Free Fiction Sample, “Imprint” by Nicholas Adams

It’s Friday, which means I get to bring you samples, interviews, and articles from new voices around the world. Today, I have a special treat for you. Friend and fellow author, Nicholas Adams, has given me permission to share the first chapter of his novella “Imprint” a hard sci-fi with a medical twist.

In return, I got to go have fun and answer interview questions on his blog. Go here to check it out.

Cover of Imprint

First Chapter Sample of Imprint, a Novella

by Nicholas Adams

Malcolm slammed his fist against the mirror. “I’m telling you, Warden. The process isn’t ready yet!”

From under the spider web of fractured reflections, the older man’s image steepled his fingertips. “Now that you’ve gotten that out of your system, would you mind repositioning me so I can see you clearly?”

Malcolm sighed, defeated. He swiped a finger across the broken glass. The floating screen glided across the mirror’s surface to rest within the last unblemished area.

“Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way,” the man in the mirror glowered over his thick-lensed glasses, “let me remind you of the conditions of your exile.”

Malcolm braced himself for the full version of the warden’s favorite speech. “Your prior technological breakthrough caused the outbreak,” he began as if reading from a teleprompter, “and in spite of your synthetic organs’ success in treating life-threatening illnesses–,”

“You mean lifestyle threatening illnesses,” Malcolm interjected.

The warden interlocked his fingers and lowered them onto the black marble desktop, clearing his throat in frustration. “Be that as it may, it was your flawed technology that caused the disease that now threatens to wipe out humanity. And therefore, having been charged with attempted genocide, you have been isolated above the Arctic Circle because you promised the world you could fix this.”

Malcolm pounded his bruised knuckles against the lavatory’s cold, metal countertop. “I know, I know! But I need more time. And Cynthiana is the only remaining test subject. All the others died before I could make the bio-synthetic interface work. There are just too many variables. But, I think I’m getting closer. I just need more time!”

The Warden glanced somewhere off-screen and nodded to his unseen associate. “Time is not something of which you have an abundance. Get to work Doctor. We’ll be looking forward to your next progress report.”

Malcolm’s eyes automatically drifted to the calendar hovering below the warden’s image. Seven Days.

The Warden leaned over to press the button that would end their video-call but paused with his arm hanging in the air. “If you don’t have something significant to report,” he said not looking at Malcolm, “I’m afraid I’ll have to recommend that your exile will end, and we’ll begin the proceedings to schedule your execution.”

Malcolm slammed both palms on the broken mirror. “But, my wife’s condition. She’s terminal. You’ll be sentencing her to death too!”

“No, Doctor Silvestra, you’ve already done that.”

Before Malcolm could respond the warden’s image blinked out of existence, leaving him alone with only his anguished thoughts.

It’s all my fault. I’ve killed her. I’ve killed them all.

Malcolm’s shoulders quaked, as stifled tears dripped into the stainless steel sink. The flood of anguish pressing against the emotional dam broke through.

I can’t lose her. I just can’t. The rest of the planet be damned, but I can’t lose her.

Staring past his reflection, Malcolm spotted the ornately framed award hanging over his cluttered workbench. His stomach twisted. Several years before, when he received the plaque, he felt only pride and achievement.

Now, however, the image only served to remind him of his failure to keep a promise to Cynthiana; to completely restore her health, or, at least, free from her scars and debilitating pain.

Lettering under the bas-relief sculpture seemed to mock him. His eyes scanned the plaque, landing on the keywords that seemed to highlight his failure. Life Sciences Award, Innovative Breakthrough, Synthetic Organ Replacement.

The fancy words reminded him of his triumph—the 3D Nano-Modeling machine that built other devices on a microscopic level. Building on his wife’s work in Neural-Mapping, together they developed artificial organs that could mimic its natural functions.

Newspaper clippings covering his wall displayed headlines from around the globe. Phrases like Miracle, Saves the Life, and Cure for Death seemed to stand out like random street lamps in a darkened city.

Other news articles littering the wall reminded him of what he now fought against; a plague of biblical proportions. Headlines reading Mystery, Deadly, Burn Victims, and Horrific glared at him. The mainstream media sensationalized the outbreak by calling it The Scald.

Malcolm seemed to be the only one who actually understood where the plague came from; his Nano-modeler, v.8.14.

Long before he saw the correlation between his machine and the outbreak, The Scald had already sentenced anyone with an artificial organ to a slow, painful death.

With his newest Nano-modeler, v.10.27, Malcolm began his exile, with Cynthiana and a dozen dying volunteers at a self-sufficient research bunker in the Northwest Territories.

The collapse of civilization seemed to take only a matter of weeks. Accusations of bio-warfare crossed every known geographic and political border until the truth of Malcolm’s plague became public knowledge.

Riots, looting, and doomsday prophets littered the streets around the world. Malcolm barely got Cynthiana and himself to the bunker before the bombs fell, dooming the planet in a nuclear winter.

However, how the world ended no longer mattered to him. Not since The Scald ravaged his wife. Not even the failed experiments and deaths of the other subjects made an impact on him.

Cynthiana’s body yielded to the lesions faster than any recorded case, forcing her to remain in a pool of bio-nutrient gel 24 hours a day. The Scald had inflicted a rare side effect on her; three-quarters of her body became paralyzed and unresponsive to any stimuli.

Malcolm could not help flashing back to the days before The Scald took away her independence.

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If you enjoyed this first chapter you can find the rest of the story on Amazon: Imprint, by Nicholas Adams. I also hear you can score a copy if you sign up for his newsletter. 🙂

Want more free stuff? Check out Nicholas’s freebies page.
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The enigmatic Nicholas Adams

About today’s guest:

Nicholas Adams grew up in the small, rural town of Boring, OR with his six brothers and sisters.

After graduating from High School in Gresham, OR he attended BYU-ID and received his Associates Degree in Pre-Med. From there he returned to Portland, OR and attended Portland State University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology/Pre-Med before changing his career track to Architecture.

He completed his second Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture at Portland State University before going on to achieve his Master of Architecture Degree from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT.

After his graduation he and his wife moved to the Phoenix Arizona area where they adopted four children over the next eight years.

Nicholas currently lives in the Salt Lake City area where he is an Associate member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the League of Utah Writers.

His other interests include movies, singing and motorcycles.

Connect with Nicholas:

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“I Rolled a Life Changing 20 and You Can Too” by Jared Quan

For every single person the path leading to fulfillment and success looks different. Some prefer small consistent goals, some crave the big marathon push, and then there’s Jared Quan. Known around the Utah writing community as the guy who gets stuff done (and never sleeps), he often shares his favorite quote:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Jared is the champion of volunteering. Every year he donates countless hours, well into the hundreds, giving his time, his ideas, and his drive to the organizations he loves. Today, he shares his story with us.

I Rolled a Life Changing 20 and You Can Too.

By: Jared Quan

Four years ago, my second book “Changing Wax” was published. I had accomplished my lifelong dream, and no one had any idea who I was. Getting published was a massive struggle that took nine years to happen, and I was exhausted. Antsy to do something, but not ready to take on another book, I had an epiphany. I would use my knowledge and experience to make it my mission to help people achieve their dreams. I had no idea what that single decision would lead to.

After talking it through with my wife and we figured out that I could volunteer a couple hours a week. I went out looking for ways to get involved. Which was not nearly as easy as it sounded. I stumbled into my first opportunity after taking a shot in the dark and emailing the Mayor of West Jordan. Mayor Rolfe recommend that I join the West Jordan Arts Council. Shortly after I was appointed to the West Jordan Arts Council by the West Jordan city council. Serving on the Literary Committee under an amazing Literary Arts Chair John Pulver, I started to learn the ropes on how to do more in the community.

At the exact same time this was happening I met Johnny Worthen who recommend that I check out the League of Utah Writers. During my very first meeting with the Oquirrh Chapter it was announced by Chapter President Eliza Crosby that they needed a new Vice President, after a massive internal debate (and texts from my wife encouraging me to volunteer), I volunteered. Under Eliza, I was starting to learn about how the League worked and what things I could do to help.

I worked on a few projects with the Arts Council and the League which embolden me to find some additional small projects. I volunteered to help author David Armstrong at the Davis County Fair, volunteered to help acclaimed artist Roger Whiting at the DIY Festival, helped staff the League table at LTUE and Storymakers. I started to figure out how much time I could spend on projects and started to figure out how to better utilize the resources I have access to.

Fast forward to today, after dozens and dozens of projects, and events, I am now on five non-profit boards (League of Utah Writers, Storymakers, Cultural Arts Society of West Jordan, Eagle Mountain Arts Alliance, and Big World Network), I work four jobs (VLCM, Lyft, Real Salt Lake, and being an author), and spend time with my wife and five kids. My mission transformed into a passion, and then into a dream. I get to help people every day reach their dreams.

As you can see, I didn’t get into volunteering to gain position or rewards other than seeing people succeed. However, I discovered that volunteering selflessly was like rolling a 20-sided dice over and over. The number would randomly throw unexpected rewards. The key being that the service had to be selfless.

Like a waking dream I found myself sitting in front of hundreds of people at the LTUE conference 2019. I was sitting off to the side waiting for my turn to be a special guest with the Writing Excuses Podcast. I had rolled a 20, and I was being honored with a tremendous opportunity. I knew however, that even in this moment, it wasn’t about me, it was an opportunity to help others find ways to figure out what I had found out.

I watch as special guest Natasha Ence and Rosalyn Collings Eves, do an amazing job on the podcast. Then it was my turn to sit with the amazing team of Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Tayler. We talked about volunteering and ways to find opportunities to volunteer. It was amazing.

When people had found out that I had selected to be on Writing Excuses, everyone asked how I had accomplished such a thing. I told people that I wasn’t sure, but I was honored to have such an opportunity, and talk about selflessly volunteering.

Everyday I wake up and live my dream of helping people. If you add the goal, mission or passion of helping people by volunteering (not just in the writing community), you will be rolling a 20 side dice that will change your life. It will help you accomplish amazing things and give you opportunities beyond your imagination. I have to thank all the amazing people for giving me the chance to volunteer and taking a chance on me. You just have to take a chance on yourself and volunteer. I would love to see you out there.  

Intrepid leader and Energizer bunny,
Jared Quan

About today’s guest –

Jared Quan is a video game addict and writer published in genres from Spy-Thriller to Horror/Supernatural, to Fantasy-Comedy. His work includes Ezekial’s Gun, Changing Wax, Classified, Pathological Passion, (Futuristic/Romance/Steampunk, which he co-wrote with his wife), Unclassified, and Prepped (a story in the Apocalypse Utah anthology).

He has extensively served the community in roles from the President for the League of Utah Writers, Board Member of the Cultural Arts Society of West Jordan, Grants Director of the Eagle Mountain Arts Alliance, Executive Director of Big World Network, Chair of the West Jordan Arts Council, serving on the Utah Poet Laureate Selection Committee, Recruiting Chair of the Association of IT Professional Utah Chapter, as well as serving as a general volunteer for countless events and organizations.

Jared was given the Gold Volunteer Service Award by the President of the United States for his over 1,500 hours of service to the writing community from 2015 to 2017. He has also received recognition and awards from the Governor and Lt. Governor of Utah for his volunteering.

He lives in Eagle Mountain with his supportive wife and five children.

Want to connect? It’s easy!

Find Jared at the following places:

About Jared’s Book, Changing Wax

Changing Wax is an action adventure comedy, taking place in the fantasy world of Wax, which resides just seven hundred sixty-two thousand, five hundred twenty-two million and five light years from Earth (give or take half a light year depending on Earth’s rotation). Wax revolves around rules established in the ancient Master Book of Magic, rules that don’t always follow basic logic or sanity. The story follows three adventurers: Gorath the misfortunate monk who can’t seem to get anything right, Odd Drip the Imp who is too smart for his own good, and Thomas Twostead, a teenage girl born on the wrong side of Wax’s never-ending war between Light and Dark. In the end, their teaming up might decide the fate of the world, while seemingly defying the will of the Master Book of Magic. Or are they…?

Find Changing Wax on Amazon

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New Anthology Release!

Tales of wise, ancient dragons hoarding treasure, terrorizing villages, and doing battle with noble heroes have long fascinated us. But dragons were not born old and wise, nor were heroes born brave and noble.Wings of Change gathers tales of young dragons growing into their scales and claws, and human youths making choices that shape their destinies – destinies that will be forever changed by their interaction with the dragons that share their world.

My story “Saffron Dragon” is about a blind Bangladeshi girl who discovers a dragon lives in her dreams. She must learn to both trust herself and the dragon to find her place in the world.

Wings of Change is available in both print and ebook on Amazon.

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Interview with Robin Glassey

Today I’m thrilled to share a sneak peak into the world of fantasy writer Robin Glassey. Robin and I have known each other for years and she has been a wonderful cheerleader for local Utah authors. You can always spot her at events in her trademark bright pink shirts and sweaters.

Onto the interview!

Photo by Cliff Johnson on Unsplash

What is the most important message you want your stories to teach?

I still remember what it was like to be a teen—that struggle for acceptance, that yearning to identify with a group, to feel loved. In The Azetha Series, Tika searches for love and acceptance outside of herself. Because of her mixed heritage, however, both the Human and Elven societies reject her. Only when she finally looks inward and accepts herself does she reach her full potential. The most important message I hope readers come away with is to love and accept themselves for who they are.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

One of the most surprising things I learned as I wrote was how certain scenes continued to touch me emotionally as I reread them. It’s like when you have a favorite movie that you’ll watch for the 50th time and you can’t help but laugh or cry at the same spots. For me, it’s Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley. You know you’ve hit the right emotional notes when a character has you laughing or crying no matter how many times you read the same lines.

Who is your favorite character you’ve created, and why?

Eno is a talking lizard who first appears in The Veil of Death as Tika’s guide through an inescapable swamp. I love Eno because he’s flawed, and yet, completely lovable. Frankly, he’s the worst guide to have. He can’t shut up, he’ll abandon you at the first sign of trouble, and he’ll lead you in the wrong direction just for the sake of finding the tastiest bugs.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have several projects I’m working on but the one that’s closest to completion is a tips and tools book for writers with ADHD. This book will teach writers with ADHD how to increase their writing productivity and give them tips on how to complete more projects. Many of my fans have also expressed an interest in reading about some of the side characters from The Azetha Series. So, I’m working on telling the fire Elemental Neala’s story.

The always fabulous, and always pink, Robin Glassey

About Robin Glassey

Robin grew up in Eastern Canada in a small town across the bay from a leaky nuclear power plant, giving her the not so secret power of deactivating electronic devices.  She moved to Utah in 1994 to attend BYU and fell hopelessly in love with Brett Glassey (despite his refusal to fall in love with BYU). 

Robin graduated with a degree in Psychology and now spends her time analyzing her four teenage boys and writing clean YA fantasy. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, french fries, and Doctor Who. When all of her addictions collide at the same time, she’s in heaven.

Connect with Robin:

Check out Robin’s Azetha Series

About the Azetha Series:

Fans of Jeff Wheeler, Jennifer Neilson’s False Prince, Emily King, Michelle Madow, and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time Series will enjoy this epic teen and young adult fantasy series about a princess who discovers the startling secret behind her heritage. 

As a Rhodean princess, Tika is destined for nothing more than to dress in stuffy gowns, dance with stuffy princes, and attend stuffy events. But Tika isn’t like the other princesses on Fathara. With her wild hair, Elven-like ears, and her penchant for causing trouble, Tika does her best to escape her royal duties. 

But when Tika discovers she’s more than Human, with surprising Elven and Elemental abilities, her life is turned upside down. With the truth about her heritage revealed, she’s forced to go on the run, hunted by a cunning sorcerer’s assassins and magical creatures. 

Now the life Tika had so desperately wanted to escape she desperately wishes she could have back again.

Epic YA Fantasy author Robin Glassey transports readers to the magical land of Fathara where Death walks the land with a happy grin, having a conversation with the Intelligences is never a good thing, and where an encounter with a Sha’andari is hazardous to your health. 

If you love epic YA fantasy, elemental, or princess series, then be sure to follow Tika’s full adventures in The Azetha Series.

Find the Azetha series on Amazon.

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Heads up! There’s a fun event happening this weekend. Wizarding Dayz is a kid-friendly fantasy and science fiction event that celebrates all things magic. Come find me at the author tables!

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Inside the Head of an Author, by Holli Anderson

Artists and creatives, including writers, come in all different varieties. Some are organized. Some work fast. Some like to follow their muse all over the place. Some have unique rituals they follow. What we all have in common is a passion for creating our own unique form of art.

Holli Anderson, friend and Chief Editor at Immortal Works Press, is here to talk about what it’s like to be an author with a chaotic creative mindset, and to give us a tour of her creative space.

The talented and amazing Holli Anderson

Inside the Head of a Writer

By Holli Anderson

Hi! I’m so happy to be a guest here on Jodi’s blog! I’ll start with a short introduction. My name is Holli Anderson, I write YA and MG under this name that happens to be my real name. I write Adult Romantic Suspense under the name H.L. Anderson – which is my real name using initials…

Besides being an author, I’m also a mom to four grown boys, a grandma to a girl (who is nine and a half and can’t wait until she turns eleven and receives her Hogwarts letter – because I am that awesome of a grandma) and a boy (age five, and whose sister and I are indoctrinating into an HP lover as well), a wife to one man-boy, a registered nurse, and Chief Editor of a small publishing company. The reason I tell you all this is; it might help explain why my mind is in such continual chaos.

Now, back to my head. My brain is always running a million miles an hour in a gazillion different directions. It can sometimes be difficult to grab an idea out of this pandemonium—that’s why I know, when I latch onto an idea that shines brighter than the rest, it must be a GREAT idea. That’s when the plethora of notebooks I keep hanging around come in handy, they’re where I write these GREAT ideas down (moment of truth here: they aren’t always GREAT ideas, sometimes they turn out to be GROAN-WORTHY ideas when I go back and look at them later).

There have been times when I’ve been somewhere I can’t write an idea down – like driving, or in the shower – during these times of immense duress I have to resort to repeating the idea over and over in my mind until I can get to where I can safely (and dryly) write it down. The book I’m working on right now was one such GREAT idea. My husband knows this is what’s happening when I burst through the door after work and show him the palm of my hand as I frantically dig through my backpack to grab a notebook and pencil (yes pencil—all GREAT ideas must be written in pencil). 

(FYI—as I was writing the above paragraph a FOX ran down the sidewalk across the street and partially into a neighbor’s yard before taking off the way it had come. I had to run outside to tell my husband and son, who are changing brakes on a car—and they didn’t believe me!)

This is getting a little longer than I had planned, but I need to explain one more thing about this author’s head. EVERYTHING around me, every trip to the store, every date with my husband, every walk around the neighborhood—everything—can be turned into something to do with Harry Potter, Supernatural, LOTR, or The Avengers. EVERTYTHING. Drives my husband crazy. How many times he’s said to me, “You know that isn’t real, right?”

That’s when I mumble “Muggle” under my breath and continue on.

The pictures scattered throughout this blog are pictures of my office/library. I think they help explain my head to you. This is the room that calms me. Makes me smile. Helps me write. It’s my favorite room in the house.

Oh, and, in case you want to check out the end result of all of this “chaotic thinking,” feel free to buy my newest release, a YA Superhero/Dystopian novel titled MYRIKAL.  Here’s the Amazon link to make it easy:  https://www.amazon.com/Myrikal-Holli-Anderson-ebook/dp/B07M6GKJ5J/

And here are some other places you can find me:

A virtual tour of Holli’s creative space

This a view of ¾ of my desk from above.
This is what sits directly in front of my computer when I’m writing.
The right corner of my desk
The left corner of my desk.
On top of one of four bookshelves.
Second row of same bookshelf.
Third row of same bookshelf.
Fourth row.
Fifth row (that’s an umbrella there next to all of Brandon’s books).
I had to show you my Sorting Hat!
Wall and shelf behind my desk (did I mention I like Supernatural?).
Wall and another shelf behind my desk.
Life-size Dean, always giving me that brooding stare from beside my desk.

A huge thank you to Holli for sharing about herself today. If you’d like to learn more, be sure to head over to her webpage and other social media.

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Hi, Jodi here! If you’d like to be notified of future posts, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.

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Within the Pages, by Rae

People are like books, containing journeys, adventures, and hidden turns. Today’s post is about the journey of a young entrepreneur working to make the world of reading a little bit brighter.

Rae was kind enough to help me with my book launch last year and I finally got around to thanking her formally and letting her share her voice here on my blog. Go check out the awesome post she did for me on her website.

Within the Pages

by Rae

I could start off from the very beginning of my book journey with my grandma’s reading challenge the summer before high school. I could continue with my plunge into writing and fanfiction and the overwhelming consuming of the #feels that come with author admiration, character boyfriends, and more. From there I can spin my web of story telling to encompass my writing journey at college and all that I did there – successes and mishaps. Following college my writing took a nose dive into a pill of forgotten story ideas while my blog burped under my relentless pursuit of being a book blogger and becoming a part of a community I admired and feared. And yet, where am I now?

You see, everything that has happened has shaped me into who I am today – a freelance editor with a young business, a reader buried under her TBR list, and a writer struggling to type a sentence while ignoring the imposter that whispers in both ears. Let’s not even go into the MFA rant because believe me…it’s complicated.

From a book challenge till now as I type this, has been intense, scary, beautiful, heartbreaking, and ironic. I tried so long to ignore my voice, ignore the stories…and still books brought me home.

Now it might sound corny, but bear with me here. As a reader we all have at least one book that sticks with us. You know exactly what I mean. That book that haunts you from the shelf, that sneaks into your dreams or daydreams, that influences an action when you find yourself floundering to react in a situation. Then of course there are the book boyfriends and idols we all want to be but can’t figure out how to find them within ourselves or others. But I digress here.

Each one of my roles – editor, reader, writer – all lead me back to the story, the words on the page that entice me to tears, provoke me into a rage, that shield me from reality when life gets too unbearable. I look for the book that doesn’t let me go, that I suffer through a book hangover for days trying to pick up the pieces and connect the what if this or that had happened. I look for the book that glares at me from my shelf and I glare back because how did it get so far under my skin? I need the happy ending. I need the realistic ending. I need the ending where it is such a cliff hanger that I want to hook up a bungee cord and make the leap because I know the story has got to be continuing.

As an editor I want to help that story grow and be ready to face the world.

As a reader I want my reviews to shower reflection and insight.

As a writer I want my story to leave an impact of some kind.

Will it be pretty? No. Will it be perfect and loved by all? Nope.

But that is the beauty of it. Writing is messy. Books are messy. Being a fangirl, reviewer, bookstagrammer, editor, and so on is messy. Take the good and the bad and go with it. That next book is waiting for you. Go find it or go better yet – write it.

About today’s guest –

Rae is a writing and reading instructor at an elementary school by day, freelance editor by night, and fangirl at every other available opportunity. She always knew books were her passion, well after her grandmother’s challenge to read a book a day, and obtained her B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Arcadia University. Currently, she’s drowning in her TBR list, deciding on whether or not to go for her MFA, outlining her would be novel, and expanding her freelancing business while looking for more bookish things to get involved with. She is active on Twitter, Instagram, and sometimes Facebook when she remembers.

You can connect with Rae at the following links:

Rae offers freelance editing!

A New Look On Books is a professional freelance editing service that aims to get manuscripts ready for querying and publication.

A testimonial about her services –

“Rae’s sample edit exceeded my expectations. To say that her instincts were spot-on is an understatement. She immediately “got” my characters, had a sense of where I was going, and offered suggestions that immediately tightened up my manuscript.  If you’re searching for a qualified and passionate editor who will challenge you to make your book better, look no further.”

— R. Bazylak @bazlactica

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Book Review, Stonebearer’s Betrayal

Posting a full review here feels way too much like tooting my own horn, but today’s review is special. Last Friday, my oldest son job shadowed me as I went about my day as an author. He learned about free writing, work/life balance, drafting, and marketing.

Watching an author work is awkward for the author and boring for the watcher. The best way to experience what any job is like is to try it. And … since he is my perfect target audience and has already read my book, teaching him how to write a book review was the ideal exercise to learn how to draft out a new project. Even better, he’s thrilled to have his work published here on the blog.

Here’s his review of my book, which is it’s own special kind of adorable.

Stonebearer’s Betrayal Book Review

by Timothy Milner

Stonebearers Betrayal is a fantasy book about a girl named Katira and her friends who get wrapped up in this adventure featuring magic, demons, travel stones, magic stones, an alternate reality, and a creepy old guy who kidnaps her for a couple days. Not as creepy as it sounds, just a bit creepy.

Though there’s a bit of bias in this statement, I love this book.  The sense of adventure and danger really puts this book in a special category, so much so that some would call it a “underrated masterpiece.” Stonebearer’s Betrayal does a magnificent job at conveying emotions. It makes you feel like they’re going to die or feel like she’ll never escape.

I’m not sure about what I don’t like about this book, other than the fact that some of the concepts are a bit creepy. Although I didn’t really like the creepiness factor, I’m sure that others would. It makes the main villain feel even more powerful and demonic.

In stories, it’s usually very important to make the villain feel powerful, make it look like the odds for success are low. You don’t want a story with a wimpy villain, right? If the villain is easily defeated and the heroes go home to celebrate, then there isn’t much story to begin with, especially at the climax. And this is what Stonebearer’s Betrayal does very well.

I’d rate it for people 13+, because anyone below that won’t really understand or respect it. I’m not sure what it’s similar to, I want to say it’s a bit similar to Eragon by Christopher Paolini, but I’m not sure.

About today’s reviewer –

Timothy Milner is a 13-year-old who is way too mature for his age, but nonetheless, he likes to nuke things from orbit, design TNT machine guns, and die to the goddamn triple spike at 53%. Did he mention he was a gamer?

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Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Do you like dragons? Good news! I’m working on several dragon projects at the moment. Two of these are short stories that will appear in anthologies and one is a middle grade novel that I’m co-writing with friend and fellow Immortal Works author, Daniel Swenson.

Written as part research, and part fun, check out my article “Symbology of Dragons” I wrote for Amy Beatty about the significance of dragons in different cultures around the world.

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Researching the Daydream, by Amy Beatty

Probably one of the most frustrating thing I hear about fantasy authors is the belief that we make everything up. We come up with a world, stick people in it, add a touch of magic, and voila! Fantasy story. The end.

The truth is, we actually do a fair amount of research. Precise details can bring a sense of realism to our fantastical worlds and often we take vital cues from already existing cultures and beliefs.

Today, Amy Beatty wants to discuss just that – the importance of research in all writing, including fantasy.

Amy and I are friends and fellow authors at Immortal Works press.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Researching the Daydream

by Amy Beatty

All fiction is a shared daydream. Whether a story’s setting is modern day Chicago, Paris during the Second World War, Edo period Japan, or a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the writer invites readers to enter a world that is different in some ways from their own—a mentally constructed virtual reality.

And the number one rule for the fiction writer is:

Don’t break the daydream.

Imagine signing up for a much-needed vacation to an exotic retreat, where you’re sure to meet fascinating new people and participate in thrilling adventures. You buy the ticket, board the plane, and make friends with the person in the seat next to you. With a roar of engines and a stomach-clenching lurch, the plane takes off, climbing into the sky. A flight attendant wheels her cart of goodies down the aisle in your direction. Delicious smells fill the cabin—it’s not just peanuts this time! Your mouth waters in anticipation.

Abruptly, everything erupts in a flash of static and disappears.

“Sorry,” says some broom-wielding dude in the corner. “I tripped over the cord. Also, your mother-in-law is coming over, and your kid is wearing your underwear on his head again.”

Boom. There you are, dumped straight back into your own reality without so much as a by-your-leave.

How rude!


That’s what it’s like when the author breaks the daydream for a reader.

And that’s why good research is so important for writers—the daydream is only fun when it’s convincing and immersive. Details make all the difference. But a writer can only write about what the writer knows about.

So, a mystery writer might study police procedure, a romance writer might study relationship psychology, a writer of realistic historical fiction might scour old almanacs for historic farming practices, and a fantasy writer . . .

Wait. Fantasy writers don’t have to do research, do they? They can just make everything up. It’s fantasy, after all; anything could happen.

But when something happens in a fantasy story that breaks the established rules of its fantasy reality, it jolts the reader in the same way as when a realistic story breaks the established rules of the real world.

As a result, researching for fantasy is, in some ways, actually more complicated than researching for realistic fiction.

For realistic fiction, an author only needs to do enough research to determine whether a specific technology (for example) really does (or did historically) indeed exist in the time and place in which the story is set. For fantasy, however, the writer must determine whether it’s plausible that the technology in question could exist in the time and place of the story, given the context of everything else that has already been established about the world of the story.

For example, some technologies can only be developed after the technologies used to make their component parts have been invented. Are all the necessary component technologies present in the world? Also, if a technology is being utilized in one aspect of a society, it will almost certainly show up in others. A civilization that uses steam-powered tanks to achieve world domination will be more convincing if it also employs steam powered water pumps and agricultural equipment.

One fantasy book I read used specific ethnic groups and place-names to indicate that the setting was an alternate version of early medieval Europe. Then, in the middle of the story, the characters casually sat down to a dinner that included turkey and potatoes. For me, this broke the daydream because both of these items originate in the New World, which would not yet have been discovered at the time in which the story was set.

This could have been fixed in one of two ways. First, the author could have mentioned in passing at some point before the meal that a new land had been discovered across the sea (placing it earlier in the fictional history than it occurred in real history). Alternately, and probably more appropriately for this story, the author could have simply substituted similar foods that would have been available in the time and place the author had chosen, such as goose and turnips. But as it was, the discrepancy between the established milieu and the items that didn’t fit that milieu was jarring, and it took me a while to get back into the story.

By contrast, in another book, set in an alternate version of modern-day London, a wizard and his apprentice toss a hand grenade into the basement of a suburban home in order to eliminate vampires who have taken up residence. The author’s careful description of the label on the grenade is a potent detail that not only raises the tension and augments the sense of immersion, but also helps convince the reader that if the author got the details right on the hand grenades, he’s probably also right about the vampires.

An author who is striving for a realistic setting for a story needs to make sure that what happens in the story conforms to the reality with which the reader is familiar.

Likewise, an author who works toward a plausible fantasy setting needs first to convey to the reader the parameters of the story’s virtual reality, and then the author is under the same obligation to make the story conform with that established reality.

In either case, a lot of research can be necessary. Because the number one rule for the fiction writer is:

Don’t break the daydream.

The Marvelous Amy Beatty

About Amy Beatty

Amy Beatty grew up in the wilds of Yellowstone National Park as part of an experiment in crossing the genes of a respected research biologist with those of a grammar aficionado. She spent her summers making forts under the sagebrush with her friends and catching garter snakes by the creek to populate elaborate sandbox villages—or holed up in her bunk bed exploring the exotic worlds hidden between the covers of books. 

She currently lives in Utah with her husband and their two delightfully unconventional children. For fun, she likes to cut big pieces of cloth into small pieces of cloth and then sew them together again. Several of her quilt projects have been exhibited in juried shows at a local art museum.

Links:

Website: www.amybeatty.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AmyBeattyAuthor
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AmyBeattyAuthor
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/amybeatty
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/13556988.Amy_Beatty

Amy’s Book, Dragon Ascending

Edrik, son of the murdered Drake regent, never gained his dragon magic and cannot shapeshift into his dragon form. Unfit to marry his love, the Princess Lissara, Edrik embarks on a dangerous mission to prove himself worthy. He seeks Lissara’s missing father, the dragon king, before an enemy usurps the throne.

Unfortunately, the search for the king brings Edrik to a dungeon located in human territory. Inside the prison, Edrik discovers the missing king, whose captors are unaware of his true identity. Edrik must rely on a grubby young dungeon keeper to help them escape without disclosing that his companion is the dragon king. But the dungeon keeper has a secret identity as well, one that will change Edrik’s destiny forever.

You can find Dragon Ascending on Amazon and all major online book retailers.

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Like Young Adult Fantasy and Sci-Fi?

Be sure to check out the Fantasy and Sci-fi Reader’s Lounge Feb 6-9th where dozens of YA authors will be sharing about their work and giving away books and prizes. Yours truly will be featured on Feb 7th from 11-12am EST (9-10am MST)

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Toxic Fans and How Not to be One, with James Wymore

Every single one of us has that one friend who hates things with an unusual passion. You know the one – and if you don’t, it might be you. The conversation will start with a casual discussion about the most recent movies they’ve seen and the next thing you know, they are ranting about some aspect of the show that you frankly could care less about.

This is a toxic fan – and James Wymore isn’t one of them. Trust me. He’s got opinions a plenty about recent reincarnations of certain franchises, but he also has that wonderful thing called perspective. As an author who has
solved the puzzles and fought to find what makes his fans happy, he gets it.

James and I are friends and fellow authors at Immortal Works press.

Solo, the story of why Han has trust issues

Toxic Fans and How Not to be One

by James Wymore

I can’t count how many times over the years I’ve had somebody tell me how awful the Star Wars prequel trilogy is. At conferences, during convention panels, over pizza, at family gatherings, and so many times on social media. They are generally nice people, with notable exceptions. I just can’t figure out why they have taken it upon themselves to actively campaign against a nearly twenty-year old movie in a franchise they claim to love. What is it they hope to gain?

So I started engaging some of these folks in conversations, to find out what about those movies caused them so much irritation that they would publicly proselyte against them.

The responses varied, of course. Some became defensive, as if they couldn’t understand why anybody would have to justify such an obvious opinion. Others broke down into lists of reasons, some I suspect were regurgitated from online or other sources. The last group just increased their vitriol, adding emotional weight to their claims. The only common thread I could find was that each of them felt it should have been done differently.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it takes a lot of self confidence to believe you could imagine or produce a better movie than the franchise’s original creator, writer, and director.

I wrote this off as people being people and didn’t let it upset my own enjoyment of those movies. However, over time, the anger and animosity toward Star Wars creators grew exponentially when Disney bought the franchise and began making new movies. Abrams managed to make most of the fans moderately happy with episode 7. Rogue One caused a new division. Then waves of social hate rose up to actively protest episode 8. And I can’t even explain why so much anger was aimed at Solo.

Disney responded by cancelling all the spin-offs. Then they changed their mind and cancelled everything after episode 9 (which had a year left before it even came out). Way to go, whiners, you got Star Wars put on permanent hiatus. You literally killed the thing you claimed to love. Even if it wasn’t what you wanted, did you have to ruin it for everybody else? If you couldn’t have the movies of your imagination, does that mean the rest of us shouldn’t have any either?

If you like something, great. If you don’t like it, that’s okay. But why the hate? Why the need to actively tear it down? Did it ever occur to you that you could just leave peacefully and let the rest of us enjoy it?

Fandom has grown toxic.

 We all need a little more zen in our media consumption. Rather than lashing out when you’re disappointed, maybe a better strategy would be to just watch what you like and don’t watch what you don’t. Are you getting paid to review movies? Have you been inducted into the posse to protect innocent citizens from bad media? Did the “fix the franchise” crusaders make you their missionary?

Trust the market. If people don’t like something, they won’t buy tickets and the company will lose money. That’s the only feedback they really listen to anyway. If you don’t like the new Ghostbusters, don’t watch it. But be cool. Don’t go after the company and start spreading negativity. Offer people the dignity of deciding what they want. And be secure enough to not like something without rage.

Creating a hostile environment just ruins it for everybody. In the end, isn’t it supposed to be about entertainment and fun? If not, maybe you should reevaluate why you are emotionally invested in it. If so, then making it toxic is counter-productive.

Peace.

The real James Wymore

About James Wymore

Growing up on a steady diet of Spider-man cartoons and television shows like Batman and Wonder Woman, James Wymore knew he would someday find his own super power and join the fight for justice. He did everything right, from experimenting with arson to jumping from great heights, but his ability to control fire or fly never kicked in.

As he went past the teenage years, he accepted that he probably didn’t have a hidden mutant power waiting to manifest. Neither would he uncover any unexplained alien origins, so he threw himself into searching for enhancements designed to bring his latent abilities to the surface. He travelled the world studying arcane magic. Throughout college, he experimented with volatile chemicals, extreme temperatures, lasers, and various forms of radiation.

Eventually, he discovered the power of hypnosis through fantastic stories. He plunged into writing, filling his work with the subtle triggers that would allow him to one day take control of all his readers’ minds and use them as an army to conquer the literary world. Until that day, he works tirelessly to create more and better books. Follow his progress at http://jameswymore.wordpress.com

Want to connect with James, here’s his links:

Book Soon to be Released

Thug #1

Superheroes and villains constantly battle for control of Denver, Colorado, so somebody has to do the heavy lifting. CJ Cruz found his niche working for whichever super-flavor-of-the-day happens to be running the show at the time. Since most of the self-labeled heroes claiming to be on the side of justice don’t hire henchmen, he usually winds up doing the street-level work for supers operating outside the law. His family and priest just think he’s a gangster, but CJ knows his motivation is pure. He keeps on the windy side of law enforcement by following a few simple rules, the first of which is keep your head down and never be the boss’s right-hand man. People tell him he should get a new job, but he likes working around supers. Besides, except for intimidation and roughing-people-up he doesn’t have any other skills necessary to make rent and pay child support.

“Thug #1 is a fast-paced, action-packed book written in comic book style. The artwork is amazing, too!”


Holli Anderson, author of Myrikal
Theocracide – newly released in audiobook!

Theocracide

In the future, everybody wears computer glasses that scan the world and project whatever you want to see right in front of it. Through perfected augmented reality, the buildings and people blend seamlessly into whatever movie or video game is running. We all see whatever we want, all the time. Nobody cares what clothes they wear, because the rest of the world sees them as pirates, robots, or anything that suits their current media. Even the cars are self-driving, because nobody wants to pause the streaming feed.

In other news, the world is under attack by aliens. Disease is decimating the human population. A man takes over America and declares himself to be a god.

Nobody cares, so long as they don’t turn off the wi-fi.

Jason Hunt has the perfect life. A scholarship university athlete with an amazing girlfriend, his future couldn’t be brighter. Then his father drops a few family secrets on him—

Secrets of treason and heresy, which put him in direct conflict with the reigning Theocrat.

“Wymore weaves a fantastic tale while taking a good hard look at religion, politics, immortality, entertainment, and technological advancement.  If you’re looking for a thrilling sci-fi adventure that beautifully mirrors current real-world issues and advancements then this is the book for you.”


Andrew Buckley (Author, Hair in All the Wrong Places)

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Show, Don’t Tell – For Literature and Life, with Mike Thayer

There are very few lessons more powerful than those encouraging people to continually seek improvement and to be their best selves. Today’s guest, Mike Thayer, is a shining example of just that. He’s chosen to live fearlessly and reach for his dreams. He’s come to share a powerful message – why showing is so much more powerful than telling.


Photo by Limor Zellermayer on Unsplash

Show Don’t Tell – For Literature and Life

You get a lot of writing advice as an author. Murder your darlings, avoid adverbs, shun passive voice. The most oft repeated advice, however, has got to be “show, don’t tell.” It’s one of the simplest to understand and yet hardest to consistently apply. It’s also one of the most powerful when done right.

Don’t just tell me that the house is spooky, show me the house is spooky and I’ll arrive at any and all necessary conclusions myself. Talk of the disembodied whispers, the creaking floorboards, the apparitions that only appear in your peripheral vision. If you’ve done it well, I won’t just understand that the house is spooky, I’ll feel it, I’ll see it in my mind, and I’ll share the experience with others. By showing we unlock the true power storytelling, we tap into the essence of why we’re writing in the first place: to transport someone to a different world or see through the eyes of another person.

The power of “show, don’t tell” extends beyond the literary world, however. It isn’t just the way we should write. It’s a way we should live. If you’ve wronged someone, don’t just tell them that your sorry, show them. If you care for someone , don’t just tell them that you love them, show them. If you want to help the sick, dispossessed, and persecuted, if you want to exercise and eat healthy, if you want to learn to play an instrument or write a novel, then don’t just tell yourself or tell the world. Show it.

If you do it well enough you probably won’t even need to tell the world, because we will see it and we will feel it. Talking about something is easy, but I was always told that talk was cheap. After writing a few novels I think I understand that phrase better than ever. Do more than talk. Do more than tell. Show.

About today’s guest:

Mike Thayer is a proud father, lucky husband, passionate author, viral blogger, degreed engineer, decent impressionist, inept hunter, erstwhile jock, and nerd.

He has cast a ring on the slopes of Mt. Doom, eaten a feast at the Green Dragon Inn, cemented Excalibur in a sandstone block, tasted butter beer at Diagon Alley, built a secret door to his storage room, and written a fantasy novel. What else is left, really?

Want to connect? You can find Mike at his website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

He also has an amazing podcast, Calling all Nerds. (Psst – he and I totally did an amazing episode together, go check it out!)

The Epic Adventures of the Techno Wizard: The Uncharted Lands

Rebellion against the Emperor of Avalon grows as rumors spread of the Collector’s defeat at the hands of the Techno Wizard. Sam Shelton and his friends now seek powerful new allies as they travel to the Great Rampart of the Uncharted Lands – a towering, armored wall built for a single purpose: to keep the citizens of the Wildland Kingdom on one side and the foulest monsters in all of Avalon on the other.

Something, however, is not right in the Uncharted Lands. The attacks on the wall grow fiercer, more frequent, more coordinated and Sam’s drone catches a glimpse of an evil long-forgotten.

Can Sam and his friends convince the Queen of the Wildland Kingdom to fight the emperor or does a slumbering threat pose an even greater risk?

You can buy your own copy of The Epic Adventures of the Techno Wizard: The Uncharted Lands on Amazon and also  iTunes, Nook, and Kobo.

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The Inner Jerkface and You: How to Deal with your Inner Critic – with James Thompson

Authors tend to be introspective people. After all, we spend an ungodly amount of time uncovering the inner workings of our characters down to the point that we know what will break them – and then we do, often with gleeful abandon.

This is what makes great storytelling. However, like most people, we still stubbornly refuse to master that little voice that keeps telling us that we aren’t good enough, aren’t worthy, or don’t deserve to succeed. Today, friend and fellow author James Thompson is with us to talk about how we can deal with that niggling little voice.

The Inner jerkface and you: How to deal with your inner critic

Just who is this inner jerkface?

It’s our inner critic on steroids. It’s the little voice that knows what we’re afraid of. Knows the anxieties plague us on a daily basis. It’s the guy that pumps adrenaline into our bloodstream at night, so we can lie awake and worry.

Our Inner Jerkface, or whatever you want to call it, comes into our life at the most inopportune moments.

Here’s the really scary part. The Inner Jerkface speaks in a rational, logical sounding voice. Even though it’s telling you irrational, illogical things. The lower we feel, the more depressed we feel, the more this voice makes sense to us.

“You’ll never be as good as your successful friend.”

“You are a fraud.”

“You are failing your family.”

I could go on and on.

Like you, I hear this voice on the daily. Even when things are going great, this voice will still be there, trying to make us shut down and curl into a ball.

Fortunately, we have another voice we can listen to. Paying attention to this particular voice can counter the Inner Jerkface.

I’m talking about the voice of our optimism.

I can hear the eye rolling now.

Optimism gets a bad rap, oddly enough. People associate optimism to thinking life will be sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and kittens.

Not so.

Optimism is seeing the problems we have, and telling ourselves to keep going. That things will get better.

When things look bleak we can either listen to the Jerk, or we can listen to the voice that tells us this.

“Your friend is very successful, and that’s awesome. That success is motivating.”

“Frauds only look like they’re working this hard. I know you’re putting in the hours on this.”

“I know this is difficult right now. I also know you’ve got great support and your wife and kids love you. You can do this. ”

The Inner Jerkface will always be with you. So will the voice of your optimism.

You’re always going to have anxiety, no shame in that. It’s part and parcel of the human condition. So, too, is realizing that somethings are more important than our fear. Finding out that you have that kind of courage is a huge deal.

Don’t worry if you haven’t found your courage yet. You will.

About today’s guest:

James Thompson lives in Sandy, UT. He loves a good story wherever he finds it. Primarily he loves the myths and legends of every culture in the world. He also loves reading DnD, Star Wars, GURPs, White Wolf, and other RPG source books. He even participates in role playing games when he finds folks crazy enough to let him play. When he isn’t reading or writing, he is a stay at home father, helping to raise twin boys who are growing up too fast. He is also a blade and exotic weapon enthusiast. Lineage is his first published book. He is currently working on the sequel to Lineage, and other projects.

Connect with James on Facebook, on Twitter, and on his blog.

James’s Book, Lineage


This is the story of Connor Murray, a young hooligan from England who finds out that he is a direct descendant of the Legendary King Arthur. He is taken to a school where other lineal descendants of the Court of Camelot gather to be taught by the progeny of Merlin. Lineage brings the names of the Knights of the Round Table from the dust of the old tales and gives them new life. Most importantly, it brings back the ideals of Arthur’s Camelot: that might is not right and mercy is not weakness.

Lineage is available on Amazon.