Books

Introducing Born In A Treacherous Time by Jacqui Murray

I am delighted to help Jacqui celebrate the release of her latest novel Born in a Treacherous Time. I would highly recommend visiting Jacqui’s post, where she has provided a schedule for the blog hop (here). You will find a lovely interview here, and a review of the book here.

I have my copy, and will provide a review within the next couple of weeks. I can’t wait to join Lucy and her band on their adventure!

Find out more about the book, including an excerpt, below.

born in a treacherous timeBorn in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.

Born in a Treacherous Time is prehistoric fiction written in the spirit of Jean Auel. Lucy is tenacious and inventive no matter the danger, unrelenting in her stubbornness to provide a future for her child, with a foresight you wouldn’t think existed in earliest man. You’ll close this book understanding why man not only survived our wild beginnings but thrived, ultimately to become who we are today.

This is a spin-off of To Hunt a Sub’s Lucy (the ancient female who mentored Kali Delamagente, the female protagonist).

Kirkus Review:

“Murray’s lean prose is steeped in the characters’ brutal worldview, which lends a delightful otherness to the narration …The book’s plot is similar in key ways to other works in the genre, particularly Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear. However, Murray weaves a taut, compelling narrative, building her story on timeless human concerns of survival, acceptance, and fear of the unknown. Even if readers have a general sense of where the plot is going, they’ll still find the specific twists and revelations to be highly entertaining throughout.

A well-executed tale of early man.”

–Kirkus Reviews

Click here for the entire review

An early reader’s review

Born in a Treacherous Time sheds light on a period of time that gave birth to the human race, and allow us to bear witness to the harshness and tenacious spirit that is uniquely human—to survive and endure. Readers with a thirst for knowledge and who enjoy historical fiction, this is a must read. I am looking forward to reading book 2 when it is published.

“I devoured the book in 2 sittings.”

–Luciana Cavallaro, author of Servant of the Gods series and webmaster of Eternal Atlantis

series logo born in a treacherous time

Book information:

Title and author: Born in a Treacherous Time

Series: Book 1 in the Man vs. Nature series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Cover by: Damonza 

Available at: Kindle

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Wild seriesShe is also the author of over a hundred books on integrating technology into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

Social Media contacts:

http://twitter.com/worddreams

http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

https://worddreams.wordpress.com

https://jacquimurray.net

 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Lucy Leaves Her Homeland

The scene replayed in Lucy’s mind, an endless loop haunting her days and nights. The clear sun-soaked field, the dying Mammoth, the hunters waiting hungrily for its last breath before scavenging the meat, tendons, internal organs, fat, and anything else consumable—food that would nourish the Group for a long time.

But something went horribly wrong. Krp blamed Lucy and soon, so too did Feq.

Why did Ghael stand up?  He had to know it would mean his death.

Lucy wanted to escape, go where no one knew what she’d done, but Feq would starve without her. He didn’t know how to hunt, couldn’t even tolerate the sight of blood. For him, she stayed, hunting, scavenging, and outwitting predators, exhausting herself in a hopeless effort to feed the remaining Group members. But one after another, they fell to Snarling-dog, Panther, Long-tooth Cat, Megantereon, and a litany of other predators. When the strangers arrived, Feq let them take her.

By this time, Lucy felt numb, as much from the death of her Group as the loss of Garv. Garv, her forever pairmate, was as much a part of her as the lush forests, Sun’s warmth, and Snarling-dog’s guidance. Now, with all the other deaths, she could leave his memory behind.

Forests gave way to bushlands. The prickly stalks scratched her skin right through the thick fur that layered her arms and legs. The glare of Sun, stark and white without the jungle to soften it, blinded her. One step forward became another and another, into a timeless void where nothing mattered but the swish of feet, the hot breeze on her face, and her own musty scent.

Neither male—not the one who called himself Raza nor the one called Baad—had spoken to her since leaving. They didn’t tell her their destination and she didn’t ask, not that she could decipher their intricate hand gestures and odd body movements. She studied them as they talked to each other, slowly piecing together what the twist of a hand and the twitch of a head meant. She would understand it all by the time they reached wherever they headed.

It was clear they expected her to follow. No one traveled this wild land alone but her reasons for joining them, submissively, had nothing to do with fear. Wherever the strangers took her would be better than where she’d been.

Lucy usually loved running through the mosaic of grass and forest that bled one into another. Today, instead of joy, she felt worry for her future and relief that her past was past. She effortlessly matched Raza’s tread, running in his steps at his pace. Baad did the same but not without a struggle. His sweat, an equal mix of old and stale from the long trip to find her and fresh from trying to keep up, blossomed into a ripe bouquet that wafted over her. She found comfort in knowing this strong, tough male traveled with her.

Vulture cawed overhead, eagerly anticipating a meal. From the size of his flock, the scavenge must be an adult Okapi or Giraffe. Even after the predator who claimed the kill—Lucy guessed it to be Megantereon or Snarling-dog—took what it needed, there would be plenty left. She often hunted with Vulture. It might find carrion first but she could drive it away by brandishing a branch and howling. While it circled overhead, awaiting a return to his meal, she grabbed what she wanted and escaped.

Feq must smell the blood but he had never been brave enough to chase Vulture away.  He would wait until the raptor finished, as well as Snarling-dog and whoever else showed up at the banquet, and then take what remained which wouldn’t be enough to live on.

Sun descended toward the horizon as they entered a dense thicket. They stuck to a narrow lightly-used animal trail bordered by heavy-trunked trees. Cousin Chimp scuffled as he brachiated through the understory, no doubt upset by the intruders. Only once, when a brightly-colored snake slithered across her path, did Lucy hesitate. The vibrant colors always meant deadly venom and she didn’t carry the right herbs to counter the poison. Baad grumbled when her thud reverberated out of sync with Raza’s, and Cousin Chimp cried a warning.

Finally, they broke free of the shadows and flew through waist-high grass, past trees laden with fruit, and around the termite mound where Cousin Chimp would gorge on white grubs—if Cheetah wasn’t sleeping on top of it.

I haven’t been back here since that day…

She flicked her eyes to the spot where her life had changed. Everything looked so calm, painted in vibrant colors scented with a heady mix of grass, water, and carrion. A family of Hipparion raised their heads but found nothing menacing so turned back to their banquet of new buds.

As though nothing happened…

Lucy sprinted. Her vision blurred and her head throbbed as she raced flat out, desperate to outdistance the memories. Her legs churned, arms pumped, and her feet sprang off the hard earth. Each step propelled her farther away. Her breathing heaved in rhythm with her steps. The sack around her neck smacked comfortingly against her body. Her sweat left a potent scent trail any predator could follow but Lucy didn’t care.

 


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

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Badge of Honour – A Maddison Wood Story

As you may know, instead of publishing the first season of the Collective, as I had intended to do, the plan changed. Quite drastically. I will now be publishing several books in the series, starting in February 2017.

So, to satisfy fans of the Fractured, I wrote a companion story featuring Maddison Wood. Badge of Honour is now available on Amazon. I’ve added a sneak preview below.

badge-of-honour

Cover Art by Alfredo Pachicano. Character Sketch by Rebekah Reece. Title Work by Kathryn Jenkins @MagicalDesigns

When the Fractured descend on the mortal realm, and the Demonic War begins, Maddison Wood is the first to sign up. But when she follows her brother into the enemy camp, things go terribly wrong.

What began as a rescue mission, becomes her worst nightmare. Maddison is forced into slavery and stripped of all her power.
Trapped, she finds strength in the relationship she shares with her brothers, Zachariah and Michael. Together, they form an unbreakable, if unorthodox bond. The witch, the elf, and the vampire; a powerhouse of three.
After months in captivity, Maddison is offered a chance to escape. A chance that, for one of her brothers, comes too late. Michael finds his way out of one prison, only to be locked in another – the hell inside his own mind. Now Maddison faces her toughest challenge yet. She must find a way to bring her brother home, before they lose him forever.
Sneak Preview

 

Maddison felt a swell of anticipation as she followed Kian to the large rock face. He touched his hand to the rough surface and the concealment spell dropped away, revealing an enormous door. Above the carved stone and glass entryway sat the family crest. It shone with the aquamarine and dark juniper shade of the house colours.

She couldn’t dredge up her natural armour, or the prickly barb she used as a shield to deflect deep emotion. So she couldn’t distance herself from the awe that encased her heart. This was Michael’s home, and she felt him everywhere. If she hadn’t already accepted their connection, she might have been afraid. The affection she felt made her almost giddy.

She had a hard time processing the softer side to her nature. Only with her family could she drum up the nice. Well, most of the time.

Oh, she could be reticent, and sometimes a total bitch. She had never been very good at all the touchy-feely crap. The vulnerability that came with sharing her innermost thoughts. And her barb could sting.

But Michael was part of her, too, so he evoked the gentleness that was all but choking her. She would give him that. She would give him anything if he came back to them.

It was easier now that she could feel him. So much easier to shake off the guard that usually had people reaching for the nearest weapon, and relax.

Kian paused when he crossed the threshold, as though anticipating her need. And because she wanted to soak in her surroundings, Maddison stopped too. She let her head fall back onto her shoulders, and took in the way the room went up, up, up. So far, she could barely make out the roof.

She couldn’t see with any detail, but she recognised the material. A mixture of glass and stone, infused with the house colours. They lit the space, flooding onto the levels beneath. Floors that wound around and around the room, before coming to a stop about fifteen feet above her.

Maddison righted her head until she was looking at the elegant staircase. Beneath it, a series of corridors led off from where they stood.

“You have a beautiful home,” she said, glancing at Kian.

He smiled. “There is much to explore. Come.”

Maddison followed him down one of the corridors, and into a room on the left. Two alcoves drew her attention. Carved out of the wall on her right, they held a complex series of multifaceted shapes within the stone.

Then her gaze swept left, to the large circular bed, and to Michael in the centre.

He was lying against sheets of emerald green. A colour that should have complimented his honey toned skin. Instead, they accentuated his grey pallor, and Maddison’s chest tightened. She knew the signs. His organs were failing. Again. The first time they were able to slow the process. This was different, and it made her want to scream.

Without conscious thought, she moved. One minute she was in the doorway, the next she was scrambling across the bed. Somehow, she had the foresight to look at Kian, to prepare him for what he might see. “Whatever happens,” she said, untangling her hair. “I would never hurt him.”

Turning back to her friend, her brother of the heart, she positioned herself next to him. Power was already pulsing along her skin, so she released it. Her hair began to seep across Michael’s body. A dark silken blanket that wrapped him up tight. She didn’t stop until he was completely covered. Only his head was visible above the cocoon she created.

Maddison ignored the startled sound Kian made, and instead focused on Michael’s energy. She reached into his mind, followed the echo of him that wanted to pull her under, and let go.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Shadow Stalker Part 3 by Renee Scattergood

I’ve had Renee on the blog before, and talked about how much I enjoy this serial adventure, so it’s my pleasure to announce that Part 3 is now available.

part-3-release

Things go from bad to worse when the Galvadi Empire develops a new technology to use against the shadow stalkers. Now Kado and Makari are more determined than ever to keep Auren away from their enemies, but Auren decides enough is enough and takes matters into her own hands. She turns herself over to the Galvadi to get close to Drevin and Makari has no choice but to play along. He is forced to either torture Auren to prove his loyalty or die knowing she will be tortured and enslaved anyway. Somehow, they must get close enough to Drevin to bring him down and put an end to the Galvadi’s tyranny once and for all.

Episode 13: Defiance

Three years have passed since Auren and Shai escaped the daily torture of the Galvadi. With Makari’s help, they have learned more about the Galvadi’s technology and discovered ways to overcome its effects on their power, which gave them an edge in the war. However, the Galvadi have spent that time developing new technology that could mean the end of the shadow stalkers.

Episode 14: Falling to Pieces

Things go from bad to worse after Cali is captured by the Galvadi. The new technology they have employed is making a rescue attempt impossible and endangering the lives of all the shadow stalkers. Auren refuses to give up though, but the more she tries to fix thing, the more Kado tightens the leash.

Episode 15: Into My Own

Just when Auren thinks she’d had enough of Kado’s overbearing and overprotective nature, he surprises her by apologizing and admitting he had been wrong. Auren finally accepts that she is not at fault for Cali’s death after visiting her in the shadow world, but Kado and Makari are still preventing her from confronting Drevin. They don’t feel she is ready, and Auren is beginning to believe they will never let her fulfil her destiny. It’s time she takes matters into her own hands.

Episode 16: A New Emperor

Makari is told the only way he can prove his loyalty is by torturing Auren, but he refuses to go through it. So Jharak, Drevin’s master interrogator, took the liberty to be the one to break her, but in the end, it would take forcing her to watch him torture and kill Makari.

Episode 17: Allies to Enemies Part 1

Traitors are weeded out and new allies are found. Auren and Makari are determined to bring peace once again to the Serpent Isles, but they have a deadline. If they don’t make it in time, they could end up at war with their own people.

Episode 18: Allies to Enemies Part 2

General Graves wants Auren and Makari dead. When Makari demands one of Graves’ men, who secretly supports Makari, is sent to him for extra security at the palace, Graves uses a mind control drug to get him to assassinate them. Will Auren and Makari learn what happened before it’s too late?

Buy Shadow Stalker Part 3 – http://reneescattergood.com/books/shadow-stalker-part-3-episodes-13-18/

If you haven’t read the Shadow Stalker serial yet, download Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6) free – http://reneescattergood.com/books/shadow-stalker-part-1-episodes-1-6/

shadow-stalker-p3-72-small

Excerpt – Episode 13: Chapter 1

Cali gave me a nudge as she took a seat next to me. “Do you have any idea what’s going on?”

“No idea,” I said, moving over a few inches so she had space to sit between me and Shai on the log someone had converted into a bench.

Shai slung an arm around her cousin and Cali returned the gesture, then wrapped her free arm around me. I smiled at her. Cali was the only one who had helped me maintain my sanity over the years. It drove me crazy never knowing what was happening to Makari. Kado kept me busy, as usual, but any time I had a free moment, all I could do was wonder if he was safe. I would know if he died. I would sense him again in the shadow world. He had been blocking me to keep me safe, though I had no idea how it was supposed to help. All it did was make me want to go to him, which would be more dangerous.

Of course, Kado would never allow that. He saw my thoughts as I had them most of the time, and he would know as soon as I made the decision. I learned quickly not to allow my thoughts to go down that path too often. That’s where Cali came in. She distracted me by helping me forget the war and making me feel like a normal person once in a while. She was as good a friend as Jade, except she didn’t encourage me to disobey Kado when I was angry.

“Maybe the Galvadi have decided to give up,” Shai said, pulling me out of my thoughts.

Cali snorted.

“I know. It’s wishful thinking.”

I smiled at Shai. “I want this to be over too.”

“You’ll figure it out soon.” Cali gave my shoulder a squeeze.

All the shadow warriors knew the end of the war would not come until I stopped Drevin. The only problem was I had no idea what I was supposed to do, and no amount of training helped. Each day it seemed like I was further from my goal instead of closer.

After everyone had taken their seats, Kado held up a hand calling us all to silence. “Makari has just given me some disheartening news. The Galvadi have developed a—”

I tried to listen, but I couldn’t get past the fact that Makari had been here. “He didn’t even bother to see me?”

Kado glared at me, and I suddenly realized I’d blurted it aloud.

“Makari has to keep a low profile for his own safety, and they were not aware he had left. He couldn’t stay away long.”

“I think it’s time he left the Galvadi all together,” I said, folding my arms over my chest.

“It would be the healthier option,” Cali added on my behalf.

“Makari’s work has been invaluable to us, and would not be possible if he weren’t living among them for the time being,” Kado said, then leaned in my direction looking straight into my eyes. “And he knows what he is doing.”

Kado watched me, and I was sure he was waiting to see if I would continue to interrupt him. I remained silent, but neither he nor Makari would be able to convince me the man I loved wasn’t taking an unnecessary risk. They could get whatever information they needed from their missions.

When he was sure I wouldn’t interrupt again he finished explaining that the Galvadi had developed a new recinder and how it worked. “You will need to avoid capture at all costs. Once these recinders are placed on you, there is no known way to nullify its effects even after removal. Auren, I want you to visit Makari’s unit to steal the schematics, and if possible, one of the recinders along with any other information you can find about new technologies. Makari suspects there is more, but they are keeping him in the dark.”

I stood quickly, smacking my hands together. “When do I leave?”

“Wait a moment. I have other things I need to discuss with you first.”

I sat again, hoping I wasn’t in for one of his long lectures.


Renee ScattergoodRenee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn’t start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy, and she’d dabbling with paranormal thrillers under a pen name.

She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels, A God’s Deception.

Aside from writing, she loves reading (fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her homeschooled daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6): http://reneescattergood.com

Author Pages:

Website/Blog: http://reneescattergood.com/

Renee’s Author Spotlight: http://reneesauthorspotlight.blogspot.com.au/ – a blog where I feature indie and small press authors.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00NTJY1W2

Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/rscatts

BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/renee-scattergood

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8507658.Renee_Scattergood

Renee’s Shadow Stalkers: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/16rTPYCAwDq5cpyxHfphx0-x6ka9C7DWoJsdgYa2CyAw/viewform

Social Media:

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/reneescatts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReneeScatts

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100671337443224225702/posts

LinkedIn: https://au.linkedin.com/pub/renee-scattergood/56/963/3

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rscatts/

Newsletter (new subscribers get 3 free books): http://reneescattergood.com/subscribe-today/


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Badge of Honour – A Maddison Wood story

As it’s day five of the twelve days of the Fractured, and Maddison plays a big part in this instalment, I thought it might be the perfect opportunity to share the cover and synopsis with you. I will be releasing Badge of Honour next week.

When the Fractured descend on the mortal realm, and the Demonic War begins, Maddison Wood is the first to sign up. But when she follows her brother into the enemy camp, things go terribly wrong.

What began as a rescue mission, becomes her worst nightmare. Maddison is forced into slavery and stripped of all her power.

Trapped, she finds strength in the relationship she shares with her brothers, Zachariah and Michael. Together, they form an unbreakable, if unorthodox bond. The witch, the elf, and the vampire; a powerhouse of three.

After months in captivity, Maddison is offered a chance to escape. A chance that, for one of her brothers, comes too late. Michael finds his way out of one prison, only to be locked in another – the hell inside his own mind. Now Maddison faces her toughest challenge yet. She must find a way to bring her brother home, before they lose him forever.

And here it is…the unveiling of the cover!

badge-of-honourNow for a sneak peak…

Maddison studied the latest demon to face her in the arena and, what do you know – this one was royalty. He had to be, given the amount of feedback she received through the walled barrier. The damn thing amplified sound, but still, the blood-thirsty audience loved him. Go figure.

She felt tired, so damn tired of the endless cycle. The greedy, arrogant expression on a cacophony of faces that dissolved first into rage, then disbelief as she kicked their sorry asses.

This one was too pumped up on the ravenous applause to show fear, or perhaps he’d heard the rumours. It was more likely he was coasting on a false sense of security. After all, she was forbidden to use her secret weapon – the hair which contained the crux of her power.

It was not her only weapon. Her captors might appreciate her skills, but they didn’t know her history. Maddison’s training regimen had been brutal, but then, she had expected nothing less. Tristan Thorne was the best. A warrior at the top of his game, one whose role it was to protect the human race. With or without her magic she could wipe the floor with the piece of shit preening like a peacock in front of her.

She raised her hands in a ‘bring it on’ gesture, wiggling her fingers. The demon complied on a low snarl. Cute. He thought he could intimidate her.

He was a Sentinel; a beast in human skin. The only way to tell them apart was the shattered affect across the pupil. It bled across the demon’s iris in a deep blood red.

Spinning out of his way, she avoided the brunt of the collision. But she hadn’t accounted for his intelligence – clearly he’d been watching her fight. He anticipated her first few moves. Maddison was almost impressed when he managed to unbalance her enough to pin her to the ground. But then he made a mistake. Not only did he straddle her, he lost himself in the jeering of the crowd and placed his filthy mitt on her left breast.

Oh no you didn’t.

With measured deliberation, Maddison looked down. “I’ll give you three seconds to remove your hand or you’ll lose it,” she said in a conversational tone. “One…two…” Oh what the hell. She used three short, sharp jabs to debilitate – gut, face, windpipe. Then gathered her power into her core and flipped their positions. She didn’t wait for him to recover, or for his adrenaline and rage to kick in. She swiped his own sword, sheathed at his back, and brought the blade down on his left wrist.

The demon howled; a deafening sound matched only by the angry cries of their audience. It turned out she’d been right about his importance, and they wanted to teach her a lesson the hard way. A tag team descended on her before she had a chance to prepare. Not that any amount of preparation would have done her any good. A white hot shaft of pain tore down her spine as her jailer gave her a mental command that went against her natural instincts. ‘Do not defend yourself.’

She couldn’t ignore the compulsion, or utilise her unique weapon. The feedback rendered her powerless. The only upside to the whole thing was that she couldn’t feel the meaty fists striking her body. The slave collar was causing its own damage. It was like a freaking magnet for pain. It radiated throughout her body until she had to clamp down hard on her jaw to hold back a scream.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

New Release: Charms of the Feykin by Charles Yallowitz

I’m delighted to share details about Charles Yallowitz’ new release – Charms of the Feykin. More exciting Windemere adventures…bring it on!

Return to Windemere in Charms of the Feykin!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

To make a champion fall, one must wound their very soul.

Nyx is leading the charge to rescue Delvin and Sari, who have gone missing in the southern jungles of Windemere. Battling through the local predators, the champions are surprised when they reunite in the Feykin city of Rhundar. Instead of captives, the missing heroes have become the city’s rulers and are on the verge of starting a war with those that want to exterminate their new followers. Even with such a noble cause, Delvin and Sari have changed into brutal warlords that may kill each other and their friends long before they step onto the battlefield.

Have Delvin and Sari really changed for the worst or is there a greater threat pulling the champions’ strings?

Grab it on Amazon!

Add it to your Goodreads ‘To Read’ List!

Excerpt: Broken Bonds

Sari draws two daggers and sprints at Luke, slashing at his sabers in an attempt to cut his hands as he unsheathes his weapons. Instead, the forest tracker unclips the scabbards from his belt and spreads his arms to avoid the gypsy’s attack. The swords still sheathed, he does his best to deflect his former friend’s strikes while harmlessly smacking her in the sides. When a dagger slices his arm, Luke kicks out to knock Sari back. A hint of a grin on her face causes him to slow his attack, his foot aching as it bounces off her immovable body. Knowing he has to trick her, the half-elf runs backwards to get the gypsy to charge. Before she falls behind, the warrior lets her gradually catch up while remaining out of slashing range. Once Luke reaches the riverbank, he lunges forward and aims a swing at the sprinting woman’s knee. Forced to decide between taking a blow that would surely break bone or risk a similar injury by turning her power on while running, Sari tries to twist out of the way. She lands on her back at the forest tracker’s feet and curses when he pins her arms by jamming his sabers against her wrists.

Before Luke can tell the gypsy to stop struggling, an arm of water bursts from the river and bats him away. Phelan leaps out of the rapids and sprints at the prone warrior, his daggers lengthened by keenly edged liquid. The weapons sink into the muddy earth when their target rolls away, the ringing of drawn steel revealing that the champion is no longer restraining himself. With a flurry of stabs and slashes, the half-elf drives his new opponent back and whittles away at the watery daggers. Trying not to kill the Feykin, Luke delivers an echoing hilt punch to Phelan’s head every time the other warrior attempts a counterattack. Faced with the full speed and skill of the agile forest tracker, the outclassed hunter has various watery weapons fly out of the river. None of them hit the champion, who remains close enough to continue his barrage of muscle-rattling strikes.

Ducking to the side, Luke slashes at the other man’s exposed flank in what he hopes will be a crippling, but non-lethal, blow. The saber clangs off a patch of icy armor and a freezing tremor makes the half-elf’s arm go numb. A searing pain erupts from his lower back and he whirls around, the motion preventing Sari’s dagger from doing more than a long cut across his side. His first saber swings an inch over her head, but his second weapon leaves a gash up the middle of her chin. Enraged by the pain, the gypsy moves out of Luke’s reach and summons a massive hammer of water. She freezes the forest tracker’s feet to the ground before he can move, which allows the large weapon to connect. It repeatedly comes down on the warrior, breaking several ribs and one of his arms. Sheathing his sabers and remaining on the ground, the half-elf draws the stiletto and hurls it into Sari’s thigh. A look of shock is on her face and she stares at Luke’s battered form as if seeing such injuries for the first time.

Need to catch Legends of Windemere from the beginning? Then click on the covers below!

You can start for FREE . . .

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Or grab the $4.99 ‘3 in 1’ bundles!

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen 3D Conversion by Bestt_graphics

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen
3D Conversion by Bestt_graphics

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

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Also Available in Single eBooks:

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

Cover art by Jason Pedersen

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Interested in a new adventure? Then grab your Kindle & dive back into the world of Windemere! Don’t forget an apple for Fizzle.

Author Photo

About the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

To Hunt a Sub by Jacqui Murray

THAS-small [16806]An unlikely team is America’s only chance

A brilliant Ph.D. candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky experimental robot team up against terrorists intent on stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. By all measures, they are an unlikely trio–one believes in brawn, another brains, and the third is all geek. What no one realizes is this trio has a secret weapon: the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.


Preview Chapter from To Hunt a Sub

Three days before present

Ten hours and thirty-seven more minutes and the crew of the USS Hampton SSN 767 would be home. Seasoned submariners, the six-month covert intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance tour down the eastern seaboard of South America had gone flawlessly and silently. The Atlantic is a large ocean and the Los Angeles-class sub’s noise footprint small. Once the boat cleared Cuba, the crew would relax.
The Captain sipped the morning’s fourth cup of burned coffee when the hair on the back of his neck prickled. He glanced around, trying to identify what bothered him.
“Captain,” the Watchstander’s gaze bobbed from the Executive Officer to his watchstation. “Navigation is non-responsive.” Confusion tinged his words.
That was it. A change in the deck’s subtle rumble. Before the Captain could react to the impossibility that guidance controls had crashed, every monitor in the sub’s nerve center shut down.
He hadn’t seen this in twenty years of driving subs. All personnel made a hole as he rushed toward the Control Center, shadowed by the XO.
“Sonar readings?” The Captain called to Sonarman Second Class Andy Rikes in the compartment just aft of Control, barely larger than a broom closet but elbow-to-elbow with operators, fingers flying across keyboards and eyes locked onto screens that blinked a dull grey.
Rikes answered, “Negative, Sir. The hydrophones are working, but aren’t sending raw data, like someone pulled the plug and flushed everything out to sea. Trying to fix it.” His voice was hopeful.
If the screen had worked, Sonarman Rikes would have seen the ping, a final gasp before everything electrical collapsed.
The COB—Chief of Boat—interrupted, “Captain. Reactor Scram!” The sub’s nuclear power had evaporated. “Nuclear technicians isolating the problem. Battery back-up is being attempted.”
“Shift propulsion from main engines to EPM,” an auxiliary electric motor that could turn the propeller.
“Negative, Captain. Non-responsive.” Fear leaked from his voice.
The depth meter no longer worked, but the XO guessed that the sub was angled downward at 10 degrees
“Blow main ballast tanks!”
“No response, Captain.”
“How deep is the ocean floor in this sector of the Atlantic?”
The Sonarman answered, “It varies between 1,000 and 16,000”
16,000 feet was well below the sub’s crush depth.
“There are seamounts and ridges spread throughout. We could get lucky and land on one. Or not.”
“Inform US Strategic Command of our situation.”
“Sir, comms are down.”
“Release the message buoy,” though all that told the world was they were in trouble. It could quickly drift miles from their position.
The Captain continued, voice calm, face showing none of the worry that filled his thoughts, “I want all department heads and Chief Petty Officers in front of me in five minutes. I want the status on every system they own and operate. Wake up whoever you need to.” He had a bad feeling about this.

“Gentlemen, solutions.” The Captain looked first at XO, then COB and finally NAV, the Navigation Officer who turned to the senior chief of navigation.
“It’s like an electromagnetic pulse hit us, which can’t happen underwater…” then he shrugged as though to say, I have no idea, Sir.
They practiced drills for every sort of emergency, but not this one. No one considered a complete electrical shutdown possible.
“We’re checking everything, but nothing is wrong. It just won’t work.”
“Where’s CHENG?” The Chief of Engineering.
“Troubleshooting, Sir.” COB’s voice was efficient, but tense.
The Captain didn’t wait. “Condition Alpha. Full quiet—voices whispers, all silent, no movement not critical. Defcon 2,” the second-highest peacetime alert level.
No one knew who their enemy was or why they were under attack, but they had one and they were.
“XO, get lanterns up here.”

Within an hour, the massive warship had settled to the ocean floor like the carcass of a dead whale. It teetered atop an ocean ridge, listing starboard against a jagged seamount, and the gentle push of an underwater current from a cliff that plunged into a murky darkness. Every watertight door was closed. As per protocol, the oxygen level was reduced to suppress a fire hazard. Without climate controls, the interior had already reached 60 degrees. It would continue dipping as it strove to match the bone-chilling surrounding water temperature. Hypothermia would soon be a problem. For now, though, they were alive.
The hull groaned as though twisted by a giant squid.
The Captain peered into the gloomy waters that surrounded the sub. “Thoughts, XO?”
“We’re stable for the moment, barring a strong underwater current.”
Based on the creaking protests from the hull, they were at or beyond crush depth. Any deeper, the outside pressure would snap the HY-80 outer hull and sea water would roar into the living compartments. Everyone would be dead in seconds, either drowned or impaled on the ragged remains of the sub by a force in excess of a Category Five hurricane.
“We’re beyond the depth of the Steinke Hoods,” escape equipment that included full body suits, thermal protection, and a life raft. Budget cuts had eliminated funding for more advanced solutions.
XO pointed toward a darker expanse of black just yards from the sub. “No telling how deep that crevice is.”
“Gather the crew in the Forward compartment. Seal all other compartments. Ration water. Start O2 candles when levels reach 50% normal. Did the message buoy launch?”
“Yes, sir.”
That was a relief. The Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) deployed in emergencies from shore couldn’t assist if it didn’t know they needed help.


Quote from author:

What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the captivating prehistoric female who unwittingly becomes the guide and mentor to Kalian Delamagente as she struggles to stop a madman from destroying her life.

Book information:
Title and author: To Hunt a Sub by J. Murray
Release Date: August 15, 2016 by Structured Learning
Genre: Thriller
Cover by: Paper and Sage
..
Available at:
Kindle August 15th

Purchase Link

jmm pic [16808]

Author bio:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

To Hunt a Sub by Jacqui Murray

I was so excited about this post I dragged myself out of hibernation. To say it’s a pleasure to be part of Jacqui’s blog hop is an understatement. I’ve been waiting for the release of To Hunt a Sub for a while, so I’m going to leave you to soak up the details and head over to Amazon to get myself a copy.

But, before I go, I want congratulate Jacqui on her debut novel. She’ll be stopping by at some point today, so if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of release day, so let’s commence with the festivities.

THAS-small [16806]

An unlikely team is America’s only chance

 A brilliant Ph.D. candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky experimental robot team up against terrorists intent on stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. By all measures, they are an unlikely trio–one believes in brawn, another brains, and the third is all geek. What no one realizes is this trio has a secret weapon: the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago.

Quote from author:

What sets this story apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the captivating prehistoric female who unwittingly becomes the guide and mentor to Kalian Delamagente as she struggles to stop a madman from destroying her life.

Book information:

Title and author: To Hunt a Sub by J. Murray

Release Date: August 15, 2016 by Structured Learning

Genre: Thriller

Cover by: Paper and Sage 

Available at:

Kindle  August 15th

 Author bio:

jmm pic [16808]Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.


THAS-small [16806]Purchase Link



Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be catching up with all my friends over the next couple of days.

Mel

Get Your Free Copy of Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero by Charles Yallowitz – Find Out More

Hero Cover FinalThank you to Melissa for helping to spread the word that Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero is now free.  Being that this is the first book of my fantasy series, I’ve been asked to discuss how I come up with all of the monsters.  I started thinking about explaining my process when I realized that it all depends on what I need them for.  To be honest, there are six categories of Windemere monsters that change how I create them. So I better not waste time jabbering on and get down to business.

From Mythology

This is the easiest way to get monsters.  Folklore and mythology have so many obscure creatures that you can go hunting with a basic idea in mind.  Maybe you need a desert predator or a jungle critter.  A character might have a phobia of spiders that you want to take advantage of in the scene.  There’s something for whatever you need.

Altered Mythology

Similar to the previous category, you find a pre-existing monster and alter it.  I like putting my own twist on things at times as well as occasionally having a creature stuck in my head that won’t work for the scene.  An example of this in Windemere are the snake fiends, which appear in Beginning of a Hero.  These are serpentine beasts with the faces of humans, poison barbs along their spines, and a toxic spike on their tail.  They are based on nagas, which were used in the game that the series is based on.  I didn’t want to take them verbatim and went about mucking with the design until I got something I liked.

Frankenstein!

This can be a challenge depending on how good you are at researching.  Have a basic concept for the creature you need and look through real world animals to piece something together.  Using a sketch can help at times to get the parts looking right in your own head.  This is similar to the Altered Mythology, but you’re starting with a lot less.  For example, you may want a huge predator that catches the heroes by surprise.  Give it the body of an elephant with large claws and the head of an alligator.  Add some natural armor plating, a paralytic spray from its mouth, and vestigial wings for a rather difficult fight.  How will it catch the heroes off guard?  The monster can burrow with the help of shovel-like projections on its sides.  (To be honest, all of that came out of nowhere and this shows why you need to take your time with this method.)

Undead

These monsters fall into a special category because of their origin.  They can be made with the previous categories, but they were all alive at some point.  Some have been cobbled together by necrocasters while others simply refuse to stay dead.  There’s a different mentality with the undead because of this.  You can give various types a special origin like wights are drowning victims while poltergeists are born from jilted lovers that kill themselves.  You also have to decide how decayed these guys are, which changes the tactics.  Zombies are still fleshy while skeletons are all bone and harder to kill from afar.  Unlike living monsters, undead require you really consider how to destroy them.

Demons

Similar to the undead, these guys can be made with the first three categories.  They differ for me because they come from a different plane of existence.  Windemere demons live in the Chaos Void and can be summoned instead of being built or born into the main world.  This makes them outsiders, so not every rule is obeyed by them.  For example, a demon dying after being summoned is typically it going home, which means it can return.  Death is accomplished through various methods that have to be established as unique to demons.  Each species might have a different bane as well.  Demons also come from their own biome, so you need to consider that when designing them.  Is this the rabbit, wolf, or human of the Chaos Void?

‘Civilized’ Monsters

These are your elves, dwarves, orcs, fireskins, goblins, calicos, etc.  They can be used for main and supporting characters as well as obstacles.  Many of them stem from pre-existing creatures that show up in fantasy or simple ‘animal-people’ combos.  The difficulty with them is that they have a more detailed place in the world.  Instead of being a wandering beast, these monsters have cities and a culture.  You have to consider this when designing them because it will reveal how they interact with others.  A friendly gesture for an elf could be a declaration of war for an orc while a goblin simply thinks you’re flailing like an idiot.  It helps to make a small write up that includes the race’s history, thoughts on others, and maybe even a few holidays.

So those are the categories to my monster creation methods.  Hope you enjoyed and feel free to use them if you’re stuck with your own fantasy stories.  Don’t forget to check out Beginning of a Hero for free and see all six groups in action.

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Grab Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero for Free!

Thanks for sharing your methods with us, Charles. Personally, I like the Frankenstein concept, but they are all useful and great tips.

If you have any further questions, I’m sure Charles would be happy to answer. Or you could leave a comment about your own methods when creating fantasy creatures.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Introducing Dyndaer by Joshua Robertson

I have been a fan of Joshua’s work for a while now, so it is with absolute pleasure that I share with you his newest release – Dyndaer. Below you will find information about the book, the all important purchase links, and an excerpt to enjoy. I’ve also added details of the first book in the series, Melkorka, including my review.

DyndaerCover

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.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

Website

 

RobertsonPicJoshua 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.

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Excerpt – Dyndaer

The demons of the Netherworld chased him. Four-legged, wolf-like creatures, known as Dreka, rammed their goat horns at Branimir. The gray, wrinkled skin clung to their gaunt frames. Thin lips were stretched back giving sight to the rows of teeth on the tops and bottoms of their bloodied gums.

Branimir tumbled, swinging his weapon and feeling it tear through flesh as easily as a hot blade through frost. For a moment, he may have heard Dorofej’s riddlesome voice—no, his cry—but Branimir had not the time to listen. Bran had to scramble, and sneak, and stab.

And stab. And stab. And stab.

The urgency of the battle and the demons thumped inside of his head.

“Stop!” A familiar voice, again, cried in desperation.

Crimson splattered his vision as his dagger cut through skin once more. His blade loved the taste of blood; he felt the need to drench it again.

Pain stung his leg, but it was quickly forgotten as demon after demon lunged for him. The Dreka were ever persistent in their attack. He spun, and twisted, and disappeared to avoid every demonic beast soaring through the air, vicious teeth aimed for his throat. They would not reach him. For a moment, he thought he saw a flash of Hanna’s wide eyes, but they looked unfamiliar. Treacherous. Evil. Besides, his dagger was already cocked behind his ear and he felt incapable of restraining himself.

thriceseries

 

MelkorkaCover

Melkorka Review by Melissa Barker-Simpson

 

Robertson has created a fantasy world readers will be able to return to time and time again. It is a world of magic and adventure, of epic quests, and arduous journeys into the unknown. In this debut novel of the series, we are introduced to a cast of characters as their world is turned upside down.

The Highborn, a magical race consumed by duty and honour, throw us headlong into all-out war when they condemn one of their own.  Their magic comes with a price, and this humanises them, draws us in to the politics of the land and offers a better understanding of their world. Their superiority is evidenced by the way they live, and unsurprisingly, this leads to an event which seals the fate of their people.

I particularly enjoyed the symbolism of creating Kaelandur, the first corporal weapon to be used among the Highborn in history. The existence of the dagger causes a shift in the balance of power, blurring the lines between good and evil.

The story is told from the point of view of Branimir Baran, a member of the Kras who has served the Highborn at Melkorka for over five decades. It is through his eyes we see the great battle between the Highborn and the Bukavac, demons of the Netherworld. Branimir has the gift of invisibility, creating a window for readers to observe the action and witness the destruction of Melkorka. This battle was wonderfully crafted, with beautiful imagery which added to the illusion of being part of the scene.

By killing one of their own, the Highborn unwittingly create a monster; a powerful adversary hell bent on destroying the world. Those who remain after the battle at Melkorka must embark on a journey to protect that which gives life – the legendary Ash Tree. Sitting within the Waters of Life, it stretches across all worlds, its location guarded by secrecy and, of course, magic.

Robertson’s world building skills are immense, so although I was surrounded by the unfamiliar, especially the names, I was drawn into the adventure immediately. The action didn’t let up for a second; with unexpected deaths, fantastical creatures, cannibalism and heroic battles which stole my breath – I couldn’t put it down.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Brothers in Arms

I know I said I would do a cover reveal, but time ran away from me and I just couldn’t keep up! So this is a cover reveal and an announcement that Brother in Arms is now live (yay!)

I’ve added a sneak peak below.

Brothers in Arms - kindle - coverFour years ago, Andrew Butcher dropped off the grid. Now he is back, and determined to reconnect with his family. But Andrew is playing a dangerous game. In accepting the position as head of security for a known criminal, he risks alienating those he respects and admires – starting with Ellen Parker.

Ellen is a former Troop Commander with the Royal Artillery. In her role at Morgan and Fairchild, she has a reputation for being tough, loyal, and someone who always gets the job done. Andrew and Ellen share a past, one she would sooner forget. But circumstances force her hand, and though Ellen tries to resist, every road leads back to Andrew and a case that will change everything.


Purchase Links:


Excerpt – Brothers in Arms (Morgan and Fairchild Book 3)

 

Ellen Parker slowed her Harley at the security gate, and with her visor pushed to the top of her helmet, she grinned at the guard on duty, flipping him the bird. This got her a matching grin, accompanied by a finger gesture a second before the barrier slid open. On a laugh, quickly swallowed by the wind, Ellen roared onto the backlot. She was familiar with the vast open space that formed Gray’s Lot at Lundwood Studios. But she still took the time to enjoy the view as she headed toward her destination.

It was hard not to appreciate the serene beauty of the place, regardless of how often she visited. Ellen had provided onset protection more than once, and enjoyed the gig as much as the rest of her team. Morgan and Fairchild didn’t have the security contract for the studios, Abe Donovan did, but they worked closely with his organisation, AD Securities.

Since marrying Alicia Gladstone, Brad Morgan made a habit of organising the after party in celebration of his wife’s success. As Alicia owned her own production company, and used the studios as often as possible, it was the perfect location.

The purpose built bar for cast and crew shone like a beacon across the otherwise deserted lot. Ellen scanned the vehicles in front of the building and noted half her crew were already there. The rest would stop by when they could, and given how long these things usually ran, at some point the entire family would unite.

The party was in full swing when she stepped inside the bar. Tonight it was invite only. Ellen spotted Abe immediately. He wasn’t on duty, which was a surprise. She knew this from the elegant cut of his dove grey suit, offset by a black, silk shirt. The effect was devastating against his dark skin. Abe knew how to rock his threads; he looked completely at ease among the celebrity guests Ellen had clocked when she walked in. His strong physicality was evident in every line of his body. Whether working or not, Ellen knew he was alert; his keen intelligence was one of the things she loved about him.

Abe’s dark brown eyes met hers as she approached, his smile warming his expression. “Tell me you’re wearing a little black dress under those leathers.”

She flashed him a grin, amused by the harmless flirtation. Ellen was rarely out of her leathers, unless she was in uniform. “If I’d known you were wearing a get-up like that, I’d have shaken off the moth balls and donned my glad rags. You look good enough to eat.”

His laughter was as smooth as the rest of him. “Touché, my friend.”

***

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

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