Saturday, September 28, 2019

Storytime Saturday Presents: "Mobius" by Thomas Woldering (BONUS: "Miss Hattie And The Hoppers" by Mary R. Woldering!)


I recalled what the Mobius recruiter, an older gentleman named Mr. Werner, had told me yesterday: "Elise Desoto. Dr. Schiller requests you for an interview at Mobius at 6:30 in the morning tomorrow, December 21st, 2012 for the position of head physicist once you finish your research. Your student loans will be absorbed if you accept the position, and you will be paid five thousand dollars for showing up even if you do not accept."

His offer was unbelievable. Anyone would accept it even if they just showed up and left, but it also made me incredibly suspicious. I wasn’t worthy of that job… yet. I was working on something revolutionary which would make me the best candidate, but I had been very tight-lipped about it.

My invention and the subject of my research was more like sci-fi or magic than something you’d see in the real world. An instant, one-way portal to anywhere that I called a Translocator. It would usher in the next era of humanity. I invented it and I knew it worked, but I hadn’t gone public because I couldn’t explain why yet.
Has Mobius found out? How?
They must know something if Doctor Rosalyn Schiller herself wants to interview me. 

She wasn’t just a scientist or corporate leader, she was the scientist and corporate leader. She had been reading books and solving math problems before she could walk. Mobius, my school – New Babylon University, the whole city of New Babylon, and even the new state of Delmarva grew here around the farm where she was born in what used to be Delaware. She was that important. I felt a bit intimidated, but my curiosity about what they knew and my eagerness to work at a place like Mobius outweighed it.

I straightened my gray suit coat and skirt again, hoping she or someone from Mobius would come soon.

"Miss Hattie and The Hoppers"

By the time I came out of the telegraph and postal depot with the latest story by Mr. Verne, some fine nonsense was going on at the nearby Cates Inn. I heard Jimmy Jay’s hilly twang rising above a gathering crowd. I couldn’t tell what he was fussing about, but by the time I hitched my horse at a water trough, a crowd had gathered outside the front door in a semi-circle. Men ran up each moment and behind them clustered curious women and children. All of this created a jam in the road and wagon drivers paused to stare. The late afternoon train to Knoxville grunted, hissed and puffed up to speed as it pulled out of the station. After the noise faded, I heard:

“Y’all ain’t from ‘round here, I can tell, but I don’t want no trouble. Now you fellas go on around to the back to do your business. Someone will see to you there.” Then a moment of silence was followed by: “You speakee English? How ‘bout him? Do he speakee English?”

Someone in the crowd called out. “Hey Jim--here comes Sheriff Poe. He’ll sort this out.”

Oh brother. This is not good. Someone had to get the sheriff. I pressed through the crowd to see just who the troublemakers were. When I saw them, I thought they were the oddest-looking fellows. I hadn’t seen gentlemen such as these anywhere other than in a big city like Macon or perhaps described in one of Mr. Verne’s stories. One was tall but sturdy looking and darkly tanned. His long and wavy sun-brightened hair made him look like a whisker-less version of General Custer.

The other man was a burly-looking dark fellow; most likely a ‘Hindoo’. They were well dressed, but wore only shirtsleeves, weskits and hats. The tall one was carrying a heavy carpet bag. He noticed me and said something to his friend, but Sheriff Poe put his hand on the darker man’s arm and said:

“Come on, boy. You fellas need to come on over to the--” which was followed by a “What the H****?” because his hand was snatched firmly away, and the darker man appeared to growl.

Look for "Mobius" and "Miss Hattie And The Hoppers" within Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes, by the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors!

More Excerpts:
-"Muliebral The Bold"
-"Nicole Falling: A Southwestern Horror Story"
-"A Wizard's Quandary"
-"Red, The Wolf"
-"Better The Thorn"
-"Count Vlasko's Curse"/"Mulo"

-"Sleeping Dragons"

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Dreamtime Fantasy Authors Presents: 15 Facts About "Sleeping Dragons" by Marc Vun Kannon

1. This story will be the first chapter of the sequel to my novel Ghostkiller, if I ever write one.

2. The story introduces Sarah Mack, but watch out for Mr. Tom. He's a carryover from Ghostkiller. I'm not sure if he's a villain or not, yet. Mostly a decent fellow who wasn't as strong as he thought he was.

3. In the world of this story, both psychic powers and magic exist. Sarah is one of the few who can do both.

4. I had to look up British slang to get 'four-banger'. Some other slang-y bits I made up.

5. I didn't have to look up the A1. Jethro Tull mentions it in their song Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die.

6. I have a lot of song lyrics and movie/TV dialog in the back of my head, pieces of which pop up whenever the scene I'm writing makes them relevant. That doesn't mean I use them. 

7. Most of the time I make a deliberate effort to do something different. My only rule of writing is "If you've seen it done before, don't do it again", so wherever you think my stories are likely to go, chances are they won't.

8. I also had no desire to delve into Arthurian folklore and skirted the edges as much as possible.

9. The reference to the grail is foreshadowing a foreshadow (if I ever write the sequel). Foreshadowing squared?

10. My preferred method for describing the world of the story is through the characters perceiving it, rather than from my author's-eye view, which is why slang like four-banger is important.

11. I also saw a few youtube videos on British speech patterns and how they vary depending on where you are. I'm not sure if word choice shapes character or character shapes word choice. Probably both.

12. When I write dialog, I hear it as the character would say it, accent and all.

13. I'm not big on research. If it helps me shape the characters, fine, but I don't do world-building for its own sake.

14. The line 'that is not for you' plays in my head in some sepulchral voice of doom, but I don't know the right font for that. This is the only bit of the story that I expected but I had no idea how the story was going to get there.

15. Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes is a charity anthology! As with Dreamtime Dragons, the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors continue to support the Abbington Ferret Refuge in Northamptonshire, England.

If you found these facts interesting, don't miss "Sleeping Dragons" within the covers of Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes, by the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Reader's Review: "Desert Runner" by Dawn Chapman

Synopsis from Amazon:

An NPC story.
With her pain potions in short supply, Maddie accepts a deadly run, pick up a package in Trox City and cross the desert plains to Port Troli, the only issues – an unwanted passenger and Tromoal breeding season. 


My Review:

A quick review... for an unexpectedly short book!

LitRPG (and its offshoot, "GameLit") is a format I haven't encountered a whole lot, it's just becoming realized as more and more video games emerge that give the player a role in a larger story, not just a series of puzzles and challenges to overcome... it's more than just a game, it's an actual narrative.
The more narrative video games become, then, the easier it is for novelists to then capitalize on it and write a narrative that feels like watching someone play a game. Hence "LitRPG"--or Literary Role Playing Game--becomes a genre in its own right, and "GameLit" (books that are more than just "players entering a virtual world" but that the "virtual world" and the way a "world" works in a game, is the "real world" of the story... like think of if the new Jumanji movie had taken place solely within Jumanji) is born.

The first one I suppose I read, that was sort of like "the characters are playing a virtual reality video game" was Cybermancer Presents by Andrew Barber--I enjoyed the premise, just not some parts of the content! Then there was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline--that was fun, in terms of premise and also content. Now we've come to yet another installment, Desert Runner, the first installment in the Puatera Online series. How does it compare?

Really, really good.
Chapman takes the tack of focusing the story on a character who is a "non-playable character"--they are the ones programmed along a campaign to give The Player stuff, to get The Player from one place to another, to dispense information, or just to "provide atmosphere" with repetitive, scripted responses that don't change tone, don't vary at all--a series of sound bytes that cycle through as long as The Player is within a certain proximity.
Maddie, though, is more than just an NPC--she's self-aware, and dissatisfied with just saying the same things, going the same places, and suffering the same fate every time she interacts with a Player. She recognizes that she has independent thoughts and desires, and she yearns to pursue them. The mission she takes has a chance of giving her just such an opportunity--if she survives it.

Reading the story actually felt like watching someone play through a campaign of a video game--which is a pastime I enjoy, far more than actually playing it myself! However, that sensation also meant that though there were snatches of fascinating sights and interesting "side quests" hinted at in the "playthrough"... those could not be explored to my satisfaction, because I wasn't the "player" in this "game." I did love those descriptions--the breadth and depth of the world, the descriptions and the uniqueness. The "monsters" of the world, the Tromoals, provided sufficient peril while also being a fascinating concept in their own right. I was pleased to find that, as much as Maddie was "supposed" to be a character who would be an easy love interest for The Player and not much good else, her self-awareness allowed her to actually carry feelings for another NPC, and fight against the programmed urge to entangle herself with the Player character--which meant the underlying romantic subplot was suitably mitigated.

I did enjoy this first taste of Puatera Online--but a "taste" is all I got. I could have used a whole lot more! I'd definitely be interested in reading more of the series--a quick search online reveals that there is a "box set" of the first three books in the series, so if they're all as short as this one, then it would probably be in your best interest to get them that way, so that you can experience the full "campaign"!

In terms of the story, character, plot, development, and resolution of Desert Runner itself, I would rate it a good *****4.5 STARS*****. It had a good set up, it built momentum--but that's about all it did. There wasn't anything too grand or epic to reckon with, only the anticipation of that all coming "later in the series"--which is good for a "Part 1" in a book, but perhaps not for a whole book itself. I'm going to cap this off with an Upstream Writer Certified RECOMMENDED endorsement, because Chapman really knows her stuff, and she's a talented world-builder, and if you enjoy video games like the one Maddie is a part of, then this series is definitely going to be worth your while!

Further Reading: (Also By The Author/Fantastic World-Building/Virtual Reality)

The Secret King: Letháo--Dawn Chapman
Domechild--Shiv Ramdas
The Arena--Santana Young
For None of Woman Born--S. D. Curran
Dissolution--Lee S. Hawke
The Children of Dreki--N. R. Tupper
Punk Anthologies--Jeffrey Cook et al.
       -Sound & Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk, Vol. 1
       -Shakespeare Goes Punk, Vol. 2: Once More Unto The Breach
       -What We've Unlearned: Classic Literature Goes Punk
The Chronicles of Lorrek--Kelly Blanchard
        -Someday I'll Be Redeemed 
        -I Still Have A Soul 
        -I'm Still Alive 
        -Do You Trust Me? 
        -You Left Me No Choice 
        -They Must Be Stopped

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Storytime Saturday Presents: "Sleeping Dragons" by Marc Vun Kannon

If the Holy Grail really was buried somewhere inside Glastonbury Tor, Sarah Mack couldn't feel it. She didn't expect to, but it would have been so cool if she could.

The Night of Echoes, when the magic had come back to the world, was only sixteen years in the past, nearly all of her life. Some geezer in the States, right there where it happened, had worked a spell almost immediately, they said. Before the magic had spread, before anybody else in the world even could. Now he was the Grandmaster of the Wizard's Union. She used to think he was a lucky bastard.

Years later, when the magic was strong enough, the creatures started coming back, and she stopped thinking he was so lucky. One of her earliest memories was watching a pixie invasion of Buckingham Palace on the telly, laughing. Mr. Tom told her to shut it, and together they watched as the wizards expelled the little flying buggers from the Palace and set up a shield to keep them out.

That worked, for a while, but over time larger creatures would appear, and they'd have to redo the shield. Yesterday a griffin the size of a four-banger was seen running up the A1, unable to fly. And if the magic wasn't strong enough yet to get a griffin off the ground, you could bet it wasn't strong enough to wake up the Grail. If it was even there.

So it was a good thing she wasn't there for the Grail.

If you enjoyed this preview, look for "Sleeping Dragons" in the upcoming anthology, Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes, by the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Bookish Blog Hops' Autumn Hop Day 19: Recommend A Book More Than 10 Years Old!

Want to know the best thing about loving books is? That there are so many passionate people in the world who keep producing more and more of the good stuff, whether they're just finishing up a series they started a few years ago, or launching their debut novel. With all the new books coming out every other week, it seems, who even has time to go back and read older books?

At the same time, you just can't beat a classic! Storytelling styles have changed over the years, but a good book never gets old! Here are a few books we'd recommend that were published more than a decade ago!

Leslie Conzatti (Me!)

I’ve got a lot of books that fit that criteria--mostly because I’ve encountered some wonderful classics that are definitely at least half a century old, to say nothing of a paltry 10 years!

There are the Hercule Poirot Mystery novels (and any of her stand-alones!) by Agatha Christie. Along that vein, there is also the Lord Peter Whimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers--basically if Sherlock Holmes was rich, bored, and excessively extroverted!

I’m a huge fan of classic Michael Crichton as well: Jurassic Park/The Lost World, Andromeda Strain, Timeline, and The Great Train Robbery are among my favorites by him! I’ve complained earlier this month about authors who diddle too much in the minor minutiae and leave the story behind… Crichton is meticulous, I will say that--but once the plot hits, it hits good and hard and things go so fast that you hardly realize you’re reading!

Some other classics I’ve enjoyed from the past are the works of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott, The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, and so on!

Robin Taylor 

ANY of the In Death series titles that I have had a chance to read so far. The first is Naked In Death, which was released in 1995. I have read the first ten, so I am up to the year 2000. Every single book has been 5 Stars so far.

Jo Linsdell


One of my very favorite books of all time is American Gods. I absolutely loved the 10 year anniversary edition of the audiobook. It’s an amazing full-cast production of Neil Gaiman’s preferred text!

How about you? What book more than 10 years old would you recommend? Let us know in the comments! Stay tuned for more fun discussions with the Bookish Blog Hop group this month!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Dreamtime Fantasy Authors Presents: 10 Facts about "Count Vlasko's Curse" by Paul Jennings, and 12 Facts About "Mulo" by Penny Blake

"Count Vlasko's Curse" Fun Facts

1) Miss Henderson is a character from my stories about Victorian husband and wife team called “Jennings and Jennings Paranormal Investigations”.

2) They are, as this story is, gothic comedies.

3) More of Miss Hendrson and her employer's adventures can be found in The Benthic Times. (

4) Her male friend is a police detective, which is unfortunate as she is the daughter of a renowned London villain.
5) She is prone to malapropisms.

6) She started life in the stories as a minor character for one story, and literally fought her way to be a major character.

7) The story seemed a nice way to put her in the spotlight.

8) "Count Vlasko's Curse" was mostly written in one long session after several days of musing.

9) The story is something of a homage to Hammer House of Horror movies, but with our usual comedic twist.

10) Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes is a charity anthology! As with Dreamtime Dragons, the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors continue to support the Abbington Ferret Refuge in Northamptonshire, England.

"Mulo" Fun Facts
  1. I'm a Romani writer who writes steampunk and mythpunk inspired by my Romanichal and Kalderash cultural heritage.
  2. Mulo is the Romani word for the spirits of our own dead but it actually translates as 'the wind people'. Folki means 'the people in our family'.
  3. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic era where workable land and water are scarce and focuses on an exclusively Roma community which has the same class/ caste system as other settled communities.
  4. I thought it would be interesting to explore the interplay of power and prejudice without bringing the issue of race into it.
  5. All the names in the story have a certain significance. Ndrita means to shine like a small, bright glittering light, to twinkle like a far off star. Ndrita embodies this – a small light that brings hope and then is gone again. Kejda, Lilibet, Dragan, Anika and Aleksa are the names of people who are very special to me. Sihana means like the moon. The moon reflects light, it isn't a true light itself, it reflects the power of the sun but it doesn't have it's own source of power. It can also seem like a cold light, illuminating without aiding life or growth. All this seemed to embody the character of Sihana. Baba means grandmother but it can refer to any older female care giver.
  6. The marsh lights are a real phenomenon here in Britain – and perhaps elsewhere. They are really caused by marsh gas igniting or sometimes by the glowing fungus known as fox fire. Marsh lights have also been called Death Lights, Jack of the Lantern and Peggy of the Lantern and were thought to be malevolent spirits who had drowned trying to lead travelers astray off the path and into the marshes. I first encountered marsh lights in Bleaklow, Derbyshire and have been obsessed with their lore ever since.
  7. I wanted the story to be gritty and realistic but also carry a thread of hope – to explore power imbalances that are inherent in all social constructs regardless of race or culture but also to highlight the notion of choice as a facilitating vehicle for change. Nothing actually changes in the story on a societal level, but the two main characters, Ndrita and Anika, both changed a little for a moment – they put aside their prejudices to save the life of someone they would normally abhor, and who would normally detest them. They took back the power of choice.
  8. The story was written in about three hours but the themes had been brewing under the surface for over a year so it would be more honest to say it took a year to write!
  9. Writing is never a clean process and I had some initial problems with keeping the tense and perspective consistent between the characters' different scenes – something I wouldn't have picked up on if not for the fantastic editing team so I owe a lot to them for helping me get that straight!
  10. This is the third short story I have had included in a print anthology, although I've had several published in online magazines like Quail Bell, so it's very exciting!
  11. My own favourite character is Anika's Ma. She is so like a lot of my own older relatives – stuck in their ways and clinging to superstitions so ancient they barely understand their meaning themselves, wise in so very many ways but powerless against the problems of modern times for which all their handed down wisdom couldn't possibly have prepared them.
  12. I don't tend to write stories with a message or a moral, instead I hope my writing opens doors and then leaves them open in case others want to come in and explore what I'm exploring.

If you found these facts interesting, don't miss "Count Vlasko's Curse" and "Mulo" within the covers of Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes, by the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors!
More "Fun Facts":
-"A Wizard's Quandary"/"Muliebral The Bold"
-"Nicole Falling: A Southwestern Horror Story"
-"Red, The Wolf"

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Storytime Saturday Presents: "Count Vlasko's Curse" by Paul Jennings and "Mulo" by Penny Blake

"Count Vlasko's Curse"

On Monday Miss Henderson found herself in a room in the Vlasko house with another girl. A young woman walked in wearing a dark dress.

“Now then girls,” she said breezily, “My name is Miss Shaw, although you may call me Gertie. I’m here to train you girls up. You see, you may be used to domestic service, but you will have to learn the ways of the Vlasko household.”

And as the girls find out, the ways of the Vlasko household are very strange indeed. Something sinister seems to be hiding in the very heart of the house, a house run by a man with a curious fear of sunlight. Will Miss Henderson survive to her first payday? Or should she have heeded the advice of the maid who told her “Go! Leave this place. Go and don’t ever return!”


In the city, where the fog curls just above the cobble stones, there are many lights; the flickering gas lamps breathing milky pools against the evening’s cool, dark breast; the tinder sparks from flaring pipes; the window-stars like cold diamonds or bright catalysts of life.

Move out beyond the streets, out into the woods, follow that lonely ribbon of road away through the marsh, and the lights out there do not cast the same impression on our minds.

Lights, we understand, mean there is someone and who, we ask ourselves, who could be out there in the dark and the mist? Who on a night like this?

The word for the carriers of the marsh lanterns is Mulo and Baba always told me that this word means demon. After Mammy and Daddy and little Dragan were gone, and all that was left was Baba and me, she taught me to light the tallows in their little glass bottles and set them all around the farm each night, to keep the demons away.

She knew a lot of things my Baba, how to keep us safe through the long dark nights in Indigo. But she didn’t know how to make the water safe, and in the end it was only me, and I didn’t know either.

If either of these stories sounded interesting to you, both "Mulo" and "Count Vlasko's Curse" are included in Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes by the Dreamtime Tale Fantasy Authors, releasing on September 25th. Be sure to reserve your copy today! 

More Excerpts:
-"Muliebral The Bold"
-"Nicole Falling: A Southwestern Horror Story"
-"A Wizard's Quandary"
-"Red, The Wolf"
-"Better The Thorn"

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Bookish Blog Hops' Autumn Hop Day 12: A Book Set In The Future!

Back again!

This time, we were asked about books we recommend that are set in the future. For those who read classic novels, often the "future" of the turn of the twentieth, nineteenth, and even eighteenth centuries would be now... I can recall reading a short story from the year 1989 entitled "School In The Year 2000", which described a scenario that sounded more like an episode of The Jetsons!
Sometimes, an author's premonition of the future can happen very close to reality. Sometimes, an author might choose to project the story into a future date, to experiment with settings, concepts, theories, and technology that just aren't available today. Sometimes these stories can serve as a caution to ambitious minds: "Here's what might happen if this is too ardently pursued!"

Check out the answers below to hear about some books we'd recommend that are set in a time period beyond our present!

Leslie Conzatti (Me!)

The series that immediately comes to mind would be the one I’ve mentioned before: The Broken Empire Trilogy and it’s “spin-off” set in the same world, the Red Queen’s War trilogy by Mark Lawrence. The date is uncertain--it’s kept vague, as one would expect from a typical “low fantasy” tale, and everything is reckoned by the global cataclysm known as “The Day of A Thousand Suns”... but then the author works in very subtle hints that range from vague (like a “haunted closet” containing a disembodied voice, or referring to some kind of materials as “Builder’s stone” and “Builder’s torches”, but at the same time not really mentioning what makes it different than “normal” stone and torches…) to blatant (a caravan of horses walks past a sign that says “NO PARKING”; one character starts muttering the lyrics to some “ancient ditty” and it’s literally the chorus of “American Pie”) and then you start to realize that the map included just after the title page looks a LOT like Western Europe, with much of the coastline dramatically diminished--and it all becomes very clear. It’s the future--our future, a potential future of this world, and the “Thousand Suns” might refer to a nuclear event of some sort--but at any rate, it’s an absolutely stellar grimdark fantasy series and so much fun!

Robin Taylor 

I am slowly reading the J.D. Robb In Death series. It is set in 2059. They are currently 50 books and I have only been able to read the first 10. I can only get to them about one per month. Recently Edelweiss sent me the last two, and each month I grab one from my library or Audible. It is a crime fiction or mystery/thriller series with a detective married to a billionaire and they are madly in love despite her troublesome past and her difficulty in believing that a man as wonderful as he could accept her and her line of work. 

Kim J 

I am currently listening to Year One by Nora Roberts on audiobook. It is a story set in a dystopian New York about a mysterious virus that wipes out 5 billion people. It begins in Scotland and quickly affects people from all walks of life. We see the full range of humanity in the aftermath - from greedy self-serving people to the completely selfless and empathetic. I love the way the author weaves the threads of the characters’ emotions through the plot, with insight and sensitivity.
Another favorite set in the future would have to be Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The story takes place in a world where people constantly watch television to dull their minds, while books are burned. The main character is a fireman, Montag. A classic and a cautionary tale about thinking critically!

How about you? What books set in the future would you recommend? Share with us in the comments! See below for a full list of post topics for the month!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Dreamtime Fantasy Authors Presents: 10 Facts About "Better The Thorn" by Guy Donovan (and BONUS 10 Facts!)

"Better The Thorn"

1. It was originally conceived as being set in the late ‘60s and told from the POV of a young (10-ish) girl running away from her mother through their back yard rather than go to her father’s funeral. Her father was going to have died in Vietnam, and she was fantasizing about being a goblin evading her faerie pursuers, using all manner of human weaponry against them.

2. BB-39 is the naval registry number of the battleship Arizona, the removed superstructure of which did indeed reside on Ford’s Island, HI for many years.

3. My original name for fae steel was “weemite” before changing it to “impervium.” Weemite is a reference to an old Donald Duck comic book gag.

4. The mines Lash activates at the end of the story are real. They are commonly called “bouncing betties.”

5. The place on Earth Lash is sent to by Halueth is real. I was stationed there as a young Marine from 1984-1988. The specific mag group she appears in (#25) holds a certain personal significance to me.

6. One of Lash’s taunts to the fae is from “A Clockwork Orange.”

7. The setting of Stockholm for the last act is a reference to Stockholm Syndrome, of which Lash clearly suffers.

8. “Keckberrish” is Scottish slang for, basically, a dingleberry.

9. Lash’s trick with the hand grenades is one borrowed from the Viet Cong, who collected cast off American LAAW rocket launcher tubes to use as booby traps.

10. I like to include a reference to my Dragon’s Treasure Series in each of my short stories. In this one, Lash’s birth name, Breesha, is taken from one of Cerys’ granddaughters at the very end of the series. 

BONUS: 10 Fun Facts About "Miss Hattie and The Hoppers" by Mary R. Woldering
*Edited for clarity

1. Hattie started out as an unfinished story of a young woman from Tennessee who got involved with a mixed-race man named Benjamin who was involved in sorcery. It was written only in fragments in the mid 1970’s. Ultimately Hattie heads to the West to new adventures. The idea and any work on it went dormant.

2. I’ve always loved the Appalachian Mountains where I was born, even as a child. I never actually lived there after age 18 months. I wrote several stories set there. One was “Virgo Boy”, about an orphan boy raised by women on an island in the mountains. It was never published but it's now gaining some further development in the mythos of Dionysus. 

3. [Another of the aforementioned stories] was “Last Stop Neva Land” a romance about a model with a bad breakup in her recent past who has taken the train to the Last Stop. I later discovered that there is an unincorporated place called Neva, TN.

4. This story involves a Brigadoon-like or High Elf world where people die but on burial, rise in another world of immortals. 

5. My parents last home was in Piney Flats, TN where my father built two houses on a property by the river. A nearby town was historical Blountville, near the homes of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. A battle was fought there in the Civil war and there’s an Inn which used to be a coach stop, and is now a tourist destination. Best of all there are Appalachian Caverns known for quartz and quartzite as well as manganese.

6. In about 2016 my local Writer’s Group challenged us to write out of Genre. No one was writing steampunk and no one was writing crime. We would write Steampunk crime for an anthology. I remembered my Hattie idea and thought it could be reorganized into a steampunk crime. I was the only one who responded to the project, so it went away. 

7. While I was deep in the writing of my Children of Stone series, I realized I wanted to write time travel and spinoffs of my series. My characters being very bright and semi-immortal might have gone on time journeys after the events of the series.

8. I hatched the idea. It was a little bit “Bill and Ted” in concept and a tiniest bit “Dr. Who” Take two characters who started out hating each other in the series and throw in about four thousand years in which they’ve begun to not only tolerate each other but are almost friendly time-travelling companions. 

9. Hattie has now become a schoolteacher rather than an adventures (In 1876 few opportunities existed for women of high moral character who had not snagged a husband by age 25 – especially in a rural community. She’s 26) Like the original Hattie, she longs for adventure and to solve the mystery of her sister Caddie’s murder, though no body was ever found, just bloodstained clothing.

10. When the mysterious gentlemen arrive, they are immediately shunned as either Yankees or foreigners or something subversive. They meet up briefly and then later to discover their lives actually DO cross. AND THE STORY BEGINS.

If you found these facts interesting, be sure to look for "Better The Thorn" and "Miss Hattie and The Hoppers" within the covers of Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes, by the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Bookish Blog Hops' Autumn Hop Day 10: What Made You Start Your Book Blog?

Book blogging is not an easy thing.
Sometimes it's hard to generate content. Sometimes you just can't figure out what you want to say about a certain book. Sometimes it feels like no one is reading. (I know it isn't true, it just feels like it sometimes!) Sometimes it's hard to find out what exactly defines a "book blog." One book blog will look and feel different than another book blog.

One thing is certain, though: anyone who cares enough to start a book blog are generally very enthusiastic about the topic. Certainly, everyone in the Bookish Blog Hop fits that profile! Check out our stories below about why we started a book blog--who knows? Maybe by the end of it, if you don't have a blog yourself, you might be motivated to start one!

Leslie Conzatti (Me!)

Back in 2013, I had already decided that I wanted to become a writer. I had plenty of stories, but in order to share them with anybody, I’d have to physically print out 50+ page documents to distribute to friends--and even then, if the friends didn’t provide feedback, I had no idea how I was going to get better. I’d completed a manuscript of a story I had a lot of confidence in, so I let a friend of mine edit it and give me feedback--only to discover that I didn’t have a very good handle on the subject matter, and the story virtually crumbled to pieces at the slightest provocation.

I kept on writing, though--I couldn’t stop! I just needed an outlet.

I started The Upstream Writer a couple years after graduating college. Studying literature at that level had given me a very strong perspective on what qualifies good writing, in addition to stoking my passion for seeing that good literature come to the surface! I saw a distinct downward spiral in the literary trends, and I set out with my blog not only to have a platform to present a counter to the profusion of shallow, negative, trashy selection populating bookstore and library shelves--but also a way to support others who produce quality literature that follows what I believe to be the three main purposes of writing, and also fulfills the three major roles of a writer.

The name “Upstream Writer” comes from a story I heard of a man who traveled to a remote location in Southeast Asia (I think… don’t really remember exactly where) and he encountered a remote village built on the banks of a large river. Now, the people were remote enough that they used the river for just about everything: drinking, cleaning, bathing, travel, disposal--you name it. The man saw the heaps of trash along the river and he was horrified at the mess and the potential for disease. He set about a massive river cleaning project, attempting to pull all the trash out of the river there--but no matter how much he pulled out, it seemed that more was always floating down.

A local man stopped by and asked what he was doing.

“I’m trying to clean the river!” the man said.

“Oh, we do that every year,” said the local. “But we don’t do it like that.”

“Well then,” said the man, “how do you clean such a dirty and awful river?”

So the local man escorted the visiting foreigner to a spot further up the river, so far upstream, right to the river’s source. There, the water was fresh and clean. “Here is where we begin,” said the local man. “We start where the water is fresh, at the source, and we sweep from here, and as the clean water rushes into the dirty, polluted water, it pushes away the trash and debris, leaving a clean river behind it.”

When I heard this story, I realized that this was what I wanted to do in the world of literature: instead of complaining about how terrible were the fads and trends of the popular novels today, I wanted to be like that local man and start to change the quality of literature by helping at its source: the very writing of stories. I could do that by writing my own quality tales to share with readers--and also by bringing to their attention other authors who produce quality content, to give them an alternative to the lame, junky, “throw-away” books that sell merely because they pander to an audience who is used to passively receiving flashy entertainment pieces for their short attention spans. Instead of just adding to the heaping mass of showy productions that are here today and go out of style a few years later, I looked back to the classics of centuries and even millennia ago, that are still read today--and why is that? Does the secret lie within the nature of good quality literature? If we as writers (and book bloggers) earnestly pursue the answer to that question, I believe we can see a resurgence of literature that remains relevant and lasts far into the future.

That’s why I blog!

Robin Taylor

I am going to be honest. I started a book blog because I wanted more galleys. I started noticing that certain publishers had preferences for reviewers with blogs. So just two months after I began reviewing, March, 2018, I set up my blog. By then I had already posted about 50 reviews on NetGalley and Goodreads. I spent about two days setting it up, and cutting and pasting each review into my new blog. I have never looked back and I am now at about 721 reviews. Between NetGalley and Edelweiss, I am now whitelisted by nearly two dozen publishers. Because I cannot say no to more books, I cannot get my Feedback ratio as high as I would like, so I still get declined by a couple of publishers. But by far, I get most of the ARCs that I request. 

Elizabeth Means

The main reason was and is that I love talking about books, sharing what ones I'm reading, and enabling others to give them a try, as well as making new friends. While getting to review ARCs before they come out to buy is a plus, for me it's all about talking about the books. Yes, I do review on Netgalley and have since 2015. I have over 500 and some reviews there and I have been invited to do book tours from publishers, but it's still just about reading, having fun doing it, and helping someone find their next favorite author.

Jo Linsdell

I first decided to give blogging a try towards the end of 2005 when I was working on my first books. I had no idea what I was doing. It seemed like a fun way to connect with readers and start building my author platform… and it was. Over the years my blog has evolved and gone through some pretty major changes but the core is still the same. I want to spread the love of reading. Whether it’s my own books or books by others.

Over the years my passion for blogging, and marketing in general has grown too. This has meant even more changes for my site. It’s really a work in progress. 

How about you? If you have a book blog, why did you begin? What reason would you use to convince someone else to start blogging? Do you have any questions for us bloggers? Let us know in the comments and join the discussion! 

Don't forget, we're doing this all month long!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Storytime Saturday Presents: "Better The Thorn" by Guy Donovan

As explosions went, Lash thought it was the prettiest one yet. It was certainly the largest. She squinted against the brilliant glare and heat, her coarse goblin lashes whisking together. Even so, she glimpsed several tumbling and flailing Fae warriors silhouetted against the blast’s colorful flames. Yellow shifted through orange and red before fading to an oily black. The seemingly living way in which the flames roiled and writhed never ceased to fascinate her.

Plasma, she thought, shielded from the effects of her handiwork by a thick tree trunk. The humans call it plasma, I think. Or was that something to do with their blood?

Whatever the humans called it did not matter, she decided. Only the staggering variety of their deadly weapons did. She stole all she could from them to use against her enemies in the world of Faerie. She was, after all, a goblin, and killing Fae was what she did. She had just returned from her latest trip to Earth when the Fae patrol had stumbled into her on the way back to her fortress home. In order to escape them, she’d had to sacrifice the wagon loaded with corroded steel drums of kerosene, but she had many other caches of deadly weapons squirreled away in that wood.

The shrieks of the dying punctuated the survivors’ moans as she scrambled higher up the tree, her claws sending shredded bits of bark flying through the air. Near the top, she leaped for the next tree over, using her momentum to bend it toward yet another. Snagging a branch, she spiraled her way back down into thick, autumn foliage that concealed her from even the sharpest-sighted Fae on the ground.

At the bottom, Lash spied her enemies through a gorse bush’s prickles. While the roughly two dozen survivors tended to the dead or injured, a pair of tall and stately Fae conferred. Of all the golden-hairs, those two most concerned her. One was clearly male, and she knew him to be an adept by the Rowan staff he carried. The other’s elaborate, shining armor, feminine by its shape, identified her as the captain of the patrol that had found her there in the Goblin Wood. When the captain removed her gleaming, winged helmet, Lash’s black heart skipped a beat.

Is it? she thought. Then, No…it can’t be!

The Fae captain and the adept both looked like all the others of their hated race. The same even, angular features. The same golden hair. But their ears…those were the true means of identifying individual Fae. The captain’s ears were familiar to her.

Look for "Better The Thorn" in the upcoming anthology, Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes, by the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors!

More Excerpts:

Friday, September 6, 2019

Bookish Blog Hop's Autumn Hop Day 6: What Are Some Incredible Non-Fiction Books?

Leslie Conzatti (Me!)

For my part, I don’t read much nonfiction--not because it’s bad or I don’t like a dose of reality now and then, but because the fiction world is so profuse and plentiful!
An epic night worthy of a blog post!
That being said, there are a few memoirs that I’ve read over the last couple years that I found highly enjoyable! 

The first one being You’re Never Weird On The Internet, Almost by Felicia Day. Actress, Producer, Entrepreneur, Internet Star, and all-around AWESOME human being, I actually got her book at a signing where I waited in a bookstore for FOUR HOURS to actually meet her, and it was everything I hoped it would be! As for her book, she wrote about her background, her upbringing, all the things that made her weird and different, the unique way she carved out a path for herself, and her battle with mental health issues as well as physical health obstacles and financial challenges along the way. She does it with humor, sarcasm, and a heaping dose of vulnerability that makes her so endearing to follow! If you’ve ever felt “strange” or “misplaced”, or maybe you’ve felt the pressure of other people’s expectations on your life--Felicia invites you to “embrace your weird” and she’s got plenty of wisdom she’s learned from her own mistakes, that we could all use!

The second memoir I read and loved was As You Wish, a memoir by Cary Elwes, chronicling his journey as the inimitable Westley from the cult fantasy classic The Princess Bride. I grew up watching the movie, I loved the book… and the “behind-the-scenes/making-of” anecdotes Cary shares had me in tears, I was laughing so hard!

Elizabeth Means

Wow this one was hard because I read a lot of nonfiction from WW1, WW2, True crimes, and American history. There's just too many to name so here are a few I've read and loved:

--Death March Escape: The Remarkable Story of a Man Who Twice Escaped the Nazi Holocaust by Jack J. Hersch

--Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle for Survival by Tristram Korten

--Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West and Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides

Jo Linsdell 

I don’t tend to read much non fiction. When I do it’s usually books related to writing and marketing. The last non fiction book I read that I gave a 5 star rating to was The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of a Blockbuster Novel by Jodie Archer. Another I gave 5 stars to is The Tao of Book Publicity by Paula Margulies. Both great books for authors of all levels. 

Laura Doherty 
Tales Of A Natural Spoonie

I really enjoy reading autobiographies but I find non-fiction books really hit and miss even when they are about subjects that fascinate me. Ones I have read in the last 12 months that I have loved are:

Bare Reality: 100 Women, Their Breasts, Their Stories by Laura Dodsworth - In this powerful book a 100 women share “un-airbrushed photographs of their breasts alongside honest, courageous, powerful and humorous stories about their breasts and their lives.” The wide variety of women who took part in this project make it an amazingly fascinating and powerful book to read.

I read Women Who Run With The Wolves: Contacting the Power of the Wild Woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estes when I was about 21. It was an amazingly powerful book and one I have returned to many times over the years. I always find it helps me to reconnect with myself and who I am at my very core.

Moonology: Working with the Magic of Lunar Cycles by Yasmin Boland - As a holistic therapist I have always worked with nature when it comes to my own and my clients well being. However Moonology allowed me to take this to another level. Since closing my business to concentrate on my own health it has allowed me to see and find patterns in how my health fluctuates.

How about you? What are some non-fiction books you've enjoyed that might be interesting to others? Let us know in the comments!
Meanwhile, here's all the questions we'll be exploring this month!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Dreamtime Fantasy Authors Presents: 20 Facts About 2 Stories from "Dreamtime Damsels And Fatal Femmes"!

 10 Facts About "A Wizard's Quandary" by Jaq D. Hawkins

1. During the planning stage of the anthology, Hawkins suggested to one of the other author's invited to submit that if they couldn't come up with a story to fit one of their existing series, they could write one to start a new series. After thinking about this, she decided to take her own advice and create a world entirely different from her existing books.

2. Khadri, the dragon no bigger than a wolverine, is full grown. Like fish in an aquarium, dragons grow to a size suitable for their environment. Khadri has lived in an Alchemist's tower all his life. 

3. Khadri's ability to remain absolutely still and pretend to be a statue when strangers enter the tower is an instinctive dragon defense and hunting technique. In the Crystal Mountains, huge dragons might remain still while humans climb their scales, mistaking them for rocks.

4. The color changes described in Lesana's Alchemical practice come from actual Alchemy references. 

5. The Crystal Mountains are considered taboo by every kingdom within reach of them. This is because it is populated by big scary dragons who eat trespassers.

6. Lesana is the king's Alchemist. He doesn't know that her lifelong study of Alchemy has included other forms of magic.

7. As far as anyone knows, no one who has entered the Crystal Mountains and returned. Lesana is the only exception, but the secret is known only by herself and Khadri.

8. Many real experiments in Alchemy through history have resulted in explosions and fire.

9. Lesana harbours a secret longing to return to the Crystal Mountains, despite the danger. For this reason, she has long since made preparations for a fast escape, should the king make unreasonable demands of her.

10. Lesana found Khadri's egg during her one illicit excursion into the Crystal Mountains when she was young.

10 Facts About "Muliebral The Bold" by Nav Logan

1. I like to know the meaning of names and often pick names suitable to the character. So, when looking for a name for my female lead character in this story, I checked for a suitable female name, and found this:

muliebral, adj.: 1. of, relating to, or characteristic of women : feminine 
the sheer muliebral warmth of her— Richard Llewellyn. 2. Womanly nature or qualities. Womanhood. 
Etymology: From Latin muliebris (“womanly”) +‎ -al.

2. "Muliebral the Bold" was the second story submitted, and the main character is a juxtapose character to the main character in another of my stories: Madame X, who used her feminine wiles and sexuality to empower herself and get ahead in life, as well as having serious identity issues.

3. Although I am Irish and live in Ireland, I lived for 20 years in the UK, mainly in Lancashire. 

4. I'm very familiar with Northern dialects and mannerisms, which made this story such fun to write, and gave the characters additional depth.

5. Muliebral's sister had two names: Charity and Chastity, as I kept forgetting which one I'd opted for during writing. This only got resolved during editing. You can blame the Dingles in Emmerdale for this. 

6. I like the fact that the sister is, on the face of it, everything womanly: fair of features etc, but despite this, she is actually quite useless at needlecraft etc.

7. "Muliebral the Bold" was written specifically after a challenge/request from Nils Visser (*Our fearless leader!--Leslie) to write a funny story about chainmail bikinis, knowing that I would try to approach this contentious issue in an appropriate manner. 

8. He was giving directions on what type of stories he was looking for, and said something along the lines of, "So no stories about Barbarian women in chainmail bikinis... unless it's from Nav, of course," Naturally, I accepted the challenge immediately.

9. My all time favorite breed of horse are the Dales ponies... especially the black ones!

10. Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes is a charity anthology! As with Dreamtime Dragons, the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors continue to support the Abbington Ferret Refuge in Northamptonshire, England.

If you found these facts interesting, be sure to look for "A Wizard's Quandary" and "Muliebral The Bold" within the covers of Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes, by the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors!