Friday, April 29, 2022

Review of The Rancher's Wyoming Twins by Virginia McCullough

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

I always enjoy reading Virginia McCullough's books, and this starter to a new series is no exception! Find out more about it and read my review. Best of luck in the giveaway!

The Rancher's Wyoming Twins
(Back to Adelaide Creek #1)
By Virginia McCullough
Clean Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 Pages
March 29, 2022 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Her worst enemy...
Could bring her heart home

Heather Stanhope wants to despise the man who now owns the ranch her family lost. But Matt Burton is raising his late sister’s adorable twins, loves horses, and is known for his loyalty and honesty. Sneaking into Adelaide Creek for her friend’s wedding, Heather hopes to avoid Matt, but fate and family have them crossing paths. Heather knows falling for Matt means risking her heart, but it’s a risk she can’t resist.

(Affiliate links included.)

**My thoughts**
Heather is one of the first heroines I've related to so well in a while. She has left the town where she grew up because her parents' business finally failed and her home was sold. She feels like she has nothing left there. Except she did come back for best friend's wedding and is now facing the man who bought her family land. (My childhood home was also at my parents' business. And when they decided it was time to let it go, we moved out of town. It's still strange to go back to see it and when you see people who remember your family name, though it's fading years later and your parents are gone.)

The biggest difference, I guess, is it wasn't an attractive man raising his twin niece and nephew who took over my family land. So that's where our similarities diverge. I kind of like her version a bit better. I think I would have preferred someone like Matt taking over. He's handsome and kind and determined.

I wasn't surprise that Heather started to feel a pull back to her roots, especially when she realized how much her hometown actually misses her. Connecting with Matt and his family is just icing on the cake. I understand her conflict in deciding to change up her career a bit and having to say goodbye to children you once worked with and so much more. But there is also something about being in the town that your family did so much to shape and reengaging with your family history.

So for me, this book was just much about Heather's growth as it was the sweet romance slowly blossoming between her and Matt. It's a story of lasting friendship, acknowledging family history and your roots, and learning how to let go and move on. I appreciated these multiple layers and look forward to revisiting this town again!

I received a requested review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About the Author

Born and raised in Chicago, Virginia McCullough has been lucky enough to develop her writing career in many locations, including the coast of Maine, the mountains of North Carolina, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and currently, Northeast Wisconsin. She started her career in nonfiction, first writing articles and then books as a ghostwriter and coauthor. She’s written more than 100 books for physicians, business owners, professional speakers and many others with information to share or a story to tell.

Virginia’s books feature characters who could be your neighbors and friends. They come in all ages and struggle with everyday life issues in small-town environments that almost always include water—oceans, lakes, or rivers. The mother of two grown children, you’ll find Virginia with her nose a book, walking on trails or her neighborhood street, or she may be packing her bag to take off for her next adventure. And she’s always working on another story about hope, healing, and second chances.

Tour Schedule

Tour Giveaway

One winner will receive a $25 Amazon e-gift card & a $25 Etsy e-gift card (INT)

Ends May 4, 2022

Grab Our Button!

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Review of The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons #2) by Julia Quinn



This time the gossip columnists have it wrong. London’s most elusive bachelor Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry—he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate’s the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams...

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate’s determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself...

Book Links
(affiliate links included in post)

Also available as part of the first box set on Amazon.

**My thoughts**
The weekend before the second season dropped on Netflix, I binged the entire first box set of Bridgerton books, including this one. This is the book upon which the second season is based. I think this one is my favorite of those first three. (Actually, I have read the first six and this one is still my favorite.) 

The banter between Anthony and Kate and all of their little scrapes had me literally laughing out loud. I also love Kate's dog. And how does one secure an invite to play Pall Mall with the Bridgerton family? 

I am pretty sure I will read this one again. 4.5 out of 5 stars for me.

Delectable by Emily Robertson Release Blitz


Title: Delectable
Author: Emily Robertson
Genre: New Adult Romance
Cover Designer: Indie Sage
Publication Date: April 28th, 2022
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Jace Callahan had to be going through a midlife crisis. Sure he was about twelve years too soon, but it seemed to be the only explanation for the state of matters. Fresh out of a divorce, the only bit of advice his folks gave him had been to stick it out. Not listening had led him to his best friend’s restaurant and the pity job Travis found for him to do. Now Jace was parenting solo on the weekends in a place he wasn’t even fond of just to get away from all the drama.

Beth Rollins wasn’t your typical twenty-four-year-old. Growing up with super conservative parents made her naïve, and when they disowned her for not thinking the same, her life changed real fast. Things weren’t flowers and sunshine all the time, but after landing a dream job, Beth thought perhaps things were finally going her way. Running into Jace reminded her she wasn’t allowed to have nice things.

When Jace and Beth’s worlds are thrown together again, only one of them remember their past connection. Having already shed her former self, Beth is in no hurry to remind Jace of their history. Perhaps he’ll see her for the woman she is and not the girl they all made fun of in high school. What’s the worst that could go wrong anyway? It’s not like guys like him stuck around long term with girls like her.

(affiliate links included)

USA Today Bestselling author Emily Robertson’s creativity started early in life on stage. Now instead of theatre, she spends her time creating worlds on the page for others to enjoy. As an avid reader, she enjoys reading New Adult and Contemporary Romance as much as she does writing them. When her dog isn’t keeping her company in her office, she might be anywhere. She’s recently learned all about baseball when her son took up the sport, playing mom taxi for one of the many activities that’s going on, or binging on some reality TV show she can’t get enough of.


If you want to stay up to date with everything going on, make sure to check out her webpage or sign up for her newsletter.


Author Links:

Website | Facebook | Reader Group | Pinterest | Twitter

Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | Newsletter | BookBub


Faded (Starbound #2) by Greg Wilkey & K.L. Bone Release Blitz

Title: Faded (Starbound Book 2)
Author: K.L. Bone & Greg Wilkey
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy Romance
Cover Designer: Indigo Chick Designs
Editor: Skyla Dawn Cameron
Publication Date: April 28th, 2022
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

Stars dim, darkness rises, starlight shines anew.


Heartbroken after the events of Fallen, Rosalind returns to Oxford, unaware of the dangers which stalk her. Cloaked in shadows, secrets hidden in her unrelenting dreams hint at a perilous destiny to come.

Haunted by the same nightmares—and determined to reclaim Rosalind’s heart—Zeke embarks on his own journey to England. But the journey is rampant with danger as those who serve the fallen are determined to keep them apart at any cost. And Zeke is not the only one vying for Rosalind’s hand.

Meanwhile, Ursula continues to unfold her sinister plot, one which may see darkness conquer all.

(affiliate links included)

K.L. Bone is a USA Today bestselling author of dark fantasy and paranormal romance. Her works include the bestselling Black Rose Guard dark fantasy series. The bestselling Flames of Kalleen paranormal romance series. The Rise of the Temple Gods fantasy series. And a stand-alone science fiction novel, The Indoctrination and numerous novellas.

Bone has a Master’s degree in modern literary cultures and is working toward her PhD in creative writing. She wrote her first short story at the age of fifteen and grew up with an equally great love of both classical literature and speculative fiction. Bone has spent the last few years as a bit of a world traveler, living in California, London, and most recently, Belfast. When not immersed in words, of her own creation or studies, you’ll find her traveling to mythical sites that have inspired storytellers for generations.


Author Links:

WebsiteFacebookReader GroupTwitter


Greg Wilkey is an author and professional public school educator. He is the creator and writer of two series of supernatural thrillers for young adults: The Life and Undeath of Mortimer Drake vampire novels and The Neither Nor series starring his young hero, Edgar Flax.

Wilkey developed a love of stories and adventure at an early age and has always loved to read and write. He graduated from college with a degree in foreign language education and began a career in teaching world languages. He spent 15 years as a classroom teacher of Spanish until moving into school administration. He is currently an elementary school principal. It's a job he absolutely loves. Kids and teachers are his favorite people!

Wilkey lives and works in lovely Chattanooga where he’s the proud pet parent of two wonderfully spoiled felines, Mona and Mina.


Author Links:

WebsiteFacebookReader Group



Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Witchslayers Scion by L.T. Getty


Fantasy fans, check out this excerpt from Witchslayer's Scion by L.T. Getty and then learn how the author creates her characters' many layers. Download your copy and then follow the tour for more. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Koth’s life was decided for him since before he was born, for his ability to heal wounds by touch is rare even among his people. When an attempted kidnapping turns to sacrificial murder, he embraces vengeance and the sword. As he journeys far from his small isolated village in the north, he learns the truth as to why his bloodline is targeted by strange magic, in a world still rebuilding from a time when dark sorcerers didn’t bother with secrecy.

Koth thinks his quest is straightforward enough--find the men responsible, and kill them--and any who aid them. He will soon learn that those who have both privilege and power, there are few things they lack--and in the pursuit of godhood, their allies can prove even more sinister as mere mortals seek to advent empires and dynasties.

Read an excerpt:

“Something’s wrong,” Una said. “Koth, wait here.”

“Why?” If there was a problem, she should be waiting outside for him.

He sensed inside, his aunt’s thoughts remained hidden from him. Una shouted, and he ran inside the building. He thought there were lights on inside, but he saw no candles.

The tea house was very dark, and he felt a sudden dread—he wanted to leave. Baro barked from the outside. ~Una!~ he thought, before something hit his neck.

He knew at once it was a poison dart, and ripping it out he tried to smell what it was. Seeing metal reflect moonlight and he moved his hand, his skin cut. Moving instinctively out of the way, his next reaction was to purge the toxin that coursed through his body and tried to understand the wound. It was mostly his forearm, deep but he could still use it, the bone unaffected. He’d do a better healing later. He focused on something not unlike a burn before going for the knife at his hip. Striking 85 in the next liquid motion, Koth realized he was attacking his aunt.

She grabbed onto his injured flesh and seared it, destroying, weakening the sinew and the cartilage and causing it to age and die, following up the bloodstream, to find the heart and kill. Koth tried to brace; he couldn’t heal and keep her at bay. He was physically stronger and much heavier, but she was weakening his muscles. He tried to wrench the knife from her.

He knocked the blade to the ground then tried to lock minds with her to find nothing short of blinding pain take him over, wrestling him to the ground and making him drop his knife. She took the dagger and when he tried to force himself up, a familiar sense washed over him. Magic, but not coming from Una.

“Do not kill him yet,” Yeshbel said, “we will bleed him first.”

Book Links:
(affiliate link included)

Character Creation – Peeling back Layers to Their Motivation

Writer’s Guides often talk about knowing your character inside and out, and I don’t disagree. But instead of knowing how they’d react, we need to give them something that allows the reader to empathize or at least understand their motivations.

I’m not talking about ‘rescue the princess’ or ‘save the kingdom’. A noble character like Superman might go about saving the world in a different way than a more broody character like Batman, even if we were to give Batman Superman’s powers for the time necessary to tell the story. The question I ask myself is, how is this character going about that same plot differently, and why should the audience care? Or, if I were to switch out leads, how would the story differ?

For instance, in my first novel Tower of Obsidian Kale is a traditional hero figure, but he’s also a bit of a people pleaser. He’s betrayed by his Lord’s men, but keeps wearing his honor about him, doing what is right or at least what would be expected of him.

Koth from Witchslayer’s Scion is very different. He’s dissatisfied with his lot in life, preferring to hunt as opposed to heal, and sets out on a path of revenge after his brother’s murder.

If I were to switch their plots, I’d imagine that Kale wouldn’t take up the mantle out of revenge. He’d be aware of the quest before him, and set out to ‘smite the evil that is in the lands’. If Koth was betrayed by his Lord’s men and captured, once his captors become prisoners like him I’d imagine he’d not be too kind to any of the men who were responsible for his predicament. Now I’m imagining Koth going to the tower and thinking becoming part of the tower as being Cursed with Awesome.

When I create a character I’m usually starting out with them fulfilling a role. I try to get in their headspace because how a character reacts to a situation determines the tone and course of the plot. You may think this is as simple as, “The plot demands that they go to an Inn. Kale would pick a nice one, Koth would pick a seedy one.” That’s a launching point. The plot may require both men to sneak in, but given what little I’ve established for readers who aren’t familiar with either character, Kale might be worried that someone saw him going into a house of ill-repute, whereas Koth just needs somewhere to lie low, and maybe he can win some money at dice while he’s there (he won’t).

Once I start to give them a bit of a personality, the next thing I like to do is ask myself if the character is very similar to another one I’ve written. There’s nothing wrong with liking heroic figures with tragic pasts, or noble characters or whatever, but I want characters to feel like only they could fulfill that role. That isn’t to say that Koth should be the only archer or the only one who can fight mages. Koth is initially driven by his anger and his anger should have a consequence. Koth is lippy and drives other people away as opposed to letting them get close. Koth has powers that allow him to heal, but part of which also makes him take on empathy, and he’s an emotionally immature man when he sets out. There’s a reason he doesn’t want to take on other people’s emotions, he’s internalized healing as feminine and soft, but it doesn’t take long for the reader to realize that what he and Una does isn’t just instant love and repair. Now, most people in this world would kill for the kind of ability Koth takes for granted, and if he plays his cards right, he would be well-received almost anywhere, but he chooses to generally not play well in most sandboxes. That says a lot about his personality. So far, Koth fulfills the requirements of an anti-hero, but, how does he differ from other anti-heroes?

There’s a lot to Koth that makes him unlikeable and probably a little hard to take for certain readers. Koth’s motivation is revenge but really what he felt was helpless when he watched his brother die. He could do nothing to stop his brother’s death, or the death of a child that took place literally days prior to that murder. He felt trapped by his station in life and wanted an out. The out arrives, and it’s not what he wanted at all.

He spent almost a year learning to poison and tracking down one of the men responsible. By luck, he does find one of them. Because it was personal, he deviated from the calculated plan and it almost killed him.

But he deviated from the plan a second time and saved someone who needed help. At first he cursed himself because he was caught and spent months captive. But then, it turned out his actions saved the right person, who was able to help not only Koth but his aunt, and that action not only led to an alliance but a willingness to save as opposed to kill.

The second book I dive into this more. Koth begins to realize that killing Radij won’t bring Bizen back; nothing can fix that hole. He licks his wounds and now that he doesn’t let his emotions become the better of him, becomes more calculated in dealing with mages, as well as letting other people help him, and not in a “I’mma steal your rations for the greater good.” Sort of way, either.

You’d think it be less interesting when he technically became a better person but he doesn’t see the error of his ways and completely change. He’s still a lippy jerk by the end of the book, but now he’s a lippy jerk who’s become less easy to manipulate. He’s far from perfect and man he’s got issues, but it’s a realistic progression of his character and a reader who is nothing like him can understand him.

Now that we have his motivations and arc, I can start plugging the holes of character development. I give him little nuance issues and quirks, and the more time we spend with the character the more time we really get to know them. I love it when you meet a character and you’re in someone else’s perspective and you think a certain way about them, but then you finally get into that person’s motivations and headspace and you find it was a shallow interpretation of what was going on. It makes for a better reread of the material.

This is one character in the book, and Koth wears his flaws like some people wear their heart on their sleeves. I’ll compare him to another central character who I’m going to say was emotional immature.

In my kid’s book, The Mermaid and the Unicorns, Daphne’s motivation initially is to become an elemental like her best friend. What she really wants is to be the best. It’s stated outright on the second page that she ‘hated to lose to anyone’ and she’s very competitive. I gave her some positive traits (brave, loyal, competent, but a bit reckless and prone to jealousy). Not only is it not realistic to be the best at everything, always, it’s not a healthy place to be in when you’re constantly trying to project yourself as better than everyone else.

The reader can’t relate to having magical powers or being a mermaid. They can relate to a desire to be the best. They’re also more likely to sympathize with her because she’s a young teenager who grows and matures throughout the story, unlike Koth who needs two books to get there.

So how about you? What are some of your favourite characters arcs, or just in general?

About the author:

L.T. Getty is a rural paramedic from Manitoba. She enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy and generally being creative.

My Blog:

L.T. Getty will be awarding a $25 GC, of the winner's choice, to an online bookseller to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Royal Fifth by James Peyton


Stolen treasure ... ruthless killers ... and more awaits you in this thriller by James Peyton. Read an excerpt from The Royal Fifth and then download your own copy. Follow the tour for more as well as bonus chances to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

The Royal Fifth: The amount of stolen treasure Conquistadors were supposed to give to the Spanish Crown.

In a world corrupted by its past, what could turn a sensitive artist into a killer?

Young Santa Fe artist, Martín Cortés, is devastated by the deaths of family members and the loss of a huge emerald that once belonged to Hernán Cortés.

Colin Glendaring, a disgraced archeologist with an insatiable passion for pre-Columbian artifacts, is responsible. Martín learns that another family descended from the Spanish Conqueror lives in Oaxaca. Rather than kill Glendaring, he heads south. He discovers an unconventional household that includes Ilhui, a beautiful young woman with a dangerous political agenda.

Martín is stunned when he learns how the family manages to live so well…then alarmed when he discovers that Glendaring is on his way to Oaxaca. Martín and Ilhui are soon accused of murder. On the run, they are betrayed, and Ilhui is kidnapped by a guerilla leader known for recreating grisly Aztec rituals.

With time running out, Martín makes a pact with a ruthless army officer and a crooked federal policeman. Will it be a deal with the devil, or can he do what has to be done to save his new family and love?

Read an excerpt:

Three months before he approached the international bridge, Martín Cortés drove through the gates of his parents’ home in Tesuque, just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Invariably that caused something powerful to stir inside him. That particular day, as the rambling adobe came into view, what stirred inside Martín was a witch’s brew of emotions. The last time he was summoned to a business meeting by his father had been three years ago. It concerned his decision to pursue a career as an artist rather than take over the family bank. That had ended badly—for everyone.

As he turned into the driveway, Martín slowed. He scanned the wooded, thirty-acre site at the base of the piñon-covered hill and then moved his gaze to the house. His eyes traced the rounded corners of the traditional two-story adobe. Irregular roof lines dipped gradually, almost whimsically, on both sides to meandering one-story additions. The structure was pinkish-tan and looked like it had been fashioned by a sculptor, which in effect it had.

Stubby piñon trees and patches of snow dotted the edge of the gravel drive and parking area. Still cold in early March, smoke curled from one of several chimneys, caressing the bare branches of tall trees flanking the driveway. Although the sky gleamed clear and blue through the clutter of spidery branches, Martín felt like a small plane flying into a thunderhead.

Available on Amazon

(affiliate link included) 

Award-winning Author James Peyton infuses his novels with stranger-than-fiction encounters and true-to-life characters based on his extensive travel and research. Realism in his plots and action comes from that background and his experience in martial arts and tactical firearms.

The Royal Fifth is based loosely on historical events surrounding the Conqueror, Hernán Cortés, brought into the present time. It will be followed by a mystery-thriller series featuring federal policeman, Artemas Salcido. Artemas is the illegitimate son of a Mexican governor and his Yaqui servant. Following his mother’s suspicious death, he was sent to be raised by the village priest. He attended Harvard on a scholarship and returned to Mexico vowing to fight corruption—only to receive his real education, where the grade is often life or death.



Amazon Author Page:

James Peyton will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Review of The Duke and I (The Bridgertons #1) by Julia Quinn


Can there be any greater challenge to London's Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?—Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1813

By all accounts, Simon Basset is on the verge of proposing to his best friend's sister—the lovely and almost-on-the-shelf—Daphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truth—it's all an elaborate ruse to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable.

But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, it's hard to remember that their courtship is a sham. Maybe it's his devilish smile, certainly it's the way his eyes seem to burn every time he looks at her . . . but somehow Daphne is falling for the dashing duke . . . for real! And now she must do the impossible and convince the handsome rogue that their clever little scheme deserves a slight alteration, and that nothing makes quite as much sense as falling in love.

Book Links
(affiliate link included)

Buy as part of the first boxed set

**My thoughts**
I'm not a Regency fan, at least not by contemporary authors. (I do enjoy Jane Austen.) So I hadn't even heard of the Bridgerton series until everyone was raving about the Netflix series. So I watched it and liked it well enough, but never gave a thought to reading it.

Then one day, I saw an amazing deal on one of the book discount/sale sites where the box set of the first three books was even cheaper than one solo book. I used a gift card and then the set sat on my TBR until it was time to prepare for the second season to drop on Netflix. I brushed off the digital dust and dove into The Duke and I.

I finished it in one day.

Netflix took a lot of liberties with the book in its first series. I was already aware of a lot of those changes from reading articles back then. I honestly didn't think anything of it when I was reading the book, though, because I was so engrossed. It honestly made me more eager to go back to the Netflix series to watch the first season again. In a way, it reminded me of what Showtime with the original Dexter. I have come to see the two Bridgertons as parallel universes much as I did with Jeff Lindsay's books versus Showtime's series.

What I liked about this book was first meeting the family and so many wonderful characters. The writing is done in a rather contemporary fashion in spite of this being a Regency. The vocabulary, tempo, and such are appropriate to the time period, yet it reads like a contemporary book. And the snappy dialogue is highly entertaining. I can see why people call Julia Quinn a modern Jane Austen, especially with Lady Whistledown.

So yes, I am a Bridgerton fan and will likely make my way through them all. (I did read books two and three in the same weekend binge.) And this just goes to show you the importance of a good writer, no matter the topic or genre.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Some Other Traveller by Lyn McConchie


Today we welcome author Lyn McConchie to the blog as she shares an excerpt from her post-apocalyptic book Some Other Traveller and gives us insight into a day in her life as an author. Be sure to follow the tour for even more as well as bonus chances to enter the giveaway!

When the world’s civilizations collapse from a lethal pandemic, being old can mean you have the experience and wisdom to survive and to see that friends and family do as well. Donal and Sheila McArn are seventy when most of the world is dying, and they must hold the line for everything they know. They may not have long, but so long as they live, they’re going to do their best – and anyone against them had better step back. NOW!

Read an excerpt:

Kaylie died an hour later. Ricky had all his things packed by then, Donal had dug a small grave, and we placed her in that, the teddy bear – a bright pink one that Ricky said she still loved – tucked in beside her. After that, he clung to my hand.

I drove home, and when I would have left the lad with Janet, he clung to me like a limpet, his eyes wide in fear of losing someone else. I put him to bed in the spare room, slept in the bed opposite, and took him with me the next morning. Janet took the accumulated cash, along with a list and several friends, utes, and her car with a trailer. We removed the Black and McMallan animals, several small portable sheds, and salvaged useful items from houses and outbuildings. During which time Ricky was never out of eyeshot, and when my hands weren’t employed, he clung to one of them.

We drove home to eat dinner, I put him to bed, and when he asked, I answered, “Yes, this is your room now. You’ll go to school here once it opens again. The place is called Glen Mhairi. It’ll be your home.” And then the tentative question that almost broke my heart. “Aye, you can call us Grandma and Grandpa if you want. We’d like that.” He fell asleep still trustfully holding my hand, and as I looked at that peaceful face, I knew the truth.

After all those years and with never a child of our own, we finally had a grandson.

Book Links

Amazon * Smashwords * BN * Kobo

(affiliate links included) 

A day in the life of this author.

I regularly forget the date. Why? Because I’m also a farmer and my small farm requires attention twenty-four/seven. So there’s little to remind me of the date. The day, yes. Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday I write; the date often has no relevance to what I’m doing. But doing both jobs, often requiring that I try to fit two days’ work into one, can be – hectic, funny, upsetting, involving, and; some of the things on the farm can cross over into my writing (As can my cats and my friends, and my friend’s cats…) That’s the thing about writers, all is grist to our mill. My most recent published book, Some Other Traveller, attracted both a friend and her alpacas into the story. The book I’ve currently just finished sucked in a local dog – a massive black beast whose looks belie his gentleness.

But a day in my life can hold a lot of events. That morning was the bad, the good – and the “this will keep you occupied for days.” I rose at 6:00a.m., breakfast, out to feed the livestock. As I did so, I discovered my place was white with frost. Urk, first front for winter and it’s early. I shot back inside, stoked the fire vigorously, and got on with Some Other Traveller. Followed three hours later by the good when the geese announced that not only was the mail-car here, it was spending time. An indication Tracey was unloading parcels. Continuing goose commentary suggests she’s unloading a lot of parcels. I whizzed out, yes indeed. Five parcels of books crammed into my mailbox. I beamed, that would be the third on my list; “this will keep you occupied for days.” Back to my book. Two hours later as I completed, “Oh, heck, the world’s about to end, we don’t feel fine and we’re seventy,” why is this happening to us? I realized it was cold.

I trot out to the woodshed, collect a massive armload of wood, and scuttle back into again. That had been an earlier item on the “good” list. My firewood merchant – like most people in a rural area, a personal friend too – worried I might freeze if distancing or zones lasted too long and I ran out of firewood, delivered all my ordered firewood in two massive lots. That left me with eight cords, enough to see me through for months. I stoke the fire, shut the dampers down, and return to Some Other Traveller. Until the phone rings. The meter-reader, “I’ll be at the gate in a minute.” Right. Go outside, watch him pull up, bellow “Stand down” to the geese, the meter is read, he departs and I go back to the book. “The motor-bike thieves made a mistake in assuming Sheila was the nice old lady she appeared. Guns, bodies, investigating what they may have as stolen goods in their rooms in the boarding house”… Stoke the fire again and have a late (very) lunch.

I’m tiring. Creativity, no problem. Physical energy, nope (I’m 76 and crippled from an accident in 1977.) “But there’s strange sounds and something in a wardrobe”…The geese sound off; I glance at the clock. Oh, dinner time for them all. Amble out and feed 20 hens, 8 geese, and Daisy Duck. And that’s writing for the day. I’m so wiped out I’m having to think about each step I take as I start dinner. I eat that, and retire to bed at eight p.m. with one of the new books. Another day in my life is over. It’s been a productive one, over 20 pages written, the meter was been read, the hens laid nine eggs, and I’m going to sleep very well tonight.

About the author:
Lyn McConchie started writing in 1990 and within a year had short stories and poems published. In 1993, her first book – a humorous true-life work (Farming Daze) about her farm, friends, and animals appeared – this was followed by six others in that series. As a joke between them, a long-time friend of Lyn’s, Andre Norton, was given a book Lyn had written set in one of Andre’s worlds. Andre was impressed with the work and took it to her agents who sold it to Warner books. This led in turn to Lyn writing another six books in Andre’s worlds, which were published either by Warner or TOR. Lyn has won seven short story Muse Medallions from the (International) Cat Writer’s Association, and six Sir Julius Vogel Awards for her books. Since the original book, Lyn has seen almost fifty more books appear plus over three hundred short stories, and says she has no intention of stopping so long as she is able to write.


Night to Dawn Magazine & Books will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Hyphened-Nation: Don't Check the Box by Nicole Draffen


Honoree of three prestigious Literary Awards, The Independent Authors Network (IAN) Book of the Year Award, the indieBRAG B.R.A.G. Medallion, and The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. Hyphened-Nation was inspired by the authors travels overseas, and time spent living in the United Kingdom. Living abroad was an eye-opening experience, she grew to understand certain aspects of American culture better, the longer she lived overseas. This book is about her insights, and experience of being treated as an American, rather than a hyphenated one.

The difference was startling and lead her on a journey to understand why The United States is one of the only, if not the only country, that hyphenates its citizens by ethnicity before nationality.

It is a journey of discovery in understanding that those same boxes we allow ourselves to be placed into as hyphenated-Americans, limit economic, educational, societal, and cultural growth. Her story focuses on ways the United States and our global community differ culturally, and steps citizens can take to create a non-hyphenated coalitional nation.

(affiliate link included)

Hyphened-Nation™ Commercial from Nicole on Vimeo.

As a a builder, a fixer, and a challenger; I love tearing things apart to understand them, and then try to prove or disprove their merit. This allows me to move through life with an air of certainty about what I know, and also what I don’t know. So naturally when I lived abroad, the social and cultural consciousness of the people I met, and the things I observed inspired my natural inclination to understand and study the value of cultural norms. The more I traveled overseas, the more I grew to understand certain aspects of the American perception of culture. My journeys inspired me to write a book.

However, when I’m not making plans on how to change the world, you can find me in my garden tending to a vast variety of plants, and Feng Shui-ing everything in sight.







I was compensated via Fiverr for sharing this post. I only share those books that I feel will be of interest to my readers.

10 Must Haves for an Epic Fantasy by Jonathan J. Michael, author of the Blood of Azure series


Today, Jonathan J. Michael is sharing with his his Blood of Azure series, including a sneak peek inside, as well as what he deems to be the 10 Must Haves for an Epic Fantasy. Be sure to let him know what you think in the comments section! Follow the tour for even more. Best of luck entering the giveaway!



Four races with powers dictated by the seasons seek balance and prosperity. However, life instinctively primes itself for survival, and when one race commands the touch of death, all others fall in line. Tyranny plagues Azure as an immortal ruler governs the knowledge of the seasons and those wielding its power.

Four young protagonists, Stone, Jaymes, Goose, and Astor, each navigate their way to escape his shadow and reclaim their freedom. Simple ambitions for young souls. But little did they know, they would uncover the secrets the realm is built upon, and the unique talents they each carry. Their ignorance allows the knowledge of the seasons to escape into the world around them little by little, and with it, a power loosing anarchy upon the realm. A power most aren’t worthy of wielding. It is up to Stone and his companions to tame that power and reclaim the balance.

Four seasons to balance the land. Four sages to balance the life.

Courage is for the bold. It is not for Stone McLarin. He’s been in hiding for four seasons after being orphaned by the Taoiseach. He doesn’t care for the heroic antics of avenging his parent’s death or securing his freedom. He only desires one thing—to protect his sister’s life.

This proves challenging when his sister, Jaymes, possesses a rivaling power of decay to that of the tyrant ruler’s. She’s a threat to his dominance, and there will be no escaping his shadow.

When the Taoiseach manipulates his way into Jaymes’s life and steals her away, Stone has no choice but to follow. He must venture into the heart of the tyrant’s domain and figure out how to penetrate the impenetrable. And if he succeeds there, he will have to slay the most powerful man in Azure.

In a world ruled by decay, what chance does life stand?

Season of Sacrifice is part one of the Blood of Azure series—an epic fantasy full of grim encounters, heroic adventures, unique magic, and a captivating world to explore.

Author’s Note: Contains explicit language and some graphic descriptions.

Read an excerpt:
My heart beats heavier. I inhale and, with the back of my hand, brush a drop of sweat that has found its way down my forehead. I know what these tracks be-long to. But why now? Am I projecting my ambitions—to slay a Creature of the Night? I grab a handful of Everweed from the ground and reluctantly head in the direction of the trampled vegetation.

My experience with these beasts is nonexistent, but then again, there isn’t another who can claim otherwise. They’re the type of animal man stays far away from, which was the primary reason for choosing this location as a refuge. We chose to risk being mauled by the Creatures of the Night over the public execution we would have inevitably encountered by hiding in a small village. Some would consider us the biggest halfwits in all of Vedora, all of Azure even, for making the decision we made, but I know Harris Martelli personally, and the fact he is capable of persuading a strong-willed and morally sound man like my father to do what he did is far more threatening than any beast living in the wood.

(affiliate links present throughout)

A villain in his own mind, Stone McLarin is labeled the hero for murdering a man.

Not only is Stone weighted down as a hero, but he’s idolized by the dominant religion, and he’s the sole protector of the knowledge of the ages. The pressure of the entire realm is on his shoulders.

Carib Reign, a shapeshifter building an army of immortals, plans to purge the Crimson Capital to find this hidden knowledge. His motive, to give the people of Azure the freedom they deserve.

With many adventures along the way, Stone will lead the charge to defend the Crimson Capital against the Immortal Army. Should he fail, anarchy is inevitable. Death for all Azure, a possibility.

Where there is life, death anticipates. But what if death is abandoned? Life will rebel.

Season of Suffering is part two of the Blood of Azure series—an epic fantasy with both light and dark hearts. You’ll experience many fantasy tropes, clashing swords, unique magic, fantastical beasts, and a wide range of Azure’s scenic terrain.

Author’s Note: Contains explicit language and some graphic descriptions.

Ten Must Haves for an Epic Fantasy

A common story will include relatable characters, an inciting incident pulling the main character from their norm, a goal or mission to accomplish, and many obstacles in between. But we aren’t discussing a common story today. We’re going to find out what makes a story EPIC… EpicEpicEpic…

So, let’s put aside the typical elements of a story and look exclusively at what makes an epic fantasy. You’ll soon find out this list is clearly debatable. But not really. These are must haves. You should write this down.

Magic—Lots of Magic

Why magic? Because it’s wonderous. It’s enthralling. It is the unknown. And it’s why we explore an epic fantasy to begin with. Magic can come in any form; large or small; hard or soft; scientific or bewildering, but there must be some element of magic.

A Vast World to Explore

If you are driving down the freeway and find yourself wanting to cruise down that dirt road leading to the mountains, then you know why an epic fantasy needs epic terrain. If your dream house is not about the house, but the remote location surrounded by nature, then you know why an epic fantasy needs to have epic scenery. If you’re at a gathering (of people, not animals, insects, or any other odd habits you might have) and you find yourself stepping outside to stare at the night sky, then you know why an epic fantasy needs epic wonder. We are here to explore.

A Global Threat

It helps to have antagonists at every level—personal/local, national, international, and global. You don’t necessarily need all of these, but it adds layers. And the icing on the cake is the global threat. An angry villain with a good motive is cool, but how about a world dominating villain who threatens all existence unless you submit to their will.

“What are we going to do tonight, Brain?”

“The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!”

A Hero

The hero almost goes without saying, but I figure not all stories have a hero, so it must be on this list. This can range anywhere from a typical hero with angelic-like values to a morally grey, almost charcoal black, anti-hero. An epic must have a hero.

Too Many Characters

Okay, this one is highly debatable. But is it, though?

Harry Potter: Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Neville, Draco, Lupin, Lestrange, Dobby, all the Weasleys, and the list goes on. LOTR: Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gollum, Bilbo, Boromir, Arwen, Elrond, Gandalf, and the list goes on. GOT: A ridiculous number of characters, and wonderfully crafted.

If the world is vast, and the culture is deep, you’ll enthrall all with a character list equally as epic.

Too Many Pages to Read

I may have overshot this with my debut novel, but with lots of magic, a world so vast, a global threat, and too many characters, it is nearly impossible not to. For writers—do your best to be concise. For readers—you’ll get what you paid for.

An Inn

Because how else is the hero going to figure out where to go next? The protagonist needs some place to either uncover new information, make bad decisions, or just have a mead and enjoy the merrymaking. This can be an everyday inn with a public house and rooms, a brothel, or something more creative like a music house, as long as it can accomplish new information, bad decisions, or merrymaking.

A Journey

Like the hero element, the journey seems obvious for an epic fantasy. But what kind of journey is needed? In Harry Potter his initial journey was simply entering the world of magic, then he slowly journeyed into more of the magical world as the series progressed. And with Frodo, he had a long epic journey spanning across the entire series. Or the Kingkiller Chronicle where Kvothe treaded across much of Temerant to discover his potential. The epic world is wonderous and undiscovered, and the only way we’re going to discover it is by making those long expeditions across the terrain.

A Cliché Trope

You’ll find many articles/blogs discussing the avoidance of cliché fantasy tropes, but I think the intent is to not litter a story with them. Or you can attempt the opposite and put every possible trope into a story. If done right, it could be amazing. At minimum, you’ll need to include at least one cliché trope for the story to be epic. This offers a familiar comfort all fans enjoy. And secondly, it’s tricky to avoid because there are so many of them. This could be a chosen one, a magical artifact, a prophecy, a dark lord (global threat, yeah?), and certainly an orphan.

Something Ridiculous

Including a ridiculous element in your story adds a whimsical or comedy relief to the story. This isn’t dark fantasy we’re discussing, it’s an epic fantasy. Something ridiculous will draw controversy depending how flamboyant or subtle it is. Some will think it moronic. Others will fancy it. The Weasley twins in the Harry Potter series, for example. Or Merry and Pippin in Lord of the Rings. A well-written and subtle example would be Brienne in the Song of Ice and Fire series. I’m not saying women knights are ridiculous. I’m saying women knights in a medieval era are extremely unlikely and up for ridicule. This is the brilliance of something ridiculous, and why it’s a must have for epics.

This is my undebatable list of ten must haves for an epic fantasy. What would you include in a list of must haves for a story to EPIC… Epic… Epic… Epic…

Jonathan J Michael was born and raised in the greater Seattle area in the scenic state of Washington. Jonathan is an advocate of science, nature, and exploration, which has a heavy influence in his debut series, Blood of Azure.

When I drive down the freeway, I often want to veer onto the backroads and head for the mountains. When I'm at an evening gathering, I'm eager to step outside and gaze at the stars. When I'm on a ferry, I'm at the guardrail staring into the depths wondering what kind of leviathans lurk below. I'm an explorer, and since I'm not on the next Crew Dragon headed for the ISS, fantasy novels let me have what I seek. I write to explore a world of wonder.

~ Jonathan





One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway