Category Archives: Guest Post

GUEST POST: Game of Thrones: “Mother’s Mercy” Review and Recap of Season 5

[Warning! Here be spoilers]


As predicted, the season finale of the fifth Game of Thrones cycle hit viewers between the eyes with numerous plot twists and cliffhangers, while the death knell tolled ceaselessly for characters both beloved and abhorred. An inclusion of controversial content and subversion of popular fantasy storytelling tropes has come to define this series, broadening its fan base to include all those who appreciate a bloody good story.

Season five saw fan favorite Tyrion Lannister journeying to Meereen to meet Daenerys Targaryen after his escape from King’s Landing. As it turns out, Daenerys was in desperate need of reliable counseling. Unable to control her dragons, she chained two of them up under a pyramid, announced an engagement to nobleman Hizdahr zo Loraq, and reopened the fighting pits in an attempt to win her people’s favor.

The Sons of the Harpy, a rebel organization, were fighting her regime after her decree outlawing slavery which destabilized their way of life. Their campaign began with assaults on Daenerys’ Unsullied troops in the city streets and culminated in a tense battle at the pits, that ended with her dragon Drogon arriving just in time to fly her away to safety.

Meanwhile, at Castle Black, Jon Snow was voted Lord Commander. Many of his men came to regret this decision, when they learned of his plan to let thousands of wildlings through The Wall. Upon arriving at Hardhome to bring the wildlings back with him, Jon, his small escort, and the wildlings fought a brutal battle with four White Walkers in which vast numbers of men, women, and children were killed and resurrected by the Walkers to be added to the army of the dead.

Arya Stark traveled to Braavos and ended up training to be an assassin at the House of Black and White. Her training was derailed when she realized Ser Meryn Trant, the top name on her kill list, was also in Braavos. Arya’s sister Sansa was brought to Winterfell by Littlefinger to take part in an arranged marriage to Ramsay Bolton, the sadistic torturer whose mutilation and psychological manipulation of Theon Greyjoy transformed him into the pathetically servile Reek. Ramsay’s rape of Sansa before the eyes of Reek was a huge controversy as viewers questioned whether the act actually served the characters or was simply exploitative.

In King’s Landing, Cersei’s arming of the Faith Militant gave their leader, the High Sparrow, the power to imprison her rivals Margery and Loras Tyrell. The plan blew up in Cersei’s face when her cousin Lancel, now one of the devout, informed on her for cheating on King Robert several years back, and Cersei too now sits in a cell. Cersei’s brother Jaime went with Bronn to Dorne to bring their daughter Myrcella back home, but their mission failed when Oberyn Martell’s bastard daughters, the Sand Snakes, intervened.

Game of Thrones is populated with at least twice as many characters as any other show on TV. This requires a large portion of table setting in the early parts of each season, as the show-runners maneuver each chess piece into play. However, as the seasons draw to a close, patient viewers are always well rewarded in final episodes.

This brings us to last night’s season finale. Subscribers can catch the episode on HBOGo, whereas the rest of us can look to television providers such as DTV and Xfinity to get caught up. Sunday night saw some of the bloodiest action yet: Theon and Sansa leapt from the walls of Winterfell following a massive battle between Bolton and Baratheon troops, Ellaria Sands murdered young Princess Myrcella by poison, Meryn Trant was killed by Arya Stark, Daenerys nearly succumbed to a gigantic Dothraki khalasar, and Jon Snow suffered a devastating death at the hands of his own men (several subplots being neglected here for the sake of brevity). In television today, there’s nothing else quite like it. The irresistible blend of fantasy, fiction and good old fashioned storytelling present in the GoT series will surely draw fans back once more to Season 6. There’s nothing else like it, and it’s the reason Game of Thrones viewers will continue to return, despite having their hearts broken, year after murderous year.

Guest post by Maria Ramos.

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[GUEST POST] Three Urban Fantasy Books to Read

Most of us have watched urban fantasy series at some point in our lives, from the 1997 hit American show Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the more recent Supernatural series starring the amazing Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles (Winchester Brothers). However, how many of us have actually read epics that provide as much action and suspense as the aforementioned series? If you enjoy reading books as much as you take pleasure in watching urban fantasy stories, you might want to consider giving these novels a try.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Neverwhere explores the story of a businessman named Richard whose life changed forever when he stopped to help a desperate young girl helpless on a nearby road. When the girl, named Door, recovered the next morning, she begged Richard to find Marquis de Carabas — a man who will be able to help her escape from two inhuman assassins that are trying to kill her. Why are assassins after the seemingly harmless young girl and how can the Marquis save her from the dark recesses of the city? Richard sets out on a quest to find the answers to many unanswered questions, when both Door and the Marquis mysteriously disappear after meeting in his apartment.


The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

Atticus O’Sullivan is one of the last surviving druids – soothsayers of the ancient Celtic religion — in the world. The 21-century-old druid lives in Arizona and earns a living by running a bookshop.

Atticus was living a peaceful life until his immortal enemy, a Celtic god, found him. Apparently, Atticus has something that the god wants, which is a very powerful sword called “The Fragarach.” In order to take the sword away from him, the Celtic god sends in Atticus’ way powerful werewolves disguised as lawyers, seductive goddesses of death, and many other temptations that can make even the strongest of men drop their guard.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

According to Mayfair Casinos, London is one of the most exclusive areas in the world where for hundreds of years, the rich and elites met in private clubs. However, who would’ve thought that apart from the upper class, angry ghosts and mischievous gods also convene in the most populous city of England?

That’s what Probationary Constable Peter Grant found out when he gained top secret information from an eyewitness who is actually a wraith. Peter’s ability to talk with the dead brings him closer to Detective Thomas Nightingale, who works on cases with supernatural elements. Grant and Nightingale must work together in order to solve the creepy ghosts possessions plaguing the city and the brewing war between two old gods of the River Thames.

Guest post by Allie Cooper
Follow her on Twitter and on WordPress

GUEST POST: Game of Thrones “The Wars to Come” Review


As usual, the season premiere of Game of Thrones served primarily to set the table for the next 9 episodes and catch us up with much of the show’s gigantic cast of characters. That doesn’t mean the episode was without incident, though. A slit throat, political scheming, full frontal nudity, a man burned alive and some intriguing new character interactions were more than enough to whet viewers’ appetites alongside all the necessary exposition. Of course, this will contain spoilers so if you haven’t seen it yet it’s best to watch it asap (through platforms like Vudu or DirecTV) and then come back here for the recap.

Like much of the series so far, “The Wars to Come” focused on fan favorite Tyrion Lannister (brilliantly played by Peter Dinklage hot off his Emmy robbery last year), in exile from Westeros after murdering his father Tywin, and in the company of one of the series’ most mysterious and notorious schemers, Varys the Spider (Conleth Hill). As the pair of them recuperate in Pentos, Tyrion seems determined to drink himself into the grave, but Varys aims to convince Tyrion to use his talents in the service of one of the most prominent contenders for the throne: Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons.

Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) could use the help, too. Unloved by the nobles of Meereen after sacking their city, freeing all its slaves and taking up residence in its Great Pyramid, the young queen has had to contend with civil unrest, political pressure to reopen the fighting pits, and a surprising inability to control her dragons, who she’s chained up in a large underground dungeon. Her largest dragon, Drogon, has not been seen for weeks since he roasted a farmer’s daughter in the countryside. If there’s two guys who possess the political and tactical savvy to help her out of this mess, it’s Tyrion and Varys.

Meanwhile, Daenerys’ rival for the throne Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) is stationed at Castle Black following a spectacular battle in which his army showed up to support the Night’s Watch against 100,000 wildlings led by Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds). Stannis, who wishes to add the wildling forces to his own, offers Mance a choice: bend the knee and swear fealty or be burned alive. Mance, ever a man of principle, chooses the latter, despite the urging of Jon Snow (Kit Harrington). Jon’s respect for Mance runs deep enough that he kills him with an arrow in an act of mercy before the flames can consume him.

The premiere was also notable for who it didn’t show. Brandon Stark, who after a long and arduous journey arrived at a cavern under a weirwood tree and met a powerful wizard, will be nowhere to be seen this season, presumably because the show runners have reached the end of his book storyline, but also because the show needs to make room for the ever growing number of players on its already crowded stage. We haven’t even got to the kingdom of Dorne, where the royalty will be seething over last season’s brutal death of the much-loved prince Oberyn Martell. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), another fan favorite, is en route to the port city of Braavos. And of course there’s Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), the turncloak who betrayed his childhood friend Robb Stark to try to please his father, only to end up in the clutches of the depraved lunatic Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon).

As usual, we can expect the unexpected. Game of Thrones excels at visceral and unpredictable storytelling, where we find ourselves rooting for scoundrels and detesting characters we previously loved. No matter what happens, we have an exciting 9 episodes ahead of us. Next Sunday can’t come quick enough.

Guest post by Maria Ramos.

Follow her on Twitter

Maria Ramos will occasionally be joining us (once every month or so) to do a guest post. Many of her posts will be regarding various topics surrounding Game of Thrones.

If you enjoyed her post, please like/comment and make her feel welcome!

-Rebecca L

Author Bio and Giveaway: Tracey Smith, author of A Summer Romance

author photo

A Summer Romance E-Book Cover

I grew up in Southern California, but as a teenager moved with my family to a small town in Arkansas. It was there that I met my husband, who had also recently moved to the state. Fate brought us both to that same small town and into each other’s lives and it is where we remain today raising our two children and living out our happily ever after. As you can probably tell I’m a hopeless romantic.

I began my writing career in 2009 with the publication of my first novel Love’s Fate, which quickly grew into a romantic series. Since that first day that I sat down to write I haven’t been able to stop. Writing is my passion and has become a necessary part of my life. Sometimes there are stories that just beg to be told.

A Summer Romance Facebook Cover Art

A giveaway for A Summer Romance will be happening from the 19th to the 23rd, with five free copies up for grabs! WordPress won’t let us post Rafflecoptors, but follow this link to enter the giveaway!

Guest Post: Interview with a Vampire: About Vampires


An Interview with a Vampire about Vampires

A guest post by Lee and Gary Jordan, the author team Phoenix

On an early evening in October, we caught up with Victor Bainbridge, a vampire who

is very British but lives in a splendid home in Spain. It was obvious from his palatial home that

being a vampire was not hurting his earning capabilities.

As the authors of Leon’s Lair, in which he is a major character, we were shown into his

study by his majordomo. The study walls were lined from floor to ceiling with books, many

leather bound and obviously quite old. Victor sat in a leather high-backed chair with a small

crystal glass on a side table, a volumous report in his lap and his right leg crossed at the knee.

Dressed in soft chinos, Italian shoes (no sox) and a black cashmere pullover, he looked self-
assured and comfortable with our visit.

He rose to greet us with a smile and offered us a chair opposite him. After a few

pleasantries and an offer of a drink. we began. We were both little nervous about accepting a

drink as we surmised what he was drinking was a dark red, viscous drink that clung to the sides

of the crystal and wasn’t the kind of refreshment we wanted.

GARY: Well, Victor, I must say you have a beautiful home. It seems being a vampire

has been a rewarding way of life. Can you tell our readers a little about how you became a

vampire and where it all started?

VICTOR: Well, Gary, there are a lot of misconceptions about vampires, many old tales

that have survived down through the ages.

Vampires have been around since the dawn of time. We are a different but similar race

to Homo sapiens. Unfortunately, over the centuries there have been efforts by Homo sapiens to

eradicate us. I think you would call it genocide or ethnic cleansing. As a result, there are fewer of

us than you.

Vampirism was first recorded in Persia. According to an ancient Hebrew text Adam’s

first wife, Lilith was a vampire. She left Adam due to his lack of sexual prowess and became

queen of the underworld. She established the race.

There are recorded archives of vampires from China in the 6th century B.C., and more

legends throughout the world, including India, Malaysia, Polynesia, and the lands of the Aztecs

and Eskimos. However, it is in Europe where our main population flourished for many centuries.

The main beginnings occurred in ancient Greece and spread up through areas known today as the

Balkans, then west and into England.

I originated the old fashioned way, coitus, pregnancy, and birth.

LEE: That’s pretty astounding. The common story goes; you have to be normal and then

bitten by a vampire, and some say you must drink a vampire’s blood. Is this just legend?

VICTOR: Absolutely not. That is the way to become newly “born,” but I am a vampire

because my mother was a vampire. She was a really sexy women and was until she died –

always looked young. Vampires can be created from Homo sapiens as you described, though

normally it is not forced but assented. It is a secondary way to keep the race alive.

LEE: She died? I thought vampires live forever.

VICTOR: Absolutely not. Mother was almost 300 years old, but she finally went to a

vampire rest home and passed on. That is just another of the myths that scare Homo sapiens into

atrocities against vampires.

GARY: Okay, but you have to admit that vampires draining people of their blood is

pretty brutal.

VICTOR: That has happened, I admit, but it is no worse than Homo sapiens decapitating

a vampire, pounding stakes through the heart or burning us to death without a trial, just on the

ranting of some fear-deranged human. How would you react to a mob pounding down your door

with hate and fear?

Victor’s eyes had become red and his cool self-confidence melted as he gripped the

arms of his chair and leaned forward in a menacing pose. We felt more than concerned at his

apparent anger.

No, I think you need to reassess your race’s actions before you accuse us of brutality.

Victor seemed to regain his calm and sat back in his chair and his eyes suddenly returned

to the deep brown they had been.

Since, the year 400 A.D, we organized with other magical and supernatural races. The

International Association of Paranormal Beings made strict rules and one was never harm a

human in anyway. We drink the blood of animals.

Granted there have been vampires with a blood-lust for humans such as Count Dracula,

whose real name was Valad Tepes Dracula, Prince of Wallachia. His slaughter of many probably

incited much of the inaccurate views people have of vampires. Of course Bram Stoker’s fictional

tale of Dracula stereotyped vampires to this day. Dracula was a tyrant, but he also liberated his

country from the Ottoman invaders. You know, he was a national hero.

GARY: I see. that is very interesting. Tell me Victor, why should humans change their

view of vampires?

VICTOR: Without going into detail, vampires have actually saved the human race

from near extinction. The Dark Ages had set man upon a course of clear apocalyptic self –

extinguishment. International Association of Paranormal Beings literally sowed the seeds that

raised human’s interest in survival and interest in science and the arts to a level high enough to

pull them out of the apathy and degradation which had caused death and destruction throughout

the hitherto civilized world. Those acts alone saved millions upon millions of lives.

LEE: That’s quite a pronouncement Victor. Would you care to elaborate?

VICTOR: Well, your readers can read more about us in your book Leon’s Lair. Victor

elegantly rose from his chair as he finished his glass of red liquid. I have matters to attend

to now, and I hope I have given you enough to create an article that your readers will find

interesting and informative.

Victor’s majordomo appeared in the room as if by magic and held the door open for us to


GARY: Thank you, Victor, for your time and very enlightening information.


Leon's Lair

What would you do if your vacation cruise ship was being attacked and you were

certain you would to be killed?

Would you fight? Would you hide? Would you try to escape?

This international thriller/contemporary fantasy is a nail-biting ride that is grisly but

somewhat tongue-in-cheek, a brutal tale of horror and the occult that doesn’t take itself too

seriously. It includes romance, continental adventure, action, suspense, and dozens of vivid

characters from around the world.

The adventure starts with The Jakarta, an elegant cruise ship sailing the exotic seas

in Indonesia with a passenger list of ninety, unsuspecting people. Jane and her best friend,

Remy, are just getting know the rest of the small group of young twenty-somethings when the

ship is attacked by pirates. However, Leon and his band are not your usual pirates – they want

something else.

Jane and two male companions escape the horror, fleeing in a lifeboat. In their flight to

escape Leon and his men, they become lost at sea for weeks, are out of water, and have nearly

lost hope of ever finding rescue when they finally catch sight of land, a dangerous rain-forested

island that seems deserted. However, their fight for survival has only just begun.

They are not alone.

Fate is cruel.

They thought they had escaped, only to find they are caught in Leon’s Lair.

Rafflecopter and Giveaway info:

Vampires Need Love Too Raffle. Raffle dates – October 28 through November 10.

Here is the Rafflecopter link – sorry, WordPress doesn’t let us embed it:


One $50 Amazon Gift Certificate

One Healing Spa Bath And Body Products Therapy Gift Basket by Furniture

Creations Open this wicker treasure chest to discover a wealth of spa delights! Spoil

yourself with soothing skin-care enriched with the goodness of olive oil, avocado and


One California Delicious Starbucks Sampler Coffee Gift Basket

by California Delicious Slow down for a cup of soul-soothing Starbucks coffee:

breakfast blend, house blend, caffe Verona or Sumatra, complimented with a

sweet bite of biscotti.

One T-Shirt with “Vampires Need Love, Too,” your choice of size and color

Five copies of Leon’s Lair 6 x 9 paperback – autographed specially to you.

Four Leon’s Lair Coffee Cup with the book cover on it and it says “Vampires Need

Love, Too.”

Twenty Two Leon’s Lair Special Bookmarks


Hello. We are Lee and Gary Jordan and we are THE PHOENIX, a multi-genre author

team. As passionate readers, loving many different genres, we don’t intend to go with custom and

stick to one. We have several novels in the works.

We enjoy getting to know readers and other authors via the Internet, love movies, and

sitting outside to soak up the Southern California sun. We live in Hollywood with our crabby

tomcat, Snickers.

Lee wrote A Whisper from Eden, A Historical Fantasy. She loves research, but is not

always content with the way things are explained. She likes to turn it all inside out and wonder

what if? Gary is a third generation Californian, born and raised in Anaheim. He has always

had an insatiable curiosity about everything. As a writing team, they wrote Leon’s Lair, an

International Thriller/Contemporary Paranormal Fantasy.

LEON’S LAIR is available in Kindle and paperback versions on Amazon



Leon’s Lair video-

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Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon is his debut novel and the first of the Crescent Moon Kingdoms trilogy. Its very title declares its departure from the usual Euro-centric fantasy.

We read fantasy because we like unique worlds and engaging characters. Throne of the Crescent Moon definitely gives us the former, and it’s worth reading for that alone; though the latter felt slightly lacking. But for all its major issues, it is still worth the read.

First, the good. Set largely in the sprawling Cairo-esque city of Dhamsawaat, Ahmed drops his readers right in the middle of the action. Very early on you get a good sense of Dhamsawaat, its atmosphere, its culture and its history. Ahmed also does an excellent job of filling in the world surrounding it. Presumably this sets the stage for the latter two books in the trilogy, and I can honestly say he does a great job of whetting our appetites.

Ahmed’s superb world building goes beyond just his geography. This world is full of a rich, unique culture that seems to borrow from many aspects of Middle Eastern culture, but isn’t bound to any one in particular. From the cardamom teas the characters drink, to their formal and informal interactions with one another, the reader gets a good sense that these characters belong to a well-established society. Though it may feel foreign, it is definitely familiar enough to make sense.

Now, the bad, or rather, the characters. They are frustratingly one-dimensional and any growth they go through is both glacial and shallow at best. These people are quite adept at slaying ghouls and other vile things, but they lack dimension or any desire to grow as human beings. Much of their character problems are self-imposed, and while that is a perfectly valid growth arc to have, they don’t progress along that arc very far.

I’m verging into spoiler territory so I will try to tread carefully. That said, one particular character spends the entire book wallowing in self-imposed pity. He continually commits acts that go against his nature, then whines and mopes about having done so until he performs a different transgression a chapter or two later. This constant self-loathing and wallowing grew particularly annoying early on, and continued throughout the rest of the book.

I should preface this by saying that despite my dislike of many characters, the book is still worth reading. As annoyingly one-dimension as some of the characters are, I still found myself particularly sympathetic to some in the party- though their arcs too are shallow and suffer from the same problems.

That I had such a strong reaction to these characters is less of a problem with the book and more a testament to Ahmed’s ability to write. I recommend this book, if only for the world building and visceral prose Ahmed is so good at.

Review by Jason Toliopoulos

The Polaris Whisperer by Kenneth Gregory : Review

It is a dark time. For decades Hakon the Black, the most feared Norse Lord of the ninth century, has conducted bloody and gruesome raids throughout Europe, and laid his claim upon the seas. But it is also a time of hope. 

In the frozen wastelands of the north, Vidar searches for the Vestibule of Light. Alone, freezing and exhausted, he pushes on through the endless winter in the belief that once his quest is complete, he may return to the life he has left behind, and to Niclaus, the son he was forced to abandon. For Niclaus has a greater destiny – one foretold by Cado, the enigmatic Small Walker – and Vidar is but one player in the boy’s life. Cado has enlisted the help of protectors from all corners of the Earth to shield Niclaus: men whose worlds are connected by only the loosest of threads. 

But as Niclaus becomes older, and the various worlds begin to converge, will Vidar and Cado have to make sacrifices beyond imagining to protect those they love.

You open the book up to the first chapter and you are greeted by a man of many secrets, his name is Vidar. Vidar is a man with a shadowed past. He has a father that he dare not mention, a son that can not know the truth, and a journey that only he can fulfill.

Nicalus thinks he has the whole world figured out, he is destined to follow in the footsteps of his father and if the fortune teller is correct, he is destined for greatness. He lives in a small village with his father and his brother that he would do anything for.

Orrin is the son of the town leader and the brother of Nicalus. He is also destined to follow in the footsteps of his father and achieve greatness. I don’t see any issue there.

Alright now that the introductions are out of the way, it’s time for my thoughts on the book. I loved it, the book had action and it kept me thinking. (always a good thing in my opinion). The characters were likeable enough for the most part, that being said I really wanted to strangle a few of them at times, but that’s a good thing.

The book was not the easiest to follow at first. To be completely honest, I was lost in the beginning. After a few chapters though it clicked and I was hooked. I couldn’t put the book down. The way all the plot lines ended up coming together through time was brilliant. There is one major issue with it though: there should be more of it. I just finished the book and I’m already impatient for the next one to come out.

Review written by Joe Sprunger.

We received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch : Review

With Locke still suffering from the poison that the Archon of Tal Verrar inflicted upon them, Jean and Locke are still on the outlook for the anti-dote. Locke is going more and more gloomy while Jean is trying out everything he can to cure Lamora. Just when they’ve lost hope, they get a surprise they did not expect. It’s only sheer desperation, which will force them to take this job.

Previous two books were more or less stand-alone books. This is still a stand-alone book as in the story is self-contained but hints of a much deeper story start to emerge. Our two heroes (*cough*) finally meet someone we’ve only heard of in passing.  [I hear your brains whirring and conclusions forming. Most probably they’re right!]. And for this new job, they’re pitted against their most formidable foe yet.  Also the major backdrop of the story that is revealed right at the end is what we’ve just had guesses about. We finally get to know just WHO LOCKE LAMORA is.

As for the book as a whole, it’s a pretty nifty read. Fast-paced as expected from Lynch. With all it’s surprises and twists and the drama we usually encounter where con-men and heists are involved. But frankly, I was expecting something better with previous books being as good as they were. It’s a good book but it could’ve been better. Lynch uses that technique of telling us the backstory through brief interludes pretty well usually. [first two books I mean] But I found it was used a bit in excess here. Not because the back-story is not interesting. It’s fascinating. But because it breaks the flow of the story a bit too often for my taste.

The book is funny. The banter between the characters is witty. The clash between the Boys and their foe is tricky and even hilarious at moments. It’s great entertainment trying to watch Locke juggle his love interests with his work. One little misstep and it’s the jaws of death awaiting them. Just when he is about to make good on the former, you have a revelation that will blow your mind away and which sets up the foundation for the books to come very nicely.

There is one big problem. There is a huge build-up for the final clash. But I felt that trying to cram in too much of story in one book hampered it. The final clash is a bit of a letdown. The end had already been predicted by one of the characters. What’s more interesting is what happens after this clash. Just one word – “Bondsmagi”.

A big question throughout the series has been – Who is Locke Lamora? We don’t know anything about his family. We don’t even know his real name yet. All those questions are put to rest. I bet you can’t even predict it. Hell, even Locke himself can’t believe it. [Yeah, mull over that!]

As I’ve said before, the only problems I had with was the content of the story. It felt sometimes like too much was crammed into one book with every part missing out on the time it deserved. But then, it just might be me. Overall, a very fine book. Definitely will bring your back to read the fourth one when it comes.

 Review written by Kunal Garg

Republic of Thieves will be released October 15th


Guest Post and Author Interview: Tracy Smith, author of Cedar Hollow

author photo

Author bio:
I grew up in Southern California, but as a teenager moved with my family to a small town in Arkansas. It was there that I met my husband, who had also recently moved to the state. Fate brought us both to that same small town and into each other’s lives and it is where we remain today raising our two children and living out our happily ever after. As you can probably tell I’m a hopeless romantic.
I began my writing career in 2009 with the publication of my first novel Love’s Fate, which quickly grew into a romantic series. Since that first day that I sat down to write I haven’t been able to stop. Writing is my passion and has become a necessary part of my life. My new release, Cedar Hollow, is a romantic suspense novel.
Cedar Hollow blurb:
Cassidy St. Claire still wasn’t sure what she’d been hoping to find when she began the search for her birth parents, but all she’d uncovered was a bunch of death certificates and one ailing great-uncle who’d finally kicked the bucket last week. Since Cassidy is the last surviving member of the family that means his estate, a small seaside bed and breakfast in New Hampshire, has been left to her. An odd stipulation in his Will requires that she appear in person to inherit the property. Cassidy isn’t very hopeful that this weekend trip will lead to anything more than a momentary distraction from her busy life, and an excuse to take her convertible for a long drive up the coast.
She certainly isn’t prepared for Mr. Tall Handsome and Brooding; Ben Riley has been running the bed and breakfast for the last several years, and he is definitely less than welcoming. His instant dislike for her is staggering, but his penetrating green eyes burn with a dangerous mixture of hostility and attraction.
Within days of her arrival an attempt is made on her life and then another. Suddenly Cassidy finds herself trying to unravel the mysteries of the past, while outrunning the dangers of the present and finally turning to the strong, protective arms of Ben Riley and a future she’d never imagined.

ARamone: Do you have any projects you’re working on right now?

Tracy Smith: I’ve actually just started working on a new manuscript. It’s still in the very early stages.

A: (If yes) Can you tell us a bit about it?

T: I don’t usually sit down to write with a full outline in mind, instead I might have a character profile, a setting, possibly a “meet cute” and I just start writing allowing the story to reveal itself to me as I go. It may not be traditional, but that’s my style. So far my lead character has left behind a shattered life to take refuge at a southern plantation home where she will be staying as a summer caretaker. Enter sexy gardener ;).

A: What was your favourite part to write? Why?

T: The early stages of writing a story are the most exhilarating for me, as I get to know my characters and watch the story unfold. For me writing is a lot like reading, I can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next. It’s a very creative and exciting process.

A: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What’s been the best compliment?

T: The hardest part for me has been the process of trying to get picked up by a traditional publishing house. It’s a very daunting and sometimes discouraging task. I’ve yet to have a really awful review, the biggest criticism I think I’ve received is the suggestion that I use an editor. I took that suggestion to heart and stopped trying to edit my own work :). The best compliment that I’ve received in reviews is when a reader comments that they couldn’t put the book down. For me that’s the highest compliment.

A: What would you like your readers to know about Cedar Hollow or you in general?

T: One of my favorite parts of writing Cedar Hollow was creating the backstory. I had to sketch out a history for this family and give depth to characters who are no longer alive in this particular chapter. So much of that family history did not make it into the final book, it’s only referenced or mentioned when it directly relates to the current plot. But developing those characters was integral to my overall understanding of the family dynamic and helped in creating the mystery that haunts the main characters of Cedar Hollow. I’ve considered actually publishing a prequel to the story, so much of it is already written.

A: Which of your characters would you like to meet in person? Or, are there any that you’d never want to meet?

T: All of them! I love each and every one of my characters. I’ve spent so much time with them, learning who they are. They each hold a place in my heart.

A: E-reader or print book?

T: I finally bought a Kindle last year. Before that I was a regular at the local buy/sell/trade used book store. At first I didn’t think I would like an e-reader, but the convenience of being able to shop and purchase a book and start reading it instantly has hooked me.

A: Ever killed off a character and then later regreted it?

T: As I mentioned before I began Cedar Hollow with the premise that all of Cassidy’s family was deceased. But then as I wrote the story and crafted the mystery that haunts her I had to develop those other characters outside the pages of the novel, and began to feel sad that they had met such tragic ends. With the idea of publishing a prequel my only hesitation is that I know it can’t really have a happy ending.

A: What inspired you to start writing? Are there any authors that you get inspiration from?

T: It all started with an idea about formatting. I thought that it would be interesting to read a book written from two different perspectives telling the same story. This idea slowly grew over the course of several weeks as I imagined what the story would be about if I were to write it. Of course it would be a love story, perhaps the story of how two people met. The story began to develop as I went about my daily life; work, kids, etc. It began to consume my thoughts, to the point that whole chapters were written in my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Finally one Saturday while the kids played I decided to sit down at my computer and just put my thoughts into words. I wasn’t honestly sure how far I would get, but thought at least I could stop obsessing about it. Once I started I couldn’t stop. The story flowed from me, my fingers could barely type fast enough. Three months later I had written a full book. I was just as surprised as anyone else.

This is how Love’s Fate was born. It is the story of how fate drew two people together time and again because they were destined to meet. It is written in alternating first person perspectives, allowing you to experience each encounter from both characters POV.

Through this process I not only fell in love with writing, but also with the characters I’d created. I couldn’t let them go, and Love’s Fate became the first in a romantic series with two follow up titles Love’s Destiny and Love’s Chance. All three books in the Love Trilogy hold to the same alternating perspective format.

Cedar Hollow has been my first new project as a writer. New characters, new format. I went with the traditional third person narrative for this new book, and I’m very happy with it. My Love Trilogy needed to be written that way, but with Cedar Hollow I enjoyed the freedom of being able to break out of that mold.

With each book I feel I’ve learned and grown as an author, and I’ve definitely found my true passion. I love to write.

A: Finally, if you could be any flavour of ice cream, what would you be?

T: Pralines and Cream. It’s rich, sweet and a little bit nutty :)

Unidentified Funny Objects – Crowdfunding Anthologies

With the increased popularity in crowdfunding, opportunities have opened up for independent publishers to pursue writing projects that previously had been unfeasible. Today I’m going to go into detail about a project called U.F.O. (Unidentified Funny Objects). This project is fascinating to me because it merges several genres that so rarely seem to coincide: fantasy, sci-fi and the game changer, comedy!

For an individual who has never really read much comedy, this is rather intriguing for me. It offers a chance to read great fantasy stories that I am used to and love, only with a comedic twist. We’ve enlisted Alex Shvartsman to tell us a little about his anthology and what makes it work.

Alex was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding UFO2; his current campaign.

What made you decide to create this anthology? It’s a rather unique anthology in today’s market.

A: That’s just it — there is nothing else like it, despite the ample evidence that readers enjoy such fare. There are precious few pro-paying markets that are publishing humorous SF/F. This was frustrating to me as a writer who primarily pens funny stories, and I set out to fill the niche.

So this is the second volume in the U.F.O. series. I understand the first one was a Kickstarter funded project as well. What have you learned from the process and how have you improved since last time around?

A: One of the tough lessons I learned from the first time around is that crowdfunding is hard work. You have to constantly put your project out there, seeking out new audiences and reminding the people who might be interested but haven’t pledged yet that you’re out there. I spend over an hour a day working on various aspects of the Kickstarter campaign: writing updates, contacting bloggers and reviewers who might be amenable to promoting it, and communicating with readers through e-mail and social media. And that’s just during the campaign — the really hard work comes afterward.

Creating a crowd-funded project is a little bit like being a CEO of a publicly traded company. You make the decisions, but you are responsible to your shareholders. And while Kickstarter backers can’t fire me, they can certainly choose not to support my future projects if they are not happy with what their money helped create.

What type of comedy really works for you as a reader? Is there any particular style that is predominantly present in this collection?

A: I like a wide variety of styles, but am especially partial to sarcasm. An engaging character with a great voice who is approaching the world with several extra-large grains of salt will win me over, every time.

Having said that,I set out to collect a wide variety of styles for UFO. What works for me may not be funny to you, and vice versa. So I am looking for great stories with humor elements, something a reader can enjoy even if they don’t find it particularly funny. Based on the feedback I got, this worked for the first book. I don’t know anyone who loved every single story in it, but everyone I talked to enjoyed the majority of the content, and had a few favorites, which were different stories for each reader.

Without giving away too much, can you tell us a bit about one of the stories?

A: I’m very fond of the story by Ken Liu that will appear in UFO2, titled “The MSG Golem.” It it, God starts talking to a little Chinese girl who is vacationing on an interstellar cruise-ship. He instructs her to build a mini-golem and have it chase down the rats that are infesting the spaceship. This story manages to question the sensitive subjects of cultural identity and religion in a way that is wickedly funny but not offensive. The first time I read it was on a subway and I must’ve scared some of my fellow commuters by snorting/laughing into my Kindle.

Will these stories appeal to someone who loves comedy but doesn’t really read the fantasy genre all too much?

A: The goal is to offer something that will appeal to everyone. I want each story to surprise and delight the reader. A variety of voices, genres, and styles to keep things fresh and interesting. I happen to think it will appeal to anyone who enjoys humorous stories, but I’m biased!

I appreciate you taking the time to step away from your current Kickstarter campaign to talk with us today. I along with the team of Arched Doorway wish you and your anthology all of the best!

After having learned a little about this great project, I would like to encourage readers to checkout a crowdfunding site and consider being apart of these great opportunities to create something that is entirely new. I’ve always been a strong advocate of quality work given a new twist, and these types of projects are great sources for a breath of fresh air.

UFO successfully funded their first anthology, and now are on the way to doing so with UFO2. The first of the below links will take you to the campaign page.

Some projects I am currently aware of that I would strongly recommend you give a look and consider backing: – A great guy and friend of mine and the man behind U.F.O. – An interesting fantasy anthology — Take a look! – My own crowdfunding campaign for an anthology I’m co-editing, Neverland’s Library. (Expect a post about it in the next week or two; awesome things are happening with it — Tad Williams is writing the intro!)

(Guest Post) Space Unicorns: The Most Effective Author Promotion Tool… Ever!

So, this is something I haven’t actually done before, but have been thinking about starting for the past few months — having guest posts.

Today, I would like to welcome the author of No Return, Zachary Jernigan… He’ll be speaking about his rather unusual promotional tool — Space unicorns.



On the day I discovered that I’d sold my debut novel, No Return, I began thinking of promotion ideas. Maybe that seems a little too calculating, a little too market-minded — y’know, for an ARTIST — but I was excited about getting my book in as many hands as possible. For me, the whole point of writing the novel was to communicate something to people, and how could I do that if no one knew it existed?

Now… I’m not an Amanda Palmer fan. At all. But I do like her emphasis on creating a personal connection with fans, of letting them into your life. I’m not a private person even slightly; nor am I someone who takes himself all that seriously; and so when I think of promotion I tend to arrive at odd solutions that many might consider goofy, unclassy, or even embarrassing.

This is how I arrived at the idea of drawing space unicorns. I was on Facebook one day and inspiration simply struck. I’d just gotten a sheaf of art paper and some art pens from my sister for Christmas, and it just seemed right.

If you pre-order my book, I posted, I’ll send you your own SPACE UNICORN drawing.

My rationale was this: 

  • People like space stuff.
  • People also like unicorns.
  • People will buy my book for a chance to see those two things combined.

(And it went no farther than that, honestly. My book has nothing to do with anything even remotely space unicornish.)

The reception my offer got was immense and wonderful. At one point, I was drawing four or five space unicorns a day! I was loathe to part with a few of them, yet I knew they were going to good homes.

I know the enterprise wasn’t a sound investment monetarily — I’ve spent far more on mailing this stuff out than I’d imagined when I started — but then again I never looked at it as a money-maker. It was so much fun, I didn’t care that I was losing money. People got to see me in all my goofy enthusiasm, and I got to see them receive something truly weird from a hugely appreciative author. 

Every time someone posted a picture of their drawing on Facebook, it made my day — yes, just as much as when people started posting pictures of themselves with my book. It meant, I think, I hope, that I’d proven just how grateful I was to people for spending their hard-fought-for wages on something in which I’d invested so much of myself.

I made friends through a few of those drawings — which is the coolest outcome of all.

Sometimes, I get people asking me how sustainable my vision of promotion is, and all I can say is that it isn’t. But then again they’re speaking from a standpoint of wanting to be a career author, while I’m speaking from the standpoint of someone who writes rarely and has a day job. Having a book out is great, easily the accomplishment I’m the most proud of, and in a couple or few years I hope to have another come out…

But in the meantime? Well, I’m gonna draw a space unicorn for anybody who’s kind enough to buy my debut or post a review or just ask really kindly.

Why? Because a person doesn’t need a space unicorn, just as I don’t need a reader, but having space unicorns and readers makes the world a little more lovely for both parties.

MeZachary Jernigan is a resident of the US state of Arizona. He can be found at and Facebook and such.


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