Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Blast: The Grower's Gift by Vanna Smythe

The Spring of 2102 only brought false hope...

Series: Progeny of Time #1
Publication Date: May 15, 2014
Genre: YA Dystopian

The future is bleak in the year 2102. The planet is in chaos and the weather patterns have completely shifted, turning most of the world into an uninhabited wasteland.

The rich and powerful of North America have pulled back into the six remaining megacities, erasing all trace of a central government and leaving millions displaced by the environmental crisis to fend for themselves in the dying world. Sixteen-year-old Maya has a gift, a power she thinks can heal the earth and make it habitable again. A gift that she must learn to harness. The school for the gifted in Neo York is the only place where she can learn to control her power and reach her potential.

Yet the school is not what it seems. Ran by the ruthless head of the city of Neo York, the school’s only objective is to extract the powers of the gifted and then discard them. Only Ty, heir to the city, can keep Maya from being destroyed there.

But Ty has a secret and his loyalty to his family has never wavered. Will his growing love for Maya be strong enough to save them both?

Purchase today on Amazon!

Vanna Smythe is the author of the Anniversary of the Veil fantasy trilogy and The Grower's Gift, the first book in a new YA dystopian series. She has been writing creatively since her early teens, though one could say her creative writing efforts started long before that. While still in kindergarten, she once tore up a library book to make alphabet soup, and has been fascinated with what words can do, the pictures and worlds they can create, ever since.

The Progeny of Time YA Dystopian series was inspired by the bleak future presented in The Hunger Games, the fight between good and evil played out in Harry Potter, and the TV show Heroes, but with a totally unique story and twist. The story is equally fun for teens as well as adults. The second book in the series will be released in Summer 2014.

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Book Promo: Tear Of Heaven by RA McCandless


In the past, the children of angels and humans, the Nephilim, were allowed to lead their lives as they willed. But they proved too strong, too ambitious, and too cunning for their own good. They became warlords, conquerors and emperors. They caused war and strife until the Throne stepped in and forced them to submit to Its will, or die.

Unlike most of her fellows, Del, one of the first Nephilim, had no interest in conquest and domination. In the ancient past, prior to the Throne's interdiction, she met and fell in love with Dami, a Mediterranean ship captain and trader. Together, they face down pirates and storms and try to create a future together.

In the present, Del unwillingly works for the Throne, obeying the commands of the angel Ahadiel. She helps to keep the world safe from the horrors of escaped demons. At the same time, she keeps herself in the Throne's good graces. Whenever a rogue demon breaks free from Hell, she and her partner, Marrin, another Nephilim, work together to banish it.

Thrilling danger, fast-paced adventure, high-seas action, and heart-warming romance fill this novel, with a page-turning story that won't let you put it down.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Feature: Scott M. Sullivan author of Impetus

When the world first heard about the meteorites, it was already too late.

Ten arduous years later, Mick and his small group of eight had adapted to the new way of things. With no clean running water, power, or forms of communication, the Earth went backward, taking with it almost everything they held dear. Survivors like Mick were forced to do the best they could with what they had. Because in the post-Impact world, alternatives were a luxury that no one could afford.

Now a deadly virus promises to finish the job the space rocks failed to.

With the clock ticking down on their lives, Mick will navigate the deceitful webs spun by those that oppose his drive for salvation. And along his quest to prevent another catastrophe, Mick will rediscover what it truly means to be human.


Author Interview

What inspired you to write this book?
A friend of mine was doing NaNoWriMo (, where writers attempt to write 50K words during the month of November. I joined him. I ended up writing 25K words of Impetus during that time. I reached a block in my writing and shelved it until mid-April of 2014. I finished it in the middle of May.

How did you choose your title?
I chose IMPETUS as the title because each of the main characters has their own driving force pushing them. And since I chose to make Impetus character-driven, I felt like that single word embodied the story’s spirit.

Tell us about the cover and how it came to be.
I designed the cover in Adobe Photoshop (graphics) and Illustrator (text). The meteorites in the sky were the cause for the destruction 10 years prior to the story. The barren landscape is to give the reader an idea of what remained after the catastrophe. There is a touch of green in front of the swing set. A writer friend of mine said it needed a tiny dose of color to break-up all the bleakness.
Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?
I self-published Impetus, along with my first book, The Trinity Signs. I will also be self-publishing my third book sometime in the near future. Self-publishing used to have such a stigma attached to it; for good reason in some cases. However, with people like Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking showing how drastically that stigma has changed, it gives other authors like myself a fighting chance. There are a lot of great authors out there that may not fit what the big publishing houses are looking for. The success of a great deal of self-published authors goes to show that what readers want and what publishers think they want don’t always fall in line.

What do you consider the most important part of a good story?
This answer will probably vary greatly depending on the person answering, but, for me, the most important part of a good story are the characters. Plot is obviously of great importance, too. But it’s the characters that pull the emotion out of the reader. It’s the characters that give the reader a way into the story. If you can feel what they feel, see what they see, and live what they live, then the story becomes more of an experience. And a good experience can be quite memorable, in my opinion.

What is your writing process?
I bring up a new Word document, close my eyes, and imagine. I’ll then write what I see and go from there. For instance, I started Impetus by closing my eyes and picturing a man sitting on a hill and staring at a damaged billboard. I don’t know why I pictured that. Something must have triggered it; I must have subconsciously seen or heard something to put that image in my mind. That scene became my first paragraph about Mick, my protagonist: him staring at a billboard. After that I would write as the story came to me, usually a chapter at a time.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a pantser all day. Once I become accustomed to the characters, I let them do their own thing and simply write down what they do.

What part of the writing process is the hardest for you?
Finding time to write. While I would love to do this fulltime, I simply can’t afford it with a family to support. So I write when I have the opportunity to.

What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?
Click save and walk away. Simple as that. Do something else. Anyone with writer’s block should read a book, or watch a movie, or go for a run, or do something other than spend time with that story. Let the answer naturally come to you. I find that other stimuli can sometimes trigger the answer you’re looking for. Trying to force the answer will result in either undue aggravation or a subpar way through the block.
What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?
I usually write without music. My 4-year-old daughter has a better attention span than me. So I try to limit my distractions. However, when I do put something on it’s either classical (Vivaldi, Bach, etc.) or something by Hans Zimmer. If it’s something lyrical then I’ll start singing the song in my head.

Who is your favorite author?
I like Preston and Child. I like their stories and the way they tell them. Stephen King would be at the top of the list, though. The breadth of what he’s written is so impressive. His imagination is second to none.
Read anything good lately?
After I finished writing Impetus, I wanted to stay in the post-apocalyptic frame of mind. I downloaded and read Wool by Hugh Howey. Great story. So imaginative. Hugh writes with impressive fluidity.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I have an 8-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. They pretty much dictate what my free time will be spent doing. I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.

What advice would you give an author just starting out?
Keep writing. Keep improving your craft. And make sure you understand that there are people out there that will despise what you wrote. They will not connect with your characters; they will not understand your plot; they will tear apart what you wrote and how you wrote it. Some people may even get personal. Opinions on your story will vary greatly. Understanding that ahead of time will help you deal with the negativity. Even the greatest books of all time have plenty of 1-star reviews. You can’t please everyone. Embrace the positivity and learn from the negativity.

Have you had anything else published?
The Trinity Signs was my first self-published novel. It’s an action-adventure fantasy story. That story requires the reader to suspend their disbelief. But sometimes a true escape from reality is just what the doctor ordered.

What's your next project?
After I finished Impetus, I picked up a story I hadn’t done anything with in a couple of years. I ended up finishing that and will soon be releasing it. I’m still trying to come up with a title for it. That should, hopefully, be out in the next month.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

New Release: Dragons Of War by Kyra Dune

Dragons Of War (Firebrand Trilogy #3) by Kyra Dune

Title: Dragons Of War (Firebrand #3)

Author: Kyra Dune

Genre: YA Sword & Sorcery

Buy Link: Amazon




With the High King dead and the future of the Ten Kingdoms at stake, the companions have split into two groups. Jada’s group is bound for Waterfall in the north, with the intention of removing the usurper Tarel Andrassis from her throne. Carlan’s group flies south to Slithering, there to hopefully find an ally in the slyph king.


In both directions wait dangers neither group will see coming. Dangers of the flesh and dangers of the heart. In the end, whether the war for the Ten Kingdoms is won or lost, nothing can ever be the same again.





“And you were just going to let us sleep while some danger crept up on us.” Verdin took a step toward the mage. “You son of a--”

     “Do you know what it is?” Carlan broke in before there could be any trouble.


     Verdin growled with impatience. “Well would you like to enlighten the rest of us?”     

     Zazere sat up and pushed the hood of his robe back. Blue firelight danced in his black eyes. “That would be a dragon. Unless I mistake myself. Which of course I don’t.”

     “Are...” Carlan swallowed back a sudden dryness in his throat. “Are you certain it’s a dragon?”


     Carlan and Verdin exchanged a look, and then Carlan went to kneel beside Rinitha. He gently shook her awake. When she opened her bright blue eyes and looked up at him, he had to try very hard to remain calm.

     “I don’t want you to panic,” he said, “but there may be a dragon somewhere nearby.”

     Rinitha squeaked in alarm as she sat up and grabbed hold of his arm. “What do we do?”

     “There is no cause for alarm I assure you.” Zazere stood, straightening out his black robes. “If you all remain calm, that is.”

     “Forgive me if I don’t take your word for it.” Verdin drew his gun as the sounds came closer.

     Carlan helped Rinitha to her feet, then called his fire up to surround his hands with blue flames. Zazere stepped in front of him. “It would be highly unwise to greet what’s coming with violence.”

     Carlan stared into the mage’s unfathomable black eyes and wished he had the other man’s ability for reading minds. Well, either he was going to trust Zazere or he wasn’t. Time to make up his mind.

     “Put your gun away, Verdin,” Carlan said.

     “What?” Verdin looked over his shoulder. “Are you seriously going to listen to him?”

     Carlan met his gaze. “Yes.” He looked to Sundance. “Stand down, boy.” The young gryphon gave him a quizzical look, then sat back on his haunches. Carlan looked back to Verdin, who was still holding the gun. “Please, trust me.”

     “I trust you fine, Carlan.” Verdin glanced at Zazere, then holstered his gun. “Stand down, Starshine.” The black gryphon sat, but his muscles remained bunched.

     When the dragon entered the cavern it was not all what Carlan was expecting. It was not much larger than the gryphons and its scales were a rather unremarkable shade of mottled green and brown. But most surprising of all was the fact that it was being led on a chain by a tall slyph woman in gleaming silver chainmail.

     Her gaze swept over them and came to rest on Zazere. “I dare say I think my eyes must be playing tricks on me. Zee Zee, could that really be you? I would have thought you too smart to ever show your face in this kingdom again after you ran away with your tail between your legs like a scalded dog.”

     “It’s good to see you too, Sana. Still prefer the company of large, scaly beasts to men I see.”


About The Author


Kyra Dune was born in Oklahoma, but spent most of her life travelling with her family. She is the author of more than a dozen fantasy novels, including: Shadow of the Dragon, Elfblood, and Firebrand. As a child, her favorite stories were those that told of ordinary children being whisked away to magical lands. She has yet to find her own secret wardrobe or rabbit hole, but she hasn’t given up the search. You never know what might be waiting over the next rainbow.


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Friday, June 27, 2014

Feature: Shawn Phillips author of The Doppler Affect


Shapeshifters Control Our Lives!

The frightening power of vampires, werewolves, and lycanthropes has lived within our nightmares for centuries, failing to be reasoned out by the rapid advances in science and technology. The truth is that they are very much a part of our reality. However, they are merely the genetically inferior offspring of a more powerful race, known as doppelgangers, who evolved alongside humankind. These shapeshifters adopted a secretive yet manipulative approach when dealing with us, feeding off the sexual desires of men to sustain their society…until desperate times forced a new order.

Christopher Sands, a rising investment banker, was just another victim in a long list of doppelganger schemes. Framed for a crime he wouldn’t commit and watching his family fade farther and farther from his prison bars, Chris makes an unbelievable discovery; shapeshifters aren’t the only race with supernatural abilities. Can he find the strength to accept an even worse fate than prison to not only save his son, but all humankind? Will Michael Sands be able to control the spirits that haunt him to finish what his father cannot?


Author Interview


What inspired you to write this book? 
I keep a laundry list of book ideas that come to me during my daily, desert commute. None of them seem worthy enough to center an entire book around. However, I found that by combining these ideas I build a story that is enticing and unique. For The Doppler Affect it started with the ending of my first book, where a mythical doppelganger had taken over the identity of a key character. I began to wonder what a modern-day, science-based doppelganger would look like, how it would act and what its motivation would be. I knew it wasn’t enough to build a story from, so I let it nest in my mind for almost a year. Then one day I toyed with combining it with a spirit-walker idea I had a couple of years earlier. If I say anymore it would be a spoiler, but trust me when I say it makes for an exciting story.

Can you give us an interesting fact about your book that isn't in the blurb? 
The timeline of the book is purposely disjointed, with the novel even containing two stories separated by twenty years. It was a challenge to piece together, but also a lot of fun. Perhaps the most critical point is that the book was written for the broken timeliness, meaning it wasn’t just jumbled about after the fact. I’m curious to hear what readers think.


How did you choose your title? 
I was hoping you would ask this question, as the nerd in me is dying to explain it.  Many of my colleagues think I mixed up my homonyms, but it was carefully chosen. The Doppler Effect is a scientific principle where sound or light frequency changes when the source and observer are not in equal motion (e.g., one hearing the speeding up of an ambulance siren as it approaches). The book title is a play on both the words and the principle. The Doppler Affect is the influence (affect) doppelgangers, or dopplers, have on humankind; this affect being more pronounced as they get closer and less pronounced as they move farther away. Incidentally, each chapter title was built in this same vein.

Tell us about the cover and how it came to be. 
Now, that was a funny and very humbling experience. My original idea was to have a picture of a woman morphing into a man. I worked with a graphic artist to turn my vision into the book cover. When finished, I polled friends and strangers to see if they liked it. The responses were fantastically….horrible. People were disturbed, confused, or embarrassed for me. Luckily, a friend suggested that I meet with a local tattoo artist. I initially rejected the idea, but it grew on me as I really had no other options. A few weeks later I met him at a restaurant and described a critical scene in the book, and then left him to create. When he came back with the drawing, I was stunned at how perfectly he captured the scene while also creating an incredible cover. I give Cliff Gregory all the credit, and will be working with him for years to come.

Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why? 
Self-published. When I self-published my first book it was because I received 44 out of 44 canned rejection letters (deservedly so). Six years ago it was a stigma to self-publish, but I took my lumps and accepted the only path available to me. I learned so much by publishing my own book that I’m glad I had no other choice. With The Doppler Affect, I worked hard on the query letters and received over a dozen requests for more information and even three follow-ups for the full manuscript. Two agents were still reviewing it when I decided to move forward with self-publishing (I’m not very patient). The process of creating your work, working with an editor, developing a book cover, publishing, printing, getting reviews, marketing/advertising and selling books is exciting. The self-published author controls it all, which can be good or bad. Now, would I say no if an agent came back with a good deal? Probably not as I still have a demanding full-time job and two young boys that keep me very busy.

What do you consider the most important part of a good story?
Oh. So many things are zipping through my mind. Well….it’s a close call between a creative plot and well-crafted characters. I guess I would have to say well-crafted characters, as I need the reader to believe in their existence in order for the story to move forward. In fact, when I sent my book out to Facebook friends across the country for pre-screening I put together a questionnaire. In it I described four types of characters. The first was the page character, being two-dimensional in traits and usually lasting less than a page. The second was the cartoon character, who was not a main character but would appear enough times in the book that she needed to be memorable. Her character traits were limited in number but over-expressed in order to be memorable. The third was the antagonist(s), who also had over-expressed character traits but possessed a multitude of complimentary character traits. The last was for the protagonist(s), who not only had a multitude of complimentary character traits, but often grew or changed as the story progressed. The last is the most challenging, but also the most rewarding if one can get it right.

What is your writing process? 
I start with an excessively-detailed outline (the scientist in me), and then switch personalities to where I rapidly slap the keyboard for hours and hope it makes sense. This style means that intensive editing is required, but it fits who I am. I can’t slow down long-enough to craft the perfect sentence (and am jealous of those who can).

How long have you been writing? 
I wrote my first scientific journal article when I was twenty-two, but I don’t think that counts. I’ve been writing non-science based works for about nine years.

How did you get started writing? 
Nine years ago I had turned down a contract to write a book on nanomaterials after my boss asked me to take on a new leadership job. I was torn even after the decision, and only realized later that it was because I wanted to write. The new job was intense, so my long commute to work became a time to create stories in my head. When I got home I would write down my thoughts, and a few years later I had completed my first novel. It was not only a great way to unwind, but has become a healthy addiction.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? 
This question makes me think of the Aesop’s Fable about the scorpion that stung the frog who was carrying it across the river. My nature is to be a pantser, but my scientific training and daily work with hundreds of engineers has made me understand that I must have a certain amount of structure in order to focus my pantser nature. I’m sure it’s no surprise that if I’m exhausted or exited the pantser dominates.

What part of the writing process is the hardest for you? 
Setting the scene. Being a pantser and impatient means that I want to jump right into things. It was one of my biggest criticisms from my first book (ok, one of many), so often times I have to go back and rewrite those parts of my chapters.

What tips can you give on how to get through writers block? 
I really believe its personality driven. For some it’s going to a peaceful place, others need to get away and focus on something else. For me it’s a combination of long drives and working on another story, as I need to keep writing.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?
None, unless I’m writing a romantic scene. Then I’ll put on rock ballads.


Who is your favorite author?
Is it sad that the answer hasn’t changed since I was a teenager?  It’s Piers Anthony, and I often go back and reread books from the Xanth series.  Second up these days is Hugh Howey.

Who is your favorite character from a book?
Ender Wiggin, hands down. As a boy I could relate to the character, and dreamed of going to the stars. It surely ties into why I became a rocket scientist.

What is your favorite book? 
Talion: Revenant by Michael Stackpole. It may seem strange, but for a self-published author’s first book, it captured me from beginning to end. I believed in his main character and felt the internal struggles as his beliefs were turned upside down.

Read anything good lately?
The Martian. The main character is the perfect sarcastic, intelligent engineer. Hey, did I mention that I’m surrounded by hundreds of engineers every day? If you really want to be bored, I can expound on the differences between a scientist and an engineer.  No? Ok, next question.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
I’m a professional exerciser, which really means I am not very athletic but enjoy physical activity. I like to run, hike, lift, do martial arts, and camp. Oh, and watch football…way too much football.

What advice would you give an author just starting out? 
I’m only on my sophomore book, so I still have a lot to learn. But at this stage in my writing career I would say keep learning and applying the knowledge you gain. Whether it be a book you read, advice from a workshop, or reader reviews. It all will make you better at your craft.

Have you had anything else published?
Yes, my first book, Dillon’s Dream: Water and Earth. I have to admit that I’m a little embarrassed by the quality of the writing. However, I’m proud of the storyline, the depth of characters, and the crafting of the numerous meditation routines that are embedded in the book.

 What's your next project? 
I have two that I’m working on. The first is the sequel to The Doppler Affect, and is called Perfect Shape. The second is titled, Darkened Demigod. A story about the first modern-day deity, and how a diminutive libarian helps him with his internal demons. That one started when I had writer’s block on The Doppler Affect.


Shawn Phillips wrote his first book, a young-adult fantasy novel titled Dillon’s Dream: Water in Earth, in 2009 before following it up with his adult paranormal fiction novel, The Doppler Affect. In addition to the sequel to The Doppler Affect, he currently has two other projects in progress, which he plans to complete in 2015.

He spent his younger years living in southern Michigan farming communities before moving to Holland, Michigan to pursue a chemistry degree at Hope College, which he completed in 1992. After relocating to California, he continued his chemistry studies and obtained his doctorate degree in 1997. After a brief yet enjoyable stint at DuPont, he signed on as a civil servant for the United States Air Force. He has spent more than fifteen years conducting and directing propulsion research at the historic Rocket Lab, located on Edwards Air Force Base.