Beginning January 1, 2013

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Monday, September 17, 2012

GUEST BLOG: JOSHUA JOHNSON

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Joshua will be awarding .mobi copies of his short stories (details available at www.gunpowderfantasy.com/products) to one commenter at every stop. Grand Prize for one random commentor and host with the most comments: The Chesian Wars collection (all published 3 short stories and an additional prelude short story exclusive to the collection). Click on the tour banner above to see the other stops on his tour.

Raedan Clyve was originally going to be a much more upright and straightforward character than what he ended up as in The Cerberus Rebellion. One of my beta-readers told me that he was boring; he needed something interesting about him.

I spent nearly a week considering how I could make this character more interesting. In the end, he came to me with the answer: his path needed to go some place that I hadn't considered. When I stepped back and looked at where this path would go as the overall storyline progressed, I realized that this path could be the thing that prompted certain changes in this character that would make better sense for my plot.

So I remapped his plot and went through his chapters and reworked them to fit the new path.

I learned that where you intend for something to go, or how you intend for a character to be, isn't always how things turn out. Sometimes you have to send your character down the hard road for their own good and the good of the story.

About the Author:
Joshua Johnson is the author of Gunpowder Fantasy: The Cerberus Rebellion and the creator of the Griffins & Gunpowder universe. When he isn't working or spending time with his family, he writes novels, short stories and novellas.

He currently lives in Northern Illinois with his wife and young son.

Website: www.gunpowderfantasy.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/authorjkjohnson



One hundred years of peace and prosperity. War changes everything.

On the world of Zaria, Elves, magic and mythical beasts coexist beside rifles and railroads. The futures of two nations hang in the balance as rebels and revolutionaries trade gunfire with loyalists and tyrants.

Eadric Garrard was raised to believe that as the rightful King of Ansgar, his loyal nobles and fearful subjects answered to his every whim, no matter the cost or consequence. His decision to send his troops thousands of miles away will test that fear, and loyalty.

Raedan Clyve was ordinary until an Elven ritual involving a griffin’s heart turned him into something more. Twenty years later, he still struggles with the magics that rage through his body. His mentor holds him back from his full potential and he faces pressure to find a suitable wife and father an heir.

Hadrian Clyve has picked up where his father left off and works to expand his family’s influence amongst the Ansgari nobility. His aggressive negotiation of alliances and shrewd choice of marriage agreements has earned him respect, and resentment. When his King calls his troops to arms, Hadrian has other things in mind.

After a century of scheming and decades of preparation, Magnus Jarmann is ready to bring his family’s plans to fruition by launching a war of independence that will free his people and return his country to its rightful place among the nations of Zaria. The King’s call to arms creates an opportunity that Magnus cannot afford to miss.

In a war, little is held back; in a revolution, nothing is safe.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

GUEST BLOG: ANNE BROOKE

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Anne will be awarding three eBooks from her backlist to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

She's also offering another contest. One person will win a Kindle ($89 value) if these three questions about The Gifting are answered correctly and emailed to albrooke AT me DOT com (and NOT left on the post), and winners will be notified as soon as possible after the end of the blog tour:

1. In the beginning of Chapter Four, what sound is Simon first aware of when he wakes up?
2. At the start of the Third Gathandrian Interlude, who knocks Annyeke down in his desperation to reach her?
3. What happens to Simon at the end of Chapter Six?

The Secret Life of Canes
by
Anne Brooke


A major part of The Gifting, the first book in my fantasy trilogy, concerns the power and magic of a very special cane, known as the mind-cane. It’s a very beautiful object, made of ebony and with silver carvings depicting the world of Gathandria at the top. For that alone, the cane would be valued, but it also possesses the power to save or to destroy, depending on the mind and heart of its owner.

At the start of the novel, the cane belongs to the mind-executioner and, as such, is feared and hated across the lands. The mind-executioner is determined to use its magic to destroy both the city of Gathandria, where he and the cane come from, and also the Lammas Lands, where Simon lives. Because, unbeknown to Simon, his own mind has the potential to change the cane’s purpose to what is good rather than what is evil. However, his mind is untrained, and the cane’s pursuit of him is at times a terrifying ordeal, and one he must learn to overcome.

Looking back, I think I’ve always found walking canes a wonderful combination of elegance and usefulness, a concept of which William Morris might have approved. My stepfather uses one carved from local wood by a craftsman he knows, so it holds a lot of significance and does the job it’s intended for too.

Recently I was out for a day with a friend who currently has to use a cane as she’s twisted her foot. Whilst out, we met a lovely old gentleman with a beautiful stick which far outclassed her local health service one. It was black, with gold and silver patterns embossed on the top third. Apparently it came from South Africa. I loved it – and it was the nearest thing to the spirit of the mind-cane I’ve come across so far. I only wished I could have taken a photo of it, but I have to admit I was scared to ask as it might have sounded a bit odd. Even for me!

Anyway, you can find all sorts of wonderful canes at this website, though none of them are quite as magical as the mind-cane in The Gifting. Here’s Simon at a point where his companion Johan offers him a decision between a traumatic path to escape across the sky or staying to face what he believes to be certain death:

A roar and a flash of redness and pain as the last protection collapsed. The stench of meat and the dogs’ teeth came scrabbling through the flames. In his mind, the boy screamed at last, in a way he could never do in the flesh. With a groan that came from the gut and sliced through him, the scribe stumbled to his feet and stood, swaying, he on rock and Johan on air. Although fully clothed, Simon was as naked as he had ever been.

He caught and held Johan’s ice-blue gaze. For a moment, somehow, time stopped and everything became still.

“I am afraid,” Simon told him, as simply and clearly as he could.

“I know.”

“I don’t trust you.”

“Simon, I understand. Take one step. Trust me for one step only. But you must leave the mountain behind, or you will both suffer the death that is not true death. Come.”

Wild roaring, and then the pounding feet of the dogs.

Breath ragged in his throat, Simon covered his face with his one free hand and smelled the stale salt of his own tears. Then at the edge of thought, already infiltrating his mind’s frail barrier, the executioner’s triumphant cry.

The scribe turned. The enemy rose before him, a figure clothed in flame which did not burn. Pain cauterised his mind and he screamed. A flash of black and silver at the edge of his vision. He raised his hand to protect himself. The mind-cane flew towards him: a dagger, a bearer of an impossible death. He screamed again. Then everything fell silent. The cane brushed against his arm, the silver carving impossibly cold. A flare of warmth encased him and then just as suddenly vanished.

He should be dead. He was not.

The mind-cane lay at his feet, humming. Another scream, this time the enemy’s. With the astonishment of being alive his only thought, Simon wrapped both arms around the boy and stepped out with his right foot onto nothingness.
I hope you enjoy the read, and remember that even objects we think are safe and familiar sometimes have very different lives …

About the Author:
Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition.

She is the author of six published novels, including her fantasy series, The Gathandrian Trilogy, published by Bluewood Publishing and featuring scribe and mind-reader Simon Hartstongue. More information on the trilogy is available at: www.gathandria.com and the first of these novels is The Gifting. In addition, her short stories are regularly published by Riptide Publishing, Amber Allure Press and Untreed Reads.

Anne has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. More information can be found at www.AnneBrooke.com and she regularly blogs at:http://annebrooke.blogspot.com.



The mind-dwellers of Gathandria are under deadly siege. For two year-cycles they have suffered: their people decimated, their beautiful city in ruins. Their once peaceful life has descended into chaos and misery. Legends tell of the Lost One who will return at such a time to save them from their mortal enemy – the mind-executioner. This enemy knows their ways well, for he was once an elder of the city. Time is running out.

Johan and Isabella take up the quest, journeying to the Lammas Lands searching for their distant cousin and lowly scribe, Simon Hartstongue. The elders dare to hope that he is whom they seek. Not everyone shares this hope; there is one amongst them who is bound to the enemy, shielding their secret thoughts from mind links while seeking to betray Simon.

Powerful lessons are learned as they travel through the mystical kingdoms of the Mountains, the Air, the Desert and the Waters. Deadly attacks threaten total annihilation and devastating sorrow strikes. Story-telling weaves a tenuous net of protection around them, but the enemy has absolute power with the stolen mind-cane in his possession. To his surprise Simon hears its song. Desperately he tries to understand and embrace his gifting, as he struggles to comprehend his inheritance.

A strong and pure mind is needed in the battle to defeat the enemy. If you are branded a coward, a murderer and an outcast, how can you be a saviour? Doubt creeps into the Gathandrians' minds. Is Simon truly the One?
You can read an excerpt and purchase The Gifting in eBook and in paperback.

Monday, September 3, 2012

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: J.A. GARLAND

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes J.A. Garland, whose latest book Instinct, Book I of The Halfling Chronicles, released today. J.A. will be givng away to one commenter a monogrammed book tote, coffee mug and coupon for INSTINCT.

She's currently working on the second book in the Halfling Chronicles, which pursues the origins of the Halflings and the Shadow creatures who wish to control them.

"It also follows Slade, who tried really hard in book one to take center stage," she said. "In this book he gets full rein, and boy does he take it!"

The plot is the first thing J.A. works with and she has to sketch everything out to make sure she intertwine scenes and get the black moment just right. Then the characters that carry the story line come secondary.

"Sometimes, though, they don't like to play nice. They take that 'breath of life' and run amuck with my plot!" she admitted.

J.A. has a small desk that fits in her small bedroom—with two printers, one color and one black-and-white powerhouse.

"Sentences read differently when they are printed, did you ever notice that? So I like to print them out to make sure it reads exactly how I intended," she told me. "I also have a little divider/holder where I keep my hard copy working manuscripts. Sometimes it gets so full it tips over. In addition, my writing area must be as quiet as possible. I used to listen to music when I wrote, then I realized that the emotion of the songs carried into my writing. Which can be a good and bad thing. Maybe you didn't want flowery and lovey when you were constructing that fight scene?"

J.A. is a fulltime firefighter, working two 24-hour shifts, then two 12-hour shifts. She can't write while she's on shift and too exhausted after her twelve hour shifts to be very creative—so her writing is limited to the other three days, if she doesn't work mandatory overtime.

She's a dedicated morning person and gets up before the sun—around 5 AM and drinks a carafe of coffee. Then she goes for a run—she runs at least six days a week. Her favorite place to run is a nearby park with 500 acres of trails. While she's running, she thinks about the next chapter of her current WIP so when she gets home, she's ready to sit down at the computer and write.

"What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your books?" I asked.

"The support networks out there for authors. Especially the romance guys and gals. They are the most helpful and encouraging group. Any question from craft to publishing to marketing--they have the answer--and are quick to respond. I belong to several groups, and the willingness of those 'cyber' friends to come to each other's aid is absolutely spectacular."

When J.A. heard she was getting published, she had a 'closed door' meeting with her Division Chief.

"For those who don't know, those can either be a really good thing, or uh, a really painful thing. Turned out to be a good thing. He wanted me to know that because of certain clauses in my firefighting employment contract, it was in my best interest to use a pen name. But even without that, I would agree, it's wise to keep the two lives separate. So, the last name of Garland is just that, a pen name. J.A. stands for the first two initials of my name. 'J' is for Jennifer and 'A' is for Amy. You might ask, J.A. or Jennifer, what do people call me? Since I've been in the fire service for about 20 years, I've earned several nicknames. I'll share the P.C. ones," she said with a laugh. "When I'm being bossy, I'm called Captain. When I'm being tough, Jenzilla. Because I'm short, J-Lo, and when I'm just 'being', Jen."

As a firefighter, Jen has had several scary moments in her life.

"Luckily, I've been surrounded by a great bunch of well-trained professionals, so we've always managed to get through it alright. But if I had to pick a day/time when I really thought I was going to die, it would have to be a wildland fire in Southern California. Early on in my career, I kept a journal of events. Here is the entry from that day. It begins with a structure protection scene where my captain left the fire engine, and as a last ditch effort, was putting fire around the houses in order to burn fuels between the wildland fire and the homes. (To slow down the main fire by denying it food)."

As a wall of flame ripped down the canyon, I moved into the driver's seat of the wildland fire engine and put it into gear. I cursed my captain in one breath, in another I prayed like hell he still lived. My foot pressed harder on the brake--Jason and I weren't going anywhere without him. No matter if all the paint on the side of our engine blasted away from wind whipped fire whorls. Not even if a few minutes later all that remained were a set of charred black skeleton hands gripping the steering wheel. Our captain was coming back, and we were staying put until then. The radio was busy with chatter...the Operations Chief concerned with personnel and equipment accountability...one engine hadn't reported in their change of assignment acknowledgment. One engine--us. From overhead, the Air Attack Officer spotted our engine and called in all available air resources to douse us with fire retardant. Viscous stuff, it rained down from the bellies of a squadron of S-2's onto our fire engine, painting us pink. Never one to miss the fun, my captain picked this time to race out of the smoke and flames, a big smile on his face, feet slipping in the wet retardant. Worries, fears, and even anger immediately righted itself within me. We were going to live, and man, the stories we had to tell!
"Yeah, so you can see, I've always been a bit of an adrenalin junkie, something that carries over into my writing. For me, pacing is crucial, I like and try to write stories that balance depth with action."

About the Author:
J.A. is a full time firefighter in the state of California, an addicted trail runner, a connoisseur of all things cheese puff, and an author for BURST Books. When she isn't slogging through the obstacles at a mud run, you can find her hunched over her computer unleashing demons, vampires and werewolves upon the world.

Find J.A. online at

Website: www.jagarland.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jagarlandurbanfantasyauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/J_A_Garland

Buy the book for your Kindle



Lone wolf, Rory Archer, never failed a single mission. Finding himself now the hunted instead of the hunter, Rory unwinds a twisted trail leading back to Amber Arlington, a spirited Halfling tied to a world of Shadows. Bound to vows initially forged out of necessity, Rory and Amber's relationship surges into more than either of them bargained for, tangling them in a web of passion. Scrambling to identify their attacker before joining the casualty list, Rory is faced with doing the unthinkable, or watching Amber turned into a slave for his species. In the battle against Shadows, demons and all variety of monsters come out to fight. Can one wolf learn to trust in time to save them all?