9 Twisted Tales Set in 9 Twisted Worlds #SpeculativeFiction #Giveaway

Untethered Realms is celebrating the upcoming release of the 4th collection in our elemental story series: Spirits on the Water. We're celebrating by making the first in the series, Twisted Earths, FREE!

That's right, 9 outstanding, fantastical stories for the price of free.

Twisted Earths Available at:

Amazon / AmazonUK / Google Play / Smashwords / iTunes / B&N / Kobo

Here's what you get:

Twisted Earths is a collection of tales from Untethered Realms, a group of speculative fiction authors. The stories are as varied and rich as the types of soil on this and other planets—sandy loam, clay, knotted with roots and vines, dreaded paths through unexplored planets, and in enchanted forests, lit by candlelight and two moons. 

M. Pax, author of the series, The Backworlds and The Rifters spins a tale called Patchworker 2.0. Specialists with digital interfaces are the only ones who can distinguish between biological energy and mechanical pulses, and “patch” AIs, which hold the world together. Patchworker Evalyn Shore meets up with an AI with deadly intent.

Cherie Reich, known for her epic fantasy series The Fate Challenges and The Foxwick Chronicles, presents Lady Death. Umbria, a beautiful and powerful swordsmith, is given an impossible task by her brother Leon when he asks, “You are the assassin. Are you scared to destroy Death when you are up to your elbows in it?”

Angela Brown is the author of the paranormal Shadow Jumpers and NEO Chronicles series. In her story, In The Know, Jacob, a loyal family man is struggling to stay out of debt when he’s hired to report on big plans for a future Detroit. He’s given a mysterious manila envelope with instructions to “open it alone” or pay the price. With switchback twists you won’t see coming, a debt of a much steeper cost is what he just might end up paying for his involvement.

Catherine Stine, author of the futuristic thrillers, Fireseed One and Ruby’s Fire, offers The Day of The Flying Dogs, a sinister tale of brilliant, troubled NYC high-school student, Theo. He experiences a day at Coney Island that includes drugs, delusions, a lonely capybara, Nathan’s hotdogs and a mind-bending lesson in our very twisted universe.

Christine Rains, known best for her paranormal series The Thirteenth Floor, gives us The Ole Saint, a story at once sweet, horrific and heartrending. Ezra longs to fit in and have boys stop calling him witch and freak, yet his unique supernatural skill sets him apart, and the last gift from The Ole Saint cinches the deal.

Graeme Ing, known for his young adult fantasy, Ocean of Dust presents The Malachite Mine, a gripping, scream-inducing ride. Whatever was Mary thinking when she accepted her husband’s gift of a most terrifying twenty-first birthday celebration in an abandoned Russian mine?

River Fairchild, author of her Jewels of Chandra series, presents A Grand Purpose. Rosaya and her cousin, Drianna are soon to be married off, but Rosaya is unhappy with her assigned match. She’s much more intoxicated by the older Firrandor, a wizard she hardly knows. When Rosaya is accused of killing an oracle boy, all bets are off, not only for her love, but her freedom.

Gwen Gardner, who pens the cozy paranormal mystery series, Indigo Eady, adds to her collection with Ghostly Guardian. Indigo and her rib-tickling ghost-busters must travel to a dangerous pirate-laden past in order to unearth a curmudgeonly eighteenth century spirit that is plaguing the Blind Badger Pub.

Misha Gerrick, whose War of Six Crowns series is forthcoming, gives us a story called Red Earth and White Light. Emily, a young ghost bride has long haunted a house. She longs to cross over into the afterlife, but she’s trapped in memories of lilies and betrayal.

The stories in this collection are marvelous, strange, frightening, and otherworldly. And we know you're ready for more. They're coming in Spirits of the Water! Huzzah!


Science Fiction Fears - Just Our Overactive Imaginations?

Eek! Aliens are going to abduct me. Oh no! Skynet is going to take over the world!

There are a lot of wondrous things in the worlds of science fiction. We've seen technology from stories made real decades later and events happen just like they were written. Yet it doesn't make the horrors of sci-fi true. The fact that so many people fear these things could happen only says how well the authors did their jobs.

Are there aliens and would they abduct us? There are likely aliens, but the chances they are here are very slim. Plus would a greatly advanced race with amazing technology really resort to kidnapping and probing humans to learn about them? They would have scanners that could tell them everything they want to know, and they can observe us in our natural habitats. Nope, not creepy at all.

Will an asteroid hit Earth? Not at all likely. NASA says there are no near-Earth asteroids or comets, and their chances of identifying a big one that might cause worldwide damage early so something could be done to stop it are nearly 100%. But a Sharknado, now that's a different story!

Will AI evolve and take over the world? No. AI is only composed of what we put in it. If robots try to take over the world then someone programmed them that way. AI can never replace the ingenuity and perseverance of humans. Plus a few well placed EMP bombs will take care of the problem easily!

Dystopians are immensely popular be they primal or technologically advanced societies. If there is a worldwide disaster or war, would it be likely something like that could happen? Not really. These are pessimistic views of our future. People will want the society they lost and seek to rebuild it. No matter how dismal it looks sometimes, never underestimate the power of hope and compassion.

Let's hope we have more of a Star Trek future than a Hunger Games or an Idiocracy.

Do you have any fears that have stemmed from science fiction?


Flavors of Book Fests, Author Retreats, Signings and Figuring Out What Works Best

The subject of book conferences and writing retreats is the obvious one for me to post about, since I've just attended two of them, with a third happening next week. In August, I went to ChapterCon in England, the brainchild of my author friend, Katie John. This was its first year. It was mainly craft-based with panels, but it did have a full Saturday public signing event. I was eager to listen to the panels, which ranged from diversity in lit, to romance, to how to keep your stories flowing (I was on this panel). We all learned that Bank Holiday weekend, which is the equivalent of Labor Day weekend in the states, is not the best time to invite the public to a signing, because everyone is streaming out of town for the last big party of the summer. That said, we had some book-lovers in, plus it allowed us authors to hobnob and buy each other's books.

My favorite workshop was a mindfulness one, which taught zen style tools for unwinding author stress. I needed this tool that very night, as Katie texted me an hour before my bedtime and asked if I'd deliver the second keynote speech! The scheduled author had a personal emergency. I have never scribbled my lecture notes as quickly as I did that evening. People told me it was an inspiring speech, so I guess I did okay. LOL. Talking about one's own rollercoaster journey is apparently something most writers relate to.
Me delivering a keynote speech at ChapterCon UK

The second writing conference was this last weekend's Next Chapter Writing Retreat held in NYC by Janet Wallace, the founder of UtopiaCon. There was a small handful of very savvy authors, and it was a rare treat to get to know them. We had sessions with high-level branding and media experts, which was intimidating, until I realized that these "experts" were simply speaking about their own personal journeys, as I did during my keynote. The authors had time to chat and compare notes over dinner and drinks. There was only one two-hour public book signing, which I found refreshing and fun, and low stress as compared to some marathon book signings I've been part of.
A new reader of mine treating herself to an early birthday present at NCWR signing

What are my takeaways from these events?
A two or three hour book signing event seems perfect.
I love hand-selling and getting to know new readers.
I need to boundary off my time to write, and to take my writing more seriously.
I love meeting authors and sharing stories and marketing tips. Community is key.
European events rock, as does the Welsh coast. LOL.
I need to take calculated risks and stretch myself in my craft and marketing.
De-stressing is important. Meditation, massage, whatever works!
Create a long game plan. (I can always revise it as I go).

What are your personal tools? What is most important to you in your writing life? Do you create a long game plan or do you prefer making it up as you go?


Book Review: BLOODGIFTED by Tima Maria Lacoba #paranormal

Tima Maria Lacoba

What’s a girl to do when she learns she’s descended from a vampire? Being unable to age is only the beginning… 

Laura Dantonville is a Primary school teacher with one wish—to marry her boyfriend, Detective Matt Sommers. When her aunt Judy reveals a frightening family secret that explains her rare genetic mutation, it threatens to propel her into a dark underworld where her true family waits. 
Laura’s future with Matt hangs in the balance. 

Alec Munro never wanted to become guardian to a Dantonville regardless that her blood is coveted by his vampire-kind. But his sire, Lucien Lebrettan, gave him no choice. Now he’s faced with not only protecting the girl, but fathering a child with her in order to end his servitude—and a centuries-old curse. 

… which some among his kind will do anything to prevent.


Cathrina's Review: I haven't read a vampire story in quite a while, so this book intrigued me. The author, Ms. Lacoba kept some of the olden time lore of vamps, like, the sun frying their bodies to a crisp. And similar to the Twilight Series, Ms Lacoba tweaked our perception of the blood sucking creatures a wee bit. An example: vampires do have a reflection in mirrors.The book begins in the year 263 AD and a woman invokes a wicked curse after Romans slaughter a Pict village. (Human blood will be your food. As beasts you shall kill and walk in the night and sunlight will be your enemy) There's more in the history of the story where those cursed resurrect the woman's spirit to revoke the curse. (A marriage and a birth are involved, a mingling of Pict and Roman blood) 
The mc, Laura is 50 years old but you'd never know it because she looks 25. And she is descended by Lucien Lebrettan, a vampire and Judith, one of the descendants of the bloodgifted. Being the Bloodgifted, Laura doesn't reach maturity until the young age of 50 when her blood reeks with power. Alec Munro, the Princeps and a doctor in the human world, becomes her guardian. By drinking Laura's blood Alec is sustained with strength and able to walk in the daylight, a gift that many vamps long for and are willing to die for. A problem commences when the scent of her blood brings evil vamps to suckle. 

I was entertained by Bloodgifted, in fact, I liked the book. A little lengthy, yet the action and intimate scenes between Alec and Laura were literally steamy. If you like to read about sexy, wicked, bloodthirsty vamps, then Bloodgifted is for you.


Shake, Rattle and Row, a #CozyMystery #CleanRead from the Spirits in the Water #Anthology

Spirits in the Water, an Untethered Realms short story anthology is coming in October! My contribution to the collection is a #CozyMystery. 
You may have noticed that the world’s gone a little crazy lately. #CozyReads are meant to entertain, but not stress you out. If this sounds good to you, check out my sweet, fun, cozy and quirky short story, Shake, Rattle and Row!
Shake, Rattle and Row is a sequel short story glimpse into my new series coming out in 2019 called, Ask Crystal Ball. 
A Riverboat Casino sounds like a roaring good time, but it can be murder for those who suffer with seasickness...
Harlow Grayson is the journalist who unwillingly inherits Crystal Ball’s agony column after Crystal is found murdered. Unfortunately, the agony column, called Ask Crystal Ball, comes with a nasty side effect: the ghost of Crystal herself. Complete opposites, Harlow and Crystal never did get along, even when Crystal was alive. Nothing has changed. 
In this short story, Crystal needs Harlow’s help to recover an item of sentimental value—but it comes at a hefty price. 

I jumped. “Crystal! Where’ve you been?” I looked around to see if anyone was listening.

“Scouting. Did you bring it?”

I held up the pen. “Yes. But I’m not sure about this. It’s not right. We shouldn’t be messing with this stuff.”

“Oh, get over yourself.” She fairly bounced with excitement.

I sighed and knew I’d regret this.

“Try the gold ink this—”

“Shh, I got this.” With my heart pounding, I pushed down the gold nub. A golden glow descended over the room and cast an unearthly light. My skin prickled as latent sparkles of ethereal energy settled over me. I blinked several times, adjusting to the illusion of the veil merging between the mortal and spirit worlds.

Holy mother of— I crossed myself. Although I’d done this before, I’d never get used to it.

I surveyed my new—but somehow same—surroundings. I was still on a riverboat casino, but it was more alive, if that even made sense, given that the room was full of ghosts. A roulette wheel spun, and the clickety-clack of the marble bounced from slot to slot until it found its sweet spot. Joyful shouts erupted. Spectral women in flapper dresses and feathered headbands hovered over gray-suited men in pinstripes playing cards and smoking fat cigars. And above it all, the fog of cigar smoke clung to everything.

I wrinkled my nose. Observing the two worlds together made me dizzy. Between the smoke and the boat rocking, I felt green around the gills. I knew as soon as I had stepped on board in my four-inch stilettos that this was a bad idea. And trust me, a full figured diva on heels was no easy feat to begin with.

“This isn’t natural,” I whispered to Crystal.

“Welcome to my world,” said Crystal, hovering at my side.

Crystal Ball—her real name—used to be my annoying coworker before she got murdered. Now she was an annoying ghost. I unwillingly inherited her agony column—Ask Crystal Ball, if you can believe it—a pseudo- psychic hocus-pocus bunch of baloney. But worst of all was that Crystal’s ghost came as a nasty side effect of the job. My fate was sealed when I’d picked up and used her favorite pen. Somehow the pen allowed me to see the ghostly realms she saw. I’d never seen another era, though, until now. What business could Crystal possibly have with the 1920s, and more importantly, why involve me?

But I had bigger problems.

“You could have warned me.” I spoke into my digital voice recorder so it didn’t look as if I were talking to myself. That and the press pass around my neck should cover any awkwardness that might arise while speaking to my spectral sidekick.

“I told you it was formal, didn’t I?” She eyed my gown and then perused the room as if looking for someone. “Besides, what do you have to complain about? I’m the one stuck throughout eternity in skin tight pants.” She squirmed and tried to pull out a wedgie to no avail.