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Monday, November 26, 2012

GUEST BLOG and Giveaway: Ron Hartman


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ron will be awarding signed cover flats for each tour stop and a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Please click on the tour banner above to see the other stops on the tour.

Where do Ideas Come From?

The Prophecy Chronicles: Prophecy Foretold was a labor of love for many years. For most of that time I didn’t even know what the story was going to be about, let alone the title or the main character. Like most of my story ideas, it started with a single kernel that took root in the fertile crannies of my mind, coming back to me whenever I let my mind wander. It all started when I was sixteen or seventeen, driving home in a snowstorm from a night job at a grocery store.

My family lived in rural Iowa, several miles off pavement on a gravel road. To get to that gravel road I traveled first from a wide paved highway (the “new” highway, even though it’d been there longer than I’ve been alive) to a narrow stretch of concrete with raised curbs and nonexistent shoulders (yep, you guessed it, the “old” highway), then finally to the meandering gravel path. Shortly after turning onto the old highway there was a series of s-curves. Alongside the road midway through these deceptively dangerous curves was a small field with a pond on the far side.

I was driving home in the snowstorm and as I came around the s-curves I saw the opening sequence in Prophecy Foretold, plain as day. I could see my car sliding across the road, crashing through a fence and rolling onto the frozen surface of that pond…only to have the ice break and send me into the depths. I remember shivering and thinking what a horrible way to go that would be! Fortunately I didn’t lose control, but that kernel took root and came to me often over the years.

Now fast forward a couple of years to when I was a senior in high school. I was taking a lit course that involved some creative writing assignments, one of which involved choosing one of a dozen images and writing a short mystery about it. I can’t remember any of the pictures except the one I chose. It was a black-and-white drawing showing a boy from behind. He sat on what looked like a flatbed train car riding rails along a raised causeway, water lapping along both sides of the pier. The car had a mast rising from the middle of it, a sail carrying it along the rails. Again, plain as day, I saw what that picture was meant to be: the ending of Prophecy Foretold. I knew the surroundings weren’t water, but rather a sea of acid, and the boy (but not a boy, a man) fled a desperate situation, the hopes of his people riding with him.

Just like the car wreck, this idea stuck with me, putting down seeds and flourishing in the darkness of my mind. It wasn’t until nearly fifteen years later that I finally realized those two ideas were kernels for the same story, that they would bookend my first novel. Where do ideas come from? I don’t really know, but for me they usually sneak up when I least expect it, blinding me with their clarity and branding themselves onto my mind. They are the vivid images that won’t leave, that come back to fill the silences at the end of the day. Sometimes they coalesce into a great story, and if you’re very lucky, into a series. Happy reading, and good luck with any surprising ideas that may sneak up on you and refuse to fade!

About the Author:
Ron Hartman has had a life-long passion for the written word and is an avid reader. The Prophecy Chronicles are his first written works. Ron graduated from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 2000 and lives in Ottumwa, Iowa with his wife and three children. Buy the books at;; Amazon.

An accident made him a savior. Now Daniel Marten struggles to find himself and a way home while the armies of Naphthali battle to control him.

These are dark days for Naphthali. The king has been murdered, the land invaded by the Imperial Army. It will absorb Naphthali into an Empire that stretches across all of EnialĂ© at any cost. The ravaged people cling to an ancient promise, an assurance that a Prophesied savior will come to set them free…Daniel Martin is trapped in a life that hasn’t gone as expected. His pharmacy is struggling and he is losing all hope of making a difference in his patients’ lives. His family is the one shining light in his disenchanted life, but he is torn from them when an accident draws him to Naphthali. The people need him but Daniel is driven by his need to return to the family he loves. Is he the Prophesied One? Only time will tell as both the Empire and the Resistance battle for Daniel while the fate of Naphthali hangs in the balance…

Wednesday, November 7, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Paul Xavier Jones, whose latest book Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus was released by Storyteller Publishing in October. The second book of the series will be coming out in December.

I asked Paul to tell us about his family.

"My wife is Mandy, and we’ve been married 23 years. We both knew each other in school, and if you’d asked us both then would we ever believe we’d be married to each other, we would both probably have answered that we were the least likely partners we could think of. My oldest daughter is Ameca (16), and the youngest is Fraya(12). The Ameca J series is obviously based around their physical and mental traits, and when I wrote them originally, for them to learn how to get along with each other! That never worked…"

He's currently working on a sequel to his sci fi thriller, Boundary Limit, which is called No Boundaries, and next year he will be writing the fifth book in the Ameca J series, which is as yet untitled. He's also working on a short story for a friend called "Tales from Talgarth," which is aimed at younger readers.

"What inspired you to start writing?" I asked.

"I started writing after a colleague came into my office and showed off his new book. When I saw it and read it, I thought to myself, there’s no reason I couldn’t write a book. My first book was dedicated to my late Grandfather, who raised me. I previously wasn’t very good at finishing big projects, but I knew if it was dedicated to him, then I would feel so guilty if I didn’t finish it that it would drive me to do it." This was in 2003 and his first book was published in 2007. He's written seven books since then, but with the publication of the Ameca J series by Storyteller Publishing, he told me that he considers himself "'more' of a writer."

In his opinion, the plot is important—it has to be believable and the author has to emphasize plot points so the reader remembers them and makes logical links.

"I also think it’s fairly important to use senses based descriptions to make the book came alive," he told me. "That means not only showing the readers what the characters see, but what they smell, touch, taste and hear."

The hardest part of writing for Paul is fitting it into his day job.

"I run two businesses which are service based and depend on my personal time, so trying to get writing in as well is really tricky. It usually involves throwing my laptop open on a train or in a café before I start work," he explained.

When he's not working or writing, he loves watching his local regional rugby team, the Ospreys, and their neighbours the Scarlets, as long as they’re not playing against each other. He llikes to read when he has the time, but apart from that, his weekends are generally spent being a taxi service for his kids.

"Do you hear from your readers much?" I asked. "What do they say?"

"I get comments mainly by Facebook, asking me when the next in a particular series is going to be written and released, or in the case of some of my fans, nagging about when it may be released, which incidentally is a fantastic feeling for a writer to have."

About the Author:
Paul Xavier Jones is a Welsh writer living in the Swansea Valley with his wife and two daughters. Xavier is his pen name, based on an old nickname.

Paul is and always has been an avid sci fi and fantasy fan, graduating from Marvel and DC comic book superheroes to the realms of Middle Earth and Cimmeria. Authors who have influenced Paul’s thinking and writing are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J R Tolkien, Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Boroughs, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler and more recently, Andy McNab.

His own work is Epic Fantasy (the Ameca J Series) and Science Fiction Thrillers (Boundary Limit).

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Reviews on Goodreads:

Teenage life seems vastly unfair to fourteen year old Ameca—or Ameca J, as she prefers to be called—always being pressured by her Dad to watch out for her stupid and annoying ten year old sister, Fraya. But when the girls are mysteriously transported by The Spirit to a dangerously different world populated by medieval Men, noble Elves, magnificent Dragons, and savage creatures, Ameca’s whole perspective has to change—and change quickly if they are to escape the clutches of an evil entity known as the Scelestus, who wants them for the magical powers they did not even know they possessed.

Their stressed out and overworked father, Paul is summoned by The Spirit to join his daughters in the mythical land of Mythrania, where he learns that they are “the One, the Flame, and the Flower.” They are the heirs to the legendary High Magi, Menindus, who foretold of their coming to save this world and their own…But this is no fairytale; the dark entity known as the Scelestus has a plan to harness the power of the universe and to completely dominate all life…Can Ameca and her family stop the Scelestus, and prevent a catastrophe that would see the enslavement of countless worlds, as well as the destruction of their own…?

Part II of the Ameca J Chronicles

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Blogfest: J. Gabriel Gates


Leave a comment to win a print copy of Blood Zero Sky.
J. Gabriel Gates: Fall Guy

You’ve got to love fall. Rustling leaves, crisp air, apple cider, Halloween, and the prospect of holing up inside in front of a fire while the world outside descends into the stillness of winter. To me, this is the most evocative of seasons, a time of emotional changes and transitions. Even long after an adult has left their school days behind, we are still filled with residual seasonal feelings: mourning at the end of summer, excitement over the start of a new school year.

I didn’t always get to experience the change of seasons. Before I moved back to my home state of Michigan, I spent three years living in Florida, followed by nine years in Hollywood. I was pretty sick of the cold weather by the time I moved out of state at eighteen years of age, but I soon grew to miss the changes in season. There was something especially strange about living in Southern California, where a seemingly endless precession of warm, sunny days was enough to make me forget that weather existed at all. I remember having phone conversations with my father in Michigan where he would say to me, “wow, we got a lot of snow last night,” and I’d think to myself: wait. It’s winter? In the eerie, unchanging, seasonless world of Los Angeles, time became a meaningless blur. Days bled into months and months into years, without anything at all to mark their passing. It was disorienting, and ultimately a little scary.

Perhaps that experience was one of the reasons I made the cycle of seasons an important thematic element in my new YA fantasy series of martial arts, magic and star-crossed love, The Tracks. Book 1, Dark Territory, takes place in the autumn, at the beginning of the school year. The Magician, the trilogy’s mysterious pseudo-villain, makes an appearance by coalescing out of a swarm of blowing red leaves. Book 2, Ghost Crown, features a dramatic cooling of the hot love story between the saga’s star-crossed couple, and the Magician sports a robe of icy, pale blue as he appears out of a swirling blizzard. Book 3, Shadow Train, isn’t out yet—in fact, I just finished writing it—but its pages feature a mighty effort by the story’s characters to reverse the bleak losses endured in book 2. Reunification and renewal are major themes in this book and in it, as you may have guessed, the Magician appears in a robe of tender green. Coincidentally, book 3 will be coming out in the spring, too. The book’s seasonal color themes are also reflected in the books’ covers, a request of mine that the publisher was kind enough to grant.

But that book doesn’t come out until spring. This fall, I’ve donned my new clothes, gathered up my pens, and gone forth like a giddy kid, excited at the start of a new school year. Except instead of hitting the books, I’m signing them— doing a book tour around the Midwest to promote my new dystopian sci-fi epic, Blood Zero Sky. The cycle of seasons may be unending, but some things never change. About the Author: J. Gabriel Gates is the author of the teen fantasy series The Tracks (Book 1: Dark Territory, Book 2:Ghost Crown), horror novel The Sleepwalkers and most recently, the epic sci-fi adventure Blood Zero Sky. For more information on him and his work, please visit his website:

You can also “like” him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter at @JGabrielGates.

Are you a writer? J. Gabriel Gates is now accepting a limited number of aspiring authors for mentorship sessions. For more information, click here:

Halloween Blogfest Matthew D. Ryan


A Woman Scorned

Alia felt a knife twist in her heart as her thoughts returned to that bitter, cruel moment. “I don’t love you anymore,” Svenson had said. “I’ve met someone else. We’re done.” He’d been firm and forceful. She knew him well enough to know she wouldn’t be able to change his mind. So, she had accepted the news with as much grace as she could and walked away, alone and into the night. Let him have his secret liaison with his new lover. Let him…

But she hurt. Badly.

And, truthfully, she wasn’t willing to let him go. At least, not without exacting retribution.

The moon hung high in the sky. A full moon. On Halloween. One of the most powerful combinations possible. She stood naked in the clearing, her breasts glistening in the moonlight, the steel knife glittering in her hand. Beside her in the cage, the wolf cub yipped in fear. She glanced at it, seeing only a flurry of moving shadows, then bent and opened the hatch. She reached inside and expertly grabbed the small creature by the scruff of his neck. Something he deserves, she thought before plunging the knife into the yelping wolf cub’s throat. The pup writhed spasmodically, then grew still. She touched her fingers to its wounded throat, painted three arcane symbols across her chest, then touched her fingertips to her tongue. Next, she began to dance, moving about the clearing in a liquid series of motions of swaying hips and gesturing arms. She began to chant:

“Neljiru, Lord of the Lake of Geziron, in the blackest pit of hell.
Master of a thousand forms, and the dark seas that swell.
Come to me, oh, Dark One, and deliver my wish to fate,
Curse the faithless heart with blood of the wolf irate.”

Finally, she took the lock of hair, his hair, a gift he’d given her many weeks ago, and lifting it up, scattered it on the wind. The many golden follicles flittered away from her, riding the wind currents into the unknown reaches of the night.

A shadow formed at her feet. A growing, cloud of dark mist that writhed and undulated like a tortured, living thing. The mist grew upward in the shape of a large black pillar. It sprouted wings, a head, arms and jagged teeth. Piercing red eyes burst forth. “Mistress,” the thing of evil said, “I’ve come to offer service, but you must offer payment.”

Smiling, she bowed her head. “Anything you require, my Lord and Master.”


Svenson gently stroked his fingers across the smooth, soft skin of Mia’s face. She looked up at him, eyes sparkling and full of light, her blond hair faintly glittering beneath the stars. He bent down and kissed her; she melted into his embrace. He felt his passion grow; his arms enfolded her. Then…

A far off keening pierced the night air. He looked up, and Mia shrank into him, looking frightened. “What was that?” she asked.

“Nothing,” he said. “A wild dog, maybe.” Then, the pain started. The full moon burst from the clouds and a great spasm shook his body. He staggered backward, agony lancing through his bones. Mia took a step toward him, then stopped, a look of horror on her face.

It felt as if his very bones were expanding; as if his flesh and sinew were a great muscled hand and his skin a much too small glove bursting in its efforts to contain him. He dropped to his knees, clutching his chest. His fingernails thickened; his teeth grew long. Tufts of fur sprouted across his body, and the last pieces of his sanity frittered away.

Then, all was a nightmare of slashing claws and shredding flesh.


Leave a comment for a chance to win a set of metal miniatures: A Classic Vampire Wars collection of two counts and slayers.

The author, Matthew D. Ryan, can be found on the Internet at:

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He is the author of the dark fantasy novel, Drasmyr, available for free at:

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Amazon: Drasmyr
Barnes and Noble: Drasmyr