In a remote country village, seventeen-year-old Celeste yearns for excitement. When the bright lights of a distant city beckon, she makes her way there, and city folk show Celeste more of the world than she ever imagined.
But these people have their reasons to cozy up to a country teenager, because Celeste’s family carries an ancient genetic ability to track carbon emissions by sight. The trait is powerful enough to undercut Turaset’s oil industry, and the titan running that industry wants Celeste’s family killed. Soon, she realizes how out of her depth she is.
Seven Strengths is an otherworldly but familiar coming-of-age story. It highlights the enduring strength borne of family and friends.
Jeff's Review: Seven Strengths is a novella in P. L. Tavormina's Industrial Age series. The tale is a coming-of-age story in which Celeste journeys from her sheltered life in the country to attend school in a city. She chafes under the drudgery of work in the family business, a country inn--a business she is destined to inherit some day in the future if her parents get their way. City life broadens her horizons and certainly has its appeals but also teaches her, through some hard lessons, the value of her family and the opportunities at home.
The setting is a planet called Turaset, which was colonized by a group of refugees from planet Earth. The refugees had hoped to create a world where people lived in harmony with the environment, so as not to destroy it. The state of technology is roughly early twentieth century. Automobiles and electricity have been introduced in some places and the major source of power is fossil fuels. The conflict between the combustion industries and the wisdom of the original refugees is the story's underlying driving force.
The story has some elements of science-fiction, but there are some characters who have pseudo-magical abilities. Some of these abilities are seen as threatening by the combustion industries and those who possess these abilities are hunted. Some members of Celeste's extended family have such gifts. The level of technology is certainly not futuristic, so I enjoyed the story as a fantasy set in another world. If you're looking for lots of action and fighting, this is not the book for you. If you want more of a domestic story with lots of character development, give Seven Strengths a read. You'll be glad you did.
Guardian of Monsters is urban fantasy, a genre I have grown to like, having penned two shared world titles in this genre (Alpha's Revenge and Secrets of the Mermaid). It’s a private investigator series, set in Savannah, and starring two supernaturals I created in my other books, Luna Finley, a mermaid and water mage, and Celestine LeBlanc, a witch and wolf-shifter.
I just returned from a research and fact-checking trip to Savannah. I had scenes set in Bonaventure Cemetery, where I took a two-hour walking tour and discovered mistakes in my plotting. I had Celestine just walking in there at night. Turns out there’s a huge, locked fence around it. I also went to the salt marshes where I'd set scenes. Such beauty! I went to the Savannah School of Art and Design, where I set scenes, and discovered it’s the largest art school in the country, with 70 buildings scattered around the city! And who knew Savannah is the third largest port city in the USA.
|Savannah historic district porch|
Anyway, it's smart to do extensive research into your subject, whether you're a plotter or pantser. Another challenge of writing a long series with romance, is that you have to find ways to keep the love interests from totally getting together. I’m used to having them commit to each other at the end of a single title novel. And since this is a PI thriller series, I want the next client to walk in at the end of each book and hire them, to intrigue readers into reading the following book. That means I have to figure out at least the rough plot of the next novel each time!
Here’s the VERY rough blurb for book one, and some photos from Savannah.
Guardian of Monsters (Sleuths of Shadow Salon, urban fantasy PI series, Book 1)
Celestine, witch and wolf shifter has a talent for prophetic drawings. She’s shocked when she draws her landlord Ray with his eyes gouged out and a strange winged-mermaid leaning over him. Later she finds an eyeless Ray dead on the sidewalk. All she wanted to do was open a gallery, but first she must apprehend his killer. In a posthumous note, Ray wrote he wasn’t just a leather-smith but a supernatural pirate mage. Years back, his Jekyll crew trapped the evil Demon Three Eyes clan. Ray feared they’d escaped, were stalking him, and would soon wreak havoc on Savannah.
Oryn, a fellow student in Celestine’s continuing ed art class, is a fae and a thorn in her side, when he asks nosy questions about the case. Yet, she’s drawn to him when he’s her masseur at the spa she frequents, and he’s clever at brainstorming leads regarding Ray’s case. He insists his air magic could come in handy.
When pirates in Ray’s old crew are murdered, their body parts stolen, Celestine puts more horrifying clues together. She’ll need everyone on board, including Luna, a mermaid asking to show her sea-glass sculptures at Celestine’s new gallery—and the very same mermaid in Celestine’s tragic drawing of Ray. Otherwise, the lethal monstrosity Demon Three Eyes is unleashing on Savannah will destroy the city and everyone in it.
Have you penned a long series? If so, what were some of your challenges?
Untethered Realms is seeking short fantasy stories (3,000 to 10,000 words) with the theme of spring.
Fantasy in Bloom will feature several speculative fiction authors, including some of our UR authors. It's the first anthology in the Seasons of Untethered Realms series.
You can be a first time author or a veteran. We welcome all kinds of fantasy. While we cannot pay any participating writers, the anthology is a wonderful way to get exposure. Our previous series, Elements of Untethered Realms, does well in that regard.
There is no deadline. We will close when we are full.
If you are accepted, you will receive an invitation to write stories for upcoming anthologies in the Seasons series. Along with this spring edition, we will have summer, autumn, and winter with different themes like sci-fi, paranormal, and steampunk/cyberpunk/hopepunk/solarpunk.
Please submit your stories to Christine Rains at christinerains [dot] writer @ gmail [dot] com. Put Fantasy in Bloom Submission in the subject heading and attach the story to the email as a doc, docx, or rtf file. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. You can email us, leave a question here on the blog, or on our Facebook page.
The apocalypse wasn’t what anyone expected–no rising flood waters, no zombies, no nuclear bombs. Instead, monsters. Their sudden invasion left the world in shatters, and now, decades later, all that’s left of human civilization are a few nomadic bands struggling to survive off the land.
Askari was born to this world, and lives, fights, and survives alongside the community that raised her. But when she breaks one too many of the community’s rules, her punishment is severe: leave.
Armed with her bow and blade, Askari sets off alone, guided only by a map and the promise that if she can find a book hidden in a nearby town, then she can return. But what can one person do alone in such a harsh, violent landscape? How will she survive?
Watching or reading the news today can be absolutely depressing. These past few years have made me want to hide in a blanket fort and never come out. Yet as a writer, I do get inspired by happenings in our world. So I have turned to news about the strange and the awesome.
Could 2022 be the year aliens come to Earth? ( https://www.space.com/2022-turning-point-study-ufos-uap ) There was a rise in sightings last year. Keep an eye on the skies.
This might also be the year that fairies come out of hiding and put humans back on track in taking proper care of the planet. Along with UFOs, there has been more sightings of tiny winged creatures like this one supposedly caught on a doorbell camera. ( https://www.coasttocoastam.com/article/watch-fairy-filmed-by-doorbell-camera/ )
With more people having cameras and satellites snapping pictures of remote places, there aren't many places Bigfoot can hide. Believers have been telling us all along that the creatures exist, and maybe this year we'll find out for certain. ( https://ocj.com/2022/02/searching-for-ohios-bigfoot/ )
Let's not forget about ghosts. In the past few years with so many people quarantined, incidents of ghost sightings have skyrocketed. Is this because people never noticed the paranormal activity before, or because some people are lonely? ( https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/im-engaged-ghost-im-inundated-26354750 )
Whether you're a skeptic or not, all these headlines in Other News does spark the imagination!
|Credit: NASA / Artist concept of the James Webb Space Telescope|
At last, at last! There's a new space telescope out there to get better looks at the origins of the universe, distant planets, and galaxies, plus our own solar system. The James Webb Space Telescope is an orbiting infrared observatory. It will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope with longer wavelength coverage and massively improved sensitivity.
|Herbig-Haro / Credit ESA/Hubble & NASA, B. Nisini|
Webb has a primary mirror made of 18 segments comprised of ultra-lightweight beryllium. Its biggest feature is a tennis court-sized five-layer sunshield that attenuates heat from the Sun more than a million times. The telescope’s four instruments - cameras and spectrometers - have detectors that can record extremely faint signals. One instrument has programmable microshutters, which enable observation up to 100 objects simultaneously. How Cool!
The James Webb is bigger and more powerful, and I'm sure we'll learn things we have yet to imagine. The telescope will orbit Earth 1.5 kilometers away. It is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who's been searching for the truth all these years . . .
When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.
But fourteen years later, Angela Wong's remains are discovered in the woods near Geo's childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.
To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he's something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo's first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.
For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela's death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.
While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.
How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?
Listening to the audio book, I cringed many times. I was terribly disturbed by the story. The author, Jennifer Hillier held nothing back, painting a horrific picture of murder, death, and the main characters stint in prison.
However, the enticing narrator had me on page one. And while the story was alarming, I couldn't put it down. Every blunt detail crawled under my skin and grabbed me.
I've read many reviews, and disagree with those readers complaining about the rushed ending. It was excellent. I couldn't have written a better ending. Throughout all the pulsating trauma, I could breathe again, and found a smile on my face.