Kindle Fire Giveaway

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I’m excited to announce a great giveaway on Amid the Imaginary!

Check out the details below:

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Deadline September 4th

The link to the giveaway page is on the right-hand side of the blog with an icon suitably titled “Giveaway”. Check out the page for additional details and for the entry submission form. Or click here to get there if shifting your gaze to the right sounds like too much work for a Sunday:)

Good luck everyone!

Eidolon (Wraith Kings Book Two)

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Title & Author: Eidolon (Wraith Kings Book Two), Grace Draven

Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy Romance, April 18, 2016

Book Description: “**Sequel to RADIANCE and Book #2 in the Wraith Kings series** In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis unleashes a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by a diseased darkness. His human wife Ildiko must decide if she will give up the man she loves in order to save his throne. Three kingdoms on the verge of war must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king will raise an army of the dead to challenge an army of the damned. A tale of alliance and sacrifice.”

First Line: When Kirgipa accepted the coveted position of second nursemaid to the youngest of the Kai heir apparent’s brood, she never imagined the role entailed consecutive days of sleep deprivation and exile to the farthest corner of the palace.

My Take: Having absolutely adored book one of this series (Read my review of Radiance here) I was crazy excited to read this sequel. As is the method of this lovely Indie author, she writes a complete story in her novels, leaving threads for additional stories in the worlds she creates but not jarring you with a painful cliffhanger.

I’ll say right up front: this was a great read. Draven has such a poetic way of writing when she describes a scene or a landscape or even a person, that I find myself rereading passages just for the love of words (which is what makes her one of my favorite authors). She is equally adept at conveying carnage and horror because that prologue the book begins with is pumped so full of action and emotion I completely forgot how much I usually hate prologues.

The main romance between Brishen and Ildiko is already established as we go into this story, so the main plot is less focused on the usual romance steps (the meeting, the attraction, the getting together, etc.) and more concentrated on their relationship, specifically how it holds up to the massive burden placed on their shoulders when everything goes to crap. I really enjoyed the depth of Brishen and Ildiko’s bond to each other, so indicative of a marriage, not a fresh and frilly romance where the other person seems perfect. They make mistakes. They draw away from each other and then come back. They find strength in one another, in the giving and accepting of support. That’s a marriage folks, and Draven depicts it in such a beautiful way.

The Magical: Definitely the big evil sweeping over the land gave me the heebie jeebies. The way their sounds were described, the way they kill and devour and destroy *shiver*. That was awesome. And oh! The sacrifices made in this book! Totally wrenched my heart out several times…Which I shouldn’t enjoy, but I do.

The Mundane: I was a little bummed that the third point of view, Kirgipa, essentially disappeared at a certain point (can’t tell you where because “spoilers”). That character didn’t feel wrapped up and it seemed like it was forgotten as the book sped to its conclusion. Was a bit disappointed on that score.

Summary of Thoughts: Awesome sequel! It had a couple of bumps in it here and there, but otherwise I loved it and totally lost sleep reading into the night because I couldn’t put it down. If you’re a pure romance fan, I’m not sure if this one will satisfy you as much as Radiance because the relationship is established already, but the story is wonderful so I hope you give it a chance. The series looks like it will continue with a couple of characters we’ve seen in both books and I can’t wait to see what happens there! 2017 needs to get here!!

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Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here

Want to learn more about this author and her work? Explore her website here

Attention: Micro Fiction Writing Contest!

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It’s been a while since I last hosted a writing contest so I think it’s time for another one!

Our theme once again is Micro Fiction.

That’s stories of 500 words or less.

No entry fee required.

Up to 50 entrants will be allowed to compete for fabulous prizes. 

Guidelines are as follows:

1. Must have at least one self-published book (please provide a link in your e-mail)

2. Must be a subscriber to the Amid the Imaginary newsletter

3. Story must be 500 words or less and in one of the genres of the blog (Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Steampunk)

4. One entry per person and once submitted the entrant cannot resubmit

5. Story format must be in PDF

DEADLINE to submit: Noon, 12:00 pm (U.S. Central Standard Time) on Monday, August 22nd. No exceptions.

Email your submission to FineFablesPress@gmail.com, Subject: Writing Contest Submission

Be sure to adhere to the guidelines listed above as it may impact the judgement of your entry if you do not.

Contest Judges:

Intisar Khanani, talented Indie author and all around awesome person, currently making huge waves in the book world with her latest Fantasy novel (If you’re curious, my review is here)

Kate Tilton, founder of Kate Tilton’s Author Services, LLC and host of the popular weekly Twitter chat #K8chat (check it out, it’s a lot of fun!)

And me, your friendly neighborhood Hawaiian girl!

On to the prizes!

This writing contest is once again sponsored by the wonderful people over at Tweet Your Books

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They Tweet your book, blog or author website to 550,000 select and genuine users: readers, editors, publishers & writers who follow them on their Twitter accounts.

1st-place-ribbon-998411st Place

  • Sponsored Prize: 30 Day Set & Forget Package: a minimum of 10 Tweets per day for 30 days. 
  • Winning story published in the Amid the Imaginary Fall newsletter and on the blog’s website.
  • 30 day listing on the Amid the Imaginary “Featured Authors” page with spotlight of the book of your choice.
  • Guest post spot or gif interview on Kate Tilton’s blog (for more info on that click here) and a chance to be a guest on #K8chat
  • Guest post spot or character/author interview on Intisar Khanani’s blog

 

2nd2nd Place

  • Honorable mention in the Amid the Imaginary Fall newsletter.
  • Story published on the Amid the Imaginary blog
  • 30 day listing on the Amid the Imaginary “Featured Authors” page with spotlight of the book of your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3rdplace3rd Place

  • Honorable mention in the Amid the Imaginary Fall newsletter.
  • Story published on the Amid the Imaginary blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Legal Stuff: By submitting a story you are granting Fine Fables Press the rights to publish the story online and in the Amid the Imaginary newsletter. The copyright and intellectual property rights remain with you. Please do not submit anything that you do not own the rights to.

We’re looking forward to reading your entries!

Please remember to carefully review the guidelines above. We’ll accept the first 50 submissions, and once again, that deadline to submit is Noon, 12:00 pm (U.S. Central Standard Time) on Monday, August 22nd.

Questions? Please comment on this post or on the Facebook announcement so everyone can see the answers. Technical difficulties? You can e-mail the question to me directly at FineFablesPress@gmail.com

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Transient Phenomena (Syzygy Book 1)

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Title & Author: Transient Phenomena (Syzygy Book 1), J. K. Ullrich

Genre & Publication Date: Science-Fiction & Cli-Fi, June 26, 2016

Book Description: “Ash was never supposed to visit Earth. After a genetic engineering catastrophe wiped out civilization, the survivors—inhabitants of a lunar mining colony—planned to rebuild on Mars. That was before a group of rebels seceded to the dark side of the moon, taking critical materials with them. Now conscripted teenagers scavenge the ruined third planet for species to use in terraforming. At fifteen, Ash is the best diver in a generation. But when tragedy strikes, he vows to end his colony’s dependence on its old homeworld at any cost.

Skye has never set foot on Earth. It’s not even visible from the moon’s far side, although the exiles’ mystic leader promises they will return home someday. Skye has discovered something that could realize this long-awaited dream, but she’s an outcast among outcasts, and no one will listen to her plan. To save her people, she might have to betray them.

Worlds collide when Ash and Skye meet, blurring the boundaries between enemies and allies, deception and truth. Their choices could preserve a future for humanity…or finally drive it to extinction.

Fans of contemporary science fiction classics like Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” and Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” will enjoy “Transient Phenomena”, the first installment of the “Syzygy” novella series.”

First Line: Even trespassing had a languid elegance in low gravity.

My Take: This novella was provided to me by the author for review.

Post-apocalyptic scenario in which we wrecked Earth and drove ourselves to near extinction? Check. Humans in space? Check. Split philosophies on what the fate of humanity (what’s left of it) should be which fractured mankind into two groups? Check. A hero who doesn’t feel like a hero, dealing with tragedy and desperation, plagued by hope? A heroine with cunning and drive, braving her people’s disdain to try to save them? These two thrown together in an all or nothing gamble that could get them cast out by both groups, killed, or maybe, just maybe, restore humanity’s future? Check! Check! Check! This story supplied everything on my Sci-Fi shopping list.

As a fan of this Indie author (For my review of her novel Blue Karma, click here) I’m always impressed by the depth of research she obviously completes to put in this level of detail. Genetic sequencing, decontamination protocols, biological and atmospheric hazards, and let’s not forget the physics of living on the moon. It’s a fully imagined reality, down to the science of what caused the catastrophe which drove mankind from Earth–an element that has an all too non-fictional slant to it and will leave you feeling a tad worried for our future. Okay, maybe more than a tad.

The Magical: Once again, awesome world building. Every facet of this universe feels like it was in place long before I got here, as if I opened a door and strolled into it. No info dumping. The history logically and realistically imagined and conveyed. I was one happy geek reading this.

The Mundane: So, the two main characters are Ash and Skye, only it takes quite a while before Skye is actually named in the book. Her sections are all “she” and “the girl” references. I wasn’t entirely clear why there was this anonymous element to her part and it kind of distanced me from her. We get to know her name when her story joins Ash’s, and I still very much like her characer, but I don’t know why she had to remain nameless until then.

Summary of Thoughts: Currently this book is $0.99 on Amazon. Action, adventure, lunar living, moral ambiguity, put together in this Sci-Fi/Cli-Fi package with a very non-fictional thread. It’s a great read that I definitely recommend and I’m looking forward to the next installment!

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Many thanks to author J. K. Ullrich for providing a copy of the book to review!

Want to know more about the author and her work? Explore her website here

Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest

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Title & Author: Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest (Vol 3), A. J. York

Genre & Publication Date: Middle Grade Fantasy, May 12, 2016

Book Description: “In this exciting instalment, Delilah Dusticle and the Dustbusters travel to the vibrant and mystical land of India. On arrival, they are tasked with a quest to overcome a powerful curse and save a life. It soon becomes clear that it is Delilah, who must find the strength and the power to defeat the curse. This is the third in a series of stories following Delilah and the Dustbusters on adventures around the world. Fully illustrated and packed with adventure!”

First Line: Dev wiped the sweat from his forehead and gasped at the hot, soupy air.

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

I’ve been a fan of the Delilah Dusticle series from the beginning and this installment is no exception. (Read my reviews of the earlier books here) Fun, light-hearted, and engaging, I always find myself smiling down at my Kindle as I dig in to another of Delilah’s adventures.

This time, Delilah and her team are on a trip to India. The author described the sights, sounds, and smells of the country in great detail. If she hasn’t been there herself, it’s clear that she has a great team of betas checking her work for authenticity (cue enormous applause!). Delilah is on a mission to save a girl but old enemies lurk about, new dangers threaten her mission, and time is running out. As usual, this was an exciting read.

But alongside the action is a poignant message about processing grief that is delivered with beautiful care and empathy. I always love this about the Delilah Dusticle stories: they are a lot of fun, incredibly creative, and told with straight forward language that kids (and adults) can access and absorb–however they also include a deeper meaning beyond the antics, something that sticks with the reader long after they close the book. Perhaps I enjoy this part of York’s writing most of all (well, the magical powers run a close second).

The Magical: Loved the setting! The Fantasy genre seems to take place in Western European settings usually. It’s fun to read a middle grade story that heads east. Delilah’s dust powers are growing and developing in amazing ways too. Super imaginative!

The Mundane: It’s been a little while since I read the last books so it took me a minute to remember all the characters, their quirks, and their relationships to each other. That being said, I adore the supporting cast of characters to the lovable Delilah.

Summary of Thoughts:  Currently this book is $2.99 for the Kindle. A sweet story with a courageous protagonist! I’m a big fan of this series (and its artwork) and can’t wait for the next story. I highly recommend it for kids and adults alike.

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Many thanks to author A. J. York for providing a copy of the book for review!

Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here

**GIVEAWAY NOTICE!!** The author is currently running a Goodreads Giveaway for all three Delilah Dusticle books until August 17th. Don’t miss your chance to get a copy of these wonderful stories!

A. J. York has previously been interviewed on Amid the Imaginary. Check it out here!

Want to know more about the author and her work? Explore her website here

Inquisitor (Insurrection Book 3) is out!

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Inquisitor, the third installment of Insurrection, is available on Amazon, hurray! This one was definitely challenging as it comes from the point of view of an antagonist. I have a greater appreciation for writers who integrate POVs of pure villains into their stories. Not an easy task! (FYI: There’s a truly chilling one in Koontz’s Watchers)

At any rate, it’s already gotten a couple of awesome reviews. Something unexpected: there’s a touch of fangirling going on with the Albatross, a main character who is the enigmatic leader of the insurgency. One of my reviewers called him “book boyfriend materal”. As a newly published Indie, hearing that a character I created is so evocative to a reader had me walking around with a big grin on my face:) Yeah, my work is rather unknown, and yeah, I’m not making huge profits from this writing gig right now, but it’s enough to know that those who’ve read my stuff are loving it. A small but happy fanbase is a win in my book.

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In a not so distant future, an unprepared humanity barely managed to repel the Locusts when they invaded Earth. But the long war left its mark on mankind and the Establishment was founded to ensure it would never come so close to destruction from an alien force again. Now, decades later, the world is run by this single governing entity. Loyalty is rewarded. Disloyalty is met with corrective action.

Before the war, they called Harlow the Butcher. The Establishment calls him Inquisitor and he’s been handed his most intriguing subject: the Albatross, leader of the insurgency. But strange orders frustrate Harlow’s work. When an unexpected visitor arrives with an interesting proposition, Harlow might have the solution he needs. If not, well, his knives don’t care where the screams come from.

Buy your copy today for $0.99 on Amazon

Want to know more about the series? Check out the dedicated page here

Book Release: 3006

AVAILABLE NOW!

3006: The Sequel to the novel 3004

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Synopsis:

In 3004, millions of Veenans came to Earth seeking sanctuary. Two years later, resources and food are at critical levels.
The Think Tank Program, used to run the nation, has been corrupted. Commander Conrad Heinz, faces assassination if he does not carry out its cruel orders. All fear being cast out into the wilderness beyond London’s invisible shield.
Kayleb Heinz has become disillusioned with London’s strict rules. Things must change, if we have any chance of surviving. Can Ana Bambi show him the way or will she lead him astray?
Rowan Gellpen, Kayleb’s old school friend, has been charged with murdering two Veenans. He must do his best to survive on the Isle of Wight, an open prison – home to vicious lifers.
10 year old Jack Solar is a waster and lives in the Welsh wilderness. He spends a lot of his time dreaming about getting into London.
Tensions are rising between Londoners and Veenans. Can David, the Veenan leader, make up for all the misery he has brought?
Is this our future? What will become of us all?

Pick up your copy on Amazon US (UK) or in the author’s online bookshop

4879431About author Natasha Murray:

I am a West Sussex, author and am lucky enough to be able to write full time.  I was born in North London, lived in Horsham for over twenty years and have recently moved to Littlehampton. I paint, write and invent new gadgets. I enjoy writing and it is both a pleasure and a compulsion. My dream of course, is for my works to be well known but it is enough to know, that my books and paintings are in the public domain for all to enjoy.

Connect with Natasha on her website and Facebook

The Serial Series: Is it a writer gimmick?

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While working to market my Sci-Fi/Dystopia series Insurrection, I’ve been reaching out to book bloggers asking for a review of the first installment, Subversive. For those who don’t know, this is a short-story series that will run for five installments, like episodes in a mini-series. Each book is told from a different character perspective. Each is a complete story and interconnected with the others.

Recently, a blogger who had agreed to review Subversive returned saying he would be unable to post a review because he does not feel serial series books are fair to readers. (Full disclosure: He does state that in his review policy but I, er, missed it. *blushes*)

Curious about this view of serial series, I wanted to ask what others thought. Below is the e-mail reply he sent to me and I’m posting it here with his permission:

Subversive is a glittering example of why I don’t (review serial series books) and I admit I should have examined this book more closely before I agreed to review it. Although it is well written, and I could see that the story line had the potential to eventually develop into something worth reading, as a lifelong reader who has been disappointed repeatedly by authors who use this approach to publishing, I cannot encourage it. Likewise, giving you a low review when the work could be made into a five-star effort is not fair to you.

For a reader, this book is a passage to nowhere except the next book. There is no end. There is only a beginning. For a reader, it’s a bit like having a sentence with a subject and no predicate. An incomplete thought to be solved by putting another nickel in the slot machine. I feel that approach to publishing is unfair to readers.”

My opinion? Although I respect this blogger’s perspective on the subject, I tend to disagree with the philosophy, not just because I’m writing a serial, but because personally, I love them. In the book serials I’ve read I find each book to be its own complete tale, even if there are cliffhangers at the end. If I love the premise and the characters, it’s great to come back to them again and again, like visiting old friends. Some examples? The Anita Blake books, The Emperor’s Edge, A Song of Ice and Fire. There are many more. To me, it’s like watching an episode in a TV series. I’m not upset that I’ll have to tune in next week to see another installment. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a movie that tells the story in one go. Other times, I like when a story is drawn out. The same is true for literature in my, uh, book. (unintentional pun)

What do you think of the serial series format? Does it feel like the author is nickle and diming you into buying another book rather than tying off the journey completely? Or do you enjoy new adventures with the same characters and universes, no matter how many installments there are?

Silent Night

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As is typical of Minnesota, it releases us from winter’s snow and ice only to plunge us into summer’s wrath, as if the place is irritated it has to warm up for any portion of the year and makes us suffer for it. Tuesday a huge storm cell rolled through the Twin Cities and, naturally, as I left work that day the thing was just making its debut. Timing is ALWAYS perfect for me when it comes to these things. There I am, driving home, obsessively looking in my rearview mirror, watching as this mass of roiling black clouds chases me down the highway.

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The sky turned green. Streets flooded with torrential rain. Howling winds ripped trees from their roots. Thunder and lightning crashed hard enough to rattle the windows and make me wonder if Thor could be something more than mythological. Of course, if he looks like Chris Hemsworth I might be willing to convert.

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Then BOOM! The nearby transformer explodes and everything goes dark. Thus began our two-day stint without power. This was made all the more awesome by the fact that my daycare is closed for the week (where they didn’t lose power), the air temperature the following days was 90 degrees without a breeze and two out of my three kids had a fever. I shuffled us over to my mother’s house but my mom has this aversion to using air conditioning, thus keeping her house at a balmy 84 degrees (still cooler than my house).

When the Xcel Energy truck showed up at last to repair our transformer, people came out of their houses in droves. We sat on the curb watching the guys work on it, our stares fixed on their movements, hopes and prayers thick in the air. Then someone yelled from a kitchen window that the lights came on and a cheer went up. A block party almost broke out except we all ran home to huddle around the cool air coming out of our vents.

Yes, I’m being dramatic here but it was a tough couple of days. And I did feel a little guilty about my internal (and external) complaining as I remembered other places that had storms in the past which knocked out power for weeks, sometimes months at a time. I can’t even imagine it.

But something interesting arose from all this chaos…the complete lack of it at night. When the kids were in bed, the coolers of food squared away, and the paper plates disposed of (don’t hate me for using them), I sat down at my table to write. By candlelight.

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I may or may not admit to feeling a tad Jane Austin as I did this. I had taper candles too. There I was, scribbling along the page, adjusting the angle of the light as the wax burned down, the flame flickering when my breath swished past it. Writing in such an environment, surrounded by shadow beyond the candle’s corona, narrows one’s focus to what’s in right front of you: the page.

This is what it was like every day for writers of the past (except maybe for the full belly, ball point pen, and superior state of health). There’s a silence to the night when the world is that quiet, when the house is soundless but for the scratch of your pen and the thoughts in your head. I experienced an odd contradiction of emotion as the hours rolled by. I felt both more connected to my work and more isolated. Fulfilled and empty. Satisfied and yearning. I attribute this a bit to distraction withdrawal, but also I think it’s because the night has two faces when distilled to its primary essence of silence and darkness. It embraces and it smothers. Soothes and frightens. The intensity of the atmosphere takes creativity to amazing places. There are only the words and the page. It was “A lonely impulse of delight.” to quote Yeats. Beautiful and strange.

Have you ever written by candlelight? What was it like for you?

Dark Voices

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If you’re like me then you love a well-written bad guy. Sometimes they’re even more interesting than the main character, regardless of how distinct the hero might be (Case in point: Hannibal Lecter). I’ve decided the biggest reason for this is because we enjoy exploring the darker side of humanity, that door into the basement, that shrouded place of both screams and silence.

In my reading I’ve noticed three different types of antagonists. Sometimes they overlap to varying degrees but in general they fall into these categories:

The Thug: Straightforward killer, brutal in their way, predictable and singleminded.

The Villain: More menacing in their motivations. Clever and complex, layered by circumstance, twisted by fate or ambition.

The Madman: The creature who not only lives with the darkness inside him but embraces it–the kind who abides by no agenda, the kind who inflicts pain for its own sake. Because they like it. Because it excites them. The kind that, if we caught a glimpse of what lay behind that darkness, we’d find only a deeper pit devoid of light and compassion.

As I’ve been finishing up Inquisitor, the third installment of my Sci-Fi series Insurrection, I thoroughly trekked into that darkness. Told from the point of view of an antagonist, the character falls under the last category with maybe an elbow in the second one. Writing him has been tricky. He evaded me for a while, not letting me into his head, laughing at my frustration, but I finally cornered the bastard and tuned into his voice. It concerns me a touch to find myself fascinated as I explore that viscious mind, those cunning and fearsome thoughts. In the end, I came to this conclusion: The scariest people don’t come on like a storm, raging and wild as they rush in from the horizon. No, for me, the most terrifying people are the ones whose malice oozes from them like a clot of oil from the ground, whose eyes track your every movement debating whether to let you pass by…or not. A cold shadow whose gaze is both empty and overwhelming, and completely inhuman.

In all my movie watching, I’ve come across only a few of these monsters who made my heart thunder from their mere presence on the screen, a softly spoken voice that shutters something truly heinous. From No Country for Old men, this is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen:

What are some of your favorite bad guys, either in movies or books? Do you prefer a raging antagonist of unthethered brutality or one who moves with unpredictable quiet?

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