Guest Blog by Missy Sheldrake

The Keepers of the Wellsprings Series

I’m excited to announce that the third book in the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, Call of Brindelier, is now available on Amazon! If you haven’t read the previous books yet, read on for a super-quick crash course.

When I started writing this series, I really wanted to tell a story that was rich with fantasy, but not overly dark or mired with war and violence. I wanted to show the light side of fantasy: the cheerful, magical, uplifting side which I always drink up whenever it emerges in a story, and which always seems to be so fleeting in fantasy tales. I wanted to tell a story that would capture the hearts of young and old alike. Don’t get me wrong, my books aren’t void of conflict and evil. They tell of uncomfortable moments. There is violence and wickedness, but it’s those moments in my stories which are the fleeting ones. In the pages of my books, you will find fairies, Mages, Paladins, Elves, Dreamwalkers, Princes and Princesses, and even dragons. You’ll travel through a world rich with magic and wonder.

In Call of Kythshire, you’ll learn all about Cerion, a seaside kingdom which has celebrated peace for over a century. You’ll meet His Majesty’s Elite, a guild that is the right hand adventuring team of King Tirnon Plethore, and you’ll join Azi Hammerfel, a young squire who has grown up within the guild’s halls, through disappointments and triumphs. By her side is Rian, her childhood friend, an Apprentice of the Mage Academy. You’ll meet Flit, a fairy from Kythshire, who is as tricky as any fairy you might imagine, but has a depth of character and a sense of purpose uncommon for a typical fairy. You’ll see her world unfold, and feel the evil threat of Sorcery that looms, waiting to destroy it. You’ll learn a little about the Wellsprings, but not too much, for their existence and workings are a well-protected secret. (Click here to read an excerpt from Call of Kythshire.)

In Call of Sunteri, you’ll meet the strong-willed slave boy, Tib, who makes his first appearance as he escapes from the grips of Sorcery in the desert continent of Sunteri. He has help crossing the vast oceans to reach Cerion, but he doesn’t realize it at first. A mysterious being speaks to his mind, controlling his thoughts and making suggestions to ensure his own survival. In the meantime, Azi has been given the task of escorting the Prince of Cerion and his wife-with-child to the lakeside Kordelya Castle as the prince faces suspicion and ridicule after the events of Call of Kythshire. But a darker force emerges from the Dreaming, whose wicked intent is to use any means necessary to escape its prison and claim the magic of the Wellsprings for his own. In this book, you’ll see the devastating effects of the overuse of magic, and what it does to the Wellsprings and the creatures who thrive around them. (Click here to read an excerpt from Call of Sunteri.)

In Call of Brindelier, a dark force looms, more powerful and destructive than any threat Azi and her guild have yet faced. You’ll follow Celli, a scrappy street fighter, as she is enticed into the grips of a powerful Sorcerer. You’ll watch Tib come into his own as he sneaks through the streets of Cerion, uncovering the darkness while also working on a mysterious project. You’ll follow Azi on a quest set by Princess Margary to find proof of Brindelier, a city in the clouds which is the key to all of the Wellsprings in the Known Lands. But Margy is not the only one interested in Brindelier. A dark force has been gathering, poised to claim it for their own. Control over the Wellsprings hangs in the balance. (Click here to read an excerpt from Call of Brindelier.)

This series is appropriate for all ages, but I recommend 13 and up due to some violent themes. There is no sex, swearing, or excessively graphic violence in the Keepers of the Wellsprings. Throughout the series, you’ll encounter daring sword fights, violent magical moments, and a few quick deaths.

Call of Brindelier, the third book in the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, is now available on Amazon.  This weekend, I’m offering book one of the series, Call of Kythshire, for free, and book two, Call of Sunteri, for just 99 cents. Click here to download your ebooks while they’re on sale!


The Blurb

Onward to Brindelier…
A selfish prince on trial for treason. A beloved princess hiding a talent for forbidden magic. The race between Dawn and Dusk to claim Brindelier, a hidden city in the clouds with a promise of ultimate control over the source of power in the Known Lands: The Wellsprings. Azi and Rian are back! The newly-betrothed couple once again find themselves drawn into the plots of fairy-kind, bestowed with gifts of new titles and strange, powerful abilities. A threat is revealed; one which Flitt insists is worse than anything they have yet faced. Is she referring to the gathering of Sorcerers who call themselves the Circle of Spires, or is a darker, more sinister force at play? Tib knows. He’s seen the might of the Dusk firsthand. The fates of Cerion, Kythshire, and all the Known Lands hang in the balance in the third installment of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series: Call of Brindelier.


Call of Brindelier Excerpts

EXCERPT ONE - AZI

“What is it exactly,” I pause and think hard, making every word count, “you really need me to do in regards to this rare purpose, which is so important you’d whisk me here against my will in the midst of a battle that could very well mean the end of peace in my kingdom and possibly the deaths of people I’m sworn to protect?”

“Whoa,” her eyes go wide as I come to a stop right in front of her. “That was brilliant. Really brilliant. Excellent question. See, you just had to focus, that’s all.”

“Flitt.” I press my hand to my brow. My head is starting to ache from frustration.

“Don’t hate me. I can’t answer it,” she says with a cute little shrug and an impish smile.

“What?” I can’t help it. I lunge at her. She’s too fast, though. She pushes off from the grass and flies up out of my reach. “So help me!” I shout up at her. “You’d better stay up there, I swear!” I glare up at her and then realize her mistake in putting distance between us. Instantly I think of Rian. I start to feel the shimmer around me and then she dives into me, pinning me to the ground.

“Don’t,” she pleads as she straddles my chest. She’s surprisingly heavy for a fairy. “I was just playing. Don’t go. I can’t answer it, but I can show you something else.”

“Get,” I shove at her, “off!”

“Uh uh,” she shakes her head. “You have to promise to stay. It’s important, Azi. Really important. World changing important. Things are happening that never should happen. Bad things. Wicked things. Worse than Sorcerers. Worse than Jacek. Really bad.” She leans over me with her hands on my shoulders and her rainbow-colored ponytails spill forward, tickling my face. “Really, really bad. Please. Do you promise?”

“Worse than Jacek?” I look up at her.

“You can’t answer a question with a—” she stops herself at my death glare. “Worse than Jacek,” she whispers. Her eyes sparkle with tears and change from blue to red to silver. This close I can see she has no pupils, just orbs of ever-changing light that shimmers softly and unpredictably. I’ve never seen them so clearly, never been so drawn to them.

“I promise,” I say, tempted by the familiar tingle of magic rising inside me. I want to see what she’s seen; I want to know what’s in a fairy’s mind. 

EXCERPT TWO – TIB

I want to be annoyed by the magic. I want to hate the excess of it. There’s no reason for it except to show off. I can’t help but admit it, though. It’s kind of impressive. 

When we reach the tower, the stone wall shifts and opens magically. Of course there aren’t any doors. Why would there be? Rian brushes his fingers along the stone as we go in. He’s really impressed. I bet he’s going to write it all down when this is over. Make a book of it for their ridiculous libraries.

Inside the tower, it’s dry and warm. The walls are adorned with colorful silks and tapestries. The circular entry is larger than I expected. It’s a little confusing. The energy is bright and overwhelming. It’s embedded in the stone. It pulses in the air. Power. Might. Majesty. Protection. Knowledge.

Otherwise, the place is dusty and full of cobwebs. Shelves and shelves of moldy books line the walls behind the coverings. Books and tubes and glass vials and stacked clay pots teeter and lean against each other. I sniff. Sea air. Must. Incense. Behind Rian, Shush blows out a wisp of fresh air that sends the white smoke swirling away.

“Master’s downstairs,” Loren says. His voice echoes up into the rafters and a passage opens up across the entryway. It glows with a merry orange light to welcome us. 

The stairway down is lined with glass walls as thick as my arm. Loren takes this for granted. He jogs off down the steps without a glance, but Rian and I can’t help but stop and stare. Through the glass, a world stretches out before us. The depths of the ocean. The surf plunges above, bubbling and churning. 

Waves scoop up the sandy seaweed bottom and push it down again. It’s like a field. A drifting, rhythmic meadow. Colorful fish swim past in schools of red, orange, and yellow. Creatures like I’ve never seen cling to bright pink and green stones. They wave long tendrils with the motion of the sea. Shells of every color catch the light of the spiral staircase which shines through the glass.
I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s simple. Pure. Beautiful. I had no idea there was a world like this under the ocean. I can’t tear my eyes away. I press my hand to the glass as a dolphin races past us, chasing a group of purple fish with long, flowing fins. It’s not just the sight of it that interests me. It’s the simplicity of it. There’s no magic out there. Not in the sense I’ve known it. It’s perfect all on its own.

EXCERPT THREE - CELLI

I nod my agreement and he smiles at me. I want him to keep smiling. I want to be his favorite. I never want to make him scowl.

“This is Dub,” he says after a long pause. It takes me a moment to realize there’s someone else here. He’s been lurking against the wall all this time. He steps out of the shadows as Quenson introduces him.

He’s in his twenties, maybe, lean and strong, and dressed all in leathers like me, except they’re black. His face is coarse with whiskers, and one eye is covered with a patch. The most remarkable thing about him, though, are all the knives. I can count at least a dozen strapped to his torso, his belt, his arms, and his legs. I wonder how many others he’s concealing.

His one good eye looks me over like Quenson did. Except when he does it, it makes me uncomfortable. I square my shoulders and cross my arms and raise my chin, trying to seem bigger. Tougher. He smirks, but doesn’t say a word.

“Go.” Quenson says.

Before I have time to think, Dub leaps at me, his knives flashing. He swings and I duck and roll away. He throws a blade, and I somersault and narrowly dodge the attack. His knife clatters and skids across the floor. I tumble to grab it and another one of his blades slices my sleeve as it whizzes past. I don’t know why, but this guy is serious. He means to kill me.

With Dub’s knife tight in my grip, I charge him. He’s nearly twice my size but I don’t care. If he wants to kill me, I’m going to make it difficult. He’s ready for my attack though. As I swing to stab him, he sheaths a knife and grabs my arm, twisting it painfully behind my back. He’s strong, but I’m a fighter. I elbow him hard in the ribs and kick him between the legs until he doubles over. That makes him loosen his grip on my arm, so I spin and punch him hard in the face. His nose cracks and he curses.

Quenson’s laughter somewhere to the side of the room is a musical sound that echoes up to the high-domed ceiling and back down again. It reminds me of how much I want to please him. It makes me fight harder.

Dub is furious. I punch his jaw and he growls and grabs my wrist again. With his free hand, he draws another knife from his endless supply. He overpowers me and shoves me against the wall, pressing my hand against the stone. His good eye is dark with madness. He raises the knife. He’s going to drive it through my hand, pin me to the stone with it.

I struggle to break free. I kick and swing and squirm, but he’s too strong. He thrusts the blade forward. I can’t escape him. He’s won. I brace myself for the strike and gasp as his empty fist smashes into my hand.

“Enough,” Quenson says. 

Dub growls in frustration and throws my hand down. I open my eyes in disbelief to see the Sorcerer standing several paces away, holding Dub’s knife between his thumb and forefinger with a look of disgust.

“Such rudimentary, primitive things,” Quenson scoffs as Dub retrieves the weapon and shoves it into a sheath at his thigh. He wipes at the blood that trickles from his lip and sneers at me.


About the Author

Missy Sheldrake is an author/illustrator who has been conjuring images of fairies in one form or another since she was very young.

The wind in the trees and the rich scent of forest earth are her most treasured sources of inspiration, and on most mornings you will find her wandering the wooded paths, dreaming of the next adventure she hopes to put to the page.

Missy was born in Connecticut and attended Western Connecticut State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Art with a concentration in painting and illustration. Even then, in her free time, she was writing. She moved to Northern Virginia several years ago and lives there now, on the outskirts of Washington D.C., with her true love and their son. She published her first novel, Call of Kythshire, in March of 2015 and intends to keep writing as long as the fairies allow it.


The Hawkhurst Saga Release

By Joshua Robertson

NOW AVAILABLE

Released May 7, 2016

Joshua Robertson has recently released The Hawkhurst Saga, the compilation of three, consecutive short stories: A Midwinter Sellsword, Gladiators and Thieves, and Ashes to Ashes.

You can receive the first book in the series for free by signing up for his Newsletter.


The Story

Ten years ago, Argus Gunther escaped Hawkhurst, thinking he had left behind a desolate life and a forsaken name. Though, when he is lured back to complete a contract, Argus discovers he can't bury the past so easily. Pulled instantly into Hawkhurst's daunting political games, Argus is forced to navigate through his nightmares. Now, while in search for his freedom, he must decide whether or not there are worse fates than death.


An Excerpt

“Nothing in Hawkhurst is close,” Argus said. His words were honest. The city was built in layers, from top to bottom, from rich to poor, from free man to slave. It would take several hours to walk from one end to the other.

“Then we have plenty of time to talk. Maybe you could tell me of the Eadfel. My friends and I speak about it often in Galoroth.” 

Argus scratched his bald head. It was hard for him to believe she had any friends as much as she talked.

“I’d rather walk in silence.”

“Indulge me, Mr. Gunther.”

Argus swallowed, feeling as though he were at the mercy of a spoiled brat who had never had a good spanking. It was difficult to simply argue with such a person without cutting out their tongue.

Unfortunately, killing her was not part of the plan. He yielded. “The *Eadfel *is the name for the political estrangement or interrelation that occurs between the leading families in the city.”

“Any simpleton could tell me that. Is it not a game?”

Argus winced. “If games end in poverty, slavery, or death, then yes—it is a game.”

Astrid crooned, a bounce in her step, “It sounds horridly delightful.”



Some Bio Information

Joshua Robertson was born in Kingman, Kansas on May 23, 1984. A graduate of Norwich High School, Robertson attended Wichita State University where he received his Masters in Social Work with minors in Psychology and Sociology. His bestselling novel, Melkorka, the first in The Kaelandur Series, was released in 2015. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys and ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. He counts R.A. Salvatore and J.R.R. Tolkien among his literary influences.


INCOMING TRANSMISSION


***And now, a brief message from your Supreme Overlord***


For those of you wondering who on earth I am and are raising your eyebrows at the Supreme Overlord reference, my name is Ann Livi Andrews and I run Support for Indie Authors, SIA for short (no relation to the Australian singer). What started as a small idea in January 2015 has quickly turned into a vast wealth of support, encouragement, resources, etc for Indie Authors.

We have now grown to 5,000+ members and having outgrown Goodreads, we began our own website (www.supportindieauthors.com) dedicated to helping Indie Authors be the best they can be. We are now 13 Moderators strong and have put in countless hours to ensure an organized and well managed group.

Sure sure, Ann,” you might say. “But what’s with the blog post?

Right – to the point.

We are about to undergo a major transformation on the Goodreads' side of the equation. We just celebrated our First Birthday, or First Anniversary, whichever way you’d like to look at it, and with over 5,000 members, I’m sure you can imagine just how many folders, topics, and comments we have to sort through on a daily basis.

In addition, with this many topics to sort through,  it becomes difficult for our members to find the answers they’re looking for to questions that have already been posted. We receive a lot of “Do you know where that one post that the one guy posted a few days ago is?” queries from our members.

So here’s the deal: tons and tons of posts are going to be deleted.

BUT DON’T PANIC.

We’re compiling all of them into an easy to read and easy to search PDF that you’ll be able to download from our website. (For free, of course) This will be updated on a semi regular basis (as often as I or my other moderators can – I don’t pay them, you know – at least not yet.)

In addition, we’re going to be posting a new set of rules in response to some of the criticisms and . . .um. . .how shall I put this. . .harassment that we’ve received. The majority of you are super amazing members and we're grateful for your participation and the respect that you show one another. Unfortunately, a handful of people haven't been quite as understanding.

With this in mind, we are going to be a little stricter in the future, to keep things safe for everyone. These rules will be straight to the point with no room for imaginative interpretation. With so many members, we’re going to have to toughen our defenses in order to maintain an organized and peaceful environment. We want to keep this forum and our group just as awesome as it’s been for the past year.

So there you have it. Changes are a-coming. But we’re still the same fun-loving Mods that we always have been. The Fun Folder won’t be disappearing. We’ll still be joking around etc. Just remember to keep it respectful and you won’t wake up to a cut-in-half bookmark lying on the pillow next to you.

As always, if you have any questions, or you feel that you have an issue with me or one of my Mods, please send me a message about it. Despite my tyrannical title, I am actually all about resolving conflicts. A happy and content army is one who can conquer many.


***End Transmission - Resume your regular routine***


The Release of Dyndaer

The Much Anticipated Sequel to Melkorka by Joshua Robertson!


The Blurb

Branimir emerges from the Netherworld as a living legend and learns the Ash Tree is still in danger from the cursed dagger, kaelandur. An old friend compels Branimir to finish what they started at Melkorka.

Once again, the former slave must keep kaelandur out of uncertain hands, while struggling to separate heroes from villains and friends from foes. Some evils never lessen.


The Bio

Joshua currently lives in Alaska with his wife and children. In 1999, he began crafting the world for Thrice Nine Legends, including Melkorka and Anaerfell. He is also the author of the A Midwinter Sellsword and Gladiators and Thieves in the Hawkhurst Saga. His short story, Grimsdalr, is inspired by the tale of Beowulf.


The Excerpt

A woman, unlike any Branimir had ever seen, emerged from the crowd and occupied the remaining chair. The bow slung over her shoulder, and the quiver on her back were the last things Branimir noticed. She was shorter than most Anshedar with an oversized head, a scrawny neck, and a sickly, thin frame. Yet her skin, smooth and colored a reddish brown, darker than Branimir, caused him to lean toward her. A sash, red as blood, hung across her shoulder, angled over her small chest.

She sat with her back stiffened and chin jutted forward. Pushing long black strands behind her ears, she introduced herself, “Hanna Bretka, daughter of Briv, from Danduher in Haemus Mons.” She sloshed her mug onto the table after taking a gulp. 

“Branimir and Dorofej,” Bran said, “And, excuse my asking, but what are you?”

Her eyes swelled like an owl, a circular black center and the rest filled with a cerulean orb. The colored ring twinkled like the Ojenek in his pocket. “What do you mean what am I?”

Adamus and Dorofej merged in laughter.

“Kras,” she said, “I am a Lilitu. How would you not know my kind? The Kras frequent trade with the Lilitu in Halderon.”

Branimir rubbed the back of his neck with a crooked smile, and meekly shrugged. He could not take his eyes off of her.

“What are you?” Adamus repeated, wiping a tear from the corner of his eye. “Best thing I have heard in two months. Having you travel with me never tires, Hanna.”

“Glad to please you, Adamus,” Hanna muttered, rolling his name off her tongue. “Is this why we detoured to Cavell? I thought we were aiming for debauchery, not expanding on our alleged friendship.” 


Guest Blog by Robert Eggleton

Silly Symbolisms in Speculative Fiction 

Historically, speculative fiction has fueled social activism, debate, and the adoption of evolving or devolving social policy depending on one’s values. In 380 B.C., Plato envisioned a utopian society in The Republic and that story represented the beginning of a long string of speculations: ecology, economics, politics, religion, technology, feminism….

The impact of speculative fiction on world view and politics was especially potent in the 1960s when Ellison, Aldiss, Herbert and others wrote about the stuff that many American teens at the time were reflecting upon – social and political issues at a tumultuous time. Protests against increasing militarism during the Vietnam War were fueled by the writings of Ellison and Vonnegut. Speculative fiction back then was more than escapism, as evidenced by Ursula Le Guinn, who is commonly attributed with coining the term, “social science fiction,” winning both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970.  

Speculations sparked by artists in every venue have at least a subliminal impact on each of us, an impact that transcends our own prejudices, traditions and belief systems. Popularized as genre fiction with a huge fan base, the Harry Potter stories were more than simple escapism, even if the messages slipped in through side doors. For example, Harry was a civil rights activist. In freeing an enslaved House Elf, be became a positive role model for zillions of adoring fans, thereby propagating a value that could potentially impact how the average citizen of several countries considers the current refuge crisis.

Rarity from the Hollow is speculative fiction written in colloquial voice that satirically and comically addresses the (1) need to improve systems for the prevention of child abuse, not only in America, but world-wide; (2) duty to internationally recognize that war trauma can cause PTSD for which veterans, out of respect for their service and irrespective of which side of the battle, deserve mental health treatment; (3) moral obligation to research the medicinal use of marijuana for the treatment of mental health problems as an alternative to pharmaceuticals produced by big drug companies; (4) advantages of creating economic options for workers living in impoverished communities to enable self-sufficiency.

Of course, on the other hand, maybe it’s just another goofy science fiction story.

Author proceeds have been donated to child abuse prevention. Children’s Home Society of West Virginia was established in 1893. Currently, it serves over 13,000 children and families each year. http://childhswv.org/


About the author:

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next -- never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency. Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/ Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Purchase links: 

Author Contacts:


Blurb:
Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.
 
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire.
 
“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.” —Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest
 
“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.” —    Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review
 
. "…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy." -- Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)
 
“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” --Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)
 
“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author
 
“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” -- The Baryon Review
 
Comfort Zones: Please note that there is a mention of a child having been murdered in this novel, by the meanest daddy on Earth. However, there is no scene and she plays a comical and annoying ghost most of the story. Here's a finding by Awesome Indies about the first edition to help you decide if this novel is too far outside of your comfort zone: “a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/  The early tragedy feeds and amplifies subsequent comedy and satire.
 
Please also note that the character mentioned above (Faith) is a victim of sexual abuse. Sexual content in the novel:

  • While the protagonist occupies the body of an eleven year old, she is the product of genetic manipulation by Universal Management for millennia;
  • Lacy Dawn began her trainings via direct download into her brain five years before the beginning of this story, so she has been fed information about every known human subject, including biology, reproduction, economics…for years before readers are introduced to her (ET involvement is an opening chapter reveal);
  • Her best friend, Faith, as a sexual abuse victim, has a sad and unhealthy awareness of sexuality;
  • The android has no private parts, "not even a little bump," and is much less mature emotionally than Lacy Dawn throughout the story;
  • There are no sex scenes in the novel and only references, including the disclosure about Faith's victimization by a reference and as a flashback with no scenes;
  • As the android pursues humanity and starts going through an accelerated human development stage, he never develops any actual sexual interests but does try to kiss Lacy Dawn on the cheek once;
  • Lacy Dawn vows not to have sex for the first time until after she is married -- a traditional and now unusual family value;
  • She is fourteen years old when the novel ends and has typical teenage interests but remains untouched, not even a first real kiss;
  • There are normalized sexual references and innuendos between Lacy Dawn parents after their romance was rekindled -- the father was cured of PTSD and the mother's self-esteem improved, in part, because she got new teeth as part of the deal to save the universe;
  • But, the above sexual references are presented as puns, nothing on screen, and are milder than most romance novels that I've read, such as by Nora Roberts.  

Piers Anthony, best selling fantasy author during the '80s and '90s, found that my novel was “…not for the prudish.” Kevin Patrick Mahoney, editor of the once noteworthy site, Authortrek, found that my story was, “…not for the faint hearted or easily offended….”   An early voice in the first chapter speaks about things that no child should know. It is that of a traumatized child – a voice most of us never listen to, or want to hear, but in real life is screaming. I'm a retired children's psychotherapist. The language and concepts in this story are mild in comparison to some of the stuff that kids have said during actual group therapy sessions that I have facilitated over the years. By child developmental stage, it is similar to the infamous early adolescent insult in E.T.: “penis breath.” It is tame in comparison to the content of the popular television series, South Park, which has been devoured by millions of teens. My story does include marijuana smoking, but that subject has been frequently broadcast in the news as state move toward legalization, when legislation is introduced, or debates emerge. Except for a scene involving domestic violence in the third chapter, there is no violence or horror -- no blood, guts, gore, vampires, or werewolves. The “F word” is used twice, but the all other profanity is mild colloquialism. Rarity from the Hollow is a children's story for adults with a HEA ending like a romance novel.


Rarity from the Hollow Excerpt, Chapter 2,  

Recess

……Designated to be consolidated, the school received little maintenance except to reduce liability. The playground had a chain link fence with vines growing through the diagonals, squeaky swings so loud that everyone on recess had to holler, and two teeter-totters with splinters that targeted fresh butt. Only one improvement had been added during the last three years of consolidation controversy.  Pieces of shredded car tires were put under the monkey bars to cushion falls.  
    During recess, the teachers smoked cigarettes behind the corner of the brick school building. It was a designated smoking spot so that students wouldn't be exposed to bad influence. Consequently, the playground was without adult supervision.      
    "Why do you want to feel angry so often?" Lacy Dawn (the eleven year old protagonist) asked Faith (Lacy Dawn’s best friend and classmate).
    "Why not?"
    "It messes up your digestion and gives you the farts."
    "I like to fart – silent and deadly," Faith said.
    "I've noticed."     
Lacy Dawn moved toward the gang hanging out under the monkey bars. They were older kids who lived on the hard road and who had parents who had been employed before the coal mine shut down. They still thought they had money.  
    "My dad got a call about a job in Cleveland. What do you think, Lacy Dawn?  Your mommy was born there. Is it cool? Will I meet Eminem?" the tallest kid asked.
    "Does your daddy still hit your mommy when he gets drunk?” Lacy Dawn asked.
    "Sometimes, but what's that got to do with Cleveland?"
    "Everything."
    The tall kid grabbed the monkey bars and went to its end. His tip-toes touched the shredded tires. It was easier because the ground was several inches higher than before the shreds had been laid. Nobody acknowledged the achievement and all awaited his response. “When we get to Cleveland, I'll stand up to him. I promise," 
    "You'd better or she'll know," Faith pointed at Lacy Dawn.  
    "I know."
 The tall kid sat on the rung that had broken off his front tooth two grades before.
    "Why'd you tell him that?" Lacy Dawn whispered in Faith's ear. "I ain't got that kind of magic yet and you know it. I can only see inside people when they’re right in front of me. Cleveland’s a long way off and, besides, Eminem’s from Detroit."  
    Faith shrugged.    
    "My mom and dad don't ever hit me. Sometimes, I wish they would.  I do stuff so they will, but it don't ever work," the next tallest kid in line for therapy disclosed.
    "Parents use different styles of redirection. Yours use guilt." Lacy Dawn said.
    "Yeah, I cut myself once. See. It helped a little, but I would really appreciate a switch every now and then."
    "Don't fetish,” Lacy Dawn said. “Relax. You're a good kid and your parents want switched, too. It's not your daddy's fault that the mine shut down. He feels guilty about not being a good provider and gets rid of it by giving it to you." Lacy Dawn kissed the scar on the kid's arm above the bottom of his shirt sleeve.  
The crowd went "Ooohhhh…" when the scar seemed to fade.
    "You're a good doctor, Lacy Dawn," echoed the crowd. 
    "Next!" a kid who lay on top of the monkey bars above the gang yelled.
    "Give me your shit, Ronny,” Lacy Dawn instructed. “But, don't you ever say anything bad about Faith ever again. I'll vex you into eternity. You've been giving her a hard time since the first grade. It ain't fair."
    "Sorry,” Ronny said. “I'm just so sad all the time. I take it out on anybody that will react and she's an easy target – fat and ugly."
    "Next year, she'll be hot. She'll give you a hard-on that won't go down for days. You'll regret every mean thing you ever said to her."   
Faith moved into position to punch his exposed belly.
    "I already regret everything," Ronny said, “everything.”  
    "Your parents thought if they taught you how to predict consequences of your behavior you would exercise self-control. You learned it too good and now you go over and over every little detail. Before you do something mean, just take a few slow, deep breaths and you won't hit anybody anymore. Then, you will have less regret. When you stop being mean, I'll help you fix your depression. But, if you ever say one mean thing about Faith again, I'll let her kick your ass like it's never been before," Lacy Dawn said. 
    "My mommy don't do nothing but watch soaps," a girl in the second said.
    "Mine too," three smaller children gathered for wisdom.
    Cigarette smoke formed a cloud that floated from around the corner of the building. Only one female teacher still had a husband and he had been jailed for manufacturing meth after their house caught on fire. It was another tidbit of conversation during an extra-long recess disallowed by the State Board of Education. Recess was the most productive part of the school day because of Lacy Dawn's magic way of helping others.  
    "I wish I had a husband," the only male teacher employed by the school yelled loud enough for the kids to hear above the squeaky swings. 
“There goes Mr. I’m Gay again,” a boy said.  
“He’s so boring,” another said.  The crowd nodded.
    "I wish I could fix my own family," Lacy Dawn whispered to Faith.
    "It's a kid's job to help her parents and any kid who don't ain't much of a kid and maybe don't even deserve to live!" Faith yelled louder than Mr. I’m Gay.  It was her daily speech to classmates.  
    The school bell rang to return to the classrooms. Another fifteen minutes was left before compliance was expected. Several kids gathered tighter around the monkey bars to try to get attention from Lacy Dawn. The healthier ones played more or less organized dodge and kick ball games in opposite corners of the playground. 
    Like the center on a football team’s front line, Faith tried to look mean by grimacing and folding her arms. It was a body-guard-like role so the others used her as an avenue to Lacy Dawn by lining up. A first grader pulled down her shorts to show a blue bruise on her butt. Faith rolled her eyes and turned away. A fourth grader opened his mouth and pointed inside but Faith didn't look. A girl in the fifth who sat beside her in class pointed to her crotch. Tears streamed. Faith winced for a moment but screened her out by turning her head. Not today, Britney. Lacy Dawn only has so much magic at any given time. She needs to recharge. Everybody has issues and tissues. You can be first tomorrow.
A fight broke out in the far corner of the playground.  The games stopped and the kids rushed for the better entertainment.   Lacy Dawn and Faith followed to get a good place to watch.  The teachers saw the action and either returned to the building or gathered behind the crowd to bet on the winner.  
    "She called my mommy a HO," a second grader with a bloody nose accused a sixth grader and swung air.                
    "But she is. My daddy told me.  I didn't mean to make you mad," the sixth grader tried to maintain a distance by stepping back. "I'm sorry. I don't even know what it means."
    "A Ho is a person who has a lot of indiscriminant sex," the smartest girl in school except for Lacy Dawn said to show off. She put on her headphones and walked toward the school to prepare for the next spelling bee, which would include the word “indiscriminate.”  
    Faith picked up the dodge ball and beamed her in the back of the head. 

The Ghost of Christmas Book Blast

Ghost of Christmas Book Blast

Happy Holidays! Tis the season when once again, the good folks over at Support Indie Authors are hosting another free book event. On Saturday, the 19th of December, forty authors will be offering more than fifty books in a wide variety of genres absolutely free! What better way to de-stress, decompress, and take a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays than to curl up with a good book? Once again, all of the free books will be listed on the official Book Blast website

As is our tradition, each of the authors participating in the book blast has told us a little about themselves. Each name links to the author’s Goodreads profile, so feel free to give them a follow if you like what you see. Below are interviews for ten of the forty participating authors. At the end of this post are links to three other blogs with the additional thirty authors. Please be sure to visit each and thank you for continuing to #SupportIndieAuthors


What is your name?

Ann Livi Andrews

What genre or genres do you write in?

Superheroes

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Nice

Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.

The life of a superhero is not all glamour and fame. The truth is that they just want to live as close to normal lives as they possibly can, and they’ve found a man who they believe can offer that to them. Not only does he promise to find cures for their “powers,” but he offers a retirement plan as well!

What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?

My mother and I make trays and trays of Christmas cookies and candies every year, but my favorite is probably the fudge or the chocolate covered peanut butter balls. In addition, no Holiday Season is complete without white almond bark covered oreos, homemade snickerdoodles, and my mother's homemade sugar cookies (the best EVER!)

In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.

My grandmother always used to give to the ASPCA, so that would probably be mine as well. I've always had a heart for animals and it breaks every time I see an animal purposefully neglected or injured. https://www.aspca.org

Where can readers find out more and connect with you?

Website: www.annliviandrews.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnLiviAndrews

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnLiviAndrews/

Other: https://www.pinterest.com/annlivi/


What is your name?

Charles Freedom Long

What genre or genres do you write in?

Science Fiction

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Nice

Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.

A jihadist trained for a suicide mission on the moon, begins to question his own beliefs when he falls in love with a coworker, a cat-like bipedal alien named Quenby and realizes that he must choose between his mission or love. At once a poignant human/alien love story, a science fiction thriller, and a foray into the realms beyond the veil called death, this novel explores the questions of what is truth, the power of love, and what lies beyond this present life.

What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?

Curling up with my three Maltese dogs in my lap.

In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.

The Salvation Army. I never pass by their little red baskets without putting something in. http://www.salvationarmyusa.org

Where can readers find out more and connect with you?

Website: http://www.charlesfreedomlong.com/


What is your name?

Marie Johnston

What genre or genres do you write in?

Romance

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Nice

Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.

Cassie Stockwell's one night stand throws her into a world of wolf-shifters, their Guardians, and the menace out to destroy them all. It's up to Jace Miller to keep her safe and convince her he's worth more than one night - he's worth forever.

What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?

Candy Cane Cookies

In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.

Goodwill http://www.goodwill.org

Where can readers find out more and connect with you?

Website: mariejohnstonwriter.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mjohnstonwriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Marie-Johnston-593148834163855/?fref=ts


What is your name?

B.B. Wynter

What genre or genres do you write in?

Fantasy

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Naughty

Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.

A story of magic, monsters, cabbage-fairies, jester-pirates, earth born Gods and fated love.

What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?

I can only list one? Oh no, now I have to make choices :( !

In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.

The National Autistic Society - http://www.autism.org.uk

Where can readers find out more and connect with you?

Website: bbwynter.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bb_wynter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeeBeeWynter/


What is your name?

Shannon Reber

What genre or genres do you write in?

Fantasy, Teen & Young Adult

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.

Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.

 My books are young adult fantasy. Two are swords and sorcery, the other a dystopian future with a powerful female MC.

What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?

Nothing is underrated in my world, but lemon sugar cookies are a MUST!

In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.

A local group called Union Relief which gives Christmas presents to kids whose families can't afford them.

Where can readers find out more and connect with you?

Website: www.authorshannonreber.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShannonArtWrite

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Shannon-Reber-1450668291923946/


What is your name?

M. Ray Holloway Jr.

What genre or genres do you write in?

Science Fiction, Religious, Paranormal

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Naughty

Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.

 "The Picture of the Ghost" is a novellette about a team of ghost hunters that get it all wrong. "Gretchen's Shoot" is about two sisters have to work through a serious misunderstanding. "The Empath" is about a young man with a amazing ability.

What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?

Wassal. I am always so pleased when someone offers it to me. I need to learn to make it.

In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.

Big Brothers / Big Sisters www.bbbs.org

Where can readers find out more and connect with you?

Website: http://mrayhollowayjr.blogspot.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ray.holloway.77


What is your name?

CB Archer

What genre or genres do you write in?

Fantasy, Erotica, Humor & Satire, Elfrotica

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Naughty

Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.

Do the novels you read contain naked elf protagonists, magical sex powers, steamy Minotaur orgies, and no regard for the fourth wall? If your answer is no then perhaps you are reading the wrong novels. *Contains m/m content and vigorous monster banging.*

What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?

Stocking Stuffing (Giggle)

In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.

The Ovarian Cancer Society of Canada

Where can readers find out more and connect with you?

Website: www.annalsofgentalia.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cb_archer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/CB-Archer/100006197627949


What is your name?

Christina McMullen

What genre or genres do you write in?

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Dystopian/Apocalyptic, Teen & Young Adult

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.

Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.

The Eyes of The Sun offers action, adventure, a little bit of romance, and a whole lot of genetically enhanced vampires. Kind of Like Life is a YA sci-fi thriller with one hell of a twist. And Going Green is the most lighthearted romp through the zombie apocalypse you will ever read.

What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?

I really like fruitcake and I can't figure out why it's got such a bad rep.

In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.

There are so many great charities, but one that sticks out is Hope for Paws. This is an animal rescue based in Los Angeles that finds and rehabilitates animals that are suffering either on the streets or in kill shelters. They also document every step of the way and host videos that would make even the hardened of hearts cry. Check them out at http://www.hopeforpaws.org

Where can readers find out more and connect with you?

Website: http://mcmullenwrites.blogspot.com

Twitter: Twitter.com/mcmullenwrites

Facebook: Facebook.com/mcmullenwrites


What is your name?

D.E. Morris

What genre or genres do you write in?

Science Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Nice

Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.

Join the adventures of alien scientists Quigbat and Zort, with their accidental companion from Earth, Marcy. "Aliens in the Gift Shop" follows their first and disastrous science mission to Earth. "Aliens and the Race to Earth" continues their exploits as the three try to save Earth from a deadly weapon.

What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?

Peppermint Mocha

In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.

World Vision provides child sponsorship and humanitarian relief for the poor and needy of the world. www.worldvision.org

Where can readers find out more and connect with you?

Website: http://www.authordemorris.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/author_demorris


What is your name?

Quoleena Sbrocca

What genre or genres do you write in?

Literary Fiction, Historical, Time Travel

Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.

Tell us a little about the book(or books) you are offering.

Time travel is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Every four and five years, invisible, time travel doorways open and close. Any person or creature caught within the magnetic, gravitational pull awakens incoherently to a future world.

What is your favorite underrated holiday treat?

I think holiday treats are pretty much on even footing, but my favorites are fruit pies, especially my mom's peach cobbler. It's my all-time favorite. The holidays are that much more grim without it.

In the spirit of giving, tell us about your favorite charitable organization.

The Dawn Saves Wildlife campaign. It's the only brand I buy. http://dawn-dish.com/en-us/dawn-saves-wildlife

Where can readers find out more and connect with you?

Website: http://www.quoleenasbrocca.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/QJSbrocc 


Check out additional interviews!

Alp's Blog

Amanda's Blog

Shoshanah's Blog

Tails of the Apocalypse Part II

Part of why we write is to make a difference. Whether it's in our life or in just one readers' life, we all hope that the words we put to paper will change someone for the better. Chris Pourteau has taken this a step further by putting together a compilation of works dedicated to the cause of donating to Pets for Vets. 

Through Support for Indie Authors, I had the chance to talk with Chris a little bit about his calling to this project and where he hopes to go from here. 

Enjoy the interview below and I strongly encourage you to take the time to check it out and donate to the cause as it's such a worthy one!


1.    Can you tell me a little bit about what led you to embark on this journey? 

Back in the fall of 2014, my friend Stefan Bolz (who also has a story in Tails of the Apocalypse), posted a photo on Facebook of his dog, Ember, on an empty road. The photo shows an autumn setting, and Ember’s stance seems lonely, like she’s searching for something—or someone, maybe. I commented on his photo that it looked like a shot from The Walking Dead, if the show were about a dog. A story quickly formed in my head about the zombie apocalypse as the family dog might experience it. The story kept poking me in the brain, demanding that I write it. So over the Christmas holidays I did and published it in mid-January.

I was very concerned about how the story would be received. I mean, The Walking Dead isn’t a happy show. And now we’re putting a dog into that “reality”—not ingredients for a Disney movie by any means! I hit “publish” and winced. 

The story, “Unconditional: A Tale of the Zombie Apocalypse” rose to the top of Amazon’s “Top Rated in 30-Minute Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Reads” pretty quickly and stayed there for 6 months. After 11 months, it’s still #3 . It has 50 reviews—pretty unusual for a short story—with a 4.8/5.0 star average. 

Based on the reviews, readers seem to empathize closely with the unnamed dog in the story and his terrifying experiences as he searches for his best friend, a boy who flees with the rest of the family when the zombies overrun their home. I’ve lived with dogs all my life, and I think I managed to touch readers with my canine hero. Then, I thought—why not an anthology? And with other animals, not just dogs?

Because I felt it had a place in this anthology as “the story that started it all,” I’ve included “Unconditional” as the final tale in Tails of the Apocalypse. 

2.    What has been your favorite part of this process?

Although it was a blast working as the editor to help the authors shape and refine their stories, partnering with Pets for Vets, Inc., has been the most fun. I knew I wanted to benefit an animal charity and had even reached out to The Humane Society of the United States. Then David Bruns—one of the writers in Tails and a U.S. Navy veteran—suggested Pets for Vets, a national 501(c)3 nonprofit that matches shelter dogs (that would otherwise be euthanized) with military veterans returning home who need them. Personnel train the animals as special companions for veterans suffering from emotional trauma, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I’m donating $1.00 per book sold (e-book, paperback, and audiobook) to Pets for Vets through the end of 2015. 

They’ve been great to work with. We signed an agreement with them, issued a joint press release, and have gone on podcasts together. We’ve been posting weekly to their Facebook page to advertise the collection, as well as spreading the good word about their organization everywhere we can. Their mission is to help veterans heal through the power of unconditional love many of us have experienced with our own pets. Within many of the dystopian landscapes our authors set their stories, the same healing occurs between our human and animal protagonists. We couldn’t have picked a better thematic fit with our collection. 

3.    How long has it taken you to put this together? 

I finalized the line-up sometime in the late spring and set August 19 (branded on my brain now!) as the deadline for draft stories. By mid-October I had a complete manuscript, sans final proofing and changes, together. The collection publishes November 20 , though pre-orders are currently available at http://bit.ly/buy-tails-for-vets.

4.    What’s your goal for this project? 

I have several. First and foremost, I want to hand Pets for Vets the biggest check possible. Second, I’d like to recover my costs. I’ve personally financed the development of the anthology—paid the writers, the artist, the promotions, etc.—so I’d like to at least break even there. Third, although I’ve been a professional editor for over 20 years, this is my first major solo effort in fiction. I’d like to start establishing some street cred there, because in 8 to 10 years, I’ll likely be retiring from my day job and hope to supplement my retirement with writing and editing income. 

5.    Can we expect similar projects from you in the future? 

Because I work a day job full time and write fiction of my own in my “spare time,” it’s difficult finding the time to helm a big project like this. But I hope to be able to do at least one like it per year as editor/producer. I already have one in mind, in fact, for my next trick! If Tails does well, I might do a second volume along the same theme next year, also benefiting Pets for Vets. The benefiting-a-charity model really resonates with folks, so I think that’ll be a staple component for future projects as well.

6.    What would you like readers and contributors to take away from this? 

In a nutshell, this anthology is The Walking Dead meets The Incredible Journey. The inherent nobility of animals—including values like instinctive self-sacrifice and unconditional love—are explored by some of today’s most talented independent writers, including four USA Today bestselling authors. All manner of animals—dogs, cats, wolves, bears, even parrots—are presented as heroic figures. If you love animals, particularly pets, I think you’ll enjoy the anthology. 

I know the topic of apocalyptic fiction might be outside the wheelhouse of some of your followers. One of our early readers, Graham Salisbury , author of Under the Blood-Red Sun, Hunt for the Bamboo Rat, and other novels for young readers, says this about the anthology: 
“Tails of the Apocalypse is a book project worthy not only of its heartfelt cause, but also of its crisp, imaginative writing. I found myself captured by the gripping power of ‘story,’ and this for me is telling, as I don’t normally delve into this genre. With this collection I was given an opportunity to step beyond myself into something new, something fresh … and I was captured. Thank you! Very well done, and highly recommended.” 

I think the especially important part of that review is recognizing that Mr. Salisbury doesn’t typically read this genre, and yet he loved this collection. 

7.    Any final thoughts? 

We’re doing our best to deliver a big check to Pets for Vets in January. We’d really appreciate the support of your readers in that effort. Look them up on the web (www.petsforvets.com) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PetsforVetsInc/) and see the good work they’re doing. If not through the purchase of Tails, I hope you’ll be inspired to support them in some way. They have chapters all across the United States.