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Blog-Tour and Guest Post: Zeus is Dead by Michael G. Munz (Booktrope Publishing)

Hi everyone!

This post is a day late, apologies for that! :-( We’ve been moving into our first house and we hardly have a kitchen, never mind an internet connection. :-) That being said, here we go:

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Zeus is Dead – A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure by Michael G Munz.

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Title: Zeus is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure

Author: Michael G. Munz

Genre: Contemporary Mythological Fantasy

Release date: July 21st, 2014

Publisher: Booktrope Publishing

Length: 446 pages (paperback)

The gods are back. Did you myth them?

You probably saw the press conference. Nine months ago, Zeus’s murder catapulted the Greek gods back into our world. Now they revel in their new temples, casinos, and media empires—well, all except Apollo. A compulsive overachiever with a bursting portfolio of godly duties, the amount of email alone that he receives from rapacious mortals turns each of his days into a living hell.

Yet there may be hope, if only he can return Zeus to life! With the aid of Thalia, the muse of comedy and science fiction, Apollo will risk his very godhood to help sarcastic TV producer Tracy Wallace and a gamer-geek named Leif—two mortals who hold the key to Zeus’s resurrection. (Well, probably. Prophecies are tricky buggers.)

Soon an overflowing inbox will be the least of Apollo’s troubles. Whoever murdered Zeus will certainly kill again to prevent his return, and avoiding them would be far easier if Apollo could possibly figure out who they are.

Even worse, the muse is starting to get cranky.

Discover a world where reality TV heroes slay actual monsters and the gods have their own Twitter feeds: Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure!

About the Author:

An award-winning writer of speculative fiction, Michael G. Munz was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Washington State in 1977 at the age of three. Unable to escape the state’s gravity, he has spent most of his life there and studied writing at the University of Washington.

Michael developed his creative bug in college, writing and filming four exceedingly amateur films before setting his sights on becoming a novelist. Driving this goal is the desire to tell entertaining stories that give to others the same pleasure as other writers have given to him. He enjoys writing tales that combine the modern world with the futuristic or fantastic.

Michael has traveled to three continents and has an interest in Celtic and Classical mythology. He also possesses what most “normal” people would likely deem far too much familiarity with a wide range of geek culture, though Michael prefers the term geek-bard: a jack of all geek-trades, but master of none–except possibly Farscape and Twin Peaks.

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Here’s a guest post by Michael. :-)

Hi everyone! It’s great to be here on Dave Brendon’s Fantasy & Sci-Fi Blog. (I mean, ya know, figuratively. I’m not actually here in the Internet. Probably not, anyway. There’s the tiniest chance I’m somewhere in here battling the Master Control Program.) In honor of the recent release of my comedic fantasy novel Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, Dave has asked me to talk about my writing process.

Some writers like to grab the reins of an idea or character that interests them, dig in the twin spurs of creativity and caffeine, and see where it takes them. They ride, sometimes finding glorious vistas, sometimes getting lost in a ravine, and often both. If they’re lucky, it’ll carry them directly to the stars. Or they might ram into a brick wall that shatters their mount to pieces. That’s the first draft. Then they take the reins again and, now that they’ve mapped the terrain during that first wild ride, plot a more perfect course to reach the vistas and avoid the ravines. This often involves a great deal of revising.

Stephen King likes this particular method. (Did you know he found the story and characters in The Stand were getting away from him, so he blew up the house in which most of them were meeting? The guy’s brutal.) It’s a fantastic method, and some authors obviously do quite well with it.

But it’s not my method. I’m a meticulous planner, and I like to know, more or less, where I’m going when I start the journey. The method that I’ve found works best for me—also a perfectly legitimate method used by numerous authors (Terry Brooks, to name one)—is somewhat the reverse: I tend to front-load the work in the sense that I take more time to sketch things ahead of time before starting in on my first draft.

First I need to decide on my general premise. It’s got to be something that excites me enough to want to spend an entire novel’s worth of time writing. This is both a “what if?” and a good answer. Then I sketch the main characters (who they are, where they came from, and where they’re going), create a “step sheet” that shows the flow of both character arcs and plot progression, and make a bunch of notes about the setting itself. All of this helps inform my writing so I can work in common themes, foreshadowing, and better set up character moments. (To continue with the metaphor from the first method, rather than taking a wild ride through the terrain, I get a satellite image.)

Then, finally, I actually write, using the step sheet and character sketches as a guide. This does NOT mean those things are inviolate. I might come up with new ideas as I go (and certain parts of my step sheet sometimes say “whatever seems to make sense for the characters at this point”), change directions, or even discover that the characters themselves have tapped me on the shoulder (or punched me in the face) to say they want to do things differently.

I hate when they punch me in the face. So far I haven’t had to kill anyone for that. (Okay, so actually I love when they punch me in the face. It’s great to see a character take on a life of his or her own. But sometimes those punches can put serious kinks in my plans! Jerks.) :D

So that gets me through the first draft. From there I edit, revise, agonize, improvise, exercise (it’s good to get the brain working, plus it rhymes here, which is my main reason for mentioning it) and probably eat some pizza.

Come to think of it, pizza (and caffeine) is also a very important part of the earlier steps, too.

So that’s my method. It works for me, but every writer is different. If anyone ever tries to tell you there’s only one “right” way to write a book, you kick them in the shins, and then do it again for me. (And then, ya know, run.) While there are a number of different things that must be done when writing a book, there are also a number of different ways to go about doing them.

Thanks for reading, everyone! Check out the result of my process (and hopefully get a few laughs in the bargain) in my comedic contemporary fantasy Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, in paperback and ebook formats from Booktrope Publishing!

***

There we go, folks – I’ll definitely be making time to give ‘Zeus is Dead’ a read, seems like it’ll be an enjoyable read! :-)

To connect with Michael, check him on Twitter and Facebook; order the novel from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, add the book on Goodreads, and check out his website for more information regarding him and his work.

Massive thanks to Vanya for her patience, and to Michael for the great guest-post! :-)

Happy reading and always Be EPIC!

 
 

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Spotlight: The Final Frontier (The Ovion Archives) by H.M. Irwing

Hope you’ve all been enjoying a kickass Monday so far! :-) I know I have – slept late, had a filling breakfast, relaxing bath – you get the idea. ;-)

Anyway, next spotlight for you is here:

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H.M. Irwing excites readers with captivating sci-fi action adventure full of action, adventure and suspense deep within ‘The Final Frontier

War tore apart Johua, a ruling planet in space where power meant everything and corruption of power ruined not only Johua but all other planets awakened to space travel. A team of Johuan scientist devised a plan that would contain if not eliminate their foe, the Ovions. The plan involved the introduction of EM1, an emotional management technique, that would curb the rage within the Ovions that the Johuan scientists believed drove them to unfailingly overpower the otherwise genetically equal Johuans. But unrest is stirring amongst the Johuans. A plan is hatching to rid the universe of its Ovion protectors and to amass the wealth of the awakened worlds for Johua.

The Final Frontier”, a captivating fantasy/sci-fi romantic novel written by author H.M. Irwing is narrated from the point of view of its main character, the bio-engineered smuggler and fugitive from the insular Johuan race, Sim Drewal and several other key characters. Sim an outsider student at a Johua military academy until she unwittingly killed a depraved instructor by using a power called “blue” is now on the run. She is scooped up by the Ovions, a virtuous, formidable Johuan guardian-peacekeeper caste that upholds justice throughout the United Awakened Worlds. They reveal Sim’s incredible origin; Sim and her three secret siblings are superior beings who were created by a missing mad scientist named Bimas Chawley. The Ovions want to use Sim to track him down, because someone is planning to use Chawley’s stolen technology to trigger a universal catastrophe. Meanwhile, it appears that the corrupted Johuan ruling class is moving to eradicate the Ovions and their associates. This all leads the story to an obscure planet—Earth in the year 2020—which allows the story to embrace culture-shock comedy with the alien beings trying to acclimatize themselves to Earth. Other story elements that add to this cosmic level of excitement includes a female U.S. president, hints of the existence of a divine creator, a Gaia-like spiritual force and bat-like winged angelic beings.

A page-turner space fantasy adventure, “The Final Frontier” will stir readers’ imagination on the mysteries of space and for them to unravel its secrets. It will make them experience the journey of the characters from one planet to another deep within the vast universe. Filled with intrigue, humor, political drama and fast-paced action, this volume will make readers crave for more.

About the Author

H. M. Irwing is the author of the bestselling The Final Frontier, the first of The Ovion Archives series. Irwing contemplates life and fantasises over the frontiers of space from the great Down Under. With Australia as a base, there is no stopping the creative juices of one great fiction writer.

***

To order your copies of “The Final Frontier“, click here for Amazon US and here for Amazon UK. You cal also check out the author’s website here and read an excerpt from The Final Frontier here.

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Spotlight

 

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Indie Movie Spotlight: Space Trucker Bruce – Directed by Anton Doiron

Morning! :-)

I’m back with another spotlight, this time focusing on an Indie movie called ‘Space Trucker Bruce‘. :-)

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In the near future, a breakthrough in gravity control allows inexpensive access to space.

Bruce is a trucker who works the hog fat lines between Earth and the Titan Station. He’s content with his life but a bit lonely. A month away from the Titan Station Bruce picks up Max, an easily bored automation engineer with a broken shuttle. As Max is about to go crazy from space boredom they receive a strange distress call. Soon they discover a huge dark object on a collision course. Bruce and Max must risk everything to survive their deadly encounter and deliver the hog fat.

The movie was shot over 6 years with a budget of $10000, and all the sets were built in Anton’s backyard and house. I haven’t had time to check out the movie yet, but this review on The London Film Review has definitely got me curious! :-)

Here’s a preview of the movie:

If you’d like to get more info on the movie and Anton’s work, check out the official website here; you can also head over to Vimeo to rent the movie. :-) If you’re on Facebook, Like the movie’s page here. :-)

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Spotlight

 

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Spotlight – The Circuit: Executor Rising by Rhett C. Bruno (Mundania Press)

Morning!

Back with another spotlight, this time bringing a debut SF novelto your attention! :-)

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It has been centuries since Earth was rendered a barren, volatile wasteland. With their homeworld left uninhabitable, humanity founded a system of colonies throughout their local solar system. Known as the Kepler Circuit, these settlements are strung together by a network of nonaligned Solar-Ark transports, locked in continuous motion. They have served to provide an influx of resources to every faction ruling over the remnants of humankind, most importantly the newly discovered element Gravitum which is found only in the Earth’s unstable mantle.

By 500 K.C. a religious sect known as the New Earth Tribunal has risen to preside over most of The Circuit. Though there is barely a faction left remaining to challenge them, a string of attacks on their transports force them to summon the enigmatic, yet brilliant, Cassius Vale for help. What they don’t know is that together with his intelligent android creation, ADIM, he is the one orchestrating the raids.

His actions lead to the involvement of Sage Volus, a beautiful Tribunal Executor sent by her masters to spy on their mortal enemies – the Ceresian Pact. In order to find out who is behind the attacks, she infiltrates the ranks of a roguish mercenary named Talon Rayne. Against all her intentions, however, she finds her faith tested by him and his ragtag squad.

While Sage and Talon are engaged in a futile hunt, Cassius Vale initiates his strategy to bring down the narrow-minded Tribune once and for all. But will anyone be able to survive what he has in store for the Circuit?

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About the author:

Rhett Bruno grew up in Hauppauge, New York, and studied at the Syracuse University School of Architecture where he graduated cum laude.

He has been writing since he can remember, scribbling down what he thought were epic short stories when he was young to show to his parents. When he reached high school he decided to take that a step further and write the “Isinda Trilogy.” After the encouragement of his favorite English teacher he decided to self-publish the “Isinda Trilogy” so that the people closest to him could enjoy his early work.

While studying architecture Rhett continued to write as much as he could, but finding the time during the brutal curriculum proved difficult. It wasn’t until he was a senior that he decided to finally pursue his passion for Science Fiction. After rededicating himself to reading works of the Science Fiction authors he always loved, (Frank Herbert, Timothy Zahn, Heinlein, etc.) he began writing “The Circuit: Executor Rising,” The first part of what he hopes will be a successful Adult Science Fiction Series

Since then Rhett has been hired by an Architecture firm in Mount Kisco, NY. But that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to work on “The Circuit” and all of the other stories bouncing around in his head. He is also currently studying at the New School to earn a Certificate in Screenwriting in the hopes of one day writing for TV or Video Games.

***

For more information on Rhett and his work, check out his website here, and you can read an excerpt from the first chapter of The Circuit here. As far as purchasing / ordering links go, here is his publisher’s website – and you can also order the book from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. :-)

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Spotlight

 

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Spotlight: Irredeemable by Jason Sizemore of Apex Publications (Seventh Star Press)

Morning! I’m back with another spotlight, this time featuring a collection of short fiction from Apex Publication’s own Jason Sizemore. :-)

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Flowing like mists and shadows through the Appalachian Mountains come 18 tales from the mind of Jason Sizemore. Weaving together elements of southern gothic, science fiction, fantasy, horror, the supernatural, and much more, this diverse collection of short stories brings you an array of characters who must face accountability, responsibility, and, more ominously, retribution.

Whether it is Jack Taylor readying for a macabre, terrifying night in “The Sleeping Quartet,” the Wayne brothers and mischief gone badly awry in “Pranks,” the title character in “The Dead and Metty Crawford,” or the church congregation and their welcoming of a special visitor in “Yellow Warblers,” Irredeemable introduces you to a range of ordinary people who come face to face with extraordinary situations.

Whether the undead, aliens, ghosts, or killers of the yakuza, dangers of all kinds lurk within the darkness for those who dare tread upon its ground. Hop aboard and settle in, Irredeemable will take you on an unforgettable ride along a dark speculative fiction road.

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About the Author:

Jason Sizemore is a writer and editor who lives in Lexington, KY. He owns Apex Publications, an SF, fantasy, and horror small press, and has been nominated for the Hugo Award three times for his editing work on Apex Magazine. Stay current with his latest news and ramblings via his website http://jason-sizemore.com/ and his Twitter feed handle @apexjason

Irreddemable was published by Seventh Star Press on the 2nd of May – head on over to their website or order your copies here for Amazon US and here for Amazon UK.

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Spotlight

 

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Spotlight and Giveaway: Fractured Dream: The Dreamer Saga by K.M. Randall

Morning, everyone. :-) Another spotlight for you while I get my reviews sorted, and this time I’m chuffed to include a giveaway with the spotlight! Check out the end of the post for details. :-)

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Have you ever wondered where fairytales go once they’re created?

It’s been eight years since Story Sparks last had a dream. Now they’re back,
tormenting her as nightmares she can’t remember upon waking. The black
waters of Lake Sandeen, where her Uncle Peter disappeared decades
before, may hold the secret to Story’s hidden memories, or a truth she’d
rather not know. On a bright summer afternoon, Story and her two best
friends, Elliott and Adam, take a hike to the lake, where they dive into
the cool water and never reemerge. What they find is beyond anything
they’ve ever imagined could be possible, a world where dangers lurk in
the form of Big Bad Wolves, living Nightmares and meddlesome witches and
gods.

Now Story must remember who she really is and somehow stop
two worlds from ultimate annihilation, all while trying not to be too
distracted by the inexplicable pull she feels toward a certain dark-eyed
traveler who seems to have secrets of his own. The fates of the worlds
are counting on her.

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About the Author:

As a girl, K.M. always wished she’d suddenly come into magical powers or cross over into a Faerie circle. Although that has yet to happen, she instead lives vicariously through the characters she creates in writing fantasy and delving into the paranormal. When K.M. is not busy writing her next novel, she is the editor-in-chief of a blog covering the media industry, as well as an editor with Booktrope Publishing. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in English-Lit from Nazareth College of Rochester. K.M. lives in Upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region with her husband and her extremely energetic little boy. Fractured Dream is her first novel.

 Stay up to date with K.M. Randall by visiting http://www.kmrandallauthor.com/

And connect with her online at:

Twitter: @KM_Randall

Here’s an excerpt to get you interested. :-)

Excerpt from Fractured Dream, Chapter Thirty-Four

Big Bad’s Camp

He knew if he’d told Story he was going, she would have refused. So now here he was, belly down in the brush near the Wolves’ camp and covered in unicorn shit. It was the one animal the Wolves wouldn’t hunt, and so when Jess had told them all to cover themselves in it, he hadn’t complained. He knew once the Wolves picked up their scent, they were dead. Even Miss Red wouldn’t be able to take the entire clan down, which was guarding Ninian and Jemma now.

A movement in the tall grass alerted Nicholas, who cocked his head to the breeze and sniffed the air. His smell might not be as good as the Wolves’, but he knew what to look out for, having spent many a night sharing a campfire with them—when the only way to cover their animal stench was to let smoke from the burning wood seep into his clothes and skin.

Nicholas stiffened as the sound grew nearer. His hand went to the knife in his belt, but the smell told him it wasn’t Wolf. No, it smelled like . . .

Hey, Wolf lover,” Jess hissed with a smirk the dimness of the night did nothing to cover. She had big lips and a wide, white smile that was almost as wolfish as the creatures she hunted.

Hey,” he whispered back, grinding his teeth only for a second at the barb, instead focusing on the scene only twenty feet or so beyond. They had to be careful. If the breeze blew a certain way, the Wolves could snatch their whispered plans from the wind.

The Amazonian redhead had belly-crawled next to him, her red hair dragging in the dirt behind her. Nicholas had to admire how she didn’t bat a pretty eyelash at the filth of shit and grime. But then again, she was a Red Riding Hood, and despite her acerbic personality, he knew she was tough. The smirk was gone by the time she reached him, replaced by the expression of a plotting predator. She jerked her head to the camp below as a greeting and arched her brows in question.

This was the Wolves’ main camp, located near The Capital. Tents dotted the landscape and it looked like any military compound, except the number of Wolves was nowhere near what they had bargained for. No, it was much greater, here where Wolves slept like men. Nicholas could not comprehend it at all. There hadn’t been this many of them at the other camp, where they’d held Story only days before. But then again, he’d never actually gotten a chance to look around.

There’s a lot of them,” Jess whispered seriously below the fortunate din of the breeze.

Nicholas nodded, but turned a devil-may-care grin on her. “Yeah, but they’re stupid,” he whispered as stealthily back.

How do ya gather?” she asked.

They’re Wolves, and yet they sleep in tents. Back under Nigel’s leadership, they slept and subsisted as Wolves, living and breathing their animal counterparts. Here they’re sitting ducks in slumber, waiting to be picked off by hunters looking for the nicest hide.”

Jess seemed to take his comment into regard and nodded seriously. The snideness was gone as the hunter had come out to play. “I see what you mean,” she murmured. “Nigel always was the smart one.”

Yes, I’m sure it makes you proud he was your Wolf,” Nicholas said sarcastically, unable to help himself at the stab at her ego.

Listen, I don’t like you for Story—or like you in general for that matter—but I do think you should know, since we’re going down there as allies, that the only thing that matters to me right this moment is seeing Ninian and Jemma out of there. And yes, it’s a turn-on that I offed the alpha to these sorry excuse for Wolves, but they’re all equally as vicious and equally as likely to kill our quarry and us. So this is my peace offering. Don’t mess up and I won’t tell Story horrible things about you.” She offered her hand with a feral smile.

Oh, well, how could I say no to that?” Nicholas retorted, but then grinned lightly in the night and shook her hand. “And who knows, you might get your wish after this since I left without Story’s permission.”

Jess chuckled low in response, pointing one long finger toward a lone man who was checking the perimeters. “It’s now or never,” she said with a nod, and then as fast as he’d seen any Wolf ever move, Jess was on the man. She had her knife to his neck so tight that there was no way he would be able to howl an alert, or his jugular would be cut with the slightest motion. The most he might illicit would be a gurgle. Nicholas quickly joined her, checking around to make sure no other Wolves were in sight.

Staring into the glinting, yellow eyes of the Wolf, Nicholas smiled like he thought his father might smile right before he ordered someone to death or worse, torture. He knew he must look horrible, because the yellowed whites of the Wolf’s eyes rolled back.

Raise an alert and I’ll make sure you die slowly. I’ve watched my father enough times to know the best way to kill a man gradually.” Nicholas was pretty sure that Jess’s presence alone would have been enough to make him talk, such had her reputation preceded her. This particular Big Bad was pretty scrawny, and he knew fear when he saw it. The Big Bad was quaking in his fur, his sneer trembled, and if he’d been in Wolf form, his hackles would have been up.

Where are our friends?” he asked as Jess continued to hold the Wolf tightly.

Their captive laughed, bits of saliva dangling from his mouth. “I tell you, I die in pain; I don’t tell you, I die horribly,” he growled, spit spraying. “Just kill me.” Nicholas realized what he was about to do and started to warn Jess, but it was too late. The Big Bad threw himself into the knife at his neck, cutting his jugular. His blood gushed out onto the ground and he gurgled, thrashing in Jess’s arms. She pushed his body away disgustedly and glanced quickly at Nicholas. “We do not have much time. If they smell blood, it’s all over. For them and us.”

You’re right, there’s not much time at all.”

Startled, Nicholas looked behind him to see a dark shape step out of the night. He blended in with the darkness, and only his green Wolf eyes glistened out of the night. Nicholas’s hand was on his weapon ready to go, but Jess remained calm.

Darvish?” she asked comfortably.

The man turned to her and flashed sharp, white teeth, reminding Nicholas of what they could do when in Wolf form.

Ah, you’ve heard of me,” he said. “And I know you, Red. But this is not the time for pleasantries. If you want your friends, they’re being kept in the tent closest to the middle. You’ll know it because it bears Nigel’s flag.”

Nicholas squinted against the glare of the torches lit around the camp, and sure enough, there it was.

Why should we trust you?” Jess asked warily, her eyes narrowed and her stance defensive.

Nicholas too was wary of this Wolf. But for whatever reason, Story seemed to have some sort of trust in the man. She’d told them what had happened when she’d been captured. They really didn’t have any alternatives. They couldn’t pick off the Wolves one-by-one, there were too many. And eventually, the smell of blood would reach the Wolves and then they’d be dead.

Because, Little Red, Story told you to, didn’t she? And really, I think you’re out of options. If the wind changes, the smell will bring them down on you so fast you won’t know what’s coming.”

Jess, we have to trust him right now, we don’t have a choice.”

You have no idea how much I would really like to kill you,” Jess told the Wolf. “It’s boiling my blood, but Nicholas is right. So how do you suggest we get in there? It’s completely guarded by a hoard of Wolves.” Nicholas could almost hear the arch of her brow.

It’s strategically impossible,” Nicholas agreed shaking his head, dismay falling over him. They couldn’t leave Ninian and Jemma to the Wolves.

Darvish smiled. “It just so happens that a Daughter of the Will is staying with us right now, and she was nice enough to whip me up an Incognitos Silver Bell draught.”

Don’t move,” a voice whispered from behind Darvish, and Nicholas saw Lance, face grimly set in the moonlight, nudge him with a long sword. “Unless you want to die.”

Kestrel suddenly appeared beside Jess. “We must go now; I’ll kill him.”

No,” Nicholas whispered vehemently. “He’s on our side. Lay down your arms, Lance.”

The Pegasus prince hesitated, obviously torn by the command. But with a nod from Jess, the expert on all things Big Bad, he listened. Nicholas could tell it cost Jess to give a Big Bad her safety approval.

Story told us to trust him,” Nicholas said, turning back to Darvish, who stepped away from Lance and eyed the Pegasus Prince and his queen with wariness.

So Ninian gave you some potion, how will it help us?” Jess continued with the questioning.

Smiling now that a knife was no longer in his back, Darvish chuckled. “I will send out two from my ranks to different areas of the perimeter. Dispatch of them, but don’t kill them. And do not draw blood. Once you have, take a drop of their saliva and put one in each potion. Then drink it.”

Beside Nicholas, Jess made a gagging noise.

You will take on their likeness. I will then send out two more men, who you must do the same to, except this time, do not drink. Save your vials and head back down into camp. One of you go into the tent and give Ninian and Jemma each a vial. If anyone asks why you’re going into the prisoners’ tent, tell them Darvish told you to see to their wounds. I’m the closest thing the pack has to a doctor. Say that the better kept they are, the more fight they’ll put up later on when Brink lets us have them.

As soon as you can, get out of camp. Got it? Oh, and one more thing. Don’t get separated from each other or the potion will lose its power.”

They nodded in response and Jess jerked her head at Kestrel. “We’ll meet you by the hollowed tree we saw up the hill. If you hear the hunting howl, get out.”

Kestrel shook her head. “No way, Jess, my mother is in there, I should be going with you.”

No,” Jess said with such authority, Nicholas could see why the Wolves were scared of her. She wasn’t afraid of much. “You may be a queen in your own right, and I understand it’s your mother, but this is my territory. I’m the Little Red Riding Hood here, and I’ve trained to kill these monsters my entire life. And Nicholas knows them—he has spent more time with them than even I have. We go. You stay here. Her tone brooked no argument, and Kestrel nodded her assent, although he could tell she wasn’t happy. Too many alpha females. It was amazing they all got on so well, Nicholas grimaced.

Besides, you have a little boy that needs his mother, so stay alive another day, Kestrel.”

Although Kestrel still seemed unconvinced, Lance appeared to like the plan, relief smoothing his handsome features as he took her arm. “Let’s go,” he murmured.

The rest of them watched as the couple headed back into the brush. Darvish was unabashedly grinning in the darkness, his strange canine greens almost glowing as bright as Bliss’s eyes sometimes did.

What are you smiling at?” Jess growled at him.

Darvish chuckled and shook his head. “Just you, Little Red.”

Jess’s face twisted into a snarl, but Darvish winked a gleaming Wolf eye and nodded. “They’ll be up soon. Be on the lookout.”

Oh, I will,” Jess hissed. “I will.”

Chuckling, Darvish walked down the hill, leaving them to hide and wait. “Green, but he’s annoying,” Jess muttered as they crawled back into the brush, obscuring themselves from view. “I don’t know why Story wouldn’t let me just kill him.”

She was silent for a moment and then glanced at Nicholas. “You ready for this, Wolf lover?”

Oh, I think you’ll find I don’t love them so much.”

The night grew silent after their final exchange, with only the sounds of an occasional animal moving or insect chirping, but even insects didn’t like to be too close to the Wolves. Jess’s breathing was imperceptible to the ear, but then he guessed it was all part of being a predator herself.

They were crouched down in the brush for only a few more minutes before they heard the footfalls and the two Big Bads stealthily making their way up the hill. From what Nicholas could hear, they were in man form, and for that he was thankful. They were much more lethal as Wolves, and if Nicholas and Jess could get the jump on them, they might be able to dispatch them before they had time to change form.

Nicholas could see now that Darvish had sent up some of the scrawnier Big Bads, and he started to wonder what the story was with this Big Bad Wolf. In his experience, Wolves didn’t help the good guys.

I don’t smell nothing,” the skinnier of the two said in a canine-like whine.

The stockier shape grunted. “I’d rather be back at the tent where the witch is being kept. I think I’d like to get a little taste of her.”

They were drawing closer when the shorter one sniffed the air. “Hey, you smell that?”

Lanky stopped and took a big long sniff in as well. “Yah, it smells like . . . ”

Jess glanced at Nicholas and in fluid motion, she was up on her feet, stepping behind the shorter one as if in a dance. Her hands sailed through the night like white hands of judgment as she grasped his neck and snapped it.

Me,” she finished his sentence with a scary smile.

Lanky’s eyes rolled back as if he sensed a predator stronger than he, but Nicholas was on him before he could react. Taking the blunt end of his dagger, Nicholas conked him on the head hard enough to knock him out.

Get his saliva,” Jess commanded.

Nicholas put a vial near his Wolf’s mouth as Jess did the same with hers, and he was able to collect a drop as the Wolf drooled in his unconscious state. Shaking the mixture, Nicholas turned back to Jess.

Darvish said not to kill them,” he hissed.

No,” Jess said with a smug smile before she downed her drink, her face twisting in distaste before she looked back at him. “He just said ‘don’t draw blood.’”

And he also said ‘don’t kill them.’” He clenched his jaw, wanting to shake her.

She shrugged carelessly. “Ooops. Oh well, too late now.” She laughed to herself. “We already killed one, what’s one more?”

Nicholas felt himself begin to change, a tingling sensation like he’d felt when Ninian had given them the Incognitos Silver Bell petals before. “Don’t kill the next ones,” he retorted as they hid once more after dragging the bodies out of sight. Nicholas only hoped the Wolves wouldn’t catch the scent of death before they could get the jump on them.

Jess said nothing as they waited, which was a little bit longer than the previous time. But soon enough came two more. These ones were also not very big, but they seemed less stupid. That was until he noticed one was walking with a bit of a sloppy swagger, lacking the grace that made Wolves such great hunters.

As they got closer, Nicholas smelled a whiff of alcohol and grinned. The Wolves might be bigger, but Darvish had sent them up a drunk.

Don’t know why I hash to come, I’s jest fine where I was,” whined the inebriated Wolf in a half-slur.

The other guy, with an average build, shrugged. He didn’t seem overly concerned about being backed up by a drunk Wolf, and he looked as if he was about to turn back around before they even got close enough. But he suddenly stopped and sniffed, a slow growl sounding in the back of his throat.

Wa’s ish it?” the other one drawled, looking around with hooded yellow eyes in the night, his movements slow and sluggish.

Jess jerked her head at the sober one, staking her intent to take him. Before Nicholas could protest, she was out of the brush and on him, but this Wolf was more alert than their previous victims and he blocked her assault, sending her dagger flying into the grass. Nicholas took the moment to grab the drunk Wolf, who only seemed to comprehend what was happening as Nicholas brought his sword down and easily dispatched him with a thud to his skull.

He turned, hoping to find the other on the ground as well, but Jess was struggling. This Wolf was stronger than he looked and was blocking all her attacks, stopping her roundhouse kick in mid-air with his massive hands. The Big Bad leered at her surprise and sent her flying through the air. Nicholas looked for an in, feeling the urgency to quell the disturbance on the hill before they were noticed. He flew toward the Wolf. His opponent reared up, and Nicholas felt the impact of the Wolf’s feet to his chest, his breath gasped out of him as he lost it and went flying to the ground. His chest heaved as he tried to suck in air, but all he could hear was the sound of his own wheezing. He was too late—the Big Bad was morphing into beast form, and once he changed, there was no way Nicholas would be able to defeat him. The Wolf would send out a howl and the entire horde would be after them.

Helpless, Nicholas glanced over to Jess, who was staring at him as if she’d never seen a Wolf before. All he could manage was a gasp and a wild gesture. “Wolf—you kill . . . Birthright.”

She appeared confused, her skin tight against her face in the pale moonlight, but he saw her steel eyes gather storm. In the moments a Wolf changes, there is a lapse where he is vulnerable, and she took the opportunity. Rising to her feet in one swift leap, she released her sword. It went singing through the air with a whisper of steel on the breeze, the razor edge sweeping the Wolf’s head from his neck just as the change completed. So much for not drawing blood, Nicholas winced.

Dammit Jess, more death, and now blood?” He got up from where he’d fallen, his breath collected, and he quickly gathered the saliva needed from the decapitated head.

We’ll have to bury him,” she whispered calmly, her confidence seemingly restored. “It will help mask the scent.”

Nicholas didn’t argue. It was a good idea, but they’d have to work fast or else all their trouble would be for nothing. Without speaking, the two gathered the head and the body, dragging them as far away as they dared. Then, using sharp rocks, they proceeded to dig as much as they could. They soon realized they weren’t going to get very far without a shovel, but figured they could gather as much leaves and grass as possible, cover the body, and hide the scent that way.

When they were done, the shape in the darkness merely looked like a mound of grass and branches, camouflaged as it was against the tall brush.

Well?” Nicholas turned toward her as she sniffed the air. One of her gifts as a Riding Hood was her ability to smell as well as a Wolf.

It’s better. Plus, I’m looking for the smell. It will work well enough that it won’t alert anyone in camp. But if anyone comes out this way, they’ll smell it for sure. We’d best get going.”

Nicholas nodded. “Don’t leave my side. If we’re separated we’ll change back.”

I don’t remember Darvish saying that,” she whispered back.

Yeah, just like you don’t remember him saying not to kill anyone?”

Jess was silent as they started down the hill, and Nicholas felt bad for a moment, but he was too busy concentrating on walking like a stealthy Wolf.

As they entered the compound, Nicholas made himself remember what it was like to travel with the Wolves. A feeling of calm washed over him as he pretended he was just a boy and they would never dare touch him.

Jess looked every bit the role, sauntering past other Wolves with a sneer and a nod here and there. Plus, she had already been gifted with their preternatural grace. Nicholas was assaulted by the smell of Wolf―he forgot how strong it could be. It was musky, with the faintest hint of sulfur. They were everywhere, laughing and talking. Nicholas glanced to his side as they walked past a ring of men shouting. A small crowd was making wagers over two Big Bads in Wolf form, who lunged and snarled at one another. Wolf fights.

Hey Barton!” Nicholas was focused on the tent ahead of them, the one flying Nigel’s flag only ten feet in the distance. It was simple, purple for the color of Wolf royalty. As alpha, Nigel had taken on the role of leadership to his pack, but he had also somehow grown his pack to hundreds, which was pretty much unheard of.

Barton!” The shout came again and Jess elbowed Nicholas, who turned toward the voice.

Yeah?” he called back, doing his best to impersonate the whininess of the real Barton’s voice.

You want to wager tonight?” called the man. Nicholas had never seen him before, but he could see there was viciousness in his Wolf eyes. He was also tall, maybe six-foot-eleven, the tallest Nicholas had ever seen. He imagined with an inward shudder that he must be massive when in Wolf form.

Nah, not tonight, I’ve got me some drinking to do.”

The big man laughed. “Next time then,” he said with a slow growl and turned back to the crowd. Nicholas and Jess shared a nonchalant glance, but he didn’t need her to tell him. That was the new alpha in town, and he looked scary. And unfortunately, he was awfully close to the tent they needed to get to.

***

Sounds good, right? :-) Here’s what you need to do to enter for a chance of winning one of three eBook-copies of Fractured Dream:

Comment on this post by stating you’d like to enter, and then tweet -yep, that’s right, TWEET- the following: “I entered the #FracturedDream by @KM_Randall giveaway on @DavesFandSFW’s blog” or something similar. The hashtag should be included, as well as the author’s twitter handle and my own. :-) The giveaway is open to every single person on the planet, so get those entries in!

The giveaway will run from today until the Friday the 27th of June (3 weeks to enter for 3 eBooks), and I’ll announce the winners here on Monday the 30th. :-)

Got all that? Good stuff!

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in Giveaways, Spotlight

 

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Spotlight – Valcoria: Children of the Crystal Star by Jason King

valcoria

History repeats itself like a song. The verses may vary, but the melody is always the same. The eastern empire of Aukasia has a new leader, a man who means to bring war to all the land. Yet, even in all his bloody ambition, he does not realize that he is but the puppet of a greater evil. Only the Kalyra – The Children of the Crystal Star – can stand against what’s coming. Only they can protect the world of Valcoria from the mad hatred of the fallen god, Aedar. A new verse of the song has begun. The last verse.

About the Author:

jasonking

Jason King wishes he was raised on a desert planet by his aunt and uncle and watched over by a mysterious old recluse, but his life is much duller than that. He supposes that’s why he started making up stories. Born in Salt Lake City Utah, Jason grew up on a steady diet of anime, science fiction, Dungeons and Dragons, JRPG’s, and chocolate cake donuts. He pretended not to be a nerd just long enough to get married and start a family. And although dismayed by the revelation that Jason was a geek, his wife stuck with him and they are now the proud parents of four beautiful children. Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in I.T. Management and is currently the Internet Marketing Manager for a local bookstore chain, but he is determined to one day quit his “9 to 5” and write full-time. Jason has two indie books; “Valcoria Children of the Crystal Star” and “Thomas Destiny,” but “The Lure of Fools” is his first published novel.

Order your copies here: Amazon US, Amazon UK, and check out more about the author here.

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Spotlight

 

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