According to Braelynne

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

#Interview & #Excerpt - Monsterland Reanimated by Michael Okon
June 19, 20180 Comments



Monsterland Reanimated
by Michael Okon

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GENRE: Young Adult Fiction/Thriller

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BLURB:

After Monsterland has imploded, the entire world is thrown into chaos. World leadership is gone, economies have collapsed, and communications are non-existent. Wyatt must go beyond the boundaries of his small town to reestablish contact with the outside world, and alert the government about a traitor-in-chief.

During his journey he discovers a new threat released from the bowels of the defunct theme park.

When an army of relentless mummies, a life-sucking ooze called The Glob, and a hybrid reanimated Behemoth rise from the depths of Monsterland, who will survive?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 Interview:
Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?
            Are you kidding?! Being a novelist is the greatest occupation in the world. You are treated like royalty everywhere you go. Sold out restaurants kick out patrons when I ask for a reservation. Traffic stops in NYC when I cross the street. People beg for my autograph in every deli I visit.
What's your favorite fruit?
            I don’t eat fruit. But when I was a kid…bananas.
How many people have you done away with over the course of your career?
            I pretty much extradited everyone in my life except my wife, kids, parents, brother and his family. I’m not personally on any social media.
Ever dispatched someone and then regretted it?
            Well, I worked in a limo service for quite a bit, and I dispatched drivers daily…with no regrets.




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Excerpt:


A new, larger outline made his heart quiver with fear. It crouched in a corner, its snout covered with blood. This one was bigger, not a coyote, a wild wolf. Wait, he thought. Weren’t the gray wolves of California all but extinct?

Igor narrowed his eyes. The beast was a light reddish brown and not the silver gray of a wolf ’s pelt. A chain hung from its neck, the pendant of a werewolf ’s head dangling, emerald eyes flashing. What was it? Was it a mutant coyote? A wolf? Some weird hybrid, he wondered for a minute, his breath harsh in his ears. They watched each other soundlessly.

A hybrid then. He’d heard about them, a rare mixture of wolf and coyote. What did they call them? Coywolves …? or was it Woyotes?  He shrugged indifferently. Perhaps someone’s pet, he decided. Igor’s mirthless laugh came out like a snort.

The coywolf stood still, its ears alert, its head cocked as if it was observing him.

Igor dropped the makeshift weapon, calling out, “Eat the rest of your meal, you dumb beast.”

The animal continued to watch him, its two front paws on the remains of a zombie’s chest.

Igor wiped his forehead, waiting, his eyes coming back to search the village, confirming it was empty, except for the carrion eaters like the coyotes and vultures. He looked up, noting the circling predators waiting for him to move on.

“Interrupted your meal,” he chuckled. Just the local scavengers looking for food. That was all; the shadows revealed nothing else. Satisfied he was alone, he moved on. He had work to do.

A paper flew past him, hitting a kiosk as the wind plastered it against its surface. It flapped like a dying bird. Igor reached over, taking the fluttering paper, peering at the map of the park, the  one they gave people as they entered Monsterland. A bark of laughter escaped his mouth.

He looked up at the giant monolith that was once the Werewolf River Run, its hulking shape obscuring the horizon. “You are here,” he giggled, pointing a grimy finger on the paper’s surface. He dragged his deformed body further down the pavement. The storefronts that used to be Monsterland’s Main Street yawned vacantly, the wind whistling through the narrow alley- ways. “Now, you are here,” he laughed. Shouting, he listened to the sound of his voice bouncing off the blood-splattered walls.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.


Website:
http://www.michaelokon.com/

Amazon Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Okon/e/B0752THRZV/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

iBooks Link:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/michael-okon/id1292020808?mt=11

Kobo Link:
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Michael Okon&fcsearchfield=Author

Barnes & Nobel Link:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/monsterland-michael-okon/1126998959?ean=9781614755944

SmashWords Link:
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MichaelOkon

Email:
michaelokonbooks@gmail.com

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/IAmMichaelOkon

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/iammichaelokon/

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

Snapchat:
https://www.snapchat.com/add/iammichaelokon

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GIVEAWAY :

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Thursday, May 24, 2018

#Interview (003) - D. L. Armillei
May 24, 20180 Comments


How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
It's an interesting story about how I created the Anchoress series.
All my life I had suffered from what traditional medicine classifies as Anxiety
Disorder. Although traditional medicine could label my problem, it couldn’t offer a cure.
Taking prescription medicine to "treat” the imbalance actually made my anxiety worse,
much worse.
By adulthood, my anxiety had gotten to a point where I felt terror all the time. I
would've done anything to find peace. This lead me to seek alternative types of healing.
I found Energy Psychology, a healing modality that works with energy signatures held
within the organs in the body, including the brain, and promotes healing by correcting
physical and behavioral imbalances. This modality healed my anxiety disorder.
It was during an energy healing session that I got the idea for my Anchoress
series. I glimpsed a young female warrior and found her fascinating. I could tell she had
been through a lot and I wanted to know her story.
It was from that moment I created the Living World, developed the Anchoress
series, and wrote Shock of Fate, my debut novel, a young adult fantasy that adults
would also enjoy.
For those who want a more detailed story about my personal journey and more
information about Energy Psychology please visit my website www.DLArmillei.com.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
I love adventure fantasies! I like reading fun, emotionally moving stories full of
surprises. To have an experience that allows me to escape reality and become
immersed in another world, one that I can explore with new characters who become
my friends. I want to get emotionally involved with the character’s dilemmas so we
can overcome challenges together while going on a wild ride through the story. Harry
Potter is my all time favorite story. I model my stories after that series.

If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I only write one at a time. Sometimes, I might have to write a short for a publisher or promo
but I base that piece on something or someone in the same universe. It could be a deleted
scene, backstory, or a story about a character that didn’t get much scene time in the main
book series. Everything I’m writing now is relevant to the development of the series. I will be
releasing more of these shorts (short stories) or novellas in the near future. Right now, I’d like
to offer your readers a FREE copy of Hag’s Hut on the Hill which became an Amazon
Bestseller. You can download this short story for FREE on Instafreebie at this link for a limited
time: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/U8qvk .

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
I was born with a desire to write. My mother always told me that I am extremely
creative. She was an artist, a painter. There are many artists on her side of the family,
so maybe this is where I inherited my writing skills. I’m lucky because my father was
great with business and finances so I learned those skills too. It allows me to manage
my author career as a business.

How long have you been writing?
I smile when you ask me that and I’ll tell you why. When I was about four years
old, I got hold of a ream of paper. I used every piece to scribble a “story” in
“cursive.” I was confident that I had written a truly amazing story. I just needed
my mother to tell me what it said. I proudly presented my “book” to her so she could
read my story out loud. Instead, my mother tucked the pages into a desk drawer and
told me that we could read the amazing story I had created together, in a couple of
years, after I had learned how to read and write.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Finding time and space to be a creative artist. There’s tremendous pressure on authors to
churn out “product” (books) and to “write to market.” Writing to market means writing
stories based solely on themes that are currently selling and to produce books really fast,
usually resulting in products that are low quality. My series doesn’t fall into this type of
marketing strategy. What I do is a creative art. I have an incredible, entertaining story to tell.
It’s rich, complex, and immersive. I can’t create an engaging “product” if I am expected to
act as a human conveyor belt. My story and my writing style are too good to meet the
demands involved with writing to market. That’s why book two is taking longer to publish
than I planned, but I expect it to be released later this year.

Tell me about Book 1 and what did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The first book in the Anchoress Series, Shock of Fate, is about fifteen-year-old
Vanessa Cross. She is coerced into leaving her comfy Massachusetts life to go through
a portal to an alternate realm, called the Living World. Once there, Van discovers
she’s trapped. Before time runs out, she must go on a grueling journey to retrieve the
Coin of Creation, a magical relic that will not only get her home but will save her
loved ones from being destroyed by a rising army of demons.
What I enjoyed most about writing this book was interweaving my areas of interest
into the story. There are lots of hidden meanings and many layers in all my stories.
You can read my books (and this series) over and over and each time you will uncover
more hidden gems, Easter Eggs, and deeper meanings. 90% of what is being said, or
what is happening at moment in my stories, have something to do with something
else, something that’s going on under the surface.
For example: the title Shock of Fate. I didn’t use a keyword finder to come up with
the title (as is done in writing to market). It has deeper meaning. Shock of Fate is a
translation of a hexagram in the ancient Chinese oracle called the I Ching
(pronounced “E-Ching”), where you toss coins to get a reading. The I Ching is
designed to give guidance and to show the correct path to the reader of the coins,
which coincides with one of the magical properties of the Coin of Creation.

I chose I Ching hexagram #51 to represent book 1 because this title reflects the main
character’s story arc. The hexagram translates to: When we exercise ego, our spiritual
development stops and the universe must use shocking events to move us back onto
our path. A continuing series of shocks occurs until the obstruction in our attitude is
removed. The only remedy for doubt and fear is reconnection to the higher truth. The
sooner you return to acceptance of this truth, the sooner the shocks will stop.
Also, Van is shocked that there’s another world, shocked about who her parents are,
of who she is, about what she has to do, and that there is no easy way out. But it is
her destiny to retrieve the Coin of Creation. So she is both shocked and fated for this
journey.

What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn't
so?
Hm, I’m not sure what other people think. If I was to guess, I would probably say that some
people think that YA (young adult) books are not meant for adults. But a lot of YA books are
what’s called a crossover book. A book suitable for YA and adults. My books are crossover YA
novels. Another guess would be that boys don’t read books with female protagonists. I’m not
sure if this is true or not, but I have heard this said.
What is the most important thing that people DON'T know about your subject/genre, that
they need to know?
I think there’s a misconception that sci-fi is geared toward boys and fantasy is geared toward
girls. That sort of thing. I don’t think this is true. I love sci-fi and I’m female, I was a girl
once. [laughs]

What inspires you?
Being in nature. Stopping to admire the beauty of the trees, flowers, leaves, rivers, stones.
Being immersed in the woods enhances my connection to nature and to all living things. It
allows me time to be at peace with myself and the world. My connection to nature extends
into my artistic work as an author. It gives me the desire to connect with people, to entertain
them and bring them together in fandom. I want to bring my readers joy and a sense of
community. I have an author page on Facebook but would love a reader to create a fan page
where people can chat about the deeper meanings in my books and re-hash the plots and
subplots and discover the intricacies of how they are connected. They could talk for hours.
I’m in the process of getting my website updated to help readers gather together and for me
to interact more with fans. Eventually my website will have merchandise from the Living
World, quizzes, links to my youtube channel (still working on this too), discussions, recipes,
online writing classes for teens, and more fun things that will engage and immerse readers
into the Living World.

What process did you go through to get your book published?
It was a long process. I began working with an agent in NYC who kept making changes to my
story to the point where I felt like a ghost writer. When this agent wanted something in book
one changed, no matter how insignificant it seemed, it was still relevant to the story and the
series plot. She didn’t seem to understand that a change in book one would alter the story
line in, say, book 5, for example. She was changing my story into her story. Our partnership
didn’t work and we parted ways. Then, the same happened again when I entered a contest in
Jan 2015. It was televised, but I’m not sure if it ever aired. The show was similar to American
Idol except for writers. The judges where a NYC agent, a NYC publisher, and the owner of a
NYC publicity and marketing firm. I learned a lot during this contest, got phenomenal
reviews, and lots of great advice. In the end, my book wasn’t a good fit for the publishing
house which didn’t publish YA or fantasy novels. I placed in the top five and felt it was a good
thing I didn’t win because I ended up signing with a great publisher a few months after the
contest. During the contest I was told that my story was highly visual. Since then, I’ve been
told many times by agents, fans, editors, and publishers that my books would make great
movies. My goal is to see my Anchoress book series made into a movie franchise. I’ve also
been told it would make a great video game.

What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
It’s an unusual story in a usual genre. It contains all the writing conventions of the genre but
the story is unique and full of surprises. It’s a crossover novel that’s a great read for boys,
girls, men, and women. The characters are well developed and complex. The story is deep
and enriching. The plot is full of twists and turns yet it’s an easy read, like Harry Potter. If you
choose, you can get more involved in the undercurrents and connections of the story. You
might find it fun uncovering and analyzing the story’s many layers, if not, then it’s a great
summer read! Most fans of fantasy love to talk for hours about the stories. This series will give
endless hours of entertainment to its readers who want to dive into the deeper meanings
woven throughout the story and the series.

How do you find or make time to write?
I ditched my social life. [laughs] I trick myself by saying that I will only edit or write one
paragraph for 15 minutes and then go to bed/go to the store/meet friends. Suddenly it’s 3
hours later. I have to be careful not to do this if I have an appointment. Sometimes I have to
set an alarm because I can easily get lost in my art. Like, it’ll be 9:30 pm, I’ll be lying in bed
and pull my laptop onto my belly. Next thing I know, it’s 2:30 am and I have to be up at 7am
the next day.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your
writing process.
I have an outline for a seven book series, the Anchoress series that I’m working on right now.
It took about three years to complete all seven outlines. I’ve already written the last chapter
in book seven. Every book is plotted out first, then I begin writing.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Write it
out here, then answer it.
Most people think there is no research involved with writing fantasy novels because the
author creates the world. Do you think this is true?
I began researching this series in 2006. I studied different religions, politics, physics,
science, economics, oracles, anthropology, mythology, and folklore. I weaved the bits
I liked and wanted to comment on into my characters and their storylines. There are
many spiritual reflections throughout my story, along with social commentary. But
they are easy to miss with all the drama and action going on!

Buy Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Shock-Fate-Fantasy-Adventure-Anchoress/dp/0998672025/
Twitter link:
https://twitter.com/DLArmillei
Instagram link:
https://www.instagram.com/author_dla/
Facebook page link:
https://www.facebook.com/DLArmillei/
Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/darmillei/overview/

Reading Time:

Saturday, May 19, 2018

#Blitz - Return of the Convict by William Alan Thomas
May 19, 20180 Comments

Science Fiction
Date Published:  February 2016

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It's 2143. In the aftermath of wars, plagues and environmental breakdown, there's growing hope. Thanks to extensive brain implants, space cadet Dom enjoys a perfect memory. He and girlfriend Astra practice telepathy and attain new heights.

Lucas, Dom's benefactor and parent clone, is a diseased convict now returned from Martian exile. Dom's brain implants offer Lucas the chance for a life-saving mind merger, and he intends to make that happen.



Praise for Return of the Convict:

"a crackling, well-told story...exciting, thought-provoking."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The novel is in turn thrilling and thought-provoking, and has the makings of a powerful sci-fi franchise."--Foreword Reviews (Clarion Review, 5 stars)

"captivating, relentlessly paced...this novel should more than satisfy anyone who enjoys cerebral sci-fi."--Blueink Review (starred review)



Excerpt

Dec. 16, 2143



There were forty-five of us transports crammed into the space bus, and even though everyone was sedated, the two and a half day trip was arduous.

              After we docked there was a slight shaking. Our capsule shot backward, and stopped. With a hissing of air, the door slid open. “Welcome to Mir,” a man’s voice said. “Everybody out.”

              The artificial gravity here was less than the moon’s; I got up without much difficulty. Two uniformed guards checked us off as we came out. “You’re Dominic Tessier,” one said crisply, when she touched my ID tag with a scanner.

                My legs uncertain, I stepped onto a moving sidewalk that took us through a tunnel. In a few minutes the passageway curved, and the main terminus area of the space station came into view. I held tight to the railing and stared. The people here arrived and departed from all over the solar system: personnel from the space ships, businessmen, and new-world workers. Some, while roughly dressed, had a special swagger. I thought they might be prospectors. Then a group of T-men walked through in unisex suits and skull caps. Although silent, their expressions and gestures showed communication. Thanks to their brain implants, they were telepathic.

                Only a few months earlier, I’d been a student at the Space Training Academy. My brain was being transformed through implants, and I looked forward myself, to a career in space as a T-man administrator. An awful injustice had been done to me, and my dreams were trashed. Yet I felt no regret, resentment, or any emotion at all. A silver bracelet around my wrist created a chemically-induced docility, more powerful than chains.

                Our guards took us along a walkway above a large, brightly lit loading dock. Through the side-mesh I could see the Stellar Blossom. The ship’s blue hull seemed to stretch on forever; it dwarfed the men gathered to service her.

                Ahead was a short, balding man I remembered from my time in jail. “Phil,” I called, catching up to him.

                He turned to me without surprise. “Hello, Dom,” he said in the slow speech of the bracelet wearers. He pointed up the dock to a line of people entering the ship under a bright yellow canopy. “Did you notice? Some are women.”

                “Passengers,” I said. “A different world.”


About the Author


A University of Chicago graduate in English, William Alan Thomas has been a civil servant, fisherman, and first aid attendant, among many other things. He's written most of his life, and today his two main series, thriller and sci-fi, are well underway.





Contact Links



Purchase Links

RABT Book Tours & PR
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Friday, May 18, 2018

#Blitz - The Goddess's Choice by Jamie Marchant
May 18, 20180 Comments


Book One of The Kronicles of Korthlundia
Epic Fantasy
Date Published: April 2017
Publisher: Bewitching Fables Press

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In a world where the corrupt church hides the truth about magic, the fate of the joined kingdom falls on the shoulders of two young people from opposite ends of the social hierarchy.

Crown Princess Samantha’s life begins to fall apart when she starts seeing strange colors around her potential suitors. She fears that she’s going insane--or worse that she’s defying the Goddess’s will. Robrek is a lowly farm boy with incredible magical powers. He has been biding his time waiting to get revenge on those who call him a demon.

Thrown together by chance, they must overcome their differences to fight their common enemy Duke Argblutal, who, with dark magic, is slowly poisoning the king’s mind and turning him against his own daughter. Time is running out for those chosen by the Goddess to prevent the power mad duke from usurping the throne and plunging the joined kingdoms into civil war.



Other Books in The Kronicles of Korthlundia Series:





The Kronicles of Korthlundia: Book II
Publisher: Bewitching Fables Press

A match made by the goddess is threatened by an Ancient Evil.

As Samantha and Robrek prepare for their marriage and coronation, they are met with opposition on all sides. Not all believe that the peasant sorcerer is worthy to be king, and the young couple must perform delicate political maneuvers to prevent the joined kingdoms from breaking apart.

As the church splits over opposition to their union, an unseen force is poised to release an ancient evil that was last defeated a thousand years ago. When the Soul Stone is broken free of its bonds, all life in its path succumbs to its power. How much will the new royal couple have to sacrifice to free the joined kingdoms of its evil?






The Kronicles of Korthlundia, Book 3
Publisher: Bewitching Fables Press

The Ghost is going to hell. Not even the goddess can forgive his sins: assassin, oath-breaker, traitor (an affair with the queen earned him that title). No one can ever learn the princess is his daughter. To keep this secret, he flees to the land that turned him from a simple stable groom into an infamous killer.

His mission now? To find evildoers and take them to hell with him. But when an impulsive act of heroism saddles him with a damsel who refuses to be distressed, her resilience forces him to questions why he really ran from his daughter.




Excerpt



Chapter 2



The Princess Samantha sat at her dressing table and glowered at her reflection as her maids dressed her hair. She detested balls and loathed the hundreds of suitors who flocked around her: “I have never seen a lovelier flower, Your Highness!” or “Your eyes rival the brilliance of the stars, Your Highness!” If I hear that one again, I’ll vomit. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if even one of them meant it. Sometimes she wished . . . She pushed the thought away. As the heir to the throne, she couldn’t expect romance. 

“Let us be painting your face tonight, Your Highness!” Ardra begged. Samantha’s maid was as small and slight as the princess herself and had hair so blonde it was almost white. The princess smiled at the quaintness of her speech. Although both Ardra and Malvina had been in Murtaghan for over ten years, they still hadn’t lost the peculiarities of their western Lundian accents.

“Yes, Your Highness,” Malvina chimed in. “Lady Shela’s maids said just yesterday we couldn’t possibly be knowing our business ’cause you never be wearing paint.” Malvina, more of a typical Korthlundian woman, was tall and broad and not nearly as pretty as Ardra.

“Lady Shela,” Samantha snorted in disgust. Shela wore so much paint she resembled some ghastly sea creature. Samantha knew she wasn’t pretty, but she was fond of the freckles that speckled her nose and thought the emerald green brilliance of her gown set off her white skin and auburn hair beautifully. Besides being appallingly uncomfortable, paint would absolutely spoil the effect. The princess gestured toward the huge portrait that covered one wall of her bedchamber. “Do you think Danu wore paint?”

Malvina shrugged. “The Princess Danu was said to be a powerful sorceress, Your Highness. She probably didn’t need to wear paint to attract men.”

Samantha laughed bitterly, as she thought of the army of men waiting below. “I wish not wearing paint was all it took to scare them off. They say Danu never married, and see how happy she is.”

Samantha yearned for Danu’s freedom. The long-dead princess was laughing as she galloped across the fields with her auburn hair flying out behind her in the wind. The stars on the forehead and chest of her horse shone against its gorgeous coat. Samantha loved this painting, which was just as well because it was bolted to the wall and couldn’t be removed without tearing her chambers apart. She’d decorated the rest of her bedroom to match. Tapestries of horses covered the walls. Her dressing table, armoire, and large four-poster bed had horses carved into the woodwork. A quilt, embroidered with horses and stars, was spread over the bed. The mantle over her fireplace sported figurines of horses in gold, silver, jade, crystal, and precious stones. Every new ambassador added to her collection.

 “Your Highness, you’ll be having to marry one of them eventually,” Ardra persisted. “The king won’t be letting you hold out forever. You are seventeen, after all. Your mother was only thirteen when she married the king.”

“You needn’t remind me, Ardra.” Samantha picked up her silver-backed brush from the dressing table, a gift from the Neasarian ambassador that was inlaid with an amber Horsetad; diamonds marked the stars at its forehead and chest. She fingered it lovingly. “Do you think it’s true Danu rode a Horsetad?”

“So the bards sing of her,” Ardra said.

Malvina made an impatient noise in her throat. “And they also be singing she turned suitors into toads with her kiss! You don’t really believe such nonsense, do you, Your Highness? Nobody can tame a Horsetad.”

“No, I suppose not,” the princess sighed wistfully, then smiled at the toads that hopped around the feet of Danu’s horse. How I wish my kiss could do that!

Finally, her maids were finished weaving the jewels through her hair and had attached the simple gold circlet of the heir. Samantha tried to take a deep breath, but was prevented by the tightness of her corset. “That’s it. This is the last time I wear a corset. Have my dresses altered to fit without one. And don’t lecture me about fashion. I’d rather be able to breathe.”

Before her maids could protest that without a corset she was almost as flat as a boy, she left the room. She passed through her reception room, which was decorated in a similar style to her bedroom and contained more ambassadorial gifts. Pausing in front of her favorite tapestry—a white mare at the edge of the forest, helping her newborn foal stand, she wished she were heading for the stables instead of the ballroom. She forced her face into a court smile and left her chambers.

Her two bodyguards bowed and fell in behind her. The princess couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t been followed by two heavily armed men. She’d grown so used to them she often forgot they were there.





A full crowd tonight, of course. While the possibility of wearing a crown still exists, not even a deadly plague would keep the hordes away.

Behind the dais at the top of the ballroom was the king’s standard—a brilliant yellow sun on a field of red. Next to it was a smaller standard in her own colors—the head of a white horse on a field of emerald green. The walls were lined with the standards of all the noble houses of Korthlundia; most sported images of ferocious beasts or weapons of war. If I’m supposed to be maintaining the peace, why do I have to dance in a room that celebrates war? Her father claimed they couldn’t redecorate the ballroom without the risk of offending one or more of the Korthlundian noble houses. But Samantha doubted she’d like balls any better no matter how the room was decorated.

As she moved through the crowd, the courtiers parted and bowed. All the men attempted to catch her eye, and the smiles of the women failed to mask their jealousy.

As she mounted the dais where her father and members of the royal council awaited, King Solar beamed at her. His long white hair and beard flowed around his head, giving him the appearance of the wise old man from the bards’ tales. She bowed to him, and he quickly extended his hand, raised her, and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Despite his insistence that she marry, her father did love her. The princess knew she should consider herself lucky. Most royal children had no choice in a spouse, but her father had left her free to choose among the men of appropriate rank. But as she looked over the sea of hungry male eyes, the thought of marrying any of them nauseated her. If only marrying them didn’t mean I had to bed them.

Beside the king, Uncle Caedmon smiled at her. Caedmon, Duke of Tuath and Boirche, was her mother’s uncle and had been her father’s chancellor since she was two years old. He had very bushy eyebrows that gave the impression he was always looking down on people. But he was one of the few members of her father’s council she liked, and he was the only one who exhibited no designs on the throne. His only son had married before she was born.

Immediately after the king announced the opening of the ball, Argblutal, the Duke of Handgriff, stepped forward to claim the first dance. No one else ever dared ask her until the duke had had his turn. Like every Korthlundian man, Argblutal was tall, broad-shouldered, and blue-eyed. Many of the girls found him handsome, but she wasn’t sure why. He was nearly twice her age. He was dressed in a surcoat of black leather with long black velvet sleeves, trimmed in gold and crimson braiding. He had several thick gold chains around his neck. From the largest of these hung a pendant of a panther, the symbol of his house. In defiance of court fashion, he wore his blond beard and hair cropped short. He and Duke Sheen were her closest living relatives on her father’s side, not that they were very close—third cousins or something. Both had thought to inherit the throne until her birth gave Solar a direct heir.

Argblutal bowed. “May I have the first dance, Your Highness?”

“I’d be honored, Your Grace.” Father would throw a fit if I refused. She smiled her fakest smile and accepted his hand.

As the dance began, the duke bowed low over her hand, sliming it with a kiss. “Your Highness, you are the brightest star in a shining crowd tonight.” It’s only the first dance, and I get the star thing already. Is there some book they all read? Fifty-two Compliments for Ladies. The duke danced stiffly, as if he disapproved of frivolity. “Your dress, it’s Saloynan silk, is it not, Your Highness?”

“No, it’s Neasarian. I find the weave so much finer. Don’t you?” The silk did feel delightful against her skin, but she found talk of fashion and fabric tedious. She’d never understood the other girls’ obsession with it, just as she never understood why they giggled so much. 

“So I have heard, Your Highness, but it’s very difficult to come by. The Neasarians are more interested in trading spices than silk.”

This was true, but equally boring, so she smiled and made some inane comment. When the dance finally ended, Argblutal slimed her hand again. “Perhaps we can share another dance before the evening’s end, Your Highness.” Surreptitiously wiping her hand on her gown, Samantha merely smiled. Only if all seven of the hells freeze over.

The next suitor in line was Lord Devyn, Duke Sheen’s oldest son. Devyn was only a couple of years older than the princess, but he looked younger. His chin was covered with only the lightest and most delicate of fuzz. The princess thought he’d look better if he shaved. But, of course, he couldn’t do that; only the clergy shaved. “May I . . . may I have this dance, Y-y-your Highness?”

As the dance began, Lord Devyn turned a dozen shades of red. “Y-y-your Highness looks just like a-a-a flower tonight.” It was obvious he didn’t want to dance any more than she did, but Duke Sheen was bent on controlling Korthlundia through his son. She’d heard the duke had threatened Devyn with the lash to force him to court her. Devyn was only comfortable among his paints and canvases. Besides, he was in love with Count Morfran’s daughter, Lady Aislinn. She wished just once some man would look at her the way she’d seen Devyn look at Aislinn.

Samantha noticed blue under his fingernails. “And how is your latest creation coming? Working in blues, I see.”

Devyn gaped. “I’m doing a seascape, Your Highness, but how could you know?” When she glanced at his fingers, he curled his fingernails into his fists. “Your Highness, how could I have been so neglectful? My father will kill me.” Devyn was a nice boy, but she wished his father would leave him to his art and his lover.

After Devyn, the princess worked her way through her father’s council—Count Kayne, Duke Torin, Count Weylin, Baron Arawn’s son, Baron Teague, and a host of other nobles of varying degrees of importance. Nola, Count of Meillid, looked on wistfully. The count was nearly as round as he was tall, and it was rumored he’d do away with his wife if he thought he stood a chance of capturing the princess’s hand. He had a five-year-old son, and Samantha thought it a wonder Nola didn’t send the toddler to court her.

After the majority of the king’s council had had their turn, ambassadors and foreign envoys began to present themselves. She knew each one was eager to negotiate the most important treaty between their two countries—one that would give them power over the Korthlundian throne. The princess enjoyed the variety of their appearance, but at heart, they seemed little different than the Korthlundian nobles. The vast majority were nearly twice her age, and the talk of stars and flowers sounded little different in a Mintarian accent than in a Korthlundian one. However, the princess smiled when Phomello, the son of the Neasarian ambassador, took her hand. As with all Neasarians, everything from his hair to his skin to his eyes was a deep rich ebony. It was he who’d given her the silver brush and the silk for her gown, and she’d seen him several times in the stables. He seemed to share her love of horses, but the best thing about him was that he could barely speak Korthlundian, so he couldn’t bombard her with mindless chatter.

* * *

The king went to bed at midnight, but Samantha was forced to stay and dance with suitor after suitor.

“Might I dance with the stars of heaven tonight?” Count Pandaran, the only member of her father’s council with whom she hadn’t yet danced, asked. He always danced with her late in the balls; maybe he felt he was saving the best for last. He wore a surcoat of bright turquoise, edged with yards and yards of delicate lace. His hair and beard hung in long, blond ringlets. When the princess took his hand, she cringed at the smoothness of his palms. The damned fool doesn’t even know how to wield a sword. The hands of most of the men at court were like hers—rough and calloused from weapons training. Knowing she would rule after him, her father had always treated her more like a son than a daughter. Despite what other members of the court might think of it, he had insisted she receive weapons training since she was strong enough to hold a sword.

As they whirled around the ballroom floor, a soft glow of rotten orange erupted around Pandaran. A steaming heat seeped from the orange and poured over her, coating her body with a slime so thick a dozen baths wouldn’t cleanse her. The princess nearly cried out in despair. Not the colors again! I thought I’d gotten rid of them! It had been several months since she’d spent all night kneeling at the altar in the palace chapel, praying for the goddess’s help. She’d felt the goddess’s peace and thought the terrifying colors gone forever. But again she’d been wrong. When she’d first seen the colors, she’d gone in disguise to the Temple of the Mother’s Love. It was the only time she’d ever given her bodyguards the slip. She’d told a priest about the colors. He’d insisted she was under the influences of the denizens of darkness and that her soul was in great peril and performed an exorcism. It hadn’t worked. Nothing had. Maybe it’s not demons; maybe I’m insane.

The princess was so upset after her dance that she fled the room without giving an explanation. She ignored the questions from her bodyguards and her maids, but she was shaking by the time Ardra and Malvina had finished undressing her and taking down her hair. When she was finally alone, she curled up into a ball on her bed. The colors had to mean something, but after the exorcism had failed, she’d never dared tell anyone else about them. Tonight she again prayed to the goddess for help. At last, she fell into a troubled sleep, her dreams full of people who glowed as brightly as the jeweled horses on her mantelpiece.


About the Author


Jamie Marchant began writing stories about the man from Mars when she was six, and she never remembers wanting to be anything other than a writer. Everyone told her she needed a backup plan, so she pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which she received in 1998. She started teaching writing and literature at Auburn University. One day in the midst of writing a piece of literary criticism, she realized she’d put her true passion on the backburner and neglected her muse. The literary article went in the trash, and she began the book that was to become The Goddess’s Choice, which was published in April 2012. She claims she writes about the fantastic . . . and the tortured soul. Her poor characters have hard lives. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She still teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. She is the mother of a grown son.


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#GuestPost & #Excerpt - Rescued from the Dungeon by Anarie Brady & Kristi Ahlers
May 18, 20180 Comments

Rescued From the Dungeon
by Anarie Brady & Kristi Ahlers

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GENRE: Romance

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BLURB:

Rescued from the Dungeon: Oubliette

It took a tornado and the near destruction of his home for Jason, a professor of history, to learn that his family had once owned his neighbor David’s family. While repairing the damage from the storm, friendship and more blossom between David, Jason, and Marina, Jason’s submissive wife. Determined to ease Jason’s guilt over his family history, Marina proposes a unique way of putting old ghosts to rest.

Rescued from the Dungeon: Love’s Captive

Victoria Padgett is working the front lines as a nurse during WWI. She has just finished celebrating her first wedding anniversary with her husband and Duke of Willby, Ashton Padgett, in Paris. Together they decide it would be best if she returns to England, open up the ducal estate as a hospital and treat the wounded there where she will be safe and can practice the medicine and sanitary practices she thinks will aide in recovery. She returns to Belgium and the front line to turn in her resignation but while there she is kidnapped and held hostage in a château dungeon by Ashton’s once best friend who thinks Victoria should’ve been his. Will Ashton be able to save his Victoria before war and a madman takes the love of his life from him?
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Guest Post: 
10 things I wish I knew about being an author I didn’t know before

1.  Promotion is hard and I suck at it.
2.  Grow a thick skin. Editors are trying to HELP you, not pick on you.
3.  Readers are shy.
4.  Writer/reader conferences are expensive, but SO MUCH FUN!!!!
5.  Triple the amount of time you think it will take to write that first draft.
6.  Stay hydrated.
7.  save often, save in multiple places, save again
8.  You will NOT become famous overnight
9.  Invest in a good laptop

10.  Yoga helps a stiff back.

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Excerpt:

Love's Captive:

"Let's both return to England, Ashton." She covered her mouth the second the words slipped past. Damning words, words that smacked at the very heart of who her husband was and would continue to be despite her fear. Her selfish request hung like a black cloud between them. "I'm sorry, Ashton, forgive me."

He pulled her close to his body, to feel his strength and heat. "I love you, my Duchess. A day doesn't pass where you aren't in my thoughts. But, I must return. I know you understand this. I'm only sorry I can't honor your request right now."

Victoria smiled, tears slipped down her cheeks and she didn't bother to hide them. What was the point? She hated this war, she hated this impending sense that something was going to go wrong.
"All will be well. I am to be moved back behind the lines. You know that. I'll be away from the fighting this go around. I will have more leave in July, I'll come back to England and everything will be as it should."

They took a cab to the train station. Her train to Belgium wasn't leaving for another hour or so, so she walked Ashton to his platform. The train was already in place and men in uniform swarmed the cars. Sweethearts embraced and whispered to each other. The cacophony of the station gave her a pounding headache.

"I love you." Ashton rested his forehead against her own. "I promise I will be careful. I promise I'll come back to you."

"Shhh. Don't make a promise you can't keep."

"No matter what happens to me, Tori, I'll come back to you."

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Kristi Ahlers is a California girl! She grew up in Northern California in a small city called Yuba City. Since then she's lived in Brussels, Belgium, and England along with a myriad of other locations. A former flight attendant, she was able to continue to feed her love of travel. This has greatly influenced her writing, allowing her to pen stories about places she's managed to visit and things she's experienced. 


Kristi loves to hear from her readers and can be reached at katahlers@gmail.com
visit her at her virtual home at www.kristiahlers.com

BLOG-http://kristiahlers.blogspot.com/

FACEBOOK-https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kristi-Ahlers-Romance-Author/327686303909139?ref=hl


Anarie Brady writes hot, happy ever after love stories filled with strong men and strong women who choose to submit to their own desires. She also loves scratching her chinchilla in all his itchy spots, sipping tea, and savoring whiskey. She absolutely adores hearing from fans, so don’t be shy!

https://twitter.com/anariebrady
https://anariebrady.blog/
http://www.anariebrady.com/
https://www.amazon.com/Anarie-Brady/e/B013IXMEYA
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13529272.Anarie_Brady
https://www.facebook.com/anarie.brady.96

Buy Links:

B&N: https://read.barnesandnoble.com/book/rescued-from-the-dungeon/obuilette#5

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Rescued-Dungeon-Dark-Castle-Anthology-ebook/dp/B0748HHMTY/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1522866870&sr=1-5&keywords=dcl+publications

Print: https://www.amazon.com/Rescued-Dungeon-Anarie-Brady/dp/0998562459/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502590692&sr=1-3




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GIVEAWAY


The authors will be awarding a print novel and goody bag signed by the model, Vikkas, to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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