#NewRelease BLOOD BOND by Susan Leigh Noble

Today, I am releasing my fifth full-length novel – Blood Bond. If you like fantasy, dragons, or just a good book, I recommend you check it out for just $2.99.

It is available exclusively on Amazon.

(Don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry. You can still read Blood Bond. Simply download the Kindle for PC or Kindle for MAC software for free.)

Book Blurb

Man severed the alliance with the dragons fifty years ago. But now an invading army marches north destroying everything in its path. The dragons believe only together can the invaders be defeated. They need an emissary.

Womanizer. Drunk. Failure. Soren is many things. A leader isn’t one of them. But, Dex, the dragon who saves him from a cliff, believes different. Thrust into an adventure he never wanted, Soren’s life changes forever when during a battle Dex’s dragon blood mixes with his blood creating a mystical blood bond – forever linking them.

As the bond strengthens, Soren must decide whether to return to his old life or accept the bond and embrace his role in the battle against the invading army.

Chapter One

Branches tore at his face and arms. Soren’s feet quickly crossed the uneven ground as he ran with his arm outstretched to ward off the blows of the forest underbrush. He could hear the deep voice of one of the men chasing him and the sharp bark of a dog. He didn’t dare slow down as he tried to get his mind to focus. It was hard. His mind felt as if it was in a dense sludge.

He fought to recall what had happened. Soft warm skin came to mind. His lips had traveled over the smooth white skin. The woman’s breath had been hard and fast. He recalled her hand running through his hair, but her face eluded his memory.

Slowly, images of last night drifted through his mind. He lay beside her as his eyes slid closed. He felt warm and content as sleep overcame him. A loud banging at the door jolted him awake. His mind still befuddled with sleep and the effects of the ale from the previous evening, he leapt from the bed. As he rushed to get dressed, the woman bolted for the door. She leaned against it, shrieking for him to hurry. Still her face eluded his memory, though he supposed, it didn’t matter. He would never see her again anyway.

He had been halfway out the window when the door swung open. A huge man roared through it. His eyes bulged as he stormed forward.

The loud voices behind Soren brought his mind back to the present as he ducked under a branch. His head felt ready to explode. He wondered briefly how many men chased him and how far they would take it. Usually once he was out of sight, he was safe. But that point had already come and gone, and this group was still on his trail.

He burst out of the forest, skidding to a stop a foot from the gorge’s edge. He eyed the Thane River flowing forty feet below before glancing to the other side. It was easily a hundred feet away. A crashing sound caused him to swing around. A large black dog barreled toward him. It stopped a few feet away. With his ears laid back, the dog growled. Drool dripped from its sharp teeth.

Soren took a step backwards. He heard pebbles fall and glanced back. His stomach tightened as he stared down the sheer drop. Suddenly, the ground crumbled. He gasped as it gave way. Frantically, he grabbed the cliff side as the dog lurched forward. He let go of the edge, sliding down the almost vertical incline. Rocks dug into his hands as he sought something to grab. He spotted a small tree growing on a thin ledge. Soren grabbed it, holding on for dear life. His feet dangled as the tree bowed under his weight.


It snapped. He fell a few feet before pain exploded in his back as he hit another small tree. He twisted, grabbing it. He hung there for a moment as the rough bark dug into his hands. He swung his leg over a branch and pulled himself up until he straddled it.

“Where is he?” a deep growl came from above.

Soren inched closer to the cliff wall, thankful an indention near the tree’s base would provide him cover from the prying eyes of those above.

“Good boy, Bruno,” another voice said, and the dog stopped growling. “I bet he didn’t know the cliff was here and couldn’t stop.” The man’s voice got louder as he neared the cliff’s edge. “Look. Part of the edge has crumbled.”

“I won’t rest until I see his dead body,” the deep voiced declared.

“He couldn’t have survived the fall.”

Soren breathed a sigh of relief as the man with the deep voice was persuaded to return home and not waste their time patrolling the river bank. After a few minutes, when he was sure they would have retreated into the forest, he inched out on the branch and eyed the side of the cliff. He scanned for a way to climb it but didn’t see any hand or foot holds. His gaze fell to the turbulent water below. His hands tightened around the branch.

He heard a whooshing sound as something grabbed his shoulders and yanked him upward. Splinters dug into his hands as he tried to hold on to the branch. The force was too strong, and he was ripped from the tree. He dangled twenty feet above the rushing river. Twisting, he caught sight of a large red wing. He looked up. His eyes widened as took in the golden and red scales of the long neck and the triangular underside of the beast’s head. His mind whirled as his mouth dropped open. A dragon. It couldn’t be. He blinked. But what else could it be? He shook his head. What was a dragon doing this far from the mountains? The beast tilted its wings, gliding lower and closer to the river. Soren squirmed. He pulled at the dragon’s large claws to no avail.

Dragons don’t eat humans, he frantically reassured himself. Or at least not as far as he recalled. But with his pounding head, he could barely recall his own name let alone what history he had learned about dragons.

The claws released him. He fell onto the gravelly river bank. Tiny rocks ground into his hands and knees as the creature landed before him. Scrambling to his feet, Soren reached for his dagger only to remember he had lost the blade in a card game a few days ago. He turned to the dragon. The creature towered over him. Soren estimated it was three times as tall as he was as he craned his neck upwards to see the beast’s narrow face. Red scales gleamed in the sun as the dragon tucked its huge wings to its side. Its underbelly was golden. The dragon sat back on its hind legs and wrapped its long tail around its front legs as it regarded Soren.

He stepped back, water sloshing into his boot as he entered the river.

The dragon leaned closer. Its head was slim and nearly the size of Soren’s body. Large golden eyes stared into Soren’s as the dragon sniffed him. Its mouth fell open slightly, showing off rows of sharp teeth. Soren scrambled backwards. He tripped over a rock, falling into the river as the dragon leapt forward with more speed than Soren thought possible for a creature so large. The creature’s claws wrapped around his shoulders, and the beast took off, dragging Soren backwards. The beast flew low over the river, dunking Soren into the cold water. Sputtering, he tried to keep his head clear, but it didn’t work. Water rushed over his face and into his mouth. He coughed and gasped for breath as he was lifted out of the water. The next thing he knew he was back on the shore, a few feet from the river. He lay there, coughing. He saw something red sticking out of the sole of his boot. Reaching down, he pulled it free. It was a scale from the dragon. He clutched it as he stared at the beast. The dragon crouched down, putting his muzzle to Soren’s chest. It breathed in, ruffling his clothes.

“Better but not much.”

The voice reverberated inside Soren’s head. He scurried backwards. “W…what? Was that you?”

His mind whirled. What was the dragon doing here? And had it really just spoken to him? Wait. Could dragons even speak? He pushed that question aside. He was sure the voice had to belong to the creature, but he couldn’t concentrate. His head felt ready to split open. He pressed one hand to his forehead, regretting last night’s drinking binge.

With his other hand, he fingered the scale. Glancing up, he saw the dragon watching him with its mouth slightly open. Soren shook as he gaped at the sharp teeth. He had no desire to be anyone’s meal. He scrambled to his feet, wishing he had his dagger. He eyed the forest a good twenty paces from the river. And the dragon lay between him and his freedom. Soren decided to chance it and ran for the trees. He barely made it a few feet when the dragon slammed its tail on the ground before him.

“That’s not nice after I rescued you.”

“Rescued me?” Soren turned, his mouth gaping open. “What? You tried to drown me.”

The dragon reared back slightly, exposing the lighter golden scales of his underside. “You were dangling from that tree. I saved you.”

“And nearly drowned me in the river.”

“You stank.”


“I didn’t mutter. You stank. Still do. Maybe all humans smell this bad.”

Soren lifted his shirt and took a whiff. The stench of his clothes turned his stomach. The dragon was right. Then the absurdity of the situation hit him. He couldn’t be here talking to a dragon. Dragons never came this far south. They stayed in their home in the northern mountains. He recalled the time he and his brother had set off to see them. Two days into the trip they had decided to return home but not before spotting the flying creatures in the distance. He recalled staring at them in awe.

The dragons had been banished before his birth. He had never known one to come this far south or to interact with any human since their banishment fifty years ago. And, he reminded himself, they didn’t eat humans. They had at one time been an ally. He felt a little braver and a bit more curious.

“How is it you can talk to me?”

“Dragons speak to whoever they chose. You don’t have to speak aloud. Just concentrate and you can send your thoughts to me.”

“You can read my mind?”

“No. It isn’t so much knowing what you are thinking as it is communicating silently. I am sorry. I am not explaining it right. Give it a try.”


“It is easy.”

“I don’t want to try. I want to go home.” He slipped the scale in his pocket and walked around the dragon’s tail. “Thank you for saving me from the tree,” he said over his shoulder.

“Wait. You must help me.”

Soren stopped, turning to face the dragon. “What do you mean help you?”

The dragon huffed. “I am not handling this well.” The beast flipped his tail to the other side of Soren and used it to pull him closer. “My name is Reddex. You may call me Dex. And you are?”

“Ready to go home.”

The dragon’s golden eyes bore into him. The creature lowered his head until it was even with Soren’s. His warm breath ruffled Soren’s hair. He tried to step back. The dragon’s tail blocked his movement. He sighed.

“Soren. Soren Blackfist.”

“An army from the south invades Walencroft. We must alert the King.”

“No one would dare to attack the Northern Alliance.” He shook his head, unable to believe someone would attack Walencroft or either of the two neighboring countries. It had been over fifty years, right around the time when the Kings severed relations with the dragons, that there had even been a war.

“I saw this army myself.”

Soren shook his head, instantly regretting the movement as his head pounded. “King Bristol wouldn’t do that.”

“I don’t think it is Bristol of Sholar. Whoever it is has Southern dragons with them.”

“What?” Soren paced away before turning back to face Dex. “This makes no sense.” He glanced at the forest. If he moved quick enough, he might be able to use the trees to help him escape. “You saw dragons with this army?”

“Southern dragons. They attacked my squad, killing them all. I was lucky to escape and report back to Warnox. He bid me to tell your King, but you know a dragon cannot land safely at the palace.”

Soren nodded, his mind only half on what the dragon said. He took another step backward toward the forest. “And who is Warnox?”

“He is our leader.”

“This is crazy. I can’t help you.”

As the dragon settled back on his haunches, he looked briefly to the river as Soren supposed he was composing his argument for Soren’s help in his head. Soren took this momentary distraction and bolted for the forest. He held out his hand, protecting his face from the sting of the branches.


Soren heard the snapping of branches behind him. He didn’t dare look back. The ground shook, and he imagined the dragon shoving his way into the forest. But he had to believe the thick trees would protect him and sure enough the crashing sounds stopped. Soren ran a little farther before stopping. He bent over, pressing his hand to his throbbing head. His mind reeled. The whole thing seemed surreal. All he wanted to do was forget everything that happened today. He knew just what to do. An hour later, he pushed open the pub’s door.


The dish crashed to the floor, shattering into four pieces. Soren cursed softly. That noise was sure to wake his brother. Stumbling, he made it out of the kitchen and to the stairs. His foot missed the second step, and he fell forward, whacking his knee hard on the step. He muttered a couple choice words.

He hadn’t meant to be out so late. But it had taken more than a few mugs of ale to rid him of the memory of the red dragon. And now through his muddled thoughts, he wondered if any of it had even been real.

“Soren?” The hushed voice of his brother came from the hallway above.

He shielded his eyes as the light from Jerrick’s lantern cut into them.

“You haven’t been home in two days,” his brother said as Soren climbed the last few stairs. “Ugh. You stink. I don’t need to ask what you have been doing.”

“Flying,” Soren said.

“Really?” Jerrick asked without any true curiosity.

He guided Soren up the remaining stairs and into his room. He led him to his bed. Soren tumbled onto it.

“I was.” It seemed important for Jerrick to believe him. “I was flying with a dragon.”

Jerrick sighed. “You can’t keep doing this, Soren. You haven’t shown been to the smithy in two days. I am sure Master Smith Ferin will dismiss you.” He shook his head. “I can’t keep finding you jobs if you refuse to work.”

Soren wanted to reply but sleep pulled at him. He mumbled something about the dragon as sleep over took him. It was a restlessly sleep. His dream was filled with the wind upon his face and his feet dangling above the river.

The next morning, the bright sunlight woke him. He sat up, his hands swiftly clutching his head as it reeled from the sudden movement. His eyes focused on the bucket on the table by the door. A bar of soap and a cloth lay beside it. Dimly he recalled his brother saying something about him stinking or had someone else told him that?

Moving slowly, he rose. He shed his clothes and used the tepid water and soap to clean his face and arms before running the damp cloth over the rest of him. He pulled on clean clothes, and with a glance out the window decided he should head to the smithy. He was half-way down the stairs when he heard Lyla, his brother’s wife, in the kitchen below.

“No, I mean it this time.”

Soren couldn’t hear Jerrick’s low reply. He crept closer.

“I know he is your brother, but you can’t, no, we can’t keep doing this. With the baby coming, we will need the room and…”

Soren’s mind reeled. Lyla was pregnant. He should be happy for his brother but couldn’t muster any excitement.

“I don’t trust him,” Lyla continued. “He is out half the time drinking and the other half sleeping it off. He stumbles in at all hours, can’t keep a job. I don’t want him around our child, not like that.”

“Lyla, Soren…you know how hard his life has been since Addie died.”

She sighed. “You are a good man, Jerrick, but you can’t make excuses for him forever. One day, he needs to grow up. Both of you can’t keep using Addie as an excuse.”

Soren crept down the stairs. Instead of using the back door that would take him by Jerrick and Lyla, he stumbled out the front door and onto the cobblestone street. His eyes traveled over the nearby houses lining the narrow road. Clean. Neat. Perfect for families. He didn’t belong here.

The thought of family caused Lyla’s last words to echo in his mind. Her mention of Addie brought the image of her face, so happy and eager, to the forefront of his mind. He pushed away those thoughts, but the image of her bright brown eyes didn’t fade.

With a glance at the sky, he realized the sun was higher than he originally thought. He was late. Again. His feet turned toward the path that led from his village to the city of Ballinger. He covered the distance to the city without even thinking. He barely noticed as the city guard half-heartedly waved at him as he entered the city gates and headed to the royal stables.

As he pushed open the stable door, the smell of hay and manure washed over him. A long row of stalls ran the length of the stable. The first few doors were open, and he knew the horses had been moved outside for grooming. He cut across the paddock to the smithy.

The loud clang of the blacksmiths working made his head hurt. He slipped into the darkened area, his eyes immediately checking the piles of wood and coal the blacksmiths and their apprentices used on the fires. Deciding the piles were significantly stocked, he went to his worktable. He picked up a dagger he had been working on last.

“Soren!” Ferin, the head blacksmith, hurried toward him. “You’re late! Again.”

“I’m sorry, Master Smith,” he began, holding up one hand as if to ward off the blacksmith.

“No. No excuses. You are done.”

Soren put down the dagger. “Master Smith, I need this job. Jerrick will kill me if I lose it.”

“Then start praying to the Gods. It is because of Jerrick, I hired you. Let him find someone else willing to take you.”

The way he spat out the last word, Soren had no problem understanding Ferin didn’t think anyone would be willing to offer him a job. He glanced at his worktable. He didn’t dare take anything with the Master Smith standing beside him. The blacksmith’s apprentices had stopped working and now watched as he left. He stood in the street for a moment wondering what to do. He couldn’t go home. Losing this latest job would only prove Lyla correct. He was a louse and needed to be away from their precious family. He couldn’t face her or Jerrick right now.

Without another thought, he ambled into the closest tavern. It was nearly deserted except for a few royal guards having a drink after the night shift. He leaned against the bar, pulling out a coin from his pocket. Setting it on the counter, he ordered an ale. The grizzled old man behind the bar grunted as he dipped a mug into the open barrel.

“Little early even for you.” He banged down the mug. The contents sloshed, almost spilling.

“Careful!” Soren lifted the mug and gulped the warm ale.

He heard the door behind him open and close.

The old man frowned. “Nina, I told you not to come here anymore.”

Soren swung around to face the door. Nina wore a low-cut dress that hugged her ample curves. Her blonde hair was pulled away from her face. Her half-hearted smile didn’t reach her blue eyes.

“I’m not working, Milton.” Her eyes settled on Soren. “I was on my way to the market and thought I saw you come in.”

He lifted his mug in greeting and took a sip. “Nina,” he said as his eyes traveled over her body. “You are looking as fine as ever.”

She crossed the room, her hips swaying seductively. She leaned a hip against the bar. “I thought you might be interested in having a little fun.” She ran her finger down his forearm. “And I’m bored.” She grabbed his hand, squeezing it. “For old time’s sake.”

His eyes traveled from her bosom to her soft lips. Even after all these years he could remember the first time he kissed them. He and Nina had been thirteen. It was his first kiss. Two years later, he would lose his virginity to her. Their hot, passionate relationship had died after two months but still on occasion they would take a tumble for old time’s sake as Nina called it.

She leaned forward, her hand slipping to his inner thigh. His body tightened. He never liked Nina’s chosen line of work. But at the moment, he didn’t care. He wanted to forget about facing Jerrick for a while, and he knew Nina could accomplish that. He grabbed her hand and led her out of the tavern.

Click here buy and read the rest…



#NewRelease – THE LOST by Cindy Cipriano

Author Cindy Cipriano released The Lost: Book Three of The Sidhe on May 19. Check out the excerpt below.

Excerpt – Prologue 

“I beg of you. Please don’t do this,” cried the frail man. He was gaunt and looked as if he hadn’t slept in months. “I’ve changed, give me another chance.”

“I’m in no position to judge you. Nor can I give anyone anything,” said Finley.

His gaze traveled over the man’s hunched shoulders to the green sky, searching, as always, for any way out of the Void. Finley had hoped he’d leave the Void before he had to push the next depereo into the Underworld. He always hoped this, but to no avail. There was always another depereo.

“Please, please,” said the old man, clasping his hands in front of him as if in prayer.

It wore on Finley when the depereo were awake, begging for mercy. Their pleas made his task more difficult. And, it was harder for him to forget about them after he sent them to the Underworld. Finley rubbed the bridge of his nose, wishing again for a way out.

“May I go then?” the old man asked, looking at Finley with hopeful, teary eyes.

Finley looked down at the shriveled old man. He looked like someone’s kindly grandfather. He wondered what the man could have done to wind up here.

How dangerous could this old man be?

An odd feeling traveled through Finley’s veins.


The feeling disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived, leaving Finley with his constant companion.


Finley reminded himself that the choices this depereo had made during his life had brought him here. Like the depereo who came before him, this Sidhe’s evil ways had put him onto the path that led straight to the Void. This man was already dead. His eternal fate had already been decided. Finley was just tasked with delivering the sentence.

I should have used the club like Sun showed me.

“To make sure they’re unconscious,” Sun had explained.

Finley wondered what had happened to Sun. Was his friend all right after his return to the Realm of Man?

No matter, Sun was better off. He had to be.

“May I go?” the man repeated, dusting grains of blue sand from his palms.

“There’s nowhere to go,” said Finley. He pulled the man to his feet effortlessly, as though he weighed nothing. As though the man was nothing.

Just as I am nothing.

“Please, don’t,” begged the man. “I have money. I will give you anything you want. I’ll do anything you ask.”

“Don’t you understand?” asked Finley. “I have no control over any of this. There is no bargain that can be made. I’m condemned. Just like you.”

“But, I am powerful. I can get you out of here.”

“No one can get me out!” yelled Finley. Of all the things the depereo said to him, that was the worst. If a depereo couldn’t change their own fate, how did they think they could change his?

The man stared at Finley, curiously. “How can you bear this?” he asked a touch of pity in his voice.

“I can’t,” said Finley. He shoved the man hard through the gash in the large black boulder then turned away. Finley walked back to the blood-red forest with the man’s horrified screams ringing in his ears.

Book Blurb

Calum Ranson is now closer than ever to finding his lost cousin Finley: he knows where he is, he just doesn’t know how to get there. Stuck in the Void between the world of the living and the Underworld, Finley needs to get home soon before he is changed forever. It’s up to Calum and his friend Laurel to figure out how to free him.

Adding to the challenge, Calum can no longer turn to his other cousin and best friend, Hagen, who has become mysteriously close to one of their school’s biggest bullies, Riley Sloan. Why has Hagen suddenly started treating Riley as his girlfriend when she used to be his enemy? And can Calum succeed in saving Finley without Hagen’s help?

From studying to school dances, field trips to first kisses, the third book of the Sidhe depicts a typical middle school experience, peppered with magic, faeries, and truly heroic deeds.

About the Author

Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son and their 27 pets.


Not really. Just three dogs who think they are children and three cats who think they are raccoons. It only seems like 27. Cindy enjoys spending time with her family and the avoidance of cooking.


Cindy credits The Sidhe series to an idea that came to her when she was a small child during, “one of my many “time-outs.” The characters, particularly Uilleam, were born out of her curiosity about what might be found underneath one of the tiles in the floor. It is for this reason she encourages all writers to record everything because, “There is no such thing as an ordinary life. Each of our lives are filled with stories begging to be told.”


You can find out more about Cindy on her website.

You can purchase The Lost on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

#NewRelease – THE JEALOUS FLOCK by Ashley Borodin

Author Ashley Borodin released his debut novel, The Jealous Flock, last month. If you would like to read it for FREE, he is giving away copies in exchange for an honest review.


Tell us a bit about yourself. 

My name’s Ashley and just to be clear I don’t expect to be called Zim or Zir. My name, in its various permutations, was a popular boys name in Australia in the late 70’s. There were three of us in my highschool year-level, making it the most popular name in the school I think.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Australia, in the southern, and least deadly bit called Victoria. At the moment I’m in the process of moving back there from Tasmania, which is even more southern.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

This is a tough one to answer. I’ve always been capable of writing but seldom motivated. In school and later in life various writers with a strong mind, with powerful ideas have goaded me, taunted me into putting my own will to paper. I think the final two voices that lead to my actually writing a novel were Bukowski and Ballard. If you’re reading my work and looking for similarities, for a sort of provenance, then I think those two could be considered the fathers of The Jealous flock. I’m thinking in particular of Bukowski’s poems and Ballard’s Millenium People.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’m not sure I do. And judging by the muted response I get to my pleas to be taken seriously, I’m not sure anyone else does either. But if being a writer means struggling to be heard above the din and persevering in the face of inevitable and constant rejection, then I started to feel like a writer about two weeks ago. That’s when I really started to stop being a writer and start being my own publicist.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

The character of Randall in The Jealous Flock is a thinly veiled version of me. I’m also in all the other characters, especially when they are observing the peculiarities of others – that’s my Outsider’s view on the world.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I have two ideas in the works. One is a coffee table book of my best poems and the other is a novel about an orphaned boy who is one of the Lost Children:

Here’s an excerpt:

Morris hurried down the crumbling rock. The passageway grew dim and soon the next corner would cut all light, but he dared not use his torch. It was the corner after that, the one with the drop, and only then after a thorough check would he even think about lighting the way.

The dogs were angry. Scurrying eggs catapulted them toward the tunnel entrance and soon they too were slipping awkwardly on the rocks. One hit the wall and yelped. That gave the second pause, but not before he’d already collided with his sister and the two had become tangled on the sharp rocks. Each yelped in turn and tried to get their bearings.

The scent.

But the boy was gone.

As they nosed the air, only silence and dusty breath met their senses. It was over. The chase was at an end.

There would be consequences.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Things that have an impact on me emotionally, events or stories I relate to. I suppose I make finding a way through my own grief, my own story through the stories of others. In ‘The Jealous Flock’ I am speaking largely as the boy who said, “The emperor has no clothes!” This experience has been, and still is, a large influence on my thinking and outlook on life.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Both. However I am going to map out my next project before really getting stuck in this time. It makes life a lot easier.

Please tell us about your current release.

The Jealous Flock is my debut novel and it’s short. A lot of people like it once they’ve read it, which is gratifying. It’s getting anyone interested in the first place that seems to be the tricky part. If you’ve ever watched one of those mini-series that the British do so well about an upper-middle class family going through some kind of crisis – well imagine taking that and putting it on the world stage. Giving that story international, geopolitical context. That’s The Jealous Flock. It relates all the small things to the very large things that are shaping our society today.

What inspired you to write this book?

About 4-5 years ago I could sense a change in the zeitgeist. I come from a deeply religious, indeed Fundamentalist Christian, family and the Gift of Prophecy is something they take for granted. I see foresight in a more prosaic manner but that’s basically what I was doing back then – forecasting the future. I saw a few, but certainly not all, of the emerging trends and tried to commit these revelations to paper as quickly as I could.

How did you come up with the title?

That shall remain an enigma. A good poem, koan or aphorism, a good riddle has to stay and gnaw at you. It’s not my job to spare you the necessary discomfort of allowing it to do its work in the back of your mind.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I’ve been watching documentaries for ages so I had a lot of backlog of international affairs to wade through. Also there are those British dramas I’m quite fond of. Then there are books of course. I’ve done some reading on Sufism and the Hashashin. I did conflate these in the book in an unrealistic way and there’s a reason for that. The reason is to exaggerate the  hodge-podge of Islam that leads to extremism to show the contrasts within the ideology itself and the varying cultures we broadly label as ‘Islam’ as outsiders.

I watched a lot of interviews and visited websites of people with similar roles to those of my characters. And I did a lot of first-hand reporting. Writing live from the bus, on the beach, in my house surrounded by screeching birds.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

I hate books and films where every character is an idiot. I have to live with these people so I’d better make them somewhat likeable. That was my approach. At the same time I didn’t want to make them archetypes in the way Ayn Rand does with her characters. I’m not a romantic, I’m a Realist. A Realist who also invents things. I think I like Randall the best because he’s the most fully realised of the lot. I had an easy relationship with him. The others I felt a little antipathy towards. Or rather an aloofness. They are entirely foreign to me but I did my best to understand them, generally by bringing them to heel.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I’d be Martin. He’s much more important than me and doing a lot of worthwhile stuff with his life. I envy him.

If you could jump into any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

I tend to like open world fantasy games so I suppose something like Lord of The Rings would be a pretty awesome world to inhabit. As long as I can save at any time.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

Ayn Rand because I think our fights would be epic and I could retire on the ticket sales alone.

GK Chesterton because I’ve recently discovered Distributism and I would like to start implementing his ideas with his blessing.

Book Blurb

the-jealous-flockForced from their collective comfort zone, all three members of Martin’s family come face to face with the realities that underpin their urbane way of life. Each is faced with a paradox that will test their belief in themselves and their image of the tolerant, liberal society they believe they inhabit.

An epic in miniature, The Jealous Flock takes readers from the cloistered air of Professional London through the harsh realities of the Middle East and on to the culture war simmering beneath the surface in Australia.

Through their interwoven narratives each character tries to grapple with change as they question their authenticity and value as individuals amidst The Jealous Flock.

About the Author

Ashley Borodin was born in Victoria, Australia in 1978, that means he remembers stonewashed denim jackets the first time round. He has been published in a few literary journals and delivers poems into the void daily on Twitter. His début novel is The Jealous Flock but he won’t tell you what the title means.

You can find out more about Ashley on his website or you can follow him on Twitter.

You can get a free copy of The Jealous Flock in exchange for an honest review. It is also available on Amazon.


Today’s Featured Author – Laurie Cook

Today I welcome author Laurie Cook to my blog. Her latest book, Trouble in the Land: A Goldenfell Saga Novel, was released earlier this year. You can find it on Amazon.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up on our family farm and have lived with pets and around farm animals all my life.  At one time or another I have had pets that include, dogs, cats, cockatiels, goats, rabbits and raised bantam chickens and different varieties of pheasants and peacocks plus other assorted fowl.  I also raised registered Quarter Horses.  It’s never been dull around our house and I like to add animal experiences and a little bit of humor to what I write.  I worked for over thirty-five years, mostly in the financial sector and now am enjoying retirement.  I’ve always been active in creating different crafts and have found writing to be another outlet for this creativity.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

It’s the creative process for me.  Now that I have started, I find that I have many more stories that are just waiting to be told.  I write Mysteries as well as Epic Fantasy and I’m excited to get the ideas down on paper.  I write as much for myself as I do the readers.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

That is not something that I can define very clearly.  When I am thinking of what I want to write next, I just speculate what would happen for different ideas until something clearly “pops” into my head.  I usually carry the idea around for a while until I get my beginning and ending and then write this down with a few other definite ideas.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I usually have a (very) small outline. I always know how my books need to start and how they are going to end, but pretty much everything else develops as I go along. Sometimes it’s as much a mystery to me as it is for everyone else. When I need to sit back and mull for a while it helps to be doing something else (housework?) and it might take a few minutes or maybe a day or two, but the idea eventually comes and I’ll have my next plot twist.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

Actually, I have included quite a few personal experiences in my Mystery books.  These books usually have some sort of paranormal occurrences and some of these have been my own experiences.  I leave it up to the readers to decided what might be true and what is made up.  In the Epic Fantasy I draw upon my experience with horses and cats for some of the plot developments.  My last mystery was written in the first person and a bit more or “me” might have leaked through than I planned.

Please tell us about your current release.

My current release is Trouble In The Land: A Goldenfell Saga Novel.  This is the second book in The Goldenfell Saga series.  The series starts with An Elf’s Homecoming, which is the story of Thomaline and Brandt and their journey to her homeland.  Each book is a complete story.  The second book deals more with the reason she was called back to her home and the new problems that have arisen. There is a Ward that was placed on the land to keep Goldenfell hidden and safe, but it is failing and now a new enemy has moved into the area outside of the Ward and knows that that the Ward will not last much longer. Thomaline, with Brandt helping, must look for a way to save them from this threat and assistance comes from some surprising sources.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I have started the third installment of the Goldenfell Saga.  The next book will pick up were Trouble In The Land leaves off and the title is An Elf’s Sacrifice.  Thomaline and Brandt will be facing a new set or problems from outside of Goldenfell.  A person by the name of “The River Lord” keeps asking to meet with the pair and they also find that living with the Skellan Elves presents many more problems than they first anticipated.  There will be some internal conflicts as well that will keep Thomaline busy.  This will be the third and last book in this series.

What book are you reading right now?

Currently, I am re-reading some of Tanya Huff’s books and am reading the first of a three book set called Smoke and Shadows.  I’ve probably read these books four or five time before and I’ll read them again in the future.  If I find a book I like, I can read it many time over the years.

Do you have an all time favourite book?

It’s hard to narrow it down to one book, but I do have a couple of very favorite authors.  I love Barbara Hambly, C. J. Cherryh and Scottish author Stuart McBride.

Book Blurb

trouble-in-the-landIt had been nearly eighty years since Thomaline and Brandt had made the long journey to her homeland of Goldenfell and it was now up to them in their new roles to once again make the kingdom safe.  A new enemy was out there, waiting to destroy the Elves of Goldenfell and their Ward, the shield that protected the land of the Elves from the outside world was failing. As Thomaline and Brandt search for answers and struggle to find ways to keep them all safe, allegiances are made with new allies and maybe even an old enemy. Together, they will lead the charge to save their world.

About the Author

Laurie Cook is from a small rural community in Saskatchewan, Canada. After retirement, she decided to try her hand at writing the mystery and fantasy books she loves to read. It has been such an enjoyable experience that she continues to write and develop the ideas she has gathered over the years and has now made her first book the start of an epic fantasy series. Laurie was raised on the family farm before moving to her own rural residence and has had many dogs, cats, horses and other assorted pets that have enriched her life. As she likes to add a little humor to her stories, these experiences help to offer inspiration for events in her books. She lives with her husband, two cats and a dog.

You can find out more about Laurie on her website.

You can purchase Trouble in the Land: A Goldenfell Saga Novel on Amazon.

#NewRelease – A WHITE HORIZON by Barbara Gaskell Denvil

Today I welcome author Barbara Gaskell Denvil to my blog. Her new book, A White Horizon, just came out. Don’t miss the excerpt after the interview!


Hello Susan, it’s a pleasure to be here on your blog. I am particularly delighted, because you’re giving me an opportunity to introduce my new very recently published novel, now available in ebook and paperback worldwide. (And soon to be available on audio.)

With this new book, A WHITE HORIZON, the first in a trilogy entitled STARS AND A WIND, although it is indeed set against a genuine historical background, the plot is pure fantasy.

Let me lead you into a swirling adventurous romance, with many unique and mysterious twists. Paths wind through unexpected danger, ending either in disaster – or ultimate success. My lovely heroine Skarga can never be sure.

It was a joy to write, and I certainly hope it will prove to be a joy to read.

Thanks for being here, Barbara. Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve led a life of so many changes and surprises that I sometimes feel like a character in a book myself. I was born in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England – a perfect setting for inspiration amongst the thatched cottages, gentle rolling hills and valleys, woken by but bird song each morning, and lulled to sleep with a million dazzling stars. I began a career in literature, publishers’ editor, script- writer and author of articles and short stories – but romance stepped in with resounding effect, and my life changed. After a series of events and experiences including living on a yacht and sailing the Mediterranean for many years, I have now settled in the sunny countryside of Australia. I love the country and the climate – but there are still those romantic British roots which sometimes call me home. Yet what inspires me more than anything else is the life I lead in my head. Not quite crazy (I hope) – but certainly blessed with an over-flowing imagination.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I come from a literary family. My great-great (and lots more greats) aunt was Elizabeth Gaskell, the classic Victorian author of Cranford, and my father was an artist and playwright. My sister is also an author, and it seemed natural as a child to write stories. Reading was as automatic as breathing, and I was never asked what I wanted for Christmas – I was asked what books I wanted. I still can’t ride a bike! Now I am writing full length novels, principally historical adventures as I have a great love for medieval history, but for the first time I have now written a fantasy-trilogy – and that is my new passion. Fantasy novels introduce a wild freedom to the imagination, and I do hope others will love to read my books as I love to write them.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I have finished Part 2 of my Stars and a Wind trilogy and that will be published in approximately 5 months’ time. My heroine Skarga has many surprises and challenges ahead, and some are hauntingly dangerous. However, now she has support, and something to look forward to as well.

The third and final part of the trilogy will be published a little later. Although I shall also continue writing historical fiction, the joy of writing fantasy is proving quite a tempting and mesmerising attraction.

Please tell us more about your current release.

A White Horizon Draft 1As explained, STARS AND A WIND is a trilogy, and the first book – A WHITE HORIZON – has just been published. The story is unusual and starts where the great frozen north stretches up into the Arctic Circle, and the winter keeps its secrets hidden. There are places where humanity cannot go, and once long ago there were other creations, some celebrated, but others almost unknown. What happens beyond the glaciers is known to very few.

Skarga’s father believes she is cursed. Shunned by her family, she has adopted an orphaned child and as she battles for her rights and struggles for a better life, this child brings Skarga happiness. What he will eventually bring her in the future, she cannot possibly guess.

Taken off by the mysterious stranger paid by her father to slaughter her, Skarga sails across the northern sea to distant islands. Yet not everything is as it seems for these sailors are unusual in many ways, and can do things no human man should be able to do.

But Skarga is no victim, and she escapes. Now the mystery grows. Her adventure is only just beginning…

What inspired you to write this book?

I was actually inspired by watching a production of Matthew Bourne’s eccentric version of Swan Lake. Within a few days, I was dreaming about my own story. My trilogy has a totally different plot – and there’s not a swan in sight – but the ballet’s strange conflict and moving interaction between man and creature, with an element of alien fantasy, tragedy and humour, awakened my own ideas. The beauty and sadness of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake (and the magnificent principal dancer Alan Vincent) really inspired me.

My book is, I believe, quite unique and combines fantasy with mystery, adventure and romance.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

My heroine has a long journey to travel. This first book takes her from the familiarity of her usual life, and tumbles her into terrifying chaos and the undercurrents of threatening magic. But she’s strong and she’ll fight for her life and her future.

Book 2 – (THE WIND FROM THE NORTH) will be published in a few months. This will continue the adventure, and take the heroine deeper into the ice land and its mysterious people. But then suddenly she discovers that she can stop fighting. The future is looking more beautiful than she could have imagined. But the danger is also greater.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

I think they are all far too dangerous. And the world of A White Horizon is constantly freezing with endless night through winter, and ice and snow even in summer. My historical novels set in early Tudor and late medieval England also encompass very dangerous and uncomfortable worlds, but I admit I long for a Tardis Time- machine which could tumble me back into medieval London for a few days. I dream of those shadowed alleys, the sumptuous clothes, the glorious architecture and the very different attitudes which prevailed 500 years ago. I would adore to walk those cobbles and find out a little more of the historical puzzles which still exist due to the lack of contemporary documentation – for instance to see what Richard III and Henry VIII were really like and discover whether my own very firm convictions are correct. But I certainly don’t want to be left there too long and need a guaranteed escape. Fulfilling a dream is one thing – being abandoned to the true miseries of the past is quite another!

Do you have an all time favourite book?

I have a long list of favourite books, but perhaps Lord of the Rings was the one that awoke me to the glories of fantasy and, in spite of its few faults and failings (sorry, fans) it remains my greatest favourite. The huge variety of characters, the essence of good and evil, and the underlying and enduring sadness still move me utterly, and have always inspired me.

Which of your characters is your favourite? Do you dislike any of them?

I always adore all my characters. Even my villains. In this book, the hero – Thoddun – is my great favourite. He is a most unusual personality and by no means perfect, but he is one of the strongest of my heroes and is utterly protective. Certainly in that world and that land, it is protection which is essential.  I do also love and identify with Skarga, my heroine. Yet I have immense sympathy and understanding for my villain too. I find they all become real in my head. I can see them and hear them and if they suddenly turned up in the vicinity, I’d immediately know who they are and what to say to them. Mind you – there are some I’d sooner avoid, just to stay safe.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

There are many black moments in this book, and I have been known to sit and cry over the computer when writing of a character’s death, or some other moment of extreme difficulty. I do not write cosy comfy stories, and some of my books are quite dark. But I also believe that in my books many of the more dangerous challenges turn out to have happy endings, whereas what seems to be an easy and pleasant event can turn out to be an attack after all. A White Horizon puts Skarga in considerable danger over and over again, but she’s courageous, and she copes with all the problems I send her.

Love, after all, conquers everything and that’s the theme of this book too.


A sled was hurtling across the white ground and the wind cut across. Snow crystals leapt like the sea spray. Then as Skarga turned, frightened, there appeared the beast who owned the pelt which was her blanket. The white fur was suddenly alive as a great running bear.

She had wrapped herself all night in the shimmer of it but now it chased her, huge, panting and clawed. She blinked, for the moonlight blinded her still, and the snow became liquid with glazed transparency. Through it, the dancing dolphins appeared again, leaping to the music of the chanting crew, and Skarga watched and listened as they sang. The two worlds combined. It was as if the snow had melted and the sea returned but through the dazzle of the water she still saw the frozen land, and the great white bear turned its head and stared at her, black eyes that went sharp through her heart. Utterly confused, she held her breath. And then she saw the last vision of all, the eagle eye, black and golden. Its beak, hooked and blood stained, reached for her.

Skarga began to fall. She toppled, for there was snow, and ocean, and the vivid sky’s arc of intense cobalt blue behind the eagle’s wing. Three worlds merged and she did not know which was real. Perhaps none.

She shivered and felt her blood turn to ice.

“Go back,” ordered a deep voice. “This is not your place.”

When she opened her eyes once more, she was back on the ship and the dolphins, tiring of the game, were turning aside. There was no chanting and no music, no bear, nor eagle nor snow. Only the rhythm of the rowers and the great tumult of the sea.


A White Horizon can be purchased on Amazon and Amazon UK.

You can find out more about Barbara on her blog or Facebook.