy every week at the Idiot Box in Greensboro, North Carolina. He’s also played the world’s largest tuba in concert. Not that that is relevant, but it’s still kinda cool.
Omen: The Stained Sea Paul Carver Williams
Publication date: March 31st 2023
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, New Adult
In the wake of a lost messiah, an oppressed religious sect known as the ‘singers of Oros’ are targeted by those in power. A lone singer calling himself Runo works tirelessly to revive the faith of his people by any means necessary, involving a hunt for a witness who could expose his darker actions
Meanwhile, a young slave named Cai is called on by a philosopher to aid in a catalogue of the wealthiest families in Grecuria, starting with the owner of the library where he works. On his journey he must confront a past that isn’t his own.
Lastly, sailing on a sky ship surrounded by merchants, Mele Amahki was given passage to begin a new life. However, everything changes when they find themselves in a new, unexpected world. Mele is thrust into power, unsure of what is best for her crew.
Knowledge, religion, power, and blood run through the veins of the Grecurian islands, but through these three headstrong individuals, the veins will be cut and darkness will stain the sea.
“Something has already happened to Akamai. And what— we’re to trust this, this Lili Mele in his place?”
Mele bristled, but tempered herself with a glance to Akamai, finding his eyes staring dead into hers. To her surprise, he tapped his lips. A gesture on a list he wrote. It meant she was allowed to speak freely. Mele burst from her seat and pressed her hands into the table. “Lili Mele? I am not the one who sold myself to the council of nobles in exchange for a good word with the emperor. Don’t fool yourself, Lili Takaahae, this is not the world we used to live in, and I am the most valuable asset you sniveling council of cowards has. What choice is there but to wait for now? Min needs the energy when he returns. I’d imagine tracing the edge of the land has drained his stores far lower than any of ours. Now I’m begging to return to our plans for when the search parties return. My brain has been decaying with every syllable that exits your mouth.”
An LGBTQ, Black-Latino young adult, Paul Williams has struggled with his identity, eventually leading to mental illness. However, with support from his siblings, he gained new confidence to express his inner emotions through art and writing. At age seventeen, he published his first book. He is now working endlessly to carve a place for himself among the creative professionals and pave the way for other talented ‘students’ of art and literature.
Second Chance — a small town where anything can happen — and it usually does.
Only You: Once upon a time a teenaged Alpha fell in love with a pretty Omega from the wrong side of the tracks. Zachary was everything Alex wanted — sweet, sassy, and sexy as hell. Alex would have married that boy if Zachary hadn’t run. When the secrets they’ve been keeping come to light, will they shatter their bond for keeps, or bring them together in a forever kind of love?
Yes, You Are: Everyone assumed petite Darian would be an Omega, and big, athletic Coby would be an Alpha. When they met as teenagers, they had no reason to doubt that was who they’d be. But everyone was wrong. Opposites attract like lightning and steel rods when they meet again in Second Chance, but do they have what it takes to overcome the unexpected for the long haul?
Come for You: Gabriel, a dreamer and a librarian, is so shy and introverted that he’s still a virgin Omega at twenty-five — but he can’t help wishing for a fairy-tale Prince Charming. Meet captivating quarryman Alpha Wynn. For them, it’s love at first sight. But the happy ending is harder to come by. Who will rescue who?
Take You There: Ethan teaches music at the university. He’s not looking for Mr. Right, just Mr. Right Now. A quick, dirty alley encounter should have satisfied him. But now Ethan can’t get Blue out of his mind. The smoldering musician who caught Blue’s eye and what they did in the alley, should have been enough. Until Ethan finds him. And then, everything changes. Again.
“As much of it as you can fit in a cup. No cream but double the sugar. Please.”
The train attendant shook his head, but with a smile and a finger briefly pressed to his lips as he passed over not one but two Styrofoam cups filled to the brim. He was an Omega too, in his mid-thirties by the look of him, and he wore a black jet widower’s ring instead of a wedding band. Things weren’t much easier for the widowed than the unmated or separated. He understood.
Zach took a grateful gulp, not caring that the coffee was hot enough to scald his throat, and asked, “How far behind schedule are we?” Stretching his legs at the next station would do him good; they ached when he stayed still for too long.
“About half an hour, at this point.”
Wishing wouldn’t make the wheels turn faster, but with nothing to look at outside in the dark, Zach adjusted his position so he could get a better view of the passengers in his car. Like most Omegas, he wasn’t very tall. Some new folks had gotten on and others disembarked while he’d dozed, and he liked wondering what their stories were. Two young Alphas who acted like frat bros; interesting, they weren’t the usual size for Alphas, but small and compact and they weren’t at each other’s throats but laughed and joked like best friends. A couple that had to be recently married from the way they could barely resist climbing all over each other; an Omega with a contented smile, probably on his way back home, and —
Zach’s heart jumped into his throat and wedged stuck there even around the burn of his beverage. Three rows ahead, dark wheat-blond hair and a profile almost as familiar as his own turned to smile at the attendant as he refused their offer of coffee. It couldn’t be, it couldn’t be, he hadn’t seen that profile since he was eighteen, but —
He’d changed — well, he’d grown up, the way everyone did, the bones of his face maturing from soft boyish cuteness to strong, masculine definition. A short beard, trimmed and shaped, that suited his strong, stubborn jaw. The kind of casual suit that would have cost the equivalent of a month’s rent in Manhattan. Elegant hands with sturdy knuckles and deft fingers, and a smile that lit up the train.
He did and didn’t look a thing like the boy Zach remembered but it was, it was, it was him.
Zach would have known him anywhere, even if he’d shaved his head and started scowling instead of smiling. If he closed his eyes, he could feel those hands on the bare skin of memory. After all, you never forgot your first.
“I love you. And I know you love me too.”
He should stop staring. Alex would sense it any second now, and he might look around, and —
His gaze drifted back up, drawn like a moth to a flame.
Alex. Oh, Alex.
Zach’s body twitched with the first pangs of arousal, wanting what he’d had once upon a time. He remembered it all, and he remembered it perfectly. He dreamed about it, when he slept. The taste of Alex’s skin, the softness and hardness of his mouth and how his eagerness had nearly rubbed the insides of Zach’s thighs raw. The fullness, almost too much and too tight, when he slid inside Zach.
“I love you. And I know you love me too.”
Anger slowly took alarm and unhappiness’s place – anger, and frustration with himself. Zach should have sensed this train was to be avoided. Dodged. Something! And Alex, sitting there as if he didn’t have a care in the world – it was everything Zach had wanted for him, the entire reason he’d left Alex in the first place, but seeing it in the flesh opened all those old wounds back up and made them bleed afresh. The pain from that moment of saying no to what Alex had offered with all his big, warm heart cut sharper than any knife – but he’d had to. You didn’t do that to your first boyfriend, did you? Take him up on a marriage proprosal and tie him down to a shitty life based on a few promises made in the afterglow?
He’d done the right thing by saying no, leaving, and giving Alex his freedom. Zach knew that. Was sure of it. Even if none of that had ever made him feel any better about it.
They must have been traveling farther and faster than Zach had realized, or he was more out of it than he’d known. Between one blink and the next the train’s PA system crackled to far-too-loud life again, announcing they’d reach their next station at Second Chance in ten minutes. Second Chance? What kind of name was that for a town?
Alex looked up at the speaker, nodded in an absent sort of way, and stood to open the overhead compartment. He took out a bulging messenger bag and slung it over his shoulder and stuffed a pair of thick gloves and a warm knit hat in the pockets of his coat. This would be his stop.
Zach caught his lip between his teeth, torn between – it was pure foolishness, the idea of going to him — and sanity, staying right where he was.
Let it go.
Zach would have, really he would. But as Alex walked past him – always so eager to do things, that one; he would start heading for the exits before the train had even come to a halt — he only made it two steps past Zach’s seat before he stopped. As Zach’s heart sank down past the pit of his stomach he saw Alex pause, then turn to look back.
He stopped, just like Zach had, blank with surprise. “Do I know you?”
Zach held his breath. Could he lie? Yes, but this new, matured Alex would have the life experience not to believe him, and he hadn’t changed nearly as much as Alex had. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out.
“I do know you. I know your face,” Alex said. His voice had matured with the rest of him as he aged, going from sweet to firm with a raspy vocal fry on the edges. “Zach?”
Will Okati (formerly known as Willa) has lived through a few Interesting Times, but come out the other side a little grayer, a little wiser, and ready to get writing. Still as passionate about coffee, cats, and crafts as ever, but knowing that to your own self you must be true. Also still one of the quiet ones to watch out for, but life — like storytelling — is always a work in progress.
One lucky winner will receive a $10.00 Changeling Press Gift Code!
Thorns at Sunrise
Publication date: March 23rd 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
A young queen. Her imaginary friend. A kingdom on the verge of death.
She believes she’s crazy.
Queen Usilea has a secret–and he lives in her mind. Ever since she was six years old, her imaginary friend has been her closest companion, and her arranged marriage has been a great dread. When she learns her betrothed and the royal family have suddenly died, she feels obligated to attend the funeral in the foreign land of Absteph–and perhaps learn more behind their mysterious passing.
He only wants the truth.
Petar endures great pain to protect those he does not remember. His only solace is a shadowy woman who he loves–even though she denies that he exists. When a terrible tragedy occurs in his kingdom, that mysterious woman is his only hope of bringing justice to light. For the cage that imprisons him grows harsher every day, and he is losing the fight.
But there are thorns at sunrise.
Brought together on the barest thread of reality, Usilea and Petar must discover what really happened to the royal family. But Petar’s time is running out. Soon not even a Mender like Usilea will be able to save him.
This YA romance features a gender-swapped Sleeping Beauty in an original fantasy world on the brink of doom.
Her imaginary friend was playing a new trick on her. This time, she would discern his meaning.
Usilea set down the quill on the paper, frowning at the words mocking her from the page. She pressed her lips together in thought. Thorns at sunrise? What could it mean? What was her mind trying to tell her?
“What do you think of my riddle?”
As usual, the voice didn’t come from within her mind directly, but somewhere outside. Yet were she to glance around, all she would perceive is the vaguest sensation of shadow and soul in the periphery of her vision.
And so, she refrained from looking. Instead, she focused on the words she had written, words he had spoken into her mind at some point in the night.
I think … you’re afraid.
“And what am I afraid of, goldenbird?” Amusement teased the edges of his words. She had known her friend was a male since the first time they had met, whenever that had been. Sometime after her sixth year. “Tell me, you who know me so well.”
I know you as well as I might any figment of my imagination.
“Likewise. That is not the answer to the riddle.”
A sigh escaped her. Usilea leaned back in her cushioned chair and rubbed the tense area around her eyes. You are afraid of being lost. You are afraid of being found. You are afraid of darkness, and you are afraid of light.
No answer came from the voice in her mind. A faint smile curved her lips. He only withdrew like that when she was right and he was bewildered. She had learned that pattern over the years as they had conversed. He liked keeping his mysteries, while he equally delighted in unveiling the mysteries of others. A curious behavior for her imaginary friend.
A strange, stabbing sensation pierced through her musing.
What did it imply about her that her closest friend wasn’t real?
Janeen Ippolito writes about misfits who defy expectations, whether in fairy tale, steampunk fantasy, urban fantasy, humorous paranormal romance, or poetry. She also spreads wordtastic joy in her work as a fearless book strategist, nonfiction author, and coach. In her spare time, she swordfights and posts cute animal memes.
I couldn’t possibly have been more wrong the night I’d tackled Hunter Moore to the ground in the middle of the night.
To be fair, the street was pitch-black, the wheel to my suitcase had popped off, and I found myself face to face with a stranger charging at me.
My instincts had kicked in, and instead, I’d landed him straight on his back with my knee pressed to his chest. Turns out, the stranger I’d tackled to the ground was my brother’s roommate… which meant he was also mine.
With my dreams coming to a screeching halt, I was left with no other choice than to move in with my brother and his roommates.
Hunter Moore was star pitcher for the Northeast Rebels. Although I’d found his incessant talk of baseball obnoxious, I couldn’t help but relate to how deep his passion ran. Even if our dreams were completely different.
With a shared bathroom and a single wall between our bedrooms, we couldn’t resist pushing the boundaries.
Potent green eyes.
Perfectly sculpted muscle.
I was inevitably drawn in.
But the closer we became, the more I learned just how dedicated Hunter was to his dream, no matter the cost.
Only I was unaware, he’d already traded mine for his.
The Wrong Pitch is a spicy roommates, enemies to lovers college sports romance. It is a complete standalone.
Brittany is a New Adult, Contemporary romance author best known for writing steamy, heart-clenching love stories, pulling out all the feels. She resides in Maine with her two sons and husband. She loves reading and writing spicy romances and is a Starbucks addict.
It’s finally launch week and we are so excited for Sarah Jaeger and the release of her debut novel, Smoke! Read on for more info!
Smoke (The Ardelean Bloodlines)
Publication Date: March 23rd, 2023
Genre: Shifter Romance/ Paranormal Romance
Apparently ignoring my parents’ politics wasn’t the right move. Shifters were outed to the public, and months later, I’m still unsure what the big deal is about.
Now my life is in danger and the only one who can protect me is the true king of the wolves.
Cade is nothing like what my mom and the press show shifters to be. He’s thoughtful, reserved… and have you seen his butt in those jeans?
Having abdicated the throne, I’ve vowed to stay out of shifter politics.
Now, my sole responsibility, for the next six weeks, is to make sure no idiots can completely derail the deal I’ve cut with the one woman holding all the cards.
The problem is… the threats against Thalia Clark are nothing compared to the danger of my wolf, now that he’s claimed this human as his.
I’ll kill to protect my mate, but is keeping up my end of the deal enough to save her?
Smoke is the first book in the Ardelean Bloodline series. While this story does contain an HEA for Cade and Thalia, there is an ongoing plot connecting each book in the series. Each book will need to be read in order. There are open door, explicit scenes as well as colorful language not intended for young readers.
What is she thinking about? Is it what we talked about with Ansel or something more? I step closer, testing her guarded nature. “Country life is dull. I don’t exactly work here, which means I’m pretty much stuck to whatever chores Ansel’s left around the house, and you’re left to whatever sanity-keeping activities you can find. I guess if you’re feeling adventurous . . .” I shrug. “Have you ever been to Arches?”
“No, I’ve heard it’s beautiful, but this is my first time in Utah.”
Thalia’s eyes light up, and I know the answer.
“Would you like to go today?” I ask slowly.
Thalia starts nodding. I smile, seeing her excitement. “Ansel’s right, it’s been too long since I’ve given The Leviathan a little bit of time to run. Plus, I think it would be beneficial for you to meet a wolf, in a positive environment, with someone who’s in control before someone else can further taint the experience. I know Sherman was a little upsetting for you. I can ask Ansel or Ezra, but their wolves are pretty scary looking if you’re not used to looking at wolves.” I pause and give her a smirk licking my bottom lip before sighing. “They’re also not really fucking fluffy.”
“Did you just ask me to take your wolf on a walk?” she returns with a sly smile, raising an eyebrow.
Her comment catches me off guard, and my face heats. There are so many different ways I could answer. But she started it. Thalia was comfortable enough with me to crack a joke. I shrug and release my bottom lip from between my teeth.
Tell our mate. The Leviathan encourages with the image of a ceremonial collar wrapping around Thalia’s neck. I feel him brush and know my eyes just went gold.
My version is dirtier. “Not quite. I’m not following any of the leash laws. And if anyone will be doing any collaring, it’ll be me clasping one around your neck. If there’s going to be any tying, it’ll be you to the bed, while I show you all the ways I can make you scream my name.”
A chill rips through Thalia’s body, and she shudders, her whole body standing taller. I step into her personal space. Thalia wobbles, looking up at me. I watch her wet her bottom lip with her tongue. Drawing a deep breath, I catch the scent of her arousal.
The Leviathan paces. Give mate wolf, we run together.
“Easy, Draga Mea.” I kiss her forehead. When I step back, I see her trying to figure out the cute nickname The Leviathan’s given her. Only having the briefest memory of Romanian spoken in the home growing up, even I had to look it up. My Darling. I could tell her, but I’m not sure she’s ready.
A backpack, snacks, water, and a trip to the restroom later, I walk Thalia out of the house and to the garage. The classic pickup truck Ansel loves so much is right where it always is. Thalia seems impressed when the old Ford roars to life. I just smile. Ansel’s love for this truck runs deep, and I’d be surprised if it didn’t turn over.
We’re somewhere farther onto Ansel’s property and close to the border with the national park. It’s a gamble that we may come across someone. It’s not common for tourists to make it out this far, but we’ll have to be in the national park to see some cool rock formations. It’s selfish and maybe a bit cocky to risk bringing her into public like this, but I want her to have a positive experience. I know The Leviathan is set on wanting to give her a wolf, but not so badly that he would sabotage all the progress we’re making in having her accept wolves and what this life looks like.
We find Ansel’s secret entrance to Arches National Park. It’s denoted by an old wooden trunk tucked off the side of the gravel trail behind some scrub brush.
Putting the old Ford in park, I turn in my seat to look at her. “Two rules.”
Thalia’s eyes go wide, and there’s the smallest hint of fear.
“Okay . . .” She draws out the last syllable.
“Don’t run. The Leviathan will chase. I’m worried he’ll push you down and you’ll get hurt. Humans are breakable compared to wolves, and even a friendly little shove could hurt you,” I caution.
Thalia nods. “The second one?”
“Breathe.” I lock eyes with her. “Enjoy this and know I’m here.”
Apparently, to be an author one must have a bio. Well, I’m human despite the fact that I wish to be a shifter. I have an issue with the way some words are shaped. And that means sometimes, they must be spelled incorrectly to be right. This is something I’m passionate about. So, we’ll get along fine! Oh, yeah: Midwest USA, married, all fur babies.
The Ardelean Bloodline is Sarah Jaeger’s debut series
Jolene – My life wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t have any real complaints — until something went horribly wrong and one of my potions blew up, killing my husband. Raising our son on my own hasn’t been easy. Grief and guilt keep getting in my way. But a certain biker keeps stopping by to lend a helping hand. Is it wrong I wish he’d do more than fix my porch steps?
Alan – I knew Jolene was mine, even when she belonged to someone else. Now that she’s single, I might have a chance. I can’t rush this, though. Not after what she’s been through. Not till I’m sure she’s ready. I’ll take my time, build a friendship with her, then lay all my cards on the table. Only one problem. I didn’t count on traffickers hitting our little town. Everything’s gone sideways. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep my new family safe, even if I have to get my hands dirty.
WARNING: This is a Dixie Reapers Shifter MC story and contains bad language, violence, and adult situations. Recommended for adult readers 18+.
When Harley’s writing, her motto is the hotter the better — off-the-charts sex, commanding men, and the women who can’t deny them. If you want men who talk dirty, are sexy as hell, and take what they want, then you’ve come to the right place. She doesn’t shy away from the dangers and nastiness in the world, bringing those realities to the pages of her books, but always gives her characters a happily-ever-after and makes sure the bad guys get what they deserve.
ABOUT JESSICA COULTER SMITH
Award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith has been in love with the written word since she was a child writing her first stories in crayon. Today she’s a multi-published author of over seventy-five novellas and novels. Romance is an integral part of her world and she firmly believes that love will find you at the right time, even if Mr. Right is literally out of this world.
Academic Clare is in a rut. She is in her forties, her job is stressful, and she feels worn down by the personalities and politics in the university department where she works. She has also just broken up with her latest boyfriend.
During one of their regular get-togethers, Clare’s oldest friend shows Clare a newspaper article, pushing her into an exploration of what it means to be asexual.
As Clare figures things out, she meets homoromantic couple, Tristan and Matt, nonbinary Ollie, student Jack, aromantic Janice, and Matt’s cousin, Natalia.
Follow Clare and her new friends through a series of misadventures as they road trip, take part in Pride, suffer a series of misunderstandings, and forge new relationships.
Clare keyed a quick ok, pressed Send, and dropped her phone into her bag. No matter how much she liked Louisa and how much she usually enjoyed their Tuesday evening get-togethers, Clare wasn’t looking forward to tonight. Only three days before, Clare had broken up with her long-term, long-distance boyfriend, and Louisa was sure to want details.
Clare took a fortifying breath and jogged up the steps that led to the pub’s front door.
The Quill and Scholar, a favourite hangout of postgraduates and lecturers, buzzed with the after-work crowd. Although the pub appeared older than the university, it had opened less than thirty years before when it had capitalised on a fashion for bottled lagers. Since then, the Quill had moved with the times, catering for fashions for real ales and craft beers and, most recently, craft gins.
When she had been a student, Clare had eschewed the Quill’s designer labels in favour of happy hours, Boddington’s, and flavoured schnapps served in test tubes by the chain pubs a couple of hundred yards down the road. Although Clare had never developed a taste for bottled beer and she hated gin, she liked the Quill’s ambience and décor. Plus, nobody could go wrong with the house Chardonnay. Besides, these days, the kinds of places marketed to undergraduates made her feel old.
Clare loosened her scarf, shoved her hat and wrist warmers into her jacket’s pockets, and fought her way through the crowd towards the bar. The room was full of people, many of whom she knew by sight and some by name.
Mikey, an astrophysics postgraduate who moonlighted as a barman, greeted Clare, and said, “The usual?”
He sighed theatrically. “One of these days I’ll get you to branch out. Some of our botanicals are amazing.”
Clare nodded and, not meaning it, said, “One day. Not today.”
While she waited for her drinks, she waved at Sam, an occasional drinking buddy, who was in the throes of writing up her doctoral thesis.
Clare exchanged notes for drinks and change, and then, holding her glasses aloft, she set out to find Louisa.
Clare and Louisa had nothing in common beyond a host of shared memories from their undergraduate days and a friendship that had endured across the years. Clare’s dad had once described Louisa as having more neck than a giraffe. On another occasion, he’d said, “That lass has got more front than the esplanade at Blackpool!” Given that Louisa had, when eight and a half months pregnant, worn a white dress as she headed down the aisle for her second marriage, seeking a blessing in the church of a god she didn’t believe in, Clare supposed Dad might have had a point.
Clare had taken an excessively long time to realise that Dad had a crush on her best friend. Mum thought it was hilarious. She had tried to explain it more than once, but Clare still didn’t get it.
Even though he’d only met her a dozen times over the years, Dad often asked after Louisa. Clare would say that she was fine, and Mum would laugh, kiss the top of Dad’s balding head, and say, “You can dream so long as you don’t trade me in for a younger model or buy a motorcycle!” Then Dad would colour slightly and answer that he was only being polite and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with the mother of his children.
Clare slalomed her way through the crowd and up the wide, wooden staircase that led to the first floor, where the rooms of the converted Victorian villa were smaller, quieter, and cosier. Her favourite, a former bedroom with a large bay window that offered good views along the busy street and thus afforded great opportunities for people watching, was at the front of the building.
Today, Louisa hadn’t been able to bag seats at the window and, instead, had parked herself at a table pressed against a wall, where she was now frantically working the screen of her smartphone.
In her business suit and heavy bling, her overcoat and accessories neatly arranged on a neighbouring chair, Louisa stuck out like a gemstone among pebbles. She had allowed her knee-length skirt to ride up slightly, thus emphasising her long, slender legs, and revealing kneecaps along with a hint of thigh. Thanks to genetics, a lot of self-discipline, soft lighting, and hair dye, Louisa passed for a good decade younger than her forty-and-a-few years. Louisa also dyed her eyebrows and eyelashes; Clare hadn’t known people did such things until they’d shared a flat in their second year at uni.
Even this late in the day, Louisa’s makeup appeared flawless. She wore matching vermillion lipstick and nail polish, the latter almost certainly the result of a mani-pedi, and her eye shadow and eyeliner looked as though they had been applied by a draughtsman.
Clare slid Louisa’s usual in front of her. Louisa glanced up and gave her the barest of acknowledgements as she continued working her phone.
The immaculate nail polish glittered with reflected light as she finished typing and sent a message. “There. Done. I’m all yours.”
“Oh, yes.” Louisa brushed Clare’s concern away. “Just a teensy crisis at work. All sorted now.”
Knowing Louisa and the general nature of her job, Clare was certain that, whatever the crisis had been, there would have been nothing teensy about it. Only major crises got escalated as far as Louisa, who had always been able to make light of the most catastrophic emergencies. Clare envied her insouciant self-confidence.
There was a pattern to their evenings together. Glass one would carry them through an exchange of war stories and a sympathetic hearing of each other’s colleague-related character assassinations. Sometime during drink two, having got all their work angst out of their systems, they would move onto subjects of greater mutual interest. Glass three was when they got to the difficult topics, the ones that laid souls bare. Today was going to be at least a three-glass evening. They wouldn’t get to—let alone through—the interrogation otherwise.
Sure enough, when there was barely an eighth of an inch of liquid at the bottom of Clare’s second glass, and Clare’s perception was blurring around the edges, Louisa asked, “How were the in-laws?”
“You know. Gavin’s parents. The people you went to visit at the weekend? The parents of your SO?”
SO. Significant other.
“My insignificant other, you mean,” said Clare, doing her best to copy Louisa’s style of banter. “We split up.”
There was something in the way Louisa said, “Oh,” that made Clare bristle. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well. You and Gavin. You’ve always struck me as a couple more in word than deed.” Clare tried to hide her shock at Louisa’s astute observation by gulping the dregs of her drink. “Did you even do it with Gavin? Ever?”
Clare’s silence spoke volumes.
“What was wrong with him?”
“With…him?” Clare asked. “You tell me. You set us up.”
“I don’t know him that well. So, tell me. What’s wrong with him?”
“Nothing, as far as I know. We went out a few times. We didn’t click.” She stood up. “I’ll get the next round.” If they were going to have this conversation, she was going to need that third glass, and maybe another after that.
I lived in five different cities, spanning two continents, before leaving crowds and commuting behind and settling somewhere that official statistics describe as “Very Remote Rural”.
I have made up stories for as long as I can remember, and I have been writing them down for almost as long. I cut my creative writing teeth on fan fiction in the days of paper fanzines and, later, online. I had fun but eventually grew tired of playing in other people’s sandpits. Turns out, it’s more fun to create sandpits of my own.
I have worked in the public, private, and voluntary sectors, with roles ranging from number crunching and lecturing to mucking out cowsheds and toilet cleaning. I currently hold down a day job while daydreaming of writing full time. Find Evelyn on Twitter.
One lucky winner will receive a $50.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!
Once Upon A Legend Mary Ting
Publication date: March 20th 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
A story of love and a power that echoes through time.
A prophecy foretold by the Council. A sword forged by the Ladies of the Lake. A child born from love and the hope of thousands.
Seventeen-year-old Idrisa is a student from Dumont Orphan School. When the Emperor of Dumonia invites all citizens to a birthday gala for Prince Merrick, she attends and becomes entangled in a world beyond belief.
At the party, Idrisa begins to hear strange voices that urge her to go to the lake. A student from school follows and tries to kill her, but in the fight for her survival, Idrisa gains possession of an eternal sword—gifted by the Ladies of the Lake.
The Emperor demands it, but only Idrisa can wield the sword, so he imprisons her. Her only hope is Prince Merrick, but he is grieving the death of his mother and doesn’t care about anything happening around him.
While held captive, Idrisa uncovers secrets that challenge everything she thought she knew about Dumonia. Enemies and allies emerge when they hear news of the sword, and she must unlock the mystery of the weapon before darkness descends on the empire forever.
The voice in my head hummed a tune with ancient words. The somber melody rose an octave higher and dipped lower. A song of death, a song of horror and grief, and yet beautiful and profound, like the voice, raw and pure.
“I’m here. What do you want?” Why was I talking to the water?
I wrapped my arms around my chest when the breeze blew harder, water slamming against the walkway. Perhaps a warning of something terrible to come.
“Idrisa.” It sang my name, a soft tune filling my mind with bliss.
“Why is my lantern black? Why have you put it in front of me?” I shouted, desperate for answers.
Something glowed inside the lake, the size of an orb at first, then illuminated brighter and closer, like the birth of a new star. I threw my arms up to protect myself but the glow shifted, and then split into an image of three women.
Their long, silver hair and flowing white dresses blazed like milky fire, and brilliant light shone where their faces should be. I couldn’t stare without blinding myself.
“We welcome you, Idrisa. Do not be afraid. We are the Eternal Mothers,” they said in unison. Their voices sounded in my head like a hypnotic and celestial chorus.
My heart lurched to my throat. I curtsied, awed and humbled they’d appear before someone like me. Surely there was a mistake.
“What do you want with me?” I asked, my voice shaky.
“You are the light and the dark of this world. Within you lies strength, courage, and hope. Your time has come.” The Lady in the middle held a beaming sword that hadn’t been there before.
The sword rose from the lake, no doubt a hallucination. I shivered, an icy blast of wind nearly knocking me back as mist sprayed over my face. I didn’t know how deep the lake reached. If I fell, I doubted I could swim in the freezing water.
“I am Eternal Mother Viviane, the voice of all. I present to you, Caliburn.” The white light from the blade, like a thousand diamonds blessed with inner fire, beckoned me to reach out for it.
Your time has come? “What do you mean? Is it my time to die?”
“The truest of hearts and the blood of the firstborn, to restore the balance from once torn. Kingdoms shall rise and fall and empires alike, but only the blessed ones can save them all. You must live, Idrisa. You must fight. Most of all, you must have faith and accept your destiny. Now, take Caliburn and run.”
Before I could ask more questions, rapid footsteps vibrated on the walkway.
Born in Seoul, Korea, author Mary Ting is an international bestselling, multi-gold award winning author. Her books span a wide range of genres, and her storytelling talents have earned a devoted legion of fans, as well as garnered critical praise. She is a diverse voice who writes diverse characters, often dealing with a catastrophic world.
Becoming an author happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother and inspired by a dream she had in high school. After realizing she wanted to become a full-time author, Mary retired from teaching. She also had the privilege of touring with the Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book: No Bullies Allowed.
1,000 years after Earth has been decimated by an alien invasion, a young hero rises from the ashes and rallies the last survivors in an all-out rebellion for freedom that explodes across the continents of Earth to the cosmic sprawl of the Psychlo empire…
Title: Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000
Author: L. Ron Hubbard
Publisher: Galaxy Press
Genre: Science Fiction, sub-genre: Alien Invasion, Classic Science Fiction, Space Opera, Military Sci-Fi, Adventure Sci-FI
If you liked Dune, Atlantis Gene, Foundation, Ender’s Game, and Starship Troopers, you’ll love Battlefield Earth.
…Man is an endangered species.
Is it the end of the world or the rebirth of a new one?
In the year A.D. 3000, Earth is a dystopian wasteland. The great cities stand crumbling as a brutal reminder of what we once were. When the Psychlos invaded, all the world’s armies mustered little resistance against the advanced alien weapons.
A young hero rises from the ashes and rallies the last survivors in an all-out rebellion for freedom that explodes across the continents of Earth to the cosmic sprawl of the Psychlo empire.
The fate of the Galaxy lies on the Battlefield of Earth.
You’ll love Battlefield Earth because of the characters you’ll love and hate and the unexpected twists that keep the pages flying.
“Over 1,000 pages of thrills, spills, vicious aliens and noble humans. I found Battlefield Earth un-put-downable.” —Neil Gaiman
“Battlefield Earth is a terrific story! The carefully underplayed comedy I found it delicious. A masterpiece.” —Robert A. Heinlein
“Pulse-pounding mile-a-minute sci-fi action adventure that does not stop. It is a masterpiece of popular adventure science fiction.” —Brandon Sanderson
“Space opera that hits the right notes. It’s provocative, exhilarating and genuinely enjoyable.” —SCIFI.COM
“Like the Harry Potter series, its got concepts like good vs. evil, the noble
savage and the hero’s journey—and people go crazy over it!” —Dr. David Powers, Educator
Q: What made you return to science fiction writing after all these years?
A: There are some activities that are simply so much fun that one can’t give them up. Writing is that for me. I love every opportunity to write.
Many young writers are told to write in order to learn how to write. That is good advice. I used to find any excuse to write because I loved to do it. If I didn’t have a typewriter, I wrote in longhand.
So when my 50th anniversary as a professional writer came around, I decided to celebrate it by doing it. It was like a present to myself, so to speak.
I chose science fiction because there is great versatility in this genre. (A writer must pick his medium as carefully as a painter must pick his brush and colors.) Besides, science fiction is no longer the stepchild of literature. Star Wars created an entirely new following.…
Plus, look at the bestseller lists and you will see the pattern repeating. Science fiction and space travel is dominant.
Q: What direction do you see science fiction going now? Is the trend toward epics and battle stories such as Star Wars?
A: You must remember that science fiction is simply a method or a means of telling the story. Regardless of the genre (science fiction, western, spy, romance), you will find that people like a story that is both real and has a purpose. It has to say something or achieve something.
There is always an element that promotes your valueless or no-hope society, but compare their success with stories like Star Wars or E.T.…
Science fiction points a direction because it does advocate a future. It is about Man and his Future.
Q: What role did science fiction writers and their readers have in the development of space technology and travel—and public acceptance of it and its funding—in the 1950s and 1960s? What role does it play today in future commitment to space exploration, colonization, exploitation?
A: If you will go back through those old, gaudy pulp magazines that were being ridiculed and confiscated by irate teachers, you will find a lot of articles on space technology scattered amongst the fiction. That was because there was no other outlet for such vision.
Some who wrote for the pulps were called “just science fiction writers.” But history has proven that they were the ones who brought about the future—not the naysayers.
We knew then that Man would travel to the stars and we know it still.
There are still those who cannot create a vision for the future and they, as before, still click their tongues to make a living and they will, again, be forgotten simply because they cannot create—they can only criticize.
Q: How would you assess the broader audience science fiction has today? Years ago, science fiction was considered as something for children which was not “serious” literature. Its popularity today knows no age boundaries. Is this indicative of an escapist attitude by readers? Or a look to the future and what we could be?
A: The future is the only frontier without limit and the frontier that we will all enter and cross no matter what we do.
Science fiction is and always has been the literature about the frontier. Science fiction appeals to every age group because it is about the future and the human potential.
Q: How do you draw from your past track in creating character and plot? Is this the place from which science fiction comes in general, whether the writers know it or not?
A: Experience helps any writer or anyone who wants to write.
I traveled through the Far East and sailed the high seas and did a few loops in some bi-winged planes and gliders in my day and drew upon these for stories. I also did a lot of research for other stories.
But what is more important is the ability to see what is in front of you. Plus you have to have the ability to assume the viewpoint of your reader.
For example, in Battlefield Earth, the reader looks through the eyes of the hero and through the eyes of the alien. This is done by describing how each person would describe the scene and objects. It gives the reader a feeling of what it would be like to assume that viewpoint. The reader at first does not recognize the object either but should be able to do so as the description continues. But, in the process, the reader can experience the same mystery as the character in the story.
That is the ability to see what is in front of you and the ability to assume another viewpoint.
It is a good exercise for writers.
So experience is helpful but you need much more.
Q: What does science fiction writing do for L. Ron Hubbard personally?
A: I can answer that better if you don’t restrict it to just one genre.
Writing offers creation, expression and the ultimate ability to communicate, whether you write poetry or a novel.
Science fiction is just one means or method of doing that.
With writing, you must take an idea and turn it into little black marks on a sheet of white paper so that someone will look at it and lift those little black marks off the page and form the idea of the author.
In short, it boils down to communication.
Q: How would L. Ron Hubbard describe himself as a writer?
A: I don’t know if I can take it any further than that.
I’ve always had the ability to put an idea down on the page. I don’t really outline. I just write.
I think if I wanted to be characterized in a certain way as a writer, I would ask that it be that I am a writer who loves to write.
That is not as axiomatic as it may sound. There are a lot of writers who don’t like to write and some who even hate it but are still called “writers” because they make a living at it—the 9 to 5 type, so to speak.
But it has never been that way with me. I don’t watch the clock when I write. In fact, I’ve gone days without sleep just because I was enjoying myself so much I just plain forgot.
How could one forget to sleep?
Well, just imagine doing something that is more exciting than anything you have ever done and see if you worry or think about a “coffee break” or what time, it is.
That’s what I mean by my being a writer who loves to write.
There’s really no other way to say it.
Q: How do you work? Do you dictate or pound your fiction out on your old typewriter? Do you keep any set schedule when doing a book? Do you work from detailed character sketches and plot outlines or do you wing it? Have your working methods changed over the years?
A: My goodness, but that covers a lot!
What I write determines how I do it. Sometimes I type, sometimes I write longhand and sometimes I dictate.
Battlefield Earth was typed on a manual. The length was about 3,000 pages.
Each day before I went to bed I would sketch out the plot that I would cover the next day. Plus I would list out anything else that I wanted to accomplish.
I do set and follow a schedule when I want to get certain things done in a day—like exercise, if only a walk.
So I generally lay out what I want to accomplish for the day, the week, the month and then I do it. I would say this is perhaps my primary development since those early days in getting organized. It has allowed me to get more accomplished to lay out a schedule and then do it.
Q: What do you think about writers who take years to write a single book?
A: I really don’t think many do. They might research something for years, but I can’t figure out how somebody could keep a plot in his head that long.
Some people try to equate quality with slowness. If an athlete did that he would lose every game.
Q: What advice do you have for budding writers?
A: Write and write and write and write. And then when you finish, write some more.
It may not be original advice, but it is still quite true. You learn to write by writing.
Don’t try to learn how to write in order to write. I’ve seen a lot of great writers killed off when they decided they wanted to learn how to write.
Just take an idea and go with it. You may find a story that pulls you along. The story takes off on its own. It sounds silly but it happens. You have this character walking down the street and you are all ready for him to get into a taxi but he walks right on and turns into a movie theatre. Whoa! What is this? Well, follow him and see what happens.
The main thing is to write and learn the business of writing—that tough market you have to live with.
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About the Author
With 19 New York Times bestsellers and more than 350 million copies of his works in circulation, L. Ron Hubbard is among the most enduring and widely read authors of our time. As a leading light of American Pulp Fiction through the 1930s and ’40s, he is further among the most influential authors of the modern age. Indeed, from Ray Bradbury to Stephen King, there is scarcely a master of imaginative tales who has not paid tribute to L. Ron Hubbard.