Journeys: the Archers of Saint Sebastian

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Jeanne Roland and her young adult historical romance and adventure novel, Journeys: the Archers of Saint Sebastian.

Author’s description

A barracks full of beautiful boys. A girl in disguise, living among them.

 

It’s the 14th century, and the longbow is king. But in the northern European principality of Ardennes, archery isn’t just the nation’s defense. It’s the national obsession.

 

MEET THE JOURNEYS

12 young Journeyman archers, the best in the country

2 years of public competitions, in which looks count almost as much as ability

6 will win a coveted membership in the Archers’ Guild of St. Sebastian

1 will become the prince’s new Guardsman

 

MEET MARIEKE

15-year-old Marieke is as obsessed with St. Sebastian’s as everyone else in Ardennes. Only it’s the middle ages, and girls just don’t become elite archers. Except Marieke’s prospects as a girl aren’t promising either, after a well-timed kick from a mule has left her with a face that’s badly scarred and ruined for marriage. But when circumstances force her to leave her old life behind and flee to the guild for refuge, there are only two things Marieke really knows about the place. One is that a mysterious accident ended her own father’s time as a Journey. The other?

 

There are no women allowed inside St. Sebastian’s.

 

Marieke knows disguising herself as a boy and infiltrating the guild means embarking on a dangerous deception. But it may be her only chance to find out the truth about her father’s past and to stop a murderous plot from coming to fruition. When the dashing young Journeyman Tristan takes her under his wing as his squire, she’s got to stay – at least long enough to help him beat out his brutal arch-rival to win the competitions.

 

Keeping her identity a secret will be hard. Living in close quarters with a pack of gorgeous boys? That will be harder still. But the hardest thing of all will be keeping the vow she makes for herself: to see Tristan become the next Guardsman, without ever letting him find out she’s a girl – a girl, who loves him.

 

Part Robin Hood and part Princess Bride, with a pinch of Mulan and a dash of Cyrano de Bergerac in the mix, The Archers of St. Sebastian I: Journeys is a humorous action and adventure saga inspired by late medieval/early Renaissance Belgium and packed with romance, wit, and longbow archery. Perfect for young adults looking for an immersive read and for adults who love young adult themes, Journeys is an escape into the past that reads more like romantic historical fantasy than pure historical fiction.

 

Unrequited love? Ugly heroines who stay ugly? Friendship, coming of age, romance, adventure, and plenty of archery competitions? A unique setting inspired by the glorious city of Bruges, with a richly imagined world set within the walls of a male-only archers’ guild? Journeys: The Archers of Saint Sebastian has it all, so if you’re looking for a great escape, don your disguise and join Marieke as she enters the forbidden world of Saint Sebastian’s, and prepare to fall in love with the Journeys – that is, the twelve best and most beautiful archers in all of Ardennes, the Journeyman archers of St. Sebastian’s.

About the Author

Roland hails from Davis, California, where she spent most of her youth lounging at the pool, soaking up the sun, and daydreaming. She had a key ring that read ‘I’m running away to join the circus,’ and her favorite moment of the day was when the local movie theater went dark, and the slogan ‘escape to the movies’ appeared on the screen. As an adult, her passions include all things melodramatic and beautiful — everything from classic movies, British romantic poetry, ancient tragedy and epic, to Italian opera. She is now a professor of Classics in a small midwestern town, where she lives with her Greek husband, her fraternal twins, and a Bernese mountain dog named Franco Corelli.

Find the Author

I’m not a big social media person; the best ways to reach me are via my website, or Facebook.
Author website: http://www.jeanneroland.com
Other websites: I blog as the Allegorical Traveler about Greek mythology at http://www.nepenthepress.com
Twitter: @booksbyJeanneR
Instagram: @jeannerolandwrites
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeannerolandwrites

Buy the Book

Amazon purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09L6KZ8D7

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $40 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. This is the very last stop on the tour, but if you go back and comments on some of the previous tour stops, you can greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

(Context: 15-year-old Marieke is disguised as Marek, and she’s serving as a squire to the Journeyman archer Tristan at the archers’ guild of Saint Sebastian. She’s in love with him, but she’s sworn an oath never to let him find out she’s a girl. In this scene, after Tristan and Marieke find an abandoned windmill, and spend an idyllic afternoon daydreaming in its shadow).

“Do you know what I love about you, Marek?” he says. At the word ‘love,’ the band around my chest constricts painfully, though he’s used it lightly enough. “You’re completely without pretense!”

If he only knew. I blush, not only at the compliment, but out of shame, too. But Tristan doesn’t notice. He rolls back onto his back.

“Admit it. Much as we may love dear old St. Seb’s, it’s good to be away. It’s good to be able to let your guard down.”

“And, to stop acting?” I venture boldly.

“Oh, I’d never do that. Not entirely!” he laughs.

“Tristan,” I ask, “Just between us. Who are you, really?”

“I firmly believe, Marek, a man has two choices,” he replies, crossing his arms behind his head and looking up at the sky. “He can stage his life as a comedy, or as a tragedy. Personally, I prefer comedy.”

“Very clever. But that’s not an answer. Besides, not even you can really laugh at everything.”

“No. But I can try.”

“Come on, Tristan,” I say, refusing to let him brush me off this time. “Give me a real answer.”

“A real answer? Ok, Marek, my friend,” he says. “The real answer is, I wish I knew.”

On impulse, I say, “Well, I know exactly who you are, Tristan.”

“Oh really? Who’s that?”

“You’re the next member of the Black Guards, if I have anything to say about it.” And I mean it. I resolve right then and there that I’m going to find a way to make it happen.

Thank you!

Jeanne Roland — we appreciate your sharing your book Journeys: the Archers of Saint Sebastian with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

The Descendants

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Destiny D Hawkins and her dark dystopian fantasy, The Descendants.

Author’s description

Fail the tests and become a slave. Display defectiveness and be put to death.

Monroe Academy was built to separate the weak from the strong. Pass the biyearly leveling and be released into society upon graduation. Fail to be promoted and be stripped of rank and forced into servitude. That was a rule that applied to all but Rayah Bardeau. A student of Monroe Academy, branded as a Null because of her absence of Lighter energy.

With her mother standing as a slave in her place, Rayah was given until the age of twenty to make level six, but at nineteen-years-old and with only eight months until her twentieth birthday, she was only a mere level one. The same level she’s been since she was ten. With the stress of her upcoming test, the loss of a friend, and the constant wrongdoings towards her, Rayah could only dream of escaping from Lytonia, and escape she did. Only, when she awakened in her dorm, she couldn’t distinguish if she had only dreamt of meeting Soren, a wild and adventurous defect in the Wild Lands, or if she had somehow used her Lighter Form to get there.

But only the elite ― the most powerful of Lighters ― could tap into their Lighter Forms. Right? And what was the dark energy she used when she and Soren were attacked by Depleters? Was Rayah really as powerless as she thought? Was she a defect? And if she used dark energy, could she call herself a Lighter at all?

Bestselling author Destiny Hawkins brings you the first installment of a gripping dark fantasy where a powerless girl must survive in a society that doesn’t accept the weak…or the defective.

About the Author

Destiny Hawkins is a multi-genre author with a dark imagination and a love for magic.

She enjoys working on her graphic designing business : Vibrant Designs LLC, writing, listening to music, reading, and of course watching some anime! Her favorite genres to read and work in are Fantasy, LGBT, Paranormal, Romance, Dystopian, Sci-fi, and young adult.

Destiny loves creating stories and building worlds that both teach and entertain! When writing she sticks to her slogan: Where beauty can be found in darkness.

Get ready for The Unbroken, Book Three of The Descendants Series!

Find the Author

JOIN FACEBOOK GROUP: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lytonians
INSTAGRAM: thehealthy_artist or https://www.instagram.com/thehealthy_artist/
WEBSITE: https://www.authordhawkins.com/

Find the Book

BOOK DOWNLOAD LINK
YOUTUBE TRAILER LINK
Goodreads
BLOGGER BOOK REVIEW LINK
Amazon

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

I let my hand drop to my side and began walking but didn’t even make it a few feet before hearing twigs and leaves crunching on my left. When I turned my head to see who or what it was, I froze, and my lips parted to inhale.

Oh, no.

Psycho had also stopped walking when he spotted me, looking almost as shocked as I was. If he were any regular guy that I’d spotted in the forest, I would have blushed at his handsomeness. I couldn’t see him as well the first night that we met, but now that I was looking at him in the brightness of the day, I couldn’t stop staring. The sun rays shining down on him only made it harder for me to turn away, but when my eyes landed on the Life Stones dangling from around his neck, I frowned.

A slow and devious grin crept up Psycho’s lips. “Found you.”

Right as I started to run, white lighting blasted from Psycho’s fingertips. He didn’t expect me to slide under it, roll to my feet, and continue running. I was experienced in having others try and use their powers to keep me from escaping, so I naturally knew how to get around some things.

I heard crackles of lightning slicing through the air behind me, barely missing me by a hair each time. Splinters of wood exploded from the trees, warning me not to slow down. Psycho was probably more experienced in chasing his victims than I was in running from my attackers, so I had to consider that he was leading me in the direction that I was going.

I wanted to stop and turn but changing direction would be dangerous. I could turn right, making myself an easier target, I could go in the opposite direction, giving him a few seconds time to zap me, or I could just charge at him and catch him by surprise. He was just an elem. It was the brights that I had a hard time fighting against, since they were so fast and strong, but Psycho-

Fire roared past my face, causing me to slide to a stop. I wasn’t paying attention and had almost been burned. The heat of the flame kept me from running through it, making me think back to Artemis and his hot iron rods. I couldn’t believe that my thoughts of being burned again had hindered me from escaping. I had run through fire plenty of times before, patting off the fire patches as I got away, but this time I couldn’t move. Artemis had done something to my mind, causing me freeze in fear.

Thank you!

Destiny D Hawkins — we appreciate your sharing your book The Descendants with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

XNOR

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Anand Purohit and his historical fanatsy novel, XNOR.

Author’s description

1759 was a defining year for the colonies that became Canada. It was also the year the British Empire rose to preeminence over other European nations and empires. All that changes when technology deployed in 2047 to shield Canadians from an escalating world conflict inadvertently teleports a group of scientists, engineers, teachers and medical people back to Nova Scotia, 1759. Despite their technological superiority, they, like many new settlers, struggle to establish a homestead, feed their community and deal with the constant threat from a violent world. Established empires with their large populations are not about to let a small group of upstarts interfere in their lucrative slave trade and subjugation of whomever they please.

About the Author

ANAND PUROHIT was born and raised in a Caucasian, Christian family. After several years of inexplicable experiences, he travelled as young man to India for insight. The shocking immersion, alone in a chaotic and foreign culture, forever changed him. Wandering among the slums, always on the edge of death and disease, his perception was shattered. He returned to Canada with a new name and legalized it to cement his commitment to a life of mindfulness.

While enlightenment proved elusive, the quest for greater understanding remained strong. Forty years of software design and business ownership did not quell the thirst. Constant study of history, logistics, physics and metaphysics watered the desire to weld a nexus between analyst and mystic.

The days of designing complex software systems have passed. A new door has opened.

Find the Author

WEBSITE: https://xnorbooks.com/
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21824579.Anand_Purohit

Buy the Book

AMAZON.COM: https://amazon.com/dp/0228858232
KINDLE: https://amazon.com/dp/B09FQY5BBY
BOOKSHOP: https://bookshop.org/books/xnor/9780228858232
INDIGO CHAPTERS: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/xnor/9780228858256-item.html
BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/xnor-anand-purohit/1140158627
BOOK DEPOSITORY: https://www.bookdepository.com/Xnor-Anand-Purohit/9780228858232
RAKUTEN KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/xnor
SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1103304
APPLE BOOKS: https://books.apple.com/us/book/xnor/id1585704734

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Chan considers his options. I need to give something to the media. At least the teleport didn’t end in an explosion, a sinking Ark, or mutilated animals. This could actually be an opportunity. The successful teleport could propel Wei Corp. into the stratosphere of the financial world.

He brings his speedboat alongside the news boat and attempts to hold a short interview at an appropriate distance. “My name is Chan Wei. I’m the president and major shareholder of Wei Corp. This area must maintain a strict quarantine. You have witnessed the first test of a new technology Wei Corp. developed. There are many details I cannot share at this time. Please be assured that we will hold a full and transparent interview after we have all the facts assembled. A navy ship will be escorting you from this area shortly.”

Chan is inundated with the usual blast of questions and demands from an excited news scrum. He gives only a single reply before rushing his boat back to the Ark. “Yes, the technology you witnessed is similar to the teleport technology from Star Trek. As this test has confirmed, it will revolutionize transportation. However, I plead for a reserved display and description of today’s test in your presentation to the public. There is still much that needs to be analysed before we can comment further.”

As he speeds away from the media boat, he smiles. There’s no way the media will be “reserved” in its presentation. This will be a truly global event with twenty-four–hour speculation for months. I should start a private consultation with JPM and other major brokers. An IPO at this time will be worth many billions!

A Little More From the Author

I asked: Is there a character in XNOR who insisted on playing a larger role in the story?

He answered: There are two.

General Hammond started as a supporting role for the community of people who eventually teleported back in time. He became caught up in the jump along with other military people. Being the senior military person in the new era he assumed command and declared martial law while a workable democratic structure could be implemented. It took longer than expected.

The second character who was also intended to be a supporting person is Cecile Dubois, a French Immersion teacher. Her students call her Mademoiselle Dubois to her face and ‘the Mad Moiselle’ behind her back. Her gruff demeanor and ever-present scowl hide a tender heart. The story started using her diary entries to provide some background info on how unmentioned people in the community might be thinking and feeling. It continued till the end of the book including her brief romance with the larger-than-life, eighteen-century woodsman Jacques Hébert.

Thank you!

Anand Purohit — we appreciate your sharing your book XNOR with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Pixies in the Mist

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Rasta Musick and his fantasy novel, Pixies in the Mist.

Author’s description

Jake had drifted to Japan without any serious intent, and it was going… okay. He had made friends in the local Salsa community, his Japanese was improving, but for Jake the familiar feeling that had dogged him most of his life—that something special should be happening—had struck again.

 

Kenneth had been assigned to Japan by the pixie queen years ago, which is just enough time for a pixie to get bored and complacent while keeping tabs on the local talent. Most humans had no magic, and most magical humans didn’t know it was their power that made their food taste better, their paintings more vibrant, or people like them more.

 

When the two met, the spark in Jake gave Kenneth’s role a new urgency. Jake didn’t just have magic, he had a wild and unpredictable kind seen only once in a generation. How could Kenneth keep Jake’s magic from falling into enemy hands? Kill him? Recruit him? Somehow keep him ignorant?

 

Jake’s magic had quietly led him to Japan, subtly influencing every choice in his life. That something special Jake had been waiting for was about to happen, ensuring his and Kenneth’s lives would never be boring again.

About the Author

Rasta Musick spent the first 12 years of his life in California before moving to Japan with his family. After graduating from college with a Bachelor’s in economics at the age of 16, he spent the years after learning Japanese and working. Having spent more than half his life in Japan, he’s confident that it’s his home.

With many different hobbies, chief of them being Latin dance, he keeps himself physically active as well as mentally active as much as he can. The Latin dance community in Japan is alive and, surprisingly, quite large.

Rasta has lupus and hereditary coproporphyria. Given their complicated nature, he’s had to learn a lot to adapt and manage them. The process also taught him a lot about managing other aspects of his life, and all of this influences his writing.

Find the Author

Author page: https://cinnabarmoth.com/rasta-musick/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RastaMusick

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Pixies-Mist-Rasta-Musick/dp/1953971180
BN:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pixies-in-the-mist-rasta-musick/1139878846
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1095165

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Kenneth smoothed out the short, red spikes of his hair with one hand as he stood in front of the train’s mirror. He could feel the glances of the other passengers, though he pretended not to notice. He finally had a night to himself. While it had only been three months, it felt like a century had passed. He would know, having lived long enough. The constant grind of finding magical humans, or marks, and handling them rarely left him with any opportunities to enjoy himself. He tried to loosen the stiffness in his shoulders as he thought back over his responsibilities. Over the next few days, he would have to work to increase trust with two marks. And he would need to squeeze in time to reach out to his connections to several others that he had already gotten processed. The life of a pixie was never dull.

For the evening, he had the opportunity to put those concerns to the side. He resisted the urge to smile as he thought about it. A night of dancing was exactly what he needed to feel relaxed and settled. Despite the years of experience, adopting different personas to deal with people still took its toll. A single night of free expression was the perfect fix.

Thank you!

Rasta Musick  — we appreciate your sharing your book Pixies in the Mist  with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Blank: Madam Doesn’t Like That

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Zhanna Hamilton and her science fiction novel, Blank: Madam Doesn’t Like That.

Author’s description

The Blank Series:

A former human turned military spy bot escapes the oppressive Solar Government, leaving behind a secret that turns order into chaos. Now, she’s being hunted.

Blank: Madam Doesn’t Like That (Short Story 4 of The Blank Series):

An unexpected visit from sex bots turns into a secret mission with deadly consequences.

Guest Post

In my books I’ve always had one minor character who insisted on playing a larger role in the story. When I get the chance to ask another author if this happens to them, I always do. Enjoy Zhanna Hamilton’s answer. It appears her secondary characters misbehave worse than mine.

Razor debuts in my science fiction story, The Blank Series, as an untamed and uninhibited sex bot from a luxury strip club called the Golden Ratio. In the second installment of this femme fatale scifi series, she’s a vixen with her eyes set on Arlo Fuentes–who only comes to the nightclub to find out why his former-human-turned-military-spy-bot girlfriend left him.

It turns out, Razor has plans beyond chasing unavailable men.

She’s a fiery female force who helps the resistance against the totalitarian government, all while toying with men for her own amusement. When she coaxes me to write her, I already know it’s going to be spicy.

Razor practically cartwheels into her scenes with a “fun first, work later” attitude. I’m still discovering her limitations, because she rarely has them. This sex bot’s feral nature has helped her step into a bolder role than I initially intended for her. She’s unapologetic and willing.

Willing to do what, you ask? Anything, apparently.

Now that she’s established herself as an unconventional asset to resistance movements, I can’t help but think the Blank universe would be a bit boring without her.

I can already feel her positioning herself for a spin-off series, but I told her not to push it. For now, she’ll have to be content with wreaking havoc in the cyberpunk reality of The Blank Series. She’s convinced me that only a wild bot like her can help topple governments while in heels and still have time to torment her boy toys.

The Author’s Story

Zhanna Hamilton is a science fiction writer and the creator of The Blank Series. In May 2019, she released the first installment of the scifi series on Wattpad, “Blank: Begin Again,” which has been named in the top 100 list of femme fatale stories and chosen as an “Undiscovered Stories” Wattpad Pick on the independent storytelling platform–home to 90 million readers worldwide.

Find the Author

Readers and future readers can follow Hamilton on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZhannaHamilton.
Follow The Blank Series on Wattpad: https://bit.ly/TheBlankSeries
Follow Zhanna Hamilton on Wattpad: https://bit.ly/ZhannaHamiltononWattpad

Read the Book

Read “Blank: Begin Again (Short Story 1 of The Blank Series)” on Wattpad:
https://bit.ly/Blank-BeginAgain
Read “Blank: Where Do Machines Go When They Die? (Short Story 2 of The Blank Series)” on Wattpad:
https://bit.ly/WhereDoMachinesGoWhenTheyDie
Read “Blank: You Heard Me (Short Story 3 of The Blank Series)” on Wattpad:
https://bit.ly/YouHeardMe
Read “Blank: Madam Doesn’t Like That (Short Story 4 of The Blank Series)” on Wattpad: https://bit.ly/MadamDoesntLikeThat
The book will be Free during the tour.

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $75 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

There, on the grey bricks of a side street building was a graffitied image of blue hair and red lips. The first image bots see when they contract the Code. A look cloned by thousands who swore they were the real Blank.

He went somewhere in his mind, searching for a memory of her. A happy one. They all seemed sad now.

Where are you?

He looked away from the wall–but he couldn’t escape her. The farther they went, the more propaganda popped up. Painted on windows. Wrapped around poles. Scribbled on sidewalks.

BLANK IS AN ALIEN! BLANK IS A LIE! BLANK SHAPESHIFTS! LONG LIVE BLANK! WHO IS BLANK?

Zen met his eyes in the rearview mirror.

“Forget her,” she said. “You’re parallel lines now.”

He wanted to forget. To leave her behind as anonymous wall art.

How?

Thank you!

Zhanna Hamilton — we appreciate your sharing your book Blank: Madam Doesn’t Like That with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

A Handwritten Note, A Lavender Rose, and Shattered Memories

Please check out this new release by science fiction writer, SFWA friend and all around good guy J. Scott Coatsworth. His September release is a brand-new MM sci-fantasy novelette with a distinct dystopian / urban fantasy vibe.

A handwritten note.
A lavender rose.
And memories cracked like shattered glass.

Kerry has had a bad day, and he’s sick of his life in Arco Four. Nothing ever changes, even for a firedrake. Days and nights pass with a quiet air of desperation, as everyone tries to convince themselves their lives in the superscraper have meaning.

A strange scribbled note offers him a distraction—and maybe a chance to finally unlock his broken memories.

But to find out, he’ll to go Outside. No one ever goes Outside. Still, what does he have to lose?

Check out all the places where you can buy this.

A Little Teaser…

Patrick stared through the tree branches at the sky where the stars shimmered brightly, eyes wide as moons. “Ever wonder what’s out there?”
Kerry shook his head, scratching the back of his neck absently. “Sometimes.” He liked that his cousin talked to him like an adult and not a ten-year-old. Patrick was a few months older, starting to look more man than boy.
Patrick nodded. “Mom says there are whole planets out there.”
He looked up again. Each of the stars was a pinprick of perfect light in the blackness of the country night. “Where?”
He pointed to the brightest star in the sky. “Right there…”
Kerry’s world exploded with light, and he screamed.
Cracks shattered Kerry’s memory like glass, and it fell away in shards, leaving him staring at the blank gray walls of the booth.
“Fifteen credits. Thank you.”
He flipped off the flash image that floated in the air above him and pulled the plug on the me jack, slapping it back into its holder. After a rough day with the Guard, he’d come for a little escape—a childhood memory of rain, or the beach, or… something comforting from before the Change.
Why did it have to be that one?
Snarling, he slipped out of the booth onto the club floor. Dancers jostled him on all sides, the smell of sweat heavy in the air, and the throb of heavy funk blared from a dozen speakers. He pushed past the tangle of arm and legs on the Shack floor.
Kerry growled. He needed quiet. Time to think. He’d skipped his last dose, and he could feel the fire building inside—he didn’t want to hurt anyone. Sooner or later, someone would come looking for him to make him take another pill, but right now he felt awake, and alive.
Those who weren’t too stoned to notice scrambled out of his way when they saw the firedrake tattoo across his face. Te streak of red in his hair and his father’s angular features, set him apart from the many others crowded into Arco Four. Those, and the finely laid tracing of dragon’s wings that graced his cheeks and the bridge of his nose like spider silk.

 

The Hotel (Series)

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Michael James and his urban fantasy series, The Hotel.

Author’s description

The Series

No one has ever escaped from the Hotel at the End of Time. Until now.

Vain only wants to be left alone, but the Hotel has other plans. Forces will align against her: a group of multi-dimensional felons collectively named The Wyatts; and their leader, Trick, a mild-to-medium psychopath with a fondness for impractical jokes.

The only way forward is to go back. Back to the one place in the world she swore she’d never return.

Back to the Hotel.

 The Hotel at the End of Time

Vain is the only person to ever escape from the Hotel at the end of time. On her way out, she took their prized possession: A Padlock that grants immortality.

They will do anything to get it back.

The forces of the Hotel are aligned against her: mundane items turned into weapons; a group of multi-dimensional felons collectively named The Wyatts; and their leader, Trick, a mild-to-medium psychopath with a fondness for impractical jokes.

Everything changes when Vain meets Emma, a timid grad student with impossible and terrifying powers. Together, they are propelled into an adventure that will see them battle the Wyatts, blow up several objects of significant value, and quite by accident, discover a way to stop the Hotel.

Even with Emma, Vain has a lot of problems to deal with.

She’s exhausted from being hunted.

Stopping the Hotel might kill them.

She has a hangnail.

But Vain is resourceful. Vain is clever.

And she always has a plan.

The Well at the Bottom of Everything

Vain thought destroying the Portal to the Hotel at the End of Time would mean freedom for her and Roman, but her happy ever after is coming to an end.

A horrible mistake and a stray bullet force her to infiltrate the Hotel and contend with a new and terrible power: The Well at the Bottom of Everything.

Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken.

The Hotel will have its revenge.

The Funniest Answer Award Goes to …

In my books I’ve always have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. So when authors visit this blog,  I love to ask them if there was such a character in their novel.

Well, sooner or later I was going to ask that question to someone like Michael James. I suspect he frustrated many a teacher during his childhood by refusing to take their very serious questions seriously.

Please enjoy his hilarious response. (I did!)

Speaking of secondary characters, this is probably a spoiler, but the ghost of John Milton lives in my books and I cannot shut him up. I don’t mean this in a literary sense; John Milton is not a character in the novel. I mean that reading the story literally summons the ghost of John Milton who will come live in your home.

On the surface, I’ve written a simple story about a girl with no memory who escapes a Hotel at the End of Time that uses humans as batteries to power itself. It’s a simple tale, almost a trope for how often this story shows up in popular literature. I’d like to think I put a unique spin on the genre. But where was I? Oh yes. John Milton.

How was I supposed to know that writing this book would represent the exact perfect sequence of words required to summon John Milton to your home? I honestly had no idea.

Things you can expect from the ghost of John Milton:

1. Tons of talk about Paradise Lost. We get it dude, you wrote a classic. Move on.

2. Cheats for Skyrim. Dude is a huge Skyrim fan. Apparently they have Skyrim in Hell. Oh, PS, John Milton is in Hell.

3. Really terrible dating advice. Wear hats? What does that even mean John Milton?

Anyway, so yeah. He really ended up taking over. But to be clear – John Milton is not in my book. Just he shows up when you read it. What is in my book is laugh-out-loud humor, non-stop action, memorable characters and just about the best possible time imaginable.

 The Author’s Story

Michael James spent his formative years writing, and when he wasn’t writing, he was writing. A mistaken belief that a “real” job would be more satisfying led him down a dark path that did not involve writing but did involve meetings. Fortunately, he has since course-corrected and is back on the right (write? Ha!) path. The Hotel at the End of Time is not his first book, but it is the one with the most Hotels in it.

He lives in Canada with his family. When he’s not writing, he does Canadian things – saying sorry a lot, being polite, talking about the weather, you know how it goes.

Find the Author

Website: https://www.michaeljamesauthor.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MikeJamesAuthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichaelJames
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mikejamesauthor/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-James/e/B07P8GJS8K

Buy the Book

The Hotel at the End of Time: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08QG59SXL
The Well at the Bottom of Everything: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B095CL2T6H

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

From The Well at the Bottom of Everything

“Can you unlock the phone?”

“I think so.” She pecked at the phone with her nose.

“Why don’t you have face recognition turned on?”

“I don’t like my phone judging me. I need to put on lipstick before I text? Come on.”

“That’s not how… it doesn’t matter. Is your code one, one, one, one? You need to change that.”

“This is the exact correct time to have that conversation,” she hissed. Her screen flashed with a green text bubble.

“It’s Roman,” she said. “He’s asking where I am.”

“Tell him to bring Emma and come save us. Actually, I don’t care if he comes. We need Emma.”

“Hey, Siri,” Vain whispered at the phone. “Call Roman.”

“Calling: Rome.” Siri’s robotic voice blared from the phone and Vain cringed. She stopped moving and waited for the Wyatts to come beat the crap out of them. Thankfully, they were still arguing and didn’t hear.

“Don’t call Rome. Turn your volume down.”

“Turning down volume,” whispered Siri. Better. Stupid phone robot.

“Call. Roman.” She spoke slowly, so stupid Siri would do better.

“Calling. Row Man’s boating supplies.” Vain hissed at Siri to hang up.

“Text him back,” Mark said, sounding frustrated.

“Siri. Respond to Roman. Wyatts. Come rescue.”

“Texting. Roman. Whites come stew.”

“We’re going to fucking die,” Vain said.

Thank you!

Michael James — we appreciate your sharing your series, The Hotel, with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.
And thanks for the excerpt and the guest post. They both made me laugh so loud my husband came out to the porch to make sure I was okay. (He doesn’t think I am and now he blames you. )

A Link Between Two Worlds

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Gabriella Kikwaki and her bilingual middle grade fantasy series,  A Link Between Two Worlds.

Author’s description

A three book bilingual series

Book 1:
Two worlds, one goal. The story will all be revealed. Hey, my name’s Alaura. In this story, I found out that there’s a parallel universe to Earth’s called Aliese. I also have a long-lost relative, my sister Alia. But not everything is as great as it seems; there’re evil forces called the Gaulris out to destroy the worlds with their leader, Lord Zefron. My friends, my sister, and I must find a way to stop this force before they reunite the two parallel universes, which will be total destruction.

Deux mondes, un objectif, l’histoire va être révélée. Bonjour, mon nom c’est Alaura. Dans cette histoire, je découvre qu’il y a un univers parallèle à la planète Terre qui s’appelle Aliese. J’apprends aussi que j’ai une soeur, nommée Alia, perdue depuis longtemps. Mais tout n’est pas aussi beau qu’il n’y paraît, il y a également les forces du mal : les Gaulris et leur roi Zefron. C’est pourquoi mes amis, ma soeur et moi devons arrêter le roi Zefron avant qu’il ne réunisse les deux univers parallèles, ce qui serait une destruction totale.

Book 2:
The future is never a straight path.

Hey, my name is Alia. In this story my friends, my sister and I find out that we cannot destroy Lord Zefron because of his mechanism. We also find out the exact date that the parallel universe will merge. We later make it to Bartha’s place. She has a solution to how we can stop the universes from reuniting. But with every good thing comes a price to pay. We collect a load of items to prepare ourselves for this mission. So, we need once again to find a way to save the galaxy before the total destruction caused by the parallel universes.

Le future n’est jamais un chemin droit.

Hey mon nom est Alia. Dans cette histoire mes amies, ma soeur et moi ont découvert que nous ne pouvons pas détruire Le roi Zefron à cause de son mécanisme.

On a aussi découvert la date exacte à laquelle les deux univers parallèles vont se réunir. Quand nous sommes arrivés au château de Bartha, Bartha avait une solution comment empêcher les deux univers parallèles de se réunir. Mais pour toute bonne chose il ya un prix à payer. Nous avons donc collectionné beaucoup d’objects pour préparer à cette mission. Une fois de plus mes amies, ma soeur et moi doivent trouver un moyen de sauver la galaxie avant que les univers parallèles causent une destruction totale.

Book 3:
A light in the darkness . . .

Hey, my name is Lily and in this volume the nightmare truly begins. So, I, Alia Reven, and the rest of the group finally prepare a plan to stop the two worlds from merging. We had everything planned out, or so we thought . . . When The Telepathies sisters did the spell of Senyria, they awakened a hidden dark force that is out to destroy the world, which goes by the name of the black mist, or Devoile. Friends get possessed, new worlds are unlocked, hidden mysteries are discovered, and, worst of all, our friends, the world and realms are all in danger, ’cause in this volume the nightmare begins!

Une lumière dans le noire . . .
Bonjour mon c’est Lily et dans cette tome le cauchemar a commencé. Alors moi, Alia, Reven et tout le rest du groupe ont finalement trouvé un plan pour arrêter les deux mondes de se reunir. Nous avons prevu chaque etape ou on pensait avoir . . . Quand les soeurs Telepathie ont fait le sortilège de Senyria, elles ont révélé une nouvelle force du mal qui s’appelle la brume noir ou Devoile. Nos amis deviennent possedés, deux nouveaux mondes se montrent, des secrets inconnu sont révélé mais la plus mauvaise. Nos amis, l’univers et tout le monde sont en danger car dans cette tome le cauchemar a . . . vraiment commencer!

Guest Post

When I asked author Gabriella Kikwaki to tell us how much vocabulary she had created for her fantasy world, and what she used to guide the creation of her words, I didn’t know she was a middle grade student writing for other middle graders. Given how new she is to the field of writing, her answer is particularly impressive. And I think she does a great job of describing how we all create words.

The followings are most of the magical words I created:

  1. Syneria or Senyria: an ancient spell that can break the fabric of space but the price to pay would be to lose your life (from volume 3 and 4 of the ‘’A link between two worlds / Un lien entre deux mondes’’ bilingual series )
  2. The amulet of Elesca : an amulet that wields the power of time (from volume 4 of the ‘’A link between two worlds / Un lien entre deux mondes’’ bilingual series)
  3. The amulet of truth: an amulet with the power to deflect what has already happened (from the upcoming book ‘’A twisted destiny’’ go to my author website to find out more about this book)
  4. The forest of Everbloom: an enchanted forest on the planet Aliese, where many exotic and mystical plants bloom (from volume 1&2 of the bilingual book series ‘’A link between two worlds / Un lien entre deux mondes’’ )
  5. Devoile : a character made of black mist or rather is the black mist, with a dreaded evil that spreads within. (from volume of the ‘’A link between two worlds / Un lien entre deux mondes’’ bilingual series.)
  6. The kingdom of Aliese : a mystical planet that somehow seems caught in between the 21st century and medieval times. It is also a planet where many magical creatures live. Finally, it is one of the parallel universes of the story ‘’A link between two worlds / Un lien entre deux mondes ’’.
  7. The planet Moria: the magical planet that was divided into two worlds, has existed for millions upon, billions of years. This planet appears to never lose energy as if it was made to last forever. Finally, this planet was home to the strongest of magical species in the worlds (From the ‘’A link between two worlds / Un lien entre deux mondes’’ bilingual series).

Those vocabularies are products of my imagination. They may or may not already exist. The inspiration I got to come up with these words, are the most random things you could ever do……I just started saying mystical names I’ve never heard of before, for example:

  1. Zadrome
  2. Erius
  3. Destir
  4. The planet of Dynamuness

I just created those four words (that don’t exist as far as I know). As you can see, I just randomly think about it and then write it. In conclusion, my inspiration comes from my own mind.

The Author’s Story

I am an eleven-year-old girl from Ontario, Canada. I speak both French and English. At the age of 11 I wrote my first book in a series called A Link Between Two Worlds. I like gymnastics, dancing, singing, swimming and drawing characters. I also love writing fantasy stories. One day I decided to write a story about a magic galaxy, friendship, hope, courage and fantasy.

Je suis une fille de 11 ans. Je viens de l’Ontario, Canada. Je parle le français et l’anglais. À l’âge de 11 ans, j’ai écrit le premier tome de la série Un lien entre deux mondes. J’adore chanter, nager et faire de la gymnastique. J’aime aussi dessiner des personnages et raconter des histoires originales et amusantes. Un jour, j’ai décidé d’écrire une histoire sur une galaxie où se mêlent magie, amitié, courage et de la fantaisie.

Find the Author

WEBSITE: https://authorgabriellakikwaki.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/alinkbetweentwoworlds
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/authorgabriellakikwaki/

Buy the Books

Book 1: A Link Between Two Worlds / Un Lien Entre Deux Mondes : Volume 1 & 2
AMAZON.COM
https://amazon.com/dp/0228845793
KINDLE https://amazon.com/dp/B08VFFH61P
BOOKSHOP https://bookshop.org/books/a-link-between-two-worlds-un-lien-entre-deux-mondes-volume-1-2-9780228847410/9780228845799
INDIGO CHAPTERS https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/a-link-between-two-worlds/9780228845805-item.html
BARNES & NOBLE https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-link-between-two-worlds-un-lien-entre-deux-mondes-gabriella-kikwaki/1138748934
BOOK DEPOSITORY https://www.bookdepository.com/Link-Between-Two-Worlds–Un-Lien-Entre-Deux-Mondes-Gabriella-Kikwaki/9780228845799
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1066776
APPLE BOOKS https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-link-between-two-worlds-un-lien-entre-deux-mondes-volume-1-2/id1551859521

Book 2: A Link Between Two Worlds / Un Lien Entre Deux Mondes : Together Forever / Ensemble Pour Toujours – Volume 3
AMAZON.COM https://amazon.com/dp/0228849241
KINDLE https://amazon.com/dp/B091JGLY7H
INDIGO CHAPTERS https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/a-link-between-two-worlds/9780228849254-item.html
BARNES & NOBLE https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-link-between-two-worlds-un-lien-entre-deux-mondes-gabriella-kikwaki/1139273729
BOOK DEPOSITORY https://www.bookdepository.com/Link-Between-Two-Worlds–Un-Lien-Entre-Deux-Mondes-Gabriella-Kikwaki/9780228849247
RAKUTEN KOBO  https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-link-between-two-worlds-un-lien-entre-deux-mondes-1
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1077525
APPLE BOOKS https://books.apple.com/us/book/link-between-two-worlds-lien-entre-deux-mondes-together/id1561858856

Book 3: Releasing soonA Link Between Two Worlds / Un Lien Entre Deux Mondes : The Nightmare Begins/ Le Cauchemar Commence

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

The story of how it all began

Alaura — Wow, where is this place?

Elesore: this is the kingdom of Aliese. Welcome.

Alaura and Reven: Wooooooooooooooooooow! Reven — This is like a dream but real, and wait, how are we still alive? We’re in space with no air! We could die any second.

Elesore — Aliese has its own air source, but only those who receive its magical essence can stay alive.

Alaura — Wait, so we have magical essences?

Elesore: Yes, Alaura. The princess has been waiting and searching for you ever since.

Alaura — What do you mean? I don’t even know her.

Elesore — Are you sure about that?

Reven (whispers) — Hey, Alaura, this is a really big change. An hour ago we were regular high school students, and now we have, umm, made-up magical powers or something.

Thank you!

Gabriella Kikwaki — we appreciate your sharing your series A Link Between Two Worlds with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

The Clockmaker’s Tale

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Ian Williams and his science fiction story collection, The Clockmaker’s Tale.

Author’s description

In The Clockmaker’s Tale: and other stories, Ian Williams takes us to the near future and beyond. From a moon base where androids conduct experiments on human test subjects, to futuristic tours of the ocean depths that hide a terrible secret; from a society governed by harsh rule of law that is enforced by AI, to a humble clockmaker tempted by the promise of increased productivity through technological augmentation.

Covering issues such as environmental decay, the end of facts and proven truths, our growing waste problem, and humanity’s tendency to divide when we should come together, this collection of six science fiction stories relates as much to our time as it does to the many possible futures.

Planning for a Character’s Future

In my books I’ve always have one minor character who insists on playing a larger role in the story. So when authors visit my blog, I love to ask them if they’ve encountered such a character.

Ian Williams has encountered a couple of them, and one has even shaped his plans for future writing! He says …

Each of the six stories included in The Clockmaker’s Tale: and other stories was meticulously planned out in advance, so there really wasn’t room for characters to ‘misbehave’. I wanted to tell tight stories that had room only for what was required to share my views of current issues. That meant every character needed to stick to their roles and not deviate.

That is not to say that I haven’t been tempted to expand a character’s role. For example, in the story 10,000, many minor characters could tell their own stories in much greater detail. Each of these test subjects has lived through something quite horrific and getting their views on it would be interesting. Who knows, perhaps I will revisit a few of them in the future.

However, in previous projects, I have certainly encountered smaller characters that I have enjoyed writing so much that I just had to make their roles bigger. One of the most satisfying of which was a character from The Sentient Trilogy, called Phoenix. In book one she exploded onto the page with all the attitude in the world. She was fierce but also fragile.

I enjoyed writing the Phoenix character so much that not only did she become as important as the main protagonist, but she also became the main focus of book two. I felt that nagging sensation that this character had much more to say. So, I relented, and the trilogy was made better for it. She brought a much needed second view of events, one which came from an entirely different upbringing to that of the other characters in the story.

There is, however, another character that I feel that same nagging sensation over. In the story, Last Bus to Freedom, there is a character simply called Boy. In this story, Boy is secondary to the main protagonist, who the story follows. His role was as an apprentice to the much older Jason. Except, now that this story has been told, I still want more from him.

That is why I have made plans for his future. I would love to revisit Boy at a much later point in his life. I’d explore his time after the events of Last Bus to Freedom and find out what kind of man he has become. Did he learn all he could from the others or continue to make the same mistakes as before? And what of the war that rages in the story? Did it ever end?

So, I suppose you could say that Boy is refusing to remain a smaller character. He wants to be written about again because I want to write about him again. After all, that is the greatest of feelings for writers; that sensation of infinite stories and infinite people to fill them with. My only hope is that each of my characters gets to tell their story in the end. And I, for one, will look forward to writing them.

The Author’s Story

Ian Williams is a Science Fiction writer from the UK. He lives in a small town not far from London. Ian had a short career in the UK Court Service but was forced to quit that job when his medical condition worsened. Now, from the comfort of his wheelchair, he writes the stories he has always wanted to read. His writing spans lightyears of space, to near-future Earths; from small changes to society, to entirely new civilisations.

Find the Author

Author Website: HOME | Ian Williams Sci-Fi Author (ianwilliamsauthor.com)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ian-Williams-Author-Page-1552239548176515/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/iwilliams235

YouTube:  

 

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091FYYFBZ

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Returning to his briefcase, Alexander produced a card from an outside pocket. “Here,” he said, holding it between two of his fingers.

George took it and looked it over, now realising there was a sales pitch to follow. He’s better at this than I am, he had to admit. At the top of the textured card was the name of a company he was certain he knew but couldn’t quite place. “ACC?”

“Adaptive Cognition and Cybernetics. We specialise in cutting-edge, next-generation, technology. Our latest product was made for people just like you, who need more hours in a day than the good Lord provides.”

I left my work for this? George was less than impressed. “Thank you, but I…”

“Before you say no, how about I show you what I’m talking about?” Alexander picked up his briefcase and walked to the counter, where he placed it down and clicked open the catches. He kept his back turned until he was ready to present his product.

When he turned, George was immediately drawn forward, to inspect the object himself. He was fascinated by the curved design. It had a snowy-white casing, with delicately printed calligraphy underlined by a sweeping blue line, and a tiny, built-in, LED screen. It appeared as well-made as any of his clocks. Such a high degree of engineering, yet it remained a simple-looking thing.

“This,” Alexander said, not quite ready to hand over the device, “is our latest model. It’s called a Work Buddy.”

Thank you!

Ian Williams — we appreciate your sharing your book The Clockmaker’s Tale with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future writing.

Critical Hit

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author W.M. Akers and his mystery/thriller novel, Critical Hit.

Author’s description

How do you win a game that’s trying to kill you?

 

A twenty-nine year-old clerk at a games store in the Appalachian hamlet of Jett Creek, Tennessee, Callie Myles lives for the weekly RPG sessions run by her beloved brother and gamesmaster, LB. Under his watchful eye, she and her friends wage war, harness magic, and battle evil. When the dice are rolling, they are heroes, and all of Callie’s anxieties slip away. The fun stops the night LB burns to death in a bizarre fire.

 

Asked by her friends to keep the weekly game alive, Callie does her best to set her grief aside. She puts on the monocle LB wore during sessions and finds herself sucked into a life-sized recreation of her brother’s game. Inhabiting the body of her beloved character, the legendary Arabeth, she thinks she has found the ultimate escape. Her paradise is spoiled when she discovers that something inside the game killed LB—and one of her fellow players was in on it.

 

To save herself, to avenge her brother, Callie Myles must pull on her armor and beat LB’s game from the inside out. If she gets killed along the way, well, at least she’s having a great time.

 

A fast-paced hybrid of mystery and adventure, CRITICAL HIT captures the breakneck joy of tabletop gaming, where life and death depend on the whims of a plastic die. It will be on Kickstarter from May 25 to June 25, and available on DriveThruFiction and Amazon after that.

About the Author

W.M. Akers is a novelist, playwright, and game designer. He is the author of the mystery novels Westside and Westside Lights; the creator of the bestselling games Deadball: Baseball With Dice and Comrades: A Revolutionary RPG; and the curator of

the history newsletter Strange Times. Born in Nashville, he spent a lucky thirteen years in New York before moving to Philadelphia in 2019. Learn more about his work at wmakers.net.

Find the Author

Personal: wmakers.net
Newsletter: strangetimes.substack.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ouijum
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/wmakers?fan_landing=true
FB: http://facebook.com/ouijum

Kickstart Program

Book Kickstarter goes live on the morning of 5/25 at:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wmakers/critical-hit-a-gaming-mystery

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

Somewhere far from Blackbriar Keep, a barricade of empty beer cans and crumpled chip bags ringed a plastic castle. On the white grid that represented its muddy courtyard, four one-inch miniature Heroes were locked in deadly combat with the dozen figurines that represented a Horde of thousands. They were beautiful little figurines, but all eyes were on the other end of the table. Nothing mattered but Arabeth.

She had one leg raised, her bowstring drawn taut, and a look of extreme do-not-fuck-with-me on her face. I’d spent twenty-two hours painting her, deploying all my tricks to bring her plastic to life. From her forest green boots to the curls of her rich brown hair, every millimeter was perfect. Tonight, perfect was what it would take.

It was April 2003, when tops were cropped and pants were cargo, when fedoras and trucker hats still seemed like good ideas, when America was already getting bored with its new war. More importantly, it was a Thursday, which meant the back room at Critical Hit was ours. Stale beer and smoke polluted the air. Imitation wood paneling peeled from a drop ceiling that was nearly as stained as the pea green carpet. The walls were close, or I guess the table was too big, because you couldn’t shift your seat without banging into one or the other. Absolutely no breeze drifted through the little window on the far wall. Grimy lace curtains hid us from the rest of the games shop. It was a pit, but it had to be the happiest pit on earth.

The man who brought magic into that little room sat at the head of the table. One hand rested on his gut; the other twisted a beard flicked with red ale. His eyes—one bare, the other behind that ridiculous monocle—were slits. A playful smile drifted across his face as he tried to figure out what might happen next. He looked like a big, gentle grizzly bear. A stranger might have mistaken him for just another geek. They’d never have guessed that my big brother was the greatest gamemaster in the world.

“You sure you want to do this?” he asked.

“I think I already have.”

Thank you!

W.M. Akers — we appreciate your sharing your book Critical Hit with us! Best of luck with this on Kickstarter, and with all of your future writing.