Huzzizzle of the Realms - February 2017 UR News

Jeff Chapman

Supernatural mayhem in the Weird West

An enchanted blade. An evil old man. An ancient spirit behind a mask. The Weird West just gets weirder.

Orville and Jimmy are a pair of hucksters, struggling to scrape together enough coin for a square meal. While Orville angles for the big score, Jimmy hopes to make an honest buck for a day's work. When an old man calling himself Marzby asks for help with a supernatural pest, Orville smells opportunity. Jimmy smells danger.

In two shakes of a lamb's tail, Marzby imprisons Orville and only Jimmy can save him from a gruesome death. The price for Orville's life? Jimmy must retrieve an enchanted knife from inside Skull Hill and put it in Marzby's hands in three days time. With the blade in reach, Jimmy runs head on into more trouble: a shapeshifting opossum, a larger than average coyote and an ancient spirit determined to keep the blade where it is. Maybe the evil Marzby shouldn't have the blade, but without it, how is Jimmy going to rescue Orville?

The Black Blade is a weird western novel in Jeff Chapman's Huckster Tales series, mixing horror, fantasy, and comedy in an Old West setting. Climb up in the wagon and follow Orville and Jimmy as they once again plunge over their heads into supernatural trouble.

Store Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA

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Christine Rains

Weaving Inuit myths with the modern day world.

Always read the fine print when making a bargain with a sea hag.

Lost to the clutches of her grief of losing her mentor, Saskia Dorn welcomes the opportunity to take down a warehouse of drug dealers. When their leader makes a break for it, Saskia and her ex-boyfriend, Sedge, chase the criminal shifter into the sea off the coast of northwestern Alaska. Not only do they lose their quarry, but a vicious sea hag snatches Sedge.

Saskia can’t take another loss and attempts to bargain for Sedge’s life and the salmon totem the witch has trapped in her cave. The sea hag wants only one thing: her long lost love. Who is dead. And living under the freaking ocean with the Salmon People. Find the Salmon People and return with the witch’s love before Sedge’s life is forfeit. Simple, right? Yet she can’t leave the Salmon People’s land without finding herself first.

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Catherine Stine 
(writing this suspense novel as Kitsy Clare)

For these last weeks of February my publisher, Inkspell is offering the first ever sale of my romantic suspense, Private Internship. It's not strictly spec fiction, BUT… Sienna and Caz do a spooky Tarot reading on Halloween in an abandoned factory during New York’s Hurricane Sandy blackout… so it counts as psychological horror! Also, Sienna discovers a dreadful secret in her boss’s locked storeroom.

“What could be the worst secret you’d never want exposed? Find out what Caz is hiding that Sienna's trying to find. I was like WOW!!!” 
-Undercover Reviews
On a dark, stormy Halloween night sculptor, Caz and his intern, artist Sienna are trapped in the old sugar factory where he resides and works. Candles are lit. To keep occupied Sienna pulls out the Tarot cards and what do they reveal? Who is Casper Mason? What secrets is he concealing? Has he found the person who will emotionally break him?” -Reader review
Marked down to $0.99 from $2.99 it’s on sale only thru March 2:

M. Pax

Two great giveaways for you!

Over 10 fantasy books, your for the taking. DOWNLOAD FREE BOOKS

Over 45 Urban Fantasy books in this giveaway plus a Kindle Fire! ENTER

Gwen Gardner

A new blog header depicting my fictional town of Sabrina Shores, England, is motivating me to move forward on the next Indigo Eady Cozy Mystery, A Scandal in Boohemia.

Here's a sneak peek:

It's all about adulting when Indigo Eady purchases a new flat then has to figure out how to pay for it. Luckily she lands a temporary job at the local theatre as assistant stage manager. There's only one catch: she has to stop the gangster ghost from haunting her boss. No problem—except for the murderer running loose.


Weather Inspiration

Speculative fiction takes a lot of inspiration from what-ifs. What if aliens landed in the middle of the Super Bowl? What if a giant serpent really lived in the ocean? What if robots rose up against the human race?

Those what-ifs stretch the imagination, but there are every day things that spark ideas and generate new worlds. One of those things is the weather. That ever-changing, difficult to predict, mighty force. What makes it more ominous is that there is little we can do about it.

We've had no snow this winter where I live. It's been so warm, previous records have been broken on a weekly basis. What if this continues? Or accelerates? We now have rattlesnakes in the area and brown recluse spiders. People have died from bites. If the warming trend continues, we'll have even more poisonous critters moving up.

With the bouncing temperatures not being too cold or summer hot, it's the perfect environment for viruses. So many folks have been sick and hospitalized recently. What if a virus gains strength in these temperatures? What if it mutates?

I have friends in the southern hemisphere experiencing a brutally hot summer. Crops have dried up, and there's been several power outages. What if the temperature continues to rise? How hot will it have to be before people won't go outside anymore? How will we adapt then?

Some days I dream about winters like I had when I was a child. So much wonderful snow. I've never experienced a storm that kept us inside longer than a day, but the cold can be just as vicious as the heat. What if we were thrown into another ice age? What would our lives be like then?

What are some of your favorites stories that played off the what-ifs from the weather?


Happy Valentine's Day

On February 14th we celebrate a day of Love. Cupids Arrow~Chocolate~Candy~Flowers~Cards.

I was wondering how this celebration came into existence. It used to be called St. Valentine's Day, and somewhere along the way, St. was removed. 

This is taken from Wiki:

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

But, there's more. It's also thought Christians marked the day of St. Valentine's death on Feb. 14th to Christianize a pagan ritual called Lupercalia, a fertility festival celebrated on Feb. 15th. 

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?


Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

While seated in the theater to watch Moana with my daughter, who grudgingly accepts Chipmunk as my nickname for her, we got to see the previews. Popcorn, candy, and drinks in hand, we pointed out which movies we'd like to make sure to come back and watch. There was one that didn't make my daughter's cut, but it snagged my attention. It was A Monster Calls. I'd heard a great deal of good about the book on which this movie is based. So, I had to read it.

And loved it.

Then it got me to looking through my kindle library because the author's name, Patrick Ness, seemed familiar to me for another reason. That's when I found The Knife of Never Letting Go.

About The Knife of Never Letting Go

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

My Review
I can't recall exactly why I purchased this story, maybe word of mouth. But I got this several years ago. I remember trying to read it and being unable to get beyond the first page. I'm not one for DNF'ing (for those not familiar, that is rating the book a Did Not Finish) a book unless I give it another chance, so I moved on to something else until I could come back to this.

I'm a little late in getting back it (yes, please feel free to laugh), but I did. I tried again, struggling with it due to the stream-of-consciousness style of writing. Unlike last time, I held beyond the first page and made it all the way to the end. The writing style didn't grow on me, but I quickly adapted my brain to the style so it wasn't such an issue. It was also interactive, which I kind of liked.

To keep from sharing any spoilers, because I hope you give this book a try as well, the best way I can describe this book is to say it reminds me of zooming out. You've seen photographs where the lens is zoomed in tight on something. You think you might know what it is or what is happening, but you're unsure. As the lens zooms out, you start to see more and more of what is there, but still, it isn't 100% clear, so you can't help holding on for the lens to zoom out some more.

That's what reading this book was like. There's no back story easily laid out. Rather, you experience each new discovery with Todd Hewitt as the story zooms out to eventually paint a picture that, well, some may see coming, but I didn't.

The story is heartbreaking, then hopeful, then heartbreaking, and then hopeful again. Todd is a likable character and I really loved his loyal dog Manchee (Poo!) - when you read the book for yourself, you'll get the reference :-)

I'm a dystopian fan, so this book was right up my alley. As the first in the Chaos Walking series, it did a great job of making me want to find out what happened and seek out the next book.

Have you read The Knife of Never Letting Go? What other dystopian novels or series do you favor?


How to Handle the Empty Page

Sometimes, it's just necessary to start.

At the moment, I'm feeling like I've been hit by a truck. I don't know why. I think it started on Friday, when I woke up with a headache that turned into a migraine.

But ever since then, I've been feeling so exhausted. Even when I sleep enough.

So the result is that just the thought of opening a document, or even the blog creation window, feels like having to climb a mountain.

And then I haven't even started actually writing.

So the blank page that appears if I do manage to open becomes a little bit more intimidating. A little bit more... empty.

That's when I write something silly. Or something random. Or just... something. Like "Sometimes it's just necessary to start."

Because the moment there are words on the page, it gets easier to follow up with more words. And even more after that.

And eventually, I can look back at what I've written and discover that I did, in fact, climb that mountain and reach the summit.

Because now I have a blog post.

Now, I just need to go do the same thing with my work in progress.

How do you handle writing when the words don't seem to flow?