A Cool New Way for Authors to Package Their Books

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What you’re looking at are photos of the latest and greatest way to share your books! As an author I think this is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Its actual size and dimensions are the same as a credit card, but the awesome part is that it contains a USB drive loaded with my Star Trails Box Set and latest novel, “The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51”.

These work great for book signing parties, especially for those who prefer an ebook, as well as for giveaways, drawings, and anything else you can think of.  They have a variety of styles, but I thought this particular one was best suited to show my books on one side and have the website and QR Code on the other. Just think how much easier it is to haul a box of these around versus print copies!

I got mine from https://www.usbmemorydirect.com. Check it out!

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World UFO Day Flash Sale

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I can’t think of any better way to celebrate World UFO Day on July 9 than a flash sale of my latest release, The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51. Not only is it on sale for 99c, but A Dark of Endless Days, volume II of The Star Trails Tetralogy, is as well.

Why? Because that’s where The Terra Debacle began. Thus, if you haven’t read it yet, especially if you’re the type who’d like to get it all in context, you can grab that one, too, for a bargain price. (Note that since The Terra Debacle is a standalone book it’s not necessary, but it does fill in numerous blanks.)

So far, The Terra Debacle has been collecting great reviews. Here are some excerpts:

“Scintillating science and side-splitting humor.”

“Unique and titillating sci-fi entertainment.”

“Brilliantly conceived and finely crafted.”

“The research is profound and convincing.”

“Off-the-wall in a way similar to how Tom Robbins grabs the reader & shakes him.”

“A brilliant story, extremely well written and with great character development.”

“Easily comparable to a dark version of ET – The Extraterrestrial”

“Highly entertaining, suspenseful and thought-provoking”

“What an ending! What a story! I will always think differently about plant chloroplasts and bulbs in the future.”

And don’t miss the latest video, which gives you a glimpse of its darker side.

Happy reading! And remember: The truth is out there.

Book Descriptions on the Star Trails Website:

The Terra Debacle

A Dark of Endless Days

Buy Links:

The Terra Debacle

A Dark of Endless Days

The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51
Stock Photo Copyright:oorka / 123RF Stock Photo

JUST RELEASED! Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Andy Smithson, Book 5

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I’m delighted to participate in this blog tour for L.R.W. Lee’s latest episode in the Andy Smithson fantasy series for Middle Grade readers!  I had the pleasure of sharing a booth with her at the Austin Book Festival last October and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this intelligent and fascinating person. Learn more about the fifth book in the series, get to know more about the author and then be sure to grab a copy from the buy links at the end.

Four years ago, Andy Smithson discovered he is the Chosen one to break a 500-yr-old curse plaguing the land of Oomaldee when he unexpectedly and mysteriously found himself there. To do so, he must collect ingredients for a magical potion. Thus far he has gathered the scale of a red dragon, venom from a giant serpent, a unicorn’s horn, and the tail feather of a phoenix. Now he must ask a griffin for one of its talons. There’s just one problem…humans have poached griffin treasure, causing these mythical creatures to attack on sight.

Complicating matters, the evil Abaddon, sovereign of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, is turning more and more citizens into zolt in his ongoing campaign of terror as he sets in motion the final steps of his plan to conquer the land. Things really start to heat up in book five!

If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll love the Andy Smithson series chalk full of mythical creatures, newly invented animals like zolt, herewolves, and therewolves, a complex plot with evolving characters, and positive themes including responsibility, diligence, dignity, friendship and more.

Purchase Kindle and Paperback

 THE BUZZ

5 Stars! – “A marvelous book in a great series!” – Erik Weibel (Age 14) This Kid Reviews Books Blog

“Readers of this series have come to anticipate a host of challenges, intense battles, and on an epic scale. In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, you won’t be disappointed. For lovers of fantasy, I consider it a must read.” – Richard Weatherly, Author

“One of the admirable qualities I like about the entire series is seeing Andy’s growth from a self-absorbed kid to a more thoughtful teen as he learns how to deal with the various crises which face him, all the while knowing that the future may hold unpleasant consequences.  The watchword for Vision of the Griffin’s Heart is “courage.” – Wayne Walker, Home School Book Review

THE DEPTH OF THE ANDY SMITHSON SERIES

If you’re an adult looking for a clean series you can sink your teeth into, Andy Smithson is definitely it! In it I develop four layers simultaneously: 1) Andy Smithson in Lakehills, TX 2) Andy in Oomaldee 3) the Afterlife 4) a meaning layer. A few examples to demonstrate the depth…

Symbolism is used extensively (a couple examples):

  • The fog of the curse symbolizes blindness and oppression.
  • The magic key unlocks doors, brings stone statues to life, as well as revives. Put another way, it symbolizes bringing forth, opening up, and revealing (aka taking responsibility).
  • Methuselah is not only a weapon and helper, but also represents justice as it divides good and evil. Consistent with life, justice requires diligence to uphold.

Names are also important in this series (a few examples):

  • Andy means brave or courageous.
  • Alden means helper.
  • Hannah means favor or grace.
  • Imogenia means blameless.

Alchemy used throughout the series (a few examples):

  • Alchemy played a significant role in the development of modern science. Alchemists sought to transformbase metals into the gold or silver and/or develop an elixir of life which would confer youth and longevity and even immortality.
  • In the series, the first instance of alchemy begins with the gold weavers, Max, Oscar, and Henry, spinning straw into gold to manufacture the wealth of the kingdom.
  • The four elementals: air, earth, fire, and water are then seen on Methuselah’s hilt.

 The titles of the books manifest yet another layer of meaning and reveal Imogenia’s evolution.

  • Beginning with Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Imogenia is furious at what has happened to her and she fuels her emotional hurt.
  • In Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Imogenia turns venomous (or spiteful) and cunning in seeking ways to continually punish her brother.
  • Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor has Imogenia act in a manner disgraceful to the honor of royalty.
  • In Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace we see Imogenia’s grace reborn as she begins to reflect.

In Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Imogenia realizes she is gripped by hatred and distrust she has harbored for so long. Unlike griffins who choose to trust others, Imogenia cannot yet make that leap when it comes to her brother.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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R. W. Lee credits her love of fantasy with her introduction to C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Later on, she enjoyed the complex world of Middle Earth brought to life by J. R. R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The multiple dimensions of the worlds mixed with a layer of meaning, captivated her and made her desire to invent Young Adult Fantasy and Epic Fantasy worlds others could get lost in, but also take meaning away from. More recently, L. R. W. Lee has found inspiration from J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series as well as Brandon Mull and his best selling Fablehaven, Beyonders and Five Kingdoms series.
R. W. Lee writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. She lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband. Their daughter is a Computer Engineer for Microsoft and their son serves in the Air Force.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Email

L.R.W. LEE INTERVIEW

  1. How did you come up with your main character, Andy Smithson? Did he just pop into your imagination or did you specifically develop him?

Andy is patterned after my son. After our first child who was what I would call compliant and seemed to need little to no correction, our son arrived on the scene. As with most 2nd children, he was polar opposite and provided much fodder for an engaging main character.

  1. How did your experience with building a business help with your writing?

It has been invaluable for I understand that writing is only 50% of the writer’s success equation. Unlike Field of Dreams, with so many good books available today, just launching it, even on a well trafficked platform like Amazon, does not get recognition. Because of my corporate background, from day one I began working to build a platform – Twitter and Facebook primarily and now also Book Nerd Paradise. As well, I understand the importance of the author community, for no author can succeed these days without the support of fellow authors. My background has also helped in understanding the need to optimize my books to rank well on the variety of sites they are listed on. There’s much more, but those are the biggest helps I would say.

  1. Was there any particular book or author whom you feel had the most influence on your work?

I have to say JK Rowling. The imagination she revealed, the strength of her characters, the world building, the depth of plot over multiple books…she definitely shaped how I think about writing.

  1. What do you love the most about writing for young people?

Young people are moldable. My passion for writing is to share with readers principles that from my experience can help them live more peaceful lives. A few of these principles include overcoming fear, frustration and impatience as well as understanding that true success in life is not from riches, fame or power, but rather responsibility, diligence and dignity. If they can finish any of my books closer to understanding these principles, I feel very fulfilled.

  1. Which part of the creative process is your favorite? Least favorite?

Designing the story arc is my favorite part of the creative process for you can take a story anywhere your imagination can go. My least favorite part is editing/revising. Even though I know the narrative gets much stronger as a result, it’s still my least favorite part.

  1. How long does it usually take you to write one of your stories from when you get the idea to when it’s finished?

Usually about 6 months.

  1. I know that most authors love all their characters but which of your many “children” is your favorite (besides Andy) and why?

I have to say Mermin, the kindly old wizard who speaks with a lisp. I love him most after Andy because he’s so warm, humble and approachable. He’s fallible and he knows it, which is why he doesn’t apologize for his mistakes, rather he is comfortable in his own skin.

  1. Do you ever plan to branch out into other genres besides middle grade/young adult fantasy?

Funny you should ask. Yes, I’m actually noodling with a story arc of a YA Sci Fi story.

  1. How do you feel your writing has evolved since your first novel?

I can see how much I’ve changed and improved in showing rather than telling my readers what’s happening. I want them to engage and to show – providing sight, sounds, touch, smell, and taste cues is a big part of that. I was particularly thrilled when my editor came back a full week sooner than expected with this current book because I had improved so much between book three and four. My pocketbook also appreciated that J

OTHER BOOKS IN THE ANDY SMITHSON SERIES:

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Blast of the Dragon’s Fury (Andy Smithson, Book One) ebook is FREE. Download a copy at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Google, B&N.

Listen to the FREE podcast of Book 1 by L. R. W. Lee on Podiobooks.

Book one is also available in paperback.

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Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning (Andy Smithson, Book Two) is available in Kindle and Paperback.

Download the professionally recorded audiobook at Amazon

It’s only $1.99 if you download the eBook first…Savings of $16!

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Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor (Andy Smithson, Book Three) is available in Kindle and Paperback.

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Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace (Andy Smithson, Book Four) is available in Kindle and Paperback.

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Power of the Heir’s Passion (Andy Smithson, Prequel Novella) ebook is FREE. Pick up a copy at Amazon, Google, B&N, Smashwords. It’s also available in paperback.

Download the professionally recorded audiobook at Amazon

It’s only $1.99 if you download the eBook for $.99 first…Savings of $1!

Baby Girl Series Box Set Now Available!

Babygirl bannerI’m excited to be one of the stops on the blog tour for the release of Elle Klass’ Baby Girl Series Box Set! I loved the stories the first time I read them as separate books, which tended to be several months apart, which meant that I often forgot who some of the characters were during the time gaps. Thus, I truly enjoyed being able to reread the entire story, start to finish, as one contiguous story. Some scenes were expanded or even added which further enhanced this amazing tale of an abandoned girl’s quest to not only find out who she really is but to survive.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Elle was born in Redwood City, California and spent her childhood growing up in the fabulous San Francisco Bay Area. She is an avid San Francisco Forty Niners fan. She has raised two beautiful daughters, and currently resides in Florida. For fun she reads, spends time at the beach, travels, and enjoys time with her favorite friends, and family. She is a night-owl known as most her creative energy and ideas strike after 9 p.m. I interviewed Elle here on my blog site a few months ago which you can find here.

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The box set includes the entire saga as told in the original four books entitled In the Beginning, Moonlighting is Paris, City by the Bay, and Bite the Big Apple. The story begins when abandoned at 12, Baby Girl is forced to face the harsh realities of life and struggles to find her path. She forages for sustenance, steals from the wealthy, and sleeps in any dark hole she can find. A ‘family’ of sorts forms between her and a band of other youngsters. Together they fight for survival, friendship, and love in the midst, but that is only the beginning. Life throws her one curve ball after another until secrets are revealed and the search for her true origins begins and ends with the powerful truth.

Here are excerpts from each of the individual stories that comprise the Baby Girl Box Set.

Book 1: In the Beginning

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Approaching Winter

We burned stray wood and paper in the trashcan for warmth, and stock-piled blankets, coats and extra clothes during the frigid winter months. Star and Peewee huddled together for warmth and Einstein held me close. The city was marvelous and bustling with life making it easy now to fit into a crowd and earn extra money. We tricked people out of hundreds of dollars in cash taking advantage of their generosity.

Einstein found an old small plastic Christmas tree in a dumpster and brought it to the warehouse. He insisted it wasn’t Christmas without presents so we found gifts for each other and placed them under the tree. It was the first Christmas in my life I celebrated. My mother never celebrated any holiday, nor did I ever receive gifts on special occasions such as my birthday. My mom’s gift every year was an expressionless ‘Happy birthday’. I found a working gold watch with engraving on the underside of the face plate, but that didn’t matter. I gave it to Einstein because of his preoccupation with keeping track of time. Star found and gave Peewee a new pair of shoes as his were falling apart at the seams and unsuitable for trudging through piles of snow. Star gave me a fiction book as I loved to read, and Einstein gave Star a tiara because she adored anything with sparkles and glitter. Instead of eating leftovers or cooking canned meats or hotdogs, we took our money and ate inside a nice restaurant. We splurged and partied creating an unforgettable Christmas.

Einstein survived on his own longer than the rest of us and wanted more than dumpster leftovers and abandoned warehouses. He grew eager to leave and developed a plan to heist jewelry and small valuable items from people’s homes while they were away on vacation. Later we’d sell everything for cash.

We became obsessed with staking out neighborhoods and houses. The four of us wanted the same thing, a “normal” life. We found homes spaced apart geographically, hoping to draw less attention than if we hit homes in the same areas. Einstein and I hit the first home and everything went smooth as melted caramel. We chose the house after observing the owner’s leaving the spare key hidden under a stone behind the house. The ordinary neighborhood and tract homes meant no alarms. For our first heist we made a wise choice.

Once inside the house we used our flashlights to find our way around, careful not to shine them towards the windows and take the chance of alerting the neighbors. In the master bedroom we found a solid gold chain, two gold rings with precious stones that Einstein said were amethyst, emeralds, and onyx but mostly costume stuff. How Einstein knew each stone stumped me. In the dining hutch we found crystal goblets. Einstein claimed they were real crystal because he wet his finger, swirled it around the top of one glass and made it sing. A cool trick I wouldn’t have known on my own. I took his knowledge of precious stones and crystal as clues to his upbringing and guessed he’d lived a more privileged life than myself.

“How did you know to do that?”

The corners of his lips turned upward in a smile. “I can’t tell you all my secrets.”

We wrapped the goblets in dish towels using great care and placed them into our backpacks.

After Einstein and I successfully hit a few homes, Star decided she wanted in on the scam. Einstein thought it was a bad idea because of Peewee, but Star insisted. She wanted a piece of the action. She and Einstein butted heads over it causing friction amongst us.

One night Star and Peewee followed us out and caught up to us as we finished hijacking items from the house. The second we stepped outside the house a familiar whisper, “Cleo” alerted me Star followed us. My body halted mid-stride as I caught sight of her and Peewee’s shadows standing against the wall of the house. Einstein motioned for them to edge their way to the back of the house where there were no light sensors. Star shuffled towards us, but Peewee stepped out too far and the lights went on brightening the entire side of the house. Oh crap! We fled in varying directions. I held the bag of loot in my hand and once I ran I didn’t turn my head to look behind me. I hastened my pace at the sounds of people. Several blocks away I cowered in an alley to catch my breath. Einstein was right behind me and ducked into the alley with me.

“Star and Peewee, are they with you?”

He shook his head as if to say ‘no’ and turned his eyes downward. “It’s time to leave” he said after a moment of silence.

“OK, yeah, we need to get back.”

He grasped my shoulders. “Leave – as in this city. There were too many lights, commotion, and sirens at the scene for Star and Peewee to slip away. They aren’t as savvy as we are. The police are gonna be looking for us next.”

My mind absorbed with escaping I missed the wailing sirens. He was right and my head reeled at the implications his words threw at me.

“You think they’ll tell on us?”

The nod of his head told me ‘yes’.

I couldn’t leave yet I needed my bag from its secret place.

“We gotta go back to the warehouse. I have something hidden there that I need.” His eyes grew soft, and he agreed.

Back at the warehouse, I went straight to my secret place. Within minutes the sound of voices tickled our eardrums and lights flashing beneath us.

“Squish in beside me.”

Without a moment to spare Einstein squeezed in the cubby hole. Radios blared on the other side of the cubby and police scoured the building but came up empty. I whispered in Einstein’s ear, “Star and Peewee squealed quick.”

“They did – or the police are here for something else.” ‘Something else’ was possible. Either way, neither of us wanted to get caught. Hours passed with Einstein and I scrunched on top of each other. Teenage hormones, close quarters, and our semi attraction to each other brought our relationship to a new level. Our hearts raced together from the excitement. Einstein held me flush against him.

“I love you Cleo.”

The sound of his words caused a wave of want to wash came over me and I kissed him. My first kiss ever. I drove my tongue deep inside his mouth. Einstein’s words and kiss melted my heart. My own mother never showed me any affection. As I kissed him, he kissed me back. We explored under each other’s clothes. Our fingers and hands discovering the joys of the opposite sex. I yearned for his love and firm embrace. The moment thrilled me, I didn’t want it to end.

The next day we waited for Star and Peewee, but we both knew the police found them. Under the cover of dusk we snuck out, taking great pains to not get caught.

Book 2:  Moonlighting in Paris

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Here and Gone

Our engagement party stood out as the soirée of all soirées: co-workers, friends, and I invited Kamisha. I unexpectedly grew used to the flamboyant lifestyle, but on the inside – it wasn’t me. The focus of the night centered on Didier and I and it overwhelmed me. People I barely knew, or never met congratulated me, and young ladies eyed me with envy. Whispers circulated the room: Who is she? Where did she come from? Then You don’t belong… You don’t belong in smudged lipstick echoed inside me. I snuck away finding a deserted room I closed the door behind me and took a deep breath then composed myself. The echoes in my head faded, and I emerged into the hallway.

The door closed behind me and a warm, sweaty hand slipped across my mouth. Heavy breathing followed by a crackling voice said, “You need to go back to wherever you came from, Justine.” Her voice reverberated inside me and Sam’s self-defense skills blossomed into action as I grabbed hold of the mystery woman’s arm and slung her over my shoulder. A puff of dark hair and a small frame came thundering forward, landing on the floor with a loud thud. I drove my shoe into her side for good measure and ran down the hall, rounding the corner I ran into Sam.

The expression on my face gave away my fear. “Wow! Where have you been? What happened?”

“I threw her in the hall, on the floor.” I squeaked. He burst down the hall.

Didier’s forehead creased with lines and his eyes grew dark as he walked towards me. He scrutinized our actions. “Where is Sam?”

“I used the skills he taught me. A woman caught me from behind, I flipped her, and left her in the hall crumpled on the floor.”

A look I didn’t expect came over his face as his lips curled into a smile of satisfaction. “I will remember not to get on your bad side. Was she the same woman from Aruba?”

“I don’t think so. Her hair was dark and short, although her size and frame are correct. With her hair covering her face, I can’t be sure.”

The woman disappeared by the time Sam arrived. He and security scoured every inch of the hotel, and scanned the video footage, though apparently she busted the camera in that hallway. My immediate thought was, how convenient you little bitch. They didn’t find her, although we didn’t come up empty handed. I threw her so hard she left a small blood stain behind, it got collected and sent in for analysis. In the cover of night she fled, but I would soon know who she was and I’d be ready. My devious mind schemed for her return.

Over the next few weeks, I assisted in planning my wedding and succumbed to being a public societal figure. In the past I worried about my transgressions slamming me in the face, but now I looked my fear in the eye and assisted in the hosting and planning of various charity events. I wanted this would-be assailant woman to find me. With my ears open and eyes peeled, I watched and waited.

Book 3:  City by the Bay

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The Tomato Shack

I worked up the courage over a weekend to visit the places my mom frequented, according to the letters, every three years with Slug. The Tomato Shack was a divey little sub sandwich shop outside Sacramento. The blue paint on the outside peeled and cracked from sun and lack of upkeep. Each window displayed the ad, Lunch Sandwich Special 12 inch Sub Plus Large Drink and Bag of Chips $5.00, along with multiple sets of fingerprints. Inside, dirt built up in the corners of the tile floor, and dark mucky splotches muddled the walls. The whole place reminded of an unclean public restroom. The counter and tables looked clean, although I doubted bleach had touched them for years.

A young girl, no more than sixteen, stood behind the counter. She twisted at her blond ringlets while smacking on what sounded like an entire package of bubble gum, her hands gliding over the screen of her phone. I grasped she wouldn’t be able to provide me any info, although I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask. She glanced my way with steely, battleship-gray eyes as I approached the counter, “Ready to order?” she asked, placing her phone on the counter with a sigh like I was intruding on her.

I flipped my P.I. card at her. “I’m looking for information. Is there a manager or owner whom I could speak with?”

“My dad owns the place. He’ll be in tomorrow.” Her words came out in spurts between chomps, followed up with a mega-sized bubble I expected to pop all over her face. She sucked it back in without a single strand sticking to her face. Her blank stare told me her synapses halted firing and her brain was a few walnuts shy of the tree.

“Thanks, about what time?”

Chomp, chomp, smack. Her eyes jolted to life alerting me that her synapses were back online. “‘Bout one in the afternoon.”

“I’ll be back then.”

My next stop was 1523 Tanwood Dr. Rows of duplexes lined the street on both sides circling around a cul-de-sac. The construction was ‘80s style with lackluster brown paint on each and every cloned home. 1523 sat on the outer edge of the cul-de-sac. I walked up the street, contemplating what to say. I considered this place had been something to Slug, not my mother, and many years passed since he’d sent the letter. Neighborhoods like these were transient, revolving doors for people trying to make a start or dealing drugs. Thoughts flopped around in my head something like a lizard’s tail missing its body. The front door coming ever closer with each step.

The door now stared me in the face, the doorbell a hands length away. Without warning heavy metal music blasted like an automatic rifle against my eardrums, and the sound of a sputtering engine halted me in my tracks. I turned to see a late model Camaro pulling into the driveway. A fortyish man stepped out of the vehicle, a mane of thick brown hair flowed in a bad mullet from his head, a denim jacket minus sleeves covered his torso. The sleeves handmade judging by the frazzled ends of the fabric around his arms, with a black rock T underneath, and jeans that boasted more holes than my worst pair during my homeless days, covered his legs. “I’m not buying, so go away,” sputtered off his lips with a vengeance.

Did I look like a saleswoman in my jeans and T-shirt? His obvious negativity towards me resonated inside my head, forcing me to make up a story and quick. “No, no, I’m not here selling anything. In fact, I’m hoping you can help me?”

“You’re a little young for me, but maybe we can work something out.” He murmured edging ever closer attempting to invade my space. I felt uncomfortable, and thoughts of planting my foot straight into his most prized bodily possession lingered at the edge of reality. Carefully, I chose my words, “Are you Frank Tomey?”

I knew Slug, Frank, or whoever, was sitting inside a jail cell; however, I meant business. He stopped a few feet from me; narrowed his eyes into tiny slits while rolling his fat sickly yellowish tongue across his lips. “Frank. What do you want with him?” Satisfaction overwhelmed me. He knew him. My fabrication formulated with every word that sprung from my mouth.

“I believe I’m his daughter. Many years ago he dated my mom.” At this point I pulled out the picture of Perdy I lifted from her mother’s and poised it in front of his face.

“I never seen her and haven’t talked to Frank in a decade.” His eyes prickled at me to go away, and with each ensuing second that passed the air thickened with tension. I stood my ground, an out of shape, ‘80s castaway was no match for me.

I drilled him with my cold hard stare until he relented. “Alright, Frank is my kid brother but we don’t talk. He got messed up in some bad shit I didn’t need rolling back on me.”

I continued my glare, attempting to boil information from his innards. “I didn’t know he had a kid, doubt he knew he had a kid. You gonna keep staring me down?” Since studying La Tige’s tactics this had been my first opportunity to use them and they worked far better than I expected. Sweat drops bubbled on his forehead. “He’s in jail, killed some kid a few years ago. He’s not a good guy. Not even when he was a young pup. Always played dirty.”

Now that he was talking I dared to reenter the conversation using the sympathy card. “I’m not looking for him to be a father figure. I just want to know about him.”

“It’s been a long night. Can this wait?”

“No, it took me days, and switching several busses to get here after finding a love letter he wrote to my mother asking her to meet him here, and to bring me.” I fudged the love letter thing, thinking that my continued appeal to his compassionate side would at least get me in the door.

He rolled his eyes. “A love letter? He’s a psychopath, an extreme narcissist.” He flopped his hands to his sides in surrender. “Come in. I’ll tell you what I got.” And whatever I asked he answered.

The tales he told were too far-fetched not to be true. “Frank left home at 17, went to Georgia, or Alabama. I forget. He hooked up with some chick, I’m guessing your mom. Then he got a big job in New York working as an enforcer for a rich, powerful family named Britt or Bridge, Bridd? I figured they were mafia, but the name sounded English. I’d figured it would be Scarletti or something Italian. After that he’d come visit every few years. Driving a truck, I’m on the road a lot, so I’d let him crash here. He talked big about his job, being the muscle for that family puffed up his self-centered ego. After a while I didn’t hear from him no more. He’s my brother, but he’s a bad egg, so I didn’t miss him. Then several years ago, he calls me from jail. Hadn’t heard from him in years and suddenly he wants money for a lawyer.” He clicked his tongue. “He’s not head smart, but I can’t remember him ever mentioning a kid.”

I pondered his words, swishing them around mentally. “I don’t think he wanted much to do with me. She raised me alone, never said a word about who my father was. When I grew old enough to ask she blew it off, changing the subject. I found the letters while snooping around her room.” It wasn’t a total embellishment; at least the snooping and single mom things were true. He gave me Slug’s (Frank’s) address in prison. One day I’d pay old Slug a visit, but not until I fit the puzzle pieces together.

The following day arrived with a chill in the air and fog so dense I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. By noon a carpet of blue sprawled across the sky, and the fog dissipated without leaving a trace. The sandwich shop looked just as dismal and murky as the previous day. A pimply faced young man replaced gum-smacking blondie at the counter. I went through the same routine without squandering a single second. “I was here yesterday and a young blond girl told me the owner would be in today?”

“Dad, a lady’s here to see you!” He hollered. His buzz cut moved as his mouth opened.

A family-run business, perhaps he didn’t sell enough sandwiches to hire real help. Within a few minutes a staunch, grossly overweight man shuffled towards me. His eyes were tiny beads set inside rolls of dough, and large wet stains filled the cloth beneath his armpits, I noticed as he offered me his hand, mumbling something that sounded like, “What can I help you with?”

I shook his pudgy, cold, clammy hand. “I work for a P.I. We’re looking for a woman. She used to frequent here about fifteen years ago.” I pulled out Perdy’s picture, which he took and examined, holding it an arm’s length from his face.

He rubbed his available hand across his mouth and nose as if deep in thought, his chest heaved in and out. “I remember her. She met a man in the parking lot once, called the police on him. He hit her right outside the door, and knocked her on the ground; her nose was flowing like a sieve. Scared my customers.”

I looked around at the vacant shop attempting to envision people eating here. He must have read my body language. “This place used to get business, high school kids, day time regulars, until crime moved in and everyone else moved out. Police cleaned it up, but it’s too late, everyone’s gone.” His voice laced with melancholy for the booming place his restaurant had been.

He talked in short sentences, followed by heavy breathing as if each word formed was a struggle. I felt no need to keep this man talking or reflecting on a time past. I had enough. I’d call the sheriff’s office tomorrow and get the police report faxed.

Book 4: Bite the Big Apple

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Catch Me if You Can

I searched the surrounding woods looking in all the nooks and crannies I would have hid inside of. My advantage, I played in the woods as a child and knew the best hiding places. I found them in a hollowed out tree trunk, one of my favorite childhood spots. I walked up to the tree keeping my voice calm. “Come on out. I’m not going to turn you in.”

One at a time they crawled out of the tree trunk. Both stood before me staring at the ground. “We’re sorry. We didn’t know you lived there.” Said the girl.

“I don’t anymore. What are your names?” Their eyes met then both sets locked onto my eyes.

“I’m Rosey and he’s Thorn.” Obviously made up names, same M.O. as Einstein and I.

“Rosey and Thorn, nice to meet you. Are you hungry?”

Thorn grabbed Rosey’s hand. “Yes, thank you. What’s your name?” I envisioned the many times Einstein held my hand in a similar way.

“Shanna, I don’t drive but town is a short walk.”

“Why don’t you own a car?”

Rosey poked Thorn in the side and whispered, “She invites us to eat and you complain she doesn’t have a car?”

I chuckled. “I don’t like to drive.”

We strolled into town and chatted most the way. Once we sat down for dinner they ate like little pigs, another sign confirming they ran away. When they filled their bellies I asked them questions.

“I won’t waste my time or yours. Rosey and Thorn are not your real names. I want to help you but you have to trust me.”

“We can leave, thanks for dinner,” said Thorn.

I put my palm out instructing them to stop then waved my hand towards the seat for them to sit. They were compliant and planted their butts back into the booth.

“Spill.”

Rosey opened her mouth first. “My mother is ill. She can’t work and my father is dead.”

I raised my eyebrow then turned to Thorn. “And you?”

He sat silent for a moment his head angled towards the table. He rose his head without looking at me. “OK, Rosey is a better liar than me. Her mother isn’t ill and her father isn’t dead. We go into your cabin sometimes and smoke pot.”

I nodded. “The made up names?”

“We didn’t want to get caught. It’s still illegal for us.”

“Unless you have a medicinal card which two minors wouldn’t have. Where do you get the pot?”

Thorn shrugged. “My dad’s stash.”

“Do you live close?”

“I do, Thorn is my cousin. He’s staying with me this weekend.” Rosey slid out of the booth.

“I’ll walk you both home.”

Relief washed over my body until I saw Rosey’s house. The siding missing in spots, junk cars littered the driveway, and the front window had a long crack in it. Poor didn’t mean her parents weren’t loving people. I sucked in my judgements until I met her parent’s.

“Thanks, you don’t need to follow us inside.”

“I’d like to say hi to your parents.”

An outside light lit up as we walked towards the house. And the front door opened. A bulky man stood in the doorway, blocking the inside light. “That you Jen?”

“Yes dad.”

“Who’s that with you?”

“Shanna, we met her in town today.”

Her father carried his large bulk towards me. “Shanna, nice to meet you and thank you for seeing they got home safe. Would you like to step inside for a minute?” I accepted his offer as I worried for the teens. After thirty minutes of discussion he passed my test, and I left. The shack stood on the other side of the patch of woods from their house.

Crickets chirped their night time song, and the gibbous moon lighted my way. I stayed one last night. The next morning I bought $346 worth of groceries and had them delivered to Rosey’s (Jen’s) house.

* * *

Cleo is the main character in the Baby Girl series so let’s learn a little bit more about this feisty and resourceful girl.

MF: What is your name?

Cleo

MF: Do you have a nickname?

I’ve had more names than blades of grass on a lush lawn Justine and Shanna to name a couple.

MF: What is your hair color?

My natural color is dark brown but it’s been various shades depending on my persona.

MF: What is your eye color?

Green

MF: How old are you?

21

MF: Where were you born?

Brennan California. Not really, I grew up there but was born in a hospital in New York.

MF: Where have you lived since then?

Most everywhere in the U.S. – Alabama, California, New York, Seattle. I also lived in Paris for a couple years.

MF: Where do you currently call home?

Where ever my heart takes me.

MF: What is in your refrigerator right now?

I love to cook so a little of this a little of that. You won’t find any hot dogs or junk food.

MF: What is on your bedroom floor?

The carpet. OK, seriously my favorite pair of flip-flops. They’re black with beads adorning the toe piece.

MF: What is on your nightstand?

A picture of my fun in Santa Cruz. Fetch, Kacy, myself, and Javier took a group photo in the hot tub. The picture brings back fun memories I like to think about when I’m falling asleep. I have an alarm clock shaped like a shell that plays Wipeout.

MF: What is in your garbage can?

Trash, an empty bottle of Sauvignon blanc,

MF: Who are the people you are closest to?

La Tige, Kacy, James and Will. We talk and visit every chance we get. La Tige isn’t a big talker so I dominate our conversations but he’s like a father to me. Kacy is the best friend a girl could ever have.

MF: Who is your funniest friend?

Kacy! She is crazy and makes silly facial expressions while doing impressions.

MF: What is your most treasured possession?

My back pack memories – pictures of Einstein, memorabilia of our times together.

MF: What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Einstein was my first love. A huge part of my heart will always belong to him.

MF: What do you most value in your friends?

Their big hearts. I grew up without a “real” family. My best friends are my family. La Tige has done more to help me than any single person without prodding. Kacy and I have an inseparable bond and Will is Will. James was always there for me when I needed shady business done. It felt really great to do something for him.

MF: What is your motto?

Don’t give up!

Cleo’s Pinterest Pagehttps://www.pinterest.com/elleklass/cleos-favorites/

* * *

BUY LINKS:

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YDJX24K/

Amazon.co.uk – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Baby-Girl-Box-Books-I-IV-ebook/dp/B00YDJX24K/

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/545931

Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/baby-girl-box-set-books-i-iv-elle-klass/1122002631

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/baby-girl-box-set-books-i-iv

iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/baby-girl-box-set-books-i-iv/id999488342

Google Play – https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Elle_Klass_Baby_Girl_Box_Set_Books_I_IV?id=3HXKCQAAQBAJ&hl=en

Youtube Trailer- https://youtu.be/pVBnqyMGAY4

ELLE’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Bloghttp://thetroubledoyster.blogspot.com/
Websitehttp://elleklass.weebly.com/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ElleKlass
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7216745.Elle_Klass

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ElleKlass

.

Rhoda D’Ettore Blog Tour

BOXSETPROMO

Buy Rhoda D’Ettore’s books on Amazon

Coming this Summer…..


ZODIACJUNE

No One Is Safe While…

ZODIAC LIVES

A Novel by Rhoda D’Ettore

After surviving a car accident that killed her father, three-year-old Jennifer begins having nightmares. It’s soon obvious she suffers from something more dreadful than the accident when she provides clues to a murder committed 3,000 miles away—and two decades before she was born.

Jennifer’s nightmares set off a chain reaction that prompts the infamous Zodiac Killer to emerge from dormancy and terrorize San Francisco for a second time.

Visit Rhoda D’Ettore’s Website


BOOKSQUAD

Goin’ Postal & The Creek

Rhoda D’Ettore began her writing career by publishing humorous tales about working at the United States Postal Service. Fifteen years of dealing with bombs, anthrax, and human body parts in the mail made for an interesting read. Her co-workers laughed so hard at the nostalgia, they encouraged her to publish the writings. Since then, D’Ettore has fascinated readers with plot twists mixed with sarcastic humor.

D’Ettore knew postal workers would buy her story, yet she also wanted to show them she could write interesting, serious work with shocking twists. In Goin’ Postal & The Creek, the reader gets two very different stories in one book. The first containing the hysterical tales of postal worker life. The second story is a historical fiction that spans 200 years with a slightly supernatural twist. Topics include war, love, romance, death, Prohibition, the Great Depression, and how families survive such events.


Newborn Nazi

Newborn Nazi tackles the issues of right and wrong as well as self sacrifice when fourteen-year-old Edmund is forced into the Hitler Youth in 1935. His older siblings vow to destroy Nazi Germany, and the family gets swept up in espionage and the Underground Movement. When Edmund becomes an adult and joins the feared SS, his sister’s secret endeavors to save Jews in her home endangers lives—including her own. This suspense thriller is sure to keep you guessing.

Newborn Nazi is based on Rhoda D’Ettore true family history. There was an Edmund who was forced into the Hitler Youth, and his sister did help Jews escape. D’Ettore found the story so riveting, she took the plot of the story and added murder and espionage to create this intense thriller.


Tower of Tears: The McClusky Series 1

In Tower of Tears: The McClusky Series, we find Jane traveling to America from Ireland with her three-year-old son. Expecting to find a better way of life, Jane finds nothing but intimidation, betrayal, violence, and heartache. This family saga includes blackmail, murder, mystery, and a touch of romance.

While writing Tower of Tears, D’Ettore gave her mother one chapter at a time for feedback. D’Ettore was undecided who the murderer in the book would eventually be, so she wrote the story with five characters hating and threatening the murder victim. Halfway through the book, D’Ettore’s mother shouted, “I know who killed him…. it was ####”. D’Ettore then finished the book with a different character as the murderer. When her mother read the final draft of the book, she replied, “That’s not who the murder is. I told you who is was.” D’Ettore then said, “I wrote the book, so I know who the murderer should be. Thanks.”


10 Shades of Blush: The Softer Side of Kink

10 Shades of Blush: The Softer Side of Kink is a collection of naughty fantasies of ordinary women. Teachers, mothers, and professionals submitted their wants and desires for kinky fun. All the tales are told as if the women are speaking directly to their partners. The audiobook of this has been called “Two hours of phone sex for $7”.

Rhoda D’Ettore works are available as ebook, paperback, and audiobooks

Follow Rhoda D’Ettore on Facebook

Follow Rhoda D’Ettore on Twitter

Guilty as Charged: I Had an Ulterior Motive

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Okay, I admit it. I had an ulterior motive when I wrote the Star Trails Tetralogy. I don’t think it was a bad one, but it was there nonetheless. As I’ve mentioned before, perhaps ad nauseam, I was inspired to pursue a career in a technical field by the science fiction I read as a kid. And that is what I wanted to do with my stories, make science intriguing and interesting enough that my readers would love it as much as I do and want to know more. I mean, seriously. Why else would an otherwise normal person get a degree in physics? At least I thought I was normal. Then again, maybe not.

At any rate, my books have apparently succeeded to some degree. But don’t listen to me, I’m clearly biased and perhaps not to be trusted. Here’s what some of my reviewers have to say:

Marcha Fox has a gift for explaining the science in an interesting and original way. Sci-fi fans who love properly developed cultures backed up by hard and well understood science will devour these stories.

Science theory is a large part of this story and the writer uses many scenes and situations to explore warp drive, time bumps, worm holes, and warp gullies to name a few. When explanation is needed in a book, it usually slows progression of the plot, but the author uses the science as a “key” to unlock the puzzle of the many developing situations in which Creena finds herself. It’s a great book for anyone that wants to learn more about scientific concepts while being thoroughly entertained.

Anyone who loves hard science will lap this book up.

Having taught junior high science for a number of years I think this read would be a fabulous addition to classroom libraries as well as “the hungry for sci-fi lovers” personal bookshelf.

A great book for anyone that wants to learn more about scientific concepts while being thoroughly entertained.

The scientific details added greatly to the story without sounding like something out of a textbook.

I am in awe of the world author Marcha Fox has created. She has populated our galaxy with human colonies and aliens, enriching the story with intricate detail covering solar systems, seasons, geology, politics, anthropological, fauna, eco-commerce, technological, and spiritual beliefs that are unveiled layer upon layer as the story progresses.

[The author] integrates actual science into science fiction, creating worlds, customs, and life forms outside the world we live.

Needless to say I was deeply gratified and appreciative that these wonderful readers picked up on my ulterior motive and didn’t give me a one or two star review because it was too technical and therefore boring. Of course, nerds like myself LOVE the technical side, but that’s besides the point.

So what is the point? The point is that I didn’t stop there. I also put together “The Star Trails Compendium” which includes a glossary of terms, both fictitious and otherwise, as a companion volume to the stories. I include more details about the star system, Cyraria’s weird, lemniscate (figure-8 shaped) orbit, its effects on their horrific, extreme weather, political structure, and a bit more about the bnolar, the planet’s indigenous species. I hope no one is too disappointed that I refrained from including all the calculations I did while developing the star system, mostly because math is so tedious to express via the keyboard.

And here’s the best part: The ebook versions of the Compendium are FREE!  (At least everywhere but Amazon, who’s a bit uncooperative, but might come around eventually given enough complaints. Hint, hint..)

If you’re an educator or perhaps a homeschooler, there’s an even better bonus especially for you. I’ve included suggestions for lesson plans and discussion topics based on the chapters of each book. Thus, any science teachers who have students who need a little bit more could assign my books as extra credit backed up by assignments which are all but laid out for you in the Compendium. Science clubs could likewise utilize them. Knowing how overloaded today’s teachers are, this could provide the needed stimulation for the Advanced Placement students without a lot of extra work on their part.

If you’re wondering how this works, here’s an example using an excerpt from Chapter 3 of “Beyond the Hidden Sky.”

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The Escape Pod

Shortly after jettison the acceleration shell loosened its grip and shrunk back into the side of the seat but Creena remained in place, gripping the armrests with white-knuckled hands. She’d always been frustrated with the rapid heartbeat and breathing provoked by anger but that was nothing compared to what she was feeling now. She’d experienced a variety of emotions on Mira III, more than most that went through their ordered lives in a state of unquestioning, unreactive calm.

What she felt now, however, was stronger still, a deep, primal reaction from the core of her being. Seared by adrenaline every cell cried out with an unspeakable fear far deeper than any provoked merely by thought, terror firing her blood like a burning fuse.

Never in her entire life had she been so scared.

Her breathing rasped in her ears, mouth dry with her hands shaking and clammy against the armrests. Gradually her racing mind slowed and her heart stopped pounding though her breathing remained heavier than normal as she concentrated on her surroundings.

Funny, it didn’t even feel like she was moving anymore. But it hadn’t felt like the Aquarius was moving, either. She thought back to her Academy physics class and remembered that was the case when something was moving in a straight line at constant speed. The starfield on the holoscreen likewise seemed still but instinct told her that was simply a matter of scale.

She released the straps, their recoil sloppy and slow. The breathless, airy feeling swelled upward, the sensation similar to a soaring dive in an air cruiser. She gasped clutching her chest and the next thing she knew she was floating haplessly above the shell, like a sphere under electro-magnetic levitation.

She gasped in renewed horror.

Was she dead?

She pinched herself, hard, relieved only slightly when it hurt.

Across the pod lights blinked and flashed while the metal floor offered a dizzying design of concentric rings that still seemed to spring upward in pulsating waves. The illusion aggravated the growing nausea even as the facts fell into place.

The Aquarius hadn’t felt that much different from being confined in an ugly building. Certain areas like the galarium where wall-embedded holoscreens gave every impression that a real world lay beyond epoxy shields even added to the deception. But the pod was designed for survival and lacked the power hungry comforts of a starship.

And a mass generator’s gravity simulation was one of them.

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And here are two of the Compendium Discussion and Lesson Plan Suggestions for Chapter 3:

  1. It doesn’t feel as if the pod is moving. Why?

When something is moving in a straight line at constant speed you can’t tell it’s moving. This relates to Newton’s 1st Law of Motion or the principle of inertia which states than an object will remain in a state of rest or constant velocity unless acted upon by unbalanced forces. Newton’s 2nd Law is best described by the equation Force = mass x acceleration or F=ma.

In other words, the force exerted on an object depends on its mass and how fast it is changing speed or accelerating. Newton’s 3rd Law relates to opposing forces, that whenever a force is applied to something, an equal and opposite force is generated, such as the kickback on a rifle or pushing off the side of a swimming pool.

  1. Why is Creena weightless in the pod?

It doesn’t have a “gravity simulator.” Mass such as that of a planet creates gravity which is proportional to how big it is. Scientists will don’t understand exactly how or why gravity works, but they can predict its strength based on the mass of an object or planet.

* * *

So this should give you some idea of the possibilities. Did I have an ulterior motive for this blog? Of course I did. I want my books to reach the audience for which they were intended! But here’s the good news. You can get “Beyond the Hidden Sky” as an ebook for only $0.99 and the Compendium for FREE! Why don’t you check it out? If you’re a teacher or parent trying to encourage your child to not only enjoy science but perhaps actually pursue it, what do you have to lose? Oh, yeah, there’s one more thing. If your library has ebook lending capability, it can obtain all four volumes of the Star Trails Tetralogy for free through Smashwords.

“Beyond the Hidden Sky” Buy Links

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0615658865/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0615658865&linkCode=as2&tag=valkyrastrol-20&linkId=DKGQSU3GYWZM6WH7

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/509500

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beyond-the-hidden-sky-marcha-a-fox/1112260474

Kobo Link: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/beyond-the-hidden-sky

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/beyond-the-hidden-sky/id957915250

Create Space (Print copy): https://www.createspace.com/3911767

“Star Trails Compendium” Links

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/537630

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/star-trails-compendium

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/star-trails-compendium-marcha-fox/1121807004

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/star-trails-compendium/id989027687

Final Book in Science Fiction Series Due March 4

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

This hard sci-fi series delivers a bonus, a palatable taste of real science. Its physicist author, who has over 20 years NASA experience, demonstrates that science and engineering are not only exciting but essential to maintain a viable lifestyle.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00004]Author, Marcha Fox, credits science fiction with inspiring her to obtain a physics degree and pursue a career at NASA, something she hopes to do for today’s readers. The Star Trails Tetralogy series was written to that end, to encourage youth in the junior and senior high school range to pursue studies in space exploration, math, engineering and science.

The previous three novels in this hard science fiction adventure series have received rave reviews with this one following in their footsteps with pre-release praise from authors such as Ceri London, Elle Klass and John Reinhard Dizon.

The fourth and final volume entitled “Refractions of Frozen Time,” will be officially released March 4, 2015 via Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RWKN6MA) and Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/512160).

A stickler for detail, Fox’s pet peeve remains scientific inaccuracies in media such as movies which depict noisy explosions in outerspace.

“Years ago I saw the movie ‘Armageddon’ with a friend who was in the oil business. Between the two of us we ripped it apart. My daughter told us to lighten up, it was only a movie, but all I could think of was that young viewers would take it as fact and how hard would it be for the producers to be more accurate? One of the reasons I got a bachelor’s degree in physics was so my stories would be based on fact and teach correct scientific principles that wouldn’t have to be unlearned later.”

The series chronicles a family who loses everything on one planet and is forced into survival mode on another amid hostile weather extremes and political forces. The stories incorporate the excitement of space travel and exploration with family dynamics, self-sufficiency and dealing with difficult circumstances, themes not unlike what some families face today in an unstable economy and topsy-turvy environment.

Previous books in the series entitled “Beyond the Hidden Sky,” “A Dark of Endless Days,” and “A Psilent Place Below” as well as new release, “Refractions of Frozen Time,” can be found in electronic and print copy format through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and most online retailers. For wholesale or bulk orders as well as regarding school, library and quantity discounts, contact the publisher at info@kallioperisingpress.com. Visit the series website www.StarTrailsSaga.com for additional information about the books, their setting, a glossary of terms and definitions, and a section for parents and educators who wish to use the books as a means to launch scientific discussions.

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Amazon Link to STAR TRAILS TETRALOGY (All books):

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=star+trails+tetralogy

Barnes & Noble Link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/star-trails-tetralogy?store=allproducts&keyword=star+trails+tetralogy

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Marcha-Fox/e/B0074RV16O/

Author Blog Page: https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/

Series Website: http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com

KEYWORDS

Science Fiction, YA Sci-fi, Star Trails Tetralogy, Marcha Fox, educational sci-fi, sci-fi series, Brightstar Saga

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Contact:

Kalliope Rising Press

P.O. Box 23

Burnet, TX 78611

512-755-2175

info@kallioperisingpress.com

Free Electronic Review copy for bloggers and reviewers available from the author:

Marcha Fox

marcha@kallioperisingpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marchafoxauthor

A Flagrant Holiday Star Trails SSP and Special Deal

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If you follow me on Facebook you’re familiar with my “SSP’s”, a throwback to my more than two decades working at NASA where we used acronyms to the point that to outsiders they sounded like another language. When I was at NASA “SSP” stood for “Space Shuttle Program.” In this case, however, it stands for “Shameless Self-Promotion.” As an Indie Author, if I don’t hawk my own books, no one else will, either. Actually, I take that back. I have lots of amazing friends who are also fellow authors and we try to help each other out however we can, somewhat like group therapy.

Anyway, to celebrate the Christmas Holidays (which also include my birthday on Christmas Day) I’ve placed “Beyond the Hidden Sky,” the first volume of my Star Trails Tetralogy, on sale for only $.99 from now through New Year’s Day.

The series is old-fashioned, classic hard science fiction. “Star Wars” or “Guardians of the Galaxy” fans are especially likely to enjoy it. “Beyond the Hidden Sky” kicks off the family saga that continues through “A Dark of Endless Days” and “A Psilent Place Below” with the fourth and final volume, “Refractions in Frozen Time,” due out soon.

Okay, okay, I know I’ve been saying “soon” for a while. I did find great consolation for missing my various release dates (by years, in some cases) from some authors who write similar length and complexity stories to mine who said they never met their first deadline, either. So I feel at least I’m in good company, tardy though I may be. Like fruit ripening on the tree, it’s not ready ‘til it’s ready to drop. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.

I’m picky and won’t put it out there until I’m reasonably satisfied it’s the best possible product. Someone told me once an author doesn’t ever finish a book, s/he abandons it, which is definitely true for me. As fellow author, Elle Klass, has pointed out, I’m a “grammar Nazi” so I definitely try to clean up my own books as much as possible. This series comprises full-length books, i.e. well over 350 pages for the print version with “Refractions…” current hitting about 427. Thus, for the series we’re talking about over 1500 pages, enough for you to get your teeth into the various characters, my particular SciFi universe and of course my “subplots galore” as noted in one of my reader’s reviews.

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As you have probably already guessed, I’m not one of those authors who kicks out another book every six weeks or so. Not even close. I started writing this story “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” I don’t even want to admit exactly when and where that was. Let’s just say in the interim the original technology I’d depicted became science fact and I had to upgrade it considerably. I’m sure it will be (maybe already has become) obsolete at some point as well.

These stories are suitable for all ages, teen and up. However, the vocabulary and writing style is fairly sophisticated and I’ve been told by various reviewers that it doesn’t read as if written strictly for young adults. It’s not.  They are considered “clean” and are listed on the Clean Indie Reads website here: http://cleanindiereads.com/star-trails-tetralogy/

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As an Indie Author I had a lot to learn and this past year has been akin to climbing Mount Everest, in a figurative sense, at least. I was the world’s worst book blurb writer and hope I’ve gotten a little better at that at least. Here’s the latest for “Beyond the Hidden Sky.” I’d love to hear any comments or suggestions!

Moving to another planet is never easy. It’s even harder when you never arrive…

Laren Brightstar knows he’s a target since refusing to work for Augustus Troy. Accepting the chief terralogist position on the other side of the galaxy seems like the simplest solution. Getting there, however, isn’t. Not with a teenage daughter like Creena.

She’s Intelligent.

She’s a rebel.

And now she’s missing.

In deep space.

Was it an accident? Or abduction?

Either way he has to find her. Before Troy does. And somehow he knows life will never be simple again.

* * *

If you don’t want to take my word for it, here are some review excerpts so you can see that some people really like them! You can of course find these in their entirety as well as various others on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads.

PRAISE FOR “BEYOND THE HIDDEN SKY”

A joy to read. Imaginative hard sci-fi with real-life characters… Anyone who loves hard science will lap this book up. However, that and the wonderful world-building is the bonus. The start of a bigger, complex, political sci-fi thriller chock-full of mysterious baddies… and there’s a robot I swear would drive C-3PO insane.

–Ceri London, Author of “Rogue Genesis”

Subplots galore that will satisfy the appetite of the hardcore sci-fi audience.

–John Reinhard Dizon, Author of “Nightcrawler” series.

Entertaining and believable. The author takes you on a ride through the universe.

–P.S. Winn, Author of “Tunnels”

A brilliant sci-fi, young adult novel…Colorful and animated word sketches give the reader the feel of actually watching or being right in the mix of the story. I am an author as well as having taught junior high science for a number of years and think this read would be a fabulous addition to classroom libraries as well as “the hungry for sci-fi lovers” personal bookshelf.

–Elle Klass, Author of “Eilida’s Tragedy” and the “Baby Girl” series

Science theory is a large part of this story and the writer uses many scenes and situations to explore warp drive, time bumps, worm holes, and warp gullies to name a few. When explanation is needed in a book, it usually slows progression of the plot, but the author uses the science as a “key” to unlock the puzzle of the many developing situations in which Creena finds herself. It’s a great book for anyone that wants to learn more about scientific concepts while being thoroughly entertained.

–Martha Fawcett, Author of “The Permeable Web of Time” and the “Janaforma” series

This well written novel’s style plunges the reader into a new world through fabulous characterizations and sci-fi terms without interrupting the flow of the story. Reading this, I did not even realize it was considered a YA, as it is written in a mature style with realistic possibilities. As a Star Wars fan, I was deeply excited to read this book.

–Rhoda D’Ettore, Author of “Newborn Nazi”

Begins at warp speed as space travel and its theory weaves throughout the tale of a family separated by mishap and kept apart by intent.

–Noelle Harrild, School Librarian

* * *

BTHSpanic copy

Here are links to the books as well as some “Book Bubbles” where you can find excerpts with commentary from yours truly.

BEYOND THE HIDDEN SKY – Star Trails Tetralogy Volume I

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/ennmW2jTIsc

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Hidden-Star-Trails-Tetralogy-ebook/dp/B005JQNN2M/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beyond-the-hidden-sky-marcha-a-fox/1112260474

Create Space (Print copy): https://www.createspace.com/3911767

Book Bubble Excerpt: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/2861/

Book Bubble Excerpt 2: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/3131/

ADOEDreviews copy

A DARK OF ENDLESS DAYS – Star Trails Tetralogy Volume II

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/P_2sbLHvBj8

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Endless-Days-Trails-Tetralogy-ebook/dp/B007X5V1TE/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-dark-of-endless-days-marcha-fox/1112742769

Create Space (Print copy): https://www.createspace.com/3937890

Book Bubble Excerpt: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/2735

Book Bubble Excerpt 2: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/3228

Book Bubble Excerpt 3: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/3754

APPBreviews copy

A PSILENT PLACE BELOW – Star Trails Tetralogy Volume III

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/-MTp9vUFLy0

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Psilent-Place-Below-Trails-Tetralogy-ebook/dp/B0082CW8QC/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-psilent-place-below-marcha-fox/1120000574

Create Space (print copy): https://www.createspace.com/3991023

Book Bubble: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/2752

Book Bubble 2: http://www.bublish.com/bubble/view/3589/

And here’s another teaser for REFRACTIONS OF FROZEN TIME – Star Trails Tetralogy Volume IV

 ROFTquote1 copy

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/SRY0P4-ZBYw

If you’d like to follow me, here are links to my various other social media locations. “Likes” are particularly appreciated! If you have one you’d like me to “like” in return let me know.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Marcha-Fox/e/B0074RV16O/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6481953.Marcha_A_Fox

Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marchafoxauthor

Author Website: http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/startrailsIV

This Blog Page: https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/

Tumblr: http://startrailsiv.tumblr.com

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/marcha-fox/86/440/326/

Google+: google.com/+MarchaFoxAuthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kallioperisingp/

Thank you for wading through this much longer-than-intended SSP. It somewhat demonstrates why my short stories turn into novels and my novels turn into a series. Sorry, just can’t help myself.

I wish everyone a most joyous holiday, whichever one you happen to be celebrating at this special time of year. Many thanks to my family, friends, fellow authors, fans and the many people who have helped and supported my efforts writing for many years. May all of us enjoy an happy and prosperous New Year!

Tips for Indie Writers: How to Create Your Own Book Trailer with Power Point

booksinboxBook trailers have become a popular means to draw attention to your book. The main advantage they have over other types of promotional material is their ability to include sound, specifically music. As I’m sure you’re aware, music can set a mood quicker than anything else and reaching a person at the emotional level helps prepare them to receive and accept your message. You can hire a professional to create a trailer for you or you can put one together yourself. If you have Microsoft Office then you should have Power Point which is the only software you need to create a simple but effective video trailer. Besides that you only need three things:

  1. Background picture
  2. Music
  3. Catchy phrase, quote or other hook

Yes, it really is that simple to get started. Don’t worry, I’m going to take you through the process, step by step.

Background Picture

This should be something that relates to your book. It shouldn’t be too busy, though, because that might distract from your written message. I would in most cases avoid people unless the focus is on that character alone. For your first one, keep it simple. If you try to get too fancy on your first try you’ll probably get frustrated and perhaps give up.

Using the background from your book cover is one option or even a generic photograph that relates to it in some way. For example, if your book is set in a specific city like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis, Paris or some other easily recognizable skyline that will work. If it’s set in the country, a nice country landscape; near a beach, a nice oceanscape, etc. This is your first step toward creating a mood that fits the setting of your story. It should be a bit muted, however, so there is adequate contrast between it and your writing. Don’t worry if it’s not, however, because Power Point can help tone it down.

Music

For me this is the fun part. You’re probably thinking this would be a difficult, lengthy, daunting and potentially expensive task. WRONG! There is a website out there that is so perfect for this you’ll probably be as amazed as I was. Go to http://incompetech.com/music/ and click on the tab that says “Royalty Free Music.” Yes, it’s free! And it gets better. Click on the option “Full Search.“ What you find will blow your mind. On this page you can tell it exactly what you’re looking for by genre or even by “feel.” Make your choices, click “search” and it brings up a variety of choices which you can listen to there and download with a single click. If you like it, even if it doesn’t exactly fit the project you have in mind, save it for future use. I found so many I liked that it was actually difficult to choose which one to use.

If you love music like I do you may find yourself spending a whole lot of time on this page. Bear in mind the mood you want to set for your book and stick to that so you don’t get too overwhelmed. I would choose no more than a half dozen pieces to start with.

After you’ve downloaded your selections take the time to listen to them, start to finish. Take some notes on the timing of the song’s dynamics such as when it’s slow and quiet or loud and booming. More than likely the song is longer than your video is going to be so you’ll want to select the portion that drives your message home. Don’t worry about transitions, Power Point gives you options to fade in and out which I’ll get to later.

If you don’t feel like listening to it and taking notes that’s okay because there’s another option. When you get the song into Power Point you get a visual that gives you an idea what the music is doing. This little strip that looks like a graph gives you an idea where the quiet and loud places are so it can be used, too. And Power Point will also allow you to select a specific portion. You probably want to keep your video to around a minute long, not only due to people’s short attention spans but also to keep the file size under control.

Catchy Phrase, Quote or Other Hook

This could be the easiest or most difficult part. Some authors can spew out titles that have no story behind them while others can’t figure one out for their thousand page manuscript. As an author I have the most trouble with book blurbs. You know, those two or three paragraph descriptions you put out on Amazon describing your book. Some people are better at writing them than their novel, which may not meet the expectations set up in their blurb. Others are the opposite and can write a great book but a lousy blurb. Coming up with these zingers will thus be easier for some than others.

One place to start is the basic theme of your book. If you Tweet about your book many of those catch phrases are perfect! If you’re lost go to the Goodreads website which contains various little ads and trailers for ideas. If you’re an author then you’re creative by nature and these should provide enough fodder to get your creative juices flowing. Don’t worry if what you come up with sounds a little boring. When you combine it with the right music it will work!

Another thought to bear in mind is that, like poetry, you can leave words out for effect. Your message will be presented slowly with the help of all those other marvelous effects which allow the viewer to fill in the blanks. You don’t want it to be wordy. This is another case where less is more.

Putting it All Together

Okay, now you’re ready to roll and get to the fun part. I’m going to talk you through the process step by step so you don’t experience a learning curve akin to climbing Mount Everest.

1.  Open Power Point and select the first option, “Blank Presentation.”

2.  Go to the “Layout” drop arrow in the second box from the left and select “Blank.” I find it is easier to add a text box than mess with their standard layouts but you can use them if you like. Note that in that same little box with the “Layout” arrow is an option called “New Slide.” Remember that because that is how you add pages.

3.  Now click on the “Design” tab and go all the way to the right where it says “Format Background.” From the options that come up choose “Picture or Texture Fill.” You’ll see an option to choose a file. Go and find your background picture and add it. If it needs to be muted you can use the “Transparency” option on that same screen to tone it down. When you’re happy with it click the “Apply to All” button at the bottom, assuming you want the same background for the entire video. If not you will simply go through this same process to add the background to each slide.

4.  Click on the “Insert” tab in the menu bar and then the “Text Box” over toward the right. This is a click and drag feature to create a box where you will put, you guessed it, your text.

5.  Select your font next. Fonts are important and part of the “feel” of your video! Take some time to try out several until one simply grabs you. Avoid the fancy ones that distract from the message. This is another dimension of your message. If it’s bold and forceful, then choose an appropriate font. If it’s a soft and sweet message then use an appropriate font, perhaps one of the scripts. If it’s a horror or mystery story, see which one fits. Seriously, the font is important. It adds punch to your message. All of these elements combine to give the viewer more than information; you want it to be an experience! Choose the color just as carefully. Colors send messages as well with red forceful and aggressive, green a more relaxed impression, yellow demands attention and so forth. With a slightly dark background even white can be effective.

6.  Add your text. Don’t put too many words on each page. You want the words to sink in while the font and music further emphasize it. Make sure the font is big enough to read easily. In most cases the video is probably going to be viewed on Facebook or Goodreads which is not full screen so you need the letters to be big enough to still be readable when the video is shrunk down to a size not much bigger than a post-it note. There is probably some way to set a default font but I have not been able to find it. Thus, unless you can solve this mystery you’ll have to choose the font and size with each slide. If you figure this out I would love to hear back how to do it!

7.  A general guide for what to include is to say your piece, flash a picture of your book up there with the title, add another zinger, then conclude with where your book is available. If they remember your title they’ll be able to find it if you just mention Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, CreateSpace or wherever. Links won’t work in a trailer.

8.  Now it’s time for the fun part, adding your music! To do that go back to your first slide, bring up the “Insert” box, then find where it says “Audio” all the way over to the right. Choose “Audio from my PC” in the dropdown and select your music file.

9.  Go to the top menu bar and select “Play in Background.” If you don’t you won’t be able to hear it.

10.  Select the “Fade Duration” menu box and add some time for the music to fade in and out. Start with around 5 seconds; you can always adjust it later.

11.  Estimate around 4 or 5 seconds for each slide to start, multiply that times your number of slides and figure out about how long your music clip needs to be. It’s good to start slowly and then speed it up as you get a better feel for the process.

12.  Now hit the “Trim Audio” button and that graph I mentioned earlier that represents the song’s dynamics will appear. You can now select where you want the music to begin and end. This is where your notes can come in handy but you can also adjust it by simply listening to it. If you like particular section that you want to loop and repeat it will do that. In fact, if your clip isn’t long enough for the timing to setup then the music will loop back to the beginning. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of practice to end the slideshow exactly when the music ends.

13.  Select “Slide Show” and then “Rehearse Timing.” Your slideshow will come up on the screen and you advance the slides with a click of the mouse. Try to click with the meter of the music. The stronger beat it has, the easier this is to accomplish. When you get to the end it will tell you how long the slideshow lasted and ask if you want to save it. If you do you can play it back with the button on the far left that says “From Beginning.” This will give you a feel for where you are so far. If you know you didn’t like it you can just go back to “Rehearse Timing” and do it again. You can start out slow as you get the hang of it but don’t want it to be so slow in the final version that it allows the viewer’s mind to wander. Right around a minute usually works.

14.  To go back and adjust the music, find the “Audio Tools” box highlighted along the top of the screen toward the right. “Playback” brings back the screen where you can adjust your fade in and out time as well as the clip itself with the “Trim” option. You want to time the crescendos with the statements you want to emphasize. The words need to bear some resemblance to the rhythm of the music. If the timbre of the music fits the words as if they are lyrics all the better. Don’t be surprised if this takes a substantial amount of tweaking until you’re satisfied. You may want to start out with a slow piece until you get the hang of things.  If the “Audio Tools” box at the top ever disappears you can bring it back by going to the first slide and clicking on the speaker icon.

15.  If you don’t like the audio and want to try another clip you need to delete the first one by highlighting and deleting the speaker icon with the “delete” key. Bear in mind you can add multiple soundtracks on top of each other if you want but that is once you become an expert. My point is if you don’t delete this one then both of them will play and it will sound weird to say the least. When you add another track you need to select “Play in Background” again. If you don’t hear anything, you forgot. During this stage you may come up with some editing ideas for your text as well. Note that after a heavy soundtrack silence is powerful as well for your ending. I suggest playing it back with a few different soundtracks and note how it changes the impact. Music with a good mixture of quiet and loud passages works well when you time them to add emphasis to key parts of the presentation. For example, when you show your book cover a big crescendo gives it extra punch.

16.  By this point you should have a very basic slide show. Now you get to have even more fun by adding special effects such as fading in the words and various other fun things. You can add multiple ones but they can also get confusing and mess up your timing when you rehearse since each effect will require a click of the mouse. Go to the first slide, highlight the words, and click “Animations.” Ignore all those symbols that pop up and go instead to the little box toward the right that says “Add Animation.” A big box will come up that shows all those cute symbols but now you can choose how the words come in, present, and leave. Toward the right on the menu bar you can decide how long each one should last. The one coming in will show in green and the exit effect will show in red. While you’re in editing mode the effects you add will show on the slides numbered in the order they occur. If you click on those little boxes it takes you to the screen where you can adjust the timing or change the effect.

17.  After you’ve added the effects you want for each statement, go back to “Slideshow” and rehearse your timing again. Note that you must click the mouse for each effect! For example, you will click to fade in, fade out and advance to the next slide, then click to initiate the first effect, etc. Be sure to allow each effect to finish before clicking. You may need to adjust the timing accordingly.

18.  During the slideshow rehearsal phase note the timer in the upper left-hand corner of the screen which tells you how long that slide has been up as well as the total time. Once you are happy with the timing you can use the total time to fine tune your music clip.

19.  I hope you’re familiar enough with working on a computer to realize you should have been saving along the way. Once it’s finished to your satisfaction you will not only save the final slideshow but you will also do a “Save As” which will convert it to a video. You can save it in either mp4 or wmv format. I do both since some applications prefer one or the other. It will ask you about embedding the music when you save it as a video. Be sure to do this or your sound won’t be there.

20.  Posting to Facebook is as simple as posting the YouTube link. To include your masterpiece on your Goodreads author site you first need to post it to YouTube. After you’ve accomplished that, you will click the “share” button, then the “Embed” option (check the box for the old code) and use that on Goodreads. YouTube will also give you a URL link to your video which you can use wherever you like. For your website you can either link directly to the file you created so it can be viewed there or link to YouTube. Browsers differ in their ability to display them so it’s a good idea to do both. YouTube allows you to choose which slide to show as the thumbnail. If you’re good at html programming or have a professional webmaster they can probably spiff it up.

Here are links to some of the ones I’ve created. I’m still learning as well and look forward to checking out the various other effects Power Point offers. As I get more experienced I’ll probably redo these but these will give you the idea.  I find this creative outlet a lot of fun as a break from writing and another wonderful way to showcase your work to the world. Since most of the authors I know are on a budget it can also save you a few promotional bucks to use somewhere else.

(These links were updated March 2017)

Beyond the Hidden Sky: https://youtu.be/zt7qgTWZFW4

A Dark of Endless Days: https://youtu.be/2xcJrWrJ_nU

A Psilent Place Below: https://youtu.be/-t4NYVBe6FM

Refractions of Frozen Time: https://youtu.be/DMuT0JZu7Os

Entire Tetralogy: https://youtu.be/MsTrKf_66ak

(Coming Spring 2017) The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51: https://youtu.be/Ti4l88V7Y58