Monday, October 31, 2016

A spooky scene for Halloween

Hey, it rhymes! Anyway, in honor of Halloween, here's a spooky scene from For the Wildings, book 6 of Daughter of the Wildings (spoilers redacted).

He walked back out beyond the edge of the town to where Lainie was waiting with Mala and Abenar, who were grazing on some dead grass sticking up through the thin layer of snow. The gloomy sky was darkening to what would be a moonless night, Darknight. The dark of the moon was not a night for lingering in a place of death. Silas shivered, and not just from the cold.

“You done?” Lainie asked, her face still wan. “See anything?”

“Nothing but death,” he answered.

Her eyes strayed back to the town. “I don’t want to sleep this close to… that. Not with all those ghosts around and tonight being Darknight.”

“Me either.” He had said the rites, but on Darknight, the one night of the month with no moon and given to no god, when the gods hid their faces from the earth, it was harder for spirits to find their way to the Afterworld.

They mounted up and rode another league or so away from the town, far enough away that the smells and restless spirits were much less noticeable. There was no sign of livestock on the range out here; neither had there been any in town, unusual for a ranching town. Maybe the cattle let out to range in the area knew better than to come near this haunted place.

Silas pitched the tent. Using dead branches from a small copse of scrub oak, he dredged up a spark of power and lit a campfire. It might attract attention, but the midwinter Darknight was no time to be outside without a fire. He spread out his old coat and blanket by the fire, and practiced using a drying spell to extract most of the water. It was clumsy and difficult, like trying to saddle a horse with just one hand and that hand missing most of its fingers.

He and Lainie ate and then sat together at the fire for a while, deliberately speaking only of ordinary, comforting things – the horses, Mrs. Murrison’s cooking, how much money they still had. Lainie’s face was haggard with exhaustion, and before long her eyes started drifting shut. Though Silas had little desire to face the night watch alone, he kissed her hand and said, “You get some sleep. I’ll sit watch.”

She returned the kiss on his own hand. “Get me up later. Don’t stay awake all night. You need your sleep too.”

“I’ll do that.” He would let her get plenty of sleep before then, though. He could make do with only a couple of hours. He kissed her mouth, a lingering kiss as he both sought and offered comfort, then she crawled into the tent.

Silas settled himself for the watch. He left his mage senses – what there was of them – partly exposed to detect any hint of trouble, and cleared his mind, letting his thoughts flow freely around each other. The anguish of the dead still teased at the edges of his senses, and he sent up another prayer to the Gatherer and the Sunderer to help them find their way on this moonless, gods-forsaken night.

A scuffling in the dirt some distance behind Silas caught his attention. Instantly, he was on his feet, his revolver in hand. Guns wouldn’t do any good against restless, vengeful spirits, but they were still useful against bandits, renegade mages, and angry blueskins. “Who’s there?” he called out.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Light in the Darkness Micro Reviews

I've posted overviews of the twelve novels in the Light in the Darkness boxed set (here, here, and here), but now I want to give a quick rundown of my own impressions of them. There's some good reading in here, from traditional swords and sorcery to contemporary magical realism, from books suitable for younger teens and up to books aimed at a more adult audience. The common thread is that all the books are about good if flawed characters trying to do the right thing in difficult circumstances. The price has gone up to $2.99, but for twelve full length novels and a handful of short stories - more than 1.14 million words of magical noblebright goodness - it's still an amazing deal. Content note: while many of these books are suitable for younger teen readers, this is *not* a YA/all ages collection. A number of books also have more adult content, and other books, while containing nothing unsuitable for younger audiences, are not specifically YA; they feature adult characters with adult concerns. I've put my own ideas of the age rating at the end of each review. And now, on with the micro reviews.

The King's Sword, by C.J. Brightley
Kemen, a retired soldier recovering from war, injury, and betrayal, just wants to leave it all behind, but when he comes across a young man on the run and learns of a conspiracy to unseat the rightful ruler and replace him with a megalomaniacal usurper, he can't just leave the kingdom to its fate. Kemen is a wonderfully gruff and tough character dealing with the scars of his past, but also admirably patient with the young man he takes on the job of teaching and appealingly awkward around women. One of those tough but lovable heroes I can't get enough of. Suitable for ages 13+ (clean, but with adult characters and some difficult themes).

The Emperor's Edge, by Lindsay Buroker
Irrepressible law enforcer Amaranthe finds herself on the wrong side of the law, and uncovers a conspiracy to unseat the rightful emperor and replace him with a greedy, amoral cartel. With a colorful collection of assistants, including the notorious, stony, yet surprisingly complicated assassin Sicarius, she launches her own not-quite-authorized plan to protect the young emperor. This is the book that made me a big fan of Ms. Buroker. Memorable characters, exciting and dangerous adventures, snappy humor, a hint of romance. And explosions. Ages 15+ (some sexual innuendo and a fur loincloth).

The Last Mage Guardian, by Sabrina Chase
A young woman learns that her late uncle didn't just leave her a house, but a magical legacy that is not going to be easy to live up to. I enjoyed this tale of a young woman learning to use magic in a world where women aren't supposed to have magic, and her growing, awkward romance with the young man who stumbles across her secret. Ages 15+ (a "curtains-drawn" sexual encounter, with awkward aftermath).

Pen Pal, by Francesca Forrest
A lovely book. Not traditional fantasy; I would call it contemporary magical realism. It interweaves the stories of Em, a 12-year-old girl living in an off-shore community off the U.S. Gulf Coast, and Kaya, a young scholar and activist in an island nation in southeast Asia. The two are connected by a message in a bottle Em tosses into the sea that, against all odds, finds its way to the imprisoned Kaya. Both of them are involved in fights to protect their families and cultures, and end up aiding each other in unexpected ways. Beautiful and thought-provoking, and a stirring yet charming story. Ages 13+ (clean, but with some difficult themes).

Beneath the Canyons, by Kyra Halland
My book :-) A gunslinging wizard, feuds between ranchers and miners, magical mayhem, and romance in a fantasy world modeled after the Old West. If you haven't read it yet, you should, but that's just my opinion. Ages 16+ (swearing, sexual innuendo, an on-screen but not very graphic sex scene).

Into the Storm, by Angela Holder
An emotional tale of a wizard who has finally arrived at a time of peace and happiness in her life, who must make some difficult decisions in order to protect her homeland from an oncoming devastating storm. The courage of Larine and her fellow wizards, and their animal familiars, is moving and inspiring. Ages 16+ (non-descriptive sex scenes; difficult themes)

On the Shores of Irradan, by Ronald Long
This is the start of a follow-up series to the author's previous series, but if you've never read the other series you can still start with this one. One member of a group of companions lost her magic in the last series, and now they're on a quest in a land torn with unrest and civil war to find the tree that can restore her gifts. Traditional companionship/quest fantasy with humans, groups of warring elves, and other magical creatures. Lots of danger and excitement. Ages 13+ (Clean, but with some difficult themes).

Six Celestial Swords, by T.A. Miles
Magical tale inspired by ancient China meets traditional quest fantasy. I found Xu Liang, the mystic and warrior who is the main character, fascinating, especially when the demands of the real world conflict with his mystical ideals. He is joined by a number of other memorable characters, humans, dwarves, and elves, as he searches for the magical weapons that will help defeat a coming chaos. Written in poetic, slightly archaic language expressing the point of view of Xu Liang, uprooted from his native land to the "barbaric" western lands in his search. Ages 15+ (mostly clean, but the themes and language might go over the heads of younger readers; a bit of intense male/male attraction and kissing).

Rise of the Storm, by Christina Ochs
Sprawling, fascinating, complex fantasy based on the beginnings of the 30 Years War. Young Prince Kendryk, the popular ruler of a peaceful land, must choose whether to follow his conscience and embrace the teachings of a radical priest who warns of a coming apocalypse, even though it means defying a ruthless Empress. As the empire and surrounding nations spiral down to war, Kendryk and a number of other memorable characters must find a way to survive and to fight for what they believe is right. Ages 15+ (references to rape; heavy and complex historical themes).

Hope and the Patient Man, by Mike Reeves-McMillan
A gentle story set in a steampunk world, of a mage who tried to curse her cheating boyfriend but accidentally cursed herself instead, who has to find a way to remove the curse so she can have a relationship with the man who loves her. This is mainly a love story, with some other subplots centering on relationships, gnome's rights (because gnomes are people too!), and Hope (the heroine's), er, hopes to advance in her magical career. Ages 16+ (on-screen but non-consummated sexual encounters, and related themes).

Lhind the Thief, by Sherwood Smith
This is the only book in the set I haven't looked at yet, but it's very highly spoken of in other reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and I'm looking forward to reading it. My impression is that it's suitable for YA audiences.

The Keeper and the Rulership, by Emily Martha Sorenson
Magic is forbidden, but Ranah can't stop herself from growing it. As if that isn't trouble enough, she's at the age to be choosing a serious suitor, but can't seem to get that to work out right, either. Solidly YA fantasy about a young woman trying to find her place in a world ruled by status and laws that she just can't quite fit into. Ages 13+.

Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set contains 12 full-length novels and some bonus short stories, and is available for only $2.99 at: 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Author Spotlight: Tiffany Current

Today I'm happy to have author Tiffany Current on the blog, to introduce us to Hannah Clark, the main character in her upcoming YA paranormal romance novel My Maker's Keeper.

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
My full name is Hannah Clark. There’s nothing significant about my name. My mom just has a thing for palindromes, which is why she named me Hannah.

2. How old are you? 18.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
There’s just my mom and I. Well, my dad too, but he left us about six months ago. Apparently, there was some amazing excavation that he couldn’t say no to. So he chose work over us. But I still have my mom and she’s great. She’s fun, grounded, and always tries to force me out of my shell.

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
My first kiss was with Brandon Anderson. It wasn’t great. Maybe it’s because we were more friends than anything else. But it left me wanting more — something real.

5. What is your occupation?
I’m just a regular high school student.

6. What are your best and worst qualities?
Um, worst qualities, how much time do you have? I’m self-conscious, clumsy, and awkward in social situations. Those are probably my top worst qualities. As for best qualities, I think I’m nice and honest. Well, I used to be honest, but I can’t reveal everything nowadays.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
I know it’s lame, but I like to read books.

9. What is your greatest fear?
Being found out for what I really am.

10. What is your most treasured possession?
My dad’s personal book collection. After he left, I claimed it as my own. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s my way of staying close to him.

My Maker's Keeper
Hannah Clark used to be an ordinary girl. She used to be a lot of things. Until she was bitten.

Five months ago, Hannah woke up in the middle of the woods as a vampire. She didn’t know how it happened or who turned her. She just knew she wasn’t safe in her hometown anymore.

Fort Wayne was supposed to be her fresh start. Her chance to finish high school without any other incidents. But then she met Jackson. Their attraction was instant and awakened something deep inside of her. Her thirst for blood.

Things only got worse when her maker, Lucas, came to town. He might have been sexy, but he was one dangerous vampire. And if Hannah wanted to keep Jackson safe, she had to protect him from Lucas’ ravenous ways. Even though she found herself excited by them.

But Lucas wasn’t there for her. Something sinister was happening in town. Vampires were going missing, and if Hannah didn’t want to be next, she had to work with Lucas to solve the mystery. But could she trust him? Or should she trust Jackson? She had to make a choice—and her life might just depend on it.

My Maker's Keeper on Goodreads

About the Author:
Tiffany Current earned her Bachelor's degree in dramatic writing from Drexel University. Her first book, the self-help relationship guide How to Move in with Your Boyfriend (and Not Break Up with Him), was published by Turner Publishing in 2011.

Tiffany writes paranormal romance, young adult, urban fantasy, and self-help books. In her spare time, Tiffany enjoys reading books, watching trashy action movies, and eating chocolate.

Where to find Tiffany:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Snippet: On the Bridge

image copyright gary smith
  I came across this writing exercise I did for Dean Wesley Smith's Originality workshop on YouTube. The prompt was "a character standing on a bridge." (unedited, straight from my brain to the keyboard.)


She stopped in the middle of the bridge and set down her pack, catching her breath after the long walk through the rugged territory that had led to this narrow gap in the mountains. A cold wind whistled down the gorge, setting the bridge to shivering. She shivered as well, and not just from the wind. The urge to look back, just once, was more than she had will to resist, so she looked.

Nothing behind her.

Only the forest, the trees standing so close together, their branches so heavy and dense, that no moonlight could filter through to lessen the thick darkness among the trunks. Nothing else lay that way; everything that had existed for her now lay buried beneath fresh-turned earth.

She looked down, over the thin wooden rail of the thin wooden bridge that creaked beneath her feet. Far below in the gorge, moonlight glinted on the ripples in the narrow, swift-flowing river where it ran over rocks.

Nothing below, except for a burst of pain on hitting the cold water and the rocks just beneath the surface, followed by -- whatever lay beyond that. She had a hard time believing it was anything but oblivion.

Ahead lay more dark forest, as dense and lightless as its twin on the other side of the bridge. A path must lead on from the bridge, else why was the bridge here at all? But she had never heard anyone speak of an end to the forest, of any sort of destination such a path, assuming it existed, might lead to.

So, ahead of her, more nothing as well.

Nothing behind her but loss, nothing below her but oblivion, nothing ahead but the unknown.

Having caught her breath, she stood, considering the three different kinds of nothing. Or there was a fourth kind; she could simply sit down here, in the middle of the bridge, and wait for the end that would come sooner or later. But that would inevitably lead to the same oblivion that awaited her below, less painful but dragged out unbearably slow.

Loss, oblivion, or the unknown.

Finally she shouldered her pack and took a step forward, then another, then another. Of the three nothings, only the unknown held the possibility that it might change. So that was where she would go.


This might eventually turn into something. My brain is working on it, trying it out with other scraps of ideas that aren't quite ready to go.

In the meantime, the first draft of Defenders of the Wildings is progressing nicely (finally, after two false starts), and I'm still working on the second major revision of Source-Breaker. Hoping to have some cover art to show off soon!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Light in the Darkness Roundup 3

Here is the final batch of books from Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed set, which releases October 18. As C.J. Brightley, the coordinator of this boxed set, says, "Noblebright fantasy has at least one important character with noble, idealistic motives who does the right thing out of principle. The character is flawed, but his or her actions are generally defined by honesty, integrity, sacrifice, love, and kindness. The story upholds the goodness of the character; the character’s good qualities are not held up as naiveté, cluelessness, or stupidity, but rather shown to be worthwhile. Good characters can make a difference. Noblebright characters can learn and grow. They can deliberately choose to be kind when tempted to be unkind, they can choose generosity when it hurts, and they can influence their world and other characters for the better."

Note: Because of the size of this collection, 12 full-length novels plus several short stories, the price will have to go up to $1.99 when we upload the final file on Oct. 8. Preorder before then to lock in the 99 cent price!
Six Celestial Swords by T. A. Miles
Inspired by the rising chaos in Sheng Fan, Xu Liang, mystic and officer of the Imperial Court, leaves his homeland for the barbarian outer lands in search of four magical blades to unite with two sacred weapons already in the possession of the Empire. His plan is to bring all of the blades together and return them to Sheng Fan's Empress as a symbol of unity that will bolster the people’s faith in the Imperial family and assist against the surge of dark forces. Complicating his plan is not the finding of the blades, but finding them with bearers; foreigners who have no intention of parting with them and less intention of serving an Empire they’ve scarcely heard of. It becomes Xu Liang’s task to ally himself with these barbarians of the outer realms and unite them with his cause, as well as with one another. Only the complete reunion of all six blades and their fated bearers can stand against chaos, rising like a dragon from slumber beneath the foundation of a nation unprepared.

About the author:
T. A. Miles fell down a rabbit hole ages ago, and nothing more need be said about it.

Rise of the Storm by Christina Ochs
When a renegade priest prophesies an imminent apocalypse, a conflict is sparked which will tip a continent into war.

Prince Kendryk is young, handsome and popular, his kingdom prosperous and peaceful. But in the face of the prophesied apocalypse, he must choose between conscience and power. If he chooses the side of faith, he must defy the ruthless Empress Teodora, ruler of a vast empire, imperiling kingdom and family— but if he chooses the side of power, he risks plunging his world into a darkness worse than war.

An epic fantasy saga drawn from real history.

About the author:
Christina Ochs is the author of historical fantasy series, The Desolate Empire, which is based upon the events of the Protestant Reformation and the Thirty Years War (1618-48). Many of her characters are also based on historical figures.

With degrees in history and business, Christina uses her writing to indulge her passion for reading and research. Publishing as an indie author provides an outlet for her entrepreneurial side and she is an avid supporter of fellow authors, both independent and traditionally published.

Christina lives in a semi truck full time, traveling the United States with her truck driver husband and two cats, Phoenix and Nashville. Website:

Lhind the Thief by Sherwood Smith
Lhind has been on the run all her life.

Stealing what she needs, using magic for disguise, she never stays anywhere long. Lhind even has secrets from herself, for she has few memories, and those are troubling.

But life is good until she gets caught by Rajanas the warrior-prince, Thianra the bard, and Hlanan the scribe. And that's when adventure begins, because someone very powerful wants them all dead.

About the author:
Sherwood Smith was a teacher for twenty years, teaching history, literature, drama, and dance. She writes science fiction and fantasy for adults and young readers. Website:

The Keeper and the Rulership by Emily Martha Sorensen
In a world where both magic and mathematics are forbidden, Raneh is growing magic and she can't seem to stop. She'll face the death penalty if anybody catches her, so she hides it in the weeds of her family's land, pretending to be a typical eighteen-year-old heir. And it works.

Until the Ruler comes to visit.

Now, with the purpose of the Ruler's visit a mystery and not only her safety but her family's reputation in danger, she has to find a way to do the impossible:

Stop growing magic.

About the author:
"I'm a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy, and I write clean books that are intelligent, optimistic, and happy. I write for all age levels.  Picture books?  Got one.  Chapter books?  Got a series.  Middle grade?  Sure thing. Young adult?  Most definitely.  New adult?  Working on a series right now.  ALL of them, no matter what the age of the main character, are both intelligent and clean.  I believe that children deserve smart books, teenagers deserve fun books, and adults deserve imagination, a sense of wonder, and books aimed at them that are G or PG." Website:

Light in the Darkness will be available on October 18. The current price is only 99 cents, but because of the size of this collection, the price will have to go up to $1.99 when we upload the final file on Oct. 8. I know that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo have pre-order price guarantees where if you pre-order at the 99 cent price that's what you pay. I couldn't find the information for iTunes; if you shop at iTunes, check to see if they have a preorder pricing policy. Preorder your copy before Oct 8 so you don't miss out on the chance to get this wonderful collection for only 99 cents!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Light in the Darkness Roundup 2

Here's the second batch of books from Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set. Reflecting the variety of books in the set, these four books range from traditional fantasy to sixguns and sorcery to steampunk, from all-ages adventure to lightly spicy romance.

Note: Because of the size of this collection, the price will have to go up to $1.99 when we upload the final file on Oct. 8. Preorder before then to lock in the 99 cent price!

Beneath the Canyons by Kyra Halland:
My book :) Silas Vendine is a mage and bounty hunter, on the hunt for renegade mages. He's also a freedom fighter, sworn to protect the non-magical people of the Wildings from ambitious mages both lawless and lawful. It's a dangerous life and Silas knows it, but when he comes to the town of Bitterbush Springs on the trail of a rogue mage, he finds more danger and excitement than he bargained for...

In Bitterbush Springs, Silas meets Lainie Banfrey, a young woman both drawn to and terrified of her own developing magical powers. Though Lainie has been taught all her life to hate and fear wizards, she and Silas team up to stop the renegade who has brought her hometown to the brink of open warfare. The hunt takes them deep beneath forbidden lands held by the hostile A'ayimat people, where only Silas's skills and Lainie's untamed, untrained power can save them and the town from the rogue mage and the dark magic he has loosed into the world.

Into the Storm (A prequel to the Chronicles of Tevenar) by Angela Holder:
Larine's life is good.  She loves her work as a wizard, her best friend is the Guildmaster, her troubled son is finally thriving, and she’s together at last with the man she's dreamed about for years.

Then one hot, sunny, late summer afternoon, a warning arrives.  A giant storm is heading straight for Elathir, threatening everything Larine knows and loves. The Guildmaster has a plan to save the city, but it will require unimaginable sacrifice.

Larine and her fellow wizards face a terrible choice. Some will live and some will die. For unless enough wizards volunteer to spend their lives to turn aside the storm, thousands of people will perish beneath the wind and waves.

(At the moment, Into the Storm appears to only be available in Light in the Darkness.)

About the author:
"I live in Houston, Texas, with my husband Anthony.  I have three children: one is starting high school, one is starting college, and one is grown, married, and out on her own.  I spend a lot of time in Starbucks, drinking vanilla lattes and flat whites and telling stories about my imaginary friends.  I enjoy dabbling in many hobbies, including spinning, knitting, weaving, costuming, hot air ballooning, singing in my church choir, and performing in amateur musicals.  I’ve been a volunteer breastfeeding counselor for over twelve years." Website:

On the Shores of Irradan by Ronald Long:
The land of Irradan was magical and flourishing.


Man’s greed and the growing population of elves is slowing transforming what used to be a thriving landscape into a wasteland. The noble Empire of Enoth to the south and the Kingdom of Darrion to the north have only one hope: the forest that spans the continent.

Those who guard the trees, however, would rather die than surrender their ancient lands.

Ealrin Belouve and his companions have arrived on the continent in order to search for a tree and the link it may serve between the demons they have faced in the past and their current troubles.

But can they weather the storm that is already brewing, or will they be forced to once again determine the fate of a continent?

About the author:
"My name is Ronald Long and I live in San Antonio with my wife and kids. I'm a student minister by day and super dad/husband by night.

"Writing novels came after spending way too much time playing table top war games and role playing games and thinking, 'Hey, I've got a story to tell too!'" Website:

Hope and the Patient Man by Mike Reeves McMillan:
When a promising date ends in head trauma and ruined trousers, Hope must confront the curse she accidentally placed on herself at the end of her first relationship. But can she do so while also qualifying as a Senior Mage, solving the mystery of her parents' toxic marriage, and helping two awkward friends communicate - all while periodically blacking out?

A love story, with engineering. About - and for - smart, nerdy women and the men who adore them.

While it does not depict sex directly, this book does contain "adult situations" and what one reader has described as "delicate eroticism".

About the author:
For someone with an English degree, Mike Reeves-McMillan has spent a surprising amount of time wearing a hard hat. He's also studied ritualmaking, hypnotherapy and health science.

He lives in Auckland, New Zealand, the setting of his Auckland Allies contemporary urban fantasy series; and also in his head, where the weather is more reliable, and there are a lot more wizards. Website:

Light in the Darkness will be available on October 18, but right now you can preorder it for only 99 cents at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

The current price is only 99 cents. That might have to go up, but I know that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo have pre-order price guarantees where even if the price does go up later, if you pre-order at the 99 cent price that's what you pay. I couldn't find the information for iTunes; if you shop at iTunes, check to see if they have a preorder pricing policy. Don't miss out on the chance to get this wonderful collection for only 99 cents!