Monday, May 29, 2017

Fantasy / Science Fiction Instafreebie Group Giveaway

Today marks the start of an epic fantasy and science fiction book giveaway that I've organized.  We have most of the popular sub-genres: paranormal, high fantasy, steampunk, hard sci-fi, sci-fi romance, space opera, etc.  So, if you're looking for summer reading, you should stop by my webpage and check it out.  Happy reading!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wishing Shelf Book Awards Feedback for She Dies at the End

I was pretty chuffed today to receive the reader feedback from a contest I entered, The Wishing Shelf Book Awards.  The certificate was nice, but the quotes made my day.  See for yourself:

‘This author works very well with description of character, setting and with speech to offer the reader a fascinating story, well plotted and packed full of wonderful characters. I enjoyed it very much.’ Male reader, aged 42 

‘This book is all about pacing. It’s got it in truck-loads.’ Female reader, aged 27 

‘There is nothing better than a fantasy where the author is capable of creating a fantasy world you can fall into. Well, I fell – pretty hard. Excellent. I’d highly recommend it to any fantasy lover.’ Female reader, aged 54 

‘November Snow is a memorable character. She’s strong, but not always, susceptible to love, but not endlessly (see Twilight for endlessly boring I’m in love with a vampire) and, best of all, her powers are fascinating. The author has a light pen, able to describe the world in depth but also keep up the pacing. I look forward to reading the rest of his author’s books.’ Male reader, aged 24 

‘One of the best things about being a reader for The Wishing Shelf Book Awards is that I get introduced to brilliant new authors. This author is one of them.’ Female reader, aged 61 

You can see why I was so excited.  It's nice to get a little encouragement.  You can read She Dies at the End for only $0.99.  Get your friends hooked.  :-)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Work in Progress

I am about 45k words into writing my next novel.  No vampires this time!  It's a young adult high fantasy novel with a strong heroine, naturally.  My two point-of-view characters are Shiloh Teethborn, a 15-year-old girl headed to the Academy, and Silas Hatch, the king's "fixer," who is in his early thirties.  Regularly spaced flashbacks from each of their lives reveal back story and motivations.

The story is set in a world where magic is real, and it is hoarded by the ruling class.  Commoners with magical abilities are forced into serving the crown or the church and are generally forbidden from marrying or having children, in order to keep magical abilities from spreading through the population.  Those with the most impressive abilities are brought to the Royal Academy to be educated alongside the children of the nobility before being chosen for various posts at court or in the church.  About fifteen years prior to the events in the book, the kingdom suffered through a civil war in which two siblings fought each other for the crown, and the repercussions of this conflict resound throughout the story.  Shiloh is "hexborn," born with birth defects and chronic ailments caused by dark magic used by her mother during the war, while Shiloh was in the womb.

My inspiration for this story came, in part, from my interest in British history, especially the War of the Roses and the Tudor dynasty.  I also wanted to write a story in which the heroine lives with a chronic condition.  People with disabilities are often invisible in popular culture.

It's still early days, so anything can change, but here is a short excerpt to give you an idea of what I have created so far.  I hope that when the book is finished, you will love Shiloh and Silas as much as you do November and company.


“Eyes open, men,” Hatch directed. “Wand out, Percy.”

Percival swallowed nervously. “I’m starting to wish you’d brought an extra wand for the weirdling.”

Just when Shiloh was starting to think they might make it to safety without incident, she heard the familiar whistle of an arrow. “Get down,” she cried, throwing herself off of Hatch’s horse. More arrows soon followed, and she heard a cry of pain as one of the men proved too slow in heeding her warning.

Hatch remained calm under attack, sending out well-aimed hexes from his wand of flame. Percival seemed to be firing at total random, taking out more snowdrifts and tree branches than Wildlings. Shiloh could hear the cries of the ones Hatch had managed to hit, but the volleys of arrows kept coming. She heaved a sigh and looked around for something she could use as a weapon.

Shiloh broke off an icicle from the tree behind which she’d taken shelter and yanked her glove with her teeth, grabbing the ice in her bare hand. With this makeshift wand, she harnessed the power of water to cast a shield of protection around them, one which allowed the curses from Hatch and Percival to pass through unimpeded. The arrows of the Wildlings, meanwhile, didn’t simply stop dead upon hitting the ward; they turned and sped back toward their points of origin, betraying those who’d loosed them.

Silas threw his head back and fairly cackled in delight when he realized what she’d done, then continued to cast his curses. The rest of the men stood up now that they had no further need to fear incoming projectiles, save Bryan who lay bleeding in the road.

Shiloh, too, stood as to see the effects of her ward. In the heat of battle, her hood had fallen back. Her hair had escaped from its thick braid and blew in the wind, forming a halo of pink set aglow by moonlight. The remaining Wildings turned and fled down the mountain, speeding on their skis until they were out of sight. The three attackers who couldn’t stand remained behind, turning the snow red.

Hatch disarmed the wounded Wildlings with a few flicks of his wand. “If you wish to pray before you die, now would be the time,” Hatch told them. One of them began to beg mercy; Shiloh found herself feeling grateful when Hatch cut short his desperate plea.  She watched as he proceeded to kill the other two without so much as another word, then closed her eyes. She pushed herself through the shock and dismay that threatened to overwhelm her and turned to assess the damage to their party.

Thankfully, Bryan’s wound proved to be fairly superficial. Shiloh knelt and quickly yanked out the arrow and stopped the bleeding, focusing a spell with the help of her ice wand.

“You’re alright, now,” she said soothingly, as though the brute were but a little boy. “I’ve got you. You’re going to be fine. We’ll get you some whiskey for the pain when we get to town. You’re alright.”

She looked up to find Hatch looking down at her, face unreadable. He raised an eyebrow toward her hand, and she dropped the icicle into the snow. She pulled her glove back on with her teeth.

“Mount up. They might have friends,” Hatch ordered.

Their journey warily recommenced, Hatch whispered to Shiloh, “You are a dangerous little thing, aren’t you?”

Unsure how to respond, Shiloh held her tongue. She could have sworn she heard him laugh again, but it was hard to tell above the wind.

At last, they began to descend the pass. The cheerful sight of the well-lit village gilded in white brought the bedraggled group some much-needed cheer as their horses struggled through the deep snow.

“There’s a pub with an inn. I am told it is comfortable enough, compared to most,” Shiloh informed Silas. “You and your men should be able to get a warm bed and a decent meal, anyway.”

“Yes, I know it. I'll pay for a room for you, as well,” Silas hastened to assure her. “They are expecting us.”

Shiloh shook her head. “They'll never let me in.” She pointed to her hair, peeking out from her hood. “The best I can hope for is the stable. They might not notice I'm hexborn if I duck in there straightaway, as long as I hide the arm under my cloak. If they make me and see us together, they might not let you in, either.”

Silas shook his head. “I think you underestimate the effectiveness of my reputation in obtaining cooperation.”

“I think you underestimate how superstitious and ignorant my fellow Teethtrash can be,” she countered. “They will lose every other paying customer if I walk through their door. Mountain folk do not break bread with the unclean.”

“The cleanliness statutes were outlawed years ago, during the Reforms,” Silas protested.

“They keep to the old ways up here. The Reforms have not yet taken root, as I’m sure you are more than aware.”

“The innkeeper works for me,” Silas countered.

“One of your many sources of vital information, I presume? If he’s valuable and you want him to keep working for you, you won’t force me on them. I’ll be fine in the barn,” she declared. “The horses keep it warm.”

“Miss Teethborn—“

“Master Hatch, even if they let me in, they’ll be muttering and staring and spitting in my food. It simply isn’t worth it to me. Respectable people do not want me in their company, and I am willing to oblige them.”


If you want to be the first to know about developments in this new series, sign up for my newsletter.  Happy reading! 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Author Spotlight: LAURA LIBRICZ

I'm so pleased today to be hosting fellow author and Rave Reviews Book Club member Laura Libricz! Laura was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature. She is now the author of the historical fiction novel The Master and the Maid, book one in a planned trilogy set in 17th century Germany.


Intrigued? I am. Here is the blurb:

She’s lost her work, her home and her freedom. Now, harboring a mysterious newborn, she could lose her life.

In 17th Century Germany on the brink of the Thirty Years War, 24-year-old Katarina is traded to the patrician Sebald Tucher by her fiancĂ© Willi Prutt in order to pay his debts. En route to her forced relocation to the Tucher country estate, Katarina is met by a crazed archer, Hans-Wolfgang, carrying a baby under his cloak. He tells her an incredible story of how his beloved was executed by a Jesuit priest for witchcraft right after the birth and makes Katarina—at sword point—swear on her life to protect the child. But protecting the child puts Katarina at risk. She could fall in disfavor with her master. She could be hunted by the zealots who killed his beloved. She could be executed for witchcraft herself. Can Katarina's love for the baby and Sebald Tucher's desire for her keep the wrath of the zealots at bay?

Set in Franconia, The Master and the Maid is an accurate, authentic account of a young woman's life in Germany in the 1600's, her struggle for freedom and her fight for those she loves.

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In the rest of this post, you'll find out more about the author and about her process. Take it away, Laura . . .

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Welcome to Day 5 of my #RRBC “SPOTLIGHT” Author Blog Tour! I would like to thank the RRBC and my host for this wonderful opportunity! Let’s talk about writer’s block today. Now, I don’t believe in writer’s block. When I’m fed up with a project, I like to write flash fiction. It helps me focus and write short, sharp scenes. I’d like to share one of my favorites with you today.


“We’re all human, even when we’re not.”

Humans are the second most dangerous beings on the planet surpassed only by mosquitos, which now spurs me on to renounce my life as it is amongst the fiends and settle in a world inhabited only by less-menacing denizens.

Professor Ott paid the cab driver, turned towards the red-brick entrance to the train station and snorted at the mongrels filing in and out like the brainless livestock they claimed to be superior to. He had lived in the city all his life but would never synchronize with the existence of these people. Their petty lives and mundane concerns left him empty and unfulfilled.

“Excuse me,” a young woman said and smiled as she disengaged the hem of her jacket caught on his rucksack.

He snorted and looked at the woman through his rimless bifocals like she was an insect under a microscope. “Satisfied with the dullest of nonimaginitive spittle, these creatures will never truly understand.”

He found his platform and a seat on the express train to the airport. The train pulled away and the dingy brick houses sped past; housing resembling rat cages that held anonymous, unsuspecting, dull-witted troops of overpopulation.

The train screeched to a stop and the herd disembarked, moving as one numb mass towards the departures court and into one holding pen, then another. He trudged through yet another holding pen and boarded his airplane. He settled in his seat and looked out the window. The only accomplishment this modern society made that somewhat excited him was flying. Speedy travel. No inch of the earth left undiscovered. The thought thrilled him and saddened him simultaneously.

He woke from an uneasy doze as the landing gear dropped onto the tarmac. The foreign characters on the signs atop the cargo hangars reassured him. He smiled as he surveyed his surroundings. Pulling the small rucksack from the overhead compartment, he snorted at the frail humans sagging under the weight of their belongings, ignored the niceties from the crew and left the plane. He wove his way through hurrying travelers towards the exit of the building.

Humidity and heat hit him and he breathed the sweet, wet, lush air. A bus waited at the designated spot. A classical piano piece played from what sounded like a cheap plastic transistor radio. He snorted and shook his head. One modern invention he insisted upon: superior sound equipment. Rather no sound than bad sound. But that had long ceased to fulfill him as well.

Now all he wanted from these people and their electrified, motorized world was the means to reach his final destination and end his journey. Then he would renounce their bustling, unimportant lives and their world forever. He needed no one. His ultimate goal? To reach a plateau of unadulterated knowledge, a pure and simple clichéd nirvana.

The bus ride was jerky, quirky, hot and muddy. The driver cursed every time mud flew onto the windshield. A child pouted and a woman sneezed. He tried to ignore them and stared out the bus window. Green, lush vegetation darkened the road and he felt enveloped in his new world. A few rays of sunshine penetrated the forest and created impressive images. He smiled wider. The world as he knew it and its cares and fears faded away.

“Dear God!” someone in front cried.

A wrenching jerk was followed by a slamming impact. A woman screamed. Silence.

Professor Ott opened his eyes. His glasses were askew on his face. The bus was on its side. He smelled smoke and diesel fuel. He adjusted his glasses and saw bodies strewn throughout the bus. A young man kicked out a window that faced upward and climbed out. Professor Ott secured his rucksack on his back and followed him out, appreciating what years of diligent physical fitness enabled him to do.

He turned and glanced at the bus. Tiny, white, floating parachutes surrounded the bus and sailed on the breeze towards the sun. It looked like the breeze had blown through a field of overripe dandelions setting the seeds adrift.

As he walked away, he unpacked a pouch filled with hydration gel of his own creation which would bridge him at least a few days before he needed to find water. The glen he had spent the summer before would be a four-hour trek from here, he reckoned. No matter, he had endured worse and this last stage could be mastered. He tried to clear his mind of thought and concentrate on his march.

Tiny, white parachutes crossed his path and floated up towards the sun. There must be a plant going to seed to create such a thing. He thought about his mother. She’d been dead for twenty years. He could smell her lilac perfume and a tinge of vanilla, butter and melting chocolate. He could see her face. Suddenly he missed her terribly. The more he tried to banish the thoughts and her memory, the more insistent the sensations became.

A path opened onto the road on his right. He peered through a gateway in the trees and climbed a small incline towards what seemed to be a sunny patch amidst the forest. The same seed play filled this path. Memories of a girl he had once loved, years ago, flooded his mind. He was never able to express just how deeply he loved her. He felt at the time that such love was indulgent and weak; an uneducated lack of discipline. He struggled for breath.

A bird of prey squawked behind his shoulder and he fell to his knees. A festival of songbirds answered and reminded him of sitting on his grandmother’s balcony, back in Germany. The blackbirds would congregate on the rooftops in the evening. A consuming loneliness like he’d never felt threatened to crush him. He bowed his head and allowed it to come.

Professor Ott got to his feet and started walking back to the bus to see if he could be of any service.

So, now it’s your turn! Tell me, how do you feel about writer’s block? Do you write or read short stories?

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Laura Libricz was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to ‘do the right thing’ and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature.

She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY in 1991 and moved to Germany, where she resides today. When she isn’t writing, she can be found sifting through city archives, picking through castle ruins or aiding the steady flood of musical instruments into the world market.

Her first novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven's Pond Trilogy. The Soldier’s Return and Ash and Rubble are the second and third books in the series.

Twitter - @lauralibricz

Facebook - @LauraLibriczAuthoress

Website -