7.18.2017

Are you ready to challenge Fate? #ya #fantasy


I published my first novel Reborn (The Fate Challenges #1) back in May 2014. After three years, I now have a second edition of Reborn available as well as two novellas! Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until 2018 for Forged (The Fate Challenges #2) and Destined (The Fate Challenges #3) are ready for me to publish.

I'm also running a sale on Reborn, which is 99c for a limited time. Determined (A bonus novella set between Chapters 24 and 25 in Reborn) is free on my website, and Marked (The Fate Challenges #1.5) will always be 99c. (Prices are subject to change by country.)

To save her kingdom, a prophetess must challenge Fate.
On her seventeenth birthday, Phoenix Prophetess Yssa must leave her home to serve the God of Prophecy. Sea serpents and other gods endanger her travels and sour the omens. Her duties at the Temple of Apenth prove Yssa is cursed instead of blessed. Not yet permitted to give prophecies to temple goers, Yssa spends her days reading dusty scrolls, which does nothing to help her forget Tym, the boy back home. Then, there is Liam, the annoying yet gorgeous ferryman’s son. He proves to be a distraction not even a psychic can predict.
Her boring temple life screeches to a halt when premonitions of her parents’ murders consume her. Yssa races to her home an ocean away to stop their deaths. After all, Apenth’s rare Phoenix Prophetesses are gifted with the ability to alter the future. Fate, however, won’t be changed as easily as Yssa assumes. Worse, it has plans for her and the kingdom.
Yssa must either accept her destiny or fight Fate.


A prophetess must prepare for war.

The city of Amora will burn, if the Phoenix Prophetess doesn’t uncover a way to alter Fate. But Yssa is a world away from warning the kingdom of its impending demise.

While Yssa learns fighting techniques from the ferryman’s son Liam and how to follow the threads of Fate from the woodwose seer Zoon, she sets out to restore her friendship with the woodwoses. She is determined to put things right before Liam and she leave at the month of beginnings.

Because when they exit Waldbaum Forest, their real challenges will begin.

Available only through Cherie Reich’s website, Determined is set between chapters 24 and 25 in Reborn and meant to be read in conjunction with the first book of The Fate Challenges.

Saving the Phoenix Guard has changed him forever.

A blade to the gut gave Liam a one-way ticket to the Underworld, but Phoenix Prophetess Yssa brought him back to life. As the second mortal man to survive a sojourn to Hupogaia’s realm, Liam strives to understand how the one he was tasked to protect saved him, why he lived when so many others died during the battle against the Great Beyonders, and, most of all, why he now sees and hears things that aren’t there.

Liam researches the God of Prophecy’s mortal son, the one who also came back, but Moran died over twenty-four hundred years ago. To say that information is scarce is an understatement, but Liam won’t give up.

After all, rumors are flying around the Kingdom of Amora about Yssa’s newfound powers. Threats loom ever closer. Liam must protect the Phoenix Prophetess at any cost. Uncovering Moran’s destiny may be the one thing that helps Liam save the one he loves, if he can find the right scroll in time.


So are you ready to challenge Fate and read The Fate Challenges?

7.11.2017

A Writing Retreat - Report from this time around

I head to Cape Cod every summer for a long-standing writing retreat. I always look forward to it long before summer, and I depend on it to power my writing long after it's over. I just returned from this year's, and I'm withdrawal, though I'm also quite inspired. How do we organize it? We share the cost of VRBO or Airbnb. Then the person who communicates with the rental folks gets taken out for dinner one night. This time it was me and I chose a restaurant in Woods Hole, where all the scientists and oceanographers hang out.
The usual suspects
The perks:
Uninterrupted writing time and meditation/flow to craft story-plot-character.
Hearing my fellow authors typing away with occasional snorts of hilarity, followed by equally hilarious explanations. Laughter is always welcome.
Brainstorm sessions with the authors during morning coffee, at dinner and at beach.
After-dinner readings and helpful critiques.
Tarot Card readings and parlor games involving writing skills.
Shared "war stories", biz tips and giggles.
We take turns making dinner so we get lots of variety, and only have to cook one night.
My morning station

My afternoon station



The downsides:
A week is too short! I've just fully hit my stride when it's already time to pack it in. Having essentially five full days makes me reluctant to take any downtime to visit the local museums or glassblowing studio. I do allow swims at the beach, but little else. As a result, there's a danger of burnout, and a sore back and neck.
A hot room with inadequate or no AC.
Bug bites when eating picnic dinners.
Going around July 4th - too many scary fireworks way too close! Too much traffic.
View from the restaurant in Woods Hole, Ma.
The solutions:
Next year, rent a place for at least two weeks!
Bring along a screened tent or rent a place with a screened in porch.
Take a strong fan.
Go later in July to avoid July 4th issues, but not so late in summer that we can't take advantage of power-boost to summer writing.

What about you? Do you ever do writing retreats? If not, how do you manage to get extended blocks of writing time?
What we needed!
 
What we had

7.07.2017

Book Review: The Undead Road (My Zombie Summer #1) #amreading


Blurb:
Nothing brings the family together like a zombie apocalypse …

Fifteen-year-old Jeremy Barnes would rather watch a zombie movie than shoot a real one, but he has no choice if his family wants to survive the end of the world. Their plan? Drive across the infected United States to a cabin in the Colorado Rockies without a scratch, but their trip takes a complicated detour in the middle of Nebraska when they find Kaylynn, a girl who can handle a baseball bat better than Jeremy can hold a .45 Beretta. And when they stumble into a sanctuary, Jeremy soon learns that Kaylynn is stronger than she looks—a deadly secret lies inside her.

After the radio picks up a distress call from Kansas City about a possible cure, Jeremy’s parents go with a team to investigate. They never return. The only way to find their parents is for Jeremy and his sister Jewel to rely on a dangerous girl who might just turn on them at any moment.
 
Review:
Jeremy Barnes and his family are driving across country to their cabin in Colorado, a place they believe will be safe now that the zombie apocalypse has happened. Along the way, they meet a teenage girl named Kaylynn who can expertly wield a baseball bat and wins over Jeremy's heart quick. Kaylynn has a secret, though. One that might be the death of them all.

A fun and fast-paced YA zombie apocalypse read. Jeremy's fifteen year old voice is captured exceptionally well. He's a smart kid who gets way too distracted by a cute girl. And who can blame him? Kaylynn kicks butt. She tries to keep herself isolated so no one learns her secret, but Jeremy eventually figures it out. He sticks by her still. Hot girl, after all, and yeah, he's loyal with a good heart. Jeremy's family was awesome too. His mom's a nurse and his dad's a gun dealer and his little sister kicks butt too. The family unit is tightly knit and drawn genuinely throughout the story.

It reminded me of The Walking Dead at the beginning, but the zombies, or Vectors as they call them, are something very different here. An interesting twist to the typical zombie story. A solid 4.5 rating, and one highly recommended to zombie fans.
 
 

7.04.2017

Jeff Chapman's "The Water Wight" - An Excerpt from Spirits in the Water


A dark gray cat, a shade shy of black, padded through a stand of hawthorn perched near the rim of a hollow. The cat moved with her tail low, the tip nearly touching the ground. To hold it above her back invited snagging her fur in the bush-like trees, whose branches bent low in permanent submission to the whistling moor wind. After slinking from under the trees, the cat stopped and pricked her ears toward the stream below.

A poorly sung tavern tune floated upward before the moor wind snatched it. A very, very old part of her wanted to join in the singing. She had so loved to sing when she was young. Sometimes, even after centuries of seasons, she forgot she was a cat.

She knifed between the thorny stems of a blackberry bramble, lithe as water slipping between rocks. Her paws whispered through the leaf clutter.

The hollow widened to a gentler slope. The cat crouched beneath an alder barren of leaves. The autumn foliage did not hang about long in the relentless wind. At the riverbank, a tall, thin young man baited his eel traps. To see but not be seen pleased her, as was a cat's nature.

"He'll leave no scraps for us, the greedy bastard."

The cat jerked her gaze skyward to find a raven perched on a stout branch. Three of the bird's tail feathers were longer and stuck out at odd angles like a boy with a cowlick. She did not like any animal, especially a bird to surprise her, but for this raven, she would curb her anger.

"Nor would you, Crowlluk." The cat licked a forepaw. "He may come from a nest full of hungry mouths."  

"More like his own mouth is extra big," said the raven.

The cat folded her forepaws beneath her chest. "You are far from home."

"There's a fine yew tree farther down stream. Mistress wants some particular seeds."

"I know the tree. What is Mistress brewing with yew berries?"

"How should I know? I fetch what I'm told. And what brings a cat forth on such a cold morn, Merliss? Since we're inquiring into each other's business."

"It pleases me to prowl. Might find a fat grouse not paying attention." Merliss craned her neck to see the raven swivel his head to look away. Teasing Crowlluk was such fun.

Merliss sniffed and then sniffed again deeper. A wet smell was stealing up the slope, like froth pushed before a wave. The hairs along her spine stood stiff. "Crowlluk? Do you smell it?"

"What is it?"

Merliss tasted the scent growing stronger. Her whiskers tingled with approaching vibrations. The supernatural possessed an unmistakable scent, as clear as a print in soft mud. She searched her memory for a matching scent.

"What is it?" repeated the raven, all the bluster gone from his voice.

"I don't know. It's coming from the river. And it's coming faster." Her claws flexed; her ears flattened; her tail stiffened to a fury wand. At times like this, the primitive cat sprang to the fore, ready to scratch and bite, and Merliss almost forgot she had once been a girl.

The man at the river's edge fiddled with his trap, positioning the bait, ignorant of any danger.

Warn him, cried a human voice in Merliss's subconscious. Tell the crow to sound an alarm, the voice counseled, but the raven was all raven and cared nothing for humans beyond his mistress.

The vibrations roared, approaching the crashing crescendo of a breaking wave. To Merliss, attuned to catch the twitch of the smallest enchanted cricket, the grass seemed to quiver, the bushes to shudder, and the trees to shake. Blades of pain ripped along the ley lines of her senses.

The water at the riverbank swelled into a mound. The eel fisher stood of a sudden, rocking back on his heels. At last he too recognized the danger, which shook Merliss from the points of her claws to the tip of her tail.

A human form erupted from the river with the force of a geyser. Arms clothed in froth wrapped the eel fisher before his wits recovered enough to raise his own arms. At the center of his back, the creature's limbs crossed and flowed together into a single watery rope. A blue-green wave molded itself to the fisher's chest and neck. He overbalanced, falling toward the river under the water creature's clinging weight. Merliss questioned why the man did not scream for help, and then she understood. A liquid head had fastened over the eel fisher's mouth. Fluid tendrils stuck out across the crown of the creature's head, and a white orb glowed through a slit where Merliss expected an eye. Her cattish aversion to water swelled her horror. A wave crashing against a rock spread more than enough of its dirty wetness, but a sentient wave that wrapped its wetness round its victim seeded nightmares.

The man splashed the surface, spraying water onto the bank and halfway across the stream. As swiftly as a rock sinks, his body disappeared. Waves rushed in to fill the void and collided where the eel fisher sank. Merliss inched backward, curiosity fighting with the instinct for flight. She had seen many creatures during her time, but never one so much akin to water itself.

Wings thrashed overhead. The raven left his branch, cawing a warning to all who could hear, near and far. Merliss's heart pounded at her throat. Crowlluk smelled it too, she thought. Death exuded a scent as peculiar as magic.

The current swept the eddies downstream. If not for the discarded eel traps and the lingering scents, which had settled over the stream, escaping the moor wind whistling over the hollow, Merliss might have doubted the attack had taken place. The old man must know of this, she thought, and quickly, before someone else dies.

Spirits in the Water is forthcoming October 2017.

6.27.2017

Huzzizzle of the Realms: #ScienceFiction and #Fantasy News from Top-Selling Authors

Put on Your Shades and Ice up your Tea!



The temperatures are heating up in the Northern Hemisphere, and it's time to kick back a little with some great reads.

Here's what's up with the Untethered Realms authors:


M. Pax: The Officer launches June 28th!


The Officer is an anthology of eleven science fiction short stories by writers from across the globe. Being an officer means balancing many conflicting demands. Making the wrong decision can have serious consequences. It takes a special kind of person to cope with the responsibility. It includes my story, "Patchworker 2.0."


Patchworker Evalyn Shore leads the investigation of a homicidal Artificial Intelligence. The AI is taking over minds, leaving Patchworkers and AI managers as sacks of bio matter ready for the recycling bin. Can she create the patch to repair the AI? Or will it kill her first?


*****


Cerise Laudine: Fire and Mist is out!


Fire and Mist, Book 3 of the Wells of Souls series is out now, and Immortal Desires, Book 1, is only .99! All three in the series are free to read in KU. Romance, Time-travel, and Highland alpha males await you. Get swept away this summer!


Derek Mackay, 16th century laird and Druid extraordinaire, is doubly cursed—with knowledge he isn’t supposed to have, and by a goddess whose wrath he didn’t mean to incur. The curse promises sure death to any betrothed of his, including the beautiful woman surrounded by Immortal magic who suddenly appears in his life and arouses in him a wellspring of bittersweet desire. The only way to save her is to stay away from her.


Erin Kelley is restless, craving the missing piece in an otherwise contented life. Romance. A man to take her breath away. A man to keep for life. A family to cherish with him. Swept back in time on a dare, she’s confronted by an angry Highland laird—an alpha male both irresistible and determined to keep her at arm’s length. His words push her away, but his emotions pull her in. Ordinary contentment will never again be enough—not when the world contains the extraordinary Laird Mackay.

*****
Jeff Chapman: The Black Blade paperback giveaway!

Paperbacks for The Black Blade are here and there's still time to enter the giveaway on Goodreads. Three signed copies are up for grabs (for residents of the U.S. and Canada). The giveaway ends on June 30. Follow the link below to enter.

Enter the Giveaway on Goodreads


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

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.

*****


6.20.2017

What makes a child a reader?


The kids are out of school. You're tearing your hair out, wondering how to steer them away from the video games and internet. They don't want to read a book. That's something you have to do in school, right?

I grew up in a non-book household. No. Books. Anywhere. Strange to think of it now. I was led to a lifelong love of reading by... a movie. Them. Radioactive giant ants! Scared the pants off me when I was little, but it opened my world to science fiction. (The movie also gave me a lifelong loathing of ants, by the way.)

When I started school, I discovered you could borrow books and take them home! Yay! I found stories every bit as good, and better, than that dratted movie.

Maybe your children could find a companion book for their favorite video game and discover a world beyond the screen?

What memories do you have of discovering the world of books?

*********************

And in other exciting news... Fire and Mist, book 3 of the Well of Souls series is out!



Blurb:

Derek Mackay, 16th century laird and Druid extraordinaire, is doubly cursed—with knowledge he isn’t supposed to have, and by a goddess whose wrath he didn’t mean to incur. The curse promises sure death to any betrothed of his, including the beautiful woman surrounded by Immortal magic who suddenly appears in his life and arouses in him a wellspring of bittersweet desire. The only way to save her is to stay away from her.

Erin Kelley is restless, craving the missing piece in an otherwise contented life. Romance. A man to take her breath away. A man to keep for life. A family to cherish with him. Swept back in time on a dare, she’s confronted by an angry Highland laird—an alpha male both irresistible and determined to keep her at arm’s length. His words push her away, but his emotions pull her in. Ordinary contentment will never again be enough—not when the world contains the extraordinary Laird Mackay.


***

Yes, it’s a romance, but it’s also about adapting to the curveballs life throws at us. Struggling to persevere against the odds. Becoming victorious in the end, despite the sorrows we’ve endured in getting there. Okay… and being able to shake our fists at the universe and yell, “You can’t break me,” because that’s a fun thing to do. I hope you enjoy the journey.

And if you haven’t read any of them yet, Immortal Desires, book 1 in the series, is on sale for .99 right now. Go grab your copy!


About the author:

Cerise Laudine loves sexy Highlanders, seductive alpha males from the Otherworld, and bold women who can bring them to their knees and rock their world. Time-travel, star-crossed, or interdimensional, her stories always have a happily ever after. Though the twisted path of laughter and tears is the real journey, isn’t it? Come walk the paths with her and share in the experience.
She also writes darker tales, using the twisted side of her brain, as River Fairchild.
Cerise’s Amazon page: http://amzn.to/2pR4awe



6.13.2017

Down the rabbit hole to research historical fantasy

Lithograph by J. Childs depicts two of Philadelphia's notorious
Moyamensing gang killers of the mid-1800s
One of the strange and wonderful perks of writing historical fantasy is doing research. Right now, I am developing characters to populate my next witch novel, set in the mid-1800s in Philadelphia. I need con men and women, murderers, petty thieves and prostitutes. Can you tell I like the dark side? And so far, I’m finding excellent, twisty rabbit holes containing lots of skeevy mischief.

Take the typical misbehaviors for women at this time, where the punishment seems out of whack with the crime: a thief getting five years imprisonment for stealing a dress from a tailor, or a large plate of oysters from a tavern.

There were children in prison as well. One of the youngest girls in the records, 11-year-old Ann McQuillan, was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for 'theft by housebreaking'.

Con men advertised in newspapers to sell “oxygenizing machines” that actually contained laughing gas to supposedly cure folks with lung disease! They hawked counterfeit currency to gullible businessmen, who received a package of green cut paper (thus, the “green goods swindle”). Big Bertha Heyman was so good at conning money from men, she could even pull it off in prison.
Big Bertha, an ingenious swindler of the 1800s
conned a man out of $900 (now about $20,000) while behind bars!

Even in the supposedly civil city of Philadelphia, Irish gangs like the Schuylkill Rangers, began by resisting anti-Catholic attackers, then evolved into organized delinquency.  They became river pirates, demanding a tax from barges heading to the city, and robbing the trade carried across the river at nearby Gray’s Ferry.

One of my characters is a “retired” prostitute, and I hit the mother lode yesterday, when I discovered there were Gentlemen’s Guides to Dens of Iniquity, a kind of wink-wink description of the “worst” establishments in the city. These guides were printed for most big cities. One of the funniest revelations was that a religious seminary on the west side of NYC was once an infamous brothel.
Built in 1819 for a seamstress, this brick house in what is now the New York University area, became a brothel in the mid–1800s—about the time the city’s wealthier citizens relocated uptown.

When I have enough interesting factoids the challenge will be to cull the best of my research and piece together the criminals and cons to form the core band of my players. Each will have their own backstories, flaws and quests.

Do you write historical fiction? If so, do you like doing research? What is the strangest tidbit you’ve unearthed so far along the way?