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Saturday Sneak Peeks: The Redemption Games – A #YA #SciFi #Thriller

Designed by Kathryn Jenkins at Magical Designs

I released my newest short story this week, so I wanted to give you a sneak peek:

There was no sound. Jillian was sure she outran them this time. She was smart though. Too smart to move this early and give up her location. The last time she did that, they nearly got her. She crouched in the shadows of a dumpster and waited. About twenty minutes passed before she dared to move, and even then it was only to move further into the alley where she could eat in peace.

“All this for a box of cereal,” Jillian whispered to herself. She squeezed through the small opening in the boarded up doorway of the abandoned building she called home. After climbing to the second floor, she barricaded herself in a small room that she was sure had once been an office. Probably where the boss sat in his cushy chair while the people worked their butts off in the sweat shop below.

After opening the box, she shoved handful after handful of cereal into her mouth until she couldn’t swallow another bite. Leaning back she sighed. It had been days since she had a full belly.

Jillian didn’t realize she had started dozing until a noise woke her. She wasn’t alone in the building. She heard the soft clang of boots on the metal stairway. She was trapped. She hid behind some boxes and old furniture that had been left behind just in time for someone to force their way through her barricade. She froze. For a moment there was no sound.

“I know you’re here,” a male’s voice called out.

Want to read more?

The Redemption Games (A SciFi Thriller Short Story)

The Redemption Games (A SciFi Thriller Short Story)

eBook: $0.99
Jillian doesn’t think things can get any worse. She ran away from home and has survived on the streets for over a year, but when a man shows up promising her a better future, she ignores her instincts and goes with him. Now she finds herself on an alien world in a last-man-standing competition that she has no hope of winning, unless she can find an ally. More info →
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Author Spotlight: Girls of Dirt (Dirt, Series Two) by C.C. Hogan

Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! Today I have fantasy author, C.C. Hogan, returning with Book One in Dirt Series Two, Girls of Dirt! He’ll also be sharing his wisdom on dealing with social issues in fantasy, but first more about C.C. …

Short, dieting, cook, lives in own sad world and drinks too much wine. Damn; must be a writer!

LOL, and that’s all he has to say on that…

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Get updates, discounts and the odd little story here!

About the Book

It is five hundred years since the events of series one. The world has been ruined by petty wars and the dreams of Pree and Farthing have been forgotten. The population is smaller, trades less often and is poorer. Even the dragons are thought of as only children’s stories; they probably never existed.

But on the beautiful Isle of Hope, Silvi Farthing is seventeen, a cheese maker, living on her own and about to be rescued by an incredible creature from her own family’s forgotten past; Be-Elin, the dragon.

Get it Today!

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Keep reading for a guest post from the author:

Dealing With Social Issues in Fantasy

Just because I am writing a story set on a world that does not exist does not mean I cannot deal with issues that we face in our own world in our real lives. Unless a writer decides to leap into the complete unknown and create an imaginary world that is unique, and that is a rare thing, there will be correlations between their fantasy land and their own experiences. Generally, this is seen as a good thing since many readers like to be able to recognise characters and situations in some form or fashion so they can relate to them.

When I was planning the Dirt Saga, I made the conscious decision to make it as close to our world as possible without it actually being our world at all. I wanted all the characters of whatever species to be believable, almost as if it would be no surprise if you encountered them walking down your local high street. This meant imposing limits on characters. Dragons are big and can fly, but they don’t breathe fire or live in damp caves; they have communities and families like we do. Magicians might do things that we cannot do, but they do not wave wands or pick up and hurl rocks across valleys; their abilities are more subtle and vague. And of course, all characters can face problems in their lives because of the culture.

Series two of Dirt, which is now available, features several female lead characters, both human and dragon, and the main lead is a young woman called Silvi. In series one, I talked about issues such as slavery, inequality, poverty and so on, but having a mainly female-led in series two cast allowed me to address sexism head on.

Silvi Farthing is not just a young woman, she is also a lesbian. Although I do not make a huge deal of her coming out or deciding on her sexuality, it is there in plain sight and some accept it and some do not. We do not know a huge amount about her younger life, but there are hints that it was more abusive than she easily admits to and this is at least partly responsible for the strong, independent streak that drives her through the story.

When addressing any problem in any type of tale, it helps to have something to compare it with; my situation must be bad because over there I see someone whose life is better. In real life, this is not always clear cut. Sexism as we see it today has to be compared to centuries of history that says men are superior to women and therefore what women suffer is not sexism. It was unforgiveable even back then, in my mind, but it was the status quo and we still have to fight that today when making arguments for equality; look at the women in some towns in the USA who not only think they SHOULD be subservient to men but also support Trump and have no issue with his terrible comments. This is sometimes joyfully referred to as dealing with dinosaurs. In a fantasy, you have the opportunity of inventing a comparison that does not exist in our real life and is therefore less ambiguous.

In Dirt, dragons are my perennial good-guys. They live hundreds of years, think friendship is more important than family, don’t have nations, borders, or the subsequent wars, don’t lie, and have no sexism or any other bad isms. If they were human, they would be unbelievably perfect and would not work, but because they are a species that do not exist, as long as I make them realistic, give them humour and tempers, I can get away with it. So, when Silvi is attacked by some men because she is a lesbian, although she is rescued by a dragon, the dragon is confused. Such violence is unknown in her people and she does not understand it. Oh, if that were so amongst humans too!

Fantasy is the perfect genre to address many issues that plague our world. It allows the writer to work with interesting metaphors and similes, whether that is using inter-species contact to portray racism or fantastical cultural structures to portray ageism and sexism. In Star Trek, they used the character of Data to ask logical questions about irrational human ideas; it was a little clunky sometimes, but worked quite well. Probably one of the best examples is George Orwell’s Animal Farm which used farmyard animals to explain the danger which was Stalinism. Of course, you can go the other way like Mervin Peake did with Gormenghast, and have a set of characters none of whom you would invite to dinner!

I wouldn’t advocate that a writer must deal with difficult social issues, but certainly it can be an opportunity that is hard to resist. In the end, a fantasy is only set in a fantastical environment; the story is still one about people of some kind or other. People create societies and sometimes those societies stink. Humans have managed that in every society they have ever built, right up to and including today. So, if you feel that there is an opening to perhaps raise an issue from our own world in your created world, go for it. It will add depth to your story and will resonate with readers.

I will leave you with an excerpt from series two of Dirt. Silvi is sitting on the ground and next to her is the vast Bren-Hevvin. Just his head is much bigger than she is, and his body wouldn’t even fit on the cover. This is not about sexism, but about war, yet another important issue. There has never been a dragon on dragon war; their culture is so different to ours that there has never been a reason for one.

“Dragons don’t want to go to war, do they, despite your dreadful jokes. It is not in your blood. I see it in your eyes sometimes.”

“You do? What do you see? I don’t think you want to go to war either, but you do.”

“I didn’t want this war, you are right. But there is a difference between you and me; between humans and dragons. When I look into Hal’s eyes, when we are planning and realising the consequences of our plans, I see his hatred of war, but I see a tolerance of it. He knows we have no choice, and he understands that however terrible, it happens again and again and is part of our existence. War makes sense to him, even if he abhors it.”

“And what do you see in my eyes?”

Silvi turned and looked up into the big, soft, face of the Draig Mynyth Coh. He was not beautiful like a desert dragon or a sea dragon, but he had a face you could love. Even when he was angry she could happily hug his face if she had long enough arms.

“When I look into your eyes, I not only see a hatred of death, dear Bren-Hevvin, I see puzzlement and confusion. You don’t understand war in any way whatsoever; it mystifies you. You only know that they happen and humans start them. I have seen the same in every single dragon I have ever met.”

Dirt is a fantasy saga by CC Hogan. Series two is out now as an eBook on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other stores. The series starts with Girls of Dirt and includes a recap of series one.

Author Spotlight: Kingdom of Embers by Tricia Copeland

 

Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have Tricia Copeland returning with her book, Kingdom of Embers, from the Kingdom Journals. For today only, you can get the book for 99 cents! She has shared an excerpt from the book, but first let’s reacquaint ourselves with the author.

Tricia Copeland grew up in Georgia and now lives in Colorado with her family and multiple four-legged friends. Her books include the clean new adult Being Me Series, Is This Me?, If I Could Fly, Thinking You Know Me, and the final installment, Being Me, as well as a young adult, Drops of Sunshine, a paranormal novella, and the Lovelock Chronicles, Lovelock Ones: Native One, a dystopian novella published in The Butterfly Box. Her newest release is Kingdom Journals Volume 1, Kingdom of Embers, a YA paranormal novel. If she’s not out running, you can find Tricia at www.triciacopeland.com or your favorite social media.

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About the Book

“He wouldn’t understand. He didn’t live in a masked world. In truth, he did. Most beings, pure humans, walked through life believing they were the only type of people that existed.” –Alena

As a creature forbidden by both vampire and witch law, Alena traverses the country with her Vampire Council Chancellor mother in search of an unknown entity. Everything changes when Alena finds Hunter. Their bond may be the key to the answers Alena seeks. But her mother introduces her to Theron, an equally handsome and mysterious suitor. Will the truth about his intentions be uncovered before it’s too late? Or will her Mother’s kingdom be reduced to embers?

Find out in Kingdom of Embers!

Get it today!

 

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Her missions had something to do with me. The only time I spent time with Mother outside of five minutes at breakfast and an hour at dinner consisted of planned outings. They occurred once a month, or sometimes twice a week. She always knew her destination and required my presence. At first, I thought we were searching for my father.

I didn’t remember him. My mother always told me he had to be separated from us for my safety. Part of me wondered if he’d abandoned us. But in the past year, I’d put together some clues that ruled him out as her target. Mother seemed most on edge as we neared a teen boy. Her eyes would cut to me as if to gauge my reaction. Like I’d sense something about the boy if he were the one. At the end of each trip, she asked if I’d felt drawn to anyone.

“Like a magnetic pull?” I’d asked the first time.

“Or maybe you heard someone’s thoughts.”

“Like my imaginary friends when I was little?”

“Perhaps.”

But I’d never felt anything more than the normal hum of magical powers I detected in the presence of a witch. Her face fell each time I reported no special connection during our nights out. At first I thought I’d failed her, done something wrong. Each time she’d reassure me it wasn’t my fault.

Beyond guessing the target to be male, I’d hit a dead end, my hypothesis stalled on her search for a brother, half-brother, or a being like me. My shoulders shuddered each time I entertained the idea that she wanted to find a hybrid so I could have a husband who shared my genetic make-up.

Under the suspicion I wasn’t supposed to know anything, I played ignorant. I didn’t complain when we visited restaurants, stores, coffee shops, concerts, and sporting arenas. Time with Mother was rare, and I didn’t want to spoil it. Following Orm one day in Seattle, when Mother thought I was with a friend, I learned he helped with the quest. I saw him visit several churches, restaurants, and bookstores. That evening Mother took me to the same area and locations he’d been.

“Miss.” Orm brought me out of my thoughts. I looked up to see the high school building outside my window.

“Oh, thanks.”

“I’ll pick you up right here at five. You have your private gymnastics instruction afterwards, so I’ll have a snack for you.”

“Thanks, Orm.” I fitted my sunglasses firmly on my face and slid my backpack off the floor.

“Have a good day, madam. And don’t—”

“I know the drill. Don’t isolate, but don’t over share. And don’t eat or kill anyone. I got it.”

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