Book Feature: Shadowland by Robert B McKnight

BLURB:

Shadowland is a book about stretching your imagination into another universe that’s here on our own planet. There are creatures that live among the world’s population, without detection. What happens when ordinary people come face to face with them?

In the 1990s, a dark discovery was made deep in the shadows below Raymond and Sandy Watson’s quaint little home in Cleveland, Ohio. Ray and his band of cohorts; he was not sure if they all qualify as friends; delve deep into the Shadowland to discover its secrets. In the process of pursuing the mysteries below Ray’s rec room, they battle with issues of greed, friendship, loyalty and love while trying to outsmart and outrun death. Some are winners. F.L.I.C.K.E.R. Some are losers.

FLick…er…

Wanting more from Shadowland than they initially obtain, Ray’s group enlists the help not of hired mercenaries, but a team of experts from E.F.F., Environment First and Foremost, and archaeologists from the Cleveland Natural History Museum. Everyone was searching for treasure but for very different reasons, some for the historical perspective of finding ancient artifacts and others, like Ray, for the pure power of the riches. Team leaders Laura Hatch and Bernie Edelman command the excavation with volunteers from the museum led by the minuscule Dr. A. E. Slattery and a team of Cleveland State University archaeology students led by the tall beanpole Professor Engstrom. What they find does include a long list of archaeological treasures, but also death and darkness in Shadowland.

The group’s journey into the world of science fiction reveals a secret world that they try hard to understand. They must work together to preserve not only their own lives, but perhaps the fate of the world. In the present day, does Shadowland still exist in the depths of the earth?

FLICKER…….

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48202463-shadowland?from_search=true

– – – BOOK EXCERPT – – –

Ray stood transfixed, inside a ring of fire. He was looking up at a giant statue. In all his childhood nightmares, in all the fire and brimstone preaching he had endured as a child, in all of his adult life, he had never imagined the ugliness that towered above him. The stone creature was gigantic…forty, fifty feet, maybe more in height. The feet of the beast were cloven. The body nude and muscular. The face was frozen into a sneering smile. Long flowing tangled locks adorned the head, crowned by what looked to be horns from the ground level. The statue seemed to stare down on this mere human with an arrogant air, despising the puny surface creature at its feet. Ray had trouble focusing on the statue, with the fires surrounding the stone Goliath flaring to new heights. Ray had to squint to get a better look at the face. Wait!!! What was that flash? Ray tried to lock out the devilish dancing flames from his view. He tried to ignore the demonic shadows that darted about, just out of reach and conscientiousness. He tried to concentrate on the face staring down in disdain. “There it goes again,” he said out loud. The right eye of the beamouth gleamed when the flames hit just right… not gleamed, sparkled. The right eye sparkled like a diamond.

ROAR…FLASH….FLICKER….FADE…FAde…fade…..fade.. 

Amazon BUY link


Robert B. McKnight has had a long and varied life.

Bob is a 1958 graduate of The College of Wooster with courses at Case Western Reserve University and Illinois University. He served in the U. S. Air Force as a recreation specialist and combat defense air policeman. He was stationed in Texas, Montana, Illinois and as far as Reykjavík, Iceland.

He has written articles for magazines, written humorous greeting cards for American Greetings, designed a brochure and catalog for an industrial sales company, sold advertising and written for The Cleveland Press newspaper. Most recently he has written, produced and directed commercials for an ad agency including one that was Emmy-nominated.

To round out the various types of employments, he has also spent some time bottling produce in a factory, driving a tour bus and selling appliances .

In the theatrical world, Bob started out by winning a play-writing award in college. He has now directed over 100 plays and shows and written five produced plays and musicals. He was the director of the Willoughby South High School drama department for several years.

Bob is a sports enthusiast that currently lives in Ohio with his wife Carole not far from daughter Michelle’s family of five and son Douglas’ family of three. He coached softball for 14 years and basketball for 4 years in youth league. He enthusiastically follows all Cleveland sports teams, plus Ohio State football.

Author Website: https://themcknightmares.wixsite.com/mysite/books

Book Feature: The Dragon’s Rising (Ancient’s Armor, #1) by Nathan Ayersman

Falkier Inalumin has
spent the past six years imprisoned by the king whom he had served under
as a scribe. He hadn’t attempted to escape even when the opportunity
arose until one night when a stranger comes to break him out of prison
at knifepoint.

After his escape, he is granted the power of the
Dragon Sword, a weapon imbued with the power of one of the Ancients who
created the world. He is also tasked with assembling a suit of armor
imbued by the rest of the Ancients so that he may kill Rakar Gorxand, a
man who had been granted a set of armor by the Ancients which was
corrupted by the evil he was chosen to eliminate.

On this first
leg of Falkier’s journey, he becomes a mercenary, learns a sword style
which allows him to fight without sight, and faces off against a man
with the power to weave the fabric of the universe.

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47808236-the-dragon-s-rising
— BUY LINKS —
— EXCERPT —

The men woke early the next morning. Swagin had drunken himself stupider the night before, so Falkier and Jofalk had needed to haul the Dhorn into a room above the tavern. They doubted that he would notice they had paid their bill from his pocket with an additional small fee for themselves. The burly man’s face showed the wearying effects of the previous night as he and Jofalk saddled their mounts in the light of early dawn. Falkier would have offered to help out except that he had no idea how to prepare an Aoun for travel, and the tavern owner’s young son was helping Jofalk with his bay.

Watching the men get ready to leave, Falkier pondered over all that had happened in the last two days. He’d been rescued from prison by a mysterious man, became an accomplice to the deaths of six men, been saved from being captured or freezing to death in the woods twice, joined a band of mercenaries, and received a sword from his dreams. The sword was slung over his shoulder, a weight that was becoming more familiar than when he had woken with it the previous morning. He was still unsure how it had gotten there. If his dream was to be trusted, it was a sword given to him by the Ancients, but for what purpose? And why had they picked him? Though his imprisonment had been unjust, he was still an escaped prisoner and far from the most moral person in the world to deserve such an honor.

The cloth wrapped around his hand was stained with blood. The X-shaped wound had started to scab over, but he kept the cloth on it in case it opened again. He had been perturbed when he discovered that it had been ultimately unnecessary and would mean nothing if he was rejected by The Archer, but Swagin had been adamant that Falkier would be accepted since he needed to repay a debt. Jofalk had asserted that, as Archer’s protégé, he could convince their leader to accept a new member. The Archer could be very welcoming to people when he wanted to be, and Jofalk knew how to hit his soft spot. Falkier held onto that idea as he mounted Olorn with Swagin.

The Bronze Bulls mercenary guild was located in an abandoned stronghold a day’s ride northeast, so they hoped to get there by nightfall to allow The Archer to evaluate him. According to Jofalk, Archer had started the Bronze Bulls not long after Falkier had been imprisoned following a botched assassination attempt. After narrowly escaping with his life, Archer’s reputation as the perfect assassin was marred and nobody would hire him. He had been training Jofalk for years and decided to expand his horizons by bringing together a group of young non-nobles who had shown the potential to be great warriors. Swagin had been the first recruit and had been initially paired with Jofalk to help him acclimate to the mercenary life. Upon seeing how well they complemented each other, they were permanently made a team, and The Archer modeled his following choices after them. Since then, the Bulls had slowly grown to a point where it could compete with other mercenary guilds.

The Bulls competitive edge stemmed from their ability to be customized to the task at hand. Whereas most mercenaries were simply strong-arming fighters, every member of the Bulls had a skill that they specialized in, like spying or robbery. Jofalk’s specialty was assassination at range while Swagin’s skill was unarmed combat. As a unit, they could handle most combat situations, which is why they were given their escort mission. The two were also sent on missions where the employer seemed unlikely to pay, as both made more than adequate debt collectors. 

Swagin had revealed, while deep into his drink the previous night, the real reason they had not escorted their employer back was that he’d failed to pay, so Swagin beat him bloody, took the gauntlets, and left him in the woods. Falkier had been taken aback by that revelation but didn’t find it unexpected considering their line of work. Their sharing of this information had actually made him more comfortable trusting them.

As they reached the crest of the hill out of the valley, Swagin turned his head to Falkier. “Prepar’ fur a hasslin’. We got sum king’s boys comin’ dis way.” Three men were riding towards them. Falkier could pick out black tunics bearing a silver crescent moon, the royal sigil of Grent Corine. Surely they were looking for the escaped prisoner. He pulled his shirt up to cover his nose and shrank down behind Swagin. Maybe they wouldn’t notice him and they wouldn’t bother stopping the mercenaries. If only he could be that lucky. The rider in front, a thin man with a groomed dark brown mustache, raised his hand to halt them. 

“Good morning, men.” The man’s comrades, one with hair black as coal and the other a shaved head, fanned out to his sides, further blocking the road. Falkier could see each had a sword hanging from his hip. 

“Marnin’.” Swagin nodded his head to the man. “We dun’ want any troubil. Jus’ travla’s minin’ ar businuss.”

“A man escaped from the prison west of here a few days ago. We are searching for him so that he may be captured and brought to justice.” Falkier could feel the men’s eyes staring at him. They know. They’ve got to know it’s me.

“Dun know anathin’ ‘bout anathin’. Jus’ headin’ home afta’ visitin’ a friend o’ ars in Tise Dews.”

“There is a reward for anyone who has any information about the man or his whereabouts,” the blackhaired man added. “Three bronze spades for information, six iron marks for turning him in.”

“Six iron marks?” Jofalk cocked his eyebrow. “The price an escaped prisoner is usually only a few spades. What did this man do to deserve such a reward?” Falkier was hoping that this reward wouldn’t sway the mercenaries to turn him in. His heart in his throat, he tried to shrink himself even farther, trying to avoid the rider’s attention.

“The man’s crime was sedition, but during his escape, he killed six guards,” the mustached rider answered. “This is a dangerous man we’re dealing with.”

“Pris’ner showed up yer guards? Boy, does that make m’feel like m’taxes er spent well.” 

“Your taxes?” The mustached man’s voice carried restrained anger. “Neither of you sound like you’re Corinian. If I had to guess, I’d say Dhorn and Sadetian.”

“Thas right. Ah was born in th’ mowntuns o’ Dhor Isten, but me ‘n Jofalk work ‘ere in Grent Corine.” Swagin reached into a pocket in his vest. “’Ere’s m’ papers t’prove it.” He handed a folded piece of paper to the man. Jofalk did the same.

The riders paused to look at them, nodded, and handed it back. Falkier couldn’t help but think that it would have taken far longer for them to have read foreign workman’s permits. Though the five countries of the continent held an alliance, you had to get the permission of a foreign government to work outside of your native country. Falkier had crossed paths with those documents as a scribe for Lord Siphem, and he knew they were very wordy. Either the riders did not care that Jofalk and Swagin had permits, or they were unable to read. 

“Now, as ah said, we know nuthin’ ‘bout nuthin. If we see yer boy, wull b’ sher t’let ya’ know.” Swagin kicked Olorn to continue on, but the riders continued to block the way.  “Hold on a second. What’s the deal with your friend here?” The mustached man gestured towards Falkier. Falkier raised his head to look at them. If they hadn’t arrested him yet, they probably didn’t have a description of him. “Why have you been so quiet?”

“I figured that Swagin and Jofalk were more than capable of giving you men all the information you required. As you can likely tell from my accent, I am Corinian, and so I don’t have any work or travel papers to display.” Falkier managed to keep his voice confident and calm, despite the pounding of his heart. 

The mustached rider nodded. “You are right. As a Corinian, you don’t need to show us foreign work or travel forms.” The two men at his side drew their swords in unison. “However, as of three years ago, Corinians are required to carry identification with them at all times to be presented immediately to any law official. You wouldn’t know that, though, since you’ve been in prison until yesterday.” He gestured to his men. “Seize him!”

Falkier found himself rolling off the back of Olorn as Swagin leaped from his seat, bellowing, “No king’s boys er gun’ take m’ blood brotha’ Falkeer while Ah’m livin’!” He threw himself at the shaved man, completely ignorant of the piece of iron the man brandished. Falkier got to his feet in time to watch as Swagin knocked the sword away with his forearm and slammed his other fist into the man’s face. Olorn’s heads hissed as they snapped at the black haired man with long, razor-sharp fangs. Jofalk directed his horse away from the commotion, nocking an arrow to his bow. The mustached man dismounted and drew his sword, ducking an arrow in the process. He dived away from the rampaging Dhorn and Aoun, locking his eye on his prey, Falkier.

Falkier pulled the sword from its scabbard, the weight foreign to his hand. If it really was a sword meant for him as the dream said, shouldn’t it be more comfortable to hold? The knuckle-bow on the thumb side of the hilt seemed out of place and close to unnecessary. Why make them bladed to begin with? The only time a bladed knuckle-bow would make sense is if you were hitting someone with it, and isn’t the point of a sword to keep a little more distance from your opponent?

Falkier would have other times to question how functional his Ancient-given weapon was for him, as
the mustached man swung his sword at Falkier’s feet, causing him to step back out of the way, barely blocking the follow-up swing. He swung at the man, who easily parried and struck at Falkier’s leg. Clearly, he’d been trained in swordsmanship.

Falkier winced as the blade sliced across his thigh, blood soaking the leg of his trousers. He struck back, stabbing at the man’s stomach. The mustached man moved the blade out of the way with a flick of the wrist and smacked Falkier’s wrist with the flat of his blade. Falkier’s grip faltered for a second, but he recovered enough to pull his sword back in front of him. All the while, the mustached man watched him, smirking. Was he playing with Falkier? The man blocked Falkier’s next couple swings with ease, retaliating with a few nicks on Falkier’s arms and legs. This is pointless. He could kill me without breaking a sweat. He must need to take me in alive, so he’s just letting me wear myself out.

Falkier looked at the longsword in his hands, a supposed gift from heaven he was destined to wield. He was no great warrior, how could he ever do anything with this piece of metal. He couldn’t even find a comfortable way to hold it. 

Touch the black gem in the pommel and say ‘Vatinp, yqab’, a voice growled in his head. It was the voice from the woods before he blacked out.

Falkier obeyed, putting the fingers of his right hand on the pommel. Despite the freezing air around it, the gem felt slightly warm. “Vah-tinp, ee-cob?” Falkier said, the words feeling odd in his mouth. Whatever was supposed to happen, didn’t.

No! ‘Vatinp yqab!’ Say it with more confidence!

Falkier took a breath and focused. “Vatinp, yqab!”

Warmth flooded through Falkier’s body, and his wounds stopped bleeding. He watched in amazement as the sword transformed in his hand. The leather of the hilt took on a scaled appearance. The blade broadened into that of a falchion, the end becoming rounder and the top edge becoming blunted. The thumbside knuckle-bow disappeared, while a hook grew downward from the hilt over the blunt edge. The hook bore a jagged edge that gave it an appearance resembling the jaw of some sort of carnivorous beast when paired with a matching adornment that extended along the bladed edge. Falkier’s eyes and mouth felt strange, almost like they were also going through some sort of transformation.

The mustached man’s eyes widened in terror. “Are you some sort of demon?” His stance quickly became more aggressive as he began striking at Falkier. 

The newly-transformed sword felt easier to handle, and Falkier was able to protect himself, catching the man’s blade across the blunt edge. After a few more swings, Falkier managed to hook the man’s blade. He twisted his wrist and wrenched the sword out of the man’s hands. The sword clattered to the ground, and Falkier rushed him, punching the knuckle-bow that still remained on the bladed side of his sword into the man’s throat. The man wheezed as he collapsed to the ground. Falkier put the point of his sword to the
man’s throat.

“So this is how you managed to kill six men on your own,” the man croaked. “Demon magic.”

“I was not alo-“

The man spat at Falkier. “Kill me, you worthless cheat. I would rather die than listen to you try to corrupt my ears with your lies.”

Falkier drew the sword back to deliver the final blow and stopped. He’d never killed anyone before. Swagin and Jofalk had already finished the other two men off and were rummaging through their possessions. He looked into the man’s eyes, defiant and prepared for what was to come. The sword descended, opening the man’s throat. Watching the man’s body collapse in a pool of blood, Falkier ran his tongue across his teeth and was surprised to find all of them sharp and pointed. He raised his sword and looked at himself in the blade’s reflection. His eyes were the color of polished brass with slits for pupils. Smiling confirmed that his teeth had all grown to sharp points. I really do look like a demon.

Not a demon, the voice growled, a dragon. Touch the black gem again before your comrades can see. 

Falkier obeyed, and the warmth rushed out of his muscles. The sword remained a falchion, but the leather hilt lost its scaliness and the hook lost its jagged edge. Falkier looked at his reflection on the blade again and was relieved to see that his eyes and teeth had returned to normal as well. What is going on? What happened? Who are you? There came no response.

“Gud wark, Falkeer.” As Swagin approached, Falkier could see that his hands were bloodied and his handwraps hung tattered from his wrists. “Strip ‘em o’ his valubuls quickly so w’can git goin’ ‘gain. Gotta be quick if’n we wan’ t’be home by night.”

Falkier sheathed the sword and kneeled down to the man, careful to avoid the blood pooling around the body. Falkier dutifully searched the man’s pockets and found a purse full of tarnished bronze coins bearing the image of a shovel. Spades were the second least valuable coin after the copper penny, so the purse wasn’t an amazing find. Falkier also stripped the man of his swordbelt and a chainmail byrnie he’d worn under his tunic. Falkier strapped on the swordbelt, replacing the man’s scabbard with his own, and put the byrnie on underneath his two layers of borrowed clothing, leaving the prison shirt underneath. He stood to see Swagin sitting on Olorn rewrapping his hands and Jofalk putting an arrow back into his quiver.

As Falkier remounted Olorn, he saw the bodies of the other two men. Falkier’s opponent lucked out getting away with just an opened throat. The man with the shaved head’s face was broken and bloodied, while the other man had his throat ripped out and a hole through the side of his head where an arrow had been ripped out. These three men had only been doing their duty, trying to seize a prisoner, and they paid with their lives.

“Why didn’t you two give me over to them?” Falkier asked his companions. “Surely, you figured out that I was the person they were looking for. You could have made some money from it.”

“We knew you were a prisoner from the moment we met you,” Jofalk replied. “It wasn’t our job to hunt you down, and you clearly needed help.”

“Yah, you was ah pitiful thin’, you was,” Swagin added. “An’ now tha’ yer one o’ us, der ain’t no price we’d take fer ya’.”

“Then all I can do is thank you.” All the worrying that Falkier’d done had been for nothing. They’d known all along that he was a wanted man, so he’d had nothing to worry about by trusting them. It would have been nice if they had given him a sign they were on to him sooner, though, but that’s the past now. He touched the cut on his hand they’d given him. “Maybe I’ll stay with the Bulls even after I manage to save your lives.”

The three men turned their backs to the bloody scene and continued riding down the road. The sun had not yet reached its peak, but they still had a way to go. Falkier couldn’t help but think to himself that his future laid ahead somewhere down that road. He looked at the Dhorn and the Sadetian he rode with. If they were any indication of what his future as a mercenary was going to be like, the future was bright as the sun in the sky above them.

Upcoming Book: Mars Colony Agatha: Nikki Red by Jack Chaucer

Release Date: November 01, 2019

BLURB:

Nicole Janicek already
has stared down a high school shooter, a cult of criminal
ex-Scientologists and six months of frigid darkness at South Pole
Station in her young life, but now she risks it all attempting to ride a
rocket to Mars in 2022. After the Red One mission quickly aborts in the
skies over the North Sea, Nikki gets a surprise phone call from Elon
Musk, CEO of SpaceX. What follows is a euphoric, historic, tragic and
heroic mission to establish Mars Colony A, dubbed by some in the media
as “Mars Colony Agatha” when misfortune strikes. While doubters predict
the perilous mission will morph into “And Then There Were None” by
Agatha Christie, Nikki and her crew are determined to write their own
story. Through it all, Nikki is surprised to learn how strong her
connection to those she loved on Earth remains despite the chasm of time
and space.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46779287-mars-colony-agatha?from_search=true
— EXCERPT —
CHAPTER 4
THE LINK

September 11, 2022 — Launch-Minus-11 Day
Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Cruising stealthily in a black Musk-designed Tesla sedan from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base toward nearby Kennedy Space Center, Nikki stared out the tinted window at the Atlantic Ocean and recalled her last disastrous visit to Florida in August 2019.

It began with her defying The Bridge leadership’s orders in Fort Lauderdale and nearly ended when she was struck by flying debris as Hurricane Felicia raged in Miami Beach.

But she lived.

And now she was back, and free, and here by her own choice.

She was ready to leave Earth on her own terms; saddened by her parents’ objections, but determined to blast her life so far past the ordinary.

Thirty-eight Raptor engines, quietly waiting on iconic Launch Pad 39A, would propel her beyond her imagination and into a cold, beautiful and deadly reality.

Dozens of Space Shuttle liftoffs had cleared that same pad; two missions had ended in explosions, deaths and parental heartbreaks.

But Nikki truly believed she would survive to see Mars up close.

Her extensive training in Antarctica had steeled her spirit for this all-in mission to deep space, and now Musk’s unexpected lifeline after the Red One splashdown only convinced her further that she was destined to actually land there in 2023 at age 26. Wow.

KSC headquarters rose about 10 stories in the foreground with massive American and NASA flags draped down one side. The boxy building was surrounded by sprawling parking lots dotted with palm trees, but Nikki’s eyes initially were drawn to the sleek, futuristic SpaceX sign on an adjacent rectangular building. The left leg of the X in the logo shot up diagonally and arced away, like the trail of rocket smoke.

Beyond all of that, at the edge of the ocean, the stainless steel Super Heavy Starship gleamed as it aimed toward the bright blue sky. From Nikki’s vantage point more than a mile away, it looked like a child’s toy, and in a way it was. Musk had been experimenting with rockets of all sizes since his aloof engineer father literally left Elon to his own devices during a rough South African childhood split from his mother and siblings. In reality, the full SHS stack stood 387 feet, 82 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.

This was beyond freedom.

Where this rocket would take her, there would be nothing but red dirt, ice and murderously thin air. No government. No police. No trees or animals. No streets, with or without names. Just a brand new, very old and very empty world, apathetic to the arrival of six human beings, one of whom remained an 11th-hour, L-minus-11 stranger to the other five.

Nikki scrolled through their names on her phone one more time:

1. Commander Xander Vermilyea. Really? Internal rhyme? Nikki still dabbled in poetry, but that name in the email Elon’s assistant sent her sounded more like a Muskian prank.

2. Pilot Jo Guigere. Not Joe. Not Josephine. But female, Nikki presumed. Awesome.

3. Engineer Ulysses Parker. She wondered if his middle name started with an S. like the old Civil War general and president who now graces $50 bills.

4. Dr. Susan Wilkes. Nikki tried to suppress her brain’s urge to stick with the 1800s theme, add “Booth” to her name and charge her as an accomplice in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

5. Specialist Edward Etergino. “E Squared” immediately came to her mind as a possible nickname.

And what would they think of Specialist Nicole Janicek, the late and unexpected wildcard crew member with the red streaks in her hair?

If I can find a way to get along with the person who shot me for six months at South Pole Station, I’ll find a way to get along with these people, Nikki vowed.

But first, she was scheduled to meet face to face with the visionary who designed the car she was riding in and the spaceship that would drive her to Mars.

***

Jane Rushmore, blonde and personable, ushered Nikki into an eighth-floor suite where Elon Musk, hipster-techno-casual in a black short-sleeved shirt and jeans, quickly looked up from his phone and grinned. The SHS pierced the blue horizon in the massive window behind him.

Still star struck, Nikki hesitated for half a beat before crossing the surprisingly drab, outdated carpet to shake his hand in the large, rectangular room.

“Welcome, Nikki. How was your flight?” he asked, guiding her toward a pair of recliners. “Come relax. Can I get you anything?”

“Good, no, I’m fine,” she replied as they both sat down across from one another.

“Most people I know try to avoid flying on September 11th out of, you know, extremely warranted superstition, but we’re L-minus-11, so …”

“It was no problem,” Nikki said, struggling to form more than simple sentences in this surreal moment.

“How old were you in 2001?” he asked, still grinning.

“Four,” she said, finally allowing herself to exhale.

He nodded as if he already knew that. “Back then I was one year away from launching SpaceX in a California office about the size of this room and look how far we’ve come. I’m still renting space … this time from NASA.”

“But now you’ve got a rocket on that launch pad right there ready to take six people to Mars,” Nikki pointed out while gesturing toward the window.

“Can you believe you’re one of them?”

“No … this all seems like a dream.”

“I’m glad you said dream and not a nightmare.”

“Oh, I’m scared,” she admitted.

“So am I. Perfectly normal. This is gonna be big … truly the start of something monumental in human history. Deep space travel and establishing a human base on Mars.”

“What do you see as my role in this mission … other than trying not to die?” Nikki asked, smiling as she realized she just echoed Thomas’ parting words to her.

Elon fed off her smile and practically bounced in his chair as he talked, with his hands in constant motion.

“I really see you as the link, the communications link between Starship and Earth on the burn to Mars, and then between Colony A and Earth from Sol 1 on,” Musk said, referring in space jargon to the crew’s first day on the Red Planet. “You’re considerably younger, more charismatic and less of a technical person than the rest of the crew, so I really see you as the person to help tell the story of this mission, human to human.”

“Wow,” Nikki beamed.

“It’s an important role … getting on camera, wearing GoPros, shooting videos and sending video emails — v-mails — to interact with especially young people and children in classrooms on Earth,” he continued. “Think of yourself as the first travel guide on Mars, encouraging the next generation to want to help set up a city there some day. Because this mission will be far more effective and inspiring if we maintain that human connection with Earth every mile and every step of the way.”

“What can I say? I’m humbled and amazed to do that,” Nikki said.

“Fantastic. Now when I say interact, as you know, there’s about a 20-minute delay in communications between Mars and Earth, so the videos will be more like a one-way video letter, if you will, and then you’ll receive the reply from Earth.”

“Of course.”

“The less glamorous role for you would be to get extremely involved in keeping the common areas and cabins clean aboard ship and in the Martian hab environment …”

“Housekeeping?” Nikki asked with a smirk.

“Your word, not mine,” he replied with a laugh. “But essential either way.”

She nodded, biting her tongue and smiling. “Anything else?”

“Oh, there’ll be many other tasks, I’m sure, but one very real thing to keep in mind is you are the most expendable crew member. I know. I’m shamelessly blunt. But that’s a fact.”

Nikki picked up her jaw, tilted her head and understood.

“I know. I totally get that.”

“It just means that when there are dangerous situations or choices or truck runs to be made, you should be the first to raise your hand.”

Nikki’s eyes met Elon’s and didn’t blink.

“I will do that.”

“Good. Even if any of the other five tries to be the hero and insist, you remind them what I’ve told you here today. This mission is all about sacrifice. It has no chance of succeeding without it.”

“I’m so ready,” Nikki told herself and the leader of SpaceX. “You have no idea how awful it felt to come crashing down and lose that opportunity.”

“On the contrary, I know exactly how it feels. I’ve seen my share of exploding rockets. And that’s why I reached out to you … someone who would appreciate this second chance like no one else.”

Nikki took a deep breath and grinned. “I do appreciate it and I thank you for tracking me down. I’m truly blown away by all of this.”

“You’re welcome,” Elon said, standing up and offering her a hug. “And officially, welcome to the mission.”

Nikki accepted his embrace and smiled.

“Thank you. What’s next?” she asked.

“Dinner with your commander and crew. You better enjoy real Earth food while you can get it. And after that, I have a little surprise movie for all of you. It should be an inspirational and bonding experience.”

Cover Reveal: The Heartache Duet by Jay McLean



DUET COVER REVEAL
The Heartache Duet
Cover Reveal Date: May 31, 2019



RELEASE DATES:
Heartache and Hope (Book 1): June 28, 2019
First and Forever (Book 2): July 12, 2019





DUET SYNOPSIS:
Ava Diaz needs saving.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Just like she doesn’t know a thing about the boy
she sits next to on the first day of senior year.
He thinks she’s a brat.
She thinks he’s entitled.
Maybe first impressions don’t always last…
Because Connor Ledger’s about to save her.
He just doesn’t know why.



Add the Duet to your TBR: bit.ly/GRJMacHH
$100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway → http://bit.ly/2Qx3OZq



AUTHOR BIO
Jay McLean is an international best-selling author and full-time reader, writer of New Adult and Young Adult romance, and skilled procrastinator. When she’s not doing any of those things, she can be found running after her three little boys, investing way too much time on True Crime Documentaries and binge-watching reality TV.

She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make her hurt and make her feel.

Jay lives in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, in her dream home where music is loud and laughter is louder.

For publishing rights (Foreign & Domestic) Film or television, please contact her agent Erica Spellman-Silverman, at Trident Media Group.

AUTHOR LINKS
Facebook | Fan Group | Web | Twitter | Instagram |

Book Blitz: The Crystal Keeper Series by Laurisa White Reyes

The Crystal Keeper Blitz (1).jpg 
 BoxedSet_1_rsz.png
Blitz: The Crystal Keeper Series
Author: Laurisa White Reyes
Genre: Fantasy
Date: 21st of March
Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Books 

BLURB:

Books 1-3:

Exile, Betrayal & Vengeance
Jayson lives among the shadows of Hestoria, his sole purpose for staying alive – to protect his half of the Seer’s crystal. Exiled from his homeland for loving the king’s daughter, Ivanore, Jayson is now pursued by two opposing factions: the Vatéz (League of Magicians) who intend to use the crystal for their own selfish gain, and the Guilde, the ancient guardians of the crystal.

​Meanwhile, Ivanore flees from her father to Hestoria in search of Jayson. As the Seer, she is plagued with visions of him being tortured and is determined to rescue him. When the Vatéz capture her, however, she unwittingly jeopardizes everything Jayson has vowed to protect. He must now make a terrible choice: Should he save Ivanore or save the crystal?

↓Buy Links↓
https://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Keeper-Laurisa-White-Reyes-ebook/dp/B00RR6H440
BoxedSet_2_rsz.png
BLURB: 

Books 4-6:

Hidden, Defiant, & Fallen
Ivanore the Seer lives under lock and key in the castle of Auseret, a reluctant captor of her brother, Arik, now the Minister of Hestoria. Unwilling to use her powers to assist him in locating the crystal or the missing Guardians, Arik schemes to trick her into leading him right to the enemy’s lair.Meanwhile, the Guardians live peaceably with Jayson on a sprawling farm outside of the Vatéz’s realm.

But Jayson is not the man he once was. Broken and beaten down by years of separation from his beloved Ivanore, Jayson must find the will to keep the Guardians safe in an increasingly violent land. When the unthinkable happens, both Ivanore and Jayson battle their own demons to protect the crystal from falling into Arik’s hands—and to keep all of Hestoria safe from the Vatéz.

↓Buy Links↓
https://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Keeper-Laurisa-White-Reyes-ebook/dp/B07MFK5YSC

Booktrailer: https://youtu.be/lq8e1PcPAUA 

Laurisa
AUTHOR BIO:

Laurisa White Reyes wears many hats these days: Editor-in-Chief of Middle Shelf Magazine, published author, professional editor, educator, and homeschool mom to five kids. She has a Master’s Degree in English and is the founder of Skyrocket Press.

Visit her website at: www.LaurisaWhiteReyes.com

To find out more about Laurisa White Reyes you can visit her at:

Amazon Page | Facebook | Website | Goodreads | Twitter 

UFB ~ Banner 2017

Book Feature: Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsella

BLURB:
Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their

The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on KalaDene 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.

Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of those taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.

When Ashael meets Iwan in the forest, neither realise that she is the one the Zanthar are looking for. The fate of KalaDene and all of its people rests on her shoulders.

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:107%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,sans-serif;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;
mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34097124-ashael-rising?ac=1&from_search=true

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-GB
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:107%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,sans-serif;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;
mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

Author
Bio –
Shona Kinsella is the author of Ashael Rising,
(Unbound, 2017) the first in her series, The Vessel of KalaDene. She is also
one of the editors of the British Fantasy Society’s fiction publication,
Horizons. When she is not writing or
wrangling her three children, she can usually be found with her nose in a book.
Social
Media Links –

 
 

Book Tour: Fire’s Kiss By Brittany Pate

 

Fiery Seas Publishing

November 21, 2017   

Paranormal Romance Fiction

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:12.0pt;
font-family:”Cambria”,serif;
mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

BLURB:
Embyr tends her tavern while keeping her dangerous parentage a secret, until she’s attacked by a hellhound and saved by one of the most feared men in history.

For the last eight hundred years, Ryder McLennon, the infamous leader of Death’s Horsemen, has used his army to hunt the vampire who killed his wife. He’s earned a reputation as a murderous madman. But in Embyr, he discovers something that could turn the tide of battle in his favor. Her control over fire can reduce an enemy to ash and her flippant disregard of him heats his blood in ways no one else ever has. She’s beautiful, powerful and completely different from her violence-loving brethren.

Embyr finds herself thrust into a war she wants no part of, targeted by a vicious vampire because of her cooperation with Ryder. As she learns to wield her demonic powers without letting the madness of her race overcome her, she also has to fight her attraction to a killer bent on her seduction.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36567275-fire-s-kiss?ac=1&from_search=true

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:12.0pt;
font-family:”Cambria”,serif;
mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

Buy
Links:

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:12.0pt;
font-family:”Cambria”,serif;
mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

 

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
JA
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:12.0pt;
font-family:”Cambria”,serif;
mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-ansi-language:EN-US;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

Brittany Pate lives in Texas with her husband
and son. She is a longtime lover of all things fantasy and romance. When she
isn’t writing, she enjoys narrating audio books and drinking entirely too much
coffee.



Book Feature: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

About the book:

Lacy Dawn’s father
relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best
friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in The Hollow
isn’t great. But Lacy has one advantage — she’s been befriended by a
semi-organic, semi-robot who works with her to cure her parents. He
wants something in exchange, though. It’s up to her to save the
Universe.

Will Lacy Dawn’s predisposition, education, and magic
be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly,
protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary
science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a
children’s story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or
easily offended.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32993259-rarity-from-the-hollow?ac=1&from_search=true
Robert Eggleton has served as a
children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He
is best known locally for his nonfiction: investigative reports about
children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia
Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997; nationally
distributed models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the
community instead of in large institutions; research into foster care
drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never
finding a permanent loving family; and statistical reports on the
occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency in West
Virginia. Dozens of his works have been archived by the West Virginia
Division of Culture and History.

Today, he is a recently retired
children’s psychotherapist from a mental health center in Charleston,
West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and
overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns.
Two of Eggleton’s poems were published in the 1970s and another won
first place in 2015 international poetry competition managed by the WSC
Science Fiction & Fantasy Club/WillyCon. His debut novel, Rarity
from the Hollow, was named one of five best reads in 2015 by a Codices,
has been awarded Gold Medals by Awesome Indies and Readers’ Favorite,
and has been so well received by prominent book critics and reviewers
that it is scheduled for republication by Dog Horn Publishing, a
traditional small press, in 2016. Three of Eggleton’s short stories have
appeared in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and
Atomjack Science Fiction.

Author proceeds from Eggleton’s Lacy
Dawn Adventures project have been donated to a child abuse prevention
program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. http://www.childhswv.org/
Robert continues to write adult literary science fiction with new
adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of
children that he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall
theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

 

Blog Tour: Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio

Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio
November7, 2017
Fantasy
The Gemeta Stone Book 2
Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC 
With his family’s talisman in his possession, Kristan Gemeta is ready to face the Wichelord Daazna – but he has no inkling of the scope of Daazna’s power, nor the depths of his hatred.     
      
With the recovery of his family’s protective talisman, Kristan Gemeta has found hope, courage – and perhaps even the first stirrings of love.  With the aid of Heather Demitt, her band of rebels, a shipload of Northern brigands and the legendary Kentavron, he readies himself to face the Wichelord Daazna.  But neither he nor his comrades realize the strength of Daazna’s power and hatred.  The Wichelord’s first blow comes from a direction Kristan least expects, with horrific, lasting consequences.



Buy Links: 

 Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble  ~  Kobo  ~  iBooks

— EXCERPT —

Chapter 1
The boat slewed suddenly. “Fiskur! Tiller to port!” Olaf roared, but it was too late; they had missed the breeze and were becalmed again. One of the Northmen laughed, but was quelled by his captain’s blue-eyed stare. Olaf came aft and stood looking down at Kristan. “You’re asleep at the helm, my friend.”
A blush of shame crept up Kristan’s face. “I’m sorry, Olaf. Maybe one of the others would do a better job –”
Olaf waved the words away as if they were gnats. “Fiskur, even a man born to the sea makes a poor job of sailing when he’s tired. But I’ve been thinking, and the more I think, the more futile this seems.”
Kristan’s heart sank, but he tried to smile. “I understand. We’re grateful for the time you’ve given us –”
“Will you let me finish?” Olaf said. The impatience of his tone was tempered by his gentleness as he patted Kristan’s shoulder. “It makes no sense to keep trying for the harbor. The Daaznans, lubberly as they are, are still smart enough to recognize this ship now. Why not follow me and my ship south? From there we can bear east along Norwinn’s seacoast. A day’s sailing will take us to a shallow bay. You can offload there and travel overland to Norwinn’s castle. It’ll be a longer trip by several days, but what you lose in time you’ll make up in safety. What do you say?”
Kristan nodded. “That makes sense. Olaf, I don’t know how we can ever repay your kindness.”
“With respect, Fiskur, you’re talking nonsense. You pulled me out of the Mor when you had every right to let me drown. Now shove over and let me take the tiller; we’ll get back to camp quicker that way. Take over,” he added to his men, and in the Northmen’s capable hands the wine ship was quickly under way. The four Hogians sank to the deck, talking quietly, but Kristan was too dispirited for conversation. He leaned against the rail, looking back the way they had come.
“You’ll get there soon enough, Fiskur,” Olaf said. “Your kinsman on the throne in Norwinn will help you. You’ll march on this Wichelord Daazna, defeat him and be home again in Fandrall before you know it.”
“Home in Fandrall,” Kristan repeated. “A fortnight ago I would have told you I’d given up hope of ever seeing my home again.”
“Well, it’s the hope that keeps you going, isn’t it?” Olaf replied. His tone was gruff and wistful at the same time, and Kristan turned to look at him. The Northman’s eyes were fixed on the water ahead, but his face, usually so good-natured, had sunk into lines of sadness.
“Where’s your home, Olaf?”
The Northman sighed. “I wish I knew, Fiskur.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean we can’t find it. It’s as simple as that. My brother Sigurd and I set out on an expedition, just the two of us with our ships and crews. We thought we’d be back with our spoils in three or four days. But we ran into a storm and lost our way.”
“How long ago was that?”
“How long?” Olaf cocked an eye at him. “It’d be about five years, now.”
Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres.  She is based in the Washington, DC Metro area, where she co-founded Tony award-winning Signature Theatre and is in demand as an entertainer, teacher and public speaker.  Her award-winning short story, “Yaa & The Coffins,” was featured in Thinkerbeat’s 2015 anthology The Art of Losing.
Social
Media: