Monday, May 28, 2018

TOUR w/GUEST POST - YA/NA Crossover - Everything Under the Sun by Jessica Redmerski

Everything Under the Sun
by Jessica Redmerski
Date of Publication: August 28th 2017
Cover Image by Perrywinkle Photography
Cover Design by Okay Creations
Genre: Dystopian YA/NA Crossover
Tagline: Can love survive in such dark times, or is it fated to die with them?



The Book Junkie Reads . . . Review of . . . EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN . . . Where do you go when you can no longer go home? What do you do when all you knew no longer exist for you? What do you do when the danger you see becomes a comfort from even more danger? What do you do . . .?

Everything Under the Sun gives a dystopic world after a devastating event kills the majority of humanity and leaves behind a world that every scraps requires a fight. This new world was the one that Thais and Atticus had to live in and adjust too or die. This was not happy bed of roses. Now you are living in a time where the lawless reign. Rape, death, violence, abuse, murder are part of everyday life. Taking place right out in the open. This was dark, deep, and intriguing. 

Thais and Sosie were sisters living with the father and the remains of a town deep in the mountains. That was until things got turned upside down. They find themselves in the hands of slave traders and no home to go back to. Life choice have become almost zero.

Atticus was a young soldier in this new world. A world where respect, morals, and the such are no longer value, praised or even accepted by most. His life was hard. He was no the man he wanted to be but to survive he had to conform to the dictates of the current power. 

You will find in this one dark actions, events, and slow growing romance, a simmering intensity, and a post-apocalyptic world that draws you imagination deep in to the web weaved with words. This was indeed a deep long read that had you working for every thing you received. You delve a little deeper with each new part introduced. This was a three part read and it was something new to focus on in each one. I took my time getting every drop of vivid visualization that I could from each page. The plot here was held together and supported by the imagery created. The characters stole your heart either with the innocence of their being or the darkness that swallowed them whole and spit them out to make something different of them. Having the dual POV allowed for you to get to know them both on a deeper level. 

I highly recommend this read. I also recommend that you take your time reading and enjoying the world created. This one is a long read no matter how you look at it. 


BLURB
Thais Fenwick was eleven-years-old when civilization fell, devastated by a virus that killed off the majority of the world’s population. For seven years, Thais and her family lived in a community of survivors deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. But when her town is attacked by raiders, she and her blind sister are taken away to the East-Central Territory where she is destined to live the cruel and unjust kind of life her late mother warned her about.


Atticus Hunt is a troubled soldier in Lexington City who has spent the past seven years trying to conform to the vicious nature of men in a post-apocalyptic society. He knows that in order to survive, he must abandon his morals and his conscience and become like those he is surrounded by. But when he meets Thais, morals and conscience win out over conformity, and he risks his rank and his life to help her. They escape the city and set out together on a long and perilous journey to find safety in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Struggling to survive in a world without electricity, food, shelter, and clean water, Atticus and Thais shed their fear of growing too close, and they fall hopelessly in love. But can love survive in such dark times, or is it fated to die with them?
Kindle     Paperback


“Thais,” I said, “I do think you’re beautiful. I just—.” I couldn’t force myself to say the things I really wanted: I want you to want this kiss, not because I’m the only man here to give it to you. But her heartfelt speech about todays and yesterdays and tomorrows and the very real possibility that there might not be another one, didn’t alleviate that thought—it only reinforced it.
In the end, after fighting with myself, all that mattered to me was what Thais wanted, what Thais needed. And if it was simply a kiss she asked of me, then I would do it. For her. Not for myself, though as much as I, too, wanted it, as much as I knew it would only make my own needs and wants more unbearable, I would endure the impending ache if it would ease hers.
I leaned toward her slowly; my eyes swept the curvature of her lips, the tiny hollow beneath her nose, and I touched the left corner of her mouth with my own.
The right corner.
The center.
The impending ache…

GUEST POST | 10 Weird Things About Jessica Redmerski


1) I’m terrified of heights, particularly airplanes or anything man-made (rides at the fair, elevators, tall buildings, etc.). But just thinking about being on a plane gives me anxiety!
2) I smoked for eleven years, until 2007 when my left lung collapsed and I spent five days in the hospital with a tube hanging out of my chest. It’s safe to say that I’ve never touched a cigarette since.
3) I used to love AMC’s The Walking Dead, watched it religiously, until they killed off Carl, and I haven’t watched an episode since! Yes, I’m THAT serious about my favorite characters.
4) I have such a strong sense of smell that I can smell the toxins and sickness coming off a person’s body who is running a fever.
5) I have a mild case of OCD and hypochondria.
6) I used to have a crush on Nomak from Blade II – yes, the character and not the actor who played him, though there’s certainly nothing wrong with him, either.
7) There will always be a huge place in my heart for 80’s music and movies.
8) I have seen the film, The Lost Boys, sixty-five times and at one point I could recite the movie from beginning to end, word-for-word.
9) I am the author of DIRTY EDEN. (Trust me, this fits perfectly on any list of weird things).
10) Years ago, I used to have dreams about fires and if I ever had them three nights in a row, something close to me would catch fire on the fourth day!
  
Author Info
Jessica Redmerski is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, international bestseller, and award winner, who juggles several different genres. She began self-publishing in 2012, and later with the success of THE EDGE OF NEVER, signed on with Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance. Her works have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Jessica is a hybrid author who, in addition to working with a traditional publisher, also continues to self-publish. Her popular crime and suspense series, In the Company of Killers, has been optioned for television in the United States by actor and model William Levy, and a film exclusive to the Dominican Republic.

She also writes as J.A. Redmerski.



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Thursday, May 17, 2018

COVER REVEAL - YA CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE - TEXTING PRINCE CHARMING (PRINCE CHARMING Series, #1) by Patty Carothers and Amy Brewer

TEXTING PRINCE CHARMING
PRINCE CHARMING Series, #1
by Patty Carothers and Amy Brewer
Date of Publication: May 29th 2018
Publisher: Omnific (Simon and Schuster Partner)
Cover Artist: Amy Brokaw
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Tagline: Is this your Prince Charming?

BLURB
After a tragic accident leaves Shelby Ryan permanently injured, she gives up all hope in happily-ever-afters. Shelby puts on a brave face while hiding her pain, but once she returns to school, everything changes. She starts receiving anonymous corny messages from a mysterious Prince Charming, and her nemesis, basketball star and bad boy, Sebastian, shows sudden interest in her.

Hilarity ensues as Shelby tries to uncover Prince Charming's real identity and come to terms with her true feelings for the last boy on Earth she ever thought she'd fall for: Sebastian Freaking Birch.
              
Will she be able to cope with the allure of the texting prince, or will Sebastian be the real-life prince in Shelby's fairytale?

Authors Info
Patty Carothers has been in love with stories for as long as she can remember. She is a certified copy editor and an Oxford comma fangirl. Her adoration of all things comic book related and YA has morphed into her co-writing the Texting Prince Charming series. Engaging and realistic characters that bounce off the pages through witty and thought-provoking dialogue are a thrill for her to read. Although, most days the real question lies with a simple: Is she team Marvel or team D.C.?



Amy Brewer has been an avid reader and lover of literature her whole life. She is a graduate of Culver-Stockton College with a theater degree because drama, romance, and angst are her lifelong passions. She is the co-writer of the Texting Prince Charming series and continues to be enthralled with the art of writing.





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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

SPOTLIGHT w/INTERVIEW - YA THRILLER - Monsterland Reanimated (Monsterland, #2) by Michael Okon


Monsterland Reanimated
Monsterland, #2
by Michael Okon
Date of Publication: April 13th 2018
Publisher: WordFire Press LLC
Genre: Young Adult Thriller

TaglineWhen an army of relentless mummies, a life-sucking ooze called The Glob, and a hybrid reanimated Behemoth rise from the depths of Monsterland, who will survive?

BLURB
After Monsterland has imploded, the entire world is thrown into chaos. World leadership is gone, economies have collapsed, and communications are non-existent.  Wyatt must go beyond the boundaries of his small town to reestablish contact with the outside world, and alert the government about a traitor-in-chief.

During his journey he discovers a new threat released from the bowels of the defunct theme park.

When an army of relentless mummies, a life-sucking ooze called The Glob, and a hybrid reanimated Behemoth rise from the depths of Monsterland, who will survive?



Excerpt: Chapter 1

The Night After the Monsterland Catastrophe

A bright moon painted the desert’s surface pewter. Here and there, dark spots soiled the landscape like oil spills. Most of the bodies had been taken before the troops were ordered to leave. They carted away the corpses, bulldozing the zombies into mass graves, until radios chirped with urgent orders deploying the soldiers to the bigger threats that erupted in the main cities like a chain of angry volcanos.
Monsterland was extinguished, its carcass left for the vultures to pick, the exhibits silent as a tomb.
The dead president and his equally dead entourage were whisked away on Air Force One, along with the dark-clad special operatives that came and left like the brisk desert wind that now howled through the empty streets.
A gate screamed in the silence, slamming with a reverberating smash. The uneven gait of someone with a physical challenge filled the void. The scrape and plod of his limp echoed against the wall of mountains framing the theme park. His labored breathing huffed as he made his way down the streets.
A door creaked loudly as it was blown by the wind. He stopped, his distorted figure silhouetted in the pale moonlight, his body turning silver. He looked at the broken glass littering the pavement like diamonds, then up to the still, pre-dawn sky. He considered the sun peeking over the jagged horizon in the east, its golden light painting the dips and hollows of the hills. Soon the coming day would chase the darkness away.
Time was the enemy now. He had to move faster, or it would be too late. He picked up his pace, lurching along the winding road. A keening howl ricocheted through the streets, bouncing off the walls. It sounded like a ... no, he thought, it couldn’t be. The werewolves were all dead. Destroyed by Vincent Konrad when he made their heads explode.
The old man paused, listening for it again, and was not disappointed when the animal whimpered. He gauged it to be inside the defunct vampire exhibit. He moved toward the entrance. The storefronts had been destroyed. A few body parts lay on the pavement, as if people had discarded them in a rush. He heard the scraping of paws on the street and a shiver went down his crooked spine.
He knew the werewolves were dead; he had seen it with his own eyes. A figure detached from the shadows. Igor flattened himself against the wall. He watched it move stealthily down the street, stopping when it scavenged a morsel of rotting flesh. It looked up to stare at Igor, its eyes glowing in the darkness.
A coyote? He waved a hand, dismissing it. It had to be a coyote; it was too small to be a wolf, too big to be a dog. The beast twitched its ears, then resumed its meal.
Igor knew the coyote was not a threat, and he continued his mission. His lame foot hit a can, sending a cacophony of sound like an explosion in the deserted park. The beast dropped the bone it was gnawing on, sniffing the area. Its iridescent eyes searched the streets.
It could be a baby wolf, Igor thought, keeping himself as still as possible. He felt it watching him, even from this distance. It was not a threat, yet.
Igor skittered away, hugging the walls of Monsterland, putting as much distance as he could between them. Not an easy feat, considering his distorted hips. He muttered to himself about carrion and the wind. His eyes darted nervously, scouring the hills, not exactly sure what he was looking for. Adrenaline coursed through his veins. His heart pounded so loudly he was certain that the creature watching him could hear it too.
His feet stumbling to a halt, he bent over, gasping for air, cursing Vincent and those meddlesome teenagers, as well as the rest of the world.
The beast gave another mournful howl that went right through him. Igor glanced at his empty hands, berating himself for not bringing a weapon. He searched his surroundings for anything to protect himself.
Then he saw it, one of the axes they had on almost every corner. All of them had been pulled from their protective cases. One was lying in a pool of coagulating blood, the blade long gone. He picked up the broken axe handle, turning in a semicircle. He was ready for an attacker.

A new, larger outline made his heart quiver with fear. It crouched in a corner, its snout covered with blood. This one was bigger, not a coyote, a wild wolf. Wait, he thought. Weren’t the gray wolves of California all but extinct?
Igor narrowed his eyes. The beast was a light reddish brown and not the silver gray of a wolf’s pelt. A chain hung from its neck, the pendant of a werewolf’s head dangling, emerald eyes flashing. What was it? Was it a mutant coyote? A wolf? Some weird hybrid, he wondered for a minute, his breath harsh in his ears. They watched each other soundlessly.
A hybrid then. He’d heard about them, a rare mixture of wolf and coyote. What did they call them? Coywolves ...? or was it Woyotes? He shrugged indifferently. Perhaps someone’s pet, he decided. Igor’s mirthless laugh came out like a snort.
The coywolf stood still, its ears alert, its head cocked as if it was observing him.
Igor dropped the makeshift weapon, calling out, “Eat the rest of your meal, you dumb beast.”
The animal continued to watch him, its two front paws on the remains of a zombie’s chest.
Igor wiped his forehead, waiting, his eyes coming back to search the village, confirming it was empty, except for the carrion eaters like the coyotes and vultures. He looked up, noting the circling predators waiting for him to move on.
“Interrupted your meal,” he chuckled. Just the local scavengers looking for food. That was all; the shadows revealed nothing else. Satisfied he was alone, he moved on. He had work to do.
A paper flew past him, hitting a kiosk as the wind plastered it against its surface. It flapped like a dying bird. Igor reached over, taking the fluttering paper, peering at the map of the park, the one they gave people as they entered Monsterland. A bark of laughter escaped his mouth.
He looked up at the giant monolith that was once the Werewolf River Run, its hulking shape obscuring the horizon. “You are here,” he giggled, pointing a grimy finger on the paper’s surface. He dragged his deformed body further down the pavement. The storefronts that used to be Monsterland’s Main Street yawned vacantly, the wind whistling through the narrow alleyways. “Now, you are here,” he laughed. Shouting, he listened to the sound of his voice bouncing off the blood-splattered walls.
He made his way to the back end of the zombie village, feeling like the last man on earth. He glanced around at the desolate landscape. His home, the beautiful theme park, was little more than ruins destroyed by the army.

His nose twitched from the fetid smell of rot. The US Army had massacred the zombies. The troops came like a force of nature wiping out everything in its path, every last one of them blown away by the troops.
They were black ops, special forces, he knew from their uniforms. He wondered if things were indeed going as planned. He shrugged, knowing right now nothing mattered except for what he had to do. The irony that he was just about the most important man on earth brought more amusement to his smile.
The local police force was gone, as were the leaders of most countries in the world. He knew all was chaos outside, perhaps even war, each nation blaming the next for the loss of their leadership. Not to worry, he thought. Vincent left America in capable hands.
Dreams do come true, he snickered. Nightmares too, he finished the thought. A long line of drool pulled at his lower lip. He paused at a pothole in the road, decomposing body parts glistening, the disappearing moon turning the bits of bone and brains pearly.
Anxiety bloomed in his chest as he passed the opaque windows of Vincent’s derelict Monsterland hotel, the Copper Valley Inn. He hated that place. Abandoned construction vehicles were frozen in their spots, testimony to the hotel’s unfinished business.
Despite the pastel colors of its exterior, it sat like an ominous crypt to the part of the theme park that Vincent could never control. Told Vincent it was a money pit. Crews couldn’t work because ... well, it didn’t matter anymore. The help was all dead. He thought he saw a light flicker in the window, but when he turned, he realized it was nothing more than a sputtering gas lamp that had never been disconnected.
He stood for a while, staring for more activity, and then jerked with the realization that he waited too long and wasted precious time. Surely no one expected him to go searching during the heat of battle.
Vincent said it was enough time to set up the timetable. Vincent knew everything, and Igor felt his panic ebb. It had been barely twenty-four hours since the attack. For all he knew, he could be on a fool’s errand.
He pressed his hand on his hip, his back screaming with resentment at so much movement. He was not used to any exercise. He sighed, wiping his brow with the ragged end of his costume, the lace scratching his skin. He caught the cuff, snagging the material with his teeth, tugging it free from his velvet jacket. He loathed the show and was glad he’d never have to endure the humiliation of performing again, especially with the vamps. Those condescending, blood-sucking parasites. He wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore, he thought with satisfaction. Vincent had promised he’d not have to endure them for long, living up to his part of the bargain quite nicely. They were gone, torn apart by the werewolves or transformed into a tasty dinner by the zombies. Either way, they wouldn’t be bullying him with their nasty insults. Something buzzed around him, and he swiped at it.
It felt as though he walked to the other side of the earth. Why Vincent had to pick Zombieville to make his last stand, he’d never know. The Werewolf River Run would have been much more convenient. It was getting lighter now, and he could easily make out the smoking devastation.
He searched the horizon, his eyes resting on the burnt wreckage of a golf cart, the torched skeleton listing at an odd angle.
Pulling his lame foot, he pushed himself as fast as his body could travel, his breath hitching with the effort.
The corpse was gone. He knew they would have taken that for DNA testing, proof that the enemy was vanquished. The only things left were the putrid carcasses from Monsterland, the decaying zombies, massacred vampires, and what was left of the werewolves after Vincent had exterminated them.
He climbed a small hill, his bad leg screaming with pain. Igor crowed with triumph when he saw it, the discarded lump of flesh, lying forgotten in a ditch, face down. He shivered as the desert wind stirred and eddied around him. Damn, but it was desolate here.
He hunkered down, forcing himself to skitter on the hard-packed earth. He wondered what his son, the vice president—no, he corrected himself, the new president of the United States, Mr. Nate Owens—would think of his father now, scrambling like a dung beetle in the dirt.
He cursed. The drool was back, dripping from his mouth like a sparkling spider web. Instead of rising—it was beyond him at this point—he shimmied over to the severed head, reaching forward, reverently, grabbing it by the matted hair, and grasping it to his chest.
The black eyes stared back dully, the dark depths reflecting the hunchback’s twisted smile.
Vincent Konrad’s lifeless face lay in his hands, the pale lips open in a soundless scream.
“I’m so happy I could kiss you, Vincent!” he told the decapitated head. He cradled the face of his friend. “We’ll get you fixed up in no time.”
The moon bathed the face a pale blue. The hunchback jiggled the dead weight, cackling with delight as the one papery eyelid drooped as if it were winking.

In the distance, that coywolf howled, making Igor suck in his breath with fear. He tucked the head under his arm as he struggled back up the small hill, mumbling something about Plan B.



Author Info
Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.

Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

The Book Junkie Reads . . . Interview with Michael Okon . . .

How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work?
Like a movie in a book. Very cinematic.

What are some of your writing/publishing goals for this year?
Publish Monsterland 3. Sell my book to a major motion picture studio.

Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally for you?
It’s really both, but ultimately it just flows through me when I’m beating out the storyline and character arcs.

Can you share you next creative project(s)? If yes, can you give a few details?

I’m knee-deep in Monsterland 3. I have a whole new slew of monsters ready but unfortunately my agent will not allow me to give away the details.  You’ll just have to wait 😊





Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Okon/e/B0752THRZV
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Sunday, May 13, 2018

YA/NA FANTASY - Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Song of Blood & Stone 

(Earthsinger Chronicles #1)

Re-Release May 1st 2018
Publisher St. Martin's Press

The Book Junkie Reads . . . Review of . . . Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles, #1) . . . 
YA/NA Fantasy Romance. It had a YA feel but more NA content and maturity level. I found myself getting drawn in further and further in to this world of earth magic and war. A world where song to the Earth would and could heal. There was thrilling events. Secrets and treachery going on behind doors and out in the open. This was a read the required you to give it time. It was well developed and richly involved. The added bonus was that we get a deeper looking at both Jack and Jasminda. We see what they fear, what they feel, and how they cope. The dual POV has always for me allowed a way for you to have a deeper connection to the characters instead of the one sided viewpoint. My disappointment was the hanger at the end. I would not so much call it a cliffhanger and just a hanger. It leaves you with much to think about. Jack and Jasminda find some menial closure while the sub-plot of it all continues on. A book with magic, passion, war, secrets, fantasy wrapped with the unconventional everyday hero/heroine. 

BLURB
A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers. 

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive--an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack's mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it's people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda's Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.


CHAPTER TWO

Jackal and Monkey stood at the edge of a wide canyon. Monkey asked, If I leap and make it to the other side, was that my destiny or merely my good luck?
Jackal replied, Our destiny can be taken in hand, molded, and shaped, while chance makes foolishness out of whatever attempts to control it. Does this make destiny the master of luck?
collected folktales



Jack had found himself in a great many hopeless situations in his life, but this one was the grand champion—a twenty­two­year rec­ ord for dire occurrences. He only hoped this wouldn’t be the last occurrence and sent up yet another prayer that he might live to see his twenty­third year.
The temperature had dropped precipitously. His spine was as­ saulted by the rocky ground on which he lay, but really that was the least of his discomforts.
His vision had begun to swim about an hour ago, and so at first he thought the girl looming above him was a mirage. She peered down at his hiding spot behind a cluster of coarse shrubbery, her head cocked at an angle. Jack went to stand, years of breeding kick­ ing in, his muscle memory ofended at the idea of not standing in the presence of a lady, but apparently his muscles had forgotten the bullet currently lodged within them. And the girl was Lagrimari— not strictly a lady, but a woman nonetheless—and a beautiful one, he noticed as he squinted into the dying light. Wild, midnight curls floated carelessly around her head, and piercing dark eyes regarded him. Her dress was drab and tattered, but her smooth skin was a confectioner’s delight. His stomach growled. When was the last time he’d eaten?
Her presence meant he was still on the Lagrimari side of the mountain range bordering the two lands and had yet to cross the other, more powerful barrier keeping him from his home of Elsira: the Mantle.
The girl frowned down at him, taking in his bedraggled appear­ ance. From his position lying on the ground, he tried his best to smooth his ripped uniform, the green fatigues of the Lagrimari army. Her confusion was apparent. Jack was obviously Elsiran; aside from his skin tone, the ginger hair and golden honey­colored eyes were a dead giveaway. And yet he wore the uniform of his enemy.
“Please don’t be scared,” he said in Lagrimari. Her brows rose toward her hairline as she scanned his supine and bloodied body. Well, that was rather a ridiculous thing to say. “I only meant that I mean you no harm. I . . .” He struggled with how to explain him­ self.
There were two possibilities. She could be a nationalist who would turn him in to the squad of soldiers currently combing the mountain for him, perhaps to gain favor with the government, or song of blood & stone she could be like so many Lagrimari citizens, beaten down by the war with no real loyalty to their dictator or his thugs. If she was the former, he was already dead, so he took a chance with the truth.
“You see, I was undercover, spying from within the Lagrimari army. But now there are men looking for me, they’re not far, but . . .” He paused to take a breath; the efort of speaking was draining. He suspected he had several cracked or broken ribs in addition to the gunshot wound. His vision swirled again, and the girl turned into two. Two beautiful girls. If these were his last moments before traveling to the World After, then at least he had something pleas­ ant to look at.
He blinked rapidly and took another strained breath. His mis­ sion was not complete; he could not die yet. “Can you help me? Please. I’ve got to get back to Elsira.”
She stole an anxious glance skyward before kneeling next to him. Her cool hand moved to his forehead. The simple touch was soothing, and a wave of tension rolled of him.
“You must be delirious.” Her voice was rich, deeper than he’d expected. It eased the harsh consonants of the Lagrimari language, for the first time making it sound like something he could imagine being pleasant to listen to. She worked at the remaining buttons of his shirt, pulling the fabric apart to reveal his ruined chest. Her expression was appraising as she viewed the damage, then sat back on her haunches, pensive.
“It probably looks worse than it is,” he said. “I doubt that.”
Jack’s chuckle sounded deranged to his own ears, so it was no surprise that the girl looked at him askance. He winced—laughing was a bad idea at this point—and struggled for breath again. “The soldiers . . . they’re after me. I have to get back through the Mantle.”
“Shh,” she said, peering closely at him. “Hush all that foolish­ ness; you’re not in your right mind. Though I’ll admit, you speak Lagrimari surprisingly well. I’m not sure what happened to you, but you should save your strength.”
She closed her eyes, and suddenly his whole body grew warmer, lighter. The odd sensation of Earthsong pulsated through him. He had only experienced it once before, and it hadn’t been quite like this. The touch of her magic stroked him intimately, like a brush of fingers across his skin. The soft vibration cascaded over his entire body, leaving him feeling weightless.
He gasped, pulling in a breath, and it was very nearly an easy thing to accomplish. Tears pricked his eyes. “Sovereign bless you.”
Her expression was grave as she dug around in her bag. “It’s just a patch. You must have ticked someone of real good. It’d take quite a while to fix you up properly, and the storm’s coming. You need to find shelter.”
She retrieved a jar filled with a sweet­smelling substance and began spreading it over his wounds. The Earthsong had turned down the volume of his pain, and the cream soothed him even more.
“What is that?”
“Just a balm. Helps with burns, cuts.” Her hand paused for a moment. “Never gunshot wounds, but it’s worth a try.”
He laid his head back on the ground, closing his eyes to savor the ability to breathe deeply again. “A quick rest and I’ll be back on my way. Need to keep moving, though. Need to get back.”
“Back through the Mantle?” Her tone vibrated with skepticism. “And away from the Lagrimari soldiers chasing you?”
“Yes.” Her palm met his forehead again. She thought he was delusional. He wished he was. Wished the last few weeks had been nothing but the imaginings of an impaired mind. 



Author Info
L. Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is the author of fantasy and paranormal romance with characters who match the real world. Her debut novel, SONG OF BLOOD & STONE, won the 2016 Self-Publishing eBook Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. The fantasy series was picked up by St. Martin’s Press for publication starting 2018.

She was born in the Bronx, just after the birth of hip hop, but left before she could acquire an accent. Equally left and right-brained, she studied Film at Howard University and minored in Computer Science. This led to a graduate degree in Multimedia and a career in website development. She's also an award-winning independent filmmaker, co-founded a literary magazine, and sometimes dreams in HTML.

Leslye lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat. Sign up for new release information and giveaways on her website: http://www.lpenelope.com.



General Q&A with L. Penelope 
What inspired you to write this series? What came first: The characters or the world? What was your inspiration for the magic of Earthsong? Were you inspired by other books? Movies? 
When I first wrote this book, up until the time I gave it to my first editor, I thought it was going to be a novella. It was always meant to be a fairytale-esque story of a girl’s journey from the margins of society straight to its upper echelons. The characters Jack and Jasminda were there before the world was ever clear in my mind. The first scene I wrote was the one where they meet in front of her cabin. I knew they were from different, warring countries and they came from very different sorts of lives, but that was all. Through the magic of revision (lots and lots of revision) I discovered the journey that the characters would go on and all the conflicts they would face.
I love fantasy and there were so many inspiring series that I soaked in prior to writing the book, from Graceling by Kristin Cashore to Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. But I think this book owes its biggest inspiration to the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta. Her fantasy world felt well realized and complex, filled with incredibly detailed characters, groups, nations, and settings. But I also wanted to write a kinder, gentler fantasy novel that wouldn’t double as a doorstopper. And mix in a really strong romance like some of my favorites Nalini Singh or Kresley Cole.


What were your favorite scenes to write for SONG OF BLOOD AND STONE? What was the hardest scene to write? Is there a scene or moment that really sticks with you? 
Though Usher, Jack’s valet, spends relatively little time on the page, I loved writing the scenes with him and Jack. When two characters have known each other for a long time, it can be really fun to play with how to show their relationship. Usher has known Jack his entire life and so the way they interact is unique. I also loved writing the visions that Jasminda gets from the stone. They were in a different voice, from a totally different perspective and the peeked in on a vibrant, fully formed world that’s different to the one of the main story. Hardest to write were the ones where Jasminda is confronted with the racism and bias of Elsirans. 
The scene that sticks with me is when Jack and Jasminda are in the army base and he sleeps on the ground beside her, holding her hand. I find it really sweet and romantic. 


What advice would you give aspiring authors, especially authors or color, striving to have their stories and truths shared?
I would tell aspiring authors to really investigate your goals and be frank with yourself about why you want to do this. It’s a difficult path emotionally, creatively, and professionally and what will get you through the low points is being very clear about your “why”. It can also be incredibly rewarding, but knowing what you’re getting yourself into is key.
Writing and publishing are two different disciplines. Your “why” will inform whether you pursue traditional publishing or seek to self-publish. It will keep you going through rejections, delays, bad reviews, disappointment, and the imposter syndrome that we all go through. 
The other very important thing is to have a community to fall back on. Whether that’s a chapter of a professional organization like RWA, SFWA, SCWBI, and others, or a Facebook group, critique group, or writer’s circle, having others to commiserate and celebrate with you makes the journey much easier.


Is there a character in SONG OF BLOOD & STONE that you most relate to? How do you select names of your characters?
I think Jasminda represents various aspects of myself both as I am and as I’d like to be. She’s definitely bolder than I am, but her struggle to feel a part of things is one that I understand. 
As for naming my characters, for each nation, I asked questions about how the names should generally work. Things like: which prefixes and suffixes are common? Which letters and sounds are prevalent? Which letters or sounds either don’t exist or are more rare? So the Elsirans have a lot of double vowels in their names. Qs, Vs, and Zs are prominent, but there are no hard Cs. 
Lagrimari names generally don’t use Js. I set up which suffixes were for men and women and the types of sounds the names would have. There are only 9 last names in Lagrimar, corresponding with the Houses. Jasminda as a name is an exception. Her parents didn’t follow the naming conventions of either country for her or her brothers. Because their interracial relationship was unique, they wanted their children’s names to be distinctive as well.


What do you most hope that readers take away from SONG OF BLOOD AND STONE?
I really just hope readers enjoy the story and the characters. Jasminda is a heroine that I had been longing to see, so I hope people get as much joy and heartache from her story as I did when I wrote it. 


Can you tell us more about the next books in the series? What are you working on now?
Book 2, WHISPERS OF SHADOW & FLAME, follows a parallel timeline to SONG. It’s about Darvyn, a character we hear about in SONG who was the Earthsinger responsible for disguising Jack. The disguise’s failure gets Jack captured and he wonders what happened to Darvyn. So in WHISPERS, we find out. But it also pushes the story forward, showing what’s going on in Lagrimar in the days before the Mantle comes down and setting up the next challenge that Jack, Jasminda, and Darvyn will face.

Book 3, CRY OF METAL & BONE picks up the story of how Elsira and Lagrimar deal with the fall of the Mantle and the new threat facing the nations.

I’m also working on a brand-new series with dragons .


What are your favorite books you would recommend to readers?
Among my favorites of all time are Wild Seed by Octavia Butler, The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor and Sheltered by Charlotte Stein. I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it there.

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