"Dragon Defender: Dragon Defense League Book 1" by J. A. Blackburn

BOOK BLAST and GIVEAWAY
Dragon Defender:
Dragon Defense League Book 1
by J. A. Blackburn
Dragon Defender by J. A. Blackburn is a middle grade fantasy suitable for children ages 9-12. This book was a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2013 Literary Contest. You can enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or $50 PayPal cash. This book blast is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotion Services. The book will be on tour 6-26 January, and the author will stop by for an interview on 13 January.
Description
For over a thousand years dragons have existed in secret …
Peter Clark can build a robot from scratch and pick a lock in two minutes or less. But he can’t figure out why his mother left or why his grandma refuses to talk about her. When Uncle Dominick shows up on Peter’s twelfth birthday with a letter that hints at answers and an incredible story about dragons, Peter follows him, determined to find out the truth about his mother’s disappearance.
What he finds is a reality far different from what he ever could have imagined – where dragons live in hiding, hunted by poachers for their magical parts, and a small group of men and women work tirelessly to protect them. These are the Dragon Defenders. Peter’s uncle is one. So was his mother. Now it’s Peter’s turn.
The Buzz
“We read an advance copy of this book on kindle earlier this year and our 5th grade son read it twice and is anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. Great adventure, really kept our interest reading it together at night. This was one of the kids books I most enjoyed reading myself as well. The characters and the plot are well developed, and appealing to a wide range of kids (both genders). The writing is sophisticated but easy to understand, not ‘dumbed down’ like many kids books. The subject of dragons was so well crafted that it’s easy believe that dragons just might exist, after all.” ~ 5 Star Review, Leigh A., Amazon
“Reminiscent of the Fablehaven series (with just the right touch of Harry P.) this middle grade book is both an adventure and a pleasure…Fast-paced and full of wonder, this book takes middle grade readers on a vivid journey from the southwestern U.S. to Mexico; where jungles, ancient ruins and local folklore add to the enchantment that Peter finds when he discovers that dragons are in fact, real. As a former elementary school teacher, my strong feeling is that kids will eat this book whole, and then turn to searching for dragon eggs in their own backyards!” ~ 5 Star Review, Grace W., Amazon
“Dragon Defender was an absorbing action packed read! The author pulls you in from the first page and I’m not sorry to say I read it all in the first day. I’m 33 but still! This is a fun book for a chapter a night with your 5 year old (my son is loving it so far) or for yourself. The characters are well developed so you feel like you’re really there, and the dragon is so believable. I’d venture so far as to say I had to remind myself that dragons don’t really exist … or do they?” ~ 5 Star Review, MGC, Amazon
About the Author
J. A. Blackburn lives in Seattle, Washington in a small white house overlooking the sea with her husband, Jason, her son, Camden, and their dog, Bella. Dragon Defender is her first novel.




Giveaway
Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card or $50 PayPal cash.
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"The Ifs" by J. D. Pooker

BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT
The Ifs
by J. D. Pooker
The Ifs by J. D. Pooker is a middle grade fantasy. It is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour starts here today with a spotlight on the book. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Description
Landon and Broden are brothers.  Some days they DO NOT get along very well. They spend most of their time fighting, arguing and plotting ways to get revenge on each other.
Then, strange things start happening…
Noises in their room that are not the cat.
Homework is mysteriously finished.
A broken shoelace repairs all by itself.
Clothes are put in the hamper on their own.          
The brothers want to share their weird experiences, but they don’t know if they can trust each other. But when they find out who’s behind all the strange things around the house, they are called to battle.
Battle? Whoa! Right there in the forest by their house! A battle with the most unusual creatures and wildest of beasts. And when the battle turns more dangerous than they imagined, Landon and Broden must face their fears, put their grudges aside and learn how to work together.
Excerpt
CHAPTER 1
        “Good night, boys.  I love you.”  Mom smiled slightly as she blew each of the boys a kiss.
        “Love you, too, Mom,” the brothers said in unison.
        She clicked out the light and closed the door.
        Landon settled into bed and closed his eyes.
        He dreamt that he ran through the forest.  His breath came in pants, his legs were heavy and hard to move.  Something stomped behind him, breathing on his neck.  When he glanced over his shoulder, there was nothing but trees.  He turned back just in time to see a branch in front of his face.  He ducked just before hitting it, but the movement shifted his weight and threw him off balance.  He fell forward, rolling through dirt and leaves.  As soon as he stopped, he held his breath and listened.  The footsteps still sounded behind him.  He tried to push himself up, but he couldn’t move.  A puddle of mud surrounded him, and he sank into it.  He grabbed at the tree roots in an attempt to save himself.  Suddenly, the footsteps stopped.  Landon quit struggling and glanced around.  The forest grew darker, and someone laughed—a low, menacing laugh, like a villain in cartoons.  The renewed desire to pull himself out overwhelmed him, but his movements caused him to sink faster.  When the mud was about to cover his face, he jerked awake.
        His foot connected with something on his bed, and it thumped onto the floor before scurrying across the room.  Landon wiped the sweat from his forehead and rubbed his eyes.  Cautiously, he glanced over the edge.
        “Tiki?” he whispered.  “Tiki is that you?” 
He waited for the meow, but it never came.  He shrugged and hopped off the bed, walking to the bathroom to get a drink of water.  As he came back to his room, something clinked.  What was that?  He squinted in the darkness, hoping the gesture would allow him to see what made that sound.
“Tiki?” He walked to his bookshelves.  He was sure the sound came from that area.  “You know you’re not supposed to be up there.” 
He stood in front of the shelves, patting each shelf with his hand, looking for the cat.  A meow sounded behind him.  Tiki stood in the doorway.  Something thumped in the closet to his right.  His heart began to beat rapidly, and he jumped back into bed, throwing the covers over his head.  It was a zombie, he knew it.  Mom and Dad told him they didn’t exist, but he was sure they did.  What else would have made that sound?  It was going to come out of the closest, its eyes glowing red and teeth dripping with spit, and eat him.  The only protection he had was the force field created by his blankets.  Hopefully, they kept him safe. 
Landon listened intently, waiting for another sound to permeate the darkness, but nothing sounded.  He relaxed.  The zombie must have moved on.  It knew it couldn’t get through his shields.  His heart rate slowed; he took a deep breath.  Eventually, he fell back asleep.
His alarm woke him the next morning.  He poked his head out of the covers and glanced at the clock.  7:00.  He folded the covers to his waist and rubbed his eyes.  He didn’t feel very rested.  In fact, he was incredibly tired.  He wanted nothing more than to roll over and go back to sleep.  Landon finished rubbing his eyes and glanced down.  Tiki lay at the end of his bed, staring at him and blinking slowly.  Landon huffed.  Dumb cat caused a lot of issues during the night, and she looked at him like she was innocent and did nothing wrong.  It was her fault he was so tired.  But what could he do?  He had to go to school, and Mom would be mad if he hurt the cat.  The only thing he had to look forward to was that it was Friday.  He jumped onto the floor and turned to Broden.
“Hey.” He shook Broden’s shoulder.  “It’s time to get up.  We have to get ready for school.”
Broden rolled over and swatted at his brother but missed.  Landon backed out of the way.
“I’m up, I’m up,” he said.
Landon felt ornery and punched him in the arm before running down the hall.  Broden yelled at him from the bedroom.  It wasn’t the nicest thing to do, but Broden needed some motivation to get up.  As he turned to go downstairs, he heard Broden right behind him.  Landon glanced over his shoulder, smiling.  He took the stairs two at a time and went into the kitchen.  Mom sat at the table, checking her email and eating a bowl of cereal.  Phew!  Landon was safe.
“Good morning,” she said between bites.
Landon was about to answer when Broden burst into the room.  He tried to smack Landon on the head, but Landon blocked it, and the two started a slap fight.  Broden must not have noticed Mom at the table, or maybe he didn’t care.  With her there, Broden could get into a lot of trouble for starting a fight.  After all, Mom didn’t see Landon hit Broden in the bedroom, so she couldn’t punish him for that.
“Boys,” Mom called over the melee.  “It’s too early for that.  Knock it off.”
“He hit me,” Broden whined.
“No I didn’t,” Landon protested.
“I don’t care who did what.  Knock it off before I hit you both.”
The two settled down and grabbed a bowl and a box of cereal out of the cupboard.  As they sat at the table, they kicked at each other.  Landon tried to whack his brother good, but he missed and hit the table leg.  He jammed his toe and yelped in pain.  Broden laughed.  Mom just stared at him, her lips pursed. 
“I hope that teaches you a lesson,” she said and stood, taking her bowl to the sink.  She walked out of the room without saying another word.
Landon put his foot on the chair and examined his toe.  It was red and throbbing, but there was no blood, so he would be fine.  Still, it upset him that Mom didn’t get Broden in trouble.  She was there, she saw him start the fight.  Landon didn’t know why he wanted Broden to get in trouble.  He was tired and grumpy, so it sounded like a good idea.  Maybe he wanted Broden to feel as bad as he did.  Either way, it didn’t work out, and that made him angry.  He wouldn’t have hurt his toe if it weren’t for Broden.  That made him even madder.
“See, that’s what happens when you mess with me.” Broden smiled.
Landon flipped milk at him.  There was no other way to retaliate.  Plus, he knew it would upset Broden.  He’d be sticky and dirty for school.
“Mom!  Landon’s throwing food!” 
“No I’m not!”
“Boys,” Mom called from downstairs, “you don’t have time for this.  Did everyone finish their homework?”
Landon’s eyes grew wide.  “Oh, yeah.  My math.”  He scarfed down the rest of his cereal and ran upstairs.
The night before, he’d been having a hard time solving a math problem.  He agonized over it and tried several way to find the answer, but he never did.  The paper was stained gray from him erasing his work so many times.  He was determined to finish it, but he never got the chance.  It was bedtime.  His only hope was that when he went upstairs, a new idea would come to him and he would be able to solve it.
Once in his room, he pulled on his clothes, ran into the bathroom to brush his teeth, then sat at his desk.  The anger and frustration from the morning faded away, replaced with determination to finish his assignment.  He opened his math book and pulled out the paper.  He grabbed his pencil and scanned down the paper, stopping on the problem he had been working on before bed.  Determination was replaced with confusion.  He was sure he hadn’t finished the problem, but as he stared at the paper, there were numbers filled in on the page.  The writing was crooked and light, as if whoever had written it had a hard time holding the pencil.  He scrutinized it for a long time.
Broden came into the room and pulled him out of his stupor.  Landon placed the paper back into his book.  He looked at his brother.
“Did you do my homework?”
Broden stopped getting dressed and looked at him.  “Why would I do your homework?”
“I don’t know.  To mess with me.  The writing is all sloppy.”
Broden cocked his head to the right.  “Landon, if I wanted to mess with you, I wouldn’t do your homework for you.  I’d flush it down the toilet.”
Landon shrugged.  “Well, someone did it.”
Broden pulled on his pants.  “Maybe it was Mom.”
Landon nodded.  “Maybe.”  He placed his book in his backpack.
“Boys,” Mom called from down the hall, “are you getting ready?”
“Yes,” they answered.
“Mom,” Landon yelled, “did you do my homework?”
“What?”
“Did you do my homework?”
Mom poked her head into their room.  “Why would I do your homework for you?”
Landon shrugged.  “I don’t know.  ‘Cause you felt sorry for me?”
Mom rolled her eyes.  “First of all, sweetie, I didn’t even know you were having trouble with your homework.  Secondly, I’m busy sleeping at night, not sneaking around in the dark finishing people’s homework.  Maybe it was the homework fairy.” 
Landon chuckled.  “Mom!  You know there’s no such thing.”
“There is if you believe.”  She knocked on the wall.  “Now, c’mon, we’ve got to get to school.”  She left the room.
After the boys were dressed and ready to go, they met their mom in the living room.  They piled into the car and backed down the driveway.  The ride to school was silent.  Mom pulled in front of the building and turned to face the boys. 
“Have a good day, angels.” She smiled.  “Go straight home after school.  Your dad will be waiting for you.”
“Okay, Mom,” they said as the climbed out of the car.  “Love you!”
“Love you, too!”
Landon turned and waved as he walked toward school, but Broden was already half way to the playground.  They played until the bell rang, then headed into their classrooms.
The first thing Landon’s teacher asked for that morning was the math homework.  Landon turned it in, feeling pretty proud of himself that he had finished all of it, even if he had a little help.  He came to the conclusion that he must have gotten up in the middle of the night and finished it in his sleep.  It was the only way to explain it.  Surely, the zombie in his closet didn’t do it, so who could have?  And it would explain why he was so exhausted.
He went through the rest of his day without giving it a second thought.  By the time lunch rolled around, the only thing he thought about was getting onto the playground and playing kickball.  He ate his turkey and noodles as fast as he could, then ran outside.  On his way, his shoe came untied.  While retying it, the shoelace broke.  He held the string in his hand and stared at it.
“Oh, man.”
“Landon, c’mon!” his friends called.
He put the lace in his pocket and headed onto the field.  He’d have plenty of time to worry about it later.  Right then, the most important thing was the game.
Landon’s team was up by two points, and it was his turn to kick.  He was easily one of the best kickers in his class.  The game would be won by the bell.  There was a runner on second, and Landon was sure he could get him home.  He lined himself up at the plate and eyed the pitcher.  The boy watched him for a few seconds, his eyes narrowed to slits, before winding up his arm and tossing the ball.  Landon steadied himself and watched the ball approach.  He took one step forward and kicked.  His foot connected with the ball with a thump, sending it sailing over the other player’s heads, along with his shoe. 
At first he didn’t notice, the excitement of the great kick overwhelmed him, but when he started running, the gravel dug into the bottom of his foot.  Still, he wasn’t going to let it slow him down.  The runner on second base took off; Landon had to get to first.  He would, even if he had to limp.  He was half way there when he turned to see where the ball was.  The shortstop was crouched down with his arms out.  The ball bounced and he scooped it up, shifting it quickly to his right hand to throw.  Landon quickened his pace.  If he didn’t hurry, he would be out.  As his shoeless foot came down, he stepped on a rock.  Pain started in his heel and traveled up his calf, causing him to almost lose his balance.  He wanted to yell, but the pain took his breath away.   That, and he had to get to first base.  There wasn’t time to yell.  The shortstop cocked his arm back.  Landon braced for the blow.  Before it could come, the bell rang.  Landon stopped in his tracks, and he and the other kids groaned with disappointment.  He turned to get his shoe, then headed back into the building.
Landon was thankful to be able to sit down.  The heel he hit on the rock was on the same foot he jammed his toe.  His whole foot felt like it was pulsating.  He lifted his foot to his chair and slid his sock down.  The heel was already bruised.  A black circle surrounded by red covered part of his foot.  That was going to be sore for a while.  He was a little thankful that he couldn’t tie his shoe.  The pressure might have made his foot explode.  He replaced his sock and put his foot on the floor as the teacher handed back their homework from the night before.  Landon looked at his grade.  B.  He shrugged.  Not bad.  He glanced down the page to see which problems he missed.  The first one that caught his eye was the one he didn’t finish.  Not only was it checked, but the teacher had written a little note beside the problem.  It read:  “Please make sure I can read your writing.  This is a mess.”  Landon shook his head and stuffed the paper in his desk.
After school, Landon met Broden at the monkey bars, as usual, and they headed home.  They only lived a few blocks from school, but their mom liked to drop them off on her way to work.  They didn’t mind because that meant they got to sleep in a little bit longer.  They didn’t say anything the whole way home.  Landon’s foot was sore from the rock, although it didn’t hurt as bad as it had earlier in the day, and he had to concentrate on walking so he didn’t lose his shoe.  Broden was busy kicking a plastic bottle cap down the sidewalk. 
When they got close to the house, Broden turned and kicked the cap at Landon.  It hit Landon in the hand, and even though it wasn’t going fast enough to cause real damage, it still stung.  Landon’s gaze flicked up from the ground.  Broden smiled, then took off running.  How dare he!  He would pay for that!  Landon tried to follow him, but his shoe kept falling off, preventing him from running.  He would have taken it off, but that would make his foot hurt even more.  It didn’t really matter.  There would be plenty of time to get revenge.  Broden didn’t have anywhere to hide.
Landon walked into the house and noticed Broden hugging Dad around the waist.  He would have to wait to get back at his brother.
“Hey, sport,” Dad said.  “How was your day?”
Landon set his backpack by the couch.  “Good.”
Dad smiled.  “We’re going to go play some football in the backyard.  Do you want to come?”
He nodded enthusiastically.  “Yeah.  Let me change my shoes real quick.” 
He ran upstairs and kicked his shoe into the room.  Sitting on Broden’s bed, he took off the other one and pulled on a pair of old sneakers.  He ran back downstairs and joined his dad and brother outside.
Playing with Dad was always fun, but Landon’s foot still hurt, so he wasn’t overly excited.  Still, he tried his best.  Broden caught the first throw, so Landon promptly tackled him.  The second one was his, and Broden whacked him hard.  Broden’s shoulder dug into his back, which hurt, then when he hit the ground, the air got knocked out of him.  That was painful, too.  It took him a few moments to get to his feet.  When he did, his arm was around his waist to help with the pain.  He thought about quitting and going inside, but then Broden would tease him.  He could stick it out for a little longer.
Mom got home a few hours later, and the family ate dinner and watched a little TV.  Broden didn’t tackle him hard again, and Landon was thankful.  By the time they sat on the couch to watch cartoons, Landon was so tired, he forgot about getting revenge on his brother.  Landon and Broden went to bed at 9:00.  All night, Landon kept dreaming that someone was poking his foot, right where he stepped on the rock, with a small stick.  At one point, they poked it so hard, pain radiated through his leg, causing Landon to jerk awake.  His foot throbbed again.  He rubbed his heel for a moment, barely able to keep his eyes open.  Right before falling asleep, he couldn’t help but think something weird was going on.
Review
The story is about two brothers, Landon & Broden, who discover that mystical little creatures called the Ifs are, indeed, real. According to their mother the Ifs, “if they existed would be about 6″ tall, they would help with problems, and you wouldn’t really know they are here.” When they think there is an If, or two, in the house, the boys devise a plan to catch one. Little did they know that the little man they catch, Slade, is there on a mission. Slade is the leader of a village of Ifs and they are being threatened by a rogue clan. In order to defeat the rogue clan, Slade calls Landon and Broden to arms. While Slade is organizing his battle group, the boys are approached by another If named Gage, from a different clan. Gage also needs help from the boys to battle the same rogue group of Ifs. When Landon and Broden realize that one of the Ifs deceived them and Broden is kidnapped, Landon must join forces with the good If (who is the brother to the bad If) and save his brother.
This a great story about two sets of brothers (each set of brothers come from different backgrounds; Ifs or humans) that sometimes get along, but like most siblings, tend to disagree a lot, too. The plot was exciting and well written. The entire book kept me engaged and interested in the characters and what was going on. J.D. Pooker wrote an amazing book that fantasy lovers of all ages would enjoy. This would make a great gift for boys or girls to put in their personal library; whether you purchase the paperback version or an ebook.
About the Author
J. D. Pooker lives in wonderful Wyoming with her husband and two sons, along with a black lab named Ryder and a sweet kitty named Alia. J.D. likes to spend time with her family and go camping, fishing, and snowmobiling.
Her sons are the inspiration for writing children’s stories. She wants to encourage them to be readers and show them how powerful and exciting the imagination can be. She wants them to see that countless worlds exist, and all it takes to get there is a good book.
Links
Tour Stops
5 December – Books Direct– Spotlight
6 December – Fantasy Book Lane– Review
16 December – Emm’s Wonderland – Review
30 December – Tanya’s Book Nook – Review

"The Jammer and the Blade" by DJ Edwardson

NEW RELEASE
The Jammer and the Blade
by DJ Edwardson
The Jammer and the Blade is the latest release by DJ Edwardson. You can read an excerpt and my interview with the author below. You can also enter the Books Direct Christmas Giveaway for your chance to win an ebook copy of this book or DJ’s earlier novel, Into the Vast, of which you can find out more in another blog post.
Description
For Sun li the Code is more than a way of fighting; it’s a way of life. Truth, honor, faith: these are the true strengths of a warrior. But her beliefs are not enough to save her father from the wasting disease ravaging their planet.
The only hope for a cure lies in the hands of an underworld insider, whose price requires Sun li to follow him into a war between drone armies and cybernetically enhanced humans. There, she’ll need more than her energy blades and the Code to survive. Saving her father, and herself, may be a test of faith beyond anything she could have imagined. For, as the Code teaches, sometimes the most difficult battles are the ones we fight within.
Excerpt
Sun li stared at the freshly cut arcoiris flower. Its rainbow petals were still crisp and buoyant, their color undimmed even in the fading light of her father’s shop. It lay on the counter, a bright splash of nature amidst the brown, overcrowded shelves stuffed with tea boxes and packets of incense.
“So what’ll it be? Will you take the job or not?”
The man asking the question looked up at her from the other side of the counter. He wore a worn military vest that was black and gray with a silver diagonal stripe across the chest, but Sun li could tell he had never fought a day for the Delegation. Every soldier Sun li had ever seen was an auger, someone who had been physically augmented to be superior to ordinary humans. Some of them for speed, some for strength, some for other, darker purposes that only those high up in the Delegation knew about. Weapon implants, artificial limbs, enhanced senses, anything to give them an edge in the Delegation’s wars.
The man in front of her was no soldier. Her sister probably could have bested him without breaking one of her manicured nails. He was short, had bloodshot eyes and a nervous tick on the left side of his mouth. And as if there were any doubt, he reeked of gutrot, the undersider’s beverage of choice.
“I need some time to think it over,” Sun li replied, though she knew she didn’t have any time left.
She didn’t want to take this job. The man hadn’t given her many details, but he had said the job would take them to Silenia. That was at least a day’s journey away and her father was far too sick for her to be away from him that long. Besides, she told herself, she wasn’t qualified for infiltrating a military installation. Most of her jobs had been on the back streets of Bracken, chasing dishonest merchants or hunting down undersiders who the Delegation had posted a reward for.
However, none of that mattered when she looked at the arcoiris. On the humid world of Kess, these rainbow-colored flowers were rarer than a day without rain, but somehow this low-life had gotten his hands on one. He was either fabulously rich or as desperate as she was. And judging from his soiled clothes and rancid breath, she had little doubt as to which of those was the case.
He grabbed the flower off the counter and unfastened his satchel. “Well, I’m sure I could always buy the services of some other blade with this,” he said. “So I’ll just take my business -”
“Wait,” she said, her hand darting out over the top of his. “I’ll take the job.”
The man gave her a curt nod. “Excellent,” he said, flipping his hand and allowing her to take the stem. “I knew there was a high probability you would accept my offer. I look forward to working with you.” He turned to leave, but she moved to cut him off.
“On one condition,” she said, staring at him with her dark, narrow eyes. “I don’t kill innocents.”
The man shrugged, “You won’t be killing any innocents on this job. I can promise you that.” He smoothed down the silver stripe on his coat as if that were some sort of sign that he would honor his word.
“All right, then,” she said. “You’ve got yourself a blade.”
Review
GREAT work; and very nicely written. I’m not even totally done with it yet, and I’m finding it a great deal at $1 folks. Sun Li has it rough, and seeing her try to get through things is pretty tense at times. Hope to read more!
Interview with the Author
Hi DJ, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, The Jammer and the Blade.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I’d say principally the work of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. I think you might have heard of them? Tolkien was the first fantasy I’ve ever read, and though I didn’t stumble upon Lewis until later in life, he had a huge impact on me. And I’m a fan not just of their fiction, but I have a deep respect for their non-fiction, particularly that of Lewis who was one of the most clear thinking writers of the twentieth century. A couple of essays which they wrote had a huge impact on me: specifically, “On Stories”, by Lewis and, “On Fairy Stories”, by Tolkien. Both of them were masters in their own way and I can only hope that their influence shows through in my writing.
What age group do you recommend your book for?
I actually read this book aloud to my family and based on their response I’d say about nine and up. There are some scary, tense moments, some battle scenes, things younger kids would probably find frightening, but other than that, I think it reads well for older kids on up.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I’ve had the main character in my head for many years and then one day the idea for the “mission” she gets hired for at the beginning of the book popped into my head and I just felt she would be perfect for it.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
I think for me the idea almost always comes first, though in this case it was the character. But as I said before, I didn’t really have her in this story or even know much about her until I got the idea for the basic plot of the book.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The ending. I ended up re-writing it and I think it came out much better the second time. The original ending was shorter and too abrupt and I felt it just left too many questions unanswered. Going back and expanding it, I felt much better about it and hopefully the readers will as well!
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope this book causes readers to reflect on the importance of family and faith, on the need to not stray from what you know is true.
How long did it take you to write this book?
You know, I think it was about three months all told, including the editing. The first draft went down very fast, but then the editing took longer than I had anticipated. Overall though, it came together pretty quickly.
What is your writing routine?
Hmm … I guess I start out with and outline and then once that’s down, I jump right in. I do almost no editing during the first draft, I just plow through until it’s finished. Then it’s just edit, edit, edit. It usually takes me three or four drafts before it’s ready to be read by anyone and then it’s off to beta-readers, more editing, and then finally off to the content editor and finally the line editor and boom – instant book! Ha ha, not really.
How did you get your book published?
I was submitting to literary agents for about a year and getting only form letter rejections. No one was really interested in my book. And one day I realized that I didn’t really want to work with any of these agents I was submitting to anyway. I didn’t like the books their other clients were writing, I was just doing this because that was how I was told the system worked. Then I read a post by an independent author about how she had published her book on her own and I started to consider that possibility. It took me another six months or so after that, but finally, after doing a lot of research and setting up a website and making a trailer for the book I took the plunge and published directly. And I don’t regret my decision one bit. I really like the creative control that being independently published gives me.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Write. Just put words on paper as fast as you can. Don’t worry if it’s terrible, just write until you are finished and then read it out loud. That is one of the best things you can do as you are revising it. That’s when you’ll know how good it is. And don’t beat yourself up if it isn’t perfect, just keep writing. You’ll get there. Just don’t stop.
Great advice, DJ. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Spend time with my family, especially playing games. I try to exercise and stay in shape, but sometimes I let it slide and just write instead. I actually don’t have a whole lot of free time these days. Most of the time I’ve got soccer practice or little league games to go to, so life outside of writing doesn’t give me a whole lot of wiggle room for extracurricular activities.
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re pretty supportive. Although my daughters rag me whenever someone dies in my books. They really don’t like that and it’s something I’m actually trying to be more mindful of. Death is very traumatic for kids and I think we can sometimes get numb to that since we’re exposed to so much entertainment these days. But I really appreciate their input and feedback. They are by far my biggest fans.
That’s great! Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I grew up in Iowa. I’d say I had a fairly normal, pretty happy childhood. I loved playing in the snow in the winter and playing touch football in the spring and summer. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary. I loved riding my bike around the neighborhood, watching Saturday morning cartoons. Basically I was a pretty average kid. My biggest accomplishment was probably getting my Eagle Scout badge. That and I was the fifth grade checkers champion at my school. Woo hoo!
Great achievements! Did you enjoy school?
Absolutely. School was where I could be a rock star. For me, getting good grades, following the rules, that was all I cared about. I was really good at school and I took a lot of pride in that. The thrill of getting a hundred on a test, bringing home straight A’s, it didn’t get any better for me than that. I know, sounds weird, huh? But learning can be a lot of fun if you approach it the right way.
Doesn’t sound weird at all. Sounds like me – and my daughter as well! Did you like reading when you were a child?
Surprisingly, no. I was much more interested in picture books early on. I wasn’t a big reader. I didn’t really start to hit my stride until my teenage years. That’s when I started to be a more dedicated reader. These days I still don’t read as much as I’d like. I’m pretty slow, actually, so it takes me forever to read a book. But I really do enjoy them. I tell people, “I’m not well-read, but I read well.” Hopefully that counts for something.
What a great saying! What was your favorite book as a child?
As I said, I didn’t read a whole lot when I was younger, but as a teenager it would probably have been the Dragonlance Chronicles. I read both of the series and even bought some of the short stories. I was really enamored with it back then.
Who were your favorite authors as a child?
Probably Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I was also a big fan of Terry Brooks’ Shannara series.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’m a late bloomer, I guess. I’d say it was about five or so years ago. I was in a literature club and reading all this great fiction and it really inspired me. And then another member of the group mentioned that he was working on a story and it got me thinking about this book I had written a few chapters for years ago. It was just sitting on my hard drive and I thought it would make a really great novel. And so we started sharing our work back and forth. It was pretty rough going at first, but I kept at it and finally finished about three years and a zillion drafts later.
Good for you! Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
I’d say so. I was always fighting dragons and exploring new solar systems back then! Well, in my mind, anyway. I actually started writing a Choose Your Own Adventure book with my best friend in fifth grade, but we never finished it. I think we had about fifty pages. I still remember one of the characters. His name was Freznef Barino. What a great name, eh?
Sure thing! Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
You know, I’ve only been at this for one year and to be honest I do not hear from my readers as much as I’d like. I realize that I’m still relatively unknown so it’s understandable. All the same, I would love to hear from people! I’ve got a website and that’s that best place to get in touch with me.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Book 2 in the Chronotrace Sequence should be out within the next month or so. It’ll be out in paperback and ebook format so look for it coming soon!
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, DJ. Best of luck with your upcoming release.
Thanks so much for having me.
About the Author
DJ Edwardson spent two years working in Latin America after college. It was during that time that the ideas for the Chronotrace Sequence first started percolating inside his mind. Much later, after encouragement from a friend in a reading group he had joined, he started writing in earnest, publishing the first book in the series in 2012.
His favorite authors are J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. He likes to think that authors who use their initials are better writers but he can’t actually prove it. Although much of what he writes falls in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, he likes to call his work “imaginative” fiction and often incorporates elements from multiple genres.
Into the Vast, Part 1 of the Chronotrace Sequence, is DJ’s first novel. He is currently at work on the second book in the series, which is due out soon. His short story, The Spirit of Caledonia, is also currently FREE.
Links

"One Summer in France" by Bev Spicer

One Summer in France
by Bev Spicer
Check out Bev Spicer’s memoir, One Summer in France. Also available: Bunny On a Bike.
Description
The summer of 1979 was the best summer ever! Pretty, blond and dangerously impetuous, Bev and Carol head for the sun, lucky beneficiaries of a generous university grant.
They are full of enthusiasm and the dazzling spirit of adventure that only seems possible when we are young. Essential swimwear is selected and Lipton’s vegetable oil is perfumed with patchouli for the perfect tan.
They end up in Argelès-sur-Mer, on a campsite close to the coast and not far from the border with Spain. Every day brings new challenges: how to hold a meaningful conversation on a naturist beach, what to do about a precocious teenage stalker, how to transport a gallon of port on a moped … all of which they meet head-on, with dubious philosophy and irrepressible optimism.
One Summer in France is a humorous tale based on a three-month study break the author took as part of her languages degree course at Keele University in 1979.
“Would you do it all again?” asked Carol.
“Like a shot!” I said.
And I would.
One Summer in France is the prequel to Bev Spicer’s Bunny on a Bike.
Excerpt
Carol woke up with white globules, slimy and sticky, on her forehead and in her hair.  I racked my brains, horrified that we may have inadvertently performed a depraved act with our new neighbours.  Luckily, the substance revealed itself to be the best part of a tin of French rice pudding in a caramel sauce.
‘You must have been very hungry!’ I laughed, dipping a finger in the remnants of the tin.  ‘Quite nice, actually.  Bit sweet, but not bad at all.’
‘Where did it come from?’ asked Carol, running a comb through her hair and making it much, much worse.
‘No idea,’ I chomped.
The mystery of the rice pudding was solved upon unzipping our tent and finding, along with the cloudless blue sky, a bag of supplies, including bread, jam, butter, milk and a second can of pudding.  We got up and, having cleaned up in the showers, went to say thank you to Antoine for not taking advantage of two innocent English girls.
‘We can take you to see the medieval castle,’ he offered. ‘And tonight we will have an Italian pizza in a restaurant I know very well.’
We didn’t see why not and so we agreed.  In the afternoon, we sunbathed and read.  I had brought along some Virginia Woolf and a copy of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.  Carol had an old copy of Cosmopolitan and a book of verse by Spike Milligan.  We congratulated ourselves on our luck, as we read, and had a certain degree of smug satisfaction at the French we were learning and the culture we were experiencing, albeit by accident.
‘Can you put some oil on my back?’ I asked Carol. ‘I like the smell of it.  Where did you get it?’
‘It’s Lipton’s sunflower cooking oil, with a dash of patchouli,’ replied Carol.
‘Perfect!’ I said, impressed with her powers of money-saving inventions.
In those days, the idea of protection hadn’t been understood.  Red, was the colour your skin went before it went brown.  Simple.  The important thing was that your skin should look shiny and smell nice.
Review
One Summer in France is one of those books of reminiscence that rewards the reader on so many counts. It comes across like a novel but is obviously an accurate first-hand recollection as well. It was written recently as a prequel to the very successful Bunny on a Bike but avoids the mistake of applying mature “wisdom” to the experiences of just post-teen years. It is, as a result, modern, funny, occasionally outrageous, atmospheric, nicely descriptive and very fast-moving. We travel with Bev as she obtains a grant to fund a trip to France as part of her university degree and, accompanied by her friend Carol, takes up residence at a camp site on the French Mediterranean coast near the Spanish border. Bev is undoubtedly very pretty – you don’t graduate and end up working for the Bunny Club otherwise – and in no time she and Carol are having a string of hilarious adventures as they find their feet in the campsites, bars and beaches of southern France, fighting off men, dealing with their jealous partners and struggling with rented mopeds. Their visits to the nudist beach or over the border in pursuit of Salvador Dali are absolutely hilarious. But Bev Spicer is a highly intelligent observer of the human condition who does not exclude herself from her ironic and anatomical eye. The consequence is a story that I simply couldn’t put down – it’s a “laugh-out-loud” book with pure nostalgia lightly laid on the narrative and it is so very well written! I’m glad I read One Summer in France first. It will be a pleasure to take the story further in Bunny on a Bike.
About the Author
Bev Spicer is the author of five ebooks and two paperbacks. She also writes under the pen name B. A. Spicer.
Bev was born in a small market town in the Midlands, daughter to an observer for the Royal Air Force and her mother, a local beauty queen.
She was educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge and became a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University in 1997 moving to live in France with her husband and two of her children ten years later, where she writes full-time.
She is widely read and has travelled extensively, living in Crete, where she taught English and learned to speak Greek, and in the Seychelles, where she worked for the government and co-designed materials which were used to teach at secondary school level.
She is currently working on Stranded in the Seychelles, a humorous memoir and sequel to her best-selling Bunny on a Bike.
Links

"Trail of 32" by Paul Rega

ON SALE for $0.99
Trail of 32
by Paul Rega
Paul Rega’s new book, Trail of 32, is based on actual events from the author’s life. You can currently get it ON SALE for only $0.99. 
Paul states,” I had just turned 15 years old in August of 1972. I was on a trip with my Boy Scout Troop where we rode our bicycles from our hometown of Wood Dale, Illinois to Jacksonville Florida. At the time it was a historic trip and hailed as the longest bike hike in Boy Scout history. There were no helmets then, and all we were armed with in addition to our new Sears Free Spirit ten-speed bicycles, were our unique set of values we had learned as children during the early 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. When we completed our trip on August 20, it was an irreplaceable moment of time. The fact that we successfully completed our trip of nearly 1,400 miles was a euphoric feeling like no other I have since experienced. The trip is the subject of a new novel Trail of 32.
Description
The astonishing true story of a group of thirty-two boys and leaders who accomplished an amazing feat in 1972, when they rode their bicycles from Wood Dale, Illinois to Jacksonville, Florida.
It was a simpler time – a common sense two-pedal world with realistic adventures, and everyday heroes. In the summer of 1972, an innocence was lost when twenty-six young boys in a small rural town set out to accomplish something bigger than themselves. Their journey of nearly 1,400 miles would take them through eight states, crossing over the Great Smoky Mountains. It was a tremendous achievement – one that would be hailed as the longest organized bike hike in the history of Scouting.
Excerpt
Chapter One
SHUTTING DOWN MY RECRUITING BUSINESS even for a few days was always a difficult task for me. Owning a small business for nearly 23 years was grueling enough. Taking a vacation and trying to mentally check out from the demands of my business was extremely difficult. It was late October and the fall season was fast approaching. There was usually a day or two during this time of the year, when the weather would cooperate and I’d be able to get away to fish and reflect on my hectic life.
Indian summer had not yet arrived and I began to think it would never come, but the weatherman miraculously changed his forecast at the last minute to a sunny, 75°F day. I would have to act quickly, as I was sure another day like the one predicted would not come again until next year. It would be perfect fishing weather and I was determined to go and try to rejuvenate my work torn mind and body.
I was particularly excited about the prospect of a fishing trip this year, as I had missed my annual outing to the river the year before, because of a difficult time I was having with my family. Earlier in the week, when the unpredictable Midwestern weather didn’t seem to be cooperating, I started to think about what other options I might have to get away on a fishing trip before another harsh winter set in. I began to have visions of my previous fishing trips in the warm gulf waters of the Florida Keys once again. I had taken a much needed trip a few years back in February 2002, in an attempt to cope with a difficult family situation, and avoid a burnout from the rigors of my business. My dream had always been to be in Florida, sitting on a beach somewhere in the Keys, writing a book.
The Keys had always been a place for me to go where I could gather my thoughts and connect with my father, who had passed away a number of years ago. In an effort to cope with my life, and recharge my internal batteries, I decided to take the trip alone and reflect on my life’s future. This was unusual for me, as I have a relatively large family of four boys and we would normally travel together. This particular year however, had been much different from the past and some time alone was exactly what I needed to save my sanity, and potentially my marriage.
We had lost our only daughter, Jennifer, in the summer of August 1998, in a tragic car accident, and our family was never quite the same afterwards. Jenny was not my wife’s biological child and she did not live with us at the time of her accident. My wife did not quite understand the pain and extreme level of emotion I was feeling. It was having a negative impact on my ability to function or even run my company.
Relieved by my decision to take a fishing trip by myself, I was still somewhat lonely and missed my family. Nonetheless, I was determined to enjoy myself on my vacation while writing my book and trying to relax in the warmth of the Keys. I decided to explore an expansive white sandy beach in a beautiful state park called Bahia Honda. The warm clear blue ocean waters and sound of the gentle surf began to calm my soul. This incredible park is located on Bahia Honda Key, approximately eight miles south of the town of Marathon and Key Vaca. To get to the park via automobile, you need to cross an enormous bridge that spans nearly seven miles into the ocean, before coming to rest on another small island and piece of the Keys. If you’re heading south toward Key West, the “Seven Mile” bridge, as it is called, is situated between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west.
The Keys are literally comprised of hundreds of tiny islands, the largest of which are connected by several man-made bridges and are primarily made up of coral deposits. As a result, very few natural beaches are present in this part of Florida. A much older bridge, that was originally built in 1912, as an overseas railway by industrialist Henry Flagler, runs parallel with the newer more modern bridge. Large sections of the original bridge were destroyed by a massive hurricane that killed hundreds of people in the Keys on Labor Day, in 1935.
I fished for the first time in the Florida Keys on that trip; somewhat ironic since my father had owned a townhouse for many years in Marathon on Key Vaca. I didn’t catch many fish despite having an excellent guide, but I came to admire the beauty and serenity of the backcountry. The pristine blue waters and the thousands of exotic birds that often congregate in the shallows of the Keys were magical. I had dreamed of going to Africa for many years, and as I sped across the crystal blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Everglades in my 16 foot skiff, piloted by Captain Charlie Owens; I was in Africa that day.
As I sat on the beach trying to relax on a cheap lounge chair I had bought at Wal-Mart for ten dollars, I felt the warm white sand between my toes and a gentle breeze start to caress my face. I soaked up an abundance of sun and began to visualize leaving my business and writing full-time. I was on a special mission during that trip, as I was trying to prove to myself that I could write and relax at the same time. I was anxious to try my hand at backcountry fishing. Both writing and fishing have always been passions of mine, and unless I scheduled time to do either one of them, often constraints due to my business and family life seemed to get in the way. That particular trip to Florida had special significance and meaning for me, and I was sure it would be one I would remember for the rest of my life.
A Midwestern fishing trip, like the one I was beginning to plan for, nearly always eluded me. This year however was somehow different and no matter what, I was determined to go. The previous destination for my trip was the Vermilion River in a beautiful part of South Central Illinois. It’s a rather unusual river as it flows north on its journey to meet up with the Illinois River. The fact that the Vermilion runs north is a feat shared with only a few other rivers in the world, one such being the great Nile of Egypt. The Vermilion is a very old river as its many twists and turns are evidence of the time spent cutting through its rocky and sandstone banks. Many miles of beautiful and untamed sections of whitewater rapids and pristine wooded shoreline dotted with massive boulders, can be seen having been deposited by the last great Ice Age. Wildlife is abundant, while any real industry is rare, and not a single house can be seen for many miles at a stretch.
As a young boy, my father would take me canoeing and fishing at the river and we would often camp along its lush wooded banks. He loved the area so much that he would later purchase a small farm on the river above the dam near Streator, Illinois. He used it as a refuge to get away from the demands of his own business. My trips to the Vermilion during later years of my life were often bitter sweet after my father’s passing in June of 1997. My memories of him and our many times together, either fishing or canoeing the river, lay heavy on my mind. I missed being with him. My personal trips to the river as an adult were a time and opportunity for me to reflect on my own life and the challenges that lay ahead of me on my own journey.
An area of the river where I planned on fishing during this trip had a very significant and special meaning to me. It was also rife with a vivid memory of a near tragedy. My father and I had been canoeing the river many years ago, when I was only nine years old. The river seemed rather high for that time of the year and the water was moving at a very fast pace. I was wearing a bulky, oversized lifejacket my father had purchased from a Navy supply store. I think he thought the bigger the better, but I remember not being able to move or even paddle very well. He had added an extra level of security by tying a half inch piece of rope around my back and securing it with a large square knot in the front of the jacket.
The military issued lifejacket was very constricting, but I was sure it would hold me up in the water and probably one other person should I fall into the raging rapids. It had only been my second time down the river and I could sense a certain amount of concern on my father’s face. He was desperately trying to keep our canoe afloat as we dodged numerous rocks and submerged boulders. I recall his anguish as he commented that the river was a lot higher than he had originally thought and the current was moving faster than he could ever remember.
My father was an expert canoeist and former Boy Scout, having canoed numerous rivers across the country including the Vermilion and several others in Illinois. For whatever reason, he decided to run a rapid on the far left side of the river in an area known as the Rock Garden. I think he wanted me to experience the thrill of running a real rapid. Strewn across entire sections of this part of the river are numerous jagged rocks and massive boulders, some partially exposed. When the water is higher than normal, the Rock Garden can be rather treacherous and deadly, as many a canoeist, both novice and experienced, have discovered over the years.
My father had purchased a Voyageur canoe that had fallen off a delivery truck and was severely damaged. He was able to buy it for a reasonable price and quickly learned how to repair it with fiberglass. The canoe was maroon in color, and the bow and stern of the boat rose up and curved at the top resembling an Indian birch bark canoe. It was unlike any canoe I had ever seen. Its extra wide body and keel were well suited for whitewater and almost never tipped. Over the years, the canoe would take on a new dimension and weight, as we would need to repair it after several bouts with the Vermilion. The canoe became so heavy due to all its repairs and added amounts of fiberglass, that it would take four men just to carry it to the launch site near Englehaupt’s property.
On a previous trip with my father, Mr. Englehaupt, who lived in one of the few homes on the banks of the Vermilion warned us that if you’re not familiar with this river or are a novice canoeist, this section can be very dangerous during times of high water and should be avoided. He was right, and we were just about to run this part of the river and try to navigate through some of its most treacherous rapids! I began to feel my heart beat faster as we got nearer to the Rock Garden. I could see and hear the water swirling and crashing violently against the rocks. My father yelled to me, “Get down on your knees, Paul, stay low and paddle!” Because I was in the front of the canoe, I could see clearly as we approached what appeared to be a massive amount of whitewater and a five to six foot drop off. We were heading straight into the center of this incredible whirlpool of swirling whitewater.
The front of our canoe hit the rapids first and we began to drop off the edge of the waterfall. I heard a loud crash as the bottom of the canoe scrapped hard against the rocks below the surface and the fiberglass began to buckle. Our canoe shook violently from side to side and just as I thought we were about to tip over, my father steadied our canoe and we continued to move swiftly through the rapid. Then, without any warning, there was a loud crushing noise followed by an eerie almost deadening sound of what must have been solid rock ripping through the bottom of our canoe. As our small craft came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the raging rapids, it began to shake more violently as waves crashed hard against its sides. With our canoe on the verge of being eaten alive by the rapids, I heard my father cry out in pain. When I looked back at him, to my horror I saw a steady flow of his fresh blood clearly visible against the gray bottom of our canoe. His left knee had been split open from a jagged rock that that had punctured a section of our boat where he had been kneeling.
We were now being held in place by a large jagged rock in the middle of a churning mass of whitewater. The rock had just ripped a gaping hole in our canoe severely injuring my father. His face was grimacing with what had to be excruciating pain. His massive body and tired arms tried desperately to keep our small canoe afloat. He yelled to me, “Stay low, and don’t panic!” I don’t remember panicking, but I was worried about my dad and wondered how we would manage not to sink and be swept down river in only our lifejackets. Even at nine years old, I was a pretty good swimmer, but questioned my ability to swim with any chance of survival in these types of waters.
As more and more water rushed in from the large rip in the bottom of our canoe, huge whitecaps crashed over the sides completely soaking our bodies in cold river water, threatening to sink us. I could feel our canoe begin to shake violently once again as my father desperately tried to free it from the grips of the rock that had punctured our boat, and ravished his knee. Suddenly, I heard another loud scrapping noise and our boat catapulted forward and was finally free from the grips of the rocks. My father yelled to me, “Bail Paul, bail!” I quickly dropped my paddle into the canoe and began to frantically bail the water out of our nearly swamped boat with a plastic milk container.
Our only hope to survive this incredible mishap was to try and make a quick sharp turn across the river and shoot for the right bank. I could see that the left bank of the river was completely washed out by the high water and there was no sign of dry ground. A massive concrete and steel bridge that spans across the Vermilion at this section of the river has hash marks on its immense columns, indicating the height of water in the river. As we came closer to the bridge, I could see that the river was well past the six-foot marker on the columns, nearly reaching the seven-foot mark, an extremely dangerous water level for this river. At an eight-foot level, the Vermilion looks like a branch of the Colorado River.
As we desperately tried to keep our canoe afloat, I thought that if we missed getting out of the river at this point, we might be washed further downstream without much hope of getting out for several miles. I was worried about my father’s knee and his ability to continue paddling. If we were to save ourselves, we would have to safely steer our small canoe around the massive bridge columns, make a sharp right turn and head for the far right bank of the river. Not a very easy task with a boat nearly filled with water and my father’s severe injury. Still kneeling, he tried desperately to stop the profuse bleeding from the gash in his knee by wrapping his drenched shirt around his wound. As he applied pressure, I could see his face grimace in pain. It was a first aid technique I’m sure he must have learned while in the Boy Scouts. It was apparent that he was in agony and was the only one paddling, as I continued my desperate attempts at bailing. With each movement forward, our canoe continued to take on more river water. The water rushed in through what appeared to be two large jagged rips in the bottom of our canoe.
As I struggled to bail, mustering every ounce of energy left in my body, I could hear my father groan in pain as I felt our weighted down canoe start to slowly turn toward the right bank with each powerful thrust from his paddle. His last orders to me on the river were, “Stop bailing, Paul, now paddle, paddle hard!” Somehow through our incredible determination to save our lives, my father and I were able to make it safely to the other side of the river without sinking and being swept down the Vermilion River. It’s a vivid memory of how determination, teamwork and the sheer will to live, which saved our lives that I will never forget. I often reflect on this amazing tale of courage, as I continue to fish and canoe that very part of the river as an adult.
Review
Mr. Rega presents a delightful memoire of growing up in what may be called a simpler time. The book culminates in a bike trip from Illinois to Florida. As an amateur cyclist, I cannot fully fathom such a trip even in this day of padded shorts and clipless pedals much less in a Boy Scout uniform and clunky shoes and without a cellphone.
Truly the values of the time and the lessons he learned from his family and scouting gave him the determination and character to make such a trip possible. A must read!
About the Author
Paul Rega began his writing career in 1980 while attending Western Illinois University as a staff reporter for the Western Courier. Upon graduating with a degree in biology and journalism, he spent the next thirty years in business having started an executive search firm in 1984.
Paul’s passion for writing stayed with him throughout his business life, and he started writing his first book in 1993. He published, How To Find A Job: When There Are No Jobs in December 2011. The book was an instant success, and hit #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for job hunting books in March 2012. He published 12 Steps to Freedom in August 2013 and Trail of 32, a true coming of age story in September 2013.
Paul lives in a small town along the Gulf Coast of Florida, where he is working on his next book.
Links

"Gothic Genesis (Tales of the Gothic Warrior)" by Billy Wong

NEW RELEASE 
Gothic Genesis 
(Tales of the Gothic Warrior) 
by Billy Wong 
Description
This series is meant to be unrealistic fun. If complete believability is a must, it might not be for you… but if you like the sound of a non-magical female brawler standing toe to toe with huge men and monsters in brutal fistfights on sheer toughness and badassery, maybe it is.
After beating up a player from a rival football team, high school sports star Freya finds herself under investigation for his disappearance. Resolving to find him and clear her name herself, she teams up with psychic outcast Annabeth on a quest that will start a great friendship and change her life forever.
A short story. Prequel to the Gothic Warrior series.
Excerpt
Freya lay beneath the huge pasty boy, trying to blink her vision back through the continued hail of punches to her cheek and jaw.  She had challenged the star linebacker of a rival high school football team to a fight outside a closed gas station after he purposely injured her teammate, only to be surprised by his sudden attack while she tried to take off her jacket.  She remembered being blindsided by a stunning uppercut, saying “oh” weakly and slumping to the pavement before their schoolmates as her limbs lost all power.  She had to rally and fight back, but couldn’t find the strength.  Her body was nearly limp, and when Bobby the linebacker saw her head loll to the side, he halted the assault.
“Don’t stop,” she mumbled through torn lips.  “Keep hitting.”  If he let up, it would look like she had lost the fight.  Even now, she couldn’t accept that.  She still told herself, in a tiny whisper at the back of her head, that she could come back.
He resumed pounding her, making her eyes water and blood spray from her mouth.  Warm liquid dripped from his fists back onto her face from which it’d come.  “Why don’t you give up?” he asked pleadingly.  She could tell he hit her as hard as he could, but didn’t want to.  He did it out of respect for her wishes, for which she felt grateful.  She didn’t need his mercy.
Finally summoning a surge of energy, she grabbed his waist and rolled him over so that their places were reversed.  Now she hammered punches into his doughy face and he gaped in awe of her recovery and strength.  He raised his forearms to shield himself, and immediately she took the opportunity to snatch one of them, wrap her legs around and try for an armbar.  Bobby’s elbow started to pop, and he cried out in pain.  He rolled so that he crouched over her, one arm still trapped, and punched down with his free hand.  Shot after loud shot landed, and she lost her grip.  She clawed at his eyes, but he blocked the attempt and continued to batter her.  Her face an indistinct mass of pain, she turned to her side and curled up in a fetal ball.  Honoring her earlier request, he kept striking.
“Stop!” a high female voice said.  “She’s hurt!  Look at her body language, it’s saying she surrenders!  She’s helpless…”
That got Freya’s fire burning.  She threw an elbow up from her side and caught Bobby right on the chin.  He grunted and dropped to his hands and knees over her.  “Don’t presume to speak for me,” she spat at the small girl who had spoken.  She wore all black—black hair, black shirt, black pants, black makeup, black boots, black fingerless gloves.  Annabeth the antisocial goth.  They’d gone to the same school since junior high, but never interacted much.
“Sorry.  I just had a premonition someone would be in big trouble.”
Premonition?  Who even talked like that?  Freya scooted out from underneath her opponent and threw her legs up around his neck.  “You mean someone like Bobby?  I was just enjoying the face massage.”
Her real name was Star, no thanks to her hippie mom, but everyone called her Freya after a video game character known for being overpowered.  She possessed more strength and toughness than any teenage girl she knew, and most adults.  And she was considered the greatest warrior… of her high school.
Review
There are no reviews as yet. Be the first to review this new release after reading your FREE copy.
About the Author
Billy Wong is an avid fan of heroic fantasy, with a special love for strong female warriors. He draws inspiration from the epic legends of old, and is on a quest to bring over the top deeds and larger than life heroes back to prominence in today’s literary world.
Billy lives in Coney Island, Brooklyn. He has written numerous fantasy books, including the Iron Flower series and the Gothic Warrior series. The Iron Flower series consists of Iron Bloom, Iron Flower, and Iron Bonds. The Gothic Warrior series consists of Gothic Warrior and the Dark Man, Seeds of Despair, Gothic Gladiator, Best in the Elf-ing World, and Gothic Genesis.
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"When the World Ends… " by J. J. Marshall

INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY
NEW RELEASE
When the World Ends…
by J. J. Marshall
When the World Ends… is J. J. Marshall’s debut novel. The paperback is currently ON SALE for 10% off. You can read my interview with the author below. In addition, J. J. has generously donated three ebooks for our giveaway. Make sure you enter!
Description
At the dawn of the 22nd Century, the Earth is dead.
A lethal alien organism has rendered the planet uninhabitable and a small fraction of humanity has retreated to Space and the Moon.
Those that remain on Earth are trapped in huge Spheres that encompass entire cities, tinted to defend against the deadly UV radiation from which the atmosphere no longer protects Humanity.
17-year-old Alec Corbett lives aboard the adapted International Space Station. One ordinary day in his mundane life he transforms his potential when he discovers information that could expose the corruption of the Board of Officials that now controls Humanity. Armed with nothing but knowledge and his friend Jonah Jones by his side, Alec’s righteous judgment leads them on a merciless and unforgiving path.
For there is one key problem – the information comes from his father Landon Corbett; a member of the Board. Pitted against his own flesh and blood, Alec finds himself in a unique position to end the Board of Officials’ dictatorship over Humanity. However, all is not as it seems and as the stakes grow increasingly higher, Humanity reaches the brink of all-out-war.
Only Alec and his group of friends can peacefully negate the situation, but it all depends on whether or not anyone will listen to a 17-year-old boy.
Excerpt
‘They’re running out of space across the human empire’ Andrew said. His voice was deep and thick and Alec imagined that if he were to shout the sound would reverberate well. ‘Which is ironic considering we’re surrounded by it’.
‘It’s like they’re giving up on Earth’ Lola said. Her voice was laced with heavy traces of a Spanish accent and Alec wondered if she spoke the language. He hadn’t heard another language other than English…ever, he realised.
‘They are’ Alec confirmed. ‘They’re leaving them to it. As far as the Board of Official’s see it, people left on Earth have their Spheres and there’s just no room left’.
‘But the Spheres were never a long term solution’ Riley said. ‘In fact, they were never a solution at all. They were only supposed to be a temporary measure until more Moon bases were constructed. The Spheres aren’t sustainable; they’ll burnout after another ten years or so’.
‘By the sounds of it, it’s a sacrifice that the Board is willing to make’ Jay sighed heavily.
Their conversation was interrupted by a loud, metallic ringing. Alec looked around bewildered whilst everyone else turned to the handset that was fixed to the wall in the kitchen.
‘No one ever calls’ Andrew frowned, causing his glasses to slip down his nose slightly. ‘Not since we discovered that calls were always monitored’.
‘Must be important then’ Jay said, stepping from the carpet to the linoleum and picking up the receiver that hung from the wall. Alec recognized the attachment as something which he had once seen in an old-Earth film but he couldn’t recall the name of the device. ‘Hello?’ Jay said, taking the oblong-shaped gadget and holding it against the side of his head. One end reached towards his mouth whilst the other end was pressed against his ear.
Jay remained silent and listened, nodding to himself and saying ‘yes’ or ‘okay’ on the odd occasion. After a few minutes he thanked the caller and placed the device back on the wall.
‘Who was it?’ Riley asked unable to contain her anticipation.
‘Apparently this habitation just won a lottery which we were entered into on our last food order’ Jay said, his eyes dull and his voice flat. ‘Our reward is a place on MoonBase1’.
Everyone’s expression fell slack and they stared in disbelief.
‘It’s begun’ Alec realised. ‘They’ve already started the scheme!’
Jonah turned around and opened the front door. Out in the corridor people were already chatting excitedly, the hot words on everyone’s lips being ‘lottery’ and ‘MoonBase1’.
‘They’ve already called the people they’re going to transport’ Jonah said, unable to bring himself to state their true destiny.
‘We have to stop this’ Alec said adamantly. Every muscle in his body was clenched and everyone else had also tensed in anger against what the Board was planning on doing. ‘We can’t allow this to happen’.
Book Trailer
Review
When the world ends is the debut novel from exciting new author, J. J Marshall. Set 100 years in the future, the 21st century earth as we know it now, is slowly being burned up by the sun and the story follows 17 year old Alec Corbett’s struggle to proper in the new harsh environment of space. Not only that, but there are more sinister forces at work beneath the surface, who pose a threat to all of humanity. And somehow Alec gets right in the middle of trying to stop it!
Being drawn into this futuristic world is quite an experience. The twisty turny plot will keep you captivated from beginning to end and Marshall will completely absorb you into this make believe world that he has created. Through detailed description, he leaves no stone unturned and it is a credit to the depth of his imagination that translates every aspect of this new version of earth on to the page.
The main protagonist, Alec is likeable and well explored. His character sees the biggest progression as the novel continues and he has been given a sufficient amount of emotional depth to allow the reader to care about what happens to him. His dialogues with other characters are well thought out and help to continuously move the plot forward in a gripping way. The introduction of a main character reasonably late in the novel was an unexpected and exciting occurrence and I look forward to seeing her develop further in the remaining two books of the trilogy.
This book is a well written, gripping, plot driven adventure and Marshall’s easily readable style makes it effortless to read. Within its pages there something for everyone – from action to romance and everything in between. The author skilfully keeps you enthralled with shock revelations and a fast pace that makes it addictively entertaining. I am definitely looking forward to see how the story continues so make sure you don’t miss out on this thrilling new summer read.
Interview With the Author
Hi J.J., thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, When the World Ends…
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Definitely J.K. Rowling; it was her first book that made me start writing in the first place. Since the age of 10/11 I’ve written because I was inspired by J. K. to try and create worlds beyond our own.
What age group do you recommend your book for?
My book is aimed at young adults, or 12+. Although many of the readers so far have been in their late teens/early twenties (and some older!) and all feedback has been overwhelmingly positive; they’ve all really enjoyed it.
What sparked the idea for this book?
The idea of this novel came from a dream. I dreamt of a man looking down on an uninhabitable Earth, with his son beside him, both wondering about the fate of his wife. It spiralled from there really, although it turned into something completely different and became this post-apocalyptic, revolution story.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
The two main characters (protagonist Alec, the son, and antagonist Landon, the father) were there from the very start. Interestingly, Landon was going to be the main character initially, but that changed before I’d even started writing.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
I think trying to do justice to the finale was difficult. I’d had this image in my head of what it was going to be like for so long that when I came to put it on the page, I struggled because I just wanted to get it all in and I wanted it to be perfect.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope that they’re able to engage with characters on an emotional level, whether it be empathising with them, loving them or hating them. Because once you’re hooked on good characters then the plot is automatically interesting because you care for these people. It’s a sci-fi novel and I hope that it can change people’s opinion of such genre novels and show them that it’s not what they think.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me two and a half years to write. I took a break of roughly five months because I came to university and just put it on the back-burner because of all the new stuff I had going on.
What is your writing routine?
I don’t have a routine, I just write when I can find the time which is often either late at night or early morning. For some reason, even though I’m tired, I’m at my most creative then. I think because I dream so much about my novels and the characters, night time is a really good time for me. I have to be sitting at a desk or table too, I can’t just sit on the sofa or a bed.
How did you get your book published?
I published my book through AuthorHouse, which is a self-publishing agency. Initially I just wanted to be able to say that I’d published a book, so I worked hard to make sure that When the World Ends… was the best it could possibly be. The reception to the novel is what is spurring me to pursue it further in terms of a writing career. I never thought about it until the first reviews started coming in and people genuinely loved the book.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Believe in yourself. It is so difficult to get an agent and to get a publisher to take on your novel (hence why I went down the self-publishing route – I didn’t have the time to pursue these people). But if you believe in your work and you genuinely believe that it will work, then go for it. J. K. Rowling was turned down by twelve publishers. Imagine that – twelve publishing houses turning down Harry Potter!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I don’t get a lot of free time, between doing my degree at the University of Reading and part-time work. I like to just hang out with friends, catch up and socialize because writing and the two aforementioned things take up a lot of time where I don’t get to see friends.
What does your family think of your writing?
I think they’re surprised, because none of them particularly read that much and none of them write. So they don’t know where I get it from! But they’re very supportive. My nan has bought the book both in paperback and a Kindle version!
That’s so sweet. Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was born and raised in south London and I went to a Roman Catholic secondary school. I lived with my mum for a time and then with my dad, whom I lived with until I went to university.
Did you enjoy school?
Most of the time, yes. I enjoyed most of my subjects (except for maths and the sciences which involved maths!). My favourite subjects were geography (which I now study at university), English and Spanish. I was fortunate to go to a really great secondary school.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I loved reading!! I still do. I used to read all the time, when I’d come home from school and especially through the summer holidays. My family used to go on two week holidays and I could read anything between 5 and 10 books in that time. The rate at which I read has sadly dwindled the older I’ve become, being an adult is rubbish!
You can say that again! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I published When the World Ends… and received such positive feedback. Obviously I had dreamed about it before then, but it only became a reality when I realized that people actually enjoyed my work.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Definitely. I loved reading so much and it was such a big part of my life. It taught me about escapism; getting away from reality for a bit and losing yourself in a book, and I thought it would be fantastic if I could create something like that: my own little world!
What was your favorite book as a child?
I think it would be wrong for me to say anything other than Harry Potter. All of them! When Order of the Phoenix was released my mum bought it for me and I’m pretty sure I read it in a day. I just loved the whole world and the characters and, like many other people my age I’m sure, I just wanted to go to Hogwarts! I genuinely hoped that on the night of my 11th birthday I would get a visit from Hagrid. Can you imagine my disappointment?!
Who were your favorite authors as a child (as if I can’t guess)?
J. K. Rowling. But I’ve said enough about her! Anthony Horowitz played a big part of my mid-teens when I discovered Alex Rider. When I realized I wasn’t a wizard I decided I wanted to be him, which seemed more realistic! I also loved his Power of Five. That was such an incredibly fantasy/supernatural series.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear a little, I’m still expanding my readership at the moment. Many people enjoy the pace of the book and they say they find it hard to put down. Which is good because I did that on purpose! I deliberately ended each chapter with a cliff-hanger or something that would make you want to keep reading. I love books like that, so I’m glad that I was able to do that for my own novel.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
There’s the rest of the trilogy!! This is just the first book. The second book, …Humanity Falls… is hopefully going to be released at Christmas time, once all the editing and read-throughs have been done! Then the third book will probably be released Christmas 2014 – I’ve barely started writing that yet so it’s in the very early stages. After the trilogy I have a novel lined up about two reality-hopping brothers (another dream I had!), which I’m really looking forward to writing because this trilogy has taken up all my creativity over the past few years!
It’s been a pleasure chatting with you today. Thanks for contributing the prizes for our giveaway. I wish you the best for future writing projects.
From the Author
I am currently studying a BSc Physical Geography Degree at the University of Reading in Berkshire, England, with the intention of pursuing a career in teaching secondary school pupils. I was born and raised in England and am presently twenty years old. When the World Ends… is my first publication and I’m incredibly excited to be working with the people at AuthorHouse in bringing my story to real, tangible pages!
Writing has always been a hobby and a passion of mine from a very young age; I can recall writing a novel on my first family computer which was inspired (as well as a being blatant rip-off!) of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was really this book; the first full novel I had ever read by myself, that inspired me to write for myself and to create worlds beyond our own and fictions that can redefine the past or give suppositions about the future.
I would list J. K. Rowling as one of my top inspirations, as well as the likes of Anthony Horowitz, Iain Banks, Charlaine Harris, and Suzanne Collins. I also draw inspiration from TV shows and scriptwriters, such as Joss Whedon, J. J. Abrams, Maurissa Tancharoen, Steven Moffat, and Jane Espenson. Their work and the way that they construct characters and stories spur and challenge me to create my own little realities.
So welcome to one of my little realities! I hope you enjoy it.
Giveaway
The author has kindly donated three ebook copies of When the World Ends… for our giveaway. Please show your appreciation by entering.
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