New Release: Into the Red Wastes

The second book of The Burning Sands is now available! The story of Brego, a desert nomad and escaped slave, continues, along with his companions: Apa, a disgraced magi on the run from justice, and Khag, the kind-hearted orc. The story picks up a short time after the end of Blood of the Desert, and we find our trio of unlikely friends settling into a new life among Brego’s people, the Taerwyn, in the Great Sand Sea. However, an unexpected raiding party of orcs turns an idyllic night into one of fire and strife. In the ashes, they find the chieftain’s son, Timik, has been abducted by the orcs. In search of the boy and answers, they set out Into the Red Wastes.


War looms on the horizon, and the chaos centers around the fate of one boy. Timik, son of of a Taerwyn chieftain, has been taken by the orcs of the Red Wastes.

As his people prepare for battle, the Taerwyn nomad Brego sets out across the unforgiving desert to find the boy with his two brothers-in-arms: the Cressian magi Apa and the orc warrior Khag. They hope to find the boy and rescue him to prevent further bloodshed and discover what sinister plan led to his abduction. However, they may discover things are not as simple as they expected as they journey into the Red Wastes.

Genres: Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, High Fantasy
Tags: Desert, Bronze Age, Nomads, Orcs, Action Adventure
Length: Novella (Approx 125 pages)


Great news for members of Kindle Unlimited is that not only is Into the Red Wastes available to read for free on the service, but the first book, Blood of the Desert, is also now available on Kindle Unlimited for the first time! For those without Kindle Unlimited, the first book will be temporarily free for everybody starting tomorrow, from December first through the fifth! If you haven’t read the first book yet, now is the perfect time to venture to the desert world of Erimos.


Praise for Blood of the Desert

“I was thrilled at the level of world building that went on in this book. The setting is every bit as I imagined it would be with a dashing title like that, and the characters jump off of the page and into you head like you’ve known them all your life.”

“I could not put this book down. I finished it in one sitting. If you like a great, fast read, this is for you. The characters came alive, and their adventures have you wishing for more.”


Brego, Apa, and Khag’s journey will continue. Keep an eye out for more news about the third book in the series, Empire of the Scale, in the future!

The Emotional Power of Kai’s Healing Smiles

Losing a soulmate is like losing two limbs, or all of them at once. Suddenly, you don’t know what to do with your body. You go through life like a zombie, with infrequent flashes of awareness which anchor you to the world around you, if you’re lucky.

There are many things that go into making a good book. Some are subjective, like evocative storytelling, interesting settings, and exciting action. Others are more objective, like a good plot structure, adherence to genre traditions, and quality writing.

I’ve edited dozens of books over the last few years. I’ve worked on everything from middle grade fantasy to war memoirs. There is always something that the “good” ones have in common: Characters that pull the reader in and form an emotional attachment to the story.

Kai’s Healing Smiles by Vivi Anne Hunt pulls this off masterfully.

For me, that flash was Kai.

However, before we can talk about Kai, we have to talk about coffee.

Disclaimer: As the editor of Kai’s Healing Smiles, I am unable to give an unbiased review on the book. However, I still wanted to share my thoughts on this wonderful story.

Despite romance not being a genre I would read outside of work, I found myself enthralled with Kai’s Healing Smiles from the first chapter, snippets of which appear throughout this article. The story opens on Silas, a middle-aged widower who is exceptionally average in every way. He has a good job and is rather well-to-do, but not rich and famous. He’s an architect, so nothing as exciting as an astronaut or race car driver. However, an emotional connection is almost instantly established as he reminisces about his late wife. We see him trapped in a routine where he lives almost entirely in the past and never looks forward to the future.

Even though I could afford it, Starbucks always seemed overpriced. Ellie and I argued about it endlessly. She would drag me inside and make me order the most ridiculous drinks with the most ridiculous names and pay a ridiculous price for the privilege of imbibing at that shrine to the holy bean.

After she was gone, Starbucks was the only place I went for my coffee. I would torture myself, recounting every conversation we had ever had inside, then go home with tear stains on my cheeks and a hole in my heart.

Then, we meet Kai, the namesake of the novel’s title. He’s essentially the complete opposite of Silas: Young, awkward, a bit goofy, and always looking forward to something grander than where he is in the moment. He has his future ahead of him and isn’t burdened by the scars of the past. He’s a charming character with a sense of hopefulness that is a breath of fresh air, especially in contrast to the mourning and robotic routines of Silas. It is little surprise that the positivity and enthusiasm that Kai radiates triggers something in Silas and inspires a change to his years-long status quo.

Despite that, I would go back. One day as I walked inside, before I even smelled the brewing coffee, I saw him. A new barista. Kai. Out of nowhere, this young, outgoing, smiling creature with a bright smile and eyes appeared—and he never left. For five months, he has been the only shot of energy I’ve needed. He is my color and light throughout my gray days.

Vivi approached this change in a very clever way, though. A way that makes this story feel more real. Silas doesn’t just open his eyes one day and decide his life would be entirely different. Meeting Kai doesn’t make him instantly abandon his emotional baggage. Just like people must do in real life, Silas must struggle to incorporate these changes into his life alongside the past he has lived, and Vivi shows us this in many ways. Right from the start, it is clear that Silas must struggle with this duality of mourning the past while attempting to look forward to the future. I think this plays a large role in making Silas’s story more believable.

I start my day with Kai and finish it with… well, staring at a photo of me and Ellie. The only one I kept in our bedroom.

However, this isn’t only Silas’s story. We get to see both his and Kai’s point of view. We get to see that hesitation about meeting somebody new and not knowing what the other person may or may not feel from both perspectives. Later, we get to see their relationship grow from both sides, and the troubles from both sides, and more. This goes a long way toward forming an emotional bond for both of the main characters in the book. Even when there are disagreements, we can empathize with both perspectives. It makes the roller coaster journey of Silas and Kai’s relationship all that much more thrilling.

In addition, the story is supported by a wonderful cast of colorful characters. This isn’t just two lost souls in the void, but an entire community brought to life. Again, this isn’t the kind of book I would normally read, but I enjoyed it far more than many books that are of the kind I would normally read. Why? Because Vivi Anne Hunt did such an amazing job bringing the characters to life and making me care about them. Because I cared about the characters, I care quite a lot about this book.


Kai’s Healing Smiles is available now. Find out more about the book below:

Amazon

Goodreads

Bookbub


Meet Vivi Anne Hunt, the Author of Kai’s Healing Smiles

Vivi Anne Hunt writes steamy m/m romance books about men who love and protect each other fiercely. She’s a big fan of age difference and hurt/comfort, so you will often find those elements in her books.

As a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, she advocates for more diverse representation in books. As a proud self-published author, she supports the indie author community however she can.

Vivi lives with her cat and her bossy muse. You can find her tweeting obsessively @ViviAnneHunt. Come say hi.


Book Recommendation List

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Isaac Newton, 1675

When Isaac Newton said this, he naturally was speaking of the progressive nature of scientific advancement. However, the same can be said of many things. In no small way, this applies to literature. Every author has their inspirations, and every book has a lineage that can be traced back to stories that inspired it in the author’s mind.

What Once Was Home, my post-apocalyptic alien invasion novel, is no exception. There is a long history of stories that inspired this book, stretching back through the families of post-apocalyptic and alien invasion books. These families have something inspiring in common: Survival.

I have recently had the privilege of partnering with the wonderful folks at Shepherd.com to present my thoughts on a list of five books that I feel were important inspirations for What Once Was Home. In The Best Science Fiction Books Where Ordinary People Survive the Extraordinary, I share what struck me about five books that inspired my writing. Click the title above or the image below to check it out!

For more recommendations along a similar theme, also be sure to take a look at Shepherd’s Survival Bookshelf for more recommendation lists.

The Pirate King is Getting a Facelift

Two of my favorite novellas that I have written, Curse of the Pirate King and Shadow of the Pirate King, were originally created to facilitate a marketing strategy to build my email newsletter list. Curse was given away free through retailers, and Shadow was offered as a gift for those who signed up for the newsletter. Both books are part of my ongoing dark fantasy series, The Ravencrest Chronicles.

Since This was implemented over two years ago, the results have been less than stellar. Many people have downloaded a copy of Curse, but a very small percentage actually signed up to get Shadow.

A result of this is that one of my books was locked behind a gate most readers seemed uninterested in opening. My primary goal is to get people to read what I’ve written, so I decided this barrier was counterproductive. Also, I have worked through most of my back catalogue over the past two years to revise all my books with fresh editing and new covers, then issue new editions. These two books have not yet had this treatment.

Thus, I’ve decided to pull Curse of the Pirate King from circulation for the time being and remove the free eBook offer from my newsletter for Shadow of the Pirate King. I have begun work on the revision process on both titles and will be re-releasing them alongside my other titles, though the particulars of release date and pricing are yet to be decided. I plan to release both novellas in paperback for the first time as well.


For more information about The Ravencrest Chronicles, visit my books page!

New Article: From Protagonist to Antagonist

From protagonists to side characters and from heroes to villains, we often think of our characters in terms of the roles they play in the story. There is much terminology used for various roles, often with overlapping meanings, and this might seem daunting to a new student of literature or an aspiring author. An example of this would be the aforementioned protagonist and hero, which on the surface seem synonymous, but are actually denoting two very unique roles in a story that—while they often are merged—are not mutually inclusive.

In this article, we will first explore the historical origins of some familiar and some less common terms from the traditions of Greek drama, then move on to comparing them to modern cinematic and literary terminology. After this, we will explore the different roles characters play in storytelling apart from their prominence in the story. While many of the terms we will be addressing draw from stage and screen, they apply equally to literary theory.

Read the full article here

My Journey Through Avalion

Flame in the Palace by Seluna Drake, Book One of Lady of Avalion: released today!

Avalion is a kingdom of magic and mystery. It is a land of rolling hills, lush forests, flowering meadows, and towering mountains. Imposing castles, sprawling cities, and grand manors lie at the heart of its five duchies. Around these, the landscape is dotted with roadside inns, small towns, and humble villages. Each duchy is unique, specializing in different trade goods and occupying distinct geographic features that set them apart both physically and culturally from one another. At the heart of all this is Ilona, a sweeping, bustling city anchored by a magnificent, towering royal palace. While the island kingdom seems a unified monolith, undercurrents of political machinations fueled by jealousy and greed threaten to tear it apart.

Flame in the Palace by Seluna Drake launched today! I wanted to take some time to help spread the word about this wonderful story and share my own journey through Avalion.

I must be honest; I am biased when it comes to Flame in the Palace. Seluna Drake hired me to edit this book, and over the course of our collaboration on the project, we became good friends.

However, I would not be putting my professional credibility on the line if I didn’t think this book deserved the attention. Also, I’ve gushed about other titles I’ve edited when the author has publicly acknowledged my involvement, such as with The Quest for the Golden Plunger by Jackson Dickert or They Stole the Earth by D.W. Hitz, so my friendship with Seluna Drake has also not created a unique situation in regard to Flame in the Palace.

All that said, I’m too close to the book to write an unbiased review, but I didn’t want that to stop me from sharing my journey through Avalion.

As mentioned, Avalion is an island kingdom. The setting is a medieval fantasy world filled with magic, but it is unlike many of its kin. It is low fantasy in many regards, with no elves, dwarves, or goblins. There are rare instances of fantastical creatures, and a solitary minotaur features early in the book. Magic is a closely guarded secret of the nobility, a thing of mystery and wonder to most.

Noble houses lord over the five duchies of Avalion, and the king rules from the central palace of Ilona. The books protagonist is Myria, a humble maid working at her grandmother’s roadside inn near the town of Everhaven, in the duchy of Fairthorne. She is an estranged member of House Bramble, the lords of Fairthorne, and cousin to the duke. Little does she know that this strenuous tie to the nobility will soon thrust her to the center of a web of political intrigue and romance.

The main thrust of the plot in Flame in the Palace is the custom the royal family uses to arrange marriages for their heirs. Prince Leor, soon to be King of Avalion, is in need of a wife. Thus, as is customary, each of the five ducal houses sends an eligible suitor to compete over a summer of contests and social events, ranging from state dinners and ballroom galas to a joust and other adventurous challenges. Duke Bramble, having no eligible daughters of his own, must turn to his cousin should they wish to participate.

Myria has little desire to enter the theater of politics, but upon meeting Leor, she is smitten by the charismatic prince. Her cousin the duke promises to save her grandmother’s financially struggling inn and the only home she’s ever known, and she is promised access to the arcane secrets so jealously guarded by the nobility.

Thus is the fiery, fiercely independent Myria taken from the familiar comforts of the Morning Glory tavern and the surrounding Talking Tree Forest to be plunged into a world of political intrigue. Along the way, she gets to know the other members of her family and is mentored by her aunt, the dowager widow Olympe. She also must contend with her rival suitors, some with whom she forges bonds of friendship, others from whose machinations she must guard herself.

Chief among these new friendships is Emiri, the court mage of the royal household and close friend—nearly a brother—to Prince Leor himself. As Myria contends for Leor’s favor in hopes of one day becoming queen, she also studies under Emiri to learn the secrets of the nobility’s magical ways.

While Avalion is full of lush forests, sparkling rivers, and soaring palaces, there are shadows in the cracks that threaten the foundation upon which this peaceful kingdom is built. And as Myria peels back the layers of these mysteries, she finds herself at the center of an existential crisis for the entire island nation.

I wish I could say more about Flame in the Palace, but I don’t want to spoil the journey for you.

I normally am not a fan of romantic tales. I stick to fantasy that concerns itself more with battlefields than ballrooms, but Flame in the Palace struck a chord with me. I found myself enthralled by the large, wonderfully well-rounded cast of characters and the detailed, varied, and immersive environments. As Myria travelled across the kingdom, I felt like I was along for the ride. When she felt sparks of love and pangs of loss, I felt them as well. I dove deep into this story and was forlorn when I had to leave Avalion to come back to our reality. I’ll be returning to Avalion for the second book, hopefully sooner rather than later, and I am confident the sparks kindled in the first book will grow to a raging inferno in the second.

Get your copy of Flame in the Palace today! I am confident your will enjoy your journey into Avalion!

Find Flame in the Palace in paperback or for Kindle at Amazon.

Find Flame in the Palace at other eBook retailers.


About the author of Flame in the Palace

Seluna Drake is a high school English teacher who writes and independently publishes a variety of fantasy novels, poems, and potentially narrative-based games. Most of the time she passes as a chaotic creative who spends way too much time on video games and not enough time talking to her therapist.

Blood of the Desert available now!

New Release!

After escaping a life of slavery, Brego crosses the wastelands fleeing slavers and bounty hunters. Allying with an assortment of misfits, he must fight his way across the badlands to reach his people’s home in the Great Sand Sea. As he seeks to shed the iron bonds of his youth, he searches for something he has never known: a home. In the process he finds something he never expected to find: a family.

Kindle & Paperback

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$9.99 Paperback, $2.99 eBook

Genres: Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, High Fantasy
Tags: Desert, Bronze Age, Nomads, Orcs, Action Adventure
Length: Novella (Approx 105 pages)

***SITREP INCOMING***

All satellites have been destroyed.

Air superiority has been compromised.

Unidentified alien force is landing ground troops globally, concentrated on population centers.

Further update scheduled for Monday, November 1.

Night Shadow now available!

New Angeles is in turmoil.

The government, the corporations, and the organized crime families have the city in an iron grip. As that grip tightens, the people decide they will not take it anymore. When the citizens rise up and the city burns, Harold sees an opportunity to exploit the chaos.

But is his crusade one of justice, or vengeance?


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Catch up on The Night Trilogy

In New Angeles, crime is a fact of life in the city. But when a routine murder investigation leads to more questions than answers, homicide detective Harold Jacobson finds the big picture to be more than he ever bargained for. The only thing Harold knows for sure is that he isn’t being paid enough to deal with this.

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On the run from the law, detective Harold Jacobson delves into the gritty underbelly of New Angeles. To clear his name of one murder, he must first solve another. As Harold follows the threads of the mystery through the night life of the city, he risks becoming part of the criminal element he once hunted down.

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