Indie Spotlight – Dom Watson

Today on my blog I am welcoming Dom Watson into the Indie Spotlight!

Dom Watson exists in the deep green of Suffolk, England. When he isn’t writing about space-age detectives and hyper intelligent Neanderthals and pipe smoking babies he can be found at the nearest tavern enjoying ale. Or maybe, talking to magical tramps on the roadside. He is trying to give up caffeine but the brain won’t allow it. The brain is the boss and it needs the caffeine to bring out all the wonderful ideas that will change the world. Dom is just in it for the crack. Vents about mental health because no one else will. Will donate his body for medical research for ten minutes peace. Don’t sleep in the nude. The night is hungry.
Contact him here: Twitter: @WatsonDom


Hi Dom. Welcome to my blog!

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

It just seemed easier, publishing independently. Trying professionally always seemed so deflating. It’s like you need a secret handshake to gain access to the inner sanctum. When you have a full time job and a family, trying to fashion the perfect cover letter and entice the agent/ publisher it always seemed such a Herculean task. I’ll perhaps try again one day but I have enjoyed the self publishing community. They have really been more accommodating in wanting to know you as a person instead of this secret clique.
When I finished the novel and released it through Kindle I just sort of sat on it really. I was like ‘ Oh, what happens now. I’ll start another. And then one day I noticed SELF PUBLISHING FANTASY BLOG OFF. SPFBO. I enrolled the book and then about two months later I woke up to this sterling review from Fantasy Book Critic which galvanized me into continuing. I learned a lot from that. And gained some great contacts. Didn’t win though, but I didn’t expect to. But it was a start. A welcome one.

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?

My specific genre. Now that’s an interesting one because THE BOY WHO WALKED TOO FAR is a bit of a genre blender. But, if you take fantasy and sci-fi as genres then those were the steps in which I played as a youth. My parents separated when I was at a young age so perhaps it was a form of escapism. But at the time (early eighties) Star Wars and Doctor Who were in full flow and then later, the BBC adapted John Christopher’s The Tripods. So there was all this grandeur within all this drab disappointment and I think my brain ran with it. And then later, through school I found The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and it sort of snowballed that I could create stories in my own mind and perhaps show the people my foibles (tries not to laugh).

Do you only read the genre that you write? 

Oh hell no, Where’s the fun in that? Sometimes I think it is healthy to branch out and try something different. I love fantasy and sci-fi and horror but there are some great writers out there who dish out some great crime fiction and adventure. You have to explore. You won’t learn anything by reading the tortured hero x 10. It’s like going to a restaurant and ordering the same thing everytime. What’s the point in that?

Yes I have to agree with that – I like to read all sorts of genres for a bit of variety.

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I’m reading Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle. Damn it’s good. It’s about a fictional aviator who flies around the globe, and then in another linked arc, it’s about an actress in contemporary LA who gets the comeback role of a lifetime to play the said Aviator. It’s fantastic – nuanced. Her prose makes me salivate. That indivisible line of art and brilliance. TV, I’ve nearly finished Brand New Cherry Flavor – shit. This is my playground. Sometimes you wait for a show to completely blow you out of the water. This is it. Doesn’t hold back. It takes the grime of Hollywood and paints a picture of witchcraft mingled with the avarice of the dream factory. And it’s bloody terrifying. Get some. Music wise and for inspiration I always go for Tool or A Perfect Circle. I’m a big Maynard James Keenan fan. Not just Maynard though, Adam Jones etc. All the musicians he plays with through Tool, APC and Puscifer are on their A game. Tool, were always masters of the musical epic. They create the perfect soundscapes for me to create. Art feeds art. Sometimes I’ll put on a soundtrack. Mad Max Fury Road is my favourite. Just as mental as the film. Dredd too, love that soundtrack. Damn.

Wow – you’ve given me some new things to watch and listen to there, thank you!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Just write. It doesn’t matter how many words you write a day. It could be a 100. It could be 5000. If so, kudos. Even if you take a little notepad into work and write down some words on your lunch break. Get them down. And be prepared to sacrifice some weekends. Because one, you’ll need the extra money to pay for an editor and a half decent cover design. But seriously, just write, don’t be too harsh on yourself because what you are doing is basically akin to godhood. You are creating worlds, and no bugger will ever take that away from you. And get lots of tea bags.

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I am, as we speak/type/ converse? putting the finishing touches to Smoker on the Porch. It is set in the same universe as the BOY and yet a long, long way away. In Suffolk in 1989 in fact, But there are clues – little Easter Eggs to that tale at the arse end of creation. It can stand alone and no one would be the wiser, but some will get it. It’s very dear to me, Smoker, so I needed to give it justice. I finished the original draft prior to Covid but getting the second draft done was like a minefield. Nothing to do with the book, just home schooling and the stress of life really. But, it’s there. Looking wonderful and horrific and more streamlined than the BOY. It moves quicker. It’s told in the first person so you get all the neurosis as well. It is essentially a dark fairytale at the end of Thatcher’s Britain with cosmic terror and soda stream. After that I start on the sequel to the BOY. It is going to be brutal. It’s Die Hard With A Vengeance meets Godzilla by way of the Apocalypse Now highway. An old enemy has come looking for Hieronymus Xindii with a bleeding bag of old magic. Feuds will be settled on the Stage of Furies. I can’t wait. After that I have a few ideas but one thing at a time.

These new projects sound very intriguing – good luck with all of your projects!
Thank you so much for visiting the Indie Spotlight today, Dom.


The Boy Who Walked Too Far (The Xindii Chronicles)

Synopsis

For aeons we had swam in the dream sea, our night-time thoughts observed, scrutinized. An intelligence had formed within that endless sea. It whispered to us of a fabled land of enlightenment. Beckoning. On the last outpost in creation, the remnants of the universe gather and wait out the inevitable darkness. The Construct houses the holy and the sinners’ of ages. Here at the end of everything even murder is not outdated. Dispatched by the Pope of Numbers to investigate, the Mapper Heironymous Xindii – one of a select few who can fuse reality and dream together – and his trusty confidante, Solomon Doomfinger take up the case of a man ripped to shreds by another’s dream. It is a case that will define or break them. The city of Testament stands on the abyss of an invisible war and at its centre a force like no other. Here, among skulking gods, wingless angels and krakens, Xindii will face his own history and a future only pre-determined by the power of friendship. Walk with him.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | goodreads


Who is next on Indie Spotlight?

A R Clinton writes epic, grimdark science fantasy (with an emphasis on the fantasy!). The first novel of her epic fantasy series, Song of Sundering, is available now, along with the prequel short story. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, daughter, two puppies, and cat. Besides writing, she plays video games, powerlifts, enjoys the occasional Magic the Gathering game, and is currently binge watching through Netflix comedy specials.

On the Winds of Quasars (The Song of Kamaria #2) by T. A. Bruno

Today is my stop on the Storytellers on Tour blog tour for On the Winds of Quasars (The Song of Kamaria #2), the exciting sequel to T. A. Bruno’s In The Orbit of Sirens. Please take a look at the posts from some of the other tour hosts here. There is also a recap of the story so far, and a US giveaway, so don’t miss those!


On the Winds of Quasars by T. A. Bruno
Series: The Song of Kamaria (#2)
Published: September 20, 2021
Genre: Sci-fi Fantasy
Pages: 353
CW: Violence


Book Description

The thrilling sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens

THE WORLD OF KAMARIA WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.

In the aftermath of the brutal slaying of a sacred auk’nai deity, Cade and Nella Castus are taken from their home and brought deep into the wilderness. They must make their way back to civilization, traversing dangerous landscapes as they are pursued relentlessly by their captor—a winged abomination.

As Denton and Eliana search for their missing children, they uncover something that will change all life on Kamaria forever.

Goodreads | Amazon


My Review

I was sent a digital version of this book and also a signed paperback, in exchange for an honest review – thank you very much to Justine, Timy and T. A. Bruno!

On the Winds of Quasars is the sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens which I thoroughly enjoyed reading earlier this year.  I greatly appreciated the recap included at the beginning of the book – it has been a while since I read the first book and I had forgotten some of the details which the recap mentions. There are also recaps peppered throughout the early chapters which was a good idea in such a richly different world, with a complex story.

The majority of this sequel takes place twenty-six years after the original book, but many of our old friends are happily back again. Denton and Eliana are now married and Denton’s parents are in their 80s. Faye Raike; Marie Viray and Jess Combs the Tvashtar marine are still part of the scout team. Talulo the wingless auk’nai is their pilot and George Tanaka is now stationed at the Telemachus outpost, at the location where the main antagonist, Nhymn the siren, was brought down in the previous book. The Telemachus space ship which was crashed into Nhymn in order to defeat her is still standing at the site and vines and other more sinister wildlife have adopted it as their home.

The once pristine domed settlement of Odysseus City is now more run down with crime and poverty rearing their ugly heads. Auk’nai and humans are living in a combined society and many younger Auk’nai have given up their societal traditions. It’s clear that Bruno has given a lot of thought to how the city would have changed over the intervening timeframe.

As with In the Orbit of Sirens we are treated to plenty of interesting flora and fauna found on the planet of Kamaria and once again the world-building is cinematic and easy to visualise. The colours are vivid and the animals are imaginatively described:

“They passed a lemurbat nest. The small bidpedal creatures had slick purple skin, large ears, and four orange eyes. Among the six curious lemurbats in the nest, the glint of their eyes made them look like a much larger crowd. When Homer’s robotic body moved past the nest, the lemurbats scurried deeper into their hole.”

The story of On the Winds of Quasars begins with a gripping murder mystery – the massive Daunoren bird, revered by Kamaria’s native Auk’nai species as the god of the mountain, has been killed. This is a terrible tragedy and puts an end to their ability to see the past. Old fashioned detective work will therefore be needed to find the murderer.

Denton and Eliana have two grown up children, Cade and Nella Castus. Cade works in space as an engineer, but returns at the beginning of the book for a well-earned break with his parents after being “Up” (in space) for a six year stint; and Nella, who is deaf and works as a botanist with Marie Viray. The importance of family is a strong theme in this series and we see a great example of that at Cade’s ‘welcome home’ get-together, with his grandparents visiting, as well as his uncles, and everyone playing backyard sports together. Nella and Cade are close and their strong bond is heart-warming and helps them survive as the story progresses.

The mystery continues and Cade and Nella are kidnapped by a monster with three yellow eyes. Through flashbacks we learn more about this monster and at about the half way point in the story the veil is lifted for both the reader and the monster! It is a clever and thrilling plot point, without giving anything away here, and the tension continues to intensify as Denton and Eliana search for their children, making increasingly horrifying discoveries about the planet, the more they search. Their search takes them from one side of Kamaria to the other and the map included with the book was a useful resource which I often referred to.

My favourite section of the thrilling chase was a sequence where Cade and Nella are trying to escape the monster and return home, and come across the colossal timbermen parade, climbing up onto one of these walking trees enables them to cross a large lake:

Hundreds of timbermen paraded through the lake. Their enormous legs moved through the water, soaking up as much as they could hold in their bodies for their long migration. The lake rested in the basin of a circle of mountains, emptying on the opposite side through some canyons. Waterfalls spilled from high ledges on the surrounding cliffs, making the entire basin look like an enormous fountain. Birds circled overhead, some diving into the water to gobble up fish, others resting on the branches of the timbermen.”

In this book we finally learn the backstory of the fearsome Undriel race who drove humanity away from the Sol System in Book 1 of the Song of Kamaria and of course it can all be traced back to greedy humans who wanted to be able to act like gods. The horror of being used as a puppet by a terrifying enemy while also being aware that you cannot do anything to stop your body from committing atrocities, is really disturbing. Bruno cleverly uses this device to raise the stakes for our heroes and raise the tension for his readers.

The inclusion of a deaf main character was fantastic and done very seamlessly. Nella’s friends and family use Sol-Sign (similar to ASL) to communicate with her. Her inability to hear what is going on when running from the monster raises the tension level substantially. I would imagine a lot of deaf people would like to get their hands on one of the fantastic soothreader devices which Nella also has access to, and which can translate her sign language into spoken word for anyone who doesn’t know how to sign. Nella was my favourite character in the story – she seemed a very warm compassionate and genuine human being.

While I am on the subject of characters I will say that I had trouble figuring out the point of Zephyr, Cade’s love interest. She joined the search for Cade and Nella but didn’t seem to bring an awful lot to it, or to the story as a whole. I am wondering if she was introduced in this book because she has a larger part to play in the finale.

On the Winds of Quasars is a thrilling story with many edge-of-the-seat moments and which ends with quite a few loose ends waiting to be tied up by the final book in the series. I found it difficult to put down and can’t wait to find out what direction the story will go in next!


The Story So Far…

Here is my review of Book 1 in The Song of Kamaria: In The Orbit of Sirens

All hope was lost.

The Sol System had been taken by nightmarish machines called the Undriel. One by one, each of the colonized worlds was absorbed into their dark network. The machines worked so quickly, so efficiently, that their motives were never truly discovered. Humanity fought back, but their defenses crumbled, and it became clear that the war would be lost.

A desperate escape.

The Telemachus, an interstellar spacecraft designed for exploration, was repurposed into a liferaft. With their backs against Jupiter, and the Undriel clawing their way across the Sol System, humanity fled across the stars.

A home abandoned.

The Undriel sunk into obscurity after the exodus. None of the surviving humans knew what had become of their old foe.

A home discovered.

Kamaria, humanity’s new safe haven. It is a world of immense, raw beauty—but also of hidden dangers. The voyage from Sol to Delta Octantis took three hundred years of warp-speed travel. A forward team was sent six years before the Telemachus to prepare Kamaria. This crew named their first colony Odysseus.

Unwelcome guests.

Lung-lock, an airborne bacteria that permeated throughout Kamaria, paralyzed human lungs. This affliction slowly killed off many of the Odysseus colonists. A cure was on the cusp of completion, but it was missing a key component. 

A new threat.

Scouts searched Kamaria for a cure to lung-lock. In their desperate search, they stumbled upon a mysterious crypt. Inside, they found the body of a creature they called the Siren. Unbeknownst to the scouts, the Siren was not as dead as she first appeared. Her phantom possessed the body of Captain Roelin Raike and wore him like a mask. The colonists had no idea of the danger lurking among them.

A stranger visits.

The native Kamarians, the Auk’nai, kept their distance from the human colonists. They were an advanced race of humanoid bird-people with a mental sensitivity to empathic wavelengths. One lone auk’nai, Mag’Ro, made contact with Dr. Eliana Veston and provided the last element needed to cure lung-lock. In exchange, she gave him a weapon, unsure what he would do with it.

A terrible tragedy.

The Siren—Nhymn, as she would later be called—used Roelin’s body as a weapon. In a night of carnage, she murdered several colonists and fled in a warship named the Astraeus. Nhymn took Roelin as her prisoner and disappeared into the wilderness. For years, no one knew what had become of the Siren and her hostage.

The Telemachus arrived.

Years passed since the massacre, and time had slowly healed the colony. Odysseus had grown into a city. Humanity had gained its foothold on Kamaria. Their numbers were low, their progress steady. Relations with the auk’nai hesitantly improved. 

The Siren returned.

A clue led a scout team to Nhymn’s hidden location in the Sharp Top mountains, nestled deep within the Tangle Maze jungle. Upon discovering the missing Astraeus warship, the scouts were attacked by Nhymn. She killed half of them and took the rest hostage. 

Her dark goals.

Nhymn needed to repair the Astraeus to find her sister, Sympha. She used a young man named Denton Castus to fix the downed ship. He did his job well, and Nhymn carried out her mission of reuniting with Sympha, taking over her body and powers. Nhymn, now more powerful than ever, vanished into the wilderness for a month. Her actions during this time were unknown.

A shade.

Denton Castus had his own secrets. In all, there had been three Sirens; Nhymn, Sympha, and Karx. Karx found Denton and tried to warn him about Nhymn, leaping into Denton’s mind to vacate his own failing body. The combination of Karx and Denton resulted in a mental tether forming between them. Denton was able to walk through Karx’s memories as a shade. He learned the origin of the Sirens.

Apusticus burned.

After vanishing for a month, Nhymn reappeared with devastation. The auk’nai city of Apusticus was rendered to ash by her power. Mag’Ro was killed, and the surviving auk’nai fled their destroyed city to warn the humans of her approach. 

A final battle.

The auk’nai allied with the humans of Odysseus and headed off Nhymn in the Unforgotten Garden. Many died that day, both human and auk’nai. Things grew desperate as the Siren gained the advantage. 

Tethers linked. Tethers snapped.

Denton Castus, Roelin Raike, and Sympha distracted Nhymn long enough so that the human and auk’nai defenses could find a way to destroy her. Roelin and Sympha were killed during the battle, but they had been successful in their task. Under Eliana’s suggestion, the Telemachus was smashed into Nhymn. The Siren had been crushed, and the battle ended.

Sirens are immortal.

The body of Nhymn had been destroyed, but it was known she would return. Denton’s previous shade walking confirmed that Sirens live on past their physical deaths. Three years after the final battle, Nhymn came back. She begged to be sent away from Kamaria, a request the people of Kamaria gleefully fulfilled. Her reasons for leaving remained a mystery.

***US Giveaway***

Prize: A paperback copy of On the Winds of Quasars by T. A. Bruno – US Only
Starts: September 19th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: September 26th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST

Click here or on the banner below to enter!


Meet the Author

T. A. Bruno grew up in a suburb south of Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. Since then, he has brought stories to life for over a decade as a previsualization artist. At home, he is the proud father of two boys and a husband to a wonderful wife. He released his debut novel, In the Orbit of Sirens, amid a global pandemic in 2020, and it has won multiple awards.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | FacebookGoodreads

Indie Spotlight – Peter Hartog

Today I am welcoming Peter Hartog into the Indie Spotlight.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Peter has spent the second half of his life in the Deep South. Despite being an unapologetic damn Yankee, that hasn’t stopped him from appreciating mild winters, Southern hospitality, or SEC football.

Peter has been an insurance professional for too many decades, which means before smart phones and the internet. Yeah, he’s THAT old, but he still enjoys all manner of science fiction and fantasy media, MMOs, reading, playing tennis, cooking, musicals, cheering his beloved New England pro sports teams, and the occasional good cry. He’s been playing tabletop RPGs since the golden age of The Keep on the Borderlands (which he still owns and has been kept in pristine condition). 

BLOODLINES and its sequel PIECES OF EIGHT are Peter’s first attempts at novels but won’t be his last. A blend of science and urban fantasy mixed with dystopian crime thriller, his work has been lauded by Kirkus Reviews as “a riveting multi-genre tale with sharply drawn characters in a striking futuristic world.”

When he’s not reveling in geek nirvana, you can find Peter with his wonderful wife, two amazing sons, three fuzzy rescue cats and one fluffy golden retriever doing whatever it is a menagerie like that does.

You can find him as @althazyr on Twitter, as Peter Hartog on Goodreads, or visit his website at peterhartog.com to find out what he’s currently reading or his thoughts on writing, life and other random stuff.


Hello Peter, welcome to my blog here in sunny Massachusetts!

What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?

After querying BLOODLINES and getting unceremoniously rejected by a broad spectrum of literary agents with little to no quality feedback, I gave up. I got tired of waiting. It’s as simple as that.

Now, I know that sounds like sour grapes (no, it IS sour grapes), but ironically, the rejections motivated me. I started reading about the differences between traditional versus self-publishing, the pros and cons, the negativity surrounding self-publishing and the so-called onus of “not making it”. Then I began my research into the wide variety of distribution platforms available, the depth and quality of professional cover art design, the number of skilled editing services offering everything from simple line editing to more in-depth developmental review, all of it. It opened a whole new world to me, and I took the plunge.

While my writer head is firmly in the clouds, my years of living and breathing in the professional world reminded me that publishing first and foremost is a business. Agents are trying to find work to generate sales if they want to stay in the game. Their use of demographic trending, potential local, regional, national, and international forecasting, the “What’s hot versus what’s not” takes in Hollywood and abroad, those are a few examples of the factors involved in their selection process. 

My Guardian of Empire City stories didn’t make their cut. It hurt, but I get it, and I didn’t feel I had the benefit of time hoping the publishing industry would move in my direction. I simply wanted to see my books out in the wild and I haven’t looked back.

I’m glad self publishing has been a positive experience for you!

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? (What’s your inspiration?) Have you ever written in other genres?

As I mentioned, I have a tabletop gaming crew who I have known for more than 30 years. We’ve played all kinds of RPGs, from AD&D (1st edition baby!) to Don’t Rest Your Head to (one of my favorites) Monster of the Week.

I’ve been running games since the 80s, and I love coming up with campaign ideas to terrorize…err…mesmerize my players. About ten-ish years ago, I’d been watching the television shows The Blacklist and Person of Interest, and the concept for doing a crime thriller was born. But I needed more. As a fan of Blade Runner, Harry Dresden and Harry Bosch, I wanted to combine elements of science fiction, fantasy and the police procedural to come up with something I hoped was refreshing and new. I needed to do something that was as sweeping and epic in scope as it was down-to-earth and humanly visceral.

I asked myself these questions:

What if the players were part of a clandestine cadre of law enforcement armed with an assortment of powers and technology that had to stop horrible monsters who were equally equipped? And rather than make up a setting, why not use New York City as the base but call it Empire City instead? And what if the world went through some horrific events, survived, and magic returned to be considered an integral part of the world’s new technology? What would their first case be, and how can I combine the elements of magic and technology to really make things weird and fun, but grounded by the characters?

I went with Evil Hat’s Monster of the Week game system and unleashed my idea on my poor players. The first “case” for the Empire City Special Crimes Unit was BLOODLINES.

That game ran for over a year. About two years later, I had put PIECES OF EIGHT together, and that took another year for my players to solve it. THE DEVIL’S SHARE (my current WIP and the third book in The Guardian of Empire City series) followed a couple of years after that.

As I was running THE DEVIL’S SHARE, the writing bug hit me. I wanted to pay my players (who are some of my best friends) the greatest compliment by novelizing their exploits. The previous cases had been so much fun, and my players had created these brilliant characters, most of whom are in the novels, although altered to fit my vision of them as they related to the story. 

But I needed a protagonist, a relatable lead who was completely independent of those games. I came up with Tom “Doc” Holliday, a down-on-his-luck homicide detective (overly used trope, but I’m a sucker for it) who somehow possessed a magic he couldn’t control and didn’t understand (another overly used trope) that also came with a destiny he didn’t want (and a third overly used trope)? Holliday is a very rough amalgamation of Rick Deckard, Rick Castle and Steve Rogers.

A long time ago, I tried my hand at writing epic fantasy and fell flat on my face. The story concepts I had never truly grabbed me. Somewhere on my hard drive are four chapters from this story which I might revisit someday. My plan is to stick with Holliday for the foreseeable future.

I love down on their luck detectives! I’m looking forward to getting to know Tom Holliday.

Do you only read the genre that you write? 

I read a wide range of genres, from romantic comedy and the occasional erotica, to police procedural and thrillers, high and low (and all the sub-genres) fantasy to hard science fiction and space opera. Twitter has been fertile ground for finding all manner of wonderful stories, and I try to keep an open mind.

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Video Game you are playing? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

Books:

A WITCH STEPS INTO MY OFFICE (ALEXANDER SOUTHERLAND, P.I. BOOK 2) by Douglas Lumsden – a fun urban fantasy following the misadventures of a private investigator named Alex Southerland. It’s the second in the ongoing series.

After that, I’m on to Jonathan Nevair’s epic sequel JATI’S WAGER (WIND TIDE BOOK 2).

As for television, I am a sucker for all the cooking competition shows on The Food Network (although I’m a terrible cook), especially Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. My wife and I are avid fans of all the Marvel shows, plus I absolutely ADORE the Bad Batch (and Clone Wars and Rebels). And now that football and hockey season are coming, I’ll watch the Patriots and Bruins any chance I get.

And after a 2-year hiatus, I’m back to World of Warcraft (RP server, of course). FOR THE HORDE!

I love listening to music while I write. Movie and television soundtracks are always on shuffle. Some of my favorite inspirational music includes:

Person of Interest

Mr. Robot

Tron: Legacy

Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049

The Shawshank Redemption

Escape From New York

1492: Conquest of Paradise

Jati’s Wager is a great book (my review). I’ll be watching the Patriots too and my husband and son are big fans of the Bruins!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Be creative. Be yourself. Be true. And write on.

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

My current WIP is THE DEVIL’S SHARE, the third installment in the series. I’ve been in a writing drought for the past three months, but that’s normal for me. After the release of a book, my creative side goes dormant to recover from all the “writing trauma”. I have a tentative goal of next summer to finish the first draft.

However, what I am excited about is the upcoming release of the BLOODLINES audiobook, scheduled to be released sometime in September or October, and featuring the voice talents of Todd Menesses (toddmenesses.com). To hear someone else reading the words I’ve written will be surreal, to say the least.

I’m also slowly putting together the notes on the fourth case for my RPG crew. This time, a strange shift in magic has sent our intrepid Special Crimes Unit into an alternate Gaslamp version of Empire City, filled with fog, my horrible excuse for different European accents, and a vicious serial killer preying upon the ladies of the night. Has Jack the Ripper arrived in Empire City? Or is it some copycat hoping to forge their own bloody legend?

Sue, thank you so much for this interview! I hope I didn’t bore you and your readers too badly.

You’re very welcome, Peter, thank you for visiting my blog today and good luck with your new audiobook and book sales!


BLOODLINES (Book 1 of The Guardian of Empire City)

Those dark and terrible things from your nightmares are VERY real.

They walk among us, masquerading as your neighbor, your lover, even your friend. You see, Empire City is full of them…if you only know where to look. How do I know this? Well, for starters the name is Detective Tom Holliday. I work homicide for Special Crimes. My friends, what few I have, call me Doc.

And the other reason?

I’ve got magic of my own.

Welcome to Empire City, where magic and technology co-exist, and humanity endures behind walls of stone and spell-forged steel. A place where danger lurks around every street corner, and anything is possible.

When former hotshot homicide detective Tom “Doc” Holliday is recruited to join Special Crimes, he trades in his boring desk job for a second chance to do what he does best: hunt down killers.

And his first case doesn’t disappoint—a murdered woman with a bogus past, her body drained of blood, and two eyewitnesses wasted on the designer drug goldjoy claiming a vampire did it. Armed with a fickle clairvoyance and saddled with a team whose past is as checkered as his own, Holliday embarks upon an investigation through a dystopian landscape filled with bio-engineered vampires, interdimensional shadow parasites, and the magical masterminds behind it all.

But to solve this murder and safeguard his city, Holliday will have to uncover the truth behind an ancient shadowy conspiracy and confront a destiny he never wanted.

Buy Bloodlines here | Add Bloodlines to goodreads


PIECES OF EIGHT (Book 2 of The Guardian of Empire City)

How do you stop a killer who’s already dead?

Some secrets never die. When the mutilated corpse of an ex-con is found in the bowels of an old church, haunting Biblical verses scrawled at the crime scene speak of divine retribution, and a killer hellbent on revenge. For Special Crimes detective Tom “Doc” Holliday doesn’t need his fickle clairvoyance to see that a murder like this is only the beginning.

With few leads and fewer suspects, Holliday and his quirky team of paranormal specialists embark upon an investigation that will lead them down a dark and twisted path, and test the bonds of family and friendship. From the frozen streets of Little Odessa to the diabolical wealth of Park Avenue, Holliday will need more than his Insight to hunt down an unstoppable killer.

But when Holliday suspects the killer might not be what it seems, he’ll have to unravel a twisted web of greed and lies to save an innocent soul, or lose his own, and watch his world die.

Welcome back to Empire City!

Buy Pieces of Eight here | Add Pieces of Eight to goodreads


Who is next on Indie Spotlight?

Dom Watson exists in the deep green of Suffolk, England. When he isn’t writing about space-age detectives and hyper intelligent Neanderthals and pipe smoking babies he can be found at the nearest tavern enjoying ale. Or maybe, talking to magical tramps on the roadside. He is trying to give up caffeine but the brain won’t allow it. The brain is the boss and it needs the caffeine to bring out all the wonderful ideas that will change the world. Dom is just in it for the crack. Vents about mental health because no one else will. Will donate his body for medical research for ten minutes peace. Don’t sleep in the nude. The night is hungry.


Related Posts


ARC Review: Thunder, Blood and Goats (A Tale of the Nine Worlds) by Lyra Wolf

Killing one measly dragon wasn’t supposed to be a problem. 

It seemed like a good, if not practically heroic, choice to join Thor on a quick mission to rid the realm of Alfheim of a minor dragon infestation. It all goes wrong when Thor insists on bringing the goats. And then it gets worse when Elénaril—an elf with an attitude and a crossbow—steps on the scene.

Loki finds her absolutely charming.

And so does Odin. He craves Elénaril for his army in Valhalla. Loki sees this as a (second) chance to secure his place in Asgard and impress the gods. 

He wants to show them he isn’t as bad as they say. 

But if Loki does what Odin wishes, it might not necessarily prove he isn’t as bad as they say, but prove that he is.

Buy here | Goodreads


My Review

I received an arc copy of Thunder, Blood and Goats in exchange for an honest review – thank you, Lyra! Publication date is November 9th.

I have loved all of the books I have read by Lyra Wolf so far, and this short novella was no exception! Her version of Loki is just deliciously snarky enough without being unbearable and he has a conscience – although he doesn’t always listen to it! Odin is despicable in his egotistical plans again, and as for Thor – he is dumb and strong, but with a temper which Loki has to keep in check before he rains vengeance on the young boy Nym in this retelling of a lesser known Norse myth. The other main character in this story is an Elven woman named Eléndaril, who was a fantastic character full of feistiness and bravery. Determined to slay the dragon which has been troubling her village all by herself, she is annoyed to meet Thor and Loki banging around noisily outside the dragon’s lair. As always when you start to get involved with the gods there are consequences – and she is lucky that she charmed Loki enough with her personality and courage for him to care about her well-being.

Also did I mention the dragon? I always enjoy a dragon and this one is fantastic: 

“The dragon tore out of its den, all green scales and muscle and a jowl full of sharp teeth. It flapped its small, useless wings—which would have made it look laughable, had it not been for the glob of venom it spat at my chest. I jumped out of the way, avoiding the mass of liquid by inches. Steam rose around the purple puddle, hissing as it sank and melted the snow where I had stood a second earlier.“

Wolf’s wit hits all the right notes in this novella and I would urge anyone considering reading her other books to give this one a try. It works as a standalone, yet equally fits into the ongoing Nine Worlds Rising series well and gives a great taste of her undeniable skill in writing entertaining stories. I can’t wait for the next one!


About the Author

Lyra Wolf is a Swiss-American author of fantasy and mythic fiction.

Raised in Indiana, home to a billion corn mazes, she now lives in Central Florida, home to a billion mosquitoes. She enjoys drinking espresso, wandering through old city streets, and being tragically drawn to 18th century rogues.

When Lyra isn’t fulfilling the wishes of her overly demanding Chihuahua, you can find her writing about other worlds and the complicated people who live there.

Lyra has earned a B.A. in History and M.A. in English.

You can follow Lyra on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or visit her website at www.lyrawolf.com.


Related Posts


Choir of the Damned (Book 3 of The Raincatcher’s Ballad) By Steven McKinnon

A girl with the power of a god. An assassin seeking vengeance. A world on the brink of war.

After all the battles and devastation, Serena just wants a place to call home. Unable to trust her own mind after being overtaken by a demon, the last living Siren-born is desperate to finally stop its reign of terror. But with entire armies amassing to destroy her, she embarks on a hunt for the one weapon that could kill the vile creature. To reach it, she must trek deep into deadly enemy territory.

Damien Fieri can’t shake the guilt of failing his kingdom. Hellbent on revenge, the former assassin sets his sights on the elusive tyrant destroying his home. But with his body broken and his superhuman skills stripped, he fears atonement can only come at a price—his own humanity.

With the fear of losing control to the beast seizing her powers, Serena worries she’ll soon have innocent blood on her hands. And as the sands trickle from the hourglass for his fellow citizens, Damien struggles to learn a new path to victory.

Can Serena and Damien forge an era of peace before more lives are caught in the crossfire?

Choir of the Damned is the climactic third book in The Raincatcher’s Ballad epic fantasy series. If you like evolving characters, action-packed adventures, and explosive campaigns, then you’ll love Steven McKinnon’s aria of death.

My Review of The Fury Yet to Come

My Review of Symphony of the Wind

My Review of Wrath of Storms


My Review

I was sent a digital arc of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Steven! There are spoilers in this review for the previous books in The Raincatcher’s Ballad series.


Choir of the Damned is the third and final installment of The Raincatcher’s Ballad and a very satisfying end to this exciting trilogy. 

Serena is now captain of the dragon airship Crimsonwing, which she believes once belonged to the goddess Musa from whom she has discovered she is descended. She and her found family arrive in Tarevia looking for Myriel who is recuperating from her injuries there.  Almost immediately she is caught up in a web of underhanded subterfuge and the victim of a tyrant’s powerplay.

Chaos ensues, including the discovery of one of the Orinul – a demon from another planet who, it appears, has been pulling their strings for a very long time. I have to admit I found the addition of Darevia and then Idaris a little confusing – the cast of characters and places in this trilogy keeps on increasing and I was finding myself a bit lost from time to time.

Meanwhile Korvan the undead, indestructible, man of stone has declared himself King over Dalthea and now has humans working for him as soldiers, in addition to his undead wraiths. Valentine and Morton are fighting his army and Damien takes on Korvan single-handedly and fails to beat him. Strength in numbers is an underlying theme in these books. Never underestimate the power of having a bunch of allies around to keep an eye on your back!

Despite all of the near death situations Serena has found herself in, she is still a snarky teenager and I enjoyed the banter between Gallows and Serena. McKinnon writes some great dialog. There are also a fair amount of humorous asides in this novel, which help break the tension in such an action-packed, death-filled adventure. Damien is now going by his birth name, “Arros”, but elderly Elsie Travers mishears and calls him “Arse” for the rest of her appearances in the book. The announcements by Korvan over the Information Tower are also humorous. His quixotic demands for his subjects each day range from playing hide and seek, speaking only in rhyming couplets, to smothering a grandparent.

Our group of heroes is searching for Aerulus’ Salvation – a weapon once wielded by the gods themselves. They hope to get there first before Emperor Naramin, the newest Big Bad. He has found every fragment of the weapon bar one, so the action switches to a race to find the last piece and destroy it. Naramin is being controlled by the Orinul demon, so we have:

“A daughter of Musa taking on the Orinul’s puppet”

History/legend is repeating itself. Serena aims to vanquish the remaining Orinul using the weapon of the gods, Aerulus’ Salvation

Myriel tries to instil in Serena the idea that you can choose your own fate no matter how much you are manipulated, or what your background might be. This is an important theme in this book with the introduction of such unpalateable subjects as slavery, suicide bombers, and with mind control rearing it’s ugly head once more. 

There are many parallels between the world of The Raincatcher’s Ballad and our own world. It could be seen as a call to action for the reader to wake up and make some changes. Unfortunately our own ecological disasters cannot be saved by a green-haired siren:

How many horrors like Palthonheim, like Outpost One Three Seven, remained hidden in the world? Deep-mining ignicite had led to ecological catastrophe. Mass-produced weapons had turned murder into a lucrative industry. As long as mankind possessed power, it would turn it on itself.

I immensely enjoyed my travels with the group of heroes I met in this trilogy and will be eager to see what Steven McKinnon has in store for his readers next!

Fortune Find You!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | goodreads


About the Author

Symphony of the Wind is Steven McKinnon’s first fiction novel, and is Book One of The Raincatcher’s Ballad. The Fury Yet To Come is a prequel novella set in the same world.

His first book, the true-life tale Boldly Going Nowhere, was released in 2015.

Steven was born in the bathroom of a Glasgow flat in the year 1986. He has since moved out.

To get the Raincatcher’s Ballad prequel novella — The Fury Yet To Come — for free, sign up to the author’s newsletter at http://subscribe.stevenmckinnon.net/


Related Posts


Indie Spotlight – Jeffrey Speight

Today I would like to welcome fantasy author Jeffrey Speight to the Indie Spotlight!

Jeffrey Speight’s love of fantasy goes back to an early childhood viewing of the cartoon version of The Hobbit, when he first met an unsuspecting halfling that would change Middle Earth forever. Finding his own adventuring party in middle school, Jeff became an avid Dungeons & Dragons player and found a passion for worldbuilding and character creation. While he went on to a successful career as an investor, stories grew in his mind until he could no longer keep them inside. So began his passion for writing. Today, he lives in Connecticut with his wife, three boys (his current adventuring party), three dogs, and a bearded dragon. He has a firmly held belief that elves are cool, but half-orcs are cooler. While he once preferred rangers, he nearly always plays a paladin at the gaming table. Contact Jeff by Email: jeff@jeffreyspeight.com

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


Hi Jeff, welcome to my blog! As you know your book, Paladin Unbound is on my TBR and I am looking forward to starting it this month.

What made you decide to publish your book independently? What was your path to publication?

This is an interesting question. When I wrote Paladin Unbound, I had no intention of publishing it. I wrote it for myself as a new hobby/form of therapy. I had built Evelium for a D&D campaign I was running for my kids and just kept building out the world and characters. When they moved on to another campaign after like three sessions, I decided to keep working on it and wrote what became Paladin Unbound. The first draft was pretty much a mess, as I hadn’t flexed my creative writing muscles in a long time, but I gave it a heavy re-write and ended up pretty happy with what I had. I handed it to a good friend of mine who is a published author. He gave it a read and encouraged me to publish it. It sounded like fun, but I really had no idea where to start. I queried some agents and sent the manuscript out to a few publishers. While I was doing that (with no success), I entered SFFPit on Twitter. I was very skeptical that a pitch competition would result in anything legitimate, but Literary Wanderlust requested a manuscript. I spoke with a few of their authors and haven’t looked back since. There were definitely a few bumps along the way, but my experience with indie publishing has been very positive.

That’s great that you were successful through SFFPit – I hear so many stories of disappointed people not making it through those pitch competitions!

What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? (What’s your inspiration?) Have you ever written in other genres?

I’m a dyed in the wool fantasy guy. I grew up loving The Hobbit/LotR, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Legends of Drizzt, Ravenloft, etc. I started playing D&D in middle school which really got me hooked. So, high fantasy that’s a little on the dark/horror side is my wheelhouse. My love of D&D was definitely an inspiration for Paladin Unbound, but I didn’t set out to write a “D&D story”. I think you can enjoy Paladin Unbound even if you’ve never rolled a D20. Having had no prior aspirations to become a published author, I never tried to write in other genres. I sat down with Umhra’s story in my mind and just started writing. I feel at home in other worlds. 

Do you only read the genre that you write?

No. I’d say I mostly read fantasy, but I also enjoy Science Fiction, Horror, and broader fiction. For me, it’s about prioritizing, as I’m busy with work, family, writing, etc. My schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for reading, so I usually have an audio book going during parts of my workday and then read for a bit before bed. There’s so much great stuff out there right now, I’d love to add a few hours to my day to get to more of it.

What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Video Game you are playing? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?

I’m enjoying Zack Argyle’s Voice of War right now. It’s a very compelling story and Zack is a great guy. I’ve met some tremendous indie fantasy authors through this process that I may never have gotten to know had I not published Paladin Unbound. It’s been a true blessing. The TBR is growing faster than I can cut through the books, though. As for TV, I’m watching Demon Slayer when I have a chance. It’s a ton of fun. I haven’t had a lot of time for video games lately. It shouldn’t surprise you that I love The Elder Scrolls games. Oblivion is my all-time favorite game. In terms of music, I listen to Of Monsters and Men a lot. Their music is so full of fantasy threads and imagery. I find it very inspirational as I gear up for writing. When I write, I often have something ambient as to not distract me. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Voice of War and can’t wait to read the sequel Stones of Light (also on my TBR)

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Well, I’m new to this and haven’t spent my entire life trying to become an author. I just wrote a story I wanted to tell and wrote it for myself. I think aspiring authors often try to write what they think other people are going to want to buy/read and it can come off as forced. Your writing will be much more authentic and fulfilling if you write for yourself first and let everything else figure itself out. If it’s a good story, you’ll find the right publisher and the readers will come. If you go the indie route, prepare to do a lot of the heavy lifting to attract those readers yourself. Your publisher will help you put together the best possible version of your book, but marketing will largely fall in your lap.

What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I’m just about ready to send the manuscript for the sequel to Paladin Unbound to my publisher. I hope that will be ready at some point next year. I’ve been working on approving the audiobook version of Paladin Unbound. I’m excited about that coming out in the near future. I’ve begun writing the third book in this trilogy. It’s outlined (which is new for me as I’m naturally kind of a pantser) and I’ve written the first 10k words. I’m excited to share the rest of this story arc with everyone. 

Thanks so much for shining your spotlight on me. The book community has been so wonderfully supportive. Indie books like Paladin Unbound wouldn’t be possible without the help of awesome people like you. 

Thank you – it is always amazing to hear that this little hobby is actually helping people! Thank you so much for visiting the Indie Spotlight today and good luck with your book sales – I will be on the lookout for the sequel to Paladin Unbound!


Paladin Unbound

The last of a dying breed, a holy warrior must rise up against a growing darkness in Evelium.
The most unlikely of heroes, a lowly itinerant mercenary, Umhra the Peacebreaker is shunned by society for his mongrel half-Orc blood. Desperate to find work for himself and his band of fighters, Umhra agrees to help solve a rash of mysterious disappearances, but uncovers a larger, more insidious plot to overthrow the natural order of Evelium in the process.
As Umhra journeys into the depths of Telsidor’s Keep to search for the missing, he confronts an ancient evil and, after suffering a great loss, turns to the god he disavowed for help.
Compelled to save the kingdom he loves, can he defeat the enemy while protecting his true identity, or must he risk everything?

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58022890-paladin-unbound

Buy Links:

Paladin Unbound: Speight, Jeffrey: 9125763608186: Amazon.com: Books

https://www.literarywanderlust.com/product-page/paladin-unbound

https://www.bookshop.org/contributors/jeffrey-speight

https://www.thebrokenbinding.co.uk/product-page/paladin-unbound-jeffrey-speight (signed bookplate paperback with a bookmark!)


Who is next on Indie Spotlight?

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Peter has spent the second half of his life in the Deep South. Despite being an unapologetic damn Yankee, that hasn’t stopped him from appreciating mild winters, Southern hospitality, or SEC football.

Peter has been an insurance professional for too many decades, which means before smart phones and the internet. Yeah, he’s THAT old, but he still enjoys all manner of science fiction and fantasy media, MMOs, reading, playing tennis, cooking, musicals, cheering his beloved New England pro sports teams, and the occasional good cry. He’s been playing tabletop RPGs since the golden age of The Keep on the Borderlands (which he still owns and has been kept in pristine condition). 


Related Posts


Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello

Welcome to the book tour for Cenotaphs by Rich Marcello! Read on for details and a chance to win a fantastic giveaway!

Cenotaphs FRont Cover FinalCenotaphs

Publication Date: July 26th, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

AFTER A CHANCE MEETING, AN OLD MAN AND A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN CHART AN UNCONVENTIONAL PATH FORWARD.

When Ben Sanna, a contemplative retiree with a penchant for helping people, and Samantha Beckett, a secretive New York City hedge fund manager, meet by chance in a small Vermont town, they enter into a tenuous relationship. Over several weeks, Samantha and Ben open their pasts inch by inch, sift through their futures consciously, and come to terms with the strength and depth of their bond. A meditation on redemption told in alternating chapters of musings and scenes, Cenotaphs is about platonic love; the ways we close ourselves off in reaction to pain and what happens when we open ourselves up again; and the deep, painful legacy of loss.

Add to Goodreads

A SORTING

The parts recur––the son, the lover, the husband, the father, the friend, the citizen. They come in whispers and fragments, in the unwinding of memory. They come in your smile, in the laughter of our children, in nightmares, in bursts of violence against once precious objects. How do you gauge the parts of a life? Did I perform any of them well? How do you summon them into an unfettered whole?

I am old now. I’d hoped I would’ve figured out a few answers by this point, but the truth is I spend more time each day watching the Red Sox than thinking about such things. In the summer and fall, the games are on every day, often twice a day, and watching them gives Zeke and me something to do. Something zen exists about the game, something appealing to me as I age, something about the stillness, the waiting, the bursts of energy, all mimicking the best and worst times in life. And I like the red, blue, and gray uniforms. They remind me of a more structured time.

Zeke, a big black, brown, and white mutt I rescued about ten years ago, keeps me company in our cabin. When I first got him, he liked digging holes in my yard, searching deep and dirty, with only a rare unearthing. His record: twenty-two holes. Twenty-two! In one of them, he found an empty wine bottle, message-less. Now, Zeke mostly sleeps in the same worn spot on the living room rug. I’m not sure which one of us will die first.

Available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble

About the Author

IMG_4294

Rich is the author of five novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, The Beauty of the Fall, The Latecomers, and Cenotaphs, and the poetry collection, The Long Body That Connects Us All. He also teaches creative writing at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, self-discovery and forgiveness. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet. For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to at least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.

Rich lives in Massachusetts with his wife and Newfoundland Shaman. He is currently working on his sixth and seventh novels, The Means of Keeping and In the Seat of the Eddas, a follow-on to The Latecomers.

Rich Marcello | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

Click the link below for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! (E-Card)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Tour Organized By:

R&R Book Tours

Blog Tour Schedule

September 13th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off Post) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/2021/09/13/new-book-3/

September 14th

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Bonnie Reads and Writes (Spotlight) https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

September 15th

Gina Rae Mitchel (Spotlight) https://ginaraemitchell.com/

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

@hoardingbooks.herdingcats (Review) https://www.instagram.com/hoardingbooks.herdingcats/

@joanna.zoe (Review) https://www.instagram.com/joanna.zoe/?igshid=1xipr7pa6a9zl

@isbn_reading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/isbn_reading/

September 16th

On the Shelf Reviews (Spotlight) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

Bunny’s Reviews (Spotlight) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Sue’s Musings (Spotlight) https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

September 17th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Port Jerricho (Spotlight) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com


Related Posts


Illustration Showcase – The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies

Today on Illustration Showcase I am featuring the artwork from Trudie Skies latest novel: The Thirteenth Hour.

Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods’ whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn’t know she had—and destroys a mortal’s soul by accident—she becomes Chime’s most wanted.

 Quen’s job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city’s destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of aether who prey on its citizens—and Kayl is his number one target.

 To ensure Chime’s future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl’s divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands.

 For a city that bows to cruel gods, it’ll take godless heathens to save it.


Over to you, Trudie:

From left to right, these are the two main characters of The Thirteenth Hour and the organisation which calls itself the Godless.

The Godless are a shadowy organisation who seek to protect mortals from their god’s whims. They commit the unforgivable sins of apostasy and blasphemy and oppose the Wardens, the police force of Chime who serve the gods.

Kayl is the primary main character for The Thirteenth Hour. She’s a Vesper and has the power to summon and manipulate shadows, though at the start of the story she discovers powers she didn’t know she had – the ability to take on the appearance and powers of other domains through touch! Kayl is a playful character who serves the Godless as a spy.

Quen is the secondary main character and works as a Warden in opposition to the Godless. He’s a Diviner, which allows him to manipulate time. He can also view the past and future of those he touches, which includes the exact moment of their death. He’s been experiencing visions of Chime’s future destruction.

Malk is another Vesper and member of the Godless, and Kayl’s longterm boyfriend. He’s the fighter of the team and handy in a knife fight. He grew up on Eventide and watched his father die because he couldn’t make a tithe to their god.

Dru is an Umber, and Kayl’s best friend. As an Umber, she is made of literal stone with vines for her hair and flowers that sprout from her brow. She has a natural talent for gardening and helps grow fruit and veg for the Godless. She also acts as a caregiver for Reve.

Harmony is a Seren, a small 4-foot Cherub-like race, though unlike the rest of her race, she only possesses one wing as her other wing was ripped off by her god. At 40, Harmony is the oldest of the Godless and also their leader. She works at the Chime Courier newspaper office by day which is where they get their intel.

Sinder is an Ember with the power to manipulate and summon flame. Covered in piercings and tattoos, Sinder likes to dress in feminine clothing such as corsets. He spent years trapped inside a workhouse and still has PTSD from that time. His role with the Godless is to spy and use his fire power when needed. He’s in a relationship with Vincent.

Vincent is a Necro, who are vampire-like in appearance with the ability to physically manipulate bodies, including healing them or tailoring their appearance. However, this ability comes with a hunger for human flesh and blood. Vincent is the healer of the Godless.

Reve is a young Mesmer boy who receives visions which help the Godless plan their next moves. When not acting as the Godless seer, Reve spends much of his time sleeping, though he suffers from nightmares.

Bonus character not included above:

Elijah is another Diviner. In fact, he’s their ambassador and Quen’s direct superior. He’s also the main antagonist for The Thirteenth Hour. Though he can also manipulate time, his main ability lies in bureaucracy (and being an asshole!)


About The Artist

These character designs were created by Seraphim:

Website: https://seraphimistic.carrd.co/ 

Bio: Hi there! I’m Seraphim, a digital artist, I work primarily on character illustration in a stylized semi-realism art style. My passion is bringing characters to life and highlighting the features that make them special and unique. My main inspiration comes from fantasy worlds, as I believe it allows a lot of freedom in the creation of characters such as their appearance, story, personality and more. On the side, I do environmental art to create mystical worlds that serve as a home to these characters.


The Domains

On my website I have a list of all twelve domains and their races which includes all of the character art I have as well as banners I designed that represent those domains.

You can find those here: https://trudieskies.com/domains/ 

The domains are also represented on the map!


The Map

This beautiful map of the twelve domains is part-map, part-timetable! Each section of the map corresponds to a specific domain which can only be entered at its designated time once per twelve hours.

In the city of Chime, a large portal known as the Gate stands in the center of Central Station. Through this portal, mortals can enter the domains of the gods, or travel from those domains into Chime. The portal changes at the turn of the hour, cycling through each domain in turn. Want to head to the casinos of Rapture? Then you’ll need to wait until either 9am or 9pm to make the crossing. Miss your crossing? Then you’ll have to wait twelve hours for the next!

Chime itself is a steam-powered city made from brick and brass that is shaped like an hourglass. A giant clock tower sits on top of the Gate and connects the upper Golden City to Central Station, and to the Undercity below via large steam-powered elevators. Chime is a melting pot of the twelve domains and the various mortals learn to coexist. It’s ruled by the Wardens, a police force who act in the gods’ name to keep the twelve races pious.

The Cartographer

The amazing map was created by Soraya Cocoran:

Website | Twitter | Instagram


Book Quotes

These are quotes from The Thirteenth Hour that I designed using Canva:

Quoted by Kayl as she reflects on the city’s potential. The gods cannot enter Chime and directly influence the city, which means the mortals of the twelve domains have some freedom away from their gods’ whims. However, the Wardens still rule Chime in the gods’ name, so it will never truly be a godless city, as the Godless want.

Quoted by Kayl at the end of chapter one. As a member of the Godless, Kayl knows never to pray to her god, because to pray attracts the attention of one’s god, as though shouting in their ear, and the last thing a Godless mortal wants is to attract their god’s attention. Instead, as a Godless woman, she holds her own fate in her hands.

Quoted by Kayl when discussing the Glimmer. The twelve mortals are made in the image of their god, but because the Glimmer are such cruel and horrible snobs that run workhouses, Kayl assumes that the Glimmer god, Gildola, must also be cruel and horrible. She’s not wrong!

Quoted by Quen when reflecting on the slums where the poorest of Chime’s citizens live. Many enter Chime thinking it is a perfect city without realising it has its own problems, poverty being one of them.

Quen quoting Diviner philosophy. The Diviner are uniquely attuned to time, and they see themselves as a stoic people where they exist as part of a grand machine to serve their god and to serve Chime.

Quoted by Quen in chapter three. Here he is reflecting on his relationship with Elijah. As a Diviner, Elijah can sift through the memories of mortals he touches, and as he is Quen’s superior, he demands to check Quen’s memories regularly to keep track of his Warden activity, and also to assert his power and authority over Quen.

Other Misc Pics

Some other aesthetics and images I have! These were all created using Canva.

An aesthetic capturing the feel of The Thirteenth Hour, specifically the main character of Kayl and her secret twin sister (!!) – the blue eye also represents Kayl.

An aesthetic capturing the mood of the city of Chime.

An aesthetic about clocks! Time is important in The Thirteenth Hour, as you may have guessed from the name. The number thirteen is repeated throughout the story. The clocktower of Chime is also an important location.

A fake newspaper headline for the Chime Courier, Chime’s newspaper which gets quoted throughout The Thirteenth Hour. The actual headline is also quoted a few times and is relevant to the story!


About the Author

Trudie Skies has been living inside fantasy worlds ever since she discovered that reality doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Through the magic of books, she wishes to share these worlds of hope and heroes with other weary souls. Living in North East England, Trudie spends most of her free time daydreaming about clouds, devouring whatever fantasy books or video games she can get her hands on, and chasing after her troublesome dogs, who would like to reassure you they are very good boys.

Her debut YA fantasy series, Sand Dancer, was published through Uproar Books. Trudie is now writing adult gaslamp fantasy with her new series, The Cruel Gods. 


Related Posts


Cover Reveal – The Living Waters by Dan Fitzgerald

Today I am excited to be sharing the cover of a new book from indie author Dan Fitzgerald – The Living Waters, the first in his latest duology, The Weirdwater Confluence. The Cover Reveal is organised by Storytellers on Tour – thank you to Justine and Timy for having me along!


First lets meet the author

Dan Fitzgerald is the fantasy author of the Maer Cycle trilogy (character-driven low-magic fantasy) and the upcoming Weirdwater Confluence duology (sword-free fantasy with unusual love stories). The Living Waters comes out October 15, 2021 and The Isle of a Thousand Worlds arrives January 15, 2022, bothfrom Shadow Spark Publishing.  

He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When not writing he might be found doing yoga, gardening, cooking, or listening to French music.  

Website | Twitter | Instagram


And now here it is… the amazingly lush-looking cover! If The Maer Cycle is anything to go by, The Weirdwater Confluence should be a not to be missed duology!

Wonder swirls beneath murky water

When two painted-faced nobles take a guided raft trip on a muddy river, they expect to rough it for a few weeks before returning to their life of sheltered ease. But when mysterious swirls start appearing in the water, even their seasoned guides get rattled.  

The mystery of the swirls lures them on to seek the mythical wetlands known as the Living Waters. They discover a world beyond their imagining, but stranger still are the worlds they find inside their own minds as they are drawn deep into the troubles of this hidden place.  

The Living Waters is a sword-free fantasy novel featuring an ethereal love story, meditation magic, and an ancient book with cryptic marginalia.

Add to goodreads

The main characters: Gilea and Temi.


The Living Waters by Dan Fitzgerald
Series: The Weirdwater Confluence (#1)
Published: October 15, 2021 by Shadow Spark Publishing
Genre: Sword-free Fantasy

Book Cover Illustration: Karkki AKA Kittensartbooks
Twitter | Instagram

Book Cover Design: Jessica Moon of Shadow Spark Pub
Twitter


Shadow Spark Publishing
Website | Twitter | Instagram


Dan’s photography moodboard for The Living Waters


The Coconut Wireless by Simon Michael Prior

Book Description

When Simon and Fiona embark on a quest to track down the Queen of Tonga, they have no idea they’ll end up marooned on a desert island 

No idea they’ll encounter an undiscovered tribe, rescue a drowning actress, learn jungle survival from a commando, and attend cultural ceremonies few Westerners have seen. 

As they find out who hooks up, who breaks up, who cracks up, and who throws up, will they fulfil Simon’s ambition to see the queen, or will they be distracted by insomniac chickens, grunting wild piglets, and the easy-going Tongan lifestyle? 

Add to goodreads | Buy here

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_0149.jpg

My Review

I was gifted a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Simon!

The Coconut Wireless is a travel memoir which follows Simon and his girlfriend Fiona’s quest to move to New Zealand via Tonga. Fiona is from New Zealand and her visa has run out at the beginning of the book, meaning she has to leave London, so Simon decides to go along with her. They are able to stop off as many times as they like on the way for no extra charge and decide to visit Hawaii and that Tonga will be perfect for an extended vacation. Simon’s father once saw the Queen of Tonga in England and it made a great impression on both him and his young son, so Simon would now like to try and meet the current Queen of Tonga to keep the family tradition alive.

Written with wry humour, this memoir is a joy to read. Simon and Fiona are positive, upbeat people, who embrace every cultural opportunity offered to them and take unexpected circumstances in their stride without too much complaint – only cold showers are available in Tonga and the cooking facilities at their backpacker resort consist of a microwave alone. The noise of the local dogs and chickens keeps them awake and takes a bit more time to get used to, however! They meet some interesting people during their travels, are charmed by the locals and make some friends along the way. They also visit Tonga’s Stonehenge, Pyramids, and other cultural attractions, snorkel and dive amongst the amazing tropical fish on the coral reef.

Simon cleverly ends each chapter on a cliffhanger which makes this book very difficult to put down!

If you enjoy travel memoirs and are dreaming of visiting tropical islands you will love this book!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_0149.jpg

About the Author

Simon insists on inflicting all aspects of life on himself so that his readers can enjoy learning about his latest trip/experience/disaster/emotional breakdown (insert phrase of your choice).

During his extended adolescence, now over forty years long, he has lived on two boats and sunk one of them; sold houses, street signs, Indian food and paper bags for a living; visited almost fifty countries and lived in three; qualified as a scuba diving instructor; nearly killed himself learning to wakeboard; trained as a search and rescue skipper with the Coast Guard, and built his own house without the benefit of an instruction manual.

Simon is as amazed as anyone that the house is still standing, and he now lives in it by the sea with his wife and twin daughters, where he spends his time regurgitating his experiences on paper before he has so many more that he forgets them.

Website | Email | Newsletter | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Related Posts