Saturday, 16 February 2019

Riftmaker Blog Tour: Character Spotlight on Heather

Today I welcome the Riftmaker blog tour and have a spotlight for you for the character of Heather from the book. Riftmaker is a steampunk portal fantasy by Phoebe Darqueling and looks fabulous. So enjoy...

Meet Heather

Like all members of The Chosen, Heather’s name comes from nature. When her people were driven out of the city to fend for themselves in the forest, they adopted this practice to set them apart from the greedy, progress-obsessed denizens of Excelsior. Although her name may come from a flower, Heather is all leather and no lace. When I found this photo spread by Pixie Vision of Felicia Day in Steampunk military garb, it felt a lot like this character.

She is a member of an elite strike force that operates on both sides of the rift. On one side, she’s a human with a long, scarlet braid. On the other side, AKA our world, she’s a panther. She spends so much time moving between the two realms, the speed, balance, and ferocity of her panther-self bleed into her human shape. Heather is a predator through and through, which leaves little room for remorse.

Her father is the leader of The Chosen, but her mother was lost on a mission to the other side. Heather is her father’s right hand woman, and never fails at her missions. But despite her frequent trips to our world, she has led a sheltered life with only her father’s words to show her the shape of things. If his plan succeeds and The Chosen take over Excelsior, her world will become a lot bigger. There’s no telling how new the experiences or the new people she encounters will change her, and it may not be for the better.

Here’s a little taste of Heather with an excerpt from Riftmaker.

As Cirroc peered at the oblivious people below, he found it difficult to think of them as the same as the faceless “enemy” the Commander referred to. Unlike the encampment in the forest, there were children in the kitetown. He shuddered to think of the members of Brigade descending upon them.

He glanced at the woman at his side, her eyes staring fixedly at the dancers. Heather did not acknowledge him with her eyes, but when she sensed his regard, her hungry leer widened. “Shall I give the go-ahead?” she asked as she surveyed the gather, nearly salivating with her desire to pounce.

A torch smoldered a few yards away, giving them a meager light to see by—not that the Brigade really needed any. Though the Brigade occasionally came inside the city’s walls, most often their missions took them through the rifts to explore on the other side. The entire corps was each some breed of feline in their otherworld form, and most retained some of the enhanced night vision of their species as a result.

“I am your commanding officer, Heather, and when we are in the field, you will call me ‘sir.’ Is that clear?” Cirroc snapped, sounding far more confident than he felt. He would not admit it to anyone, but he found Heather’s proximity both unsettling and oddly riveting.

She turned her strange, almost glowing eyes to him, and he could feel their pull. He’d just given her an order, but just like her father, a sliver of his mind was telling him to obey whatever she said instead. The lenses the mask she kept at the ready on top of her head flashed in the firelight. “Of course,” she purred, “sir.”

“Then, yes, give the signal,” he answered, both eager for her to leave and loath to set her among the happy crowd below. Heather reached for the torch to signal the others on the adjacent rooftops, the wicked brass claws on her gloves catching the firelight. Heather and her comrades were all outfitted with this kind of gear to help them climb, but Cirroc could imagine the damage they could also do to flesh.

He caught her shoulder as she turned to go. “And I don’t want any casualties,” he warned, leveling his gaze. “Is that clear?”
“But he didn’t say anything about that at the briefing,” she whined. Looking down at his hand on her arm, she added a sneered “sir” that dripped with malice.

Cirroc released her arm, but managed not to flinch or give in to her unblinking gaze. “Our goal is to cause a little chaos and get what we came for. Nothing more, nothing less,” he replied.

“As you wish…” she purred. “Sir.” 

Riftmaker by Phoebe Darqueling

Save his boy, uncover a conspiracy, and master opposable thumbs—a dog’s work is never done.

Buddy’s favorite thing is curling up for a nap at the foot of Ethan's bed. Then he stumbles through a portal to a clockwork city plagued by chimeras, and everything changes… Well, not everything. Sure, his new human body comes with magic powers, but he’d still rather nap than face the people of Excelsior, who harbor both desire and fear when it comes to “the other side.”

He discovers Ethan followed him through the portal and underwent his own transformation, and it becomes Buddy’s doggone duty to save him. Buddy finds unlikely allies in an aristocrat with everything on the line, a mechanic with something to hide, and a musician willing to do anything to protect her. Using a ramshackle flying machine, the group follows the chimeras deep into the forest and uncovers a plot that could reshape the worlds on both sides of the rift.

Riftmaker is available at:
Other Retailers
In Paperback

Riftmaker is available for $3.99 from Amazon and a variety of other e-book retailers. Print price is $18.99 from Amazon and the Our Write Side store.

Find more character spotlights, book reviews, guest posts, and interviews with Phoebe Darqueling during the Riftmaker blog tour, Jan 24 - Mar 6.  

Do you like free books? Sure you do! Get a FREE COPY of The Steampunk Handbook right now.

About the Author

Phoebe Darqueling is the pen name of a globe trotting vagabond who currently hangs her hat in Freiburg, Germany. In her “real life” she writes curriculum for a creativity competition for kids. She loves all things Steampunk and writes about her obsession on You can find her short stories in the Chasing Magic and The Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales anthologies, and her contributions to the collaborative novels, Army of Brass and Esyld’s Awakening.

You can find more of Phoebe’s antics on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Beauty is the Beast Blog Tour: A Conversation with Gretchen

Today, we join the Beauty is the Beast Blog Tour with a great character interview (and a giveaway). This is a bit of a departure from the normal character interviews you see here, as our intrepid reporter Richard Dale is temporarily indisposed due to a dimensional shift (don't worry Jenkins is working on restoring reality). In the meantime enjoy this delightful slice of life with Gretchen (from the urban fantasy Beauty is the Beast by Jennifer Zamboni).

A Conversation with Gretchen

In which Persephone interviews Gretchen for a position as a stylist at Olympian’s Salon.

Percy glanced at the grandfather clock that sat to the right of her salon. The next interviewee was due to arrive at any moment. She had picked this girl specifically because of what she was, knowing that she could be of help to her. A once over in her station mirror confirmed that her glamour was fully in place.

One of the bells over the double doors rang as a tall dark haired young woman stepped in. She was blinking like her eyes were irritated, and Percy could see her nostrils flare ever so slightly, taking in the scents of the salon.

“You must be Gretchen,” said Percy, stepping forward. “Welcome! Please come have a seat over in the waiting area and we’ll get started.” She held out her hand in greeting and received a firm handshake.

“Thank you,” said Gretchen, selecting a spot on the slick sofa, then handed her potential employer a folder that contained her resume and a brief portfolio.

Percy took a moment to look it over, nodding as she thought, then closed it and set it aside.

“Alright then, let’s get started. How long have you been doing hair?”

“A long time, you?” Gretchen asked, seeming to be resisting the urge to cross her arms.

“Oh, a long time as well.”

“I figured,” said Gretchen, her nostrils flaring once more. “What are you?”

Percy was taken aback, she had thought her glamour was quite thorough. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Gretchen rolled her eyes. “You reek of magic. Old magic.”

“Oh all right, you caught me, I’m Persephone and fae and you’re a werewolf,” said Percy, a grin spreading over her lips.

Gretchen’s lip rolled up, revealing rapidly sharpening teeth, and growled.

“Oh, now, now, there’s no need of that. It’s why I chose to interview you. I already know much of your background. I know you were first licensed back in the ’80s and yet you still don’t look a day past your early 20’s.”

Gretchen huffed, then leaned forward, elbows to knees, and studied the woman seated across from her. “Okay. So the interview is for me as a supernatural or for me as a stylist?”

“Both!” Percy exclaimed. “I think the salon will run much more smoothly if everyone is fae or at least part, then there’s no need for hiding on lunch break. Or full moon.

Gretchen’s eyebrows shot up, and she settled back into the couch. “Okay. What do you need to know then?”

Percy pulled out the pad of paper with the questions she’d written out. “Let’s see. Let’s start with your real age and the age you tell everyone.”

“Um, somewhere in the 180’s I think. I’m fuzzy on dates. I usually tell people I’m 24.”

Percy nodded, noting down the answer. “And was becoming a werewolf your idea, or an attack.”

“It was an offer that I should have refused,” said Gretchen, her face neutral as she misquoted.

Percy threw her head back and laughed. “Well, that’s good I suppose! Moving on. What do you do during the full moon to keep others safe?”

“I try and lock myself up. Some doors are better than others.”

Percy tapped the end of her pen against her lip. “You know, I have a barn out back that’s no longer in use. I’d be willing to fix it up into a kennel for you. If your interested, that is.”

Gretchen drew in a quick breath, and her eyebrows scrunched together. “Why?”

“Well, if you’re going to work for me, I can’t risk you eating the locals. I can offer more than that. I can help you with your furry issue. This is more than just a job I’m offering you. I know you’ve been having control issues and that you’re a lone-wolf--”

“Hey, how did you find--”

“Don’t worry about it, I have my ways. Anyhow, as I was saying, I can offer you room, board, and potentially a share in the business. I can help give you a stable environment and keep you and your wolf safe.”

“I need some time to think--”

“I’m not sure if I can allow that. You see, you’re living in my territory, and I cannot have a loose cannon running around threatening to expose the fae community. You do understand that, don’t you.”

Gretchen’s fists tightened as she nodded. “I understand. It’s either take this job and move in here or get out of Maine.”

“Yes, exactly,” said Percy brightly. “Now, that’s settled, let’s move on. Tell me what you like to do as a stylist.”

Gretchen gaped but found herself unable to argue. “Um, uh, I like funky styles. I like color, and I can work miracles with a pair of sheers.”

“Now that’s what I’m talking about. Yes, your portfolio is quite impressive. I think you’ll succeed here. I can see that you’ve kept up with trends and training, which is very important to me. You can’t be one of those elderly beauticians that does the same cut and curl on everyone, that would just be a dead giveaway that you’re not just a 24-year-old kid.”

“What else do you need to know about me that you didn’t already find out on your own?” Gretchen’s arms once again crossed over her chest.

“Oh, how about hobbies. What do you do when you’re not doing hair or off munching on innocent woodland creatures?”

“I run a lot. It helps me burn off steam, especially with all these woods. It’s part of why I moved to Maine. And I play the violin.”

“Oh, that’s lovely! I’d very much like to hear you play.”

“Well, you definitely will, if you’re making me move in. I spend a lot of time practicing. Anything else?”

“Hey, who’s doing this interview, me or you?” Percy joked. “No, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head beyond when you’ll be moving in. You’re hired by the way.”

“I figured. I can move now if you really want. Everything I own is in my truck.”

“Splendid,” said Percy. “Let’s get you settled then. That first station will be yours, now let me show you to your room.”

Percy led Gretchen up the double grand staircase and to the left, coming to a stop in front of a door. Percy fit a key to the lock, then passed it off to Gretchen.

“Best keep this locked so clients don’t go snooping,” she said, leading the werewolf into the spacious bedroom.

The smell of death and magic filled the room, and Gretchen spun around to find a petite blonde, who appeared a little younger than herself.

“Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in. Long time, no see, mutt.” The little vampire gave a toothy grin.

“Lacey-Marie, you work here? How have you been? Where have you been?” Gretchen stepped forward and pulled the newcomer into a tight hug.

“Yes, I almost forgot you two knew each other a few years back. I’ll leave you to get reacquainted.” And with that Percy returned to the salon, quite smug in the fact that her plan was working out so well.

Beauty is the Beast: Beasts Among Us
by Jennifer Zamboni

Gretchen is a 24-year-old-hairstylist with secrets: She likes to chase squirrels and howl at the moon. She’s also not really 24. When one of her coworkers turns up dead in the salon, she suspects that the murderer isn’t entirely human. When another stylist is murdered, and then another, she goes on the prowl. A circus with a secret side show catches her attention, as does her former pack, and a group of visiting vampires. Her only outlet is her music, but that will only keep her wolf on a leash for so long with a killer on the loose.

Beauty is the Beast is available on Amazon

About Jennifer Zamboni

Jen loves books. Reading them, writing them, reviewing them, and collecting them. (She claims it’s not hoarding) Urban fantasy is the name of her game, and being a mom is her day job. She also is a licensed cosmetologist, though she no longer works in a salon. She lives in the boondocks of Maine with her husband, 2 girls, 2 dogs, 3 cats, and 1 vocally insistent cockatiel.


Click the link to Enter

3 ebook copies of Beauty is the Beast!


For more of the Blog Tour here's the schedule:

January 29: (Guest Post)
January 31: (Guest Post)
February 1: (Author Interview)
February 1: (Book Review)
February 2: (Character Interview)

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Interview With Author Joab Stieglitz

Today I have another author interview, this time with supernatural thriller author Joab Stieglitz, who chats about his books and writing. Enjoy. 

Interview With Author Joab Stieglitz

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I live in Alexandria, Virginia with my wife and our two dogs. I work for a large software publisher as an Application Consultant to pay the bills, and I am an avid role-playing game enthusiast.

How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I had been writing another book, a Tolkienesque fantasy journey tale, for about 25 years. But I wrote in fits and spurts “when the muse hit me.” As a result, the initial chunk was written at one time. The next bits were written over the course of several years. I had another period of productivity. And then several more years passed before I wrote again. Along the way, the characters, tone, plot, and even the genre changed several times.
When I turned 50, I was at 300+ pages of junk. I put that aside, and started fresh with my historical, supernatural thrillers. I wrote one chapter a week for three months and had a finished story. I also had the outlines for two more books laid out. The first book was published in July 2016, the second in January 2017, and the third in July 2017. And all three were recorded as audiobooks as well.

Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?

The idea arose from a Call of Cthulhu RPG campaign that I ran for several years in the 1990s. The characters were initially those of my friends in that game. In the books, however, only the names and occupations of the protagonists resemble the game sessions. The stories are completely different.

What did you enjoy most about writing your book?

The most rewarding part of writing my books was seeing my thoughts come together on the screen. Prior to that, they were just a stream of ideas, but once they were set down, in a specific order, and tied together with a consistent narrative, it became real!

Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?

I am a fan of the Titus Crow stories by Brian Lumley, Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series, Robert J. Sawyer’s Quintaglio books (Far Seer, Foreigner and Fossil Hunter), and The Laundry Files books by Charles Stross.

How do you research your books?

I use the Internet to find historical details to throw in. Vintage maps, photographs, newspaper articles, biographies, etc. all help to add color to the story. I have subscribed to various museum and newspaper archives in order to get access to more obscure regional and local information.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Outline your story. I use Scrivener to keep my notes, research, and manuscript organized. Know where you want the story to go. That’s not to say that things won’t change along the way as you develop the manuscript, but know what the major scenes of the story will be before you start.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?

I am an avid role playing game player and game master. I run or play in several games on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  Playing and preparing games gives me ideas that I sometimes incorporate into my writing.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

I have several projects in progress. I am working on a second trilogy featuring characters from the Utgarda Trilogy. I also have another project revolving paranormal activities during World War II. And I am preparing for my first non-fiction venture, a guidebook to being a Role Playing Game Master.

The Old Man's Request: Book One of the Utgarda Trilogy is available on Amazon

The Old Man's Request: Book One of the Utgarda Trilogy

Fifty years ago, a group of college friends dabbled in the occult and released a malign presence on the world. Now, on his deathbed, the last of the students enlists the aid of three newcomers to banish the thing they summoned.
Hampered by the old man's greedy son, the wizened director of the university library, and a private investigator with a troubled past, can Russian anthropologist Anna Rykov, Doctor Harry Lamb, and Father Sean O'Malley gather the knowledge and resources needed to defeat the entity?

The Old Man's Request is a pulp adventure set in the 1920s, and the first part of the Utgarda Trilogy.

"Whether you are a fan of old school horror like H.P. Lovecraft or modern fast-paced mysteries and thrillers, The Old Man's Request is for you." - James Vitarius, Author of The Bone Room

" Fans of novels that gallop through a maze of surprises and intriguing turns will be thoroughly satisfied." - Chris Ryan, Author of City of Woe

"Joab Stieglitz offers up a really well crafted thriller filled with enough suspense and action to adroitly move his plot along." - Ron Fortier, Pulp Fiction Reviews

About the Author

Joab Stieglitz was born and raised in the Warren, New Jersey. He is an Application Consultant for a software company.  He has also worked as a software trainer, a network engineer, a project manager, and a technical writer over his 30 year career. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
Joab is an avid tabletop RPG player and game master of horror, espionage, fantasy, and science fiction genres, including Savage Worlds (Mars, Deadlands, Agents of Oblivion, Apocalypse Prevention Inc, Herald: Tesla and Lovecraft, Thrilling Tales, and others), Call of Cthulhu, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and Pathfinder.
Joab channeled his role-playing experiences in the Utgarda Series, which are pulp adventure novels with Lovecraftian influences set in the 1920’s.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Interview with Author Bailey Ordiway

I have an interview for you today with the talented multi-genre author, Bailey Ordiway, who talks about his writing and his new thriller/romance book, Death Do Us Part. Enjoy.

Interview with Bailey Ordiway

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

There is definitely a lot I could tell you, explaining a person in short detail is hard. So, I'll stick to the basics... I'm happily married, as of right now I have a baby on the way. I love playing music, and love writing even more. Most importantly, things are going good lately. 

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book? 

Death Do Us Part is vastly different than anything I have ever written, but it is far and away the most fun I have ever had writing. It is from the POV of a psychopath and follows him as he juggles his newfound romance and blood lust.

You write in several genres. Do you have a favourite? And if so, why? 

No, I can't say I really do. I started bouncing around genres to see if I had a niche. At this point though I just enjoy trying to write vastly different books.

What did you enjoy most about writing your book?

Generally, I have to stick to an outline, almost religiously. My mind wanders and I find myself rambling on the paper. With this one I was just able to let it flow without an outline at all.  

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? 

When I was a little kid I always admired my mother for how much she read. She would read for hours every single day. She also owns hundreds of books and had massive bookshelves to hold them all. I remember looking up at the shelves and dreaming of having my name on them one day. Even now it's amazing to see my name looking out at me at bookstores.

Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine? 

My ideas come to me pretty randomly, so there isn't much of a story there. But, I ALWAYS write early in the morning. I will get up around six in the morning, make some coffee, and write in my recliner until my family gets up.

How do you research your books? 

I'll talk to people that are close to me that I know have a lot of knowledge in areas important to the book. Of course, I also use the internet. This book was pretty sketchy to research! Looking up things like, "fatal stab wound areas on the human body" probably raises some red flags somewhere.

What did you find most challenging about writing your book? 

I know you're probably looking for a deep answer here, but in reality it was just life. I have a rather demanding full time job, close friends, I'm married with a stepson, and have a baby on the way. Life is just a lot busier now than it used to be and is increasingly difficult to find time to write. Usually a bit of sleep is sacrificed.  

Are you working on another book? 

I have a few things in the works, yes. They are all very rough at this point though so I'll let everyone know if they become more well rounded! 

Death Do Us Part is available on Amazon

Not all love stories are happy. Not all tragedies are sad. Not everyone is exactly how they seem, and not every story goes exactly how you would think.

For Mark, life was easy, and he was content... He had no way of knowing he was truly empty inside until he stumbled upon something that made him feel more alive than ever before. Once he felt that way, he could never go back.

A modern tale of love, sex, murder, and everything in between.

About the Author

Dropping out of high school at sixteen and getting his GED and attending college at seventeen, Bailey has always had an avid interest in writing. He grew up mainly around Michigan, eventually settling in the Upper Peninsula. Bailey left college to peruse a career in the military but was medically discharged shortly afterwards. He is now an award-winning blogger/critic, established self-published author, successful entrepreneur, and lives in South Dakota where he is happily married and building a family.

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