Thursday, August 17, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 130 - Do You Take This Cowboy by Vicki Lewis Thompson, As We Rise: Rogue by Donnielle Tyner, Mikolos by Ruby Lionsdrake

Do You Take This Cowboy?Do You Take This Cowboy? by Vicki Lewis Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With this one we say a sad farewell to the Thunder Mountain Brotherhood series. It started with Cade and Lexie starting to get together and two years later in this final book they get married. The picture Lewis paints of the wedding is moving. Many of the men return for the wedding including Austin Teague who has returned from New Zealand ready to marry and settle down. He even has the bride picked out but she has different ideas. A nice romance to end the series as well as a wedding with the two who were in main characters in the first book.

As We Rise: Rogue (As We Rise Series Book 1)As We Rise: Rogue by Donnielle Tyner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jo Cygni is a very strong character even as she has to fit into a new role as captain of the spaceship CS Kismet after the death of her father. Throw in a need for a well paying cargo and you have the background for Rogue. There is tension, mystery and romance as a part of the plot. Jo has to captain the ship while dealing with a unpleasant surprise and the addition of her lover there to watch over everything she does. The story was a little uneven but had all of the correct elements for a science fiction romance. It does end with part of the problems solved but there are more left up in the air. Book two follows with some of the answers.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Mikolos (Star Guardians novella)Mikolos by Ruby Lionsdrake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ruolan the Retriever finds stolen items and is great at her job. What she really wants is to be a Star Guardian but know in her heart it is a difficult if not impossible dream. When she meets several real Star Guardians and volunteers to help them find a stolen item she is close to living her dream. This is a cute story with a lot of action leading to places where Ruolan is the difference between success and failure in recovering the stolen item. There is a romance added into the mix and a big surprise for Ruolan at the end. This is a side story in the Star Guardian series and adds some extra backstory and world building to the series.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 129 - The Old Grey Line by J.A. Dance, In the Cowboy's Arms by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Say Yes to the Cowboy by Vicki Lewis Thompson

The Old Blue Line (Joanna Brady, #15.5)The Old Blue Line by J.A. Jance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A nice novella that gives a look into Butch's past before Joanna. When Butch is framed for murder an unlikely group comes to his rescue. The old blue line is composed of retired cops, attorneys and others who step up to help rescue Butch. A fun story, easy to read or listen to and it gives more backstory to the Joanna Brady mysteries.

In the Cowboy's Arms (Thunder Mountain Brotherhood, #9)In the Cowboy's Arms by Vicki Lewis Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Matt Forrest is the latest Thunder Mountain Brotherhood member to find his HEA. I liked how Vicki has painted a very different picture of each man as they come home to the Thunder Mountain Ranch. Matt has just been set up by a co-star and is not happy about his PR person's reaction. The fun begins from there as Matt gets the support he needs on his return. Gene Lysander handles Matt's PR and when she follows Matt home she learns that the support she gets at Thunder Mountain is something she also needs. A nice story with a great HEA.

Say Yes to the Cowboy (Thunder Mountain Brotherhood)Say Yes to the Cowboy by Vicki Lewis Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just when you think you cannot depend on anyone you realize that you are wrong. It takes becoming a father to lead Zeke to realize that he really does want a family and he wants it with Tess Irwin. Zeke has always been a loaner at Thunder Mountain. He has taken comfort is being around but has not every made an effort to belong. It was fun seeing him change and accept his place at Thunder Mountain. Another more great story in the series.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 128 - Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, TRident's Forge by Patrick S. Tomlinson, Children of the Divide by Patrick S. Tomlinson

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am very ambivalent about Dark Matter. At time I was really caught up in the story and at other times I found parts to be slow and not really that important to the keeping the story moving. I listed to this as an audio book so I could not skim through the boring parts. Jason was an interesting character and the plot was different from any other I have read. However I could knock holes in part of the plot and had trouble believing other parts. Pick it up and see for yourself who you feel about the premise and the story.

Trident's Forge (Children of a Dead Earth, #2)Trident's Forge by Patrick S. Tomlinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As good as The Ark but different. This starts 3 years after the Ark arrived at their new home. While The Ark was a locked room mystery this is a first contact story with interesting natives and trouble for our main characters. Some humans just cannot seem to stop showing their worst behavior and greed and greed is at the heart of the story. I loved seeing how Bryan and others were operating in their new home. The natives showed some of the same characteristics as humans but did have their own culture. This was a page turner that was hard to put down. A great second book in the series.

My Science Fiction Book Club gave The Ark all thumbs up.

Children of the Divide (Children of a Dead Earth)Children of the Divide by Patrick S. Tomlinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Loved the first two could have snoozed through this one. Eighteen years have passed since characters arrived at their new home. Children have grown up, are rebellious teenagers and have some different ideas and feeling from their parents. This has bombs, kidnapping and acts that could be seen as treason but I just did not care about the action. What I did like was the discovery even though it was an old much used trope. This is book three in the series but the ending lead me to believe that there will be more in the future. Even though I was disappointed by book three I still recommend the series based on how much I liked the first two books.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Lawman's Apache Moon by Debra Holt - Book Blast and Giveaway

by Debra Holt


GENRE:  Romance


“No more detours!” That was the promise Angelina Lord made to herself when she accepted a ride from a wedding in Texas, with the best man to her destination in Santa Fe, New Mexico. What could possibly go wrong?

Angelina is focused on one thing–opening a fashion boutique in Santa Fe. What she really doesn’t need is one full-of-himself lawman with his aggravating air of superiority and soul-searing eyes…not to mention heart-stopping kisses…coming to her rescue. If she lets him get too close to the truth, he could bring down the wall she erected around her well-ordered life and her heart.

United States Marshal Jace Blackhawke holds family and traditions as the center of his life. He isn’t part of Angie’s world and she certainly isn’t part of his. Will their differences prove to be too insurmountable in the face of the truth that will not stay silent?



At first, Clay remained silent. When Jace was about to prompt him again, he finally began to open up. “A long time ago, I thought I did the right thing. It hurt like hell to do it. Then I did something else that seemed to be the honorable thing. And that went bad, too. I paid for it all for twelve long years. Now, Kaitlyn comes back here because her grandmother needed to see her. I thought I was beyond all the feelings, all the memories and the pain from a dozen years ago. But turns out, I am still the world’s biggest fool. I put my heart out there once again. But I should have known it was too late.” He’d probably left out the more personal details, but what he told Jace was enough to have him shaking his head when Clay finally finished with his departure from the ranch that morning and his arrival at Lou’s Bar.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Debra Holt

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers.  Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most.  She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!).

When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure.  She read her first romance...Janet Dailey's Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles...and all who believe in happily-ever-after’s. 

Debra invites you to visit her website at  She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via email at  Twitter is and Facebook at 




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Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 127 - Safe in Your Arms: The Quiet Storm'A Weaver Beginning by RaeAnne Thayne and Allison Leigh, Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn, Seal Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear

Safe in Your Arms: The Quiet Storm\A Weaver BeginningSafe in Your Arms: The Quiet Storm\A Weaver Beginning by RaeAnne Thayne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked both of the novels published in this two for one issue. Thane's is an early release that was very well written with great characters. Beau Riley and Elizabeth Quinn have a history that leaves Beau cold when Elizabeth comes asking for help. It was fun to see each learn to like and then love the other.

In A Weaver Beginning Abby Marcum's and Sloan McCray have a difficult past and Sloan has trouble seeing past what he thinks are his failures. Add a cute kid and you have a nice story. I did think that the ending was the weak point in the story but still enjoyed seeing the Weaver clan.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

BannerlessBannerless by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enid of Haven is an Investigator in the world created after the Fall. For a post-Apocalyptic story it is a gently book. While there is a murder most of the book in backstory and world building. As the story progresses we see what happened and how this group of people decided to change and survive. The Banner is the right to have a child and is at the heart of the murder. It looks like this might be a series and if so I want to read the next book to see what and where the characters go from here.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

SEAL Wolf UndercoverSEAL Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my first time to read a book by Terry Spear and while I liked it I just did not love it. I liked the characters but I was a little behind on the world building and backstory. Special wolf agent Jillian Matthews starts out shooting Vaughn Greystroke then has to work with him to find out who attacked one of Vaughn's pack members. There are two types of shifters in the book and a interesting mystery that is very well presented. What I did not feel was the tension and interest between the two main characters. You can read this as a stand alone. I did think I would have enjoyed it more if had read previous book in the series.

I received a free copy of the book from the publisher.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 126 - Power Games by Christine Feehan, Binary System by Eric Brown, Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders

Power Game (GhostWalkers, #13)Power Game by Christine Feehan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nonny is still collecting new family members. This time it is Bellisia or Bella. She is small but deadly and has just escaped the control of a very bad man. On her last mission she heard Captain Ezekiel Fortunes and his men sold out so she goes to check it out. Turns out she has to save Ezekiel and the heat between the two is burning hot. A fun romance with a lot of danger, some interesting enemies, and a large cast of characters. Through it all Bellisia and Ezekiel are working toward their HEA. Can be read as a stand-alone. I listed to this as an audio book. The reader was very good and kept the tempo of the story moving forward with great voices for the different characters.

Binary/SystemBinary/System by Eric Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like Eric Brown's books and this was no exception. This has it all. A explosion causing a trip 10,000 light years away, natives to the planet, aliens other than humans who are no good and a interesting plot line. The characters are great. The non-humans come in several types that add to the flavor of the book. The backstory is worked into the plot and the world building is excellent. A fun read that is not over long. I found it just right for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Under Her Skin (Blank Canvas, #1)Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the premise but was bored by all the sex. The characters were interesting and the two themes very relevant. Battered Women and life as an ex-con were right on target as important issues. What I did not like as I stated above was the pages and pages of pre-post and actual sex. The character building was interesting especially as facts from the character's past were revealed. There was a nice ending to the story and as this is book one in a new series I expect more on current themes and interesting characters.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Love on the Risky Side by Mariah Ankenman - Book Blast and Giveaway

Love on the Risky Side
by Mariah Ankenman

GENRE:  Contemporary Romance



Falsely accused of the murder of her best friend, Kayla Jenkins is on the run for her life. She ends up lost in dark, snowy woods off some backcountry road in the middle of nowhere. Frightened and colder than she’s ever been in her life, she almost thinks she’s hallucinating when a warrior on a white steed saves her.

In all his years as the sheriff of Peak Town, Colorado, Jake Ryder has never come across a half-frozen woman alone in the woods. She’s terrified…and lying to him, yet something about her calls to him on a primal level.

Even with her trust of law enforcement lower than the harsh temperature, Kayla finds it difficult to keep her secrets hidden from the kind and far too handsome sheriff. But as her faith in Ryder grows, she not only risks the real murderer finding her, but losing the one thing she has searched for her whole life and only just found…love.



“My name is Jake Ryder, but most folks call me Ryder.” When she didn’t return the introduction, he continued. “Can I ask how you came to be all the way out here in the middle of the night?”

Giving a guarded glance from the horse back to him, she simply said, “Got lost.”

And they say women were chatty. Hell, he had a pet parrot as a kid that talked more than this woman. Not a problem. As sheriff, he was used to interrogating uncooperative suspects. Not that she was a suspect, yet.

“Got lost...” He looked her over. Big, red, winter coat, long dark slacks and—were those high heels? “…shopping?”

Honestly, who the hell wears heels in the woods?

She scowled, wrapping her arms around herself. “My car ran off the road. I—I got out to find help. Wandered off the road and got lost.”

Something about her story smelled like Wind Chaser’s stall after feeding time. “Why didn’t you call Triple A?”

Her gaze darted to the side. “Cell died.”

Yeah, and I’m the King of England.

“You need a ride back to your car?”

Her eyes widened. “On that thing?”

“Her name is Wind Chaser, and yes. Did you think I had a car hidden in the trees?”

Her jaw clenched at his sarcasm. Well, excuse him. It was dark, cold, and the last thing he wanted to do was be out here trying to pull a story out of Ms. Lying-Crazy-Lady.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

RWA® Golden Heart® Nominated author Mariah Ankenman began writing at the tender age of five. Her first book “George and the Green Glob” received high praise from her mother. Many years, and green glob stories later, Mariah received a playwriting degree from the University of Wyoming. After a few years in Hollywood, working in “the biz,” she came home to the beautiful Rocky Mountains. When she’s not writing Mariah loves to read, crochet, and play her ukulele. She loves to hear from readers.
Social media:

Twitter: @MAsBooks

Buy links:



Mariah will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 125 - Sagitta by Ruby Lionsdrake, Relaunch Mission by Robyn Bachar, Contingency Plan by Robyn Bachar

Sagitta (Star Guardians, #3)Sagitta by Ruby Lionsdrake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Those Earth women who were captured and then rescued are still on the Star Guardian's ship. This time they are headed home but wouldn't you know - something dangerous changes the entire trip. While all of this is going on Dr. Tala Matapang and Captain Sagitta "Sage" of Dethocoles are still butting heads. Wonder if something more than disagreements are at the heart of the arguments. I love how SF writers often get political statements woven into their stories. Sagitta have one about medicine and how we often replace healthy living with pills. I loved it because I agree. I also really like the series. This is book three of a five book ark and we leave Tala and Sage with their HEA but the crew of the ship in trouble.

Relaunch Mission (The Galactic Cold War, #1)Relaunch Mission by Robyn Bachar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A familiar trope but it works well in Relaunch Mission. Captain Lindana Nota and Lieutenant Gabriel Steele have a history and not a pretty one. Now Gabriel is on Lindana's ship and all hell is about to break out. Seems that things Gabriel believed are not what they seemed and Lindana's crew is about to get caught in the middle of a whole lot of trouble. About to get caught - seems that they have been there on the last few mission they just did not know it. Very nice world building and back story. Interesting characters and a very good plot. Nothing is solved but there is a great set up for the next books in the series.

Contingency Plan (The Galactic Cold War, #2)Contingency Plan by Robyn Bachar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Closer to a answer but not there yet. Jiang Chen has only partial memories of her past life but she has discovered that she has something in her brain that can be used to leak information about her crew. She is off with Security Chief Ryder Salani to find answers. Some questions are answered but some information about the big picture is still missing. What is answered is the HEA for Jiang and Ryder. They are a great couple - each with problems that cause them to back away at first. A very nice HEA and a great lead up to the next book in the series.

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Short and Sweet Book Reviews # 123 - Lord of Night by Erica Ridley, Chain of Command by Frank Chadwick, Days Until Home by Mark Gardner

Lord of Night by Erica Ridley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Simon Spaulding lives in a world of black and white - that is until he meets Miss Dahlia Grenville. She brings him laughter and love where before there was none. The problem - Dahlia is not what and who she seems. I loved Simon and how he changes during the story. Dahlia brings out the best in many people and has enough love for several characters. I did think that there were parts of the book that could have been explored in more detail. Simon and his brother are one example. I also wondered how Dahlia's family reacted to she and Simon. Again I would have liked more action and less passive time in the two main characters heads but still a fun story. 

Chain of CommandChain of Command by Frank Chadwick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another very good addition to the Space Opera/Military Science Fiction world. Lieutenant Sam Bitka, U.S. Naval Reserve, is one step down from regular naval officers but finds that he has to step up to a command position. What happens is no surprise but it is very well presented. There are several very tense moments as an unexpected attack takes place and Sam and the fleet have to do the impossible. As fun read with interesting characters, good backstory and great world building.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Days Until HomeDays Until Home by Mark Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like a book where anything that can go wrong does go wrong Days until Home is for you. The crew of the Kenwood have to deal with a little bit of every kind of danger starting with sabotage. The characters are interesting and the science sounds very real. An interesting book. I have to admit I got a little tired of all the disaster as I read the book. I was also still in the dark about some of the characters as the story ended.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Forgiveness Solution by Rev. Misty Tyme - Blurb Blitz and Giveaway

The Forgiveness Solution
by Rev. Misty Tyme

GENRE: Self-help / spiritual / inspiration



All major religions and societies agree forgiveness is a good idea. But what they haven’t taught us is how to forgive. The Forgiveness Solution gives you the how in a proven step by step formula that brings relief from the hurt and puts you on the road to living a happy, healthy life.

Rev. Misty teaches you how to shift your perspective and adjust your expectations of people and situations, so you can move past the pain of un-forgiveness. Rev. Misty draws upon her intensely personal experiences of facing deep sadness, anger, and grief with the power of forgiveness. She meets you where you are and helps you walk through your forgiveness journey.



I am going to go out on a limb here; you picked up this book because you want to work on forgiveness.
Congratulations on being a human with real issues, like the rest of us.

Forgiveness can be very hard. The ugly feelings of un-forgiveness come in all types of situations and relationships. They can range from small misunderstandings to threatening and abusive behaviors. It may be psychological, physical, sexual, or financial. Whatever your situation is, you want to get to a solution.

As the title suggests, this is a book about forgiveness. Not just information on what forgiveness is, but the how to forgive. Every culture faces the challenge of dealing with forgiveness. All major religions and societies agree forgiveness is a good idea, but both have left out the how. Rev. Misty’s Forgiveness Algorithm™ (Forgiveness Algorithm) gives you the how and puts it into a step-by-step formula.

The Forgiveness Algorithm came out of my own forgiveness journey. I will share not only my story but also other life-changing forgiveness stories. Laughter opens your heart when so often sadness can slam it tightly shut. I hope to touch your heart and make you smile.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Rev. Misty Tyme is a forgiveness expert, interfaith minister, author, speaker, and creator of Rev. Misty’s Forgiveness Algorithm™.

Her mission is clear: to bring a forgiveness tool to a world that is craving a way to let go of pain and anger. Armed with the motto that “forgiveness is the link between love and healing,” and a gift for opening hearts through her humorous and touching stories, Rev. Misty is known for uplifting and enlightening audiences across the U.S. through her talks and workshops. Visit

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Rev. Misty Tyme will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour

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Seven Days with You by Hugo Driscoll - Blog Tour and Giveaway

Seven Days with You
by Hugo Driscoll

Hugo Driscoll is my guest today and you can read his interview after checking out the Blurb, Excerpt and author info.  


GENRE: YA Romance



Sean Johnson’s life as a small-town farmhand has been nothing but predictable, but when he meets Sophia Hillingdon at the local animal sanctuary, she gets him out of an eighteen-year rut, away from the mundane existence on the farm, and a grieving, drunken father.

Sophia is the first person who understands him and makes him believe that he might get out of their small town, who tells him, he has the potential to be whoever he wants to be and do whatever he wants to do.

But as their relationship unfolds, it is the most devastating of news that will change both of them forever.



Her face was nearer than it had ever been. Her skin felt smooth and warm. All I could do was lean further into her, losing myself in the moment. And then there were her piercing blue eyes-even more extraordinary up close. Before I knew it, I’d brought my hands to her chest as our parting lips collided. We kissed for hours, inhabiting each other with such force as our bodies rolled across the cooled grass. She was the change I had been searching for. It was the first time I realized; I could be anywhere in the world, but nowhere without her.



Hugo Driscoll is a 25-year- old British journalist and content writer for an online publication in London.

When he's not working, you can usually find him writing in the basements of cafes or lamenting the unfair treatment of millennials in overcrowded London bars.

You can also find Hugo on Twitter, Facebook, and his personal blog, which he updates regularly.

Seven Days with You is his first novel.


INTERVIEW With Hugh Driscoll

Have you ever had an imaginary friend?

I haven’t! I’m probably too impatient to entertain the idea of one.

Do you have any phobias?

Rats. Their pink tails are the stuff of nightmares. And that’s coming from an animal lover!

Do you listen to music when you're writing?

I prefer writing with little distraction so music can putt me off my train of thought, but emotive music can help when writing a scene requiring a healthy dose of pathos.

Do you ever read your stories out loud?

To myself? Yes. You can detect more errors and inconsistencies with the writing that way. Microsoft Word used to have this great built-in voice reader, but I can’t seem to find it on their latest edition!
As for reading in front of other people, that’s never been a prospect that’s appealed to me if I’m honest. I’m not an actor, I’m a writer and I feel I’d be doing readers a disservice if they were to hear me stutter my way through a passage!

Tell us about your main character and who inspired him/her.

Sean Johnson is a good-natured individual who hasn’t been dealt a good pair of cards in life. He’s long felt alone with his problems and has never felt comfortable turning to anyone for help. And there are so many people like that in life- regardless of how many friends they do or don’t have. I know I certainly felt like that for a period in my teens, but when you meet someone you’re romantically interested in, it can change your life and be the change you’d been searching for without ever realizing it.


 Links to Hugh:

Buy Link:




Be sure to check out the other blogs on the tour.

July 31:    Queen of All She Reads
August 1:     Straight From the Library
August 1:     Jazzy Book Reviews
August 2:    Jennifer Macaire, Tell me a Story
August 3:     Independent Authors
August 3:     Mixed Book Bag
August 4:     Mello and June, It's a Book Thang!
August 7:    Just Books
August 7:    Lorana Hoopes
August 8:     Up 'Til Dawn Book Blog
August 9:    Booklove
August 9:     charline's blog and more...
August 10:     Book Lover Promo
August 11:     Huntley and Books
August 11:     BooksChatter

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

the end of ordinary by Edward Ashton - Book Tour and Giveaway

The End of Ordinary
by Edward Ashton

My guest today is Edward Ashton author of The End of Ordinary.  Be sure to check out his post on world building.

GENRE: Science Fiction



Drew Bergen is an Engineer. He builds living things, one gene at a time. He's also kind of a doofus. Six years after the Stupid War -- a bloody, inconclusive clash between the Engineered and the UnAltered -- that's a dangerous combination. Hannah is Drew's greatest project, modified in utero to be just a bit better at running than most humans. She’s also his daughter. Her plan for high school is simple: lay low and run fast. Unfortunately for Hannah, her cross-country team has other plans.

Jordan is just an ordinary Homo-Sap. But don’t let that fool you -- he’s also one of the richest kids at Briarwood, and even though there isn’t a single part of him that’s been engineered, someone has it out for him.

Drew thinks he’s working to develop a spiffy new strain of corn, but Hannah and her classmates disagree. They think he's cooking up the end of the world. When one of Drew's team members disappears, he begins to suspect that they might be right. Soon they're all in far over their heads, with corporate goons and government operatives hunting them, and millions of lives in the balance.



“So,” I said when I’d picked the last bit of rind out of my teeth. “What now?”

Nathan shrugged.

“Wait for death, I guess.”

“Huh,” I said. “I see where you’re going with that, but I was actually hoping you’d have some kind of last-minute escape plan to present now.”

“Escape plan?”

“Yeah. If this were a vid, this is where you’d suggest a super-complicated scheme to get out of here. I’d say ‘that’s crazy!’ and you’d say ‘do we have a choice?’ and then we’d do it and it would work somehow and you would totally be my hero.”

He stared at me, downed the last of his bathtub water, and stared at me some more.

“So,” I said finally. “Do you, uh… have a plan?”

“No,” he said. “Unless ‘wait for death’ counts as a plan, I do not have one.”


I looked down at the lantern, and found myself wondering if the battery would give out before we did. A shiver ran from the base of my spine to the back of my neck and down again.

“Hannah?” Nathan said. “Are you, uh…”

I groaned.

“Am I what, Nathan?”

“Are you really gonna eat me?”

I stared at him.


He looked away.

“Well, yeah. I don’t mean now. Just… you know… eventually?”

I dropped my head into my hands.

“No, Nathan. I am not going to eat you.”

“Are you sure? I mean, you might have to, right?”

I stood up, and picked up the lantern.

“You are an odd duck, Nathan. I’m going for a run.”


World Building in Science Fiction

Whenever I begin reading a new piece of fiction, there are two questions that I really prefer to have answered as quickly as possible: 

1.             Where am I?
2.             When am I?

Few things are more frustrating than getting half-way through the first chapter of a book and still having no idea whether you’re in the future or the past, on Earth or some alien world. Answering these questions seems like a pretty basic requirement for an author, but getting it done in an unobtrusive and effective way is surprisingly difficult.
Establishing setting is important in all literature, of course, but it’s a bit easier when you’re writing contemporary fiction. Put a view of the Empire State Building in the background and throw in an Eddie Vedder reference, and you’ve let everybody know more or less where and when your story is taking place. World building in science fiction is a much trickier process, carried out in two distinct stages. 
Before an author can effectively convey the setting to her readers, she has to have a complete understanding of it herself. This is Stage One. If, for example, you’ve never been to New York City, and you weren’t alive in 1992, you might want to reconsider using the signifiers I mentioned above. 
In science fiction, of course, the need for personal experience with the setting is much less urgent. If your rom-com is set in New York in 2092 rather than 1992, you can get away with not knowing contemporary details of the urban landscape, because things may have changed in the interim. You still need to have a clear understanding of what those changes are yourself, though. The Empire State Building has been replaced by the Carrot King’s new palace? That’s okay—but you’d better have a solid picture in your head of what the Orange House looks like, how it was constructed, how the landscape around it has changed to accommodate the new structure, etc. 
Oh, and by the way, what’s the structure of our new carrot-based government? Is it a strict monarchy, or does the Carrot King defer to a bicameral legislature? How has society’s structure changed? Are vegans now hunted pariahs? These details will impact your plot, and you need to know them before you start writing.
It’s possible, of course, to take this stage of the process too far. You don’t need to invent a grammatically complete language for the carrots, or write a carrot-based Silmarillion to explain the last five thousand years of carrot civilization. Do, though, make sure you understand the broad outlines. If the Carrot King has a court of nobles in Chapter 1, then gets impeached by congress in Chapter 12, someone is going to notice.
Once Carrotopia is fully fleshed out in your skull, you need to convey enough information about its appearance, mores, and history to your reader to allow him to fully appreciate all that pre-thinking you did. This is Stage Two, and it’s a tricky one. It’s very tempting to start a science fiction story with a lengthy description of the world you’ve created. Please, please do not do this. It’s boring, and very much the mark of an amateur. Don’t think you can hide your info dump in dialog, either. Starting a book with a conversation between two characters about details of their society that both of them would obviously know and have no reason to discuss with one another is another absolute show-stopper.
So, how do you go about getting your reader oriented without boring him to tears? Well, for some masterful examples, check out Startide Rising, by David Brin, A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge, or Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. All these books are set far in the future and far from Earth, and all manage to convey their settings effectively while also yanking the reader into the story by his lapels. In general, though, there are a few simple techniques that you can use to get this done:

     Convey setting through action. This should be your go-to method in almost every case. If your story opens with your protagonist racing along the waterfront, Statue of Liberty in the distance, pursued by carrot stormtroopers, you’ve gone a long way toward letting your reader know where he is.
     Convey setting through dialog. Wait, didn’t I just say not to do this? Yes. Yes I did. However, this is in fact a tool in the bag. You just need to use it sparingly, and with caution. It’s okay for one character to explain some important detail about carrot society to another as long as (1) the second character would have no way of knowing this detail (for example, because he is extremely dumb) and (2) the explanation of this detail is organic to the action (for example, because the second character is about to eat a salad.)
     Convey setting through exposition. Included here for the sake of completeness, but this is the break-glass-only-for-emergency option. Neal Stevenson can get away with this. You probably can’t.

A big part of the reason that writing science fiction is so much fun is that, as an author, you get to flat-out make stuff up. With great power comes great responsibility, though, and it’s important to remember that you have a solemn obligation not to leave your reader either bored or bewildered. It’s a fine line to walk, but if you can pull it off, the rewards are endless.
I mean that metaphorically, of course. The financial rewards for a science fiction writer have a very limited and well-defined end. 
Still a lot of fun, though.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Edward Ashton lives with his adorably mopey dog, his inordinately patient wife, and a steadily diminishing number of daughters in Rochester, New York, where he studies new cancer therapies by day, and writes about the awful things his research may lead to by night. He is the author of Three Days in April, as well as several dozen short stories which have appeared in venues ranging from the newsletter of an Italian sausage company to Louisiana Literature and Escape Pod.

You can find him online at
Twitter: @edashtonwriting
Facebook: Edward Ashton Writing
Tumblr: Smart-as-as-bee



Edward will be awarding a 14 Ounce Nalgene—filled with candy corn! & 1 VeryFit Smart Band (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Be sure to visit the other blogs on the tour:

July 17: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
July 18: Rogue's Angels 
July 19: BooksChatter
July 20: The Avid Reader
July 21Fabulous and Brunette
July 24Writers and Authors
July 24Jennifer Macaire, Tell me a Story -
July 25Sharing Links and Wisdom –
July 25Kit 'N Kabookle
July 26T's Stuff – 
July 27Long and Short Reviews 
July 28Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
July 31The Reading Addict 
August 1Queen of All She Reads
August 2Mixed Book Bag
August 3Casey M's Corner
August 4Readeropolis