Friday, 24 March 2017

Book Release: Through the Ashes by @CLSmithbooks #urbanfantasy #YA

Through the Ashes (The Division: Book Two)
By Connie L. Smith
ISBN: 978-1-945910-09-8

The war has begun. The battle’s unfolding. And victory feels so distant…
The Essenced had prepared and trained, but never imagined the true horror of watching demons tearing through the Division to invade the realm. Every claw is horrific—every snarl disgusting—and the responsibility of keeping that vile terror from expanding beyond the battlefield’s borders rests in the teenagers’ hands. They thought they were ready for that challenge…
But then their confidence is shaken when a deadly new weapon emerges from the enemy’s arsenal, and well-kept secrets from the Essenced’s angelic superiors begin to surface.
In the midst of the carnage, can the teens find the strength within themselves, and among themselves, to grasp victory in blood-tainted hands?
“Yeah,” Travis spoke up. “What’s the big strategy here?” He confidently held his hands out to either side of him. “This can’t be the whole plan. We killed hundreds of demons, and now we’re waiting for hundreds more to show up. Then we’ll kill them and wait for more. And we’ll keep doing that until the Division’s so huge that humans and demons alike can walk from one realm to the other without any real effort at all. This strategy doesn’t have an end, so either there’s more or it’s pointless.”
Paige frowned at the Incubus-Essenced warrior. “That was my point.”
Travis nodded. “And it was a good one. How about we get it answered?”
After silently debating how much he should tell the soldiers, Nicholai uncomfortably cleared his throat and settled more of his weight on his desk. “There’s more to the plan,” he hesitantly offered.
Travis shrugged. “Then what is it?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know all of the details as of yet,” Nicholai confessed.
“Could you give us the ones you do have?” Johnny asked with a new cigarette shamelessly dangling from his lips. “Our neighborhood pervert has a point here.” He tipped his chin toward Travis in what he meant to be a quick motion, but what he saw with that glance had him doing a double-take to glare at the Incubus-Essenced pack leader. “Hey! Stop staring at my girl!”
With his own shrug that seemed to embody the phrase, “I can’t help it,” Travis reluctantly brought his stare back to Nicholai. “We’re putting trust in you here. We’re fighting, and we’re winning for the most part. Don’t you think we deserve the same trust? Shouldn’t we know what’s going on?”
…Nicholai’s gaze never wavered, but it grew more serious with each second. “The Tomes.”

About the Author:
Connie L. Smith spends a decent amount of time with her mind wandering in fictional places. She reads too much, likes to bake, and might forever be sad that she doesn’t have fairy wings. And that she can’t swing dance. Much of her preferred music is severely outdated, and as an adult she’s kind of obsessed with Power Rangers. She has her BA from Northern Kentucky University in Speech Communication and History (she doesn’t totally get the connection either), and her MA in English and Creative Writing.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Cover Reveal: Scandal by @Athena_Grayson #scifi #dystopia #giveaway via @lolasblogtours

Today is the cover reveal for Scandal by Athena Grayson. This cover reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The cover is designed by Jennette Marie Powell.

ScandalScandal (Scions of the Star Empire #1)
By Athena Grayson
Genre: Sci-fi dystopian with romantic elements
Age category: New Adult/ Adult
Release Date: 23 March 2017

Nothing infuriates Princess Ione Ra more than having someone else take control of her reputation from her, and her old nemesis--gossip journalist Jaris Pulne--is poised to do just that with pilfered pics of her caught in a compromising position with her power-couple partner. As someone who's no stranger to manipulating the markets on her own social life, Ione knows the wrong scandal means social suicide.

For the other half of the power couple, Den Hades, his survival has depended on staying in his powerful father's shadow in order to protect his secrets. But on the very night of his one chance to earn a shot at becoming a Scion--and freedom from his father's ambitions, scandal threatens to tear him from Ione, or worse--force them together before their time.

Damage control turns into danger when their attempts to retrieve the images lead them both into the dark underbelly of the glittering city-planet, exposing secrets of both friends and foes that could lead to more than just social suicide.

Scandal is only 0.99$ for a limited time!
You can find all the buy links for this book here.

Excerpt Fool’s Gambit
©2016 Athena Grayson
Denaat Hades held his blade extended, his arm outstretched. He held the lunge on one burning thigh muscle while he stood in near-complete darkness, waiting for the spectacle to begin. The landscape of the party had given way to the evening’s main event—an exhibition duel and bladework demonstration between himself and the Academy’s Blademaster with a twenty-five year record.
Gone were the ornamental topiary plantings that created nooks and alcoves for socializing, and gone was the impressive display of fine foods and the waterfall made from champ-ale bubbling and fizzing over cut-crystal held under pressurized glass until it burst out of the pursed lips of a crystal nymph into glasses for guests. They’d been discreetly cleared away for anti-gravity pods holding comfortable seating for up to a dozen guests. The pods jockeyed for position along x, y, and z axes based on the credit amounts donated by their occupants, except for the single, stationary pod holding his instructors and closest classmates, fixed to the floor at the edge of the ring of drones generating the light field for the dueling area.
Gone also was his shiny, holo-patterned suit and the starsilk shirt beneath it, and the ornamental lights in his hair. His finery—picked out by his class’s style consultant to display his status and wealth—was stuffed into a storage container in favor of light, form-fitting carbon-fiber armor, with a matching face mask. Gauntlets secured to his wrists generated power for the sensors emitting an electro-mesh shield around his body that shifted with the movements of his off hand. His weapon, an elegant blade of wire and light, derived its power from his main hand gauntlet and the glove that protected his hand. Tuned to full, the blade could melt steel or puncture the transparent alloy that made up the dome above his head.
Thankfully, this was an exhibition duel. The blades would sting, but not incapacitate or kill.
He waited, holding his ready position, as the banners came down, displaying his family’s banner, with the twinkling ribbons of support from classmates and other interested parties, and the Academy banner, under which Master Kenndar dueled. Tradition kept the Academy banner free of ribbons, but his neural interface told him the odds of his loss were just under fifty percent. The markets were calling this a close thing and the players in the markets were nothing, if not savvy odds-players.
The lights came up around the ring, plunging the shifting observation cars into darkness as Master Kenndar entered from the other side of the oval. He took his cue to step forward, meeting his opponent in the center of the ring. He executed the formal bow, hand-grip, and blade salute deserving of a worthy opponent and prayed his master’s teachings weren’t wasted. He returned to his ready position to await the chime beginning the match, but not before he glanced towards the stationary box and spotted her in the front row, the lights in her hair twinkling in time with the flashes of crystal on her dress.
Ione wore a small smile of bored amusement, echoing the expressions of probably everyone in the audience, and he knew their thoughts. Yet another Academy student, ready to show off for status and praise, as if the privileges of his born position didn’t already come with their own accolades. His gaze flicked to the VIP box and he saw another bored, slightly amused expression, only he knew this one masked keen interest. As if the man sensed his scrutiny, Invicti Hades lifted one eyebrow and Den heard the words as surely as if they’d been broadcast for all to hear. What new way have you found to disappoint me?
The lurking paranoia he’d lived with for ten years summoned itself to the forefront of his awareness as the lights in the arena changed to a soft blue. The chimes sounded for Ready and Arm, and his blade flared to golden life. Across the ring, Master Kenndar assumed his own ready position. Den felt the eyes of the spectators crawling over him, adding weight to his protective gear. Waiting for him to fail.
The last chime sounded. Engage!
He leapt forward, his awareness extended out to the blade’s end, as he’d been taught and trained by Kenndar to do for ten years. And knew he’d made a mistake.

Series Blurb for Scions of the Star Empire:
They can have anything they want...except a future.

The children of Landfall's powerful nobility have all the wealth and privilege of their family status, but there's only one thing that will give them true freedom--the title of Scion. The only way to earn it is by carefully managing the social influence markets that rank them according to their accomplishments. At the exclusive Landfall Cultural Academy, the heirs compete to elevate their status high enough for the Cultural Trust to grant them the title and the freedom to make their own way, and scandal is as good as scholarship.

About the Author:
Athena Grayson likes kickass heroines, big-brained and sexy beta heroes who aren't afraid of strong women or their own feelings, and stories that turn the genre tropes sideways. If you're looking for something a little unexpected, a little more, and a lot of fun...this is your kinda place.

You can find and contact Athena here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Amazon
- Goodreads
- Bookbub

There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Scandal. The giveaway is open international. These are the prizes you can win:
- a galaxy pendant (picture below)
- a $5 Amazon gift card
Galaxy pendant

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post: What is a sci-fi, time-travel, steampunk romance? by SBK Burns #scifi #romance


Wow, so many paranormal romance subgenres. My books are definitely non formulaic. That is, they don’t fit in any single genre. That can be a problem if an author wants to start their career out with a bestseller. A non-formulaic author may not be able to take advantage of a readership audience for any particular genre. They will be searching for that very small niche audience, and not writing to necessarily make money, but to make a point, present a theme, perhaps something besides romance that, like much literary fiction, seeks to say something about the times in which they live, maybe solving some problem we face as a civilization.

Today, many sci-fi authors write about spaceships and base their stories on books written by others about science and sci-fi topics in the general knowledge base. Many of these authors have made their mark, just as have historical romance authors, doing their homework and bringing facets of history together realistically, so their readership can suspend disbelief as soon as possible. However, readers sometimes enjoy focusing more on the meat of the romance and not always on the true, but many times unbelievable, scientific details.

I love historical romance. I learned more from that then I learned from all of my history classes in school. (Not a very good history student.) Real historical romance that takes us into the past is very difficult and requires great perseverance and time to write, if it is done well. It can shine a new light on past events. Scientific history, as set forth in the Ages of Invention Series is much the same—requiring knowledge both of the evolution of science and of history. As a multi-degreed scientific generalist and a sci-fi romance author, this is the type of sci-fi I enjoy writing.

Each of the novels in my AGES OF INVENTION SERIES shows a scientific history of a year, a slice out of time. In FLY LIKE AN EAGLE, I bring science and history directly into the developing relationship between hero and heroine. Today many use buzzwords to make the readers think they understand science, most of the words having been invented and accepted as part of our scientific world back in the mid nineteen hundreds.

In order to organize my thoughts and invent non-formulaic steampunk themes, I base stories on my own research (see link below).

My characters travel into the past on something called The Flow. Most people including undergraduate scientists have not thought much about the concept of the flow, which is the time dependent movement and change of the world, similar to the Easterly and Westerly winds of the rotating Earth.

If we could only ride this flow in a focused way, could our minds take us to different places at different times? Some cultures in history have done this. We call it spirituality, but as a former applied mathematician, I know that The Flow is just another way of seeing the world, and it has a discrete mathematical basis.

Algonquin speaking Native Americans have many words to describe the flow of life like the flow of a river. I chose the Algonquin word Bimijiwan. The hero, Eagle, or Migizi, has developed the capacity to travel The Flow into the past and future. In Eagle’s world, everything travels on the flow—certain rare individuals, hang gliders, dirigibles, and the technically complex, time-traveling quantum computers that show up in AGES OF INVENTION.

Excerpt from FLY LIKE AN EAGLE:

1824 Philadelphia, PA, upon the heroine first seeing the hero flying his hangglider

A hawk’s cry came from the distant hillside. Oh, if she could only get a glimpse.
She felt inside the skirt of her gown to the hard outline of opera glasses in one of a number of special pockets she’d had the dressmaker sew.
Glancing to her right and left, she dropped the shawl on a marble bench next to the kitchen entrance and, lifting her skirts, stepped off the gardener’s path into the briars.
 Excited to see what had caused the birds’ anxiety, she shook off the sounds of tiny rips and tears—thorns grabbing onto the skirt of the gown and her finely knit stockings.
One step at a time, Samantha distanced herself from the manor. She squinted up toward the highest eastern hill to see the hawks she’d earlier observed through her window. They cried out, chasing a much larger bird.
The enormous flying creature took to the air, lifting itself ever higher over the peak. Might it be related to those monsters leaving their giant bones to be unearthed by explorers? Must be a real living bird. The way it swoops up and down over the hillside. She fumbled for the opera glasses, brought them to her eyes, and adjusted the lenses.
The full moon, just rising and reflecting off the clouds, backlit the scene as the giant avian-like creature flew above the hill and into the moon’s disk, across Tycho’s crater, down over the distant clouds, and up again.
Below its wings—no, it couldn’t be—it looked like it had captured something in its talons. She distinguished what she thought might be a human silhouette each time the harpy crossed the moon’s bright disk.
Unable to get enough air into her lungs, she lowered the glasses and returned them to the pocket. Stepping back into the briars she heard a monstrous rip of fabric and nearly fell.
“Samantha, come back. Where have you gone?”
“Aunt?” The spell of the mystical bird broken, she’d never felt so overjoyed to hear her aunt, tipsy or not.
Barbs dug into her ankles and hands.
Her curious mind had gotten her into this state of confusion. And now she’d seen things so unbelievable, if she shared them, no one would ever take her, or her scientific ideas, seriously. Like that young British woman, Anning—she thought that was the scientist’s name. The discredited girl had claimed to have discovered enormous fossils from some monstrous creatures.
Perhaps the water Samantha had recently swallowed was infected.
Yet, her observations had always been sound.
There is no monster. There is no monster, she thought, attempting to quell her anxiety.
But there was a monster. She’d seen it.
She let her breath out slowly, almost afraid there’d not be enough air outside to take another.
In the fuzzy distance, the moon had risen higher. Hands shaking, she fumbled into another pocket for her wire-rimmed spectacles and nervously placed the stems over her ears to stare one last time at the scene, maybe to convince herself she hadn’t dreamed the giant bird.
No birds, but a tiny oval skimmed slowly across the face of the moon, disappearing into the darker evening sky. Shaped like an egg, it lacked wings. Without wings, how did it not plummet to the earth?
Hearing Tallulah’s cries of concern, Samantha froze, suddenly realizing how far she’d wandered toward the hill. Through the pungent odor of the lyreleaf sage and the rapid cricket chirps of the heated evening, gashes on her arms and ankles prickled where barbs had torn at them, bringing her back to reality.
Between her and her aunt stood a tall thistle, its budding artichoke-like fruit bathed in an aura of moonlight. She reached out, grabbing at the halo formed of the softest silk. From my frayed gown? Or the monster’s talons?
The strangely ethereal fibers were exceedingly thin, unlike the ragged edges of fabric she’d seen at the seamstress’, or on the many dresses she’d destroyed while climbing trees as a youth. She stuffed a handful of fibers into her pocket and followed her aunt’s voice to the kitchen door.

End of Excerpt

Following is the cover of FLY LIKE AN EAGLE. My cover artist, Fiona Jayde, is a Paranormal Romance Cover Artist winner in the latest JABBIC contest. I love her work, and she’s helping me with my other covers. The book’s cover is up for voting as best cover in the Ultimate Fantasy Books Cover Contest, the first round going until March 29. Please press the VOTE button and vote for number 37. Thanks.