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Spotlights for Other Writers

This page has the spotlights and interviews for other writers. These were all resurrected from my now defunct blog. Check out the news on the works other writers have done. Unfortunately, when I downloaded the blog, the pictures didn't survive.  

Wiggle Worm's Shape Adventure Spotlight

Today's book spotlight is Wiggle Worm's Shape Adventure, a book about shapes for beginning readers written by Kathy and Karen Sills and illustrated by Virginia Jennings. Here's what the characters have to say about it!

"Hello, I'm Wiggle Worm, and I live in the children's book Wiggle Worm's Shape Adventure. I was created by two twins named Kathy and Karen Sills. Virginia Jennings made me and all my friends come to life with her colorful illustrations. I am shy and very insecure. I'm suppose to find six shapes for school, but my insecurity gets in the way. My friends and my Mommy comes to the rescue."

"Hey there, I'm Black Crow, I am Wiggle Worm's feathered friend. When I see that he is in need of help I come flying, ready to lend a helping hand. I'm out going and always on the look out for an adventure."

"HELLO! I'm Tiny Ant, excuse me for yelling, but I talk loud so I can be heard. I may be small, but I have a big heart, and I love helping my friends out. I'm slow when I get around, but I'm fast when I see a friend in need."

"Hi, everyone, I'm Flounder Fish, I am a large bass fish and happy when I am splashing in the river. I love to sing songs as I float down stream. In fact, I helped my friend Wiggle Worm find a shape by singing a song."

"Yo, I'm Chester Squirrel, I love to eat acorns. I live in a big oak tree. I enjoy chatting with my friends, in fact, I've been told that I talk too much. All my friends loves to hang out underneath my tree, I talk and they listen, but we are always there for one another."

"Bow-wow, I'm Shaggy Dog, I eat a lot of dog biscuits, and when Wiggle Worm needs a shape I shared one with him. I'm lazy and care free. I have a sunny disposition, and love all my friends."

"I'm Wiggle Worm's Mommy. I am so proud to have a son like him. He makes me smile when I am sad, and fills me with joy. I am so happy to be able to give my baby his very last shape."

"It's me, Wiggle Worm again. Now that you have met my friends and Mommy we hope that you will buy our book and read all about the shapes my friends and Mommy help me find. See you soon!"

Dragon Shield Spotlight - The Excerpt

Dianne Gardner's second book in the Ian's Realm series has been released! Dragon Shield continues the adventures of Ian Wilson as he goes back into the computer realm to find his father. Here's a excerpt from the book.

"What do you know about your sister’s shield?”

Ian shut down the computer. “What do you mean?”

“She says it’s magic. What do you know about that?

“You mean the shield she just made, her dragon shield? I don’t know. She says she got the idea from her friends.” Brad shrugged.

“School friends?” Ian spoke softly, hoping to sound casual, but his inquiry was anything but random.

“Nah,” Brad laughed. “I don’t think so. I think they’re imaginary. She’s kind of mental.”

“Imaginary?” Ian asked. “How’s that?”

“Well, I don’t know. Maybe they’re really there. Sometimes I hear voices outside, like a bunch of girls out in her fort, but I never see anyone except Elisa. I can never figure it out,” he shook his head. “Unless she’s a ventriloquist of some sort. You know kids these days. I know she talks to herself.”

Ian didn’t say anything but it struck a harmonious chord in the symphony of his thoughts. Elisa does know the Kaempern children. They taught her how to make a magical shield just like theirs. Perhaps they wanted a spare shield here for safekeeping because of the war.

With a shove of his knees, the desk chair rolled back slightly as Ian rose and walked to the kitchen to refill his coffee cup.

“Why?” Brad asked.

Ian cringed; he probably shouldn’t have said anything. The boy was too inquisitive.

“Why do you want to know about her shield? Do you think it’s magic?”

Ian laughed quietly, “I have no way of knowing something like that.”

Brad’s eyes lit up. “You believe in magic though, don’t you? You just admitted it. Heck, I bet you more than believe in magic. You practice it, don’t you? Going into another world, and all.” He jumped up. “Wow. Do you think her magic shield has something to do with the Realm?”

Dragon Shield Spotlight - Blurb and Bio

This installment of the Dragon Shield spotlight will give you some info about the writer and the work.

About the book...

"Integrity isn't something you do, it's who you are," Aren tells the confused Ian in The Dragon Shield.

Now a young man, Ian returns to the magical Realm to fight against the tyranny that has befallen his friends. But the Realm is a different place, the forest is dying, the Kaemperns have lost the shield that protected them from the dragon, and Ian has a hard time proving his allegiance when trouble follows him through the portal. His struggle to do right buries him in confusion, and he must fight his own will to prove his integrity. The Ian's Realm Saga is filled with sorcery, wizards, magic, and fantasy adventure, great for young readers and the entire family.

About the author...

Dianne Lynn Gardner The Pacific Northwest is my home. After living in the dry desert of Arizona for over 23 years, I tired of always praying for rain, so I decided to come and get it on my own. Gray skies and deep forests give way to the most glorious summers you could ever imagine. Not to mention the abundance of berries, clams, oysters, salmon, fruits of all kinds, to me the Puget Sound area of Washington is the richest place in the world. I have seven children, all grown. Sixteen grandchildren that need stories written, and so they are my inspiration. People always find it fascinating that I lived in a mud house for over 13 years, hauling water from the well in a bucket, cooking on a wood stove, planting blue corn in desert washes, and generally living out of the box. Some of these experiences are tapped into my novels.

A Chimerical World: Visit with the Editor

Scott Sandridge, editor for A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court joins us today to answer some questions about editing such a large anthology. I have a particular interest in this book, since one of my own stories, "The Last Mission," appears in it. 

1. Where did the idea for A Chimerical World come from?

When Stephen asked me if I’d like to edit a themed anthology for Seventh Star Press, I pitched a few ideas his way, and a faerie themed anthology was one of them. Originally it was going to be one anthology of faeries, but I received so many good stories that I just had to keep. So we decided to split the A Chimerical World anthology into two volumes: Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court. I always liked stories about faeries, so I thought an anthology of such stories would be fun to put together. And, judging by how big the slush pile got, a lot of writers were just aching to write such stories.

2. Did you come across any surprises while editing this anthology?

I discovered the hard way that in the process of formatting from Word to PDF/ebook to print, endings have a bad habit of disappearing on you. Don’t you love technology? Lol! All the problems got fixed of course. :)

3. What’s the greatest challenge involved in editing the anthology?

When you get to the point where you have to decide which good stories to keep and which good stories to reject, that’s the hardest part of the process. Even after dividing the anthology into two volumes there were still stories I had to say no to; otherwise, each anthology would’ve been over 600 pages if not bigger.

4. What was the best part about editing the anthology?

All the great stories I got to read, and interacting with so many awesome writers.

5. Do you have plans for a future anthology?

Perhaps. Who knows? A Chimerical World might end up becoming a series of anthologies. ;)

6. Are the stories arranged in a particular order (such as genre or chronology)?

I placed stories that had a mysteriousness about them or introductory-ish at the front, filled up the middle with stories involving Fey interacting with humans, and near the back I placed the stories of Fey interacting with other Fey as well as stories about Fey that skirt the borders between the two Courts.

7. Are there any recurring themes among the stories?

No, just faeries, and the themes that tend to be common among stories about the Fey.

8. What genres were involved in this anthology?

Everything from fantasy to fairy tales to science fiction and horror, and even cyberpunk.

9. What constitutes a “good story?”

A story that maintains your interest from start to finish and leaves you thinking about things you might have never thought about before—or just pulls on your heart strings.

10. Is there one particular genre you prefer?

Fantasy, especially when mixed with a little horror.

11. Which Muppet are you most like?

Oscar the Grouch.

12. What question do you wish I’d asked? (… and what’s the answer to it?)

How many pixies does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, because pixies don’t need light bulbs.

13. Where can folks find you on the web?

Somewhere between Shelob and Lolth—oh wait, wrong web.

A Chimerical World: Synopsis & Contents

The Fey have been with us since the beginning, sometimes to our great joy but often to our detriment. Usually divided (at least by us silly humans) into two courts, the first volume of A Chimerical World focuses on the Seelie Court: the court we humans seem to view as the "good" faeries. But "good" and "evil" are human concepts and as alien to the Fey as their mindsets are to us. Inside you will find 19 stories that delve into the world of the faeries of the Seelie Court, from authors both established and new, including George S. Walker, Eric Garrison, and Alexandra Christian. But be warned: these faeries are nothing like Tinker Bell.

Stories Included in Tales of the Seelie Court:

"Extra-Ordinary" by BC Brown

"Dead Fairy Doormat" by George S. Walker

"Taggers" by Christine Morgan

"Wormwood" by Alexandra Christian

"The Harpist's Hand" by Steven S. Long

"Sanae's Garden" by Chantal Boudreau

"Mark of Ruins" by SD Grimm.

"Birdie's Life at the School for Distressed Young Ladies" by JH Fleming

"Cultivated Hope" by Jordan Phelps

"Seelie Goose" by Eric Garrison

"I Knocked Up My Fairy Girlfriend" by Brandon Black

"The Body Electric" by Sarah Madsen.

"The Last Mission" by Cindy Koepp.

"The Beggar-Knight & the Lady Perilous" by Matthew A. Timmins.

"The Filigreed Lamp" by Edward Ahern.

"Keys" by Michael M. Jones

"Like a Sister in the Proper Court" by Lisa Hawkridge

"Gnome Games" by Saera Corvin

"The Goat Man's Garden" by Marten Hoyle

Awesome Jones

My name is Julia and I grew up in Philly with my mom and my sometime-stepdad. Then I ran away. I hitched to Sea City and Chicago. I got waitressing work in Queen’s Town and, for a while, I was a box jumper a magic show in a run down old carnival town in Florida. That’s where the Scouts found me. I’ve been here in Arc City ever since. The Guild put me to work and I can’t say it’s too bad but I wish I could be doing more. My power is unique, but it’s all I have. These people--the people upstairs--seem to cherry pick their active Agents. I heard rumors that it used to be different. That is used to be that, if you wanted to be a Cape, and you had a powerful ability, you could just do it. Now, it’s different. Maybe there are too many of us. Maybe too few. I’ve made a friend here at least--Roy. He feels the same way, I think. It’s hard to get Roy to talk about how he feels about himself, or any of this, or me. But I like him. He’s a little moody but I like him. And I do get to see a lot of the Agents when they come in from the field. It used to be that, aside from Captain Lightning, only Agent-Errants and Agents prepping for missions hung around here but now there are more and more. Every day I see them. Capes from all over the world. Pisces. Combustible Constable. The Gray Griffon. I don’t know why they’re suddenly all hanging around but it’s pretty cool. I don’t really talk to them. I take their orders. I bring their meals. I smile and try not to mess up, and the whole time I feel like I ought to be out there doing more. Like I could be doing more, you know? Like maybe, I mean maybe not right now, but maybe someday I could be an Agent too.

About the Author:

Born and raised in Appalachia, AshleyRose Sullivan has a BS in Anthropology and an MFA in Creative Writing. She lives, writes and paints in Los Angeles with her husband and their many imaginary friends.

Book Synopsis Awesome Jones:

The only thing Awesome Jones wants is to be a super hero. Until he falls in love. Despite his colorful name, Awesome Jones is a painfully average man who dreams of being a super hero, just like the ones who patrol his city. It's been that way since he was a little boy, raised by his grandfather after his parents' death. The day Jones starts his new job as a file clerk at Akai Printing Company he meets secretary Lona Chang and everything changes. Lona sees something in Jones that no one ever has and the two quickly become inseparable. But when the perfect pair's domestic bliss is threatened by a super-powered secret from the past, Awesome Jones has to make a choice. He must decide whether he should play it safe or find the strength to live up to his name and risk everything he's come to love to save the day like he always dreamed.

Hero's Best Friend

Today, , the editor of Hero's Best Friend, shares some insights into the importance of animals in our lives. Take it away Scott!

Down through the ages certain qualities have always been associated with heroes: integrity and honor, perseverance, a willingness to defy tradition when necessary, and self-sacrifice for a cause or to save another person. Not all heroes share every quality, but they at least demonstrate a couple of the above. It is also no accident that the images of animals have always been used as symbolic ways to express these qualities, for such virtues are embodied in the very core of most animals. Mules are stubborn, cats are independent and rebellious, dogs and wolves are loyal to a fault, and eagles have always been a symbol of freedom and honor. Since the dawn of humanity, we have noticed and sought after the qualities we’ve seen inherent in the animals around us, so much so that many cultures even anthropomorphized the images of their gods with animal heads or by having them take the shape of certain animals in their myths. Much of Eastern martial arts originated from the observations of how animals moved, stalked, hunted, evaded, and fought. Indeed, without our desire to aspire to the noble qualities of the animals around us, human civilization probably would not have evolved in the way it did. We humans have a symbiotic relationship with our animal companions, whether it be pets like cats and dogs, work animals like horses and oxen, or the animals we rely on for survival like hens and cows. How we treat such animals and whether or not we look the other way when such animals get mistreated says as much about us as how we treat each other. For the divine spark resides in all sentient beings regardless of the forms they take or their level of consciousness, and they will continue to be the instinctual heroes we aspire to be.

About the editor:

Scott M. Sandridge is a writer, editor, freedom fighter, and all-around trouble-maker. His latest works as an editor include the Seventh Star Press anthologies Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, and the two volumes of A Chimerical World, Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court.

Book Synopsis for Hero’s Best Friend:

How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too! Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice-from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long. Whether you're a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you! So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero's Best Friend.

Featured in Hero's Best Friend:

An Anthology of Animal Companions:

Joy Ward: "Toby and Steve Save the World"

Frank Creed: "Dusk"

Cassie Schau: "The Hunter's Boy"

Steven Donahue: "Grit"

Jason Cordova: "Hill 142"

Herika R. Raymer: "Dook"..

Essel Pratt: "Brothers".

Lisa Hawkridge: "Ezra's Girl".

S. H. Roddey: "Look What the Cat Dragged In."

Steven S. Long: "The Wolf Sentinel"

Laura Anne Ewald: "Memorandum"

Cindy Koepp: "The Hat".

Ian Hunter: "Scarheid in the Glisting".

Steven Grassie: "The Masterless".

David Wright: "Wind of Change"

Renee Carter Hall: "The Emerald Mage"..

Nick Bryan: "The Violet Curse"..

Lillian Csernica & Kevin Andrew Murphy: "The Restless Armadillo".

Douglas J. Ogurek: "Stuck on the Squigglybounce"

Sheila Deeth: "Passage"

The Shaughnessy File

Welcome to the 3rd District in New York City where pumpkins become limos and corporations are kingdoms in this modern take on classic faerie tales.

Trouble starts in the Shaughnessy household when youngest daughter Aenya starts dancing her way through her shoes every night—without ever leaving her room! She keeps her double life a secret from all the men who try to find the truth, but then private investigator Hiro Michaels arrives on the scene. Can she find a way to have her dreams and her love all at the same time?

Kienan Shaughnessy throws his dreams of a musical career on a wild gamble that takes a detour once he meets plain nightingale Madelyne Winters. The young innkeeper has been burned by love and cursed by hate, and she can't trust anyone as beautiful as swan-like Kienan. Can he teach her to sing a love song before it's too late?

Eldest sibling Taegan Shaughnessy unexpectedly gets a new pair of glass slippers as he pines for a princess out of his reach. Station and impropriety alike threaten to keep Kalliope Tavoularis from having the man she loves, but this princess won't take anything lying down. Can some help from an unlikely faerie godmother stop the clock from striking midnight forever?

Mel Shaughnessy is the wild-spirited beauty of the household. Though as smart as he is handsome, his college grades have plummeted past the point of no return. His only hope is the university's tutor: a woman nicknamed 'the beast'. Audra Alexandros has no sympathy, and no graces, and yet there's something about this lone wolf that Mel finds himself helplessly drawn toward. Can the beauty win the beast and close the file on the Shaughnessy Family for good?

About the Author:

Etta Jean was made in England but born in Sacramento, California. Her destiny as a bard was somewhat inevitable. Little else can explain how she constantly told her mother tall tales so outlandish that she couldn't even get grounded for them. A love of worlds created by others eventually brought out the desire to create her own, and she has never looked back. She has seen both good and evil in her life, and her stories, like life, have no half measures. Her happy endings never come without cost, though, for she truly believes we can't appreciate the good and the joy without the bad and the pain along the way.

A New Threat by Aaron DeMott

A few years ago, I answered a call for beta readers. A beta reader is someone who will read a novel's early, barely edited final draft and provide feedback on everything from plot and character arcs to grammar and spelling. Betas often do continuity checks, as well, to do things like make sure a character with black hair in chapter 1 doesn't suddenly turn ginger in chapter 10 without a visit from Miss Clairol. The tale was cleverly done, and it held my interest. Sure, it had a few gaffes. At that stage, no story is perfect, but it was very well-constructed. I've been waiting for the final, published version since then. AltWit Press will be releasing it on April 21, and I'm very curious to see how editing improved an already stellar story (all puns intended).

A simple diplomatic mission becomes a life and death struggle that could plunge the entire galaxy into a war... When an alien ship lands unexpectedly in the middle of her clan's territory, Bast is sent to investigate as part of her scout trial. After an accident, she meets these new visitors. She and her senior scout Rrrark are invited to return with the aliens to their home planet to open diplomatic relations. What started out as a simple mission becomes complicated when they discover a pirate scheme that might be more than it seems. Are Bast, Rrrark, and two of the aliens called Psygens capable of stopping the pirates?

Watch this space. When it releases, I'll shout it out to the world!

So, tell me about Psygens…

IDNN: Hello! This is Ella Font of the Inter-Dimensional News Network. I'm here today with Psygen Tomed Nor. Tomed, how are you today.

TN: A little tired, but other than that, okay.

IDNN: For our other-dimensional viewers, can you explain what a Psygen is?

TN: Well, [shifts in his chair] in the past, we've been trying to downplay our differences from normal humans, but what with the recent smear campaign we've been trying to be more open.

IDNN: For our other-dimensional readers, a local xenophopic group recently broadcast an op-ed piece accusing the Psygens of being secret alien overlords, among other equally heinous accusations. Is there any truth in that piece?

TN: Well, any good lie has a kernel of truth. Psygens do live much longer than the average human, and we do have some limited abilities that some people could exaggerate into superpowers, but we're not aliens, we don't torture people, we don't control every decision made by the United Galactic Alliance, and we try very hard not to abuse our position.

IDNN: And what exactly is that position, some say you're guardians of humanity. Others say you're overseers . How do Psygens view themselves?

TN: Our role has changed over time. Originally, our job was to enforce the peace, make sure no one nation annihilated another. Over time, our role grew into an oversight position, a neutral third party that looked over treaties, laws, and other global government activity to make sure no one side was oppressing or cheating anyone else. I am happy to report that our services in that area have become a lot less necessary lately, and we've been cutting our own role back.

IDNN: Will the Psygens completely separate themselves from humanity?

TN: Well, we still think of ourselves as human, or at least in the human family. We'll still be around to help, but our goal is to form our own colony, and participate with UGAL as a member planet, stepping in only when asked.

IDNN: What can you tell me about Alkask?

TN: Beautiful planet. The natives have taken pains to keep a natural look to the whole planet.

IDNN: and the native beings on the planet?

TN: The Meskka are unique in a few ways. For one, they're the only alien species we've found that resembles any Earth lifeform. They look a lot like a tiger, only with coat colors from all sorts of earth cats. As a people, they're cautious, but peaceful, and very curious.

IDNN: in your opinion, do they pose a threat to humanity?

TN: [laughs] That's what they asked me about humans. As long as humanity doesn't repeat the mistakes of it's past and try to conquer them, they'll make great allies.

IDNN: I'm sure we'll work it out. What is your next mission?

TN: I'm helping UGAL patrol the new border, and there's a bunch of paperwork and manual labor involved in setting up our colony

IDNN: so the Psygens are abandoning Earth after all?

TN: [chuckles] so first we're overseers and now we're abandoning Earth? No, but humans can handle their own affairs. It's time for Psygens become our own people. As I said above, we'll still be around, but as an equal partner.

IDNN: I see. Well, best of luck to you.

TN: thanks.

IDNN: Next time we will talk to one of the Messka, a scout named Bast. This is Ella Font with the Inter-Dimensional News Network. See you next time!

About The Psygen Chronicles Book 1: A New Threat by Aaron DeMott A simple diplomatic mission becomes a life and death struggle that could plunge the entire galaxy into a war... When an alien ship lands unexpectedly in the middle of her clan's territory, Bast is sent to investigate as part of her scout trial. After an accident, she meets these new visitors. She and her senior scout Rrrark are invited to return with the aliens to their home planet to open diplomatic relations. What started out as a simple mission becomes complicated when they discover a pirate scheme that might be more than it seems. Are Bast, Rrrark, and two of the aliens called Psygens capable of stopping the pirates?

What's it like to be a scout?

IDNN: This is Ella Font of the Inter-Dimensional News Network continuing our series on the recent discovery of Alkask. With me today is Messka scout Bast. How are you doing today, Bast?

B: [Flicks her tail] I’m doing great! Uh … how are you?

IDNN: Doing well, thank you. How wa –

B: That’s great! Thanks for inviting me.

IDNN: [smiles] –s your … We’re glad you could make it. How was your stay on Earth?

B: It was interesting. Earth is very different from Alkask. Lots of concrete and metal, it almost looks like humans clear out nature to make a city, then miss it and do a … they put it back in a strange way.

IDNN: Do you not have cities on Alkask?

B: We … do … but we Meskka try to make them look like part of the natural environment. Our word for what you would call a city is "mer-ahsh" We take a grove a trees, and grow them together into one large structure.

IDNN: That must be something to see. Do you have vehicles to get around from one mer-ahsh to the next?

B: [looks off-camera then back again] Well … not exactly. Not like the cars or jets here.

IDNN: What kind of transportation do you have?

B: [flicks her tail and tilts an ear backward] Well, it’s just – um – different. Hard to explain really. Not actually a vehicle like yours…. I’m really glad we don’t have vehicles like that.

IDNN: Why is that?

B: [flattens ears] I – um – get a little – um – well, let’s say I like my paws on solid ground.

IDNN: Okay, fair enough. I understand you’re a princess.

B: Princess? Oh, that's right, titles get passed down in families here. It's not that way on Alkask, but I guess humans might see me as one. I’m just a scout. I work for Master SarrOw

IDNN: What do scouts do on Alkask?

B: [ears and tail stand up] It's the best job ever! I get to patrol the whole forest, meet other clans, observe new things and investigate new places. Like Earth, for example, and Psygens and SeQish, and Earth’s ambassador to the SeQish was really interesting. We met him when we helped the Psygens track down the SeQish ambassador.

IDNN: Oh? For our inter-dimensional viewers, what made Earth’s ambassador unique?

B: He’s not human, for one thing, and he swims really well.

IDNN: What was the most memorable thing about your scouting trip to Earth?

B: Working with the Psygens. They are the most like us in some ways, but very different than us in others. Like, they’re tired. They didn’t talk about that much, but I could tell. All the ones I met need a nice long nap in the warm sun. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s the kind of tired a nap fixes.

IDNN: What do y – ?

B: And kittens! You have the cutest little kittens! Tomed told me the ones I saw are actually full-grown, but they look just like the kittens I used to take care of – that was before I became a scout -- [holds up a paw] except they don’t have thumbs, which might be why they never developed into a society like ours, but they’re still adorable even if they never get to be my size.

IDNN: You do look like a rather large calico.

B: According to the information on SatNet, I’m more the size of a tiger just with very different markings. [stomach rumbles] Oops. Sorry. [flattens ears] That’s always happening at the wrong time. 

IDNN: That’s all right. I’m sure inter-dimensional travel takes a toll on a person. Thank you for coming out, Bast.

B: You’re welcome.

IDNN: Next time we’ll talk to two other Psygens, Nilre and Ara Nor. This is Ella Font with the Inter-Dimensional News Network. Good night!

About The Psygen Chronicles Book 1: A New Threat by Aaron DeMott

Aaron DeMott’s A New Threat is a cleverly written and amusing tale about telepathic, hip-high alien cats called Messka and their first contact with Earth and a group of enhanced, telepathic humans called Psygen. The humans, Psygens, and Messka hit it off well, but a band of pirates hired by a xenophobic ship designer go on the offensive in an effort to keep human resources for humans. The Messka have their own society and their own technology, which they hide very well inside natural forms giving the illusion of being more primitive than they are. A lot of their personality traits resemble the cats they’re physiologically similar to. The Psygens have varying forms of psionic abilities including telepathy and some other common skills. Each has a specialization in things such as healing, deflecting energy bolts, and speeding up a spaceship’s engines. Their function in the society seems to be as guides and protectors to some degree, and although they honor their duties, there’s a definite undercurrent of wanting to be free of the burden of shepherding humans and living for themselves. The xenophobic ship designer provides a good challenge for the Psygens and Messka by carefully arranging his tactics to foil the special abilities of the Psygens. Overall, I found the book very entertaining. The plot was well-designed, and the characters were interesting, particularly in their diversity. The alien species involved were more complicated and detailed than simply humans in funny costumes. Although the book is aimed at and appropriate for tweens and teens, the book was engaging and I looked forward to reading the next couple chapters at lunch every day. I’m definitely interested in seeing where the Psygen Chronicles go next. I’d say, check it out! 

Shadow on the Sea by Etta Jean

Today, Etta Jean shares some other information with us about herself and the book...

1. Did you come across any surprises writing this?

Maitena, the main character, was full of them. I never know what will come out of that girl's mouth next! I would type something and then just sit there and stare at it for a moment before moving on. She gets away with so much. Hehe

2. What was the best part about writing the story?

I love the angelic race I created. I always love the idea of soul mates (this should not be news to anyone) but being able to take it just a step further, to where you have these beings that live knowing they will look into someone's eyes and be completed . . . it's really wonderful. There's a double-edged sword to it, though. I won't say what. You'll have to read to find out!

3. Do you have plans for a sequel?

Maaaaaaaybe. In all seriousness, I would like to visit my world of Lightlings again, but this story stands entirely on its own without any loose threads.

4. What constitutes a “good story?”

A story that engages a reader from beginning to end, that makes someone want to go back again and again.

5. Which Muppet do you most resemble?

I would have to say I most resemble Kermit the Frog because all too often do I find myself playing the straight man to my crazy friends. I feel for that frog, I really do.

6. What's your favorite place?

My hometown. Sacramento is my favorite place to be, and always feels so good to come home to. I can't see the city for the trees from the freeway, and the buildings don't give me claustrophobia. (I'm looking at you, San Francisco.)

7. What's your favorite TV show?

Mythbusters! I'll watch any episode on TV, and I watch my iTunes collection frequently and repeatedly. I could probably start quoting specific episodes, really.

8. Do you have any critters?

I have four cats. Pirate Princess Patches, Nighthawk, Sebastian, and my little Charlie.

Shadow on the Sea is a romantic fantasy for ages 18+. Check out the author's description of the book... The world of Ceres has been ruled for millennia by the winged race known as Lightlings. When the Chalice Kingdom celebrates the birth of the next crown princess, they have no idea just what events have been set into motion. The beautiful angel has a special, shadowy, gift, and only by learning to control it will she be able to claim the lover rightfully hers by destiny, and save her world from an evil bent on consuming them all.

Forged Steele by H.A. Titus

Before I got buried under schoolwork, I was in a critique group with Heather and a couple other interesting characters. Forged Steel was a work in progress at that point, and it's now ready to see the world!

Coffee shop. 2 AM. One minute, Josh is firing off sarcastic remarks at his best friend Marc – the next, they’re running from shape-shifters. Apparently, even best friends don’t share all their secrets. Now Josh is in danger. He can see the monsters among the humans. When Marc is kidnapped, Josh finds himself pulled into the schemes of the fae courts, and throws in his lot with Marc’s allies: the lovely Larae, a human named David, and the fighter, Eliaster. But what began as a rescue mission becomes something much more involved… And all Josh wants to do is get out before it’s too late. Forged Steel is a new adult urban fantasy by H. A. Titus.

Medieval Mars edited by Travis Perry

My friend Travis often comes up with interesting ideas for science fiction stories, often much faster than he can get them written. So, from time to time, he collaborates with one of the other writers he knows. For Medieval Mars, he collaborated with 8 of us to create an anthology. Mine, "The Dragon's Bane," is a western ... sorta. :D

A future terraformed Mars, where civilization crashed back into a Medieval Era. Christian Knights called “riders” patrol the Pilgrim Road from Olympus to New San Diego, on the Chryse Sea. The technological past is known as the “Age of Magic” and only a handful of people understand how the remaining ancient devices really work. Lighter gravity in dense air makes flying dragons and bird riders a reality; alloys of the past make “magic” swords; and masters of ancient knowledge wield wizard-like power. Nine authors spin tales in this unique story world, one which combines elements of science fiction and high fantasy. ... and westerns. Don't forget westerns. ;)

Drawing Dead by Brian McKinley

Faolan O'Connor spent his life killing for men like Legs Diamond and Lucky Luciano, and now it s his turn to face the music. But when vampire Darcy Killian offers him immortality, Faolan enters a world of violence, wealth, and power beyond anything he's ever imagined. Driven by ambition and guilt, Faolan fights his way up the ranks in a battle to justify his sins with success. He's learned the hard way that relationships are vulnerabilities and friends are just enemies in disguise, but he also knows that he can t conquer a city alone. Aided by an emotionally-crippled genius and a warm-hearted call girl, Faolan builds a loyal crew with which to challenge the tyrannical Killian s rule. However, will this re-awakened humanity prove a fatal flaw or his ace in the hole? With his life and the future of the city he loves at stake, can Faolan play his cards right or is he drawing dead?

Codename: Knight Ranger by John F. Allen

John F. Allen, the author of Codename: Knight Ranger from Seventh Star Press, joins me on Cloud Eight-and-a-Half today to provide his thoughts on the very idea of an "original story."

Take it away, John!

There's Nothing New Under The Sun When I was a child, my grandmother told me one day, "There's nothing new under the sun." At first I didn't understand what she meant. Later, as I got a little older I refused to believe her, and was determined to prove her wrong. Finally, when I began focusing on my career as a writer, I accepted her nugget of knowledge as fact, and learned to embrace it for the truth it is. However, if the above observation is true, then what makes any story different from the next? The answer... LIFE EXPERIENCE, IMAGINATION, VOICE AND STYLE. As most fiction writers will agree, we are products of our environment and individual life experiences and therefore, it stands to reason that many of the seeds for our story plots originate from said life experiences. This can be from what we've dealt with on a personal level, what we've heard from others, or seen around us including—but, certainly not limited to—what we've watched on television, read in books or learned in school. These personal life experiences give our stories a unique flavor which cannot be exactly cloned due to the intricate variables in our individual lives. I believe that there is a collective consciousness which extends to us all, as we tap into our imaginations and creativeness. We must also accept the fact that the possibilities for formulating scenarios involving larger than life creatures, myths, epic heroes and monsters is finite, just as our voices and styles are infinite. As writers, we sometimes find in the course of plotting a story that we read stories from someone else who came up with very similar ideas for their already published work(s). It is because of this, I continue to work against the truth stated in the title of this post, in order to produce unique stories. I feel in doing this, I can delve deeper into the recesses of my imagination, creativity and life experiences to produce my very own individual story. It is here that we begin to use our imagination to find a variation of the themes we draw from our life experiences and formulate creatively new and exciting takes on tried and true scenarios and themes. It is then that we brand our stories with distinctive twists and turns and imbue it with our own individual spirits and personalities. As a writer, I'm constantly thinking up new story ideas and using my voice and style to tell the stories. All writers have their own unique voice and style, which separates them from other writers. When it comes to certain elements of storytelling, there are no new ideas. Often, writers of genre fiction ultimately come across elements in another author's work that closely resembles their own. While this is a common phenomenon, it doesn't mean that we can't separate ourselves from other storytellers using similar scenarios and/or themes; it merely means we must work all the more harder at imparting our own essence into our work in order to make it exclusive to us. Just as there are finite possibilities in regards to scenarios and themes, there is again something to be said for voice and style. I've read books that had such similar plots that if you broke it down to the bare essentials it could be the same book. However, what separated the books was the differences in how the authors delivered the story, developed the characters, and the language used to breathe life into the personalities of the characters. How we tell a story, and how much of ourselves we put into our works, is what sets us apart from other writers with similar ideas and themes. Always remember the old Vulcan axiom from the Star Trek series, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC), the philosophy which celebrates the vast array of possibilities and variables in the known universe. And while there are finite themes when stripped down to their essential cores, when we take into consideration the life experiences, imagination, voice and style of the storyteller, the possibilities are indeed infinite and quite fascinating.

Captain Alexandre Cornelius “Neal” Du Bois is a US Army Ranger and decorated war hero. When his unit is ambushed by supernatural hostile forces while in Afghanistan, only Neal survives. When he wakes up in a secret government facility, Neal discovers that his whole life has changed forever. A shadowy government agent named Elijah Bishop arranges for Neal’s brain to be transplanted, without his permission, into a bio-engineered body capable of amazing feats. Armed with advanced body armor and weaponry, he becomes the epitome of the Ultra Soldier. To protect his family and those closest to him, he must let the world and everyone he loves believe he is dead. With assistance from Dr. Avery Clarkson–the scientist responsible for his new body–Neal reluctantly utilizes his superhuman abilities to work for Bishop and his organization called G.E.N.E.S.I.S. (Global Espionage Network of Elite Supernatural Intelligence and Surveillance), in order to track down those responsible for the slaughter of his unit and keep the world safe from supernatural terrorist forces.

John F. Allen is an American writer born in Indianapolis, IN. He is a member of the Speculative Fiction Guild and the Indiana Writers Center. He began writing stories as early as the second grade and pursued all forms of writing at some point, throughout his career. John studied Liberal Arts at IUPUI with a focus in Creative Writing, received an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force and is a current member of the American Legion. John’s debut novel, <em>The God Killers</em> was published in 2013 by Seventh Star Press. John currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife, son and daughter.

The Worker Prince

by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

In an attempt to mediate a peace between them, author Bryan Thomas Schmidt sat down with his protagonist Davi Rhii and antagonist Lord Xalivar, deposed High Lord Counselor of the Borali Alliance. The meeting took place in a neutral location this morning. Here’s how it went.

Xalivar: What’s he doing here?!

BTS: He’s here to try and make peace between you. I heard my book had really reopened old wounds for your family and I felt bad.

Xalivar: Peace?! He destroyed my life. Stole my palace, my life, everything I worked for!

Davi: Seems to me you did a pretty good job destroying things on your own.

Xalivar: Oh really? You think so, do you? In all your wisdom and experience? AND YOU! Why should I trust you after you wrote scandalous lies about me?

BTS: At the time I wrote it, you approved the story.

Xalivar: With changes! You ignored my copious notes!

BTS: I couldn’t swap Davi’s part with yours and make you the hero. Your requests were ridiculous.

Xalivar: You’re ridiculous! Both of you! (crosses arms)

Davi: You see? I told you he’s impossible.

BTS: My intention was to record the truth of your incredible history, not harm anyone. I really did my research and tried very hard to represent it accurately and truthfully.

Xalivar: (laughs)

BTS: All this animosity has torn your family apart.

Xalivar: What family? He’s not my family. He’s an imposter! Adopted secretly by my crazy sister! Generations my father and grandfather worked to make the Borali Alliance what it is! To put those treasonous, criminals in their place and keep them there! Then he comes along and destroys everything!

Davi: They’re human beings who deserve freedom as much as we do. They’ve worked hard for us, and they’re good citizens now.

Xalivar: (scoffs) They won’t stay that way. Always trouble with their kind. Always! It’s historical.

BTS: Maybe they’ve changed? Younger generations and older generations often do things differently.

Xalivar: I followed in the footsteps of my father and grandfather.

Davi: Beating the slaves. Abusing people. Manipulating. Lying…

Xalivar: Don’t disrespect my family! They’re honorable men who served well!

Davi: Not if they served like you.

Xalivar: (stands) I told you it was impossible for him. I told you I never should have come! Now leave me be! Both of you! (storms out)

BTS: Hold on, where are you going. Don’t you want a chance to tell your side of the story?

Davi: Look, Xalivar is delusional. About everything—his place in history, how his father and grandfather acted, who he is. He can’t handle being confronted with obvious weaknesses. I’m just being honest. What can I do? (offers hand) Thanks for trying, okay? Looking forward to the second book.


WordFire Press proudly presents the debut novel of Hugo-nominated editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt, which received Honorable Mention on Paul Goat Allen’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases of 2011 at, alongside books by Ben Bova, Robert J. Sawyer, Jack Campbell, Ernest Cline and more. What if everything you thought you knew about yourself and the world turned out to be wrong? Freshly graduated from the prestigious Borali Military Academy, Davi Rhii, Prince of the Boralian people discovers a secret that calls into question everything he knew about himself. His quest to rediscover himself brings him into conflict with his friends and family, calling into question his cultural values and assumptions, and putting in jeopardy all he's worked for his whole life. One thing's for sure: he's going to have to make decisions that will change his life forever... Welcome to the book that captures the feel of the original Star Wars like no other, Moses meets Star Wars…

The Worker Prince.

“THE WORKER PRINCE breathes dynamic new life into the space opera genre. Rich characters, wild action, and devious plotlines collide in a thoroughly entertaining book!” –Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Predator One and Deadlands: Ghostwalkers.

“A brisk science fiction novel full of rich characters and settings, it embodies ‘sense of wonder’ in the best traditions of classic science fiction. Well worth your time!” – Robin Wayne Bailey, New York Times Bestselling author of Dragonkin and Frost.

“Retro-with-a-twist SF brimming with an infectious enthusiasm!”— Saladin Ahmed, author Throne Of the Crescent Moon.

316 pp · ISBN 978-1614753612 ·Trade Paperback/Epub/Mobi · $15.99 tpb $5.99 Ebook · Publication: November 1, 2016


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo-nominated editor of adult and children's speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes &amp; Noble Book Club's Year's Best Science Fiction Releases. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. As book editor he is the main editor for Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta's WordFire Press where he has edited books by such luminaries as Alan Dean Foster, Tracy Hickman, Frank Herbert, Mike Resnick, Jean Rabe and more. He was also the first editor on Andy Weir's bestseller The Martian. His anthologies as editor include Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek, Mission: Tomorrow, Galactic Games and Little Green Men--Attack! (forthcoming) all for Baen, Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. He is also coediting anthologies with Larry Correia and Jonathan Maberry set in their New York Times Bestselling Monster Hunter and Joe Ledger universes. From December 2010 to June 2015, he hosted #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer's Chat)

Mythic Orbits edited by Travis Perry

Visiting with us today is Travis Perry, who recently published an anthology containing only stories by Christian authors. Take it away Travis!

Mythic Orbits 2016 had a basic motivation as an anthology project: To collect and publish the very best short stories I was able to find by Christian authors, without any pre-defined theme. Stories first had to be interesting or intriguing. Solid endings with a strong emotional payoff were essential, as they are in all good short stories. Some of those payoffs in the anthology are feel-good, emotionally warm moments. But not all are. A final story moment which challenges preconceived notions, or which is disturbing, or thought-provoking, I accepted as freely as the happier endings. I love the short story format, by the way. A short story is not a substitute for a novel, only shorter. Not necessarily, anyway. Conflict drives the plot in novels, but short stories have a number of other possible roads to success. For example, they can surprise, shock, or amaze instead of bringing conflict to resolution. I often find short tales inherently more interesting than novels, if written well. The commitment to good short stories in this anthology came without any specific doctrinal or content tests. Though it happens to be the case that the stories are basically clean. They contain no strong profanity (on a few occasions cuss words generally seen as mild are included). No sexuality is included beyond being attracted to someone and on one occasion, kissing. No violence is graphically described--though there is some violence in a number of the stories. What really happened is my authors self-edited for content themselves. The only content edits I performed for "moral" purposes was downgrading one curse word to a milder version of the same thing and changing a religious reference into one which unambiguously talked about one God. All other content edits were for the purpose of making the stories make more sense, flow better, or have more powerful endings. (Though one author did ask me how to make his story more Christian, to which I had a specific suggestion--this was for the story "Escapee," for which I recommended he create an alien chapel.) I did not want to impose upon this anthology some kind of common theme like some other anthologies I've seen and participated in. That's because I believe the best stories come from authors writing what they want to write about, not from me telling them what I think they should produce. A question that comes to my mind as I write about the anthology I assembled is, "Why Christian authors? Why not just find a bunch of good stories and assemble that, regardless of whether the writers are believers or not?" The use of Christian authors I found essential. I perceive the world of speculative fiction (by which I mainly but not exclusively mean science fiction, fantasy, and horror) as not especially Christian-friendly. So for me, the first order of business was to show the world that we Christians are not so bound by conventional thinking about stories that we cannot tell intriguing tales. I also hoped that the Christian authors involved would themselves use Christian themes in their stories where they felt inspired to do so. I wasn't disappointed in that. Some of the stories feature Christian characters reacting to worlds of speculative fiction, while some of the stories have themes that explore the tendency of religious leaders to misinterpret the faith, the role of science in human experience, the desire for eternal life, the pitfalls of avoiding pain, the nature of love, the role of empathy, and other, more subtle concepts. Some of the stories, even if they have an underlying morality, show no direct influence of Christianity at all. You would not necessarily know from reading some of the tales that the author who produced it was a Christian. Which was fine by me--I saw my role in publishing this anthology was to highlight Christian authors, not stories with Christian themes. (As already mentioned, Christian themes showed in some of the other stories.) So, now that I have commented on the reasons behind creating Mythic Orbits 2016, the next natural question to ask is, "What inspired me to comment about this story anthology in this blog post?" What am I hoping to achieve here? First of all, I hope all readers of this blog will go out and buy a copy of Mythic Orbits 2016. The stories really are excellent, every last one, and well-worth your time. (Seriously--yes, I am plugging a work I published--but it actually IS awesome. Check it out for yourself.

But I have a secondary reason--and that is, I hope, God willing, to do this sort of collection next year. And for as many years after that as I can. I want to produce a Mythic Orbits 2017, 2018, and so on. I will be looking for excellent short stories written by Christian authors in the future. Perhaps among the readers of this blog there's somebody with an excellent tale already written, the exact sort of short story I'm keen to publish. I hope so.


Feel free to send an email to [email protected] if you have something now. If you don't have anything yet, perhaps you can write something in the upcoming year and send it my way when its ready. Eventually (God willing), I will be making specific announcements recruiting authors for Mythic Orbits 2017. Hope you can participate.

Ashen  City by Sara Baysinger

Sara Baysinger joins us today to tell us a bit more about her book Ashen City. It’s that time! Black Tiger was released on October 6, 2016, and now it’s time to announce the release date AND cover reveal for Ashen City, Book Two in the Black Tiger Series. (Eep!!!)

A bit of history first… I wrote Ashen City exactly a year ago (January 2016), and I wrote the ENTIRE book in a month. (Don’t ask me how, I had a toddler and an infant at the time.) I’ve read and revised it several times, but for the most part, the bones of the story is pretty much the same as its first draft. Now it’s time to PUBLISH Ashen City, AND I AM SO EXCITED TO SHARE IT WITH YOU!! It is currently with the editor, and the next eyes that will see it will be YOURS.

A little behind the scenes for book one…

I had no idea what cover theme I was going for with for the Black Tiger Series. I knew the color progression I wanted for the backgrounds of each cover from book one to book three (Black-Gray-White), but I didn't know what pictures I wanted on the covers. I just assumed I would throw some sort of abstract art of a tiger on the first one, but then I found THIS. And it was perfect. (And stunning, but I'm biased. ;) )

But I still had no idea what I was going to do for the next two books. But I'll have more on that in a bit.

When I found the sparks cover for Black Tiger, I thought I’d stay with the sparks and fire theme, BUT THEN THIS HAPPENED. And the smoke went so well with EVERYTHING in Ashen City that I HAD to pick it. (I seriously can’t wait to share book 3 with you!)

And here is the synopsis to whet your appetite! (If you haven’t read the first book, SKIP THIS! Spoilers within!)

Make your choice, Ember Carter. And make it count.

Ember Carter has escaped the flames of death. But will she ever be free from Chief Titus? When the orchard goes up in smoke and her family turns up missing, Ember returns to Frankfort hoping to find her brother and father, and to get Titus to drop the death wish he has against her. But Titus is always one step ahead. When Ember faces him head-on, she’s captured, only to receive another death sentence. But on her way to her execution plans go a little askew, and Ember finds herself traveling to the one place no one dares travel: Louisville. If the outskirts of Ky were a ghost town, the ashen city is the borderline of hell itself, but it’s the one place Ember can find refuge from the people who want her dead.

In the ashen city, Ember must learn that being a hero is more than doing what is right because she can, but doing it for the good of the people. And when plans take a turn for the worst, she must decide if it’s worth risking her life to save her country. 

Avatars of Web Surfer

edited by Travis Perry

Hello! This is Ella Font of the Inter-Dimensional News Network. Today, we're dropping in on Earth in the early 21st Century to visit with an author that so many of our modern viewers have come to love: the amazing Andrea Graham.

Thank you for joining us here today, Andrea.

Andrea Graham (AG): Thank you for inviting me, Ms. Font.

EF: Which work are you sharing with us today?

AG: Avatars of Web Surfer, a collection of short works set in the same universe, each has a different perspective character, but all feature the same hero. I collaborated with three co-authors: Travis Perry, Cindy Koepp, and H. A. Titus

EF: I have to say that one is one of my favorites. I just love the way Sander and Lexus come to the rescue of the different people they encounter through the Web Surfer system. For our viewers who are unfamiliar with your work, what genre does it fall into?

AG: Science Fiction, Christian allegory, some might consider it cyberpunk since AIs and virtual/simulated reality feature heavily.

EF: That's fascinating. As I recall, some of the stories are more overtly Christian than others, but I would agree they all fit into that spectrum somewhere. Can you tell us about the main character?

AG: Alexander McGregor is just an infant when his father converts his cells into biological supercomputer components, but he may be the Messiah-figure AIs have longed for, even though on one level, he is only human. Sander is enslaved to his code as he serves a billion users worldwide, users he appears to as separate avatars of himself. Each avatar has its own personality, but all of him are linked together in a shared mind. He reigns over most of Earth’s computers in a global society where tech-dependency can kill. Freedom calls Sander like a siren. His answer could shake the Earth.

EF: Wow. He sounds like an interesting guy, which is what makes each of these short stories interesting. Some people say that you must have based him on a real person. Are there any characteristics you have in common with the main character?

AG: Sander can operate well in all eight Myers Briggs functions as needed, but his core personality is closest to an ENTP. I have always been more of an ambivert than either a true introvert or true extrovert, but I functioned as an ENFJ before I started working with Sander, a bit over five years ago. In the last few years, I switched to ENFP and from there came to grips with my thinker side to the point where I sometimes test as an ENTP myself and wonder I how I got to my thirties without realizing I’m so different from my true-blue INFJ husband. So, um, we both have attention deficit disorder and tend to go off on rabbit trails that drive our more linear-thinking friend and our editors up the wall. That is the big one.

EF: [stares for a moment] I see. Well, um, let's see if any of our viewers have sent in questions. Here's one. Rex Karz of Infinite Roadway, Enceladus. Rex asks, "Which Muppet does your main character most resemble?"

AG: He’s a cross between Kermit and Animal.

EF: That's quite a combination there. Sort of a frustrated, organized maniac? I've read all of them, though, so I can see that. He does have the intensity of Animal and the organization of Kermit. Here's another question from Amanda Rekkonwif from Tombstone Colony on Europa. Amanda asks, "If your character actually had pockets, what would be in them?"

AG: They would be magic pockets, and he would have stuffed in them every aspect of life on Earth that he had collected and had yet to plant in the alternate universe that he hosts in cyberspace and treats like a massive terrarium. (He hosts simulated realities and some hold our own universe is a simulated reality.)

EF: Those would be some awfully large pockets. Earth-building would be an interesting hobby. Time consuming, but I guess if you'll live indefinitely, you'd better have a hobby that will last. We have time for one more. Here's a question from Tom Katt from Litter Pan Colony on Ganymede. Tom wants to know, "If your character existed in main life, would you be friends?"

AG: I hope so.

EF: [Pauses several seconds] Okay. He does seem like a nice guy most of the time in these stories, and the times he isn't aren't his fault. He does have to obey the user's script after all. I've met Sander, actually. Well, I've met a virtual version of him in one of the VR books being released of all the classics. He wasn't as tall as I thought he was, and I wouldn't say he's a very trendy dresser, but personality wise, he seems to be a good man. Virtual reality is just beginning in your time, so perhaps you'll still have the opportunity to meet Sander. That's all the time we have for viewer questions today. Thanks for joining us today. [Looks into the camera] That's it for today, but do stop by to visit Andrea and check out her exciting anthology Avatars of Web Surfer. This is Ella Font of the Interdimensional News Network. Back to Bob Frapples at the news desk. Bob?

 Wings Beneath Water by Yaasha Moriah

Interview with the author:

Ella Font (EF): Good morning wherever you are. This is Ella Font if the Interdimensional News Network. I'm here today with Yaasha Moriah, another of our 21st Century Authors. Yaasha's work was popular throughout the first half of the century. Yaasha, thank you for joining us today. What have you brought to share with us?

Yaasha Moriah (YM): Thanks for having me! I am sharing about my fantasy novella "Wings Beneath Water."

EF: Beneath the water? Sounds interesting. Can you tell us a bit about it?

YM: Certainly! Brother. Ever since Risha was found on the shores of the river and adopted into the tribe, he and his brother Uraun have been inseparable. But when a neighboring tribe ignites war, killing the boys’ father, their lives start on a path that begins to divide them. Siyeen. As the tribe goes to war, Risha’s gift awakens. He is the Siyeen, capable of reading a person’s true nature—and in Uraun’s nature, he reads only vengeance. Fearing that his gift will endanger Uraun, Risha flees to the marshes. To save his brother’s soul, Risha must learn the secrets of the first Siyeen and seek the redemption that will grant his brother a second chance.

EF: Fascinating. That doesn't sound like a typical fantasy. Does it fall into one of the other categories?

YM: "Wings Beneath Water" is a sort of “native fantasy.” Think native peoples, all mixed up with supernatural dragons and shape-shifting powers. One of my ARC readers said it had “deeply spiritual themes” and was more in-depth than my other books, which he liked better.

EF: I don't think I've seen many fantasy novels told from the perspective of native people. Can you tell us more about your main character?

YM: Certainly. Discovered as an infant in the marshes, Risha bears distinctive purple eyes. As he grows up with his adoptive brother Uraun, Risha seems like a normal boy. He trains with the tribal warriors, hunts deer with Uraun, and swims in the river. Risha cares deeply about his brother Uraun and about the truth. Sometimes the two things conflict, so Risha struggles with the implications of his choices, especially when the power of the Siyeen awakes in him. <strong>EF: He sounds like a complex person. Many of our viewers are curious about how much authors invest in their own characters. Are there any characteristics you share in common with you main character?

YM: Risha and I share a deep love for truth, even hard truths. If you look for comfort instead of truth, 

you will eventually end up with neither. If you look for truth, even truth that makes you uncomfortable initially, you will eventually find both truth and comfort. We also share a fierce loyalty to family, even despite conflict. Risha makes hard choices in order to protect his family and, although my choices aren’t nearly so dramatic as Risha’s, I’ve done the same. Family is worth fighting for!

EF: Indeed it is. Let's see if any of our viewers would like to ask you a question. First up? Amanda Rekkonwif from Tombstone Colony on Europa. Amanda asks, “If your character actually had pockets, what would be in them?”

YM: Twine to fix a fishing net, arrowheads for his arrows, a knife, a sinew for his bow… Odds and ends that help him survive in the marshes.

EF: I can understand that, but those are definitely not things you'd find in most people's pockets. Next up? A question from Jerry Mander calling in from Wiggle Road on Charon. Jerry wants to know, "Can you share a line from your work?"

YM: “They say when you see wings beneath the water, you get a second chance to live.”

EF: So you sourced the title from your book from one of the lines in the book. That's a good way to do it. Tom Katt from Litter Pan Colony on Ganymede. Tom wants to know, “If your character existed in main life, would you be friends?”

YM: I think we’d get along splendidly. Risha would teach me about survival in the wild and I’d teach him how to read and write. An excellent trade, I think. I love interacting with people about all things speculative fiction, so people are always welcome to introduce themselves, tell me about their favorite sci-fi or fantasy book, and why they like it.

EF: That's great. I'm sure our viewers would like to connect with you online and share about their love of science fiction and fantasy in the early 21st Century. Thanks for joining us today. [Looks into the camera] That's all we have time for today. Please stop by Yaasha's internet hangouts and chat if you have other questions about her amazing work. Stay tuned tomorrow when we'll have an excerpt of "Wings Beneath Water." For now, this is Ella Font of the Interdimensional News Network. Back to Bob Frapples at the news desk. Bob?


After our interview with author Yaasha Moriah yesterday, I'm sharing an excerpt of her novella. Take it away, Yaasha!

Chapter One

They say if you see wings beneath the water, you get a second chance to live. If that is true, I may live yet. If it is not true, my blood will stain these waters within moments. The marsh mists swirl around me like transparent hands, chilling the sweat on my forehead as my footsteps explode through the murky waters. I pause, catch a gnarled branch, and lean gasping over it. The surface of the dark waters shows the face of a boy, with round cheeks and frightened purple eyes. Will the Karagi have mercy if they see me as a child? No. They know what I am, and they will not waver. They will remain at a safe distance, and shoot to kill. They are master bowmen. I should know. They trained me. That was before they knew what I am. According to the wise woman, some say it only happens when you are born to the marshes on a moonless night. Others say that it begins when a child looks into the waters and, unknown to him, the Siyeen looks back at him from beneath the surface of the waters. Still others say it is a gift given to the one who seeks truth above all else. If a gift results in your death, is it not a curse instead? I have lingered too long. Even as I move, some instinctive twitch saves me, for a death-breeze fans my chin and a crimson ribbon opens across my collar-bone, the warning of a razor-sharp arrowhead. I turn, and they are there, emerging like ghosts from the mist, their long dark hair loose around their lean faces, their leather vests leaving bare their muscled shoulders. Emotions stab my stomach, for Uraun leads them, the scar upon his right cheek lit in silver by the wavering moon. “A child?” one hunter asks, glancing quickly at the foremost of the men. “It is an illusion,” Uraun says darkly, and draws his shaft to the corner of his lips. I cannot outrun his arrow. I have watched too many times the stumble of a woodland buck, stricken while in mid-flight by Uraun’s skill. I am also tired, too tired. This hunt has taken all my strength, all my heart. How do you run away from someone you love? “Uraun.” My voice carries across the waters. “Please.” So long as he holds his breath, he will not shoot. Experienced archers release only at the exhalation. I stand upon a small hillock of marsh weeds. The waters beyond my feet ripple like black silk, for I have come to the edge of the deeper waters, where the bottom is invisible and the feet find no purchase. Many things that have been lost to the deep marshes. “Uraun,” I say again. The corner of my vision snags upon something, a glimmer in the water, like light reflecting upon an outstretched wing. It is here. Then Uraun’s jaw tightens, and, plunging, I give myself to the waters. The arrow’s shaft pierces my side and my instinctive gasp fills my mouth with liquid darkness. Something smooth slides beneath my grasping fingers, then jaws clamp around my ankle and pull me downward, deep. I struggle, panic-stricken. Have I misunderstood? Did I see a wing, or only the glitter of a marsh eel’s serpentine body? I spiral downward until my mind becomes as dark as the waters around me and my breath burns and explodes in my head. Then light births, broadens, shimmers, and I rush toward it. Am I swimming down? Or up? I cannot tell. That is when I see the face staring back at me from the other side of the water. My face. I know it is my face because only I among the Karagi possess eyes the color of wild irises. It is the mark of my separation.

No Road Among the Stars

by A. Walker Scott

Ella Font (EF): This is Ella Font of the InterDimensional News Network. Today we're visiting with that fantastic classical writer A. Walker Scott about his forthcoming book: No Road Among the Stars. Welcome to the program, Mr. Scott.

A. Walker Scott (AWS): Thank you. Great to be here.

EF: So, what kind of book is No Road Among the Stars?

AWS: It's a science fiction tale about a young man studying diplomacy.

EF (leans closer): Does it have pictures?

AWS: Uh... Well, the cover art.

EF: You should consider making it a picture book.

AWS: It's a bit long for that, but I'll consider the options.

EF: That's great, Scott. I mean, Mr. Scott. So, when do you expect to release your book so our viewers can enjoy it?

AWS: If all things go well, I'm trying to release it in April or May.

EF: Of what year?

AWS: This year. 2018.

EF (stares at the ceiling for a moment): Wonderful. Most of our viewers will be able to find it in the historical works section of their favorite bookstore or library. Can you tell us about the main character?

AWS: David Asbury is an orphaned undergraduate attending Shel Matkei Academy of Social Sciences on a scholarship from the government of Earth stipulating that he must study diplomacy. He wants to study linguistics. He also wants to be alone. So he ends up in a diplomacy pod a year ahead of time, stuck with nine suitemates from as many worlds.

EF: A loner who's studying to be a diplomat? Huh. That's different. Has he met Burke Zacharias or Thomas McCrady?

AWS: Who?

EF (blushes): Oops, sorry. Wrong timelines. Do you have any common traits with David?

AWS: Yes. I love languages and linguistics. I really enjoy cross-cultural situations, and he does too...whether he will admit it or not. And I'm stubborn and a bit sneaky.

EF: Really? I can see how stubbornness could be handy for a diplomat, but sneaky? Not one I would have considered. Still, with such traits in common, I'm sure you two would make great friends.

AWS: Yeah, I think so, too, if he'd open up some.

EF: What's your favorite line from the book?

AWS: How can you ask such a thing?

EF (leans back): Well, uh ... Yeah, I suppose that might be a little spoilery for your fans in your own timeline. How about some questions from our viewers? First, which Muppet does your main character most closely resemble?

AWS: I'd have to say Skeeter.

EF: I can see that. And finally, if your character actually had pockets, would would he carry in them?

AWS: A netbook, cinnamon Altoids, and...a lint ball left from the piece of paper that he forgot to take out before his jacket was last laundered.

EF: A netbook? How ... vintage. Well, that's all we have time for today. If you haven't already, check out No Road Among the Stars after it releases in April or May of 2018. This is Ella Font and you're watching the InterDimensional News Network.