Excerpts

Cover Reveal: The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret by Sharon Ledwith

Suit up and get your spy gear because The Last Timekeepers are back and they’re going undercover! In the Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, our heroes are sent to Amsterdam during World War II to uncover a dark secret and keep a precious book from falling into the wrong hands. This action-packed time travel spy thriller is the sequel that Timekeeper fans have been waiting for. If you haven’t started the series yet, go on and pick up The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, then come back here so you don’t miss the big reveal.

I have to say, I am very proud of this cover. I designed and created it myself and it took about a million tries to get it just right. I hope that means I’m entitled to a little bragging. Well, anyways, see for yourself:

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Only a true hero can shine the light in humanity’s darkest time.

Fourteen year-old Jordan Jensen always considered himself a team player on and off the field, until the second Timekeeper mission lands him in Amsterdam during World War Two. Pulled into the world of espionage, torture, and intolerance, Jordan and the rest of the Timekeepers have no choice but to stay one step ahead of the Nazis in order to find and protect a mysterious book.

With the help of the Dutch Resistance, an eccentric baron, Nordic runes, and an ancient volume originating from Atlantis, Jordan must learn that it takes true teamwork, trust, and sacrifice to keep time safe from the evils of fascism. Can Jordan find the hero within to conquer the darkness surrounding the Timekeepers? If he doesn’t, then the terrible truth of what the Nazis did will never see the light of day.

Title: The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret

Series:  The Last Timekeepers, Book 2

Author Name: Sharon Ledwith

Genre(s): Middle Grade, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, WWII

Release Date: October 17, 2016

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing (http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com

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And here’s an excerpt:

“I wonder what else is down here.” Drake beamed his cell phone across the basement, hitting jars of jams, pickles, and relishes. His stomach growled.

 

Jordan pulled the cheese from his pocket and handed it to Drake. “Trade you for your phone.”

 

“Best. Trade. Ever.” Drake passed his phone to Jordan.

 

Jordan walked over and grabbed a jar of pickles off the dusty shelf. At least they wouldn’t arrive at the baron’s place hungry. He hoped his uncle had managed to stop Amanda’s bleeding. His hand tightened over the jar, the ridges of the lid cutting into his palm. A scrape from behind the shelves made Jordan jump.

 

“Hello?” he asked, pushing jars aside. He flashed the cell phone into the small, dark area.

 

“Who ya talking to, Jordan?” Drake asked with his mouth full of cheese.

 

“Shhh, Drake.” Jordan listened. Hearing nothing, he shrugged and turned back around.

 

“I thought I heard—” Jordan stopped and pointed the phone at Ravi. His jaw dropped. “A-Are you serious, Sharma?”

 

Drake spat out his cheese, snorting with laughter.

 

“Is there a problem?” Ravi asked, tying the bowtie of his tuxedo.

 

“You look like a penguin with attitude!” Drake slapped his knee.

 

“Say what you want, but I’m glad we didn’t hit the cleaners on the way to school now,” Ravi replied, pulling down his sleeves, “or else I wouldn’t have these dry clothes.”

 

Jordan chuckled. Suddenly, he heard a door creak open, followed by heavy footsteps squeaking down the stairs. Panicking, Jordan stuffed Drake’s phone in his track suit jacket’s pocket and waved Drake over by the shelves. Drake slipped behind Jordan just in time, before the small light bulb above the bottom of the stairs clicked on. Jordan swallowed hard. There, staring directly at Ravi was a portly man in a blood-stained apron. Tufts of blond hair sprouted from the sides of his balding head. His brown trousers were pulled up past his waist, making him resemble an evil garden gnome. In one of his hands, he held a huge butcher knife, its blade flecked with blood.

 

Wielding the knife, the man pointed at Ravi. “Who are you?”

 

Ravi licked his thick lips nervously. “The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

 

Unearthing the uncanny one book at a time.

Sharon Ledwith #1 Headshot

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

 

Connect with Sharon:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seledwith

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sharonledwith

Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821744.Sharon_Ledwith

Blog: http://sharonledwith.blogspot.ca/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/116758820349834035390#116758820349834035390/posts

Author’s Website: http://sharonledwith.com/

Unintended: A Comedy of Errors

Uncover3There’s still three days left of the sale on our featured book for August! Go to our store and use the promo code: FEATURE at check out for $3.00 OFF the price of the ebook, making Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred only $0.99!

Kenzie en Shareed, daughter of the Northern Clan Chief, is sent south to the Kingdom of Ismera to uphold a treaty between the two lands by marrying the prince. Somehow she manages to marry the wrong man in this romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.

Here’s an excerpt:

Kenzie suddenly felt ill and more than a little dizzy. “You are not Prince Kadrean…?” The golden-haired stranger she’d just married wore a look of concern mixed with confusion. “Then who are you?”

“Uh…” He cleared his throat, made a little uncomfortable by the stares of the clanspeople. “Lord Garron D’Arbonne…at your service, Your Highness.”

An uncomfortable silence fell over them and the clansfolk, but Kenzie couldn’t find it in her to break it or fill it with anything meaningful. Her entire focus was on keeping herself from hyperventilating.

I just married this Garron D’Arbonne…not the Prince. Not my intended. Kenzie was in full panic at the gravity of the error she had just committed. How can I fix this?! The marriage bond is forever, never able to be undone. A man can remarry, under certain circumstances, but can a woman? Would they even allow such a thing?

My father will be so disappointed in me. He wanted this treaty between our lands to work. I’ve only just arrived and I’ve already ruined it. What am I going to do?!

“Well,” Garron cleared his throat again, “we should be going. I’m sure Prince Kadrean is eager to meet you.”

Gesturing forward, her husband held out his arm for her.

No, I mustn’t think of him that way, she admonished herself. He is my husband, but he’s right, I’m supposed to marry Prince Kadrean. There is a treaty. Our marriage is law. It must happen.

I’m so stupid. I could have avoided this if I had just thought to ask his name.

Her mentor had spent long hours making sure she understood the nuances of Ismeran culture, so Kenzie knew what was expected of her now. She slid her arm into Garron’s, even though she felt very conscious about doing so, and her people’s cheers resumed.

“What’s that all about?” Garron leaned into whisper to her, which didn’t help her self-consciousness.

“My people are happy for us,” she did her best to explain, “Most of them do not know English.”

“Oh,” he answered simply, considering this a moment. “I’m glad they approve…but what are they happy about, exactly? Pardon my questions, but I feel as if I’m missing something here.”

Garron took hold of the reins of his horse as they reached it, and with Seraphina leading both Kenzie’s horse and her own they were now reaching the open gates of the city, where it seemed that more people waited to greet them.

“They approve of our recent marriage…” Kenzie meant to say the words clearly and confidently, but they came out as a whisper instead.

Unfortunately, Garron heard her. “Our what?” he demanded as the roar of the crowd and the renewed fanfare swallowed them and there was no more time for words.

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Justine Alley Dowsett (right) and Murandy Damored (left) are the co-writing duo behind Mirror’s Hope, Mirror’s Heart and now Unintended. Their next novel, Uncharted, is coming early 2017. In addition to writing novels, they’re inseparable sisters and the unstoppable force behind Mirror World Publishing.

 

 

A Fusion of Epic Poetry and Graphic Art

The Watcher by Joshua Pantalleresco and its sequel, Stormdancer, are our featured books this month! Get the ebooks for $0.99 each with promo code: DRAGON in our online bookstore and enjoy an epic post-apocalyptic journey of discovery shown through a unique fusion of poetry and graphic art by the talented Florence Chan! Here’s a sneak peek:

  1. The Watcher

 alive and aware as the light comes in

rising to the sound of the morning drum

it’s plantation time

all of us work extra hard

they said we’d have bigger shares this year

if we did good

we wanted to try

I look to my mom and dad still sleeping

their hands calloused

their skins toughened

catching that last extra minute of shut eye

before they come

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the light darkens

snouts forming silhouettes in the shadows

scaly reptilian eyes and angel wings gaze down on them

he (she/it?) knows

for just a second, there is mercy

then justice rears its ugly dragon head

and roars

time to get to work

my job is atop the watchtower

I watch the skies for weather

we cannot work in rain or hail

if I see a cloud, I clang the bell

easy peasy and important

two dragons guard me from below

wielding their sticks of flame, they look up

making sure I do what I’m told

I would’ve anyway

I wanted that extra bit of honey

I wanted to feel the crunch of blackberries

I would be good until harvest time

days and weeks pass

the fallow ground sprouts with crops

corn and beans can be seen for miles

I gaze into the horizon

the skyscraper gazes back

it once stood tall and proud

now it is bent and tilted

covered in trees and shrubs

unable to tell the forest from itself

I cannot help but wonder

what were we like back before the dragons came?

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were we like them?

strong and proud

not caring about how hard we worked others?

many claim we were better then

more prosperous and possessive

me, I think we were the same

struggling and starving

tilling concrete instead of corn

working to eat a decent meal

had we really changed at all?

even more time passes

I stand atop the tower

thinking, thinking

I don’t know when it happened

But now I see things differently

I know what’s going to happen at harvest time

without counting a single crop

it is not enough

it was never enough

we would always fall short

my parents would be waiting for me at shift’s end

tears in their eyes

wondering just where they went wrong

blaming themselves for nothing

I’m furious now

I imagine wrapping my hands around a dragon’s neck

squeezing and squeezing

until I hear something snap

and I am satisfied

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I am unafraid

death doesn’t scare me

because I know the truth

next year it’d start again

the same empty promises, the same cycle repeating

we’d work and work and work

and get not a shred more than a crumb from their table

the way it has always been

it doesn’t have to be this way

I have to be patient

soon my chance will come

I’ll bide my time until then

waiting until their guard is down

I’d steal one of their sticks of flame

using it on their headquarters

I’d burn them to the ground

afterwards, I’d seek something

there just had to be something better out there

I just needed to be brave enough to find it.

I just needed one chance

until then, I’ll wait and watch

and be ready

one day, I’ll be free

Excerpt: Black Lightning by K.S. Jones

Just a reminder, in celebration of Black Lightning’s launch this month, the Ebook is ON SALE in our store until May 31st! Use the promo code: LIGHTNING to bring it to $0.99!

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After his mother’s car accident, Mrs. Abel had driven Samuel to the hospital and stayed until Aunt Janis and Uncle Jack arrived. “Don’t worry,” is all she would say to him. “You must have faith.”

But when Samuel saw the doctors and nurses rush to the Critical Care unit where they had hidden his mother, he worried anyway. He had paced the long hospital hall from end to end while Mrs. Abel read one magazine after another.

At nightfall, Dr. Reed, a frail middle-aged man wearing blue medical garb, emerged through the double doors marked Authorized Personnel Only. With a determined gait, he walked straight to Samuel. Reeking of antiseptic, he asked, “Are your aunt and uncle here yet?” When Samuel shook his head, the doctor stiffened then announced, “Your mother is still in serious condition. We’re doing what we can.” Then, without waiting, he turned and walked back through the double doors as if his job were done.

“What did he mean?” Samuel asked Mrs. Abel.

But instead of explaining, she said his mother was in God’s hands. Then she promised Uncle Jack and Aunt Janis would be with him soon.

Samuel hoped, prayed, and paced. He put all his trust in God to heal his mother.

As the full moon rose high into the night sky, Mrs. Abel fell asleep on the waiting room couch. She was still sleeping when the doctor returned.

“I’m sorry,” Dr. Reed announced. “Your mother passed away.”

With one shove, Samuel slammed the wire magazine stand to the floor, sending the bound pages sliding across the linoleum like racing sleds. “NO!

He hated the drunk driver who had slammed into his mother’s car and he hated the doctors and nurses who couldn’t heal her. He was especially angry with God for taking her, but the fury that burned most seared straight through his own heart. Why hadn’t his prayers been strong enough to save her?

A fiery pain burned deep inside him, so clear and sharp it almost drove out his sorrow. Raging against faith, Samuel looked up and shouted, “You can’t take my mom!” But when no reply came, he slammed one foot and then the other against the floor. He envisioned cities and people beneath his soles. Bad people. Monsters. He would murder them all as payment for taking his mother. But as he stomped, the truth slowly settled. He was powerless to do anything at all that mattered. Feeling his strength drain, Samuel dropped to his knees, sobbing. His mother was dead.

KS Jones

Karen (K.S.) Jones grew up in California, but now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband, Richard, and their dogs Jack Black, Libby Loo, and Red Bleu. Black Lightning is her first middle-grade novel. She credits her love of fantasy to the early influences of authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Her award-winning first novel, Shadow of the Hawk, a Young Adult Historical, released in 2015.

M|W News: How to write an engaging opening

I’ve been reading a lot of submissions lately. To put that into perspective, that’s a lot of reading the first three chapters of books and deciding what works and what doesn’t and if the manuscript I’m looking at has the potential I’m looking for.

The one thing I’ve been noticing lately that really makes or break those first few chapters, or even the opening few paragraphs is how engaging the story is or isn’t. What makes something engaging or not is hard to pin down, but there are a few things that can help.

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Consider your opening line

I can’t stress enough how important your opening line is! It should hook your reader and make them want to read on. Some examples from Mirror World books that I can offer are:

“A little violet envelope with sparkling silver wings fluttered through the fog in search of its destination.” – She Dreamed of Dragons by Elizabeth J. M. Walker

“When Mirena received the letter, she knew it could only contain bad news.” – Mirror’s Hope by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

“A baby’s cry.” – Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord

These are all very different opening lines, but they have one thing in common. They all subtly put a question into the reader’s mind. They’re intriguing. Just by reading them you want to know more. Where is the violet envelope going? What sort of bad news is Mirena about to receive? How does she know it’s bad? What is a baby doing in the Coliseum?

They also all set the tone of the story you’re about to read by giving just the tiniest bit of information. Again, so that you want to know more and therefore keep reading. Elizabeth’s opening line in She Dreamed of Dragons tells the reader clearly that they are entering into a fantasy world where envelopes fly and anything is possible. Adam Gaylord does the opposite and subverts the reader’s expectations by starting a gladiator novel with the sound of a baby crying in the last place you would expect to hear that.

 ‘In media res’inmediasres

Another way to generate interest in the story you’re telling in the first few opening lines is to start in the middle of whatever is going on. Your first scene is just as important as your first line. It should be interesting and in the thick of things while still being clear enough that the reader is able to follow along. Your goal should be to immerse your reader in the story immediately.

Here’s an example from Leigh Goff’s young adult fantasy novel, Disenchanted

While scooping dried witches wort into sachets at the shop counter, I watched a girl with dark upswept hair, wearing a Puritan cap and dress, emerge from behind a tall display shelf of Aunt Janie’s Forbidden Passion Potion. She looked to be a bit older than me, maybe seventeen or eighteen.

“Are you one of the historic foundation’s tour guides? If so, you get a discount on the merchandise.”

As you can see by the example, ‘in media res’ doesn’t need to refer to being in the middle of the plot or in the middle of an action sequence, but it does need to be where things are happening. The opening scene should also be relevant to your story and directly tie in to what your story is about. A good way to do this is to start with whatever scene it is that kicks your plot into action. In the case of Leigh Goff’s Disenchanted, it’s the meeting of this girl dressed like a Puritan that sets Sophie’s story into motion and the Puritan girl is directly relevant to the plot. (No spoilers, you’ll just have to read it!)

Avoid infodump or passive backstory details

Backstory about the info-dumptruckcharacters and the setting are important. It helps to explain what’s going on and makes clear to the reader how the characters got to where they are now. However, it is extremely important not to just get this all out at once (especially at the beginning) even if you might be tempted to. Find creative ways to reference the past without just telling the reader what happened. Or, spread the information through the action instead of telling it all at once.

Continuing the scene from above, Leigh Goff does this very well in Disenchanted:

“Are you one of the historic foundation’s tour guides? If so, you get a discount on the merchandise.”

It wasn’t unusual for ordinary girls to be touring around Wethersfield, Connecticut, in period costumes, pointing out graves of the seriously self-righteous Puritans who participated in hanging the Wethersfield witches. However, I knew all the ordinaries who had summer jobs with the foundation, and I didn’t recognize her, not that she looked like one of them beyond the outfit.

I tightened the strings on the sachets and tossed them into a large decorative basket on the shop floor. I wiped the honey-scented witcheswort dust on my spring green apron.

“Would you be interested in sampling our Tulips to Kiss Stick? The tulip pollen lushifies your lips.”

Information about the setting and the history of the town is provided as context and it is neatly tucked between the dialogue and the action, so the scene continues without getting bogged down with information and the reader learns what they need to know to follow along.

 Show, don’t show-dont-tell-checkhovtell

I’m sure you’ve heard this advice a million times: Show, don’t tell! But what does it mean and how do you do it?

It has a little to do with all the things I’ve already mentioned. The important thing to keep in mind is never to tell the reader something when you can show it to them instead. This is another way you can avoid info dumps. In the example above, Leigh Goff never actually mentions that her protagonist, Sophie, works at her Aunt Janie’s shop, nor does she expressly say what kind of shop it is exactly, yet all of those things are clear by Sophie’s actions and the products she interacts with.

Showing also means using active words and language to describe what’s happening in your story. Try to avoid telling us what has already happened and instead focus on what currently going on.

 

So, take a good look at your first line, your first paragraph and your first page and check your story to see how engaging it is. Does it draw readers in? Does it hook them by subtly presenting questions so they want to read more? Does it provide the information they need to follow along without bogging them down in the details? And most of all, does it show instead of tell?

If you have any more tips for writing an engaging opening, make sure to leave them in the comments below! And if you’re looking for more information on this topic, be sure to check out this week’s episode of Mirror World News:

 

 

Cover Reveal: The Curse at Pirate’s Cove by Rita Monette!

Introducing our last new release for 2015 and the second installment in the Nikki Landry Swamp Legend Series, The Curse at Pirate’s Cove by Rita Monette will officially launch November 17th, 2015!

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“When one man’s treasure is another man’s curse.”

Nikki Landry is turning eleven years old, and is looking forward to riding her bike to school. That is until it falls apart. Papa can’t afford a new one. Is she doomed to ride the smelly old school bus from now on?

Hearing of an old pirate ship, and a legend about long-ago pirates burying treasure on a nearby swamp island, Nikki sees a way out. But when she makes a birthday wish for the pirate’s gold, things go terribly wrong. Did her wish trigger an ancient curse?

Join Nikki and her friends as they find themselves sailing away aboard a haunted schooner with ghostly pirates into the Gulf of Mexico … and into the year eighteen fourteen.

How will they ever find their way back home?

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Here’s an excerpt:

 

Eleven. I thought I’d feel all grown up and stuff when that day came. I looked at my hands. Same as yesterday. Nothing really changed, ’cept—for a few months anyway—I was older than my best friend, Patti. I poked my dog, Snooper, in the side. “Wake up, lazy bones. It’s my birthday. I’m Uh-lev-vun.” A giggle crept up into my throat. Papa had said when I turned three syllables I could ride my bike to school instead of taking the smelly old school bus. And today—the second day of February—is that day.

The early dawn light peeking through my window threw ghostly shadows around my tiny room. A tugboat’s horn honked in the distance. Soon, it would make its way down the bayou, pushing a loaded barge past our houseboat. Papa’s roosters crowed one after the other as if competing for the morning call. The strange creature living out there on Ghost Dog Island still howled across the swamp sometimes at night, but I’d sorta gotten used to it. Bayou Platte seemed eerily peaceful.

“Nikki, you up?” Mama yelled from the kitchen.

“Yes, ma’am.” I swung my legs over the edge of the bed, and my bare feet touched the cold floor. I quickly pulled ’em up and jerked the covers back over my toes. “Brrr, it’s freezing in here.”

Mama came into my room. “We got a little bit of a cold snap last night. Put your boots on today.” She walked over to my closet. “Here’s a flannel shirt you can wear. It’s only fifty degrees out, but it should warm up later today.” Mama laid the shirt and a pair of socks on my bed and sat down next to me. “By the way, honey, happy birthday.”

I smiled wide as a bullfrog’s grin. “I get to ride my bike to school today, right?” I slid on my socks.

“That’s what we talked about.” She handed me the shirt. “It’s a long ride, and I’m still uncertain if that old bike is safe.”

“It’s not that far. I’ve—” I pressed my lips together so I wouldn’t blab. Mama didn’t know how many times I’d snuck off to town on that rusty old thing.

“We’ll talk some more about it at breakfast.”

“Humph.” I slammed my head back down on the pillow. I knew what talking more about it meant. Snooper growled from under the quilt as if to say, let me sleep some more.

Mama stood up. “Stop acting like you’re still a baby, and I might think you’re mature enough to ride to school by yourself.” She crossed the small room, her slippers scraping against the rough wooden floor. “Now get dressed and come to breakfast.” She closed the door behind her.

“She’s not gonna let me, Snooper. I just know it.” I sat up and threw my clothes at the door. “That’s okay, I’ll ride my bike far, far away and she’ll never even know where I’m at. Then she’ll see how mature I am.”

My beagle let out a low whimper.

The Curse at Pirate’s Cove is expected to launch November 17th, 2015. Until then, keep an eye out for pre-order opportunities and more information by following this blog or signing up for our new release newsletter here.

Rita-studio pic cropped-cropped

Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state.

Her middle grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, is based on tales told by her father—who made his living in those bayous—of reasons to stay out of the swamp.

She currently lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, she loves watching the many birds that make their habitat on the Cumberland Plateau, working in the garden, and frequenting waterfalls.

It’s Launch Day: Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord is Here!!

Even though it’s September now, our Summer of New Releases isn’t quite over. (We’re going all the way to October 17th with Rita Monette’s The Curse at Pirate’s Cove!) Today we are happy to announce the release of a fantastic epic adventure novel by first time novelist Adam Gaylord. Sol of the Coliseum shows you the life of a gladiator through the eyes of Sol, an orphan born a slave deep within the confines of the Great Coliseum. It is action-packed and full of adventure. It also has a gorgeous cover by Jon Guerdrum of Guerdrum Art. Check it out:

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Survival is an act of defiance.

Deep in the bowels of the Coliseum of the mighty Astrolian Empire, the orphan, Sol, is raised by a makeshift family of guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed Gladiator in all the land. Alongside K’nal, his giant Frorian fighting partner, Sol must battle cunning warriors and fantastic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive. But when an oppressed populace transforms Sol into a revolutionary folk hero, the Empire sends its most ruthless assassin to put an end to the uprising. Sol’s only chance is to do what no slave has ever done: escape from the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.

Saphs Book Promotions

Follow the Blog Tour:

http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/2015/09/tour-schedule-adam-gaylords-sol-of.html

Title: Sol of the Coliseum

Author Name:  Adam Gaylord

Genre(s): Epic Fantasy, Adventure

Tags: Fantasy, Adventure, Epic, Coliseum, Gladiator

Length: Approx. 259 pages

e-Book:  978-1-987976-10-6

Paperback:  978-1-987976-09-0

Release Date: September 17, 2015

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/)

Read an Excerpt:

Grall gave the helmet a whack and a twist. “How’s it fit?”

Sol finally found his voice. “Perfect.”

“I had the smith add some extra padding. That way you can take it out as you grow.”

“You had this made for me?”

“That’s no hand-me-down boy, that’s the real thing. I heard that one of the smiths was an armorer on the outside. I wasn’t sure he’d be too keen on the idea but it turned out he jumped at the chance. Said it was a waste of his talent to be stuck making chains and repairing cages all day. By the looks of that helmet, I’d say he was right.”

This time they both jumped at the rap on the door. Sol’s eyes went wide as a rather fat guard stepped inside.

“I’ll bring him out,” Grall said sharply.

Confused and eyeing Sol’s helmet, the guard backed out while mumbling, “Yes, Sir.”

Grall grabbed Sol by the shoulders. “You’ll be fine. Stay calm, ignore the crowd, and remember what I told you.” He guided Sol out the door and passed him to the other guard with a nod.

Sol was led to the entrance of a long dark tunnel. As they made their way up the sloping passage, he considered Grall’s words. He thought about Oci and about the other women that had helped raise him. He thought about the smith, so happy to take up his art and craft the helmet he now wore. He thought about Grall, a guard and a friend. He thought about his mother. As these faces crossed his mind he felt a part of himself change, felt it harden. This is my home. They are my family. I fight for them.

The passage ended at a large wooden gate. Sunlight and sound trickled through the slight gap under the door. The fat guard drew two swords. One he handed to Sol, the other he kept. Sol tested the weight of the weapon. It was a short sword and a little pommel-heavy, but the blade was straight and sharp. He twirled it and the guard stepped back, his own sword raised defensively.

Sol lowered the weapon. “What’s your name?”

The guard looked over his shoulder as if Sol might be addressing someone else. “Ramsey,” he answered suspiciously.

“Ramsey, will you be here when I get back?”

If you get back,” Ramsey corrected.

Sol knelt at the foot of the massive gate. He bowed his head and closed his eyes. The dark passage shook with the roar of the crowd, smelling strongly of dirt, blood, and urine. He ran his fingers over the polished metal of his new helm and nodded. “I’ll see you then.”

Purchase Links:

Amazon

Kindle http://amzn.to/1i60QIx

Paperback http://amzn.to/1K34I4v

Mirror World Publishing

ebook http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/products/sol-of-the-coliseum-e-book

Paperback http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/products/sol-of-the-coliseum

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Meet the Author: Adam Gaylord lives with his beautiful wife, daughter, and less beautiful dog in Loveland, CO. When not at work as a biologist he’s usually hiking, drinking craft beer, drawing comics, writing short stories, or some combination thereof. He’s had stories published in Penumbra eMag, Dark Futures Magazine, Silver Blade Magazine, and Plasma Frequency Magazine, among others.

It’s Launch Day! The Legend of Ghost Dog Island by Rita Monette is here!!

Our Summer of New Releases is beginning to wind down, but we still have some fabulous books coming out from now through October and The Legend of Ghost Dog Island is really something special. Written AND illustrated by Rita Monette, this first installment in the Nikki Landry Swamp Legend Series is targeted to readers in the middle grade age category, but is well-written enough to be enjoyed by all. Set in the Louisiana Bayou in the fifties, 10-year-old Nikki Landry recounts in her own words the story of the time she lost her dog to the mysterious and spooky Ghost Dog Island and what she did to try and get him back. Rich with beautiful descriptions, hand-drawn illustrations, and dripping with Cajun flair, Rita Monette’s The Legend of Ghost Dog Island is sure to impress!

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Behind every legend lies the truth… 

Moving is nothing new for ten-year-old Nikki Landry. Her father relocates their raggedy old houseboat several times a year in search of better crabbing spots. However, their latest move has brought her to a mysterious bayou where she feels something is watching her from a nearby island.

Nikki learns of a local legend about something sinister inhabiting those swamps, stealing the souls of dogs…which would explain the strange howling sounds. Papa reassures her there’s nothing on the island but gators and snakes. He should know. He’s spent his whole life trapping and fishing those bayous and swamps…But maybe there’s something Papa doesn’t know.

Nikki and her new friends begin to uncover strange happenings from years ago that may have started the old legend…and town folks aren’t talking.

Then her beloved beagle goes missing.

Join Nikki as she seeks to discover the real truth behind the legend of Ghost Dog Island…before it’s too late.

Book Details:

Title: The Legend of Ghost Dog Island

Author Name: Rita Monette

Genre(s): Middle Grade, Adventure, Mystery

Tags: Adventure, mystery, middle grade, louisiana, bayou, dogs

Length: Approx. 204 pages

E-book:  978-1-987976-00-7

Paperback:  978-0-9947490-9-3

Re-Release Date: September 1, 2015

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing

Here’s an excerpt:1b-houseboat copy

“I’m going to hate Morgan City,” I complained to my dog Snooper, “no matter what Papa says.”

My beagle laid his head on my lap and gazed up at me with his watery eyes. He pretty much agreed with me on everything.

I sat on the deck of our old flat-bottomed houseboat as it glided through the winding bayous. Papa’s fishing boat, filled with baskets of line and crab crates, trailed behind on its rope. We were leaving Pierre Part…Lydia…far behind. I rolled the legs of my overalls up and dangled my feet over the edge.

“Nicole Landry, keep your feet out of that filthy water,” Mama hollered from the doorway of the small living area of our floating home. She wiped her hands on her stained apron, then fixed the comb that held her long dark hair in a pile on top of her head. Mama was born and raised in New Orleans, but left the big city for a life in the bayous with Papa. She never looked back. At least that’s what she always told folks.

“They ain’t in the water, Mama.” I held my legs up so she could see they were dry.

She opened the patched screened door and shooed a fly out, before closing it and going back inside.

I twirled the end of my long black braid. Moving to a new place always gave me a lump in my throat as big as a bullfrog. But I wasn’t going to cry this time. I was ten years old after all.

I’d lived in that same house since the day I was born—as Mama always tells it, “the coldest morn’ of 1946.” But I couldn’t rightly recall how many times it got tied up to a new dock. Mama liked to say Papa never let the grass grow under his feet. But I could hardly think of a time when his rubber boots ever touched grass.

Papa grew up in Morgan City, and he said folks there were mighty friendly. But it seemed to me, most city dwellers weren’t too welcoming to my kind, being from the wrong side of the levee and all. And the city was where I’d have to go to school.

“And, as for making friends with any kids there, no way.” I shook my finger in Snoop’s face. “Just to up and leave ’em behind anyway.”

He managed a tiny whimper, as if I was fussing at him.

I thought about Lydia standing on the Belle River Bridge waving goodbye. My eyes burned, and I squeezed ’em shut. I felt in my pocket for her note. I’d read it at least a hundred times since she’d handed it to me, right before I went stomping down the ladder from her tree house. She’d scribbled down her post office box address and “write me,” then signed her name with the little heart over the i like she always did.

“Hmph!” I told Snooper. “She’s crazy if she thinks I’m gonna write her after what she did.”

Lydia Hebert was my best friend in the whole world…until yesterday. It was a lot easier to leave while I was still mad at her. But now it felt like an empty hole inside me.

Where to purchase:

Amazon Link:

http://amzn.to/1Vc8647

Mirror World Publishing Links:

eBook http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/history/products/the-legend-of-ghost-dog-island-ebook

Paperback  http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/history/products/the-legend-of-ghost-dog-island-paperback

Rita-studio pic cropped-cropped

Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state.

Her middle grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, is based on tales told by her father—who made his living in those bayous—of reasons to stay out of the swamp.

She currently lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, she loves watching the many birds that make their habitat on the Cumberland Plateau, working in the garden, and frequenting waterfalls.

Saphs Book Promotions

Follow the Tour to Read Exclusive Excerpts, Guest Posts, Reviews, and a Character Interview:

http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/2015/08/blog-tour-schedule-legend-of-ghost-dog.html

Cover Reveal: Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord!

Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord launches September 17th!

Meet Sol, a slave turned Gladiator and the heart of the Astrolian Empire’s great Coliseum! This first novel by Adam Gaylord is an action-packed fantasy adventure you won’t want to miss.

Here’s the cover art by the talented Jon Guerdrum of Guerdrum Art:solcover1

Survival is an act of defiance

Deep in the bowels of the Coliseum of the mighty Astrolian Empire, the orphan, Sol, is raised by a makeshift family of guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed Gladiator in all the land. Alongside K’nal, his giant Frorian fighting partner, Sol must battle cunning warriors and fantastic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive. But when an oppressed populace transforms Sol into a revolutionary folk hero, the Empire sends its most ruthless assassin to put an end to the uprising. Sol’s only chance is to do what no slave has ever done: escape from the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.

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Here’s an excerpt:

A baby’s cry.

Grall was sure that was what he’d heard. In the depths of the Coliseum a person became accustomed to various cries of pain or despair. Prisoners, men broken physically or mentally, called out in the night. Spoils, the women given to victorious fighters to do with whatever they saw fit, cried out often. The beasts, crazed by captivity and seclusion, howled and cackled. Even Grall, though the proud young guard would never admit it, sometimes fought back tears that came in the dark. Over time, one could learn to block out the sound completely.

But the cry of a child, an infant, a sound that had no place in this world, could not be ignored.

Grall made his way slowly down the roughly-carved stone hall, unenthusiastic in his search for the sound’s origin. He knew what was expected of him when he found the child. His stomach clenched at the thought.

“I don’t need this,” he thought aloud, his voice barely a whisper. “I should be in bed.” In truth, only minutes before he had lain wide awake, willing dawn to come and give him a reason to abandon his tossing and turning. With the day came his duties; blessed menial tasks he could lose himself in, briefly forgetting his loss.

Grall had come to the Coliseum only a few months before. He had been a guard in the city of Astrolia, capital of the Astrolian Empire, until he refused to participate in a drill using live captives. His protests changed nothing. The captives had died regardless and he had yet again angered his captain, the man that controlled his fate. As punishment he had been transferred to the Coliseum, a post feared by guard and soldier alike. Far more than the danger and brutality, what inspired dread for the post was that for all intents and purposes the Coliseum was a closed system. Be you slave or guard, once you entered it you probably didn’t leave. He had begged his captain, promising him utter obedience. But for the Captain, Grall had made it personal. It mattered not at all that Grall’s young wife had just given birth to their first son. Neither did it matter that he would probably never see either of them again. Even if he managed to be one of the few to live long enough to see retirement, his son would be grown with children of his own.

He had been all for packing their meager belongings and making a run for it, but his wife’s cooler head had prevailed, as always. They lived in the middle of the Astrolian Empire, two week’s hard ride in any direction from free lands if they had a mount, which they didn’t. She was still weak and sore, not yet recovered from a difficult childbirth. Most importantly, they had a brand new baby. In the best of times the road was no place to raise a child, and they would be in hiding.

“No,” she had answered stoically through her tears, “you will go to the Coliseum. You will send us your pay. I will raise our son.”

He protested and argued to the point of exhaustion, vainly fighting the logic in her words. Eventually he conceded, packing his bag and leaving his family, barely started, standing at their doorstep.

He still grieved for the son he would never know.

And now there was this.

“I don’t need this,” he repeated to himself, stopping outside the door to the women’s barracks.

They had promised to take care of it.

He knew the mother. She was a slave in the luxury boxes. As sometimes happens, one of her wealthy male patrons had an eye for her and he raped her after she refused his advances. She’d hid the pregnancy well at first but eventually her condition became all too obvious. Grall had been sent to deal with it. The women of the barracks had assured him that though uncommon, such things were not unheard of. The baby would be disposed of in a quiet manner. He had relented.

An infant howling down the halls was not a quiet manner.

Grall took a deep breath and opened the door. His broad frame and barrel-chest filled the doorway while he let his eyes adjust to the dimly-lit barracks. Women were sitting awake in their bunks, eyeing him with considerable disdain. He made his way down the candlelit center aisle toward the source of the disturbance, avoiding the hostile glares and trying to keep his face passive. He didn’t want to be here any more than they wanted him here. The object of his quest lay wrapped in a blanket and was held by a rather large cook. He saw the mother lying in a bed off to the side, unmoving. The sheets were soaked with blood but it was her face that drew his gaze. She had obviously been beaten, badly.

“She panicked,” the cook said flatly to answer his unasked question. “She confronted the father. He did that and she gave the last of her strength giving birth to this boy. We’ve named him Sol.”

A heavy silence settled over the room; the baby was finally quiet, as if showing respect to his deceased mother. Grall’s gaze lingered on the dead slave, her many bruises contrasting with her pale skin and long blonde hair. In life she had been beautiful, a curse for a woman in the Coliseum. In the peace of death she still held her beauty, despite the violence she had encountered.

“And now you’re here,” the cook broke the silence accusingly.

“I’m sorry. Melina was well liked,” he said, attempting civility.

The cook nodded. “She never let this place get to her.”

He nodded, recognizing the compliment. There was a long pause.

“You can’t keep it,” he said plainly, surprised at the feeling he was able to keep out of his voice. Several hisses sounded behind him. The cook neither responded nor moved. She just sat holding the child.

“You know the rules as well as I.” He could feel the animosity radiating onto his back from the bunks.

“What life could he hope to have here?” he asked, almost pleading, bristling at the tone of his own voice. He was a guard of the Coliseum; he didn’t need to explain himself. Who were these women and this cook who sat unmoving? Had they taken care of things as they promised, he wouldn’t have to be down here at all.

He straightened up. “I’ll deal with it,” he said firmly. Moving the last few paces toward the cook, he felt the women stir behind him. The cook made to strike him and several cries of protest sounded as he reached for the baby. But something unexpected happened, something amazing. As Grall reached for the bundle, his hand was met by the child’s. Without fear and with a strong little grip, the baby grabbed one of Grall’s fingers and held. He froze, as did the women.

Had it been any other guard, hard and embittered with years of service, nothing would have changed, but for Grall that tiny hand struck with the force of a blow. He shuddered visibly, staring wide-eyed at the child. All was still. Grall knew his duty, what was expected of him. The problem with duty was that it belonged in the Coliseum and he was no longer in the Coliseum. Looking at this tiny baby, feeling it holding his hand, the guard was home.

The little hand holding his finger melted Grall’s resolve. The women saw it immediately and smiles passed around the bunks. Grall didn’t see them, he only saw the child. He sighed and then without a word he slowly straightened, turned, and walked back the way he had come.

From that moment on, Sol was a child of the Coliseum.

Sol of the Coliseum is expected to launch September 17th, 2015. Until then, keep an eye out for pre-order opportunities and more information by following this blog or signing up for our new release newsletter here.

Colorado State University

Adam Gaylord lives with his beautiful wife, daughter, and less beautiful dog in Loveland, CO. When not at work as a biologist he’s usually hiking, drinking craft beer, drawing comics, writing short stories, or some combination thereof. He’s had stories published in Penumbra eMag, Dark Futures Magazine, Silver Blade Magazine, and Plasma Frequency Magazine, among others. Check out his blog here.

It’s Launch Day! Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred is HERE!!!

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It’s here! Unintended is here!!
Sorry, I’m just really excited. Here’s the cover:

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Everything happens for a reason…

Four people. Four very different lives. Four tales interwoven.

Meet Kenzie en Shareed, the High Clan Chief’s daughter who is sent south to fulfill a treaty by marriage only to marry the wrong man; Kadrean Authier, the Crown Prince who must come to terms with his new bride, even if he doesn’t much like the idea; Garron D’Arbonne, a noble Lord who has been commanded to marry a cool and aloof princess he doesn’t love; and Vivianne Chappelle, a young and ambitious woman who is in love with her abusive father’s manservant and must find a way to avoid having her entire future decided for her.

Fate and wills collide in this Shakespearian-style romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.

Title: Unintended

Authors:  Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

Genre(s): Fantasy Romance, Romantic Comedy

Tags: Fantasy, romance, comedy, Shakespearian-style, romantic comedy.

Length: Approx. 440 pages

E-book:  978-1-987976-08-3

Paperback:  978-1-987976-07-6

Release Date: August 17, 2015

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing

http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/

Tour Host: Sapphyria’s Book Promotions

http://saphsbookpromos.blogspot.com/

Purchase Links:

Amazon ~

Kindle = http://amzn.to/1P1GMBD

Paperback = http://amzn.to/1L0hkM4

Mirror World Publishing ~

ebook = http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/products/unintended-ebook

Paperback = http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/products/unintended-paperback

Saphs Book Promotions

Follow the Tour to Read Reviews, Guest Posts, and Spotlights:

http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/2015/08/blog-tour-schedule-unintended-by.html

Here’s an excerpt:

The rolling hills and grasslands of Ismera were strange to her in the beginning. Now, after nearly a month of riding through them, they had begun to seem commonplace. What the High Clan Chief’s daughter was not prepared for, however, were the high turrets of the palace she was headed towards and the sprawling city of Ismer that surrounded it. Even more surprising than all that was the fanfare that greeted her when at last she reached the city’s high-walled gate.

A handsome man atop a white horse rode boldly out to greet her, without so much as a weapon drawn or a friend to watch his back.

They are much more trusting here of strangers than they are back at home, she noted. Unless, it’s only that they don’t consider me a stranger.

Mackenzie en Shareed of Haldoram straightened her back, instinctively preparing herself to make a good impression. She felt her breath catch in her throat as he came closer and she realized that the man before her, with his sunny hair, tanned skin and bright blue eyes could be none other than the man she’d ridden all the way here to marry. She felt her usually flawlessly tanned skin flush an uncomfortable shade of red as she watched him dismount and walk the rest of the way to her side, a wide grin spreading across his face at the sight of her.

I didn’t expect him to be so handsome.  Kenzie found that as much as she might want to, she couldn’t deny the pounding of her heart or the fluttering in her stomach. I’m very fortunate to be attracted to him so easily.

If he took notice of her discomfort he didn’t show it, bowing over her hand and kissing it lightly. “Princess Mackenzie, let me be the first to welcome you to the City of Ismer.”

Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Kenzie reached for the marriage bracelet she’d woven herself for this very occasion. Unhooking it carefully from her belt, she caught his hand before he could take it away and swiftly wrapped the small, white-flowered wreath about his wrist, tying it with a practiced motion.

She could see in her husband-to-be’s eyes that he was confused, but she didn’t have time to explain it to him now. That would come later, after they were entwined together in their marriage bed. Right now, only the ritual mattered.

I have to do this now, she affirmed silently. Once I enter this city of theirs and am completely surrounded by Ismeran culture and politics it will be too late to marry him in my own way, in front of my people and by our customs. It’s the only way I will feel comfortable with his arrangement. I can marry him in the Ismeran way afterwards.

The barest nod over her shoulder was enough to bring Seraphina over. Her mentor and friend had accompanied her this far and now she played her part of the wedding ceremony by bringing forth the wreath that Prince Kadrean would place upon her head, sealing their arrangement and making them man and wife.

Aging Seraphina bowed before the Prince, despite the aching old bones she always complained of, holding out the wreath before her in offering.

“Take it,” Seraphina urged him, her English much less accented than Kenzie knew her own to be. “You must place it upon her head and say the words.”

Looking as confused as ever, the Prince took the woven white flowers and did as instructed.

“What words, exactly?”

“I be bhur agus thu de agamsa,” Kenzie spoke in her native tongue, making sure to properly enunciate each syllable so he could follow along.

“I be burr…” he began, trying his hardest to stumble through the words that were foreign to him, “a Gus who de Gamsa.”

That’s good enough, I suppose…  Kenzie frowned, regarding him. Though I thought that being the heir to these lands, he would have some knowledge of Gaelic.

“You may call me Kenzie,” she told him, dismissing her negative thoughts with a smile, before leaning in to kiss him, as was customary.

Seraphina and the other clanspeople who’d made the journey with her began to cheer, but their cheers were cut short when her new husband pulled back from her in surprise. “Whoa! I don’t know what’s expected between two strangers in the North, but here in the South it’s customary to save that kind of greeting for your husband.”

“Yes?”

“Yes…” he agreed, searching her eyes as if to gauge how much of the language she understood, “so I have a fiancée and you have a Prince who’s waiting very anxiously to meet you up at the Palace.”

Kenzie suddenly felt ill and more than a little dizzy. “You are not Prince Kadrean…?” The golden-haired stranger she’d just married wore a look of concern mixed with confusion. “Then who are you?”

“Uh…” He cleared his throat, made a little uncomfortable by the stares of the clanspeople. “Lord Garron D’Arbonne…at your service, Your Highness.”

An uncomfortable silence fell over them and the clansfolk, but Kenzie couldn’t find it in her to break it or fill it with anything meaningful. Her entire focus was on keeping herself from hyperventilating.

I just married this Garron D’Arbonne… Not the Prince; not my intended. Kenzie was in full panic at the gravity of the error she had just committed. How can I fix this?! The marriage bond is forever, never able to be undone… A man can remarry, under certain circumstances, but can a woman? Would they even allow such a thing?

My father will be so disappointed in me. He wanted this treaty between our lands to work. I’ve only just arrived and I’ve already ruined it. What am I going to do?!

“Well,” Garron cleared his throat again, “we should be going. I’m sure Prince Kadrean is eager to meet you.”

Gesturing forward, her husband held out his arm for her.

No, I mustn’t think of him that way, she admonished herself. He is my husband, but he’s right, I’m supposed to marry Prince Kadrean. There is a treaty; our marriage is law. It must happen…

1usMurandy Damodred (left) and Justine Alley Dowsett (right)

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is an expert in sales and management living in Windsor, Ontario.

From obtaining a BA in Drama at the University of Windsor to becoming an entrepreneur in video game production and later, publishing, Justine Alley Dowsett’s unswerving ambition has always led her to pursue her dreams. Today she lives in Windsor, Ontario and is still writing and publishing fiction novels. When not focusing on growing her business, she enjoys role-playing with friends and developing new ideas to write about.