Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Promises of Magic guest blog and giveaway



Promise of Magic
House of Xannon 
Book 3
Melinda VanLone
Genre: urban fantasy

ISBN: 978-0-9887455-4-4
ASIN: TBD
Word Count: 65k
Cover Artist: bookcovercorner.com


Guest post with Melinda VanLone:



I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of elementals, probably because in the online game I play, World of Warcraft, my character is a mage who has a water elemental for a pet. He protects her by shooting at the enemy, and provides companionship just by always being there. Sorta like a dog, but without the messy business of poop removal. When I first toyed with the idea of elementals, nothing seemed right because they seemed more like pets than people. I had a hard time ascribing desires and goals to something like that. 

For the Xannon series, I took my love of the elements and gave the ability to the people instead, letting them be human first, with the ability to harness elemental power second. Just as some people tap into a natural musical or athletic ability, the people in the Xannon world all tap into one element or the other to fuel their natural magical ability. Most humans tap into one main element and, to a lesser extent, one other element. Tarian taps into Water and Air very strongly, and to a lesser extent, Fire, which is what makes her so powerful. Controlling three elements is extremely rare. Her sister Calliope is mostly Air, with water as secondary. It’s all hereditary, like having blue eyes or blonde hair, which means they came by their skills because of their parents. 

The twist, of course, is that in general nobody knows who the father of the Keeper (heir to the House of Xannon) is, because of the Succession Ritual. Multiple partners donate their abilities to the child, which means Tarian’s strength is a blend of several men, plus her mother (a fierce and strong power all by herself). The same will be true for any of Tarian’s children. In Stronger Than Magic, Tarian’s journey toward motherhood begins and the spark of possible magical abilities swirls around the conception. Air, Earth, Water, and Fire. Four elements. A child who could wield that might be the strongest magical user ever in existence. Stronger, perhaps, than the Ancients themselves. 

I suspect raising such a child might be a bit…problematic. How do you teach a child to control their magic when they’re stronger than you are? And once she’s grown, what might she accomplish? 

That’s what the House of Xannon series is all about. The cycle of life, mother to daughter, over generations, and the power of love to bind, protect, energize, and strengthen. That, and magic. Because life is magical.


Tour giveaway:
2 - $15 Amazon Gift Cards
1 – Stronger Than Magic audio book (digital, from Audible)
2 – Finding Flame ebooks


Book Description: 
On instinct, Tarian bowed her head in return, shocked. “Dulra. Welcome.” She breathed the words, awed by the presence of creatures she’d only known through legends. What is the Balance Court doing here?
“Tarian A’marie Maitea Xannon, of the House of Xannon, Keeper of the Water Artifact, you are summoned to the Balance Court.” 
She’d been summoned, and every particle of her being cried out to answer it.
Despite the advanced stage of her pregnancy, Tarian has some explaining to do. Fulfilling her Agreement with the Carraig was an issue of honor—but it led to complications. The Keeper of the House of Xannon is called to account, and Tarian must embark on a dangerous mission which could cost her the life of her unborn daughter, end in disaster for all planes of existence—or save the world. 
Some promises are deadly to keep. Will the promise of magic be one of them?

Excerpt: 
Tarian forced her eyes open to focus on the rock in front of her. Earth as dense as anything she’d ever seen, more power than she’d ever experienced. The feeling of old that surrounded it. The sense of longing as if the stone itself wanted freedom from the long and arduous task it had been set. She grabbed onto the longing and let the stream of energy pour into it, into the Stulos, then twisted it as she’d done once before. Another twist, and the flow of power into the Stulos reversed. Three streams of colored light became one solid column of white.
A thousand voices sounded in her head. High ones, low ones, her sister’s voice, dolphin cries and emotion, all around and through her. The energy bound them into something greater than mere humans and Ancients. They were timeless. Eternal. It was almost like she felt when she made love with Daric, but…different. At once more intense and at the same time more encompassing. Less personal. More global. As though the universe spoke through her, and she through it. The awe of it. Tears spilled onto her cheeks. 
Another cramp gripped her body and she swayed on her knees, gripping the rock as it crumbled, trying to maintain her balance as the ground shifted and her body twisted. Not now. Too soon. Not now. Too soon. She couldn’t be…the baby couldn’t be…
The voices rose in her head. Everyone joined in as the power flowed around and through, around and through, until she, the Caraigg, her sister, the baby, and the dolphins were all one with it. The crack in the Stulos widened, a giant lesion extending from the floor all the way up until she couldn’t see the end. Cold retreated, heat entered. A loud snap. The Stulos shattered into a million pieces that hung suspended in air for a flash of eternity before rushing outward to the edges of the cavern. 
A dolphin cry sounded, triumphant, exalted, as the world exploded in a rain of cold fire, magic power, ash and lava.

About the Author:
Melinda VanLone writes fantasy and science fiction, freelances as a graphic designer, and dabbles in photography. She currently lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and furbabies. When she's not playing with her imaginary friends you can find her playing World of Warcraft, wandering aimlessly through the streets taking photos, or nursing coffee in Starbucks.

Twitter: @melindavan





















Monday, September 29, 2014

Isis, Vampires, and Ghosts-Oh My!



My children do not fear the Bogeyman, good parenting or bad?


Besides being a fan of the supernatural, there is another genre I enjoy – crime fiction. And when it comes to TV crime fiction, it is a rare gem that blends both crime and supernatural together so well. One of these rare gems is the UK TV series Whitechapel where modern day detectives and their flunkies seek out the earthly, sane answers to some pretty weird and gruesome things happening in the heart of Whitechapel… that haunt of Jack the Ripper just a century or so before. It is a great series, shame it was eventually axed, but it was the right blend of spooky, creepy, crime, horror viewing I liked. 

My only desire is that they didn’t put it on so late at night when I’m home alone with the kids in bed and all those strange noises outside. Yes, I am a bit of wimp too. But Whitechapel has that right edge that Doctor Who had when I was a child. I’ve not yet watched Whitechapel from behind the couch with a thrill of ghoulish curiosity…  but I’ve come close.

So what has this to do with Bogeymen and my children some of you may be asking? If you’re still actually waiting for me to get to the point. Good question, thank you for asking.

The Whitechapel I was watching last week was about the Bogeyman and had the team reciting all threats and warnings they remembered from their childhood’s about the Bogeyman and how their parents had used this fear to control them. And I realised something shocking… I’d never used this fear, this threat of the Bogeyman on my own children to ensure they behaved. Was that good, modern day parenting? Or losing some of our verbal traditions and tales?

All is not lost though as it’s not as if my children don’t know about the Bogeyman. Oh, trust me, having me as their mum they know all about all sorts of supernatural folk from the fae to the far out there. Dinner time discussions are about things like this all the time. A good example is the time I explained the after death rituals of the ancient Egyptians. I had them so hooked that  night, as I was explaining the role of Ammut (crocodile headed god who weighs the heart of the dead before making judgement), that when I clapped my hands together as the snapping of his jaws… they leapt off their chairs in fright and I needed to check under their chairs for puddles. Yeah, I tell a good story.

So it’s not as if I’ve raised my children in a lack lustred world where what they see if all of what they get. No, I do my best to weave a little magic and unreality into their lives whenever I can. See my eldest’s  pen pal – A faerie who looks after horses. Or the fact that the Christmas wrapping elf Bryony comes to see us each Christmas Eve. She leaves a special gift for my kids… as well as a card containing three strips of sticky tape. Magic happens, let it live on in others even if we may have forgotten its touch in our own lives.

Back to the Bogeyman and my children’s lack of fear. They know the Bogeyman exists, along with ghosts, zombies, spirits, djinns, demons and the whole kit and caboodle. But did you know the way to get rid of the Bogeyman is to lift off his hat and laugh at him? That’s what I was taught as a child, if he ever came for me, and it’s what I’ve taught my children too. And now he knows we know how to get rid of him, he doesn’t come here. Knowledge being power and all that.

Ghosts, djinn, spirits? Oh, the secret salt circle we have lining the outside of the house and the iron reinforcements in its very walls keep them out. Oh yeah! Zombies… well, we’ve had a bit of an issue with zombies for a while now with our eldest. But we have found the best fix for them is magical pixie dust. My eldest came up with that solution when she was five and still sometimes needs a little these days when she’s feeling unwell or a little worried. It’s a wonderful cure all I tell you! And it’s amazing what a few drops of yellow and red food colouring gently swirled in full cream milk can do too… if you know what I mean?

Then we have binding circles… my kids play with chalk out on our concrete verandah a lot. As well as the words to dispel demons and, all in all, I’m pretty sure I have some pretty well rounded kids. So they’re not afraid of the Bogeyman. They still believe in him and know he’s out there… so the narrative history will live on. But I don’t use him to scare my kids into being good; I use him to feed their hunger for knowledge.

It’s working too. Eldest, now nine, plans on being the world’s leading expert in Sifaka (a type of lemur – the primate, not Roman ghost). Middle child, seven and a budding artist, is undecided as to whether she’ll be a basic entomologist, a graphical entomologist (one who draws the bugs) or an archaeological entomologist… to study what part bugs played to ancient civilisations. My youngest, aged five and a little… special… Well, right now I’m pretty sure he’s going to be a farmer, a gardener or Sheldon Cooper. He’s five, he has time to decide.

So, should we keep our children in check by passing on a fear of the unknown? Or should we use these old myths to train them into being fearless explorers of the unknown and then letting them loose on the poor unsuspecting world? I know which one sounds more fun to me!

I would like to thank Vampchix for inviting me to be a guest blogger. I hope you enjoyed my post.

Janis.





Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My!
Other World Series
Book One
Janis Hill

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Hague Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-9872652-7-2 

Word Count: 90,000 

Cover Artist: Jade Zivanovic 

Book Description:

Too late to save her sister’s life, Stephanie Anders must now try to save her soul from the vampire who has possessed her, Branwyre, eighteenth vampire Lord of the Aegean. 

With only the aid of the ghost of a pissed-off Buddhist monk with a potty mouth and the modern day Priestess of Isis, Stephanie must take on demons and other denizens of a world she knows nothing about if she is to succeed in banishing Branwyre. 

But even more difficult than that, she must learn how to forgive her sister Estella for what she did to her if she is to have even half a chance of saving her soul. Welcome to a world within our own – the Other World.


Available at  HAGUE PUBLISHING 

Excerpt from Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! by Janis Hill
Chapter 5

Estella had the grace and timing to wake up just after I’d hauled her dead weight, literally, into the chair and balanced it there long enough the grab the rope.
“By the Light of Isis, what do you think you’re doing?” Her tone was nearly petulant enough to be the old Estella asking me, not the new peace-and-love one.
“Following your High Priestess’ instructions.” I grunted while tying her hands behind her back as best I could, before continuing to wrap the rope around her and the chair.
“But why are you tying me to a chair now?” she asked, aghast to realise just how tight I had done it. “Branwyre can’t take over until night time. We’ve got at least another hour.”
Ignoring her question for a moment, I snatched her right foot and tied it to the corresponding chair leg. Then, ignoring the attempted kick, did the same to her left one.
“Roxanna clearly states in her instructions here to gather the required items, purify them and set it all up, you included.” I waved the note at her before continuing to wrap her legs, backside and chair in the rope. Yeah, I’d gotten a decent amount. Who says two for one sales are a waste of time? “Nowhere in her instructions does it say we should stop for coffee and a chat. When I’ve got as much of it ready as I can before moonrise, I can actually have a rest. You know, something even we non-undead need to do from time to time.”
She went to protest, I even paused to watch the show I felt she was about to perform, but other than gaping a few times like a stunned fish, she stayed quiet. Wow, this Light of Isis was amazing if it could prevent the Queen of Whinge from speaking.
“Fine then,” she finally managed, a slight sulky tone to her voice. “But how am I meant to eat dinner?” 
I sighed; I hadn’t honestly thought of that, going along the lines that she was dead. Yes she was an animated corpse right now, but dead was dead. You shouldn’t have to provide meals for them.
“Nowhere in my instructions does it say I have to feed you.” I muttered. Then feeling I should relent a little as she’d found it within herself to be nicer. “But how about I order pizza, and you eat it cold later. Surely even the Light of Isis can’t have cured you of your cold pizza habits.”
She sighed, but said no more for a moment. Didn’t even pout, which surprised me even more than the silence.
“I do wish you’d be more respectful of Isis and her purifying Light,” is all she eventually said as I was adding a few more knots to the back of the chair.
“Uh-huh.” I was more interested in making sure I’d done a good job, than listen to a lecture on appropriate religious respect. Especially from someone who in the past hadn’t held any respect for anyone or anything.
“And no dinner is fine; I don’t seem to have the need to eat that often anymore.” She continued, trying to watch me over her shoulder. “I won’t have you dissing cold pizza though.”
“Sure!” I said, standing back and wiping sweat from my brow and then my hands on my dress. I remembered I was still in one of my best ‘sombre but not kinky’ little black dresses, not having had a chance to change. So Roxanna’s wodge of cash was buying me a few clothes tomorrow, too. Why not! If I wasn’t allowed to go home until this was all over, she owed me at least a pair of jeans and clean underwear. I checked the instructions again. Okay, so all items purified, sister roped tightly into chair. Salt time! Boy I hoped the motel’s maid service wouldn’t be too pissed at me, or at least wouldn’t notice until after we’d left.

About the Author:

Janis grew up in and around Darwin, Australia, and its rural surrounds. As a child, she spent a lot of time around 'science geeks' at the Darwin University, where her father was a lecturer for many years. It took her a long time to realise that not everyone got to grow up like that or could relate to all the Science Labs scenes in the old Dr Who.

Janis now lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband and 3 children, lovingly referred to as the ‘Demonic Hordes’. She is a semi-retired ICT Support Officer who, when not writing, takes pride in her work as a Haus Frau while dabbling in the art of translating century old cookery books into modern recipes to experiment on her family with.

TWITTER @Janis_Hill 
WORDPRESS   



















Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Caretaker

Doctor Who, Series 8, Episode 6- The Caretaker


 CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD!
I liked this episode quite a lot. I've been saying I wanted to see more of Danny and Clara, and we finally got it. The Doctor has formally met Mr. Pink now, and although they don't quite get along yet, I think they developed a grudging respect for each other. I still have no idea why the Doctor is being so pig-headed about soldiers right now, but I have a feeling that will change by the end of this series.

Anyway, we got to see Clara struggling to manage her dual life- having escapades on alien planets with the Doctor, and flitting back to her "normal" life just in time to show up for work and dates with Danny. Clearly, she is spreading herself thin. Once again, it seems like she is going to have to choose between these lives before long, and with rumors of a departure at Christmas looming, this fits in with a story arc that would take us in that direction.



The Doctor had some cute moments in this episode, as well. He was attempting to infiltrate the Coal Hill School by posing as a new caretaker, in order to trap and remove a "Skovox Blitzer" that is apparently really, really dangerous. (To me it just looked like a malevolent "Number 5" from Short Circuit.)

 
"No disassemble!"

We see him trying to act like a human, but mostly just griping about them and saying things that make him sound terribly, awkwardly, anything but human. And of course, he incorrectly assumes that Clara's boyfriend is a nerdy, bow-tie clad gentleman instead of Danny. What? Clara attracted to a bow-tied nerd? Never. And although once again, there is an evil alien thing threatening the planet, the real drama is when the Doctor realizes his mistake and he and Danny have it out. Yikes.

But of course, Danny manages to help save the Earth at the last minute, and so the Doctor has to concede that he is not half bad after all. So all is well, isn't it? Well, I think so, but Danny does seem rather irritated that Clara ever lied to him in the first place, and the Doctor is still quite testy with Danny, but he is grumpy with everyone right now. This regeneration has been hard on him, I guess.


And we met a "disruptive influence" named Courtney Woods, who is precociously nosy and maybe a bit motion-sick. She pesters the Doctor into getting a glimpse into the TARDIS, and by the end of the episode, we see him taking her on a quick journey into the cosmos, where she promptly loses her lunch. It seems like she would just be a one-off character, but then we got a tiny shot of her in the next episode trailer! So, little miss disruptive will be back next week, it seems. 

Oh, and right at the end we got just another tiny peek at the Nethersphere again. But no more information on exactly what it is, or who Missy is. The mystery continues...

So, the adventures continue next weekend with "Kill the Moon."

 


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Django/Zorro #1

Django/Zorro #1, by Quentin Tarrantino, Matt Wagner, and Esteve Polls

Django and Zorro are getting a cross-over comic series and I cannot wait to read it!

It is set to release on November 5th in comic book stores everywhere.

Here's the description:

"Set several years after the events of Django Unchained, Django/Zorro #1 finds Django again pursuing the evil that men do in his role as a bounty hunter. Since there’s a warrant on his head back east, he’s mainly been plying his trade in the western states. After safely settling his wife, Broomhilda, near Chicago, he’s again taken to the road, sending her funds whenever he completes a job. It’s by sheer chance that he encounters the aged and sophisticated Diego de la Vega – the famed Zorro – and soon finds himself fascinated by this unusual character, the first wealthy white man he’s ever met who seems totally unconcerned with the color of Django’s skin… and who can hold his own in a fight. He hires on as Diego’s “bodyguard” for one adventure and is soon drawn into a fight to free the local indigenous people from a brutal servitude, discovering that slavery isn’t exclusive to black folks. In the course of this adventure, he learns much from the older man (much like King Schultz) and, on several occasions, even dons the mask and the whip… of The Fox!"

I have added this to my pull list at my local store. Not only does it sound awesome, but two of my favorite cover artists- Jae Lee and Francesco Francavilla will be doing covers for the first issue. Lee's cover is above. Francavilla's variant cover is below.


Get down to your local store and reserve yours today!


Friday, September 26, 2014

It's time to pre-order The Tears of the Rose w/ guest post

One of the best books I've read this year was The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy (read my review for RT Book Reviews Magazine), so I was more than happy to pass along the pre-order info for book two, The Tears of the Rose. I'm reviewing this one for RT as well, but all I can tell you right now is that I was equally in love with this one and Amelia surprised the hell out of me. This is a definite must-read for anyone that is looking for a book that goes beyond the genre of romance, and for those that enjoy the intrigue of fantasy. ~Anna




Redeeming the Unlikable Heroine

I was nervous about writing The Tears of the Rose, the second in my Twelve Kingdoms series. Readers met her in the first book, The Mark of the Tala, as the heroine Andi’s little sister. Far more beautiful and terribly spoiled, Amelia—or Ami—doesn’t really come across well. She’s not strong. She’s perfectly happy to be taken care of and protected. She’s self-involved and more than a little narcissistic. 

She had a long, hard journey ahead of her.

That’s okay. She was flawed, a product of her environment, but she would change. Eventually. I just hoped that readers would put up with her long enough to get there. 

To my great relief, early reports are that readers love this book more than the first one. The hero has something to do with that, I think. But a lot of it has to do with Ami and how she finds it in herself to become more than what she was. 

It helps that she begins the story having her heart ripped out. Even if we itched to slap her more than once in The Mark of the Tala, I don’t think any of us wished on her the tragedy she suffers at the hands of the people who love her most. At the same time, the grief is what tempers her, what forces her to see what truly matters in the world and in herself.
It was fun to play with the layers of Ami’s image, both public and private. As the most beautiful woman in the Twelve Kingdoms, she’s been lauded and praised in song and story. Everyone thinks they know who she is and what she’s about. For a long time Ami buys into her own press. Only when she’s isolated and alone does she realize that very few people know or love her for who she actually is. Her sisters do—despite all that’s happened—but most of the world loves only the surface. 

Of course, there’s never been much under it before. 

In the end, that’s what redeems Ami. The judgment she passes on herself is far more severe than any of us would level on her. And she grows up. Fast, painfully, and shaped by her own ideas instead of everyone else’s. 

I kind of love the last line of the blurb: Can the prettiest princess become a pawn - or a queen?

It takes a lot to be a queen. And I love how Ami manages to get there. 



The Tears of the Rose
The Twelve Kingdoms
Book Two
Jeffe Kennedy
Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Kensington 

Release Date: November 25, 2014

ISBN-10: 075829445X
ISBN-13: 978-0758294456
ASIN: B00KFP7YCW

Book Description:

Three sisters. Motherless daughters of the high king. The eldest is the warrior-woman heir;the middle child is shy and full of witchy intuition;and the youngest, Princess Amelia, she is as beautiful as the sun and just as generous.

Ami met her Prince Charming and went away to his castle on the stormy sea-cliffs—and that should have been her happily ever after. Instead, her husband lies dead and a war rages. Her middle sister has been taken into a demon land, turned into a stranger. The priests and her father are revealing secrets and telling lies. And a power is rising in Ami, too, a power she hardly recognizes, to wield her beauty as a weapon, and her charm as a tool to deceive…

Amelia has never had to be anything but good and sweet and kind and lovely. But the chess game for the Twelve Kingdoms has swept her up in it, and she must make a gambit of her own. Can the prettiest princess become a pawn—or a queen? 

Pre-order at  Amazon

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Beyond Fate is available now!




The epic conclusion to the Fate of the Gods trilogy. When Adam left Eve, abandoning his wife and their newborn daughter Elah, he thought he was saving the world. But he hadn't counted on the influence of Michael, twisting Elah's love for her parents into paranoia, or the slow, leaching death of the world she rules. Even with the help of Raphael, Elah is becoming her father's daughter, a master manipulator, and she's determined to have her way, even if it means betraying her own mother's trust.

With Loki and the Aesir gone, Thor thinks he’s protected Eve from the ravages of Ragnarok, but there are forces in play even the gods can’t see. When Thor arrives in Eve's next life, offering her everything she ever wanted from Adam, and more -- eternity without death or rebirth, and the freedom to live outside of her daughter's reach -- Eve is more than tempted. But can the world survive with only Adam to protect it?

Beyond Fate is available in trade paperback and ebook via Amazon.comBarnesandnoble.comKobo.comWorldWeaverPress.com, and other online retailers, and for wholesale through Ingram. You can also find Beyond Fate on Goodreads.

Amalia Dillin  began as a Biology major before taking Latin and falling in love with old heroes and older gods. After that, she couldn't stop writing about them, with the occasional break for more contemporary subjects. Her short stories have been published by Daily Science Fiction and Birdville magazine, and she's also the author of the “Fate of the Gods” series and Honor Among Orcs, the first book in the Orc Saga. Amalia lives in upstate New York with her husband, and dreams of the day when she will own goats — to pull her chariot through the sky, of course.

World Weaver Press is an independently owned publisher of fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction. We believe in great storytelling.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Launch Day Blitz: Divinity



DIVINITY: A Divine Novel by Michelle L. Johnson
When Julia climbs into a flaming car to save a trapped child, she's left wondering why either of them survived. Then she learns that her father is the Archangel Gabriel, and that she is half human, half Archangel.   

With guidance from Michael, the most powerful Archangel, Julia sets out to discover her own history and explore her angelic powers. But her journey is cut short when an evil force, invisible to human and angel alike, tears her world apart.   

Now Julia must fight through her despair, harness her newfound gifts, and risk her very soul to stop the A'nwel and protect the family she never knew she had.   

What she doesn't know is that Archangels have secrets too.



Stalk the author on Twitter! https://twitter.com/mjsretweet
Visit the author’s Website! http://www.michelleljohnson.us/