Beginning January 1, 2013

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Win during our 5th Anniversary Party


We're celebrating our 5th Anniversary with a huge party -- where you can win $100 Amazon GC, $50 Amazon GC, and hundreds of smaller prizes:  books, $5 Amazon GCs and more!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

GUEST BLOG: Matthew D. Ryan

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Matthew will be awarding a package of metal miniatures of vampires/vampire hunters to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US/Canada only). Click on the tour banner for a list of Matthew's other stops on the tour.

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I’ve written guest posts before, and I’ve come to expect them to be a little more difficult than the posts I write up on my own. That’s part of the price you pay when the topic of the post does not originate with you. But this post, what my characters taught me, was by far the most difficult I’ve ever done. It’s not that I don’t look at my characters as evolving beings who learn new things as they go along. No, far from it. But normally it is the characters that do the learning, although after a certain point, the characters “take over” the writing and speak for themselves, coming to life to share their experiences in a way fundamentally unique to each one of them.

In my book Drasmyr, there are a number of protagonists. The three main ones are: Coragan the bounty hunter, Galladrin the rogue, and Regecon the wizard. And looking back across the story, the actions these characters take, I think one of the more visible lessons to be learned is the value of improvising on the go. It’s true, as the author, it may seem strange that I chose the value of improvisation for surely the characters throughout the story followed a plan that I laid down for them, and likewise, although I did a considerable amount of writing by the seat of my pants in this novel, I don’t think you can fairly classify the author’s work as improvisation after a dozen or so full edits. But the characters themselves? That’s a different story.

When I read and write, I get in the head of the character under discussion. Take Coragan, for example. Although I may have planned out his actions in exacting detail before I wrote a single word, what he experiences as a character is not so well predetermined, as he sees it. He lives in the moment; he doesn’t know the vampires are waiting for him at the castle, so he must act and behave accordingly. And that is where the improvisation comes in. I put him and my other characters in some tight spots throughout the novel. They survived only by relying on their wits. The fact that I planned things out in advance (in my head, anyway) is irrelevant. The characters needed to be quick on their feet. They’re trapped in a castle, being hunted by vampires, and have no way out but… the window. Coragan’s riding on a horse, desperately trying to load a crossbow when he is charged by an enemy and… the crossbow quarrel becomes a temporary hand weapon. These actions, when the characters used their wits, improvising according to the situation were critical to their survival. These actions shine a light on the creativity of the human animal in moments of stress.

I may never be in a castle haunted by vampires, or fleeing an army of frenzied wolves, but I will have moments of stress in my life. How I and others respond to that stress is important to how we deal with whatever situation we are in. Being able to think like Coragan, coming up with a solution on the fly, is the mark of a capable individual. Of course, such a trait probably can’t be taught; but it can be recognized. And the person doing that recognition can learn to profit from it, whether it be in business, personal relationships, or what-have-you. Learn to value the ability to improvise; improve it in yourself if you can, and recognize it in others when you can’t.

That’s what I learned from Coragan and the others.

About the Author:
Matthew D. Ryan is a published author living in upstate New York on the shores of Lake Champlain. He has a background in philosophy, mathematics, and computer science. He also has a black belt in the martial arts and studies yoga. He has been deeply involved in the fantasy genre for most of his life as a reader, writer, and game designer. He believes he saw the legendary Lake Champlain Monster (a.k.a Champy) once and he has a cat named Confucius.

Find Matthew online at

Author’s Smashwords Page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/matthewdryan
Author’s Book Page: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/131156
Author’s Blog: http://www.atoasttodragons.com
Author’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000038781652
Author’s Twitter Handle: @MatthewDRyan1 Author’s Goodreads Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/579148.Matthew_D_Ryan
Author’s Shelfari Page: http://www.shelfari.com/matthewdryan/shelf
The book is available on Smashwords and elsewhere for no cost.



We vampires do not make easy prey. Our weaknesses are few, our strengths many. Fear is something we do not know, and death but a distant memory. So tread softly, pray to your god, and gird yourself with silver when the moons arise and night’s dark prince awakens. We fear not the wizard, nor the warrior, neither rogue, nor priest; our strength is timeless, drawn from darkness and we know no master save the hot lust of our unending hunger. We long for blood, your blood and no blade, nor spell, nor clever artifice, can keep us long from our prize. Feel our teeth at your throat, your life ebb from you, and know as darkness comes to claim you that the price of your folly is your everlasting soul.

Monday, August 20, 2012

INTERVIEW: SELAH JANEL

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Selah Janel who is giving away a PDF copy of Mooner to one random commenter on this interview.

Selah is originally from a small town in southern Illinois. She loved that it was very friendly and town-oriented, but there were also lots of woods and open farmland around it.

"Driving along the highways around it you’d see trees forming arches with their branches and their roots and the undergrowth would be trying to bust through the guardrails, like they were fighting back against the town that was trying to tame it," she said. "There were all sorts of little rotting barns off to the sides of the roads and things that my little-kid self just ate up. I wanted to explore all of that and know what went on there! There’s something about having that kind of possibility to grow up around and that safety net of kind people that’s just brilliant."

Selah is finishing up the work on her next release In the Red, a kind of an urban fantasy story that takes elements of the fairy tale, The Red Shoes, and put it in a world of rock'n'roll. She's listened, of course, to a lot of classic rock and blues-based rock while writing it—Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Bowie, and Motley Crue. She's also really into instrumental tracks. When she's thinking about how her characters would act emotionally to a situation – especially if it deals with relationships – she’ll zone out to G Tom Mac.

She's found that In the Red has become much more of a personal story than she expected, emotionally speaking.

"There aren’t direct experiences in here but a lot of things I care about are in this story. I’m really excited about it and can’t wait for people to see it!, " she said. "I really hope that I don’t randomly get run over by a bus or something before In the Red comes out, because my research file for it would probably make people think I’m a lunatic. I’ve looked up everything from addiction and withdrawal symptoms, recovery for certain types of injuries, how to break satanic contracts, and I’ve hit up every musician I talk to to get a feel for what goes through their heads while they’re playing. The bar-none weirdest thing for this one has been where I had to track down what pitch the sound of a heart monitor when a person flatlines is."

Selah has been surrounded by stories since she was a child. She grew up in a small town where people were always telling tales on each other and talking about local legends.

"I’ve been really lucky to also grow up around some insanely talented professional storytellers, so I’ve been constantly immersed in stories on paper, at the dinner table, and as performance. From the time I could read my mother was very adamant that I spend a lot of time at the library and Reading Rainbow was always on when I was little," she told me. "I was always sending my toys on adventures and that slowly grew to using construction paper and crayons to 'make books.' It was a natural progression to just start writing it all down. Most days I feel consumed by ideas – if I didn’t let them out who knows where they’d all go!

"I’ve written for years and not submitted because I scared myself out of it. Last year I had a slight health scare that sapped a lot of my energy and made me think. Any day that a person’s alive anything can happen. I didn’t want to suddenly turn around and realize that I’d never taken a chance on something that could make me very happy. So I made the pact with myself that I’d submit as much as possible for a year and just see what happened. I wasn’t allowed to give up or get down on myself until that year was over. I’m perfectly healthy now, but that downtime gave me the kick in the rear I needed, plus the time to work on my writing while cooped up. I was hoping for maybe one acceptance letter – I definitely have pages and pages of rejection notices. But at the end of the day I surprised myself: so far I’ve had acceptances on three e-books, two stories for magazines, a story in an anthology, and a poem in an e-zine. You just never know what’s going to happen until you give yourself a chance."

Ray Bradbury is Selah's favorite author and has been for a long time.

"He’s so good at finding realistic emotions for the most bizarre situations, and his mind and thought processes have no limits. He’s a little more literary than current sci-fi and horror, but it works so well. A genre shouldn’t be all about the razzle dazzle; people should have to think and he drags his readers on some incredibly intelligent journeys," she explained. "There’s no doubt in my mind that anything he writes could be possible somewhere, and his passion for his subject matter just drips off the pages. His range is also huge – he’s so good at creeping people out or building outer space worlds, but he’s also written some incredibly graceful and gentle stories, as well. I’m always excited when I find a Bradbury title I haven’t read before."

I asked her what authors have influenced her.

"Bradbury made me realize that I can really let go in my descriptions and be as poetic or minimalist as I like and people will follow. Madeline L’Engle fostered my love of strong female protagonists. She really shows that you can have love and also be a strong person; there’s no reason to make one overshadow the other. They may not happen at the same time, but I feel like her progression of Meg is a great example of how to write a female protagonist and keep it balanced. I think Neil Gaiman’s unadultered passion for stories made me realize that it’s okay to love folk and fairy tales and to incorporate elements in my work. That may seem like par for the course now, but it’s not easy convincing people that readers will follow you if you do something like that. Usually fairy tale revamps or fairy tale inspired stories are saved for anthologies. He reminds people that all stories started from somewhere and it’s perfectly acceptable to love them and play with them. Clive Barker’s Imajica made me realize that a big scale isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s doable in a modern-day setting; it doesn’t have to be reserved for epic fantasy. Some stories need that time and build up, no matter what genre they’re in. The Sonja Blue series by Nancy A. Collins really opened my eyes to the horror genre. I wasn’t used to a woman writer being so graphic and badass. It really struck a nerve; some of her works made me downright nauseous or gave me nightmares. It’s powerful stuff and it made me realize that I want to be able to get that powerful a reaction from people."

About the Author:
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little when she wondered if fairies lived in the nearby state park and worried that vampires hid in the old barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either.

She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror but has a deep love of children’s and YA literature and can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane. She’s written two e-books with No Boundaries Press with a third on the way, and has had stories included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, the upcoming anthology Bedtime Stories for Girls, and an upcoming issue of Stories for Children Magazine. Selah also writes about gender roles in genre fiction and film for the online zine Fandom Scene.

Find Selah online at

www.selahjanel.wordpress.com
Fandomfest Column: www.fandomfestblog.com/blogs/selah-janel
FB: www.facebook.com/authorSJ
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SelahJanel



: Like many young men at the end of the 1800s Bill has signed on to work in a logging camp to earn a fast paycheck to start his life. Unfortunately his role model is Big John, the camp’s golden boy known for blowing his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and the lives of so many. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows, something that badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door or does someone have their own plans for his future?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

WE HAVE WINNERS!!!!

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Congratulations to our big winners for this weekend's festivities:

Winner of $25 Amazon or BN.com Gift Certificate---Barbara E who commented on CH Admirand's post http://lasrguest.blogspot.com/2012/08/anniversary-blog-fest-ch-admirand.html

Winner of $50 Amazon or BN.com Gift Certificate--Lisa who commented on Vala Kay's guest blog --http://aurorareviewsarchives.blogspot.com/2012/08/anniversary-blog-fest-vala-kaye.html

Remember that our scavenger hunt starts tomorrow (see our Anniversary Page for details on how you can win a $100 Amazon or BN.com GC!

Anniversary Blog Fest: Larriane Willis

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Humming Birds and Butterflies
by
Larriane Wills


I’m amazed that summer is almost over. Where did it go? Not on vacations. Who has time for them? My breaks from writing are short trips to the front yard when I take my dogs out and nearly always something I enjoy. Often, not every time because my head is too full of the story I left behind to answer my dogs, insistence they need a break, I think of the phrase ‘Stop and smell the roses.’

This last week walking out the door is akin to stepping into one of those animated scenes from Disney with butterflies floating across the screen. I don’t know what kind those inhibiting my yard are, don’t really care. They’re beautiful, oranges, blacks, and yellow, all different sizes. My butterfly bush, appropriately named, draws them in. They do share the space with the hummingbirds. Those fascinating little critters I could watch for hours. For their size, they are such militant creatures. Watching them chase each other off from the feeder I wonder how they ever manage to eat. I’ve nearly had hummingbirds in my hair on several occasions when they’ve been so engrossed in their battles they didn’t veer off until the very last foot to avoid a collision.

An added entertainment, on our short sojourns away from the refrigerated air and my computer, is one of my dogs has a thing about hummingbirds. Both my dogs are Maltese, a rescued pair I took when their owner had to move and couldn’t take them with them. Necco is the clown, but being nearly blind, I don’t believe he even sees the birds. Guy, on the other hand, takes their presence as some manner of invasion. Not like he could ever catch one, but he barks and chases them—as long as he can keep them in sight. They pop up into the air, hover, and stare down at him. Not sure of that white, noisy blob, no doubt not knowing the difference between a dog chasing aimlessly or a cat capable of springing after them, they fly off. He feels he’s done his duty in protecting the home land and trots off to bark at something else.

One bird, however, has the dog figured out. The feeder is at one end of the walk, the yard gate at the other. The bird, a brilliant colored male, takes off down the walk. Guy scrambles in pursuit until he reaches the gate. I laugh. Guy is at the gate barking in the direction he last saw the bird going. The bird, usually before Guy even reaches the walk, hangs a sharp left at the pine tree just beyond the gate, flies around the butterfly bush, and while Guy is at the gate barking, he’s sipping his full at the feeder. It’s the little things in life that entertain—when you’re not reading a good book.

About the Author:Larriane Wills, a multi-genre author, also writes under the name of Larion Wills. From science fiction to western romances she holds up to her tag of ‘two names, one author, thousands of stories.’

Born in Oklahoma, but raised in Arizona she feels a native to the state and has settled in the high desert country. In a quiet, rural area with a family who tolerates her writer’s single-mindedness, she presents us with unique science fiction and fantasy while under Larion Wills still produces western and contemporary romances, many laced with paranormal settings, all with strong characterizations and suspenseful plots capable of dragging you into a story in a genre you thought before you didn’t care for. At her website, http://www.larriane.com you can keep abreast of releases under both pen names, keep up with new releases through various publishers, and she invites you to contact her at larriane@hotmail.com

Larriane Wills AKA Larion Wills

two names, one author, thousands of stories

http://www.larriane.com
https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2
http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/

COMING SOON Bonds of Time


Judith gave up on the world long before those fools destroyed it. She didn’t run out of her forest looking for survivors, didn’t seek out those she knew of. She wanted nothing to do with any human until Garth fell out of the sky. He aroused one emotion she had left, curiosity. Where did he come from and how did he get there? Why did he have a perfect adult body and the mind of a child? What terrified him? To get the answers she must first educate him and then protect him from the survivors down the mountain, wanting a healthy, mature male to rebuild the human race.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Question about SFF

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What is your favorite theme in the SFF genre? Enquiring minds want to know!!!

RANDOM WINNER on LASR SFF Guest!!!

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Congratulations to nicki72182... the first random winner of a $5 Amazon GC... Nicki... contact us at lasreviews at gmail dot com!!!

Anniversary Blog Fest: Nancy DiMauro

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Unsticking A Snake from a Marshmallow Or What I Did This Summer
Change ruled the summer of 2012. In May it became obvious the law firm I was a partner in would dissolve on June 30, and I had three books (two short story collections and a short story in an anthology) slated for release. Add to this chaos two sons –ages 13 and 11 – with, as of yet, no summer plans, and the summer promised to be challenging.

As May turned into June, I had two weeks to decide whether to join the newly incorporated survivor firm, start my own firm or do something else entirely. Of course, these were the same two weeks when I received comments from my editor on the short story collections. Adding to the fun, my parents sold their house and moved across Florida, and my trial schedule didn’t leave me anytime to breathe - much less take a trip to help them move. Thank goodness my older brother lives in Florida and could (and did) take time to help them.

Before I knew it, the 4th of July had rolled around. My boys (you know, the 11, 13 and 43 year-olds) built a sail boat in our pool. No joke. They really did it. And I have the picture to prove it. The month passed in a haze of trials and office move hassles.

The dog-days of summer found us panting in nearly 100 degree heat and similar humidity. It also found us without camp plans for our oldest. So, one day, I was working at home to keep an eye on him. The night before we’d made s’mores with giant marshmallows. Sadly, two met their ends on the ground. Anyway, I was diligently working (no really, I was) when my son announced he was going outside. We live on a 5 acre horse farm and about 1,000 yards off the road. Going outside is just fine.

A few minutes later, he came back and said, “I think there’s a snake stuck to a marshmallow.”

This seemed to me a binary statement. Either a snake was stuck to a marshmallow or not. Also, snakes are large in the country and marshmallows are small. I was having a hard time envisioning such a spectacle.

Wary, but curious, I said, “Okay . . . show me.”

Sure enough, on our front stoop rested a half-eaten marshmallow with a baby black ring-neck snake stuck to the bitten side. The snake’s head was smaller than my pinkie nail, and the body as slender as a piece of straw, and about four inches long. Only the head was free, and that just barely. The rest adhered to the marshmallow. She’d probably slithered up to eat the ants crawling over the marshmallow, and gotten stuck to it in the process. Now the ants crawled over the candy and their would-be-predator.

Baby snakes are surprisingly springy. I’d tease her loose and she’d snap back to the marshmallow. Sigh. And snakes are not very helpful in this situation. I didn’t want to grab the snake for fear of hurting her. Using two sticks like chopsticks, I tried to peel her away from the confection. Every time I succeeded in getting part of her free, she’d wriggle (trying to free herself presumably) and get enmeshed again. Another interesting fact I learned is that once stuck to a marshmallow snakes are sticky. EWWW.

Hoping to dissolve the marshmallow goo so the snake didn’t stick to something else, I dribbled a little water from the hose onto the concrete slab. Dragging the snake through the puddle proved the concept. The back half of the snake, which I’d been edging loose with the sticks, came free. A few wriggles from her – man, she did not like the tepid water – and chopsticks moves, and she came free. We resettled her under the azalea bush, and watched her slither off.

Mission accomplished. And with that, my son and I decided it was time to go swimming and enjoy the rest of the summer.

About the Author:
I'm a mommy, writer, lawyer who lives on a farm with too many animals (according to my husband). Eleven years ago, I convinced my poor condo-raised husband to move from the city to a horse farm. He agreed because it was my dream. If I could clone him, I'd make a fortune. Although, he still gets testy when I call him "Zsa Zsa."

I was born in Boston, MA but moved to Virginia for college, and never left. I wish someone had told me that I could write professionally. It would have saved me a lot of years of closet writing. In my day job, I'm a partner in a small law firm based in the Washington, D.C. Metro area. My practice is mostly business law and litigation. I finally get to write after 9pm when the kids are in bed and the critters have wound down for the night. My life is hectic, but I wouldn't trade it.

Stories about characters that live . . . and love.

Find Nancy online at

Blogs:
www.nancydimauro.blogspot.com
www.fictorians.com
www.musapublishing.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/writernancydimauro
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kings_falcon

Friday, August 17, 2012

GUEST BLOG: RESA NELSON

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the author.

How I Build My Fantasy Worlds
by
Resa Nelson


I don't think of myself who's naturally gifted at world building, so I cheat by doing research on real-life ancient cultures and then I throw in my own twists and turns.

For example, when I started writing my Dragonslayer series, I knew I wanted the story to take place in a medieval-type fantasy world where dragons, ghosts, and shapeshifters are real. In fact, the whole thing began as a short story, so I felt stuck with the world I'd already begun in that short story. Even though I write mostly fantasy, I want my books to feel as if they could really happen – or maybe that they already have happened in some parallel world. I've always been a big fan of Viking culture, especially because women had solid legal rights. (In my opinion, the rights Viking women had were much stronger than the rights women in the U.S. have today.) I'd already been reading about Vikings for as long as I can remember, so I just delved deeper. But I also started thinking about Beowulf and read a few different translations of it. I wondered what would happen if some of my characters had a historical connection to Beowulf. My idea was that the story of Beowulf had happened about 100 or so years before my story begins.

To get myself grounded in history, I read history books beginning with the fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance. Then I dug up facts about what houses and clothing and food and other basic things were like in medieval Scandinavia. I didn't find a lot, but the little bit I did find helped. I also borrowed facts from other countries in medieval times.

But the best steps I took to build my world fall into what I refer to as “physical research.” Because my main character, Astrid, is a blacksmith, I took a course in blacksmithing. After all, how could I possibly write about a female blacksmith if I hadn't tried it myself? My experiences played a huge role in making decisions about the world I created, especially in the details of Astrid's everyday life as a blacksmith. Because she forges weapons for dragonslayers, I took courses to learn historically accurate ways to use medieval weapons at a museum. In other words, I learned the same techniques that real knights used in the Middle Ages. To my great surprise, I loved using swords! I joined the museum's sword guild and became a weapons demonstrator for several years. All of this experience helped me expand my Dragonslayer world in later books in the series.

But maybe one of the biggest things that helped me with world building is my love of travel. Whenever possible, I go to a country I've never been before. My intent is to learn. I want to understand the country, its people, its customs, its habits. My intent is to be open to whatever experiences come my way, good or bad. So when Astrid travels through different countries in the Dragonslayer world, I often drew upon my own experiences. For example, in Egypt I happened to meet a group of school children who were anxious to practice their English. After chatting with them for a while, a boy asked me, “Do you speak Arabic?” I only knew a few phrases of Arabic, so that's what I told him. Confused, he said, “Why don't you speak Arabic?” The more I thought about the boy's question, the more sense it made. Why DON'T I speak more languages? That influenced my novels in that Astrid doesn't have the knack for learning languages of other countries and often doesn't understand what other people are saying when she's outside of her own country.

So maybe if I draw so much from my own experience – whether it's physical research or life experience – maybe I'm not as much of a cheat that I think I am when it comes to world building!

About the Author:
Resa Nelson has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop.

Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Her first novel, The Dragonslayer’s Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award and was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine's first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer's Sword is Book 1 in her 4-book Dragonslayer series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was published last December, Book 3 was published in May, and the final book in the series is scheduled for publication in November.

Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended."

Resa lives in Massachusetts.

Resa Nelson’s links:

Resa’s website: http://www.resanelson.com
Free “mini” ebook of Dragonslayer short stories: http://www.resanelson.com/files
GoodReads giveaway: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/27323-the-stone-of-darkness
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Resa-Nelson-The-Dragonslayers-Sword/122200661871
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ResaNelson
Email: ContactResa@aol.com

Ebooks ($4.99 each) are available directly from Mundania Press at: http://mundania.com/author.php?author=Resa+Nelson (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10) Paperbacks are available from Mundania Press (use coupon code above for 10% discount), Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.



In Book 3 of the Dragonslayer series, Astrid accepts her duty and follows the winter route--until she's bitten by a dragon. Everyone knows dragon bites are poisonous and deadly, so she reluctantly accepts her impending death. In a twist of fate, she survives. Desperate for an explanation, Astrid believes she has somehow been protected by the black stone she keeps with her at all times, a stone that emerged from the sole of her foot a year ago.

Determined to find out what the stone is and what kind of powers it possesses, Astrid begins a journey that leads her to alchemists and an army of men under the rule of the powerful warrior, Mandulane, the acting lord of the Krystr army. Mandulane's mission is to spread the word of the new god Krystr, which preaches the evil intent of women and the danger they pose to all men, who are entitled to dominate the world. Rumors about this new god and army have spread, but Astrid is the first Northlander to encounter them.

Soon, she stumbles upon a secret of a far-reaching and mind-numbing plot that will impact the entire world. Astrid must find a way to spread the news of this threat and protect her people and everyone else at risk. She's convinced the answer lies inside the Stone of Darkness, and she must find a way to understand the stone and the powers she's convinced it must hold before it's too late.

Book 4 will be published in November 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

INTERVIEW: BRYAN K. JOHNSON

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Bryan K. Johnson, whose debut novel Yield releases next week. Yield is the first book in the Armageddia series and has already received rave reviews, including being chosen Book of the Month by our very own readers.

Yield originally started life as a screenplay, because Bryan thought the concept made for a very visual type of story. The act of putting the story together in a traditional screenplay format helped him visualize the scenes, structure the story, and tighten up the dialogue, but it also limited the emotion of the story due to how concise and formatted screenplays have to be.

"I received a lot of feedback from prospective agents and production companies that the screenplay was overwritten and just too literary. So I took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet to expand Yield out into a novel," he explained. "It took some time, but was extremely liberating to be able to flesh out how my characters felt and thought—how the fear inside them was palpable and crippling. It allowed me to really explore my own style of writing and create a much richer story."

He's currently working on the second book of the series and loves the direction it's going. The follow-up book explores a darkening world—one filled with revenge, retributioin, and a desperate struggle to find hope within the chaos.

Even at an early age, Bryan enjoyed sitting down with a good book. He was giving a boxed set of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy when he was in the fifth grade by a teacher.

"Even though some of the language was challenging for a ten-year-old, I really enjoyed the story and the amazing world of Middle Earth that Tolkien created with each word," he told me. "I read a lot in high school, moving into more science fiction and fantasy, enjoying everything from David Eddings and Brian Jacquez to more mainstream authors like Dean Koontz, Stephen King, and Tom Clancy. I remember as I finished up one of Eddings's multi-part series having this odd feeling of disappointment in the pit of my stomach that it was all over. Eddings did such a masterful job of creating rich and memorable characters that they lived on in my mind well after the last page was turned. I honestly felt a little embarrassed that a book could affect me so much. That day, my mom could tell something was bothering me. She looked at me, and very matter-of-factly said, 'Well, just write your own story then. Finish it the way you want.' She said it like it was such an obvious thing. I started writing soon after, first with comic book stories, then screenplays, and finally my debut novel Yield." One of his favorites is Dan Brown's gripping, page-turning style—Bryan read Lost Symbol in two days.

"Sometimes short chapters make things too choppy, but Brown does a great job of hooking his readers at each chapter break and making his stories really hard to put down," he explained.

The original title for Yield was Dark Horizon, because Bryan thought the name had an interesting and suggestive ring to it. However, a movie came out with the same title a couple of years after Bryan started working on the project.

"Even though it was a very different genre, my story was still a screenplay at that time so I decided to just go ahead and change it," he said. "I liked Yield because it wasn't immediately obvious, but had several meanings intrinsically relevant to the story. As a measurement of nuclear force, it has the power to destroy our entire way of life. And as a question of personal strength, it evokes a question as to whether our characters and nation will crumble under almost impossible circumstances."

Bryan does a lot of traveling for his job across the entire state of Oregon (he has regional marketing responsibilities for a statewide television group), so he takes his workspace with him in his laptop, iPad, and Bluetooth keyboard—ready to be powered up at a moment's notice in a hotel room or coffee shop.

"There are some great mind mapping apps and cloud-based writing tools out there for that platform," he told me. "Book two of the Armageddia Series is being written a chapter at a time from the iPad most days, and compiled back on my laptop. Sometimes things just seem to flow better on the iPad. Only one app can be onscreen at a time which helps block out other distractions. Usually when I'm writing, I'm also listening to music."

He's very busy with his day job—not only traveling, but working 50+ hours a week—so his writing time is, in his words, "scattered and chaotic." He writes when he can, while he also balances time with his wife and kids when he's home. While he was writing Yield, he was also finishing up a very challenging MBA program.

"Looking back, I don't know how I juggled everything," he confessed, "but somehow you just do if you're passionate about it."

His kids are now of an age where they are able to do a lot of fun things together as a family.

"Spending time with my kids is something I don't get to do enough of. Riding bikes, playing games— just being together is more important as I get older. Time is the one thing we can never get back," he told me.

"Do you ever suffer from writer's block?" I wondered.

"I think everyone gets writer's block from time to time. Some days the words are flowing and it's all I can do to keep up with them. Other days, they can't be beaten out of me with a sledge hammer. If I'm stumped, I'll jump to a different part of the story or take a step back and try to look from a more macro perspective. Is it a local issue or is there a broader plot, character, or flow problem that needs addressing? Looking a page or two ahead of where I'm blocked and working down from there I also find helpful because it reorients me back to the broader story and helps to show the problem area in context."

About the Author:
Bryan K. Johnson graduated from the University of Liverpool with an MBA in Marketing, and also holds undergraduate degrees in Advertising and Graphic Design. He's worked as a Creative Director within the television industry for over a decade, winning several Emmy, Addy, and Telly Awards throughout his career. He currently lives in Oregon with his wife and two children. Yield is his first novel, and book one of the Armageddia Series.

Find Bryan online at

www.armageddia.com
facebook.com/armageddia
twitter.com/armageddia
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15708430-yield



Ex-fire chief Devin Bane rises above the thick clouds for an interview in Seattle and the promise of a better life. Packing up his carry-on items for their descent into the city, Devin is blinded by a distant flash, followed by the screams and chaos of a crash landing.

Outside the plane's wreckage, a nightmare surrounds him. Seattle's iconic skyline is gone.

Searching for answers as he flees through the ruins, Devin and a handful of survivors are surrounded by the most primitive side of human nature. Plunged into the darkness of a broken society, their tattered souls are each tested by the horrors they face. Even if Devin can escape the city, a far worse danger now blocks his path back home . . . back to his family and the dawning of a changed world.