Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Young Adult on April 5, 2017

Sage Alexander and the Hall of Nightmares by Steve Copling

Synopsis

The world is darker than it seems.

Demons, vicious half-humans and evil creatures of myth and legend prowl the earth, unseen to human eyes – but not to the eyes of 14-year-old Sage Alexander. Descended from humans and angels, Sage has the power to see and fight all these creatures, and in fact he must.

The human race is in danger, controlled unknowingly by the Seven Princes of Hell, the seven deadly sins. Greed, Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Wrath and Pride all breathe their sin into weaker human ears and take those souls for their own, as they have for centuries. And now Mammon, Greed incarnate, has possessed Sage’s father and threatens to keep him forever. The Angelic Response Council, a committee of angels, archangels, guardians and half-angelic humans, has fought the forces of blackest evil for centuries, but their numbers are dwindling.

There is prophecy of a gifted warrior, who will come in the Council’s darkest hour to bring about the demise of the fallen angels cast out from heaven and all of their nefarious descendants. His name will be Sage Alexander.

Sage must face danger and death as he assembles a supernatural team and battles his way through time and Godspace in order to save his family from the grips of Greed. But he has an even bigger quest ahead of him. … This is only the beginning.

Excerpt

 

“Since the day of your birth, I have done my best to prepare you for—”

“My destiny, yes,” Sage said. “I wish that word didn’t exist.”

“Yes,” Leah said, “I am certain that is true.” Her face softened. “For your benefit, I will no longer use that term, yet the meaning still sits heavily upon your shoulders. You have resisted, at every turn, my attempts to prepare you, and you are years behind schedule.”

He’d long ago gotten used to how she often floated in front of him, her pattern of speech, and her sermons of evil beasts out to conquer mankind. Yes, he could see other angels. And demons—Darks, he called them, but he’d seen no monsters or creatures she’d preached about over the years.

Leah tapped the book in front of him. “We believe one of the Seven Princes of Hell has a special place, a kind of prison where he has taken the missing Council Members.”

Sage glanced at the book, which was invisible to anyone else, but had the same bluish glow emanating from it as all the others she’d given him. Most of the angelic books dealt with the formation and history of the Angelic Response Council, an organization created six hundred years after Noah’s flood, and comprised of angel-blooded humans like himself. The others were to teach him Adamic, the language of angels.

He hadn’t whispered a word of any of that to his family.

“We believe they are being held,” Leah continued. “That some may yet be alive. You must memorize their faces, familiarize yourself with their gifts. Learn where they came from and under what circumstances they disappeared.”

The Seven Princes of Hell? This was new. Well . . . mostly. Sure, she’d mentioned the Princes through the years: Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth. They were of the Rephaim race, one of the three evil races descended from the Watchers, the fallen angels.

Leah reached over and opened the heavy leather cover of the book. The face of a man stared back at him.

Leif Erickson, the caption read, gifted with Pathfinding, gone missing in the Year of our Lord 1000.

Despite his irritation, Sage did a double take on the name. He looked up at Leah, and she seemed to read his mind.

“Yes,” she said. “That Leif Erickson.”

Do you live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area? If yes you might want to check this out

Sage Alexander and the Hall of Nightmares

Author Steve Copling Signs Copies at the Official Launch Celebration

Sunday, April 9, 2017 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm

Barnes & Noble Stonebriar Mall

2601 Preston Road, #1204
Frisco, TX 75034

Join author Steve Copling at the official launch event for Sage Alexander and the Hall of Nightmares! Hear a reading and Q&A by the author, and try out the virtual reality experience “Jack the Ripper” based on the world created for Sage Alexander. We will also be viewing for the first time the full official book trailer for Sage Alexander and the Hall of Nightmares.

About the Author

Steve Copling has spent more than 35 years in law enforcement and corporate security. Over the years, he has worked in field training, crime prevention, SWAT, criminal investigations, narcotics and internal affairs. He has also held multiple supervisory positions at sergeant, lieutenant and captain ranks.  He currently serves as a captain in the Plano, TX police department.

Copling’s career as an author began as a favor to his sister who happened to be writing a screenplay about a murder. Because her background didn’t include police work or investigations, she asked him to take a look at it. He immediately recognized that her fictional suspect would have gotten caught within five minutes in the real world. He agreed to write the story for his sister as a manuscript that she could later convert into a screenplay.

Even though that first manuscript never saw the light of day, Copling was hooked. He went on to write two crime novels, The Listener and The Shooting Season. His professional background and knowledge of police procedurals informed his writing, and he often draws from his experiences when writing crime fiction. However, unlike most crime writers in today’s marketplace, his writing is profanity free. Appealing to a wide audience, Copling’s books are clean enough for teenage fans of police narratives yet still intriguing enough to captivate suspense readers of any age. He is working on a third crime novel titled, The Noise Before Defeat.

Sage Alexander and the Hall of Nightmares is his first foray into young adult fantasy and serves as the foundation for a seven-book series based on the seven deadly sins. It was born out of an endearing request from his grandson Sage, who asked Copling to write him a book for Christmas. His ultimate goal with this series is to simply write stories that Sage and his brother Nikhil will love reading.

Copling has three sons and five grandchildren. He and his wife of nearly 40 years live in Plano, TX.

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Spotlight on March 18, 2017

Synopsis

900 years ago, Dogane fell at the hands of Ubinion and Ramas. That day, the people rejoiced to the heavens, which had finally removed its dark veil and given them the warmth they deserved for so long. Since then, nearly everyone had forgotten the power that almost tore Agrathias apart.

But Ubinion and Ramas had always warned of the corruption they were never able to completely rid the world of. A corruption that now allows one sorcerer the chance to rule Agrathias…forever…

Excerpt

Pivincy didn’t move.  He wasn’t going to.  This town had been his life, and this town was one he’d sworn to protect when he took the sacred oath linking his fate to Terrifor’s.  And he would fulfill the oath today.

He withdrew from his lap a heavy, black sphere.  He cupped it in his hands and pressed on it tightly.  Black and white fog swirled within, and a slight hissing sound was heard.

Give the people one last chance at a better position.

He thought of all the people he’d met in his life.  He held onto each of their smiles as he thrust the sphere down.  A shriek sliced the air, one that went high and low, and this noise would drive the Arcams even crazier than they already were.

It didn’t take long for the stream of black to flow through the town and pound up against the gates to the manor house.  Arcams used themselves as rams as flesh met iron, and Pivincy accepted a fact before it even happened: the gates wouldn’t hold out.

He stood up and placed his sword out in front of him.  He remembered the first time he held it in his hands: his first battle over two decades ago.  A tear and a chuckle came to him as he remembered in that battle Lynn’s wide eyes as she struck the Arcam Pivincy failed to see rushing at him.  He hoped she was still alive somewhere in this town, and if she wasn’t, that she’d been able to die with friends rather than alone like him.

As the gate buckled in and crashed to the side, Pivincy drew in his last, long breath.  He was going to miss Terrifor; he was going to miss this life.  But before he died, by everything on this Earth, he was going to show what defending a home really looked like.

About the Author

I’m a graduate of The University of Notre Dame with a BA in Chemical Engineering.  I just really like writing on the side.  This book was started in middle school, and it was interesting seeing how the writing style and plot changed as I got older (although I made sure to keep the general story the same since that’s what I wanted in the first place).  I’m currently writing my second book, but now I’m just trying to get this first book out for anyone to read.

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Posted in coming of age, Fantasy, Magic, Middle Grade on February 22, 2017

The Magician’s Workshop, Volume One


Authors: Christopher Hansen, J.R. Fehr
Published by: Wondertale, California
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
ISBN: 1-945353-11-2
ASIN: B01MQGHGBH
Genre: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Magic
Ages: 12 and up.
Length: 85,000 words / 290 pages

Amazon * Goodreads

Synopsis
Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop.

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

The Magician’s Workshop, Volume Two

Authors: Christopher Hansen, J.R. Fehr
Print Length: 273 pages
Publisher: Wondertale
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
ASIN: B01N988TW7
Genre: Coming of Age, Fantasy, Magic
Ages: 12 and up.

Amazon * Goodreads

Synopsis
Return to the world of The Magician’s Workshop: Where Dreams Become Reality.

In Volume Two, the Festival of Stars has finally arrived, and the Color Ceremony is about to commence. As children from all over the islands gather to stand before a puller, one question remains: who will have a Color, and who will be found void?

Rejoin your favorite characters as they step forward and receive a label that will have the power to dramatically alter the course of their lives forever.


About the Authors

Christopher Hansen

The first glimmering Chris Hansen had that there was far more to reality than he had ever imagined occurred six days after his ninth birthday. “Christopher!” cried a wise, old sage. “Life is full of deep magic. Miraculous things happen all the time and all around us, if you know where to look for them.” Full of expectation and childlike optimism, Chris began searching for this magic, prepared to be surprised and amazed by it. And he was: he found Wonder! Now he’s chosen to write stories about it.

 

 

J.R. Fehr
When J.R. Fehr popped out of the womb, he knew there was more to the world than the four boring hospital walls that he was seeing. “Zango!” his newborn mind exclaimed as he saw people appear and disappear through a mysterious portal in the wall. As a child he found life wowtazzling, but as he grew older the cold water of reality hit him, and the magic he once knew vanished. After spending some wet and shivering years lost in a joyless wasteland, he once again began to see magic in the world. He writes because the Wonder of true life is far grander than anything he ever thought possible.

 

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Young Adult on February 19, 2017

Synopsis

What if you thought you could play a better god than God?

Mudmen is a story unlike anything you have ever seen before. It all starts with a half-crazed dwarf scribbling furiously on a piece of paper while the world outside his little cottage is ravaged by a great storm. There is an artifact in his possession which gives him power over all else, but that artifact is stolen by the very creatures that he gave birth to in his frustration – these creatures are what we come to know as the Mudmen.

Excerpt

And for the first time in days he dreamt. He was climbing up a hill. It was the dead of the night and moonlight was his only guide to what lay ahead. His short legs carried him up the hill at a far slower pace than he had expected to cover.

Wait! What had he expected to cover?

All of a sudden the ground beneath his feet began to shake and a grumbling sound emanated from the top of the hill. It was almost as if the great giant that rests beneath the earth had finally decided to move and he was standing directly over him.

Why were there no trees on the hill? Why was the ground so barren?

He saw a light at the top, an orange glow that seemed to be taking on a more solid form as each second passed by and every step he took brought him closer to it. It was almost as if the night sky was on fire.

Oh no! This was not a hill – it was a volcano, one that was about to spew forth molten lava and rocks.

He fell down as the earth beneath his feet shook even more violently. A black cloud of smoke blocked out the moon but he could see the world around him a lot clearer now in the light of the fire that rained from the skies above. He turned around, willing himself to run away but his feet would not obey him. And then he remembered that he had to get to the top of the volcano no matter what happened, for what waited for him at the top was the only thing that mattered.

About the Author

Shitij Sharma is a nineteen year old budding author from India.He is the author of the book – THE GIRL FROM ROSTOV. He believes that he can successfully explain the world’s current situation in this one paragraph

‘This world was a strange place to live in. It was disorderly and chaotic. Therefore, we had to find our way through this labyrinth of human emotions and actions to arrive at a place where there was some resemblance to order, order in the form of disorderly governments and a moral compass that does not always point north.’

He currently resides in New Delhi, India. He spends most of his time writing his second novel which he hopes to complete before this year is out.

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Posted in Children, Fantasy, Spotlight, Young Adult on February 9, 2017

Synopsis

Math City is a place within a Math book, and the pages of the book are the streets of Math City.

In this City, Monster Number was grossly overweight and had a shaggy body, like a mammoth. In the beginning, Monster Number could not walk very well. Though he swayed a little, tottering and often falling, my father trained him to detect and to kill. In a few days, we attacked Math City.

Math City was bombarded, the doors and the walls shaking while the dark shade ofthe Monster Number came down, covering the city. Monster Number threw big stones, one after another; and like a repulsive ghoul crashed throughany barrier.

Then, after many horrible explosions, Monster Number entered the city, and we followed him. He smashed countless numbers as he plodded along.

Reviews

“I have a feeling that the author is from another planet. It is the only explanation for his knowledge.” –  One of Math City’s Readers

“Math City is uniquely written in that the book is the city and the streets are the pages within it. Readers are introduced to characters that are products of mathematical equations, but the significance of these characters is much more than mere numbers.” – Stacie Theis

“Math City is different than any story you’ve ever read. Although, it appears to be a simple story written to entertain children through the use of numbers and math, it is anything but simple. The underlying story of war, conflict, and human rights is cleverly interwoven throughout the pages. Math City is a short story, but readers should take their time and absorb all the book has to offer.”

About the Author

Ahmad lives in the Middle East. He is a graduate of the Art University in Tehran. He has worked for many newspapers in Iran and Iraq as a journalist.

His books are stories about people, society, and culture.  The books were written in a new concept and fantasy form.

He hopes that his books make you think, while you enjoy it.

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Spotlight, Urban on January 29, 2017

Synopsis

Ian’s alliance with the rebels brings the wrath of the Pur army crashing down on them, but he is forced to abandon his new allies and travels to Earth’s alternate universe to rescue Rayne. As Ian combs the strange, desolate planet in search for her, he discovers the true story of the Weir and his connection to Earth’s imminent destruction.

Excerpt

Several miles later, and unsure if he could take much more, the current slowed and he leaned back in exhaustion. The boat glided into a wide cavern with a high-arched ceiling. A narrow ray of natural light streamed from a sizeable crevice overhead. The striations across the rock walls took Ian’s breath away and he yearned for better light to view them in all their splendor. The wall depicting the planet’s evolutionary story, displaying various crust layers rising high above his head.

Bump! One of the paddles slipped out of Ian’s hand and he scrambled to retrieve it before it floated away. He slid the handle back into the iron ring that rose from the side of the boat and breathed a sigh of relief. Droplets, either from sweat or from his wet hair, plopped onto his cheek, and he used his forearm to swipe his forehead. Bump!

The rowboat swished sideways in the water. It hadn’t been diverted by an underwater rock. The motion felt more like a nudge.

A water creature swam beneath him. Was it playing with him, or was the gesture a warning?

In order to conjure a core blast, Ian would have to let go of one of the oars. If he pulled it into the boat, he’d be unable to steer.

The creature’s back broke the surface on the port side. It was about seven feet long and covered in thick scales, each one the size of Ian’s hand. Phosphorescent algae grew between the curved scales, outlining them in an emerald glow. Ian leaned over the side of the boat as the creature dove beneath and disappeared into the murky depths. He had no idea how deep the water was in the cavern, but from what he could tell, it was enough deep for this creature to have grown to the size of a small car.

He searched for a ledge, anything he could paddle over to so he could be better prepared if the creature returned. Nothing but sheer rock walls surrounded him.

The sounds of the gentle lapping water kept his breaths company, yet were unable to sooth his pulse.

When the creature didn’t return after a couple of minutes, Ian dipped the oars into the water with the merest of sound and pulled back with gentle force, headed for the mouth of the cave several yards ahead. Ian passed under a stream of natural light, and was blinded for a few seconds.

He cocked his ear at a change in the surface of the water from behind. The creature was on a direct path toward him. Ian pulled the oar in his left hand with everything he had but it wasn’t enough to skirt the oncoming blitz. The creature lifted the back end of the boat out of the water and sent Ian lunging to the side.

He face-planted on the surface, and then was pulled under the water.

 

About the Author

sue duffSue Duff has dreamed of dragons and spaceships before she could even read, so it’s only natural that she now combines both fantasy and science fiction as her favorite genre. Having written since high school, Duff never took it seriously until a skiing accident laid her up for an entire summer and she turned on the word processor to combat the boredom. A couple years later, her first urban fantasy novel, Fade to Black , was one of five finalists in the RMFW Colorado Gold Writing Contest and in 2015, Duff’s writing earned her the PEN Award.

She is the second oldest of six girls with an avid reader mom and her dad, the family’s single drop of testosterone in a sea of estrogen.

By day, Duff is a dedicated speech-language therapist at an inner city school district, a career she pursued much in part to her aunt who got her hooked on stories of the profession when Duff was younger. She is passionate about the work she does and regularly works to help those students that need it the most.

Sue is a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and The Pikes Peak Writers.  She calls Colorado home and when not saving the world one page at a time, she can be found walking her great dane, getting her hands dirty in her garden, or creating something delicious in her kitchen.

Check out her blog, A Cook’s Guide to Writing and other musings on her website.

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Catch up on the series by reading Fade to BlackMasks and Mirrors and Sleight of Hand!

Love Audiobooks? You can also listen to Fade to Black through Audible.

Posted in Fantasy, Science Fiction, Spotlight on January 22, 2017

Synopsis

Quiti and the rest of the Hair Suits have just set up the Hair Suite, the embassy of the alien Hair Balls, when they learn they have competition. Alien cyborgs called Chip Monks want to win Earth for themselves. The two species must duel for control.

These rivals discover a third alien species that threatens to destroy Earth, and have to join up quickly in order to protect the planet they are both seeking to win. Along the way, they get swept up in a world of intergalactic politics, wormholes, and role-playing.

Will they be able to save Planet Earth in time?

About the Author

Piers Anthony, critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestselling Xanth series, shows off his signature originality and wit in this entertaining and inventive sequel to Hair Power.

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Giveaway on December 14, 2016

guardian-of-the-way

Guardian of the Way by Diane Moat

It’s been two centuries since someone murdered the last Guardian of the Way, closing off this world from the many realms of magic and fae.

Cassiopeia “Cass” Wilson is an eighteen-year-old living on her own for the first time. The only magic she’s interested in is the kind that will help her pay the bills on time. Little does she know that a trip to the hospital after a fainting spell will change her life forever.

Cass soon learns she may be fae, and everything points to her being the next Guardian of the Way. There’s just one problem: whoever—or whatever—killed the last Guardian wants Cass dead too.

Cass quickly runs into problems, and an attack by djinn is just the first. But Cass joins forces with a wrath daemon, were-creatures, and fae on a quest to reach the Lighthouse—the site of the Way.

Cass soon learns about wizards desperate to keep the Way closed to serve their dark purposes, and she comes to a crossroads: will she take the test to become the new Guardian and leave her normal life behind? Or will the Way remain closed to all who need it?

amazon

Praise for Guardian of the Way

“Cass Wilson takes us right along with her in this journey, revealing a world she never knew existed, with a diverse new tribe of companions, protectors, and friends. A must read for anyone who wonders what else is out there beyond what we can see.” by C.S.

“A strong story, full of surprises. Getting there is half the fun, but is she meant for this challenging job between many worlds? Quite worth a read.” by M. Hayden

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Excerpt

A massive lighthouse sits off the coast of Maine near the town of Cutler. The building has stood empty for over two-hundred years. Those who can make out the edifice view a tower of stone and paned glass unlike any other lighthouse they have ever seen. The specific dimensions are hard to determine as this structure, unlike most lighthouses, is not a single tower. Instead, it has a broader base than usual, with what appear to be turrets at the top. The construction may even consist of two buildings connected at the middle. But not many people question this odd lighthouse, or even wonder why it remains vacant.

This is because most Humans can’t actually see the Lighthouse. A few who have a drop of Fey, Were or “Other” blood may perceive an ordinary lighthouse. And some instinct guides these souls to avoid the building, though they wouldn’t be able to voice why if they were asked. True Fey, Were, Vampires, and other supernatural beings can certainly identify the building known to them as the Lighthouse, but none of them dare try to enter. Those genuine descendants know the Way is blocked, and has been for the two-hundred years the Lighthouse has stood dark.

The place has sat empty since the most recent Lighthouse Guardian died one horrible night at thepinnacle. The Guardian had only been Guardian for four-hundred years and was killed well before his time. Inside the Lighthouse lies the only permanent causeway (the “Way”) between the worlds of magic and the world of the mundane. Fey, Were, Vampires and other non-Humans, despite the barrier to journeying across from inside the Lighthouse, could still travel between these two worlds using costly magic spells—but such a trip is difficult and dangerous. The entrance to the Way closed at the time of the Guardian’s death, and neither magic nor mundane had been able to open it since.

On one late evening in particular, a large man sat under a tree just outside of Cutler, eating the stew his mate had made earlier and placed in a storage dish. The season was early fall, but already the nights had a bite to them. The man was on his third shift of watch duty in a row. He had pulled this job ten months previously and was glad the rotations were only a year long. He would be back home in Louisiana before the truly bitter winter was well underway.

The man was suddenly blinded by a light coming from the very top of the Lighthouse. The man’s reflexes were frighteningly quick, but even so he dropped his stew. Flabbergasted, he stared directly at the light for a full twenty seconds, until he no longer cared about the meal. He turned away from the brightness, and shedding his clothes, he found his legs shortening and his arms lengthening. In less than a minute, a large dark-grey Wolf shook himself once, then again. Glancing back for a final look at the Lighthouse, the Wolf began running toward the town.

He wouldn’t stop running until he was at his pack leader’s house. From there, word would spread like a virus. Everything was different now. For somewhere in this ordinary domain, two minutes before, a brand-new Guardian had been born.

 

dianeAbout the Author

When not creating fantastical worlds of young adult fiction, Diane Moat spends her time in Tennessee as an animal rescuer and nurse. Her various rescue dogs often assist her in the creative process.

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$25 Blog Tour giveaway

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amazon or paypal$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 1/1/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Spotlight on November 25, 2016

night_watch-cover

Synopsis

In the chaotic and crime-ridden settlement of Boxtown on Mars, Minty Storey witnesses a bar fight she has no idea will change the course of her life.

Halfway across the planet, Janet Pilgrim and the Volunteer Space Rescue Service struggle to do something about the pirate menace on the spaceways between Earth and Mars.

But the problems both face are much bigger than pirates and bar fights. When a leader of Earth’s Manifest Destiny movement makes an appearance on Mars, events begin to roll to a climax that will hold the fate of the planet in the balance.

**how funny that the character has the same last name as me and this blog!**

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Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

Excerpt

Bulk Cargo Ship Lisco Gloria, Mars Orbit

Will Saldana wrinkled his nose.  “Why oh why did they have to ‘jack a ship full of coffee,” he asked.  Since he was alone in the zero-gee centerline passageway of the spaceship Lisco Gloria, there was no answer forthcoming.  “I should have stayed home,” he said, pulling himself aft with one hand while trying to keep the semi-auto pistol in the pocket of his coveralls with the other.  Fortunately the pistolwas attached by a string to a belt-loop, so no matter what he wasn’t going to lose it.

He contemplated “home” as he continued aft.  He’d been born on Mars, and spent most of his 10 Martian years or Mears living in a small station in the Libya Montes region of Mars.  It was the most boring place possible, so when a trade convoy had driven by he’d lit out with them.

“That was a mistake,” he said, addressing one of the many equipment panels he was supposed to be checking.  Why they needed to be checked every hour, including the middle of the night, was beyond him.  But he was getting paid.

“Money is good,” he said.  The handheld radio in his other pocket beeped, and he fished it out.  “Yeah,” he said, keying the mike.

“You’re late,” came a woman’s voice from the device.  The ‘again’ was unspoken.

“You got a hot date?” Will asked.  He wasn’t wearing anything under his coveralls, and thinking of his highly attractive boss was starting to create a reaction.

“Down, boy,” she said, as if she could see him. “Report every 30 minutes means report every 30 minutes, not whenever you feel like it.”

“Fine, fine, keep your shirt on.”  Actually, take it off please.  “I’m at the Number 2 HVAC panel and nothing to report.”

“Copy, check back in 30, please.”

“Yes, boss.”

Will continued on his rounds.  He’d ran out of money in New Hue City, which was especially problematic because most of the locals spoke Vietnamese and he didn’t.  Fortunately he hooked up with the pirates, who were looking for a crew to guard whatever ship they took.  Will, desperate, signed up.  He ate most of the advance, keeping just enough to get his nine-millimeter pistol out of hock.

“But why, oh why, did they have to ‘jack a coffee-boat,” he said aloud, hoping talking would keep him awake.  Martians, or at least those who actually liked coffee and had money to burn, would pay extra for Earth coffee, and coffee had to be shipped in pressurized cargo holds.  Thus, the Lisco Gloria, a ship that reeked of coffee.

He came to the end of his round, a zero-gee corridor that led to an external cargo airlock.  He pulled himself into the corridor, intending just to eyeball the airlock from the junction as opposed to go all the way down to the lock.

“Who are you?” Will asked, startled.  There was a man in a spacesuit about two meters down the corridor from junction.  His suit helmet was open, revealing a full salt-and-pepper beard.

“Easy, kid,” the man said, his gravelly voice quiet.  He looked and sounded like somebody’s grandfather.  The gun in the man’s hands did not fit with the grandfatherly image.  “Just stay cool and nobody will get hurt.”

“Look, man,” Will said, his mouth suddenly dry.  “I gotta check in, and if I don’t…”

“Your next check in isn’t due for half an hour,” the man said.

A blower kicked on, and Will’s body started to twist in the sudden breeze.  He felt his gun slide out of his pocket, and reflexively reached for it.

“No!” the other man said.

“I’m cool!” Will shouted, thrusting his other hand toward the man.  This caused Will to twist some more and the gun to fall completely out.

There were two pops, each as loud as a handclap, and Will felt a burning pain in his chest.  His eyes suddenly wouldn’t focus, and he was spun in a different direction.  He looked down the corridor and saw the old man’s gun flash, producing a muted clap.  Will screamed as something hot drove into his shoulder.

The gun spun away from his suddenly nerveless hand, dangling at the end of the string.  The room was getting dark, and Will couldn’t catch his breath. He tried to talk, but couldn’t get any words out.

“Nice shooting, Nick,” Will heard somebody say.

“Kid gave me no choice,” the old man said, his voice sounding distant.  “One pirate down, Junction Alpha secured.”

Will closed his eyes.  The last thing he heard was the old man saying “too late for a medic.”

About the Author

Chris Gerrib admits to being a bit obsessed with Mars, but in a healthy way – all three books of his Pirate Series are set on Mars.  Chris still has a day job as the IT director at a Chicago-area bank, and holds degrees in history and business from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University.  He also served in the US Navy during the First Gulf War, and can proudly report that not one Iraqi MiG bombed Jacksonville, Florida while he was in the service.  In his copious free time, Chris is a past President of and currently active in his local Rotary club.

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Posted in Fantasy, Giveaway, Science Fiction, Young Adult on November 19, 2016

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Synopsis

Teenager Jane Benedict is awakened by her father and ordered to memorize a mysterious code. Hours later, Mathias Benedict is dead and Jane and her brother, Will, are wards of United Earth Corporation. To evade the company’s murderous clutches and uncover the meaning of her father’s last message, Jane leads Will on a desperate escape across the galaxy aboard the Freetrader smuggler ship, Solar Vortex. Tangled in the crew’s fight against UEC, Jane saves the life of young smuggler Maclan Sawyer and learns her father’s code identifies a secret cargo shipment that may spell doom for the entire Freetrader cause and the extinction of an alien race.

Piracy, intrigue, romance, and a daring rebellion from Earth wait on the planet Rimrock. Will Jane answer the call to adventure and find new purpose on the galactic rim or will death for high treason be her fate?

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Excerpt

As they raced across the bay another pallet full of cargo erupted. Flying bits of debris rained down on them. Jane slapped the falling embers from her hair. They reached the bulkhead and huddled behind stacked containers. Jane stifled a cough as acrid smoke rose in billowing clouds from the burning goods.

Her mouth went dry. “Mac, there’s no alarm. The fire suppressors must be off-line. The smoke will get thicker and eat up the oxygen.”

Mac spied around the corner of the crate. “I see him. A sweeper on the catwalk with a laser rifle. He can’t draw a bead from there, but the instant we make a run for the hatch, he’ll spot us. We’re trapped.”

“How did a sweeper get on the ship?” whispered Jane. “I thought no UEC boarding party made it over.”

“No clue. Nobody spotted any, and none of the alarms went off….what’s he doing now?”

Jane and Will inched up beside Mac. The sweeper bent over and appeared to adjust a device at his feet. “We have to warn the others,” Jane said. “There may be more.” She spoke into her com. “Doc, can you read me?”

“Jane—” A crackly din drowned out the rest.

“We’re trapped in cargo bay Delta-120 with a sweeper. Do you read?” The only response was a hiss of static. Jane peered at them with anxious eyes. “My line is dead. Anyone have a signal?” Neither Mac nor Will’s com had reception.

Jane swallowed. “I don’t know if Doc got the message.”

Mac scowled. “We’re out maneuvered and outgunned and can’t wait around to find out. The smoke is getting thicker by the second.”

Hack emitted a muted tinny whine. “What’s his problem now?” hissed Jane.

Will yanked off the tarp and checked the readouts. “The weird signal’s back. It’s stronger this time. Hack has a lock. It’s definitely coming from that thing on the catwalk with the sweeper.”

Mac’s gaze narrowed. “His rifle beats the cutter for long-range shooting. If the sweeper were at ground level, the odds would be more to my liking. I can sneak up on him.” He blew out his cheeks in frustration. “How to draw him out without getting shot is the problem.” He turned to Jane and Will. “You two wait here. When the shooting starts, make for the hatch.”

Jane grabbed his arm. “Mac, this is crazy. You’ll never get close enough. We need a better plan—”

Mac shook off her grip. “There’s no time. One of us has to make it out of here and go for help. Now run!” He broke from cover and darted around a loader.

The sweeper instantly spotted him. Jane watched in horror as the laser rifle fired a spread of explosive charges. A direct hit to the loader’s engine mushroomed debris into the air. Mac dove behind a cargo container abutting a rack of mech suits. He was unharmed for now, but had no safe way to advance any farther.

“What do we do?” said Will. “Run for help?”

Jane’s focus returned to the sweeper. With his laser rifle at the ready, he used his other hand to hurriedly work on the object at his feet, acting as if time weighed hard against him. Jane’s gaze narrowed. A person so consumed by a task would hate to be interrupted. As a matter of fact, the right interruption might make him boiling mad. Mad enough to drop his guard and take his attention off Mac.

Her expression hardened. “Will, I have a plan.” She explained in a rush.

Will chuckled. “I like it.”

“How much time will you need to get into position?”

“Thirty seconds ought to do it.”

“I can keep the sweeper busy that long without getting shot.” Jane drew the cutter from her holster. With shaking fingers, she reset the controls for a tight beam. At this distance, hitting the sweeper would be a miracle, but the glow from the cutter made her a fine target for him in the dark. “Ready?”

Will’s face turned pale. “Are you positive Mac will be in position?”

“He’ll understand as soon as I start running. He knows how to shoot.”

“Yeah, but you don’t. Be careful, Jane…promise.”

“I’ll make it back, Will. I swear. On three…one…two…go!” Jane dashed from cover aiming straight for the sweeper’s position.

Jane fired wildly while mentally counting the seconds. Her shots went way out of range. Although none landed anywhere near the catwalk, they drew the sweeper’s immediate attention.

Crackles of lightning ripped through the air as he returned fire. An energy blast hit near her feet, bubbling the metal deck plate. Jane dodged in panic, adrenaline pumping through her veins.

Close—too close. Don’t think! Run! Run! Run! Twenty more seconds

Jane tore across the bay, darting through smoke, dodging flames. She veered toward the bulkhead aiming for the safety of a storage container. The back of her neck burned as if she could feel the laser sight zero in on her. A beam sliced the dark to her left. Jane sidestepped in a panic. She was in the open…no place left to hide. The sweeper had her in his sights. A red dot centered on the middle of her chest. She looked into the face of death.

“Now, Will!” Jane shouted.

About the Author

l-akelley_bird-mamaBest-selling Kindle author, L. A. Kelley lives in Florida where the heat and humidity have driven everyone slightly mad.  Every aspect of Mother Nature in Florida is evil and wants to kill you. The state has hurricanes, tornadoes, rip currents, floods, brush fires, and giant sinkholes that will drag you to hell without even time to pack a change of underwear. She considers it a favorable place to write fantasy/scifi adventures with humor, romance, and a touch of sass. Her favorite pastime is to call in Bigfoot sightings to the Florida Department of Fish and Wildlife. They are heartily sick of hearing from her.

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