M9B Friday Reveal: Chapter one of Vessel by Lisa T. Cresswell with Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals


Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing chapter one of

Vessel by Lisa T. Cresswell

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

LCresswell_Vessel_M9B_eCover_1800x2700

The sun exploded on On April 18, 2112 in a Class X solar storm the likes of which humankind had never seen.

They had exactly nineteen minutes to decide what to do next.

They had nineteen minutes until a geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every electrical device created by humans, blacking out entire continents, and every satellite in their sky.

Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew, forever, and to prepare for a new Earth, a new Sun.

Generations after solar storms destroyed nearly all human technology on Earth, humans reverted to a middle ages-like existence, books are burned as heresy, and all knowledge of the remaining technology is kept hidden by a privileged few called the Reticents.

Alana, a disfigured slave girl, and Recks, a traveling minstrel and sometimes-thief, join forces to bring knowledge and books back to the human race. But when Alana is chosen against her will to be the Vessel, the living repository for all human knowledge, she must find the strength to be what the world needs even if it’s the last thing she wants.

add to goodreadsTitle: Vessel
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Lisa T. Cresswell

Available for Pre-order:
amazon

excerpt

Prologue
A Class-X solar storm, the likes of which humankind had never seen, erupted from the Sun on April 18, 2112.
They had nineteen minutes.
Nineteen minutes until the geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every man-made electrical device, blacking out entire continents and every satellite in their sky.
Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew forever and prepare for a new Earth, a new way of life.
All digital data was lost, all the knowledge of the centuries past gone in an instant. Unable to feed themselves without technology, humans began to die of starvation and disease. At first thousands, then millions, and, finally, billions died. The survivors fought amongst themselves for the scraps until there were almost none left.

Part I Alana

Chapter 1

Year 2165
Master Dine’s kick sent me sprawling into the wall. Pain bloomed in my shoulder. That was nothing new, but my billa slipped dangerously close to falling off. I grasped at the awkward headgear, a giant tent designed to hide my ugliness.
No one must see, I thought.
“It’s too hot, you stupid chit,” Master Dine yelled.
At seventeen, I was officially a woman and had been for a while, but no one gave a slave girl that recognition.
“Now look what you’ve done,” he said. The clay teapot I’d been using to pour water over Master’s feet lay shattered on the floor. “Clean it up, chit.”
I silently seethed as I collected the pieces. I wasn’t a chit. I was Alana, a name I’d given myself and no one else used. I cursed him under my billa, something he’d never hear through the dark, black drapes shrouding me from everyone. I prayed Mother Sun would do terrible things to him, something that didn’t make me feel any better.
“When you’re done with that, go help Master Tow. He’s expecting you.”
“But your bath?”
“I’ll do it myself,” Master Dine spat at me, as if he didn’t trust me, as if I hadn’t been washing his feet every morning since I was old enough to hold soap.
Master Dine was one of the oldest men in our village at almost forty, too mean to die of flu fever like most old men. He’d caught it once or twice, but it only seemed to make him more determined to live.
“Yes, Master,” I whispered and ducked out of the room with the remains of the teapot. I threw them in the garbage pit behind the house as I left for Master Tow’s. I’d have to make a new one later. I wondered when I would find the time to gather the clay from the riverbank, which was a fair walk from here. Where was here? Master Dine’s village was called Roma.
Master Dine reminded me constantly I wasn’t from this place—my eyes too almond-shaped, my hair too black, and my skin too yellow to be from Roma. My looks didn’t stop him from slinking into my room in the darkness to have his way with me. I was his, bought from my own parents in a faraway place, he always said. Even in the dark, he made me cover my face. I closed my eyes anyway. Maybe if I couldn’t see Master Dine with his lazy eye and crooked teeth, he’d cease to exist. Please, Mother Sun, make it so.

***

I walked down the dirty footpath toward Roma’s center market square, past the mud and stone houses scraped together with whatever the inhabitants could find. It was early yet; fog still clung to the base of the mountains and dripped off the trees’ new leaves. Winter was breaking at last. Mother Sun had saved us again, but we always knew she could destroy us if she wanted to.
I didn’t mind wearing the billa so much when the weather was cool or misty like this morning. It trapped my own warm breath around me like a cocoon. It made doing chores outside awkward, though. Master Dine kept me primarily for house chores, although I was allowed to shop on market day, and he occasionally lent me to Master Tow. Tow had no wives and probably needed his house cleaned.
Master Tow was a young man in his twenties, still undecided on a wife. Suitable women were rare in Roma, so he was faced with the prospect of waiting until certain girls came of age or traveling to the next province for a wife. The expense of a wife was more than Tow really wanted, so he borrowed me from time to time. It was an arrangement he had with Dine, made possible by Dine’s first wife, Mistress Shel. Shel hated my position in her house as a sort of third wife, a standing I could never truly attain even if I wanted to. It was Shel who had disfigured the right side of my face years ago. It hadn’t stopped Dine’s visits to me, just made him more discrete.
Master Tow was chopping wood in the small yard next to his house. His clothes, littered with fine shavings of fir, made him smell better than usual. He was stripped to the waist, his pale chest glistening with sweat even in the morning cold. I stopped and waited. I could never address anyone without first being addressed myself. I learned that very young.
Master Tow continued his work, perhaps enjoying the fact that I was his audience. He often flirted with me, even though he had no reason to tease a slave. I think he was quite proud of his own blond hair that fell to his shoulders. Taunting all the unsuitable women in town seemed to please him tremendously. And so I stood perfectly still, watching the breeze blow the fabric in front of my face until he finally spoke.
“Hello, chit,” he said, taking a break from his chopping.
“Master Dine said you were expecting me.”
“So I am.” Tow breathed heavily, his ribs showing under his creamy skin with each exhale. He dropped his hatchet in the dirt at his feet and held up two fingers beckoning me to follow him behind his house. I hesitated. Wasn’t I doing housework? What did Tow have in store for me?
“C’mon, chit! Haven’t got until sundown,” he called, his tone good-natured as always.
I couldn’t shake the feeling he was playing a trick on me, but I followed him down the hill behind his house through a thicket of small aspen just beginning to bud. I soon saw it was a shortcut he used to reach the square rather than taking the main path that switch-backed down the mountain. Although it was easy for him, the trees snagged the fabric of my billa.
“Come on!” his voice urged. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I heard him muttering under his breath about my ridiculous garb. None of the other slaves wore what I wore. I stood out wherever I went—a black ghost in a crowd of humans. Everyone knew it was my punishment for tempting Dine. That’s what Shel told them and most believed it.
I did my best to keep up with Tow. Once out of the shrubs, it was easier to match his pace. He headed for the crumbling castle perched on a precipice over the wide green valley on the edge of Roma. Eons ago, before the Great Death that wiped out billions, some strange unknown race had built castles all across this region. Most were rubble now.
No one lived there, but the people of Roma sometimes stored things in some of the rooms or held meetings there. Windows long gone, the arches still stood in places, the stone thick with moss and lichens silently feasting on the remains of the beast. It was a forgotten place, somewhere I rarely went because I wasn’t invited to public affairs. As Tow and I got close, I heard the sound of someone singing a sad melody in a cool, clear voice. Even the birds in the trees were drawn to it, flitting away only when we came near.
As I followed Tow down a stone stairway littered with last winter’s dead leaves into the ruins and closer to the voice, my fears melted away and curiosity overcame me. Tow couldn’t walk fast enough now. Who was it? And why were they here? The singing suddenly stopped.
Deep inside the castle, where little sunshine could penetrate, Tow stopped at an old door with a small slit for a tiny window. A boy’s face, not much older than mine, with dark hair and eyes like mine, peered out of the opening.
“You can’t keep us in here,” the boy said, his voice angry.
“Don’t worry. It won’t be long before the authorities come for you. A week at the most,” said Tow. He turned to me. “These two were caught last night stealing. You need to feed them at least once a day, no more. Just enough to keep them alive for their trial.”
“Trial?” I asked.
“The Reticents have been summoned. They’ll send someone to pick them up.”
“But what do I feed them, Master Tow?”
Everyone’s winter stores were running low and few spring crops had been harvested yet. Master Dine wouldn’t allow me to use his food for such a purpose.
“Hog feed will do.”
“Hog feed?” shouted the prisoner. “We’re not animals!” I flinched and backed away from him.
“Never you mind that, chit. Do as you’re told. Put the food in here.” Master Tow pointed to a small slot near the floor with the toe of his boot. “Don’t open the door, no matter what.”
“Yes, Master Tow.”
“Any questions?”
“Have they been fed today?”
“No. Better get to work.”
Master Tow turned and bounded up the stairs. I stood motionless, watching the black-eyed boy watching me. I’d never seen anyone like me before. He looked hard at the billa like he could see underneath.
“Do you have any water?” he asked in an accent I didn’t recognize. “He’s very weak.”
The prisoner backed away from the door so I could creep up and peer inside. The oldest man I’d ever seen, maybe fifty years or more, lay on the floor. He groaned as the boy knelt down and touched his arm.
“I’m here,” he said to the old man. Before I knew it, I’d loosened the water bag I kept tied at my hip and pushed it through the hole in the wall toward them.
“Take this. I’ll be back,” I whispered before hurrying to find food.

***

Normally I fed the hogs caysha roots I dug up in the forest. A person could eat them and survive, but they weren’t kind to the stomach. They were a last resort, eaten only when all else was gone. I’d eaten them myself when the winters were hard and Master Dine saved all his food for his family. Slaves weren’t supposed to forage for their own food. It was a sign a family wasn’t wealthy enough to support them, but Dine looked the other way quite often. He allowed me to find other means of sustenance when times called for it, which was more often than not. The less of his food I ate, the more wealthy he fancied himself.
I walked as quickly as I could without attracting attention to a meadow below the castle where the caysha had started to bloom, blue lilies on tall stems. I dug a few roots to satisfy Master Tow, but I had no intention of feeding them to the prisoners. I dropped them in my basket and slung it over my shoulder, heading for the river. Checking my traps, I found a snared rabbit and smiled for the first time that day. Not that anyone knew or cared. I spent my days alone in a tent made for one, seldom speaking to anyone. But something in that boy’s eyes reached out to me behind the curtain. I wasn’t going to serve him hog feed. My decision risked a beating, but it wouldn’t mean my death. Though I didn’t fear death anyway.

***

An hour had passed by the time I returned to the ruined castle dungeon with food, water, and fuel. Midday was approaching yet the prisoners made no sound. I hoped to hear his song again the way I longed for the lark song after winter. Like a mouse cleaning up crumbs, I silently cleared away the leaves in a dark corner near the stairs and built a cooking fire. The smell of roasting meat brought the boy’s face to the hole in the door once more.
“You’re torturing me,” he complained, although his lips smiled.
“It won’t be much longer,” I said, crossing the room to the door between us. “I brought more water. Give me the water bag, and I’ll refill it.” He scrambled to retrieve the bag and return it.
“How is he?” I asked, looking at the impossibly old man.
“Better. Some real food will do him good.”
I handed the boy some jake nuts through the slot in the wall. “Chew these. They’ll help keep the food down.”
He shoved the handful into his mouth.
“Save one for him,” I said, pointing to the old man. The boy chewed hard but managed to spit out one nut for his friend. He knelt by the man again and shook his arm.
“Kinder? Wake up. It’s dinner time.” The old man sat up with the boy’s help, leaning against the stone wall. “Eat this,” he said, giving him the nut.
I refilled the water and retrieved the rabbit from the spit on the fire. It had started to burn, the grease glistening on the meat. Too big to fit through the slot, the rabbit had to be torn into pieces and slipped into the cell. The boy snatched it from my fingers and rushed to the old man, who suddenly came alive, devouring it. The boy returned and snagged a second piece for himself, ignoring me as he inhaled his food. I waited by the slot with the rest of the meat, holding it until they were ready for it. The sounds of eating, chewing, and licking made me hungry, but I didn’t eat any. The rabbit would’ve been my lunch, but I’d eat wild carrots instead.
I gave them the remains of the rabbit and returned to the corner to put out my fire. Master Tow mustn’t know I’d cooked, so I hid my hearth as best I could with damp leaves and rubble. The moss on the stone walls would hide any sign of smoke. I turned to go.
“Wait,” called the boy. “What’s your name?”
The words I’d never heard directed at me, the words I dreamt of every night, came from his lips. Was he speaking to me? Of course he was. There was no one else here.
“Is it Chit?”
“No. I’m Alana.” I’d never told anyone the name I chose for myself. It felt good to say it out loud.
“Thank you, Alana. I’m Recks, and this is Kinder. We’re grateful for your kindness. May Mother Sun shine on you.”
I stopped breathing for a second. No one had ever blessed me before. It just wasn’t done. I waited as if the sky might fall down. There was nothing but the sound of Kinder sucking the marrow from his rabbit bones.
“Is something wrong?” asked Recks.
“No,” I said. “I should go.” I suddenly remembered the bones. “Hide the bones when you’re done.”
“Kinder will eat them all.” Recks smiled at me and snickered at the thought.
“I’ll bring more tonight,” I told him.
“But Tow said once a day … ”
“What Tow doesn’t know won’t trouble him.” I hurried up the steps.
“Be careful,” warned Recks, as if he might actually be concerned for my safety. Hidden tears leaked from my eyes.
As I walked back to Master Dine’s house, I had an overwhelming urge to throw the billa off and feel the sun on my shoulders. Mother Sun could bless me too, even if she never had before. But if I did, I knew I would never see Recks again. Instead, I clasped my hands together under my billowy tent in happiness, knowing the feeling could escape me like mist in the sunlight.

***

I left the house again at sunset, making Shel smile. Dine would assume I went foraging, which I did, but not so much for myself this time. Recks and Kinder needed me. I was thankful for the billa, which allowed me to stow extra supplies—flint, a blanket, and some socks—without being noticed. The goods were mine, the cast-offs of others, and wouldn’t be missed.
I openly carried my caysha basket still filled with the roots I had collected that morning. Carefully wrapped underneath those were three sunflower seed cakes made with the last of our honey the summer before. Shel had thrown them in the refuse because they were too hard for her taste, dried out from a long winter in storage. Recks and Kinder were in dire need of fattening up. I worried Kinder might not last the week, even with a bit of honey. I stopped by one of my snares on my way through the forest, lucky to have caught a partridge. I plucked its soft feathers inside the billa as I walked to the ruins, my fingers working without me looking down. I couldn’t be gone long or someone would notice.
At first, the prisoners were so quiet I thought perhaps they had escaped. I used the flint to light a small torch so I wouldn’t fall down the steps.
“Alana? Is that you?” came Recks’s voice from the darkness.
“Yes.” Alana? He said my name. My heart raced in my chest faster than when I was sneaking around, faster than from my fear of Dine or Tow. I held the torch up to see inside the door.
“You shouldn’t have come, but I’m glad you did,” said Recks. “I have something for you.”
“For me?” Was he mad? He had nothing but an old man. I set about building a fire to roast the partridge.
“I may not look like much, but I’m a gifted performer.”
“A performer?”
“A teller of tales, singer of songs—”
“Stealer of goods!” yelled Kinder. He obviously felt better. He had at least found his voice again.
“What?” I asked, blowing gently on my fire to make it grow.
“Recks has sticky fingers, which is what got us into the fix we presently find ourselves,” said Kinder.
“I don’t hear you complaining when you’re enjoying the spoils, old man.”
“What did you take?” I asked, skewering the bird and laying it over the flames.
“Only a heel of bread,” Recks insisted. “We’re seldom paid for the service we provide.”
“Is Kinder a performer too?”
“In a manner of speaking. He is an academic, a man of studies.”
“What does he study?”
“I’m right here, you know,” Kinder grumbled from behind the door.
“Be more polite to the woman who saved your life, fool. Don’t you know how close you are to death’s embrace?”
“Better the devil you know than the one you don’t,” muttered Kinder.
“What?” I approached the door again.
“Never mind him,” said Recks. “He’s overly fond of proverbs.”
“I’ve brought some things that will help with the chill,” I said, pulling out the blanket and the woolen socks. I’d have to find replacements for myself for next winter. Recks gasped in pleasure at the sight of the gifts.
“What is it?” Kinder demanded, unable to see. I fed the blanket through the slot to Recks, who laughed as he pulled it through. As before, he rushed it over to Kinder, spreading it out over him.
“You’ll have to hide it when Tow comes,” I said, stuffing the socks through the same hole.
“Of course,” said Recks, pulling the socks onto his hands and admiring them. “What else have you got under there?”
I flinched under the billa as if Recks saw right through it. He could never see me. No one could.
“Nothing,” I said. “Is there something else you require?”
“A key to the lock would be dandy.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know where Master Tow keeps it.”
“Ah well, he’s not a stupid man, is he? He caught us. Not an easy thing to do.”
I retreated back to tend the fire and the little roasting bird, which smelled delicious.
“So my gift to you, Alana, is a tale,” said Recks. “It’s not much, but it’s all I have.”
I sat down, making myself as comfortable as I could considering the rubble that littered the room. I’d seen street performers from time to time, but I’d never been so close or had the time to really listen. For a minute, the only sound was the popping of the dry sticks in the fire. Then Recks cleared his throat.
“You’ll have to forgive me. This isn’t the best place for telling stories.”
“Never stopped you before,” grumbled Kinder.
“Shush,” Recks told him. “Your dinner’s coming. Do you have any favorites, Alana?”
The few stories I knew were ones told by Dine’s first wife to her children. They were short and generally brutal, told to teach some lesson when they misbehaved. They weren’t the kind of tales I wanted to hear.
“I don’t know any stories.”
“That’s impossible. Did your mother never tell you ‘The Fox and the Hen’? And everyone knows ‘The Ruby Quiver.’”
“No, no one’s ever told me any stories.”
“Why not?”
“Recks, you nitwit. Can’t you see the girl’s a slave?” barked Kinder.
“How can that be? She walks freely.”
“Ask her yourself. Not all are enslaved by chains. Who would wear that willingly?”
“Is it true, Alana?”
“Yes,” I said, turning the meat with my fingertips.
“But why are you here? Why don’t you run?”
“And go where? It’s all like here, isn’t it?”
“No. The world is a wide, wondrous place. It’s not all like Roma.”
“Thank Mother Sun for that!” exclaimed Kinder. “Is the meat done yet?”
“Done enough, I suppose,” I said, pulling the stick of roast partridge away from the flames. “It’s not much,” I said as I walked it over to the men in the cell and put it in the slot.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!” Kinder said, clearly delighted. They both devoured it eagerly, even as it burned their fingers and tongues. They groaned in pleasure and pain, but they didn’t stop eating until every bite was gone. When I dug the sunflower seed cakes out of the basket, they both smiled as if I’d presented them with the key to their freedom.
“We should get arrested in Roma more often,” said Kinder, crunching on the sticky cake. “I can’t remember when I’ve eaten so well.”
“Me neither,” said Recks, licking the honey from his fingers. “Just for that, I’m going to tell you the best story I know.”
“I can’t stay much longer. I’ll be missed.”
“Then I’ll be quick about it,” said Recks, wiping his hands on his shabby tunic and then holding them palms up toward the sky. “Mother Sun knows the hearts of all men. May they all please her.”
That I’d heard many times. It was the traditional prayer before beginning any work. One never knew what might displease Mother Sun, so it was customary to let her know your intentions were good in the hope that she would take pity on you.
“In the Time of Great Darkness, there lived a young boy. He had lost everyone and everything he’d ever known: his mother, his father, and his sister dead with many thousands of others. His village overflowed with the dead. No one was left to bury them all. Mother Sun willed it so, but she let this one boy live. He was special, wise beyond his years, and Mother Sun knew he could found a new race of men. She guided him to a sacred valley, high in the mountains, far from his home. On his journey, he met others like himself—thinkers, artists, healers, poets, and storytellers. They banded together and sought to create a world better than the one before the Time of Great Darkness. They built their city on the cliffs above a valley, where they live in comfort. To this day, they grow all they need. Everyone helps, none go hungry, and there are no slaves.”
“No slaves?” I asked, incredulous.
“Ask Kinder. He’s actually been there,” said Recks.
“You have?”
“Many moons ago. Then I got a crazy notion about wanting to study the peoples of the West. Now I wish I’d never left.”
“No fool like an old fool, huh, Kinder?” teased Recks.
The call of an owl outside reminded me I was in Roma, not a magical, shining city of freedom.
“I have to go,” I said, standing up. I doused the embers of the fire with my water bag, sending steam hissing into the air.
“Alana?” Recks whispered through the hole in the door. Two of his fingers poked out, reaching for me in the darkness.
“Yes?”
“Did you like the story?”
“Like” seemed too casual a word for how I felt. Overwhelmed was a better choice. It stretched my imagination, showed me how much I didn’t know about the world. I trembled, knowing I’d remember this story for the rest of my pitiful life. Now in the cover of darkness, I reached out of the billa and touched his two warm, rough fingers with one of my own.
“Yes.”

About-the-Author

Lisa T. Cresswell

Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play “The Queen of the Nile” at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that’s why she went on to become a real life archaeologist?

Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press.

Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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ASHES IN THE SKY – Cover Reveal – Sqeeeee!!


Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing the cover of

Ashes In The Sky (Fire in The Woods #2) by Jennifer M. Eaton

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

***

Oh. My. Gosh. I’ve waited so long to see this!!

The author, Jennifer M. Eaton, is a good friend of mine, an amazing beta partner and a fantastic author. I knew when I saw the cover for FIRE IN THE WOODS, that the other covers were going to be just as fantastic. I was right!  My heart be still!  Who else loves this cover?  And…as a beta reader…I can tell you the story is just as fast-paced and fantastic as FIRE IN THE WOODS.

I am so excited for Jennifer and her new baby.  Look at that alien greenness!!  :-)

Ashes In The Sky

After inadvertently saving the world, eighteen-year-old Jessica Martinez is ready to put adventure behind her and settle back into the familiar routine of high school.

Though when she’s offered an opportunity to photograph the inside of an alien space ship, Jess jumps at the chance. After all, she’d be crazy to turn something like that down, right?

Spending time with David on the ship has definite advantages and the two seem to pick up right where they left off. But when Jess discovers a plot to sabotage David’s efforts to establish a new home for his people on another planet, neither David’s advanced tech nor Jess’s smarts will be able to save them.

ASHES IN THE SKY is an action-packed, romantic Sci Fi adventure that will leave readers screaming for more.

add to goodreadsTitle: Ashes In The Sky (Fire in The Woods #2)
Publication date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books
Author: Jennifer M. Eaton

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About-the-Author

Jennifer M. Eaton

Corporate Team Leader by day, and Ranting Writer by night. Jennifer M. Eaton calls the East Coast of the USA home, where she lives with her husband, three energetic boys, and a pepped up poodle.

Jennifer hosts an informational blog “A Reference of Writing Rants for Writers (or Learn from My Mistakes)” aimed at helping all writers be the best they can be.

Beyond writing and motivating others, she also enjoys teaching her dog to jump through hoops—literally.

Jennifer’s perfect day includes long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but her greatest joy is using her over-active imagination constructively… creating new worlds for everyone to enjoy.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Landing smack-dab in the sweetness


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to become successful at something, for people to love, want, need something you offer?  As an author who spends most of her free time writing Young Adult fantasy, it is something I think about every day.  Will my novel IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING, be something young readers will want to read? Will it be something anyone will want to read?

I think authors probably top the list as the most insecure artists out there. We’re certainly the most unrecognized, which is probably a good thing because who wants to go into a Piggly Wiggly and be mobbed by the paparazzi while you squeeze the lemons? On the other hand, if the paparazzi is following you around, that means people want more  of you. It’s not enough you gave them a great book that may have taken years off your life. Your fans want your body. Your soul. The napkin you used to wipe your mouth.

But how do you create this desire? This hunger? This need?

Bottom line:  I haven’t a clue, though I believe it is all in the timing, and being in the right place at the right time, with the stars aligned perfectly, and I’m sure the moon rising in Venus has something to do with it.

I’ve seen very talented and wonderful people spend $$ on seminars and books. They take classes on marketing. They step out of their comfort zone and make themselves vulnerable to the ravenous public, to an ever-watchful boss, but nothing happens.  They are skipped over. Then, someone comes along with a product that sometimes appears to be less inferior, and voila, they have a following, a ravenous crowd, a praising boss who wants more, more, more.

In the case of books, remember the Twilight series? How many critics, professional or not, ridiculed these novels, saying how awful they were? Guess what? Stephenie Meyer laughed all the way to the bank and the franchise is still growing.  Look at the newest sensation: Fifty Shades of Grey. I can’t even read these books all the way through because Christian Grey creeps me out. He’s a stalker, a sado-masochist. He’s everything a man should not be towards a woman and yet his and Ana’s story is so dreamy. I shake my head in confusion, yet the author is in the ‘laughing to the bank’ club, while so many other authors with much better books, more positive stories, struggle to get anyone to notice.

I looked for similarities between the two authors, Meyers and E.L. James, and couldn’t find anything remotely the same as it relates to marketing, EXCEPT that E.L. James began writing 50 Shades as fan fiction based on the Twilight series.  She developed a following and now she’s a gazillionaire and people are swooning to see a film about a rich, good-looking guy who stalks naive, insecure virgins.  Prior to Ms. Meyers hitting it big, she was really quite obscure, a woman who had a story inside of her that needed to be written.

But there are many authors like her, including myself, who have stories inside that need to be written. How do some get the accolades, all the attention, while the majority do not? How does one amazing singer get passed over for another? What is it about that person at work who always seems to capture the awards and the atta boys, while others work just as hard and sometimes contribute even more, and don’t even get a good-morning?

I don’t have the answers. All I know is we just need to strive to be the best we can be to ourselves. We must be true to ourselves and not compromise our integrity, our beliefs, our morals just to have a brief moment in the spotlight. At the end of the day, we have to look in that mirror and like the image we see staring back at us … and hope someday, someone will notice us for all we’ve done, for all we’ve accomplished, for all our dedication and committment. Then, maybe we’ll, too, land smack-dab in the sweetness (or at the very least we’ll get a taste), and be a part of the ‘laughing to the bank’ club, even if it’s just one trip.

It is what dreams are made of, you know.

IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING coming Spring 2016 by Month9Books

Cover Reveal: THE GIRL WHO FELL


YA author, Shannon Parker, shared her cover reveal for her debut novel, THE GIRL WHO FELL, with YA Highway yesterday, and I thought I’d share it with you today.  Check it out.

Shannon is uber stoked over the design and you can read all about it in her interview with YA Highway. There’s even a Giveaway involved, so pop on over, enter for your chance to win, and give your congratulations to Shannon on her debut novel.

 

 

Q & A with author Suzanne Van Rooyen – author of I HEART ROBOT


Recently I had the opportunity to talk to Suzanne Van Rooyen, author of the amazing novel, I HEART ROBOT, about her literary dreams as well as how music inspired her story.

First, let’s take a look at the novel.

Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won’t belittle her musical aspirations.

Q-I-99 aka ‘Quinn’ lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power.

Tyri and Quinn’s worlds collide when they’re accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn’s love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?

******

Of course, loving music the way I do, I was intrigued by the premise of the story and found myself asking all sorts of questions surrounding the musical aspect of this book. Here is what Suzanne had to say:

Q & A with Suzanne Van Rooyen

I Heart Robot is being made into a major motion picture film. Who would you pick to compose/arrange the musical score: Howard Shore? John Williams? James Horner? Someone else?

Brilliant question! Despite how much I love the epic scores by Hans Zimmer and adore the music by composers including Ramin Djawadi, Rachel Portman, James Horner and John Murphy, I think I’d want a Scandinavian composer to work on the score for I Heart Robot. My choice would be the young Icelandic composer, Ólafur Arnalds. He has written music for the UK TV series Broadchurch and for films including Gimme Shelter and Life in a Fishbowl. I did a lot of I Heart Robot editing to his album ‘For Now I Am Winter’ and also had the privilege of seeing him perform live in Helsinki. His music – an eerie mix of strings and synthesized sounds – would be perfect for conjuring the bleak reality of the robots while providing that Scandinavian quality ideal for the setting in I Heart Robot.

Who would you pick to play the parts of Tyri and Q-I-99 “Quinn”?

I can totally see Maisie Williams playing the part of Tyri and as for Quinn, I think the Swiss actor Sven Schelker has the perfect look for my blond and silver-eyed android.

Also, you appear in the film as a musician. The instrument you play is critical to bonding Tyri and Quinn together. What instrument do you play that will speak to both of their ‘souls’?

Wow, tricky question. Since both Tyri and Quinn are violinists, the only instrument I actually play that could potentially bring them together would be the piano. I could imagine playing the accompaniment on piano for a violin duet between the two of them that would be part battle and part love song.

***

Thank you, Suzanne, for taking the time to answer a few of my questions so I could share your story with so many others.

To everyone else, I hope you are as intrigued by this novel as I was. Please add it to your Goodreads list:

Title: I Heart Robot
Publication date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Suzanne van Rooyen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

A Tale of Magic. A Tale of Adventure. A Tale of Love … THE SURROGATE SEA by Danielle E. Shipley


Today I have a very special guest, the lovely Ms. Danielle Shipley, author of the wonderful Wilderhark Tales.  These are delightful novellas whose characters are derived from beloved fairy tales and molded and shaped into memorable, delightful beatniks (and I use that word lovingly).  Today, Danielle is going to share her inspiration for her characters, Chancewaine and Lilavaine. After reading the short profile, make sure you keep reading to learn more about the author, the newest novella in the series, THE SURROGATE SEA, and take a chance at winning a copy of the book in the giveaway!!

Danielle, take it away.

Character Profile: Chancewaine and Liliavaine

Over the course of the series, The Wilderhark Tales have pulled from several classic stories, the characters of my world taking on and redefining a number of famed fairytale roles. Princess Rosalba as the Sleeping Beauty. Gant-o’-the-Lute as the Pied Piper. And – among those I find personally most amusing – Edgwyn Wyle as Rumplestiltskin. Readers of Book Three may have thought that aspect of Edgwyn’s character ended with the breaking of the Seventh Spell, but not so! For it is revealed in Book Six that he truly does mean to make a claim on the firstborn child of the woman whose straw was spun into gold.

“What!” my tailor’s fans may cry. “Edgwyn Wyle, steal someone’s baby? He would never!”

Steal, no. Desire as his son-in-law, absolutely. Though of course he would never force the matter.

As it happens, though, Chancewaine would be more than happy to grant Edgwyn’s private wish. The young Crown Prince of Terrestaire is the quintessential royal boy next door. …well, more like a few days’ ride away, if you live in Denebdeor. He and the Wyle family’s youngest, Princess Liliavaine, have been best friends virtually since their infancies. But as marrying age creeps closer, Chancewaine begins to feel the stirrings of something more.

Unfortunately for Chance, Liliavaine yearns for more, too: Something more than him.

We first met little Lily in Book Five of The Wilderhark Tales, refusing to take her elder siblings’ condescension lying down, swooning over gorgeous men completely beyond her age bracket, and inadvertantly acting as the catalyst for her sister’s quest to the supernatural kingdom of Welken.

Close to a half-dozen years later, Liliavaine has reached the age where adventure so often enters a princess’s life, and she feels more than ready for it. Having seen enough of the magical to completely ruin her for the ordinary (looking at you, Chance ol’ buddy), Lily knows what she wants (…or does she?…), and is possessed of too much get-up-and-go-for-it to wait around for her dreams to come to her.

In this tale as old as teenagers, will Lily ever come to see Chancewaine as true love material? Find out in “The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)”, available now.

***

I just love all of the characters in these novellas and the covers are so pretty and colorful. If you love the charm and beauty of fairytales, you really must add these to your collection.

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Novella

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Series

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Excerpt

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Author

Surrogate Sea Launch Week Tour Pics, Giveaway

Cover Reveal For HUNTED – the electrifying sequel to BRANDED


I know a lot of people who are waiting to see  this cover.  For those of you who don’t know, BRANDED is YA dystopian novel that has taken the world by storm, and with characters like Cole, it’s not hard to understand why. Many have ranked this novel right up there with the Divergent series and I can understand why.  It is the first in The Sinners series, and has 433 5-star reviews on Amazon.

No wonder people are aching to see the cover for the next in the series, HUNTED.  So, without further ado … here it is. Oh, and don’t forget to keep scrolling down. There is a giveaway going on and a Chapter Reveal!!!!

Hunted

HUNTED is the electrifying sequel to the bestselling debut BRANDED, A Sinners Series, by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki.

It’s been three months since the revolt against the Commander’s fifty-year-old regime failed.

Under a new ruler, things were supposed to change. Get better.

But can anyone really be trusted?

Lexi and Cole soon find out, as life takes an unexpected turn for the worse.

In this ever-changing world, you must hunt or be hunted.

Lives will be lost.

Dreams will be crushed.

Fears will be realized.

Secrets will be exposed.

When Cole is once again faced with losing Lexi at the hands of a monster, one encounter will change everything.

Forever.

Connect with BRANDED fans on Instagram at:
#abiandmissy
#Sinnersfandom
#Sinnersseries
#Colexi
#Sinnersseriesbranded
#Brandedofficialfanpage
#Brandedfandom
#Lexihamilton

add to goodreadsTitle: Hunted (Sinners #2)
Publication date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

Available for Pre-order:
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excerpt

You can read Chapter Three HERE!

Happy Reading and Enjoy!

About-the-Author

Abi and Missy 2

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumbler

Giveaway

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YA Steampunk at its best! – A review of THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF THE NOT-SO-INNOCUOUS GIRL


Today, I’m reviewing THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF THE NOT SO INNOCUOUS GIRL.

Guys, I’ve got to tell you. I’ve had my eye on this book ever since I saw the cover last year. Look at this sweet cover art!

Innoculous Girl

I knew when I saw it I had to read it, so I signed up with Month9Books to get an ARC when they sent them out. I read it in less than two days. This book is everything I would want in a steampunk fantasy.

I rarely ever post the back cover blurbs in my reviews, but if you want to read it, you can find it at the bottom of this post.

Okay, so here are my thoughts.

This is a tried and true love story about two people from different worlds, different walks of life, who are in love with each other. Think Romeo and Juliette. Heathcliff and Catherine. Augustus and Hazel. Gatsby and Daisy. The theme has been done over and over before and this story is really no different as far as that goes. It’s sweet, and let’s face it – girls love romance, especially when there is a cute stable boy, or in this case, a smithie, and a wealthy girl who is full of spunk and determination.

But I don’t think this book would have had any draw for me if it weren’t for the steampunk aspect.

First, let me say I had my hesitations about this book. I’m not one for historical fiction and I really thought I would be bored by the 17th century French culture, but Statham makes it irresistible with her unique steampunk twist and all the gizmos and gadgets. I tell you, there were several times I wanted to jump in the book to see these things up close and personal. It was as if they were really real. I wanted see them, hold them, especially Marguerite’s cricket toy. I could go on for pages over the detail, the imagery. It was completely mind-blowing. I was drawn in right away by Statham’s imagination and her ability to make the reader feel like they were right in the thick of it. I was enthralled. Captivated, and all I kept hoping for was for this book to be made into a movie so I could see how the CGI artists would bring this world to life.

As for the characters, I found Marguerite very difficult to like in the beginning. She’s wild, reckless. Very defiant, but I couldn’t stop reading her adventure. She certainly plays with all of your emotions, but by the end of the story, I loved her. She developed and grew into this amazing individual, and discovering how her relationship with Claude grew and developed was a beautiful journey. Yes, it was clichéd on so many levels, but it was one thing I loved about the story. Statham not only did a wonderful job on Marguerite and Claude, but her secondary characters were well developed as well, with their own arcs, their own growth to achieve. It was quite refreshing.

I give this book a solid 4 stars for its steampunk originality and superb world-building. It added just the right spark to turn this otherwise mediocre, tried-and-true love story into something positively wonderful and delightfully different. I will definitely keep my eyes open for more books from Leigh Statham and I hope she keeps writing about her wonderful gadgets, toys and gizmos. She really is, my opinion, the Steampunk Queen of YA fiction.

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Link to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18308621-the-perilous-journey-of-the-not-so-innocuous-girl

Purchase Links:

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD |

ABOUT THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF THE NOT-SO-INNOCUOUS GIRL

 Title: THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF THE NOT-SO-INNOCUOUS GIRL

Publication date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Leigh Statham

Lady Marguerite lives a life most 17th century French girls can only dream of: Money, designer dresses, suitors and a secure future. Except, she suspects her heart may be falling for her best friend Claude, a common smithie in the family’s steam forge. When Claude leaves for New France in search of a better life, Marguerite decides to follow him and test her suspicions of love. Only the trip proves to be more harrowing than she anticipated. Love, adventure and restitution await her, if she can survive the voyage.

ABOUT LEIGH STATHAM:

Leigh Statham was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho, but found her heart in New York City. She worked as a waitress, maid, artist, math teacher, nurse, web designer, art director, thirty-foot inflatable pig and mule wrangler before she settled down in the semi-quiet role of wife, mother and writer. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, five chickens and two suspected serial killer cats. If the air is cool and the sun is just coming up over the horizon, you can find her running the streets of her small town, plotting her next novel with the sort of intensity that will one day get her hit by a car.

Connect with the Author: 

Website |Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

Check out THE ARTISANS by @JulieAReece


Here is another amazing read to add to your YA collection.  It is fantastic and I’m so excited for Julie. She’s one of my favorite YA authors and deserves to be on top of every chart there is!!  Review coming soon!!

M9B Friday Reveal: Author Spotlight with Julie Reece with Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

M9B-Friday-Reveal

Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are spotlighting Julie Reece, author of

The Artisans

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Julie_Reece_Image_3-253x300

Get to Know Julie Reece in 10 Questions or Less!

Twitter or Facebook? -Both

Favorite Superhero? –One hero to rule them all: Thor

Favorite TV show? -Sherlock (British)

Sweet or Salty? -Ice cream is a food group.

Coke or Pepsi? -Tea (I’m a rebel)

Any Phobias? –Sharks and, ew, spiders … oh and drowning.

Song you can’t get enough of right now? –Caroline (or anything) by Kill It Kid *dies*

Who is your ultimate Book Boyfriend? ‘Weaver’ from May Webb’s, Precious Bane *swoons*

What are you reading right now or what’s on your TBR? -Saving Francesca , by Melina Marchetta

Fall Movie you’re most looking forward to? –OMG! Crimson Peak and Mad Max:Fury Road

BIO

Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook |Goodreads

The Artisans

They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old RAVEN WEATHERSBY gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.

To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.

Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad’s drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.

But Raven’s stepdad’s drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she’s ever known out of jail, or worse.

Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries’ clothing line, signing over her creative rights.

Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can’t imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.

But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?

The Artisans is a delectably rich, layered and dark YA Southern Gothic inspired by Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s classic Beauty and the Beast.

The Artisans has all the elements I love – spooky intrigue, strong friendships, and a romantic tension to be savored.” ~ Wendy Higgins, New York Times bestselling author of the Sweet Evil trilogy.

add to goodreads

Title: The Artisans
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Julie Reece

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The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl = Steampunk Awesome Birthday!


Today is THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF THE NOT-SO-INNOCUOUS GIRL’s birthday!!

YAY!!!

OMGosh, I finished this book last night and it is soooo good. I’m not going to say much more because my official review comes out on March 22, but if you love steampunk, and YA historical fiction with a twisty-twist, you’re going to love this one! I mean, look at that cover!  *Sigh*

Innoculous Girl

ABOUT THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF THE NOT-SO-INNOCUOUS GIRL

 Title: THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF THE NOT-SO-INNOCUOUS GIRL

Publication date: March 17, 2015

Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.

Author: Leigh Statham

Lady Marguerite lives a life most 17th century French girls can only dream of: Money, designer dresses, suitors and a secure future. Except, she suspects her heart may be falling for her best friend Claude, a common smithie in the family’s steam forge. When Claude leaves for New France in search of a better life, Marguerite decides to follow him and test her suspicions of love. Only the trip proves to be more harrowing than she anticipated. Love, adventure and restitution await her, if she can survive the voyage.

LINK TO TOUR SCHEDULE

There are quite a few peeps out there talking up this ever-so-awesome novel, so if you are so inclined, you can keep up with all of them here.

 WANT TO KNOW MORE? READ REVIEWS?

So, there’s not enough here to entice you to go out and grab a copy of this book? Check it out on Goodreads and see what people are saying.  As for me? I can’t say enough good stuff about this book. Leigh Statham is an author to watch.

Oh wait, who is Leigh Statham? *smacks forehead*.  Yes, well, I suppose it would be polite to introduce you to the author, duh.

ABOUT LEIGH STATHAM:

Leigh Statham was raised in the wilds of rural Idaho, but found her heart in New York City. She worked as a waitress, maid, artist, math teacher, nurse, web designer, art director, thirty-foot inflatable pig and mule wrangler before she settled down in the semi-quiet role of wife, mother and writer. She resides in North Carolina with her husband, four children, five chickens and two suspected serial killer cats. If the air is cool and the sun is just coming up over the horizon, you can find her running the streets of her small town, plotting her next novel with the sort of intensity that will one day get her hit by a car.

Connect with the Author: Website |Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Information!!!

Oh, and I forgot to tell you! There’s a Giveaway involved in all this birthday celebration.  Yes, you have the chance to win your very own copy of this awesome book.

Winner will be drawn April 13, 2015

·        Three (3) winners will receive a physical copy of The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl by Leigh Statham (INT)

·        Three (3) winners will receive a digital copy of The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl by Leigh Statham (INT)

How do you enter?  Just follow the Rafflecopter Link

Of course, if you can’t wait and you have to have your copy now, that’s okay, too.  There are all kinds of Purchase Links:

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD |

Last but not least, head over to Leigh’s social media site and wish her and her novel a happy book birthday. She’d love to hear from you, and please, after reading her book, leave a review. It can be anonymous if you’re worried about seeing your name out there, but reviews help to spread the word and get other people to love the book as much as you did/do.  Show your author and book love with a review.