I knew when I got the idea for THE ELF GUARDIAN that It would be set in the Bitterroot Mountains, like the others–but I wanted a unique twist. It came when I read about the Montana Vortex.
When paranormal investigator Chiara de Luna needs a boost to her sagging career, she makes a trip to northwestern Montana for new material. Little does she know that the real story she’ll find is much more outlandish than weirdly tilted trees and brooms standing up on their own.
Clan Elves of the Bitterroot (Book IV): The strong Earth energies that support the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot have gone awry for unknown reasons, and the powerful forces at work have not gone unnoticed by the outside world. When a paranormal investigator looking for a story to save her career is told a fantastic tale by the juvenile and disobedient elf prince Elliun, his young albino elf bodyguard Max must try to fix the mistake. Can Max get humans, mages, and elves working together in time to save the land before the energies spin out of control? Or is this the end of the elven world in the Bitterroot Mountains? [Urban Fantasy series from Dragonfly Publishing, Inc.]
The phone line went dead before she could even say ‘goodbye.”
Not that she was going to say ‘goodbye.’ Anything but.
The once-sweet name turning bitter on her tongue, the whispered words sighed through her lips, becoming sharp, cutting her.
No, that was her teeth, biting down hard enough to make her bleed.
She set the phone into the stand. Gone.
Her knees gave way and she landed, hard, in her office chair, banging her elbow on the edge of the polished black-and-chrome desk. The pain reverberated up and down her arm, but did nothing to cloak the agony raging inside her.
The news clippings across the surface of the desk seemed to mock her now. Paranormal Investigator Visits Alcatraz. DeLuna Solves Local Murder with Psychic Clues. Ghosts Give Up Secrets to Ohio Paranormal Expert. All her work, fifteen years of building a reputation as an investigator of the weird and unexplained—what would it mean if Hunter Nowles walked away from her?
And why was he leaving? Because that stupid exorcism had turned out to be a fake.
Okay, and the haunting of that old mansion in Pennsylvania had turned out to be a bust.
She chewed her lip. To be honest, she’d failed to either prove or debunk the last seven investigations she’d undertaken. Lucky number seven.
“The great Chiara DeLuna bites the big one,” she muttered, waiting for the rim shot that had to follow. It was a joke, right? She was a joke. The network seemed to think so. Davis had already sent a memo warning her they wouldn’t fund her program any longer if she couldn’t produce results. And now Hunter had decided she wasn’t worth his time, either.
Or maybe he was just afraid that her failures would taint his own growing stature in the paranormal investigation community. Their three years as lovers didn’t mean anything at all?
Her gaze was snagged by one of the news photos on the desk, herself smiling and shaking the beefy hand of some small-town police chief. See, that woman was Chiara DeLuna, “spooky” media star—the woman with the chic platinum blonde hair, the expensive wardrobe, and the ominous black sedan that seemed to part crowds when she arrived on a scene.
Not the woman who looked back at her from the mirror, dreary, bookish Bonny Lang from Euclid, Ohio whose most thrilling accomplishment before she’d hit the big time was surviving a wreck with a drunk driver, as a teenager. Her mother had been killed in the crash; Bonny had sold her first paranormal article based on a post-mortem conversation they had before her mother’s spirit faded.
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Probably my favorite subject to read or watch is space opera. For the uninitiated, there is not necessarily any singing–unless you’ve got Klingons in it–but it’s a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking. (fromWikipedia)
Star Trek, Star Wars, The Expanse, Doctor Who, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Avatar and so many more fit into the category. My own humble contributions to the genre include the Horizon Crossover series and Triad, all available from Dragonfly Publishing.
After five years of silence, the Arkosian space pirates are back to terrorize the sector where Trezanna Len fights to save her Solarii colony, a small group of Terran descendants settled on the planet Induna. To survive, the Solarii need assistance. And soon.
Trezanna could ask for help from the neighboring group called Dragonfleet, but its cruel leader Estrella Drake has been on a rampage to annex Solarii space. Estrella would never agree to an alliance with the Solarii. Or would she?
When Trezanna had joined the Solarii, Luca Stregone was DragonFleet liaison to the group, back when both groups fought the oppression of the Arkosian pirates, who’d terrorized this sector of the galaxy for thirty years.
The Solarii had banded together on the small planet of Induna, brave individual souls who challenged the despots, gathering members as word of their alliance spread. DragonFleet, always a vicious bunch but even more so under the petulant, tumultuous leadership of Estrella Drake, had clung onto the coattails of the new group. Dissatisfied with the bounds of DragonFleet territory, she’d use any excuse to carve a larger section of the sector for herself, and just as happy to take some of what the Arkosians had, just for spite.
The two groups had fought and won as allies, ousting the pirates in a bloody victory. But the celebration and peace had been short-lived.
Without the constant gnawing of the pirates’ fangs in her side, Estrella instigated bickering within, causing a division in DragonFleet which ultimately spawned the Khimeyr. Luca took nearly two hundred of those unwilling to live under Estrella’s prima donna rule and moved them to Zeta, promising them a new colony, a place to enjoy the free life they had earned.
But apparently that peace had been denied.
“Something got him on a scouting mission seventeen months ago, an animal or…” Catava shrugged, her voice devoid of emotion. “He wasn’t the only one. Zeta Colony was never the paradise we’d hoped it would be. Many dreams died there.” The pain that crossed through the woman’s eyes was unmistakable.
Welcome to Lyndi’s adventurous friend Helen C. Johannes!!
When I was in high school, I had a friend who’d never ridden an escalator, never traveled more than 50 miles from home. I couldn’t fathom a life so limited in experiences. Even at the tender age of 16, I’d crossed the United States from coast to coast by car, sailed the Atlantic from NYC to Germany and back, lived in a foreign country and five US states, attended 12 schools, and earned my driver’s license in two states. Most would say I’d already lived an adventure.
Well, I was a military brat, and that was normal. Travel and moving every couple of years was so ingrained that I carried on as an adult, eventually visiting most of the continental US states plus Alaska and Hawaii, and dipping my toes/fingers in both sides of the Atlantic and both sides of the Pacific, plus the Caribbean.
After all that traveling, that apparent rootlessness, it’s hardly a surprise my author tagline is Brave men, bold women—hearts in search of home. Or that my characters find themselves on cross-country journeys. Or, ultimately, that what each of them desires is a sense of belonging, be it to a place or a group of people.
My heroine in LORD OF DRUEMARWIN is on the ultimate journey, leaving behind her family, her culture, even her landscape for the sake of the man she loves. Here’s a snippet.
LORD OF DRUEMARWIN – PAGES FROM THE HEART Winner in Fantasy Romance, Crown of Tolem series
Tag line: In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?
Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.
Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.
With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.
“Raell, now is not the time—”
Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them, but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.
“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”
The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears, the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—
“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”
Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.
The Prince of Val-Feyridge, Crown of Tolem #1
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today I’m sharing an excerpt from WINDMILLS, the first book in my post-apocalyptic trilogy THE COLOR OF FEAR. This piece gives us insight into Valery Paz, and a glimpse into her history.
Before she stepped over the threshold, Valery Paz patted her two front pockets. The left one held the book she was currently reading, a fantasy story about a modern-day barista and a glass slipper, the right a fully loaded pistol she wasn’t afraid to use.
Yep, Uncle Dave, you’d be proud of this little Latina. Self-defense: Never leave home without it.
Wary of the street after hearing about Kwan’s encounter with the gang, she set off at a swift pace, spurred on by the damp chill in the air, her well-worn sneakers making hardly a sound. Twenty blocks along Broadway, then a right turn, then up to the attic of a small house just past Jackson Square, and she’d be home. She could sit by her tiny window and look out over the bay near the Embarcadero.
If she was lucky, and the fog held off, she might catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate.
The bridge still seemed more like another fantasy to her than reality, even though she’d seen it in clear weather, swathed in fog, and in dozens of different states in between.
She hadn’t lived in the city before the Second Holocaust. Then, she’d been the nearest thing to a Valley Girl at Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas, about a hundred miles south of San Francisco, her daily language peppered with southern California slang. She’d been slated to graduate salutatorian of her class, bound for Stanford. The Second Holocaust ended the school year early.
Then it ended a lot of things early.
Her younger brother had died first, but in the twelve months afer the SH, she’d lost her mother and “Uncle” Dave too. Her parents had broken up years before, but her dad had always stopped in when his sales job brought him within shouting distance. It had been maybe a month before the SH when he stopped in before heading to southern California. She hadn’t seen him again.
She’d buried her mother and Dave, then packed a duffel bag with her dearest possessions and those her family had treasured as well. She had to go somewhere,
People came through town, heading to Colorado or New Mexico, and said San Francisco was at least providing some services to residents. Valery had some very
fond memories of the city by the bay, one visit in particular when she’d gone shopping with her mother as a young adolescent. They’d had warm sourdough bread and
shrimp cocktail from a cart on Fisherman’s Wharf and toured Chinatown, just the two of them. Her mother had bought her a new pair of shoes and a tiny cable car ornament
for their Christmas tree. A magical day.
That’s what made up her mind.
Six months now since she’d moved here, and she still sought real direction. When she was younger, she’d wanted to be a fashion model. She was tall enough, and when she only let herself eat lettuce—for a week or so—she could be skinny enough. It wasn’t like modeling scouts came through Salinas, though. And Mama wouldn’t take me to the city to try out. Not till I was eighteen.
She muttered, “Well. Now I’m eighteen, Mama. Look at me. Sneaking around the streets after dark like some matón.”
Kwan said the Enforcer had rescued her from the gang. A tendril of wistful thought wound itself around Valery’s heart. When will I have a white knight riding out to save me, huh?
Even as she wished for that person who might be waiting out there, somewhere, she shoved that idea aside.
That’s why I’m better off. I don’t need saving.
Besides, she didn’t intend to stay in San Francisco all her life.
She reached her house without incident and ran up the steps, scanning the street before she opened the door. Once she was safe inside, she triple-locked it and headed
upstairs to her room, locking the door to the attic as well. She tossed her pea jacket onto her bed, a mattress on the floor she’d dragged up the narrow steps, then lit several
candles. When everything was arranged to her liking, she rummaged through her “pantry,” a cardboard carton of cans and boxes of food she’d collected over the
last few weeks. One can called for her attention, and she took it out, cradling it in her hand. The brilliant orange of the mangoes on the Goya juice can reminded her of the
ambrosial juice awaiting her inside. She could almost taste the sweet tartness on her tongue.
She popped open the top and took a small sip, letting it roll around her mouth like the finest wine. Amazing.
She leaned down to glance out the window before settling in, disappointed that the cool, wet air had brought along a flood of fog that covered the waters of the bay. No bridge-gazing tonight. What else to do?
She plopped down on the worn blue beanbag chair she’d wrestled up the steps the first week she’d arrived. It was just like the one her brother Jimmy’d had, back in the
The loneliness was starting to get to her. She should leave. Comparing the number of survivors in the site of the SH attack, San Diego, and San Francisco, she could extrapolate
the differences between San Francisco and other parts of the country. The farther east you went, the better the chances there would be a healthier population.
Who knew? Maybe they still had fashion runway shows in New York City.
Si, chica, the models, they are very skinny this year…skin and bones…well, maybe bones without the skin…
A chill ran up her back, the black humor a little too close to truth.
Welcome to guest author Laura Strickland, here to talk about her new book, Cross Checking: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure. Take it away, Laura!
The thing I hear most often when I attend Steampunk Festivals and other events promoting my books is, “What’s Steampunk?” It’s a fair question. Many readers aren’t familiar with the genre, and feel a bit intimidated by it. But as I’ve learned since starting this wild ride, penning my Buffalo Steampunk Adventures series, there’s no easy answer. Steampunk means something different to all those who love it.
For some of us, it’s all about the gadgets. Steampunk aficionados love to tinker. They build teapot racers, life-sized robots and fully-operational automatons. Others love the costuming, and the chance to transform into someone other than their every-day selves, to walk for even a few hours on the wild side. Goggles and helmets, brass-buttoned jackets and sweeping skirts…and stepping through the looking glass.
For me, it’s all about what-might-have-been. What if the glorious age of steam heralded by the Industrial Revolution had never been superseded by electricity and the internal combustion engine? What if the Victorian age hadn’t died but merely morphed into something bigger, grander—and more twisted?
If you’d like to imagine the Steampunk world, think Victorian, with a twist. Just a little bit darker (a la Jack the Ripper), a little bit weirder, and to those of us who appreciate the strange, that much more delightful.
The characters in my Buffalo Steampunk Adventures books are real—far from perfect, they have warts and fears, and disadvantages. The city’s real too—Victorian Buffalo, city (if not time) of my birth. Buffalo makes the perfect setting for Steampunk, industrial, gritty and yes, it has an edge.
Me, I love the edge. I love the twist. If you do too, come walk the brick streets of Steampunk Buffalo with me. You may never want to leave.
BUFFALO STEAMPUNK ADVENTURES Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aauK5ob3zI
Blurb for new release: Cross Checking: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure
When Maddie MacGillicuddy loses her job, she’s desperate to find another. Though good jobs are available at the stables, only men are hired. A big, strapping girl, she becomes Matty in her brother’s clothing. Complications arise when a city magnate, assembling a tournament hockey team, admires Matty’s skating skills and recruits “him,” with real money and the city’s reputation on the line.
Huritt Gilbert is used to battling his way through life. At the stables, he routinely endures racial slurs, sometimes striking back. He’s never met a woman like Maddie and would do anything for her, including accept the dangerous position of goalie for her team. But when competition heats up, loyalties get twisted. Will Gilbert and Maddie play for glory, or love?
“Gilbert, you should see how good Maddie skates.”
“I’d like to,” Gilbert said in his dusky voice. The dark—which somehow matched that voice—seemed to close around them. It made the encounter feel more intimate than it should.
Maddie shivered. “I’d better get Roddy home. It’s getting colder.”
“Going to snow some more, too,” Gilbert offered, not taking his eyes from Maddie’s. “I can always tell.”
He wagged his dark head. Maddie had a sudden and completely inappropriate impulse to plunge her fingers through that black hair. But he still held her fingers captive.
He told her, “I get an instinct for certain things—sometimes I just know.”
“I see. And are you never wrong?”
He shrugged those wide shoulders. “Seldom enough.”
“Come on, Maddie,” Roddy demanded, completely immune to any undertones. “I’m hungry.”
“Yes, all right.”
She tugged at her fingers again; this time Gilbert let them go. Together, they climbed up over the bank and trudged to the foot of Ferry Street.
“Do you live far?” Gilbert asked. “Can I see you home?”
“Peach Street,” Maddie told him, wishing this somehow enchanting encounter had happened on any other day than the one during which she’d destroyed her life. “I think we’ll be all right.” She hoped so.
Gilbert nodded. “Maybe I’ll see you again on the ice.”
Later she wondered if he, with all his bright instincts, had uttered a prophecy.
Multi award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Her first Scottish Historical hero, Devil Black, battled his way onto the publishing scene in 2013, and the author never looked back. Nor has she tapped the limits of her imagination. Venturing beyond Historical and Contemporary Romance, she created a new world with her ground-breaking Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city, in Western New York. Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. These days while she’s writing, you can always find her latest rescue, Lacy, nearby. Her love of dogs, and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music, are all reflected in her writing. Laura’s mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Author Web site: www.laurastricklandbooks.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000002632317
Author Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Strickland/e/B001KHSACW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Author Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/760146.Laura_Strickland
Laura Strickland Author @LauraSt05038951
BookBub page: https://www.bookbub.com/search?search=Laura+Strickland
“Hope?” you say? From all these stories of civilization torn down, people in chaos, life destroyed?
It may seem contrary, when real life is at a frightening point. But one common thread in much of this fiction is the inherent goodness of man. For every toilet-paper hoarding idiot, there is a Stu Redman fromThe Stand. For every self-serving politician, there is a Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. Even in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which is about the most bleak, horrifying, hopeless story ever, in the end there is a moment of humanity.
I believe we’re starting to see it now, in the communities around the world. People are beginning to reach out to others, while observing the new rules and realities of Covid-19 times. Italians confined to their homes sing to each other to boost morale. Local restaurants in my city make sure kids have lunch while schools are closed, and surely they can least afford it, since restaurant attendance is down. People shop for their at-risk elderly neighbors who should not be out. Granted, we are early in the process, and things may become more desperate as it lingers on. But humans are best at doing human.
My own post-apocalyptic YA series THE COLOR OF FEAR is founded on that issue of hope, and the conviction that those who stick to the path of right will triumph in the end over those who espouse hate and fear.
Tzu Lin Kwan, Xi San, Valery Paz, Eddie Garrick, Marie, Arik and all the others who try their best for their fellow humans are inspirational, and some of the favorite characters I’ve created. Not only do they fight the results of a terrorist plague, but they also oppose the white supremacist cult leader Gabriel and his Angels, who take advantage of the decimated population and the fears of the remaining white men and women to try to overthrow what remains of a poorly-organized government. The first book, WINDMILLS, takes the reader from Hong Kong to San Francisco; the second, DESTINATIONS, tells what happens as the ethnic survivors band together in the face of Gabriel’s threat, and the yet-to-be-released ADVERSARIES will reveal what happens when the inevitable clash of the two occurs. Find out more at the COLOR OF FEAR tab above.
In the meantime, there are many other books that can remind you about the good that may come from tumultuous, post-apocalyptic times:
If you prefer movies, check these out: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/30/entertainment/contagion-and-pandemics-in-movies/index.html
Paul Carlson, Janet Joyce Holden, Michael Bailey, Carla Robinson,
Jeff Seeman, Kate Jonez, Gary Phillips, Lucio Rodriguez, Terry Bisson,
explore the future of trucking in this new science fiction anthology!
There’s something for every genre fiction fan in this follow-up to
the hit “18 wheels of Horror – a Trailer Full of Trucking Terrors.”
A disembodied driver wages war on self-driving trucks… A haul
through time takes an unexpected turn… Reality shatters for a
trucker using an experimental delivery device… Stargazing gives an
overweight driver a new lease on life… A young girl risks her life
to hitch a ride out of an apocalyptic wasteland…
“Skyways” trucking Science Fiction novel series, in which
legendary driver Jake McGraw (now an AI) and his son Sammy find new
adventures on the mysterious skyway between worlds.
exotic alien fuel additive at a truck stop, and the two find out just
how fast their Big Rig will go.
caught in a rebellion, and learns a terrible secret about her past
that affects not only hers and her beloved daughter’s lives, but
threatens humanity itself.
quantum delivery device, and has to make a choice that could re-unite
him with his son, or take him to a unknown future.
experimental driving program, but a cyber-attack by hackers turns him
into an revenge-fueled ghost in the machine.
Magazine, a trucker helps out a young hitchhiker as they travel over
the miles-high mountain that an apocalyptic seismic event has thrust
through the heart of America.
hundreds of trucks through the blasted wasteland of middle America,
and a group of drivers discover a secret that could change the
world—if it doesn’t get them killed first.
the robot drivers that threaten to take over human jobs—and who
also yearn for freedom.
water for a droughtriddled future, but encounter a time paradox
threatens to destroy everything they know.
oils deep into the Arctic tries to find out what the Canadian
government is doing with the odd cargo.
flies through a hidden wormhole and winds up thousands of light years
from home. Scared and lost, he struggles to find a way back to his family.
apocalyptic wasteland, who risks her life to stow away on a truck
that could carry her to freedom.
him years after he committed a hit and run accident. But things are
far from what they seem…
lease on life thanks to the fantastic things he sees while looking at
experimental technology propelling her truck has somehow brought back
a ghost from her past.
afoul of a government agent when he tries to smuggle contraband alien
technology, and his fugitive sister in-law works to save him with a
seemingly magical interdimensional artifact.
when he goes to work for a high-tech autonomous trucking company.
volatile rocket fuel through gang-war torn Los Angeles, and nothing,
not bullets, bombs, or bad luck, will stop him from delivering his
for exclusive content and a giveaway!