Release Day for Ravage of Revenants (Khthonia #2)


Everyone knows if you split the party, the players will die.

But what if it’s the only way to discover who the villain might be?

Nora Quinn has spent years honing her mystery solving skills, and when the game calls for several days of gathering information, she’s excited to uncover who the evil necromancer is. She plays Essaerae, an elven bard who is at home with the aristocrats of Willowbright Woods and political maneuvering. Yet her friends are not. They’re enjoying their new lives trapped in the dark fantasy world of Khthonia and finding the way home is no longer a priority, especially if it means hours of tedious investigating.

Assassins set their sights on the heroes and undead attack the city. Someone on the esteemed Council is likely the necromancer, and to end the curse on Khthonia, the players must unmask them. Nora’s left to figure the puzzle out on her own. The problem is, if she splits from the party, she will die.

A fantasy LitRPG/GameLit for fans of table-top role-playing games.



Inspiration from real life ghost hunts

Do you believe in ghosts? Whether you do or don't, would you go on a ghost hunt?

I've been trying to find an active group of paranormal investigators in my area. Perhaps they'll let me join, or, at least, allow me to tag along a few times. Many have disbanded due to the epidemic, but surely there must be people out there like me, eager to explore haunted places. I've made plans twice to meet fellow enthusiasts, but both times, I was ghosted. And not by the spirits!

None of my small group of local friends are interested. Many claim to be too frightened, even if they don't know if they believe in the paranormal. I do believe there are things we can't explain, but I've never had a definite paranormal experience myself.

I get a lot of inspiration from watching ghost hunting shows. The investigators themselves are marvelous characters. Many of them had experiences when they were young which compel them to seek out answers. Of course there is the tension of the investigation. The dark places, weird noises, and flickering shadows. Will something big happen? Or will there be a mundane explanation?

What I especially love are the tales about the locations and the people who lived there. Old asylums, hospitals, museums, manors, mines, and whole towns. There are always layers of stories which spark marvelous ideas in my head. While the ghosts are spooky, it's the real history that is astounding and sometimes immensely disturbing.

I'll keep looking for companions who are brave enough to investigate the unknown. Until then, there are countless paranormal shows for my enjoyment and my muse.


#Fantasy Worth Reading: Seven Strengths: A Tale from Turaset #BookReview


Blurb: Discover the world of Turaset.

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.


The challenges of writing a long series & Guardian of Monsters

Bonaventure plots
 I’ve wanted to write a long series, like forever. I am a slow-ish writer and the longest series I've written to date is the Fireseed series, only two books and a sequel novella. Finally, I'm embarking on a long series, and I’ve completed book one! I will wait to launch until I have two or three books done.

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?

Salt Marsh


Untethered Realms is accepting short story submissions for Fantasy in Bloom


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.


#Fantasy Worth Reading: Tentacles and Teeth #BookReview

Tentacles and Teeth by Ariele Sieling starts off at a gripping, intense pace and doesn’t let up. Immensely enjoyable, I eagerly kept returning to this novel until I devoured the last page like a hungry Pok.

Something happened to the Earth we know. We don’t find out what, but the mystery made the story richer. The end of the world is ushered in by a plethora of monsters, referred to as gorgs.

There are lots of different kinds, and the surviving people are constantly fighting. Besides squaring off with the deadly monsters, Askari also battles some of the rules set by the elders. She doesn’t agree with them all and doesn’t always follow them.

This gets her punished and sent on a mission alone, a mission that will most likely kill her before she completes it. On her journey, we learn more about her and the changed Earth. She learns why some of the rules are wise, and decides she was right to question others.

This story is not lacking in monsters, action, and suspense. The characters were easy to identify with and root for. They were believable-flawed as well as strong. There were some twists and turns with the monster-action, which made this a fun and delightful read.

Good news! There are more books in this series! I would definitely recommend Teeth and Tentacles.

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?



In Other News


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!


#Fantasy Worth Reading - Review for Nemesis (Sparta Online #1) #LitRPG #Gamelit


Blurb:  The might, myth and magic of ancient Greece returned to life... via a deadly combat training game.

Locked in a never-ending war, the city of Technoburbia strives to emulate the military genius of ancient Sparta. To do so, recruits like 15-year-old Troy will enter Sparta Online, learning the skills and mindset of the Spartan hoplite soldiers of old.

Now, Troy finds himself forced into a battle for survival. Facing hunger and having to fight with his fellow soldiers for the most basic of equipment, he is sure that death in the simulation would have dire consequences.

But why are the young recruits being sent on increasingly deadly quests, ill-equipped and with no guidance from their captains? And where are all of the previous trainees?

As his questions mount up, Troy begins to realize that his only way out is to play the game... and win.

Christine's review: 
When Troy comes of age and is recruited into Technoburbia's military, his misery turns into curiosity when he discovers he's been chosen for a special program to train in a video game called Sparta Online. Inside the realistic world, Troy is thrust into a harsh training routine that seems more likely to kill him than make him a great soldier. Will he manage to survive and figure out what's wrong with the game or will he become another Spartan fatality?

This YA historical fantasy LitRPG was a fun and enthralling read. The kids recruited by the military for Sparta Online have a lot of pluck, and Troy's empathy and determination makes him stand out. He's clever and quick, but he's still a 15-year-old kid stuck in a bad situation. I liked seeing how things unraveled from a cruel training program to something much more. Something that has major consequences for the players in the game and possibly out of it. What I especially loved was the peek into history to the life of a Spartan warrior's world when they start to train. How difficult and dangerous it is, how the people of different castes interact, and the everyday life. Plus, on top of that, all the magic and mythological creatures are real!


The Stars: What's Out there? E

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

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.

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!

Exciting news! James Webb has now reached its orbit and successfully deployed the mirrors. Its first target is star HD 84406 in the Big Dipper. Can you hear me squealing? 

Although we don't have flying cars yet or live on the Moon, amazing discoveries about our solar system, galaxy, and universe have been made in recent years. There's water on the moon and Mars. There are possible signs of life on Venus. So, I'm excited to see what James Webb will discover. What do you think we might find?

Speaking of stars and space, I have a new book out! Endpoint, Backworlds Book 8 is now available!

Buy direct from me and get 25% off all purchases. Use coupon code 4XCZKXTR2W / Referral Bonus: When you refer any purchased product to a friend who becomes a customer, you both get 10% off.

What are you willing to lose in order to win?

Craze can no longer keep the evil Quassers contained, and winning the war gets harder. The Quassers unite forces with another enemy and become more threatening, more destructive, and more murderous.

Planet after planet falls, and Craze is desperate. The only chance he has is a glimpse at little hopes that might grow into a viable strategy. But only if the other planets work with him. So far, everybody is still looking out for themselves and hates him for the gut-wrenching decisions—the deaths of innocents in exchange for all of humanity’s survival.


@UnRealms #bookreview #mystery #crimefiction #psychologicalthriller @JenniferHillier

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?

Cathrina's Review

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.


The Importance of Book Reviews Especially For Speculative Fiction Tales


I'm sure you've heard authors pleading for reviews, and while they are important for all writers, they're even more so for speculative fiction. Romance books get a lot of ratings, and that's followed closely by crime and thrillers. Fantasy/sci-fi/steampunk and everything hard to categorize in speculative fiction are lowest on the list when it comes to reviews.

Why is this? It may be readers feel they can't review something that isn't so easily slipped into a definite genre slot or they're timid about sharing their thoughts on world-building or societal issues. They might be intimidated by what they believe are intellectual books, and there are others who consider speculative fiction "lazy intellectualism." No matter what movies and shows we see in the media, readers still shy away from fantasy and sci-fi books.

No matter the genre though, reviews are beneficial to both the authors and readers.

For authors:
- reviews help them see what readers like and what they don't like.
- they can help motivate authors.
- the more reviews a book has, the more visible it is to other readers.
- reviews help authors and readers connect.

Reviews are even more important to readers. The number one reason a reader buys a book is because they know and like and an author. Yet to gain new readers, the best way to do so is through word of mouth, and that is done primarily through reviews. Over fifty percent of readers state they read reviews before they consider buying a book from an author they don't know.

Sometimes speculative fiction can be hard to categorize, but readers shouldn't feel the need to do so. Reviews can be simple. Something along the lines of: "I liked that there were fairies in a steampunk world flying on airships and using magical cannons." This tells potential readers this is a mix of genres, and even if they are attracted to one aspect of that statement, they may like it as a whole.

While some people may fear one and two star reviews, those can also be very helpful. A person might say: "I hated it. Too much elf politics." Another reader may enjoy politics in a book and be happy to discover there is a lot of it in the story. Not every reader is going to like a book.

Writing a review doesn't need to be complicated. The star rating is easy to follow. Don't feel bad if you give a book three or two stars while saying: "I liked Fred. He made me laugh. I didn't like annoying Marcy." It's not an insult as long as it's an honest review.

Speculative fiction is a great big melting pot of characters, worlds, and ideas. It may intimidate readers who might want to venture into the genre, but reviews will greatly help bring in those readers. I tell myself that writing reviews is like a super power as a voracious reader who wants other readers to like fantasy and sci-fi as much as I do. A super power which you, too, can have if you put the reviewer cape for a minute or two after finishing a book.