Sunday, December 8, 2013
The winners of the Holiday Season Cover Art Giveaway are ...
Chris Weigand - Free eBook Cover Design
Leslie Lynch - Free Promotional Package Design!!
Congratulations you two!
I'll be emailing you soon so we can discuss the details!
Thanks to everyone who entered!
Sunday, December 1, 2013
My schedule is rapidly filling up. I'm currently booked up well into January, so if you need to get your book ready for a given release date, it's best if you contact me ahead of time and we can get it on the books. That way I'll know you're coming and I'll leave room for your project. It's best if you can give me a couple of months lead time. So, if you're looking to get a book out in February, now is the time to contact me! For non-scheduled jobs I'm going to have to start charging an additional rush fee.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Hello everyone! In honor of the winter holiday season, I'm giving away one free cover art design (ebook) and one free promotional package (coverflat design, bookmark design and web banner design)! If you'd like to enter the giveaway, just leave a comment here with your email address! On December 7th, I'll put all the entries into a hat and pick out the winners, who will be announced on the 8th!
(And, if Blogger gives you trouble when you try to comment, you can enter by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org!)
Happy Holidays everyone!
Friday, November 15, 2013
check it out over here!
Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.
Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He's grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear...not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?
Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.
When Nash's secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.
“Everything must be taken down.” A rotund man, with beady black eyes, surveyed the town, disdain in his expression. While he did not appear distinguishable from the other black and purple clad men, he spoke with authority. “The First Ones and their great Prophecy must be honored properly.” He sniffed, his actions indicating the very existence of Medlin and its occupants offended him.
Layla wondered what this man considered a “proper honoring” of the First Ones. The First Ones…they’d been dead for centuries, and, as far as Layla could tell, hadn’t done much in life except start a never-ending war. She knew nothing more about them except that she was to thank them for good things, curse them for bad, and celebrate them on this day.
“That’s Elder Werrick, head of the Ecclesiastics,” whispered Samson, glancing back at Grant. Layla noticed the look that passed between them.
Grant nodded his assent. “Get her out of here, brother.”
Samson tried to steer Layla away, but she held her position to get a closer look at the man whom her family so feared. She knew they had good reason to worry—her black hair and purple eyes marked her as a Fulfillment candidate, one with the potential to bring about the long awaited peace. But she couldn’t quite bring herself to believe Elder Werrick would notice her on the crowded streets, especially with her eye drops and hood. Could he really be responsible for dragging candidates from their homes, forcing them to undergo strenuous, sometimes gruesome, testing for the sake of the Prophecy? To Layla, he looked like nothing more than a short, fat, unhappy man. The very notion that he could strike such fear into the hearts of her people seemed almost laughable…almost. As his gaze swept over the crowd, she glimpsed a sinister undertone that made her shiver.
Waving his pudgy arms at the awaiting townspeople, Werrick commanded, “Take it down.”
Suddenly, his body stilled and his tiny eyes grew wide. They briefly connected with Layla’s, narrowing with calculation. The Elder turned to his nearest black clad companion.
“Do you feel that?” Layla heard Werrick ask.
The other man looked skeptical. “Feel what, Elder?”
Werrick leaned in as the two whispered, stealing furtive glances in her direction. When the Elder’s companion pointed at Layla, Samson grabbed her arm. She heard his breathing change from rhythmic to jagged as he pulled her away from the men.
“We have to go now.” His urgency spurred her into action.
Grant moved to block them from the Elder’s view. “Get her away from here, Samson.”
The Elder looked up to see everyone staring at him as if frozen. He repeated his demand, “I said take everything down.”
The townspeople, joined by the Elder’s minion, scampered to remove their decorations, anxious to “properly” celebrate the First Ones. Their flurry of activity concealed Layla as Samson and Grant escorted her away. Layla scanned the streets, horrified, as the people of Medlin stripped the town’s center barren. In no time, everything appeared as it always had, devoid of any celebratory adornments. She looked up at the sky with its gray clouds lingering overhead. A bad omen…
On the hill, a safe distance away, Layla watched a group of Ecclesiastics erect a monstrous stage where the donkey races should have occurred. She heard the braying of the angry animals, harnessed and corralled on the orders of the Elder to avoid interfering with the “true” Day of Dawning celebration. Her ire rose. Who did they think they were coming in and changing everything?
An icy, phantom finger traced a frigid line down her spine. After hearing warning after warning from the Mantars her whole life, Layla knew exactly what the Ecclesiastics could do, what they had done to others in the past. Maybe Samson and Grant had been right. Maybe she should never have come, especially today. Layla turned her back on the town, resolved to go home, to safety.
“Layla!” Samson’s alarmed tone sliced into her, and she swung around toward him.
To her horror, two Vanguard soldiers forced Samson to the ground. She knew just how much strength he possessed, yet he couldn’t free himself. Her hands balled up into fists, shaking with their desire to unleash the full force of their fury.
“Run!” Samson screamed before a soldier’s fist smashed into his face.
His body stilled. Panic, coupled with indecision, crippled her. She should run like Samson commanded, but she couldn’t leave him lying there. To her relief, Grant ambled toward them, his eyes full of rage.
“Run!” Grant echoed Samson’s warning.
With a final glance at the two boys who’d been as close to her as brothers, Layla fled. She flew down the hill, swinging her head from side to side in alarm. Ecclesiastics swarmed throughout the city, making a clear escape route difficult to discern.
Terror rose within Layla. Why hadn’t she listened to her family? She’d been foolish to believe she could sneak around under the ever-watchful eyes of the Ecclesiastics, and that hubris put Samson and Grant in danger as well. She choked back a sob.
“Run,” she whispered.
Willing her feet to move forward, Layla darted toward the back of the baker’s shop, hoping to take a shortcut through the back alleyway. She swerved to miss a wooden box and stumbled, arms flailing to right herself. Unfamiliar hands reached out to break her fall. Once stable, Layla looked up to find Elder Werrick staring down at her. She screamed but no sound came out of her open mouth.
“I’ve been looking for you,” he said, a wicked smile on his face.
Friday, November 1, 2013
James Hartley's Beverly Bronte Space Chick!
Space pirates? Invisible asteroids? Six-limbed aliens invading from the Lesser Magellanic Cloud? Bring 'em on, Beverly Bronte is ready to handle them. As Ensign Bronte, a new graduate of the Trans-Planetary Patrol Academy and the first woman assigned to serve on a Patrol spaceship, Beverly shows her native intelligence and ingenuity in solving problems ... and she also shows her ability to deck a space marine of twice her weight. Promotions come fast, but the challenges come faster in this action packed space saga.
Plus Bonus Story by Beverly Bronte.
Lieutenant Commander Bronte called a meeting to brief the space marines on what was going to happen. The Captain was there, as well as Major Haines and his two platoon leader captains.
She started out describing the plan. "The only way we can see to do anything about that alien ship is to board and storm. We have built a wooden and plastic shuttle craft, with gas bottles made out of a super high-tensile-strength plastic to use as braking jets for a soft landing. The same kind of plastic gas bottles will be used with the party's spacesuits...also made of plastic. There will be no energy weapons, and a minimum of metal...we have to keep it well under three hundred pounds."
Major Haines asked, "If we have no energy weapons, how do we fight? For that matter, how do we get into their ship?"
"Second question first, we will use a special form of thermite. The metal content in it has been figured into our three hundred pounds. Thermite contains its own oxygen so it will burn in the vacuum of space, and it can melt its way right through their hull. We have the thermite packaged in long tubes, and we can form a circle around that hatch we saw. As far as fighting goes, each member of the team will have a sword, a knife, and a wooden quarterstaff."
"A sword? You're kidding, right?" said Major Haines.
"No, Major. I checked the records and all of your men have had training with swords. For some it has been a while, we may do a refresher course. And the amount of metal needed for one sword and one knife per person is well below the limit that will trigger defensive fire from the alien." She paused and picked up a sword from the floor. "As you can see, the swords we are going to use are slightly curved, like a Civil War Cavalry saber. They have a sharp edge for cutting and a sharp point for thrusting. Plus they're sharp on the back edge for eight inches or so. After a stab you can cut in either direction to enlarge the wound...or if you find an opportunity you can do a backhand cut. About as deadly as we could manage."
"Okay, okay, so you've ordered twenty-one of these swords," said Major Haines.
"Twenty-two," said Commander Bronte.
"Twenty-two? No, there are twenty-one of us...myself and my twenty men."
"You, your twenty men, and me. Twenty-two."
The Major's jaw dropped. "You're going along, Commander? No, no, that's ridiculous. You'll just get yourself killed. Or else we'll have to spend so much time protecting you..."
"Major," interrupted Captain Lastings, one of Haines' two platoon leaders, "I think I'd like to see Commander Bronte go along. I mean, after that little incident in the gym, and then she went over to do a 2-G workout..."
Haines glared at Lastings, then said to Bronte, "If you do come along, can you use one of those swords?"
Without saying anything, she stood. She threw an ordinary lead pencil into the air and swung the sword she was holding. Two half pencils, sliced perfectly in two lengthwise, fell to the table. She sat down, then asked,. "Any more questions?"
Take a moment and check out the Cloud Pearl: Legends of Liria Book One, by Pamela Kelt!
Liria is a land of legend and beauty, but after a battle with its war-like neighbour, its beloved queen vanished and the country became prey to the evil Empire of Bura.
Young girls Petra and Svila are travelling players. Their manager, Zoran, collects legends and stories, hoping their message will inspire Lirians to regain their country and restore its cities to former grandeur. One tale tells of how a defeated queen dismantled her crown into six charms and hid them in the kingdom to avoid capture.
The troupe prepares a show to mark the arrival of new governor, but it is his sinister wife, Kurova Grax, who turns up along with a Buran army and demands Zoran’s arrest for treason.
Zoran passes his notes to the girls, with a brief message. Stay safe. Save Liria. He is dragged off in chains. They flee, but discover their first quest is to the much-dreaded mountain citadel of Gorach, seized by Grax’s oldest son, Skaliari.
Soon it is a race against time to outwit Skaliari and find the first charm. They must use their skills to solve puzzles, tackle obstacles and overcome their personal fears as they attempt to save their precious homeland.
Kurto signalled to the soldiers, who split into two groups. They moved in—some closing in on the nobles, others heading for the servants at the back. Screams broke out as the soldiers grabbed at anyone within reach and bundled them out through the doors.
“Oh, no you don’t!” One elderly servant made a dash for it. Despite his years, he dodged nimbly round the pack of soldiers and leaped onto the stage. He stood shoulder to shoulder by Zoran, fists clenched. “I’m not going without a fight. Ain’t that right, General Perendi? Victory to Liria!” With a bony hand, he saluted Zoran, whose eyes widened as, with a roar, a crowd of other servants—men, women, and children—broke away and swarmed toward their rediscovered hero.
The soldiers turned, but a minor viceroy threw a wild punch, knocking one of them down. Then there was chaos. The courtyard became a seething mass of nobles and soldiers, arms and legs flailing. Rotoka piled in too, his bulk giving him a certain advantage. Even the wives were pitching in, batting the soldiers on the head with cushions, shoving and pushing.
Amid the confusion, more servants scrambled onto the stage, crying “Zoran! Zoran! Zoran!” They locked arms, stamped their feet and cheered wildly.
Grax turned white with rage and clenched her bony hands. The troops paused, looking to Kurto for guidance.
Petra clung to the curtain. “I can’t believe it! The nobles are fighting for Zoran.”
Svila came to stand at her side and sniffed. “They’re not. They’re just fighting for their fancy palaces—they don’t give a jot for the rest of us.”
“Sheathe that sword!” bellowed Kurto at one soldier, arm raised, blade glinting. “Not yet! I don’t want a blood bath on my watch! Grab the ringleaders!”
In seconds, they overpowered Duke Rotoka. They hauled him off, followed by the other nobles. Grax’s gaze swept the scene and she climbed onto the wooden platform with a handful of personal guards, to gain some advantage. “Take them to the dungeons! All of them!”
Back onstage, Broda grabbed Zoran’s arm. “Run, Zoran!” she urged. “Go! The people can hold the soldiers back for a while.”
Zoran’s face tightened. “How can I?” he said, in a voice filled with pain, as he watched a line of soldiers push nearer. The Lirian servants braced themselves for an attack. “I am no coward.”
Petra spotted Kurto signal to half a dozen men who began to scout around the edge to get to the stage more quickly. “Zoran, hurry!” she called to him. “They’ll be here any second!”
Zoran’s gaze drifted over the scene, and then his jaw snapped as if he’d made a decision. “Petra? Help me lower the curtain.”
She ran off to untie the rope.
“Watch out!” The Lirians drew back, puzzled, as the fabric dropped to the floor. Zoran stepped forward. “I need fuel. Something that will burn fast.”
“What about the oil for the fire poi?”
His eyes gleamed. “Good thinking, Petra.”
Petra dashed off and returned with a flask.
“Candle?” Svila appeared with one that was already lit.
“Good. Fire in the hole!” Zoran flung the liquid at the curtain, then set fire to it. The material burst into flames. “That’ll slow them down.”
Petra shielded her face from the sudden heat.
“Now we need weapons.” Zoran paced up and down. Like a real general, thought Petra.
“I’ll help.” The old servant ran up, his grubby face lined with fearful determination. “I fought with you last time. Only had a pitchfork then. Must be something around here that’ll do the job.”
Zoran gripped his hand. “Good man.” The man ran off, calling for everyone to scavenge for bits of furniture, buckets, rope, anything they could find.
On the other side of the flaming curtain, the captain was barking orders. “Once the place is clear, secure the villa for Her Excellency, Governor Grax!”
“What about the players—and the children?” One soldier asked.
“Tvornak for them!”
“Not the workhouse!” Svila’s pale face loomed out of the smoke.
Broda appeared, face covered in smuts. “Time for me to get the children out of here.”
Zoran nodded briskly as Broda spoke quickly to Luvak. “Quickly now!”
The boy nodded. Broda gave Zoran a long look, stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek before hurrying off.
Grax’s voice could be heard over the crackling flames. “The notes! Get the notes!”
“Notes? What notes?” Frowning, Svila turned to Zoran.
With a terrible ripping sound, the tips of the soldiers’ swords appeared, slashing their way through the flaming curtain. “Not much time to explain.” Zoran jabbed a blazing torch at a soldier trying to push through. “Petra, Svila, listen to me. The legend of the charms, it’s all true!”
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Jenna, Sam and Lola were lucky to survive the horrors of a zombie-filled New Orleans. But they still have a lot to learn.
In a zombie world, you can never let your guard down. Even when you think you're safe, dangers lurk around every corner. Sometimes the dangers are from the undead, but more often they're from the living.
It's also much easier to inspire a group to fight than it is to lead them through everyday hardship. Jenna once saved lives, but the pressures managing an ever-growing group of survivors soon wears her thin.
And finally, in Undead America, no one remains unscathed. No one is whole, and almost everyone has something to hide.
From the bowels of a rundown farmhouse to the plains of Nebraska, from a leather-clad living monster to the tiniest of child zombies, there are truly No Angels.
He appeared over a haystack hill moments later, lurching and stumbling, lunging towards the sounds he’d heard in the quiet prairie land. One zombie. I sighed and tightened my grip on the Slugger in my hands, preparing for battle.
Allie appeared at my shoulder, peeking over my head. Her jaw hung slack, and she covered her gaping mouth with the back of her hand. “Oh no. Oh my God, Jenna, I am so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking, actually, I was just...playing. And now...oh my God now! What are we going to do?”
I turned around. “It’s fine,” I said, and I really meant it. “I understand. It’s just one, I can handle him.”
But then tears filled her eyes, which grew bigger as she stared over my shoulder.
Shit. “There’s more, aren’t there?” I said, afraid to turn back, afraid to not. “How many?”
Allie only shook her head.
Slowly, through the sticky molasses of a bad dream, I spun around to face the zombies.
Dozens of the creatures flowed across the grass, stumbling in packs of twos and threes to the tiny church in which we stood. But they weren’t looking for absolution.
They were looking for breakfast, and they were only minutes away.
Run! It was my first thought, but I stifled it. Instead, I stepped down to the round and walked to the corner of the church to take a peek at what was coming behind us. Allie stayed on my heels.
By my rough count, there were at least a hundred headed our way, and the gaps between them weren’t big enough for us to make an escape. We were trapped.
“Do you have the walkie-talkie?” Allie whispered.
“No, it’s sitting on the counter. I forgot it.” In reality, I’d left it behind on purpose. All my pockets were full. “I don’t have enough ammo, either. Not for this.”
We ran up the steps and inside the church, and took a look around. “Shut the door,” I said.
Allie slammed it, and I winced. More noise.
“Come help me. Please.”
Together we dragged a heavy wooden pew across the floor, cutting deep wounds into the shining hardwood floor, and pressed it up against the door.
“The door opens out, not in,” Allie said, and I nodded.
“It’ll trip them up, create a bottleneck, I hope. At least it’s something.”
They wouldn’t only come in through the door, though. I knew that. The windows were low, so they could walk right through. “All that stained glass...” I muttered as I ran toward the altar, hoping to find something, anything, that would help.
“Never mind.” There was a podium on the altar, knocked over on its side already. It looked heavy. Maybe we could hide behind it and I could shoot them one by one as they came through the door.
But all that stained glass. It’ll never hold them. Just because the church had remained pristine for seven months didn’t mean it could survive this onslaught.
I considered fire. I had matches, and all the wood was surely flammable. It had to be.
Maybe it’ll cause a distraction and we could slip away.
But probably not without getting burned. Badly.
Beside me, Allie trembled and quaked. “What are we going to do, Jenna?”
I wanted to remind her that she was old enough to be my mom, and had been someone’s mom for a long time, but that seemed cruel. Instead, I took her hand as I continued my frantic surveying of the church. Nothing looked helpful.
“I don’t know.”
We backed into a corner. We could hear them clearly now, their individual zombie-sounds tied together into a steady hum of decay. The sound of our end, I thought, and then pinched myself for giving up. There has to be a way out.
The wall behind us was covered with a drape, and I leaned into the musty-smelling velvet. I pressed myself against it, wanting to wrap up in it and hide like when I was a little girl playing in my mother’s curtains. I turned into it, pulling Allie with me, when suddenly my elbow hit something small, hard and round. A doorknob.
“Come on,” I said, yanking the curtain aside. It covered a plain wooden door, and when I turned the knob the door opened. A ladder stretched way up into the bell tower, higher than even the freshest zombie would be able to reach.
I set my Slugger down on the floor, leaning against the wall, and started to climb as fast as I could, with Allie close below me. I climbed until my arms burned and my legs started to cramp, and then I climbed some more. A hundred or so rungs up, I felt the fresh air of a warm breeze on our faces through the open windows. We’d reached the top.
The glassless windows gaped wide open, and the interior of the tower was filled with a single brass bell that smelled like a hot summer breeze. I slung my leg over the side of the nearest window so that I straddled the frame, then leaned my head out to look at the sea of zombies beneath us. They were inside the church, but for the moment we were safe.
Allie climbed into her own window and looked at me around the bell. “So now what?” she said.
I shrugged. “Not sure yet. Help maybe? Or for them to get bored and go somewhere else? We just wait.”
She looked at the M-16 on my back, the pistol on my hip. “Can’t you shoot them?”
“Nah,” I said, wrinkling my nose. “That’ll just attract more of them. And I don’t have enough ammunition for the ones we already have down there. We have to wait.”
We sat silently for a long time, looking out at the sky, the prairie, the farmland, anywhere but directly below where certain death and zombie-dom awaited us. Then, quietly, I heard Allie singing. Amazing Grace.
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far...and Grace will lead us home.
Grace, or Jenna, I wondered silently. But then I shrugged again and began humming along.
What else was I going to do?