The Best Fictional Gifts - Happy Holidays from the Untethered Realms Authors

It's that wonderful time of the year again. Time spent with the family, eating way too much, and gift giving. Since we're always thinking about what ifs, this year we wondered....

What if we lived in a fantasy or sci-fi world...
What fictional gift would be at the top of your list?

I would love to get a magical Narnia-esque door installed in my studio that, when I walked through it, would take me to another world for a break between my real-life work sprints. It could send me right into my own fictional world, as in my drawing for Fireseed One (left), or to a fantastical pond in a magical forest, or into a Victorian goth scene. Then, with the press of a button, I'd be back, refreshed.

 - Catherine Stine

Like Hagrid of Harry Potter fame, I adore pets. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Hagrid wants a dragon so bad that he gets tricked into revealing where the Sorcerer's Stone is hidden. I hope I'm not that gullible, but I get it. If I lived in the magical world, I'd want a dragon too. I got a little glimpse of what it could be like when I visited Harry Potter world last year...

- Gwen Gardner

Ooh, so many things. I don't have enough computer space to write them all down! Yet there is one thing that could give me all the wonderful adventures I crave. A holodeck! If I had one of my own, I don't think I'd ever leave it. I'd be more addicted than Reginald Barclay!

- Christine Rains 

I'm in a fantasy world, and I’m going to go for a magical writer’s notebook. This book has the special property that any location written about within its pages becomes a real place you can visit. Just describe the world you want to explore and step inside. Oh, and the book always comes with you, so you can easily escape the horrors and complications you encounter and escape into the next world...

- Simon Kewin 

I would love a spaceship to have a chance encounter with aliens from another world. Meeting extraterrestrials would be just the thing to enjoy as I continue orbiting the sun in our solar system.

- Jeff Beesler

An ever-filled, ever-chilled beer mug is very tempting. However, I'd have to go with a real, working Stargate. How long ago did that show end? I still dream of going through the Stargate. Can I have a Colonel O'Neill with that?

- M. Pax 

I'm with Mary on this one. I want a working Stargate. However, she can take O'Neill. I want either Dr. Rodney McKay or Colonel John Sheppard.

- Cherie Reich

There are so many options that would be wonderful! Right now, at the end of the semester, I'm wishing I had more time (probably so I could take a nap!). A time-turner would certainly be a lovely thing!!

-Meradeth Houston

Happy holidays from all of us here at Untethered Realms!


Book Review - Cursed City (Shadow Detective #1) #urbanfantasy

Blurb: My name is Mike Raven, and the weird and supernatural are my life. Monsters murdered my parents when I was eight. Turns out my folks were paranormal investigators and Hell always settles its debts. Naturally I decided to join the family business.

For two decades I've studied the occult and traveled the world hunting nightmares. Vampires. Shifters. Demons. Wraiths. I've faced them all. But my greatest challenge still lay ahead...

From the moment Celeste stepped into my office, I knew she was in trouble. Black magic trouble. Her father had promised her soul to a powerful demon on the day she was born. Now, twenty-one years later, the forces of darkness were gathering to collect their long-awaited prize.

Guess who's about to pick a fight with the Devil himself?

Christine's review: Mike Raven hunts monsters. When Celeste hires him to help her, he isn't certain he can help her. Yet he isn't about to let a beautiful woman suffer. But will he be able to fight back the forces of the Devil himself?

A fantastic start to this urban fantasy series. If you like Supernatural, you're going to like this book. Great hook at the beginning to bring us into the world, and nice descriptions all around. Plenty of action and a few nice twists at the climax. Can't wait to read more in the Shadow Detective series!


Coincidences and Synchronicities

I've always had a thing for coincidences: those random events all coming together in ways that one least expects it. Good or bad, these kinds of events are fun and fascinating. For some, they suggest a higher power ordering things, but for me they're the chaos of the universe sometimes aligning into a wonderful and wondrous pattern. Anyhow, no matter what you think is behind them, they're all kinds of fun to think about.

My upcoming release, THE COINCIDENCE MAKERS, due out on November 19th (yep, gotta get a plug in there somehow ;) talks about the possibility of there being people who make these seemingly impossible things happen. Ami and Luke create coincidences--some small, some large, and some they have no idea why they are supposed to make happen. At any rate, the whole idea came to me from a RadioLab episode I listened to many years ago. You can check it out here, and I totally recommend it: it's chock full of wonder and delight (okay, that may be more my interpretation, but it's awesome if you like this sort of thing!).

Anyhow, this got me started thinking about where stories come from--what sort of coincidences are involved in that? For me, they tend to come from songs (Colors Like Memories came from a Linkin Park song), or a scene (the opening of Surrender the Sky was a horrible opening scene that got into my head I had to write it out). Anyhow, whatever the source, somehow there was something came along and demanded that I write about it.

Recently I was listening to NPR (which probably says more about my demographics than I comfortable with, but it is still amazing and I learn so much random, cool stuff that I just don't care), and Elizabeth Gilbert was talking. She's the author of Eat, Pray, Love (which, I swear, every time I write, I accidentally type out 'prey', which amuses me to no end). And I just kind of loved what she had to say about the way stories float around and try to find a home--looking for the person who can tell them and gift them to the world. And especially how we have to demand a lot from our "muse" so that they know we're serious. I kind of love this idea!

Also, I kind of love the thought of stories floating around in the air like ghosts, looking for vessels. It's both elegant and distinctly creepy. And yet, it feels that way sometimes. Like something just hits and all the pieces just snap together and viola! A book! Like a major coincidence, or maybe a synchronicity, that allows a book, a story, to come into the world.

I'm embedding the radio program here for anyone who's interested, or you can listen here. The Gilbert bit starts around 3:30.

Anyhow, I love a good coincidence, and I love a good story even more. Do any of you have a good story about a synchronicity that you had happen? Or one that you've read about that blew your mind? If you go and read my deleted scene, you'll find one that I lifted from true life :) (And hey, sign up for my newsletter while you're at it? ;)


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Untethered Realms 99c Sale & Giveaway!

Happy fall!

With Halloween on the horizon, it's time for treats. But the Untethered Realms authors live so far apart, you can't come knocking on all our doors. So we're setting up a one stop buffet of 99c books for you here!

Plus, scroll down for a HUGE giveaway!

First, grab these incredible 99c reads!

Cherie Reich:
Once Upon a Nightmare
People of Foxwick and Their Neighbors

Mary Pax:
The Rifters Box Collection
Renaissance of Hetty Locklear

Gwen Gardner:
A Scandal in Boohemia

Jeff Chapman:
The Black Blade
Cat Sidhe
Last Request

Catherine Stine:
Pictures of Dorianna

Simon Kewin:
The Cloven Land Trilogy

Meradeth Houston:
The Chemistry of Fate
Surrender the Sky

Christine Rains:
Of Blood and Sorrow (23rd-27th)
Of Gods and Sorrow (27th-31st)

FREE Halloween treats from:

Mary Pax: Deadly Sins

Christine Rains a.k.a. Morena Silver: Bound by a Ban-sidhe (27th-31st)


Enter for a chance to win a $50 Amazon giftcard!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Review: Murder at the Marina

Murder at the Marina
Book Review

What would you do if your hubby gave you the worst anniversary gift ever?

A dilapidated sailboat for your anniversary—not very romantic. A dead body on board—even worse.
Mollie McGhie is hoping for diamonds for her tenth wedding anniversary. Instead, her clueless hubby presents her with a rundown boat. She's not impressed.
When she discovers someone murdered on board, things get even worse. Mollie hopes it will convince her husband to rethink his hare-brained scheme of sailing off into the sunset. Instead, he's more determined than ever to fix the boat up and set off to sea.
Poking her nose in where it doesn't belong, Mollie finds herself drawn into the tight-knit community living at Palm Tree Marina in Coconut Cove, a small town on the Florida coast. She uncovers a crime ring dealing in stolen marine equipment, eats way too many chocolate bars, adopts a cat, and learns far more about sailing than she ever wanted to.
Will Mollie be able to discover who the murderer is before her nosiness gets her killed?
Murder at the Marina is the first book in the light, humorous, and original Mollie McGhie cozy sailing mystery series. If you like kooky characters, adorable cats, and plenty of chocolate, you'll love this cozy mystery. Buy Murder at the Marina today and laugh out loud from the first page to the last.
My Review:

Mollie McGhie’s husband buys her a dilapidated sailboat for their 10th anniversary—even though she doesn’t sail. Fearful that he’s having a bidlife crisis, she goes along with her husband’s dream in the hopes that he loses interest once he realizes what bad condition the sailboat is in.
No such luck. Her hubs sees nothing but potential, even after the body shows up. And guess where it turns up? Sorry, no spoilers here!
As any good sleuth worth her salt, Mollie can’t help herself. Instead of talking her husband out of buying the boat, she gets sidetracked investigating the murder. Plenty of people had reasons to want him dead and Mollie is in a perfect position to find out whodunnit.
Mollie fits quickly into the marina scene, which is much like an RV park for sailboats. She meets all the residents aka suspects who live on their sailboats and together they make a cozy little community.
Just add murder and stir!


Book Review: Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner #fantasy #fay #fairies

“A book for anyone who has heard the horns of Elfin in the distance at twilight, as much as it is for readers who crave fine literature and are certain that elves and their kingdoms are bosh.” - Neil Gaiman.

I fell in love with this collection of short stories. I confess I hadn’t heard of Sylvia Townsend Warner and hadn’t read any of her work, although she wrote numerous novels over a long life, and many of these stories were originally published in the New Yorker. I was introduced to the book at a conference, at the launch of a new edition by Handheld Press (it was originally published in 1977, the year before Warner died). I’m very glad I took the plunge and bought a copy as the book is a gem. It’s described as containing “sixteen sly and enchanting stories of Elfindom”, and that catches it perfectly: these are stories about the Elfin courts that are dotted around in our world, hidden away under hills and in woods: Brocéliande in Brittany, Elfhame in Scotland, the Kingdom of the Peris in Persia, Mynydd Preseli in Wales, Zuy in the Low Countries, Pomace near where I live in Herefordshire in England (haven’t found it yet), and so on.

They are aristocratic societies, with queens (never kings) and nobles - as well as those less lucky fairies who have to do all the work. The fairies can fly, but to do so is beneath the dignity of most higher-ranking Fay. The delight of the book is in the regional differences and quirks of the courts: each is a little world with its own oddities and eccentricities, so that the book reads a little like a travel guide written by an expert of Elfin cultures – although that makes them sound dry, when they breathe with wit and intrigue and conflict. No end of intriguing details of each distinct court are thrown in: the pack of hunting werewolves at Brocéliande, the rotating island of the Peris, the fairies’ various obsessions with birds, or singing four-part harmonies, or the use of larks for divination, or playing the flageolet, or whatever it may be.

The elves in Warner’s stories are capricious, self-obsessed and bordering on the sociopathic (from our perspective). Mortals - us - are their playthings, to be stolen at birth and then cast aside when they become boring or old. Fairies, too, are treated with utter cruelty when circumstance conspires: these are creatures capable of delicate gentleness and absolute brutality, like highly-cultured toddlers. In truth, apart from their longevity, and their wings, and their occasional magic use, there isn’t too much difference between the Elfin and us - not that they would see it that way. They call humans “mortals”, although, in fact, we have immortal souls, and the Fey do not. They are simply long-lived. They are equally fascinated and bemused by religion - although mostly indifferent, as they are to all aspects of humanity.

The stories are often slight in tone and literary in style. They perhaps have a tendency to peter out, to dazzle and delight and then stop. This is not the sort of fiction where you get a whizz-bang, twist ending. Several times I wanted to know more about certain characters, certain situations, but that gets left for the reader to think about on their own. You may like that, you may not. A common theme is the outcast: a fairy who leaves their Court for one reason or another (intrigued, bored, thrown out, left behind), or a mortal changeling within a Court (a baby stolen at birth or an adult who finds their way inside).

The writing is beautiful, full of subtle literary flourish. More than once I found myself rereading sentences simply in order to savour their perfectly-formed elegance, their economy. Towards the end of her long life of writing, Warner was clearly a fairy queen of sentence-weaving. Her style is sly, witty, beautifully-observed, luscious. As I say, a gem of a book.


Science Fiction = science + imagination

When I'm inspired to write a science fiction story, it's almost always because of something I've seen or read in the news. Climate change, new technology, an immune virus, or a controversial change in laws. This is the spark that changes the future, and I wonder where it will take us.

Over a century ago, much of science fiction was written about the far future (500 years or more in the future). It was difficult to see humans in space or how fast the world would change. The genre has evolved, and these days, much of it is written about the near future (50-100 years in our future). We know how fast things can change, and it's frightening.

The rocket of humanity has blasted off, and most people don't see a bright future. Dystopian books are popular, but is this because so many folks have accepted our dismal tomorrow or because they're looking for solutions?

By exploring what is logically possible through science fiction, we can seek out solutions to problems happening in society right now. We may not have the technology or a society which demands that change, but it may inspire people to become scientists or sociologists. Imagination is just as important as science.