The Jesus Diet: How the Holy Spirit Coached Me to a 50-Pound Weight Loss
By Robin Merrill

About the Book:

In The Jesus Diet: How the Holy Spirit Coached Me to a 50-Pound Weight Loss, Author/Poet Robin Merrill shares her weight loss experiences through 30 Bible devotions designed to inspire others to join her on her journey toward improved spiritual, and physical, health.


robin 12 web (2)
Robin Merrill is the author of several books, including The Jesus Diet: How the Holy Spirit Coached Me to a 50-Pound Weight Loss (30 Devotions), two collections of poetry from Moon Pie Press, and five Scholastic Book Fair books. Her poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared in hundreds of publications, including The Cafe Review, Ledge Magazine, Margie, Pearl, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Stolen Island Review. Three of her poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. She is a 2013 recipient of an Emerging Artist Award from St. Botolph Club Foundation of Boston. Robin is also a performance/slam poet who has competed at the national level. She has her MFA from Stonecoast and frequently leads creative writing workshops for writers of all levels.

Follow Robin Merrill
Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book.  

Author’s name: Tony Breeden

Title of book and/or series:  
The series is called Otherworld. Luckbane was published in 2013. The forthcoming sequel is called Soulbright.

Brief summary of the story:
In a dystopian future, online gaming is the ultimate escape, until one corporation offers players a chance to play their favorite sword, steam and sorcery game live and in-person on a terraformed alien world. A ragtag group of Champions has been assembled to stop the dread Firelord, last of the Dark Lords, from obtaining Godspell, an artifact so powerful that it can alter reality itself. Along the way, the players face dragons, steampunk robots, hackers, aliens and whatever perils the Gamelords think will improve their ratings, because Otherworld isn’t just a game; it’s reality TV.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
There are actually three worlds I had to create for the Otherworld series. There’s the dark, dystopian future reality (which I unofficially think of as Realworld) controlled by the Megacorporations, where players immerse themselves in virtual reality games, like Impworld. There’s Impworld, the universe’s most popular sword, steam and sorcery game. And then there’s Otherworld, which is essentially Impworld 2.0 on a terraformed alien world. While I had to create entire histories, creatures and cultures for all three worlds, the majority of the story takes place on Otherworld [aka the continent of Wanjur on planet Tarak].

If we were to visit Otherworld as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
If you don’t do anything else, I recommend that you visit Cabon Gabrielle, City of Shields. Cabon Gabrielle itself offers a wide variety of tourist attractions. Thanks to its Sky Docks and dragonrail system, the Pearl of Olden is only a few days journey from wherever you happen to be. You can visit the Ogreball Stadium, peruse the magical artifacts in Arcanum Alley [if you can find it!], feast with the dwarves in the Mountain Hall tavern, dance with werewolves and vampyres at Club Blood, visit the griffon riders at the Royal Aerie, or take in a dragon’s-eye view of the city and its several story tall flying Shields from the top of Seneschal Tower. And don’t forget to visit the Lonely Ogre Inn while you’re there! More adventures have begun, passed through and ended at the Ogre than any other destination on the planet.

What dangers should we avoid in Otherworld?
What would be the fun in that?
In all seriousness, most of the indigenous life should be avoided at all costs. Fliers are harmless, but there’s no such things as a safe wog. Named after the late Dr. Henry Woggenstein, wogs are largely unclassifiable bug-reptiles [a tentative taxon at best] with too many teeth, eyes, tentacles, claws, pincers, etc. They’re basically everything we feared aliens would be.
One should also avoid Mot Hadrall, period. Only serious gamers brave it. It is not a place for tourists. They don’t call it the Accursed City for nothing; it boasts an 85% kill rate. Most players never even make it to the castle!
It goes without saying that venturing into a Dark Lord’s castle, a dragon’s lair or an orc village will not end well. And don’t antagonize the imps!

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Otherworld?
Earth foods grow to fairy tale proportions in the miraculous soil of Tarak. In fact, all “normal”-sized trees on the terraformed continent of Wanjur are actually pygmy varieties of Earth plants. You can also expect to eat rabdil [elephantine rabbit/armadillo crossbreeds] meat, a standard throughout the universe ever since the gentle giants were created through genetic manipulation. Of course, Otherworld offers a wide variety of foods that are culturally specific to elves, humans, dwarves, et cetera. Just be aware of dishes which may fight back!

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Otherworld?
Otherworld is a sword and sorcery environment with steampunk elements. Weaponry ranges from standard swords, axes, halberds, crossbows and siege engines to pistols, alchemical phials, dragonbreath cannon, walking battle platforms, and more exotic magical weapons, like gauntlets of ogrish strength, firebows and Godspell, a weapon that can alter reality itself.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Otherworld?
To reach Otherworld, one has to board a heilo platform and travel to a distant star system. Don’t worry; you’ll be in cryosleep during the journey and it only takes a month or so. From the Tarak system’s heilo platform, your stasis pod will be transported by solar sailor to Lunabase, orbiting the gameworld planet. Once you awaken and get over your bout of stasis sickness (sorry, it affects all living things), you can shuttle down to the Shakar Landing Field and book passage to the continent of Wanjur, but don’t forget to check out the Otherworld Zoo before you leave! There are a wide variety of ways to travel. Steampunk machines, ships that sail the skies and seas, zeppelins, dragonrails, terrestrial steeds (horses, dragonish warstriders, etc). One can also travel by magical bubble, carpet and dragonfly copter.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Otherworld that we don’t see on Earth?
Otherworld is filled with all manner of creatures you won’t see anywhere else outside of a movie or virtual video game. Dragons, goblyns, bugbears, minotaurs, elves, dwarves, vampyres, ophidians… the list of fantasy creatures and races goes on and on.
One of the character races unique to the Impworld/Otherworld environs are borogs. In game lore, borogs crash landed on Obsidius [the Impworld planet] during the latter part of the Third Age. Borogs are heavyworlders; being from a planet with greater gravity than the one they’ve crashed upon, they are much stronger and agile than many other races. They are divided into three people groups: Reigans rule by psionic superiority; horned Volktans are the warrior class; and Tagnars make up the slave working class. Some of the Tagnars have rebelled against their masters and found refuge amongst the Free Peoples of Obsidius.
On a similar theme, Realworld Earth has also seen the creation and rebellion of Homo adaptis, or mutants. Pantropic mutants come in several forms, depending upon where they were meant to serve. Fur-covered mutants work in arctic regions, gilled mutants farm the oceans, etc. They were created to mine near-airless Martian mines, fight our wars and basically do anything else Homo sapiens considered too low or dangerous. The War of Martian Independence and the subsequent Mutant Wars have allowed mutants to gain recognition of their basic human rights, but racial tensions are still high.
On realworld Tarak, one might encounter a strange, towering plant called the drubulb. Drubulbs are the home of the enigmatic dru, an insectoid hive that may or may not be sapient. When the continent of Wanjur was terraformed for gameplay, not even pocket nukes could remove the dru or their drubulbs, so the Gamelords have simply posted warning signs around them.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Otherworld?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used
The gameworld is filled with supernatural creatures, such as ghosts, wraiths, vampyres and werewolves. Some creatures are inherently magical; for example, dark-skinned, golden-eyed shadus elves can blend into shadows, glow in the dark and walk on any surface [even upside-down] at a thought. Some imps are nearly magic incarnate.

By the rules of the game, the phases of the two moons determine the level of power a spellcaster has at his disposal. Thrice annually, both Sylvanus and Ikon the Magebane wax full and a magic-user’s potential is at its peak. Unfortunately, their power drops to its lowest ebb roughly two weeks prior and following this “doubling,” making them vulnerable during this time. Spellcasters keep track of their power levels via a magical tattoo on their forearm. The sigil resembles a stylized hourglass, where the current stage of each moon was represented in its own hemisphere. In order to gain this tattoo, one takes the quidnunc, a gauntlet of challenges administered by representatives of the Magus Council to determine the spellcasters worthiness for the art. The Magus Council has governed the lawful use of magic ever since its formation during the Second Age. Those who pass are legally sanctioned to learn and practice magic. Those who fail are denied all but the meanest of spells on pain of death.

To refuse the quidnunc is to place a deathmark on one’s own head. The Magus Council keeps careful track those with budding magical abilities and sends its dread Inquisitors to hunt down renegades who chose to practice magic unmarked. Once cornered, they are given the choice to submit to the quidnunc or be executed. Inquisitors also bring magus to justice for crimes involving magic (which sometimes brings them into jurisdictional conflicts with local authorities, especially those who do not recognize the Magus Council’s authority) and those practicing the Forbidden Arts. Inquisitors are especially zealous these days, ever since a small army of largely unmarked wizards and witches had experimented with powerful, but unpredictable wyld magicks, resulting in the cataclysmic Magewar.

Non-magus can use magical artifacts. In general, all you have to do is figure out how to turn them on and then point them in the right direction.

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Otherworld?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
The magic of Otherworld is made possible by nanites, while its creatures are largely made possible by biological robots called simulacrums, or sims. Some players opt not to play live, instead piloting avatars [basically remote-controlled sims] via nodal implants from Lunabase. The game also features a variety of steampunk technology, fueled by either soulstones, technofairies, or plain old-fashioned lowtech. To give an example, when visiting the City of Shields, one can see giant walking battlestations called Sentinels patrolling its walls, zeppelins harbored in its Sky Docks and dwarven gyrocopters buzzing through its skies.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Otherworld.
The most popular games within the most popular game in the universe are gladiator-type games and ogreball.
Ogreball was invented by ogres trying to train their cubs in the art of semi-organized team combat. The original version involved real weapons and a casualty rate. Several types of balls are used. Metal studded, leather clad balls are primarily used for making points. There are also a few metal or stone balls of larger size, used mostly as wicked, bone-breaking dodgeballs. Lastly, there is a large, ogre-sized wicker ball, inside of which is placed an unlucky prisoner (human, goblin, pig, etc.). Ogres were also known to use bombs and severed heads in gameplay. The rules of the ogrish game are uncertain. There are no goal posts; however, there is a large earthwork in the center. The floor of the playing pit is graded away from the earthworks, so that the balls will roll into ditches at either end of the pit. There, other ogre players collect the balls and launch them from oversized slingshots or, in the case of the wicker cage, a catapult. The object of the ogrish version is two-fold: beat the other team senseless until only your team is alive and/or conscious and beat the snot out of the wicker ball. It is pretty much a huge, rule-less battle with players using clubs to bash the balls at each other or to simply bash each other senseless, while mega-slingshot operators pummel everyone indiscriminately.
The civilized game utilizes an official court of play. The stadium is set up to resemble an ogreball pit with seats lining the tops of the perimeter of a rectangular field. Goal nets are placed at two opposite corners. A low net similar to a tennis court net halves the field, emulating the ogrish earthwork barrier. A pass exists on either side of the net. A semi-circle is marked off around the net in which only the goalie can occupy. He cannot leave this area. All players are protected with leather armor. The goalie bears a shield and his choice of either an ogreball club or racket. The guard players stay on their side of the net and are armed with ogreball clubs. Skirmishers can go anywhere on the field, except the goal zone. Skirmishers are armed with rackets. Unlike the ogrish version, players are not permitted to bludgeon each other. There are only two types of ball in play: medium sized leather-bound rubber balls and large leather-bound rubber balls. The field includes anywhere from 20 to 30 of the smaller balls, divided evenly along the sides of the net at the start of play and 2 to 4 of the larger balls, placed in the passes in even numbers. Smaller balls are worth 2 points apiece per goal. Large balls are worth five points. Play continues until the last ball has been caught in the nets, thus ending a set. A game consists of 1 to 4 sets, agreed upon beforehand. Balls which overshoot the net are tossed back into play. A standard game includes twenty 2-point balls and two 5-point balls at the start of a set. A championship game consists of thirty smaller balls and four larger balls and a large wicker cage ball [unoccupied] worth 20 points. No bombs or severed heads are utilized in the civilized version.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Otherworld as on earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
The days of the week are the same as they are on Earth. Tarak has two moons. The aptly-named Feast of Two Moons occurs when both moons are full, every 4 months.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Otherworld?  Please describe what it involves.
Realworld religions find their place in the game alongside fantasy dragon cults and such. Islam, Chrisianity, Judaism and Buddhism are still very much alive. Protestants and Catholics have, for the most part, unified. The Church utilizes shepherds, bishops and paladins. The Church is headed by a ruling Council.
One particular cult of note in Otherworld is Corpus Dracon, which loosely translates as the Boy of the Dragon. Each cell is led by a Locutor Draconis, or Dragon-speaker, who tells his followers the will of the coming Dragon Kings. Corpus Dracon has no tome; its ultimate authority lies with the Locutor’s word [locally] and the Grey Prophet [ultimately]. Their aim is to usher in the Age of Dragons, ruled by the Dragon Kings. It matters not one whit to these cultists that dragons are savage destructive creatures who haven’t the slightest bit of interest in governance. The Grey Prophet is a magus who conjures illusions to back up his various prophecies; his true identity is unknown.

What is the political or government structure in Otherworld?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
The realworld is controlled by the Megacorporations. Only Israel and Switzerland have retained their national identities. AmeriCo controls Earth’s Western hemisphere, and thus is generally referred to as the West. EuroCorp controls Europe and northern Asia. The Islamic Confederacy ruled Afrika, the Middle East, and India. Imperial AsiaCorp, termed the East by most, owned Australia and the remainder of Asia. Each controls various interests in Antarctica and on the lunar colonies, both points of constant friction. Each blames the other for the fact that the Mars Colonies have successfully declared their independence. Everyone works for the Megacorporations or one of their various sub-companies. GameComm is a company of AmeriCo. It uses the West’s heilo wave technology to make travel to and from Tarak a possibility. The West benefits by mining Tarak’s levitanium [the element that makes hovertech possible, once only found on Mars or random asteroids] and by receiving a share of Tarak’s supercrops. GameComm uses indentured Colonists to harvest its crops and work its mines. There is growing concern that GameComm will request recognition of its separate Megacorporational status due to its Tarak holdings and due to the fact that GameComm also owns Earth Robitics Limited, the largest producer of robots in the universe. The current Vice President of Tarak Operations, and the face of GameComm for all intents and purposes, is Kenneth Gabriel. He is pompous, self-assured and ruthless in his pursuit of ratings. He lords over Tarak from his hoverthrone in Lunabase’s Command Center.

Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Otherworld?
Cultural practices vary according to the character races and kingdoms of the game. You’re going to need a handbook or a guide if you don’t want to end up tossed into a dungeon somewhere. Good luck.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
In general, history inspires and informs my locations, cultures, etc. Some of the battle scenes, creatures and artifacts were inspired by watching my own kids play. For example, when I attacked my youngest son with a plush spiked club [you have got to get one of these if you have boys!], he defended himself with a plush alligator. Thus Grundy the Ogre’s live alligator “club” was born. ;]

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
Luckbane doesn’t really touch on any hot-button issues, though it mentions a few I’ll likely explore later, like what it means to be human and how genetic manipulation, robot sapience, etc., might affect our views of human rights, how we practice religion, etc.
Author Tony Breeden Under Attack

Author Autobiography:

I’m from West Virginia, home of the Mothman, the Flatwoods Monster and Gray Barker, who likely invented the Men in Black. I’ve been an avid sci-fi/fantasy/steampunk/monster/comic book fan all my life and I have a wonderful wife and four adventurous boys who share my geek fandom. I credit my late aunt Sharon for giving me the writing bug; she helped me make my very first book about dinosaurs, loving illustrated in crayon. I basically write the movies in my head.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  

You can purchase Luckbaneand all of my other books in both paperback and Kindle formats at

Where can readers connect with you online?

The best way to find out more about me and my books is to visit or join us on Facebook at

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Otherworld.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the fantasy world of Fiori in Realm Explorers Part VIII!
-Annie Douglass Lima

Are you an author who would like your world to appear on Realm Explorers?  Click here to download the instructions and interview form, or email me at AnnieDouglassLima(at)gmail(dot)com for more information.

A themed book tour through Prism Book Tours.

Reese's Cowboy Kiss (Sweet Montana Bride Series #1)
Reese’s Cowboy Kiss
(Sweet Montana Bride #1)
by Kimberly Krey

Adult Romance
Paperback, 307 Pages
May 13th 2014 by Candle House Publishing

Texan pageant winner, Reese Taylor, has a former classmate who wants her dead. Now she must leave her friends and family to enter a protection program on Emerson Ranch. A group of good-looking cowboys awaits her, but Reese has her eye on Blake Emerson, the one man too busy with the ranch to give her a chance.

Blake Emerson has no time to go lookin’ for love. He’s got a ranch to run, positions to fill, and an ache in his heart from love gone wrong. So when he agrees to harbor a witness to help on the ranch, Blake assumes his first two problems are solved. But he never dreamed his new guest would be a woman. One he was destined to lose his heart to.

With sparks burning hot and danger around the bend, one question lingers in his mind: Has he only added to his list of troubles, or has Blake just found the woman of his dreams?

*While this book is considered clean romance, it contains passionate kissing and a few mild curse words.*

Amazon – Barnes & Noble
Other Books in the Sweet Montana Bride Series:
Jade's Cowboy Crush (Sweet Montana Bride Series #2) Cassie's Cowboy Crave (Sweet Montana Bride, #1)
Amazon                       Amazon
Barnes & Noble           Barnes & Noble

About Kimberly Krey

Image of Kimberly KreyI’m a writer of contemporary clean romance, a lover of home, family, & friends, & the ultimate hater of laundry.
A few of my favorite things: Diet Coke, Cafe Rio, and novels by Marcia Lynn McClure.

I do not go anywhere without: SoftLips Chapstick and Altoids Smalls.

~ Let’s Talk Brisket – Reese’s Recipe ~
Reese’s Cowboy Kiss Tour and $100 Giveaway with
Prism Book Tours 

In the Sweet Montana Bride Series, the Emersons like to welcome newcomers with a nice, big meal. So when Reese came with a family recipe of her own, they were thrilled to serve up the savory beef brisket. In the book I refer to it as Texan BBQ, but I always had this delicious dish in mind. It is one of my favorites, and definitely worth trying at home.
Slow-cooked Beef Brisket
Kimberly Krey
1 large beef brisket (plan on about one pound (uncooked) per person. This will result in approx. ½ pound portion sizes. *Don’t be alarmed to see it marbled with a good amount of fat. That is what makes it so tender.
1-2 tsp garlic salt
1 small bottle of liquid smoke (hickory is my favorite)
Aluminum Foil
Lay several long sheets (about 3 ½-4 feet each) of aluminum foil on counter in a criss-cross pattern, sort of like you’re creating a large foil snowflake.
Place raw (unwrapped) brisket in center and pierce several times with paring knife on both sides.
Next, generously pour liquid smoke over top and proceed to rub it into the meat. Repeat this on both sides as well. It will drip off and pool onto the foil, which is fine. That’s partially what the layers are for.
Once that’s done, sprinkle garlic salt over the entire thing and begin to wrap, flipping it over each time you seal up one layer. But first, notice which side is most fatty, and keep track – you’ll want that on top. Wrap layer by layer, until you’re down to the last one, again, assuring the fatty side is on top, and place it in a crockpot on low for approx. 8-10 hours depending on size. (Sometimes it requires a little push along the edges, or just a bit of time to reduce in size before the lid fits.) 
When done, peel away foil layers and trim off the fat. The brisket can now be sliced, but it will most likely be tender enough to simply shred away pieces with a fork and set onto a serving plate, or back into heated crockpot.
Serve this with warmed Famous Dave’s Original BBQ sauce. Sides that go well with this dish are: steak fries, BBQ beans, home made mac & cheese, fresh corn on the cob, Texas Toast, and or coleslaw.

Reese’s Cowboy Kiss is available now on kindle for just $3.99. Paperback is available too.
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Come along for the ride!
July 21 – Launch
July 22 – Kelly P’s Blog & Mary
July 23 – I Am A Reader
July 24 – Christy’s Cozy Corners
July 25 – Musings of ImmortalsLetters from Annie (Douglass) Lima
The Wonderings of One Person
July 27 – Wishful Endings
July 28 – Book-Marks the Spot
July 29 – Undercover Book Reviews & My Devotional Thoughts
July 30 – The Written Adventure & Sarah’s StoryLines
July 31 – Katie’s Clean Book Collection & Southern Chelle
August 1 – Bookworm Lisa & Reviews By Molly 
August 3 – Grand Finale

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On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Read along with us on the EXCERPT TOUR for 
the third book in the YA/NA Urban Fantasy Descendants Series:

Reign of Shadows
By Melissa Wright

Chapter One
Heat pulsed through the warehouse, liquid fire pushed by some unseen force. Metal screamed and block crumbled, tearing away every protection she had from the gale. But it was not the light of fire that accompanied the wind, not the brightness of a flame. It was dark beneath the haze of fog.
It was a shadow.
Brianna jolted awake, sitting up to find the darkness of her room. It was there again, that urge to fight and the impulse to run, but she forced it down, not allowing herself to be afraid. Not even conceding to the desire to click on the bedside lamp. She took two deep breaths, committing the details to memory: the tang of metal in her mouth, the sulfur that hung on the too-hot wind, and the sound beneath the screeching, that steady beat of footsteps heading toward her.
Quiet laughter floated in from the front room and she closed her eyes, willing the calm back before pulling her feet over the edge of the mattress and onto the plush carpeting of her Council bedroom floor. It would be her sister outside. And her Logan.
She ran a hand over her face. They didn’t understand. As far as anyone knew, it was all over. The terror they’d faced with Morgan, with the prophecy, all of it gone. But in less than a day since waking from that affair, the aftermath not even cleared away, she’d begun having the new visions.
The real ones.
She shuffled across the floor in darkness, hand held out to catch the edge of the dresser, purposely not thinking about why her mind had labeled them as such, not allowing herself to panic at the ideas that had flooded her in the last hours. She would work through them, but it would have to be one thing at a time. Brianna reached up, blindly feeling for the switch that would illuminate the washroom, and flinched at the sight of her reflection, the glimpse of something as it flashed in the too-green eyes staring back at her.
One thing at a time, she reminded herself, feeling the heat pulse through her fingertips, the skin prickle the length of her arm. Brianna pulled her hair back into a ponytail to splash her face with water, barely sparing another glance at her reflection before sliding into a pair of borrowed jeans and leaving the darkness of the bedroom to join the others.

July Tour Schedule:

23 – Launch

Letters from Annie (Douglass) Lima
My Life, Loves and Passion
Kelly P’s Blog
Musings of Immortals

Book n Blog

Christy’s Cozy Corners
Mythical Books

Book-Marks the Spot
Simplistic Reviews

Nocturnal Predators Reviews
Katie’s Clean Book Collection

My Devotional Thoughts

The Wonderings of One Person

The Written Adventure

Dalene’s Book Reviews
Deal Sharing Aunt

The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club

30 – Release-Day Blitz

Reign of Shadows
(Descendants #3)
By Melissa Wright

Brianna can see her future, but itís the past that haunts her. Plans laid in place centuries ago are threatening not only her and her sister, but all of the Seven Lines. As the shadows plot their way to old rule, the visions shift again. Her power has led to some hard choicesóand the occasional stab woundóbut this set of futures holds nothing but darkness.

Unable to bear the idea of losing the footing they’ve so recently gained, she turns the soldiers of the Seven. But with shadows hidden among the ranks, can she overcome the path they’ve set in place, or is she blindly following their lead?

More About the Descendants Series and the Author

What is your motivation behind this series?
The idea for the Descendants Series came to me while writing the Frey Saga. I was toying with Frey’s powers and the thought of that talent in the current world, the ability to use mind control on humans, really inspired me. I made a few notes, but once the first paragraphs were down, the story took root and I couldn’t help but keep going. One of the most enjoyable aspects was Aern’s laid back style playing off Emily’s fierce and stubborn attitude toward their situation. As a writer, it was great fun.

Why did you want to write it? 
It was nice to change up the style in such a dramatic way. I’d been writing swords and castles, so being able to use a cell phone and sarcasm was kind of a relief. The Descendants Series is certainly more fast paced and action driven, but perhaps the scariest change for my part was writing the first book from a male lead’s point of view. And scaring yourself sometimes is a good thing. There was never a dull moment writing Aern.

What do you hope readers will take with them when they read this last book in the series? 
To me, things really come full circle with the characters, their relationships, and the dilemma of facing their lot in life. I think they’ve learned a lot, they’ve definitely been through some trials, but it was nice to give them that sense of understanding and the chance to see how things truly are. They had to either accept it or fight to the end, but it was nice to give them the choice.

Do you have a favorite scene? 
I actually surprised myself with this one, because Brianna and Logan had some tender moments that really had them taking over the spot for my favorite couple in the series. When she’s showing him her power and plainly stalling, then he takes her hand and tells her it will be okay, talks about Saturday mornings … yeah, that.

Share something about you that is unique – maybe about how/where you write… or favorite snack foods? 

I listen to a lot of audiobooks, so sometimes when I’m writing it’s as if I can hear the characters’ voices in my head. I tend to just let that “voice” talk through the scene, fingers clicking furiously across the keys, and when I’m really in the zone I don’t always realize exactly what I’ve written. This sounds bizarre, and it probably is, but when I go back and proofread later, I find myself laughing out loud at some of the things that character said — because it doesn’t seem like something I’d write – Ever.

So maybe I should have just said I love chocolate almonds 😉

The other books in the Descendants Series

Shifting Fate (Descendants Series, #2)Shifting Fate
(Descendants #2)
by Melissa Wright

According to prophecy, Brianna Drake was born to save the world. The trouble is, she doesn’t have the slightest idea how. Her visions should have given her the answer, but theyíre beginning to shift, making the danger too unpredictable, even for a prophet.

If she can just help her sister restore their hidden powers, she might be able to stop whatís coming. But an old enemy returns, and heís got plans for Brianna and her visions.

What neither of them knows is that fate has given a stranger one chance to find her. He was trained to protect the chosenóbut if he fails, the future will crumble.

Shifting Fate is the second book in the Descendants Series (following Bound by Prophecy) and focuses on Brianna and Logan.

There is a teaser posted here and the first chapter posted here, but beware, it’s full of spoilers from the first book.

Purchase from Amazon , Barnes and Noble, and the Book Depository. Can also purchase in audio at iTunes and Audible.

Bound by Prophecy

(Descendants #1)
by Melissa Wright

Twenty-two-year-old Aern is done watching his brother destroy the only thing that matters. He never wanted to take Morganís place among council, never wanted to rule their hidden world. But when the key to the prophecy is found, a young girl named Brianna whom Morgan will destroy, Aern knows he has to take action.

What he really wants, is for things to go back to normal. But now heís kidnapped a girl, and his brotherís men are after him. His only hope is to join with the Division, but they have plans of their own, and itís the last thing Aern is willing to do.

Emily just wants her sister back. She doesn’t care about the prophecy, or realize whatís at stake. But when she goes after Aern, the truth of the matter uncoils, and Brianna isn’t the only one whoís in danger.

Suddenly, theyíre at the center of a secret war, and unless they can work together, theyíll both have a sacrifice too big to make.

You can read an excerpt of Bound by Prophecy here.

Get the ebook for FREE on Nook and Kindle. Can also purchase from the Book Depository, and in audio at iTunes and Audible.

About the Author

Melissa Wright is the author of the Frey Saga and the new Descendants series. Melissa spends her time working on novels, but when not writing she can be found on Goodreads and Pinterest.

Website – Blog – Goodreads – Twitter – Pinterest – Google+

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Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book.  

Author’s name: Krystine Kercher

Title of book and/or series:
The series is Legends of Astarkand; the books are A Shadow On The Land (#1); King’s Ride (#2); and Eiathan’s Heir (#3). I plan to add another couple of books before the series is wrapped up.
Brief summary of the story:
Wary of the mysterious tenders of lake and stream, terrified of the immortal prince Vodan’s plagues and storms, and alienated from the Dreamsender by their efforts to appease Vodan, Kandians seek a deliverer. A five-hundred-year-old prophecy brought Bjorn Horsa north over steep mountain passes to confront Vodan. Before he can be anyone’s deliverer, he must first take up the mantle of Eiathan’s Heir and ascend the throne of Astarkand.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
Isolated by high mountains to the south and west, and the ocean to the east, the kingdom of Astarkand is located in a northern temperate zone with long, heavy winters and cooler summers. While vast tracts of forest still cover less accessible parts of kingdom, Astarkand is known more for its rich, rolling hills of farmland and several volcanos.
If we were to visit Astarkand as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
There is a lot to do in Astarkand! You can visit Lake Bleuet and sing with the mermaids, or camp in the giant’s ruins near Braskfut to view the firebirds as they perform their nightly dance. Climbing Mt. Brask is a suitably hazardous adventure to excite any adventurer! No one living now in Astarkand has ever seen the top because it’s covered year-round in clouds.

Be sure to pay your respects to the king at Hearthing Castle. If you’re very fortunate, he might even invite you to go boar hunting with him in the forests between Hearthing and Hardeburg.

Map of Astarkand

What dangers should we avoid in Astarkand?

Don’t go swimming in Lake Bleuet or the Limbler River! The water is extremely cold, and you can die from hypothermia, even in high summer.
Mermaids are always on the lookout for likely husbands. If you have a mishap at sea and a mermaid rescues you, men, be prepared to never see dry land again! Women, you’re on your own…
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Astarkand?
The head baker at Hearthing Castle makes an excellent pigeon pie, but you’ll have to ask him to remove the feet before he puts the pigeons in.
If you prefer haggis and mead instead, pay a visit to Earl Moggan! He’ll fix you up.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Astarkand?
Knights in Astarkand wear a combination of steel plate armor and chain mail, and prefer long, one-handed swords that they can swing while holding a shield. They also armor their horses.
Downsmen like Ernie Hay O’Dell rarely go toe-to-toe with an enemy, preferring to strike from ambush. They excel in martial arts, dueling, and archery, and wear only boiled leather as protection.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Astarkand?
Kandians use horses, boats, and their own feet to get around. While they also use wagons for transporting goods, even the high roads maintained by the king are quite bumpy. Many bridges in Astarkand wash out every spring. Kandians have adapted by using ferries at major crossings.
Mermaids use selkies in their cities the way Kandians use horses. They also catch rides with dolphins and larger fish and water mammals when necessary.
The Perfect rarely use any conveyance other than their feet or their portals.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Astarkand that we don’t see on Earth?
a mermaid in Astarkand
Other sentient races you might encounter in Astarkand are: the Perfect (Kandians call them elves, but they aren’t); mermaids, possibly even giants.
White firebirdshave become very rare and found now only on Brask Mountain. Firebird feathers fluoresce when they’re exposed to fast-moving air, as when the firebirds chase moths at night. The resulting light can be painfully bright.

Fleuders are everywhere, and multiply like vermin. Fleuders look like very hairy, brownish-gold cacti on six stubby legs, and make a grinding sound when agitated. Their mouths are located on their underside between their legs. They also tend to shed, and some people are allergic to fleuder hair.

Fleuders eat decaying vegetation and prefer to live under or near the northern cabbage palm; a large clump-forming wild plant with cabbage-shaped tops with large leaves that shade from white through pink to purple as they age. In winter, the top of a cabbage palm sheds its loose outer leaves, leaving behind a tightly furled tulip-shaped center. Gardeners cultivate the cabbage palm for its beauty, but farmers try to keep it out of their fields.

While not living in Astarkand itself, but confined in a narrow mountain valley to the south, there is also a large, fire-breathing dragon.

Other creatures sometimes found in or near Astarkand: black squirrels, wolverines, dire wolves, and gar cats.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Astarkand?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used:
Most Kandians believe that magic is an elf-gift and cursed, but Woden’s priests do small magics such as summoning or contacting their master. They call their master Woden, but his real name is Vodan.
The Immortal Vodan can control the weather. He’s especially talented with ice and storms, but he can also create plagues. His lady-wife, Ashielle, is the ultimate green thumb. If it is possible, she can make a plant do it!  Vodan and Ashielle’s daughter Gunhild is a sorceress who shapeshifts. She is also adept at using and curing poisons, and crafts new creatures out of human and animal flesh.
Mermaids are believed to have magical powers, but they instead rely on the Dreamsender for provision and protection from Vodan’s terrible schemes. Their ability to be half fish in the water, and their uncanny voices and wild beauty are due to Gunhild’s unethical tinkering with their genes.
Gunhild is also to blame for the race of giants and for the creation of fleuders.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Astarkand?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
Vodan’s scrying bowl, which he uses to spy on Kandians, and the portals the Perfect use to transport themselves across long distances. Humans have difficulty seeing the permanent portals, although they can sometimes fall into them and be swept away. Most of the portals used in these stories are temporary.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Astarkand.
Kandian men like to test each other’s mettle at tourneys with sword duels, wrestling, racing, and jousts, but they also enjoy dancing with the ladies, hunting with hawks or dogs, and most other medieval forms of entertainment. Everyone in Astarkand is fond of music! Troubadours and bards are welcomed into every tavern and house, from the humblest hovel to the king’s castle.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Astarkand as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
Astarkand’s calendar year is pretty close to our own, however they measure time differently, in New Kandian Reckoning (NKR) years instead of so many years A.D.
Kandians celebrate the turning of the seasons: the first blade of spring, the summer flowering, harvest, Yuletide, and the new year. They also throw parties when electing their mayors and city council, at weekly markets, and summer fairs. Depending on the social importance of the people involved, birthdays, weddings, and funerals can also be a cause for celebration.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Astarkand?  Please describe what it involves.
Bjorn Horsa and his men celebrate the religious holidays on the church calendar, but they weren’t raised in Kandia, where believers have been persecuted for five hundred years.
The average Kandian was raised sacrificing to Vodan on Woden’s Day; to Ashielle when they plant and harvest their fields, and when they sit down to eat; and to Gunhild when an unexplained death occurs. Everyone in Astarkand fears Woden’s priests, who demand harsh sacrifices, even human lives.
What is the political or government structure in Astarkand?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Astarkand has been ruled since its founding by a succession of kings. The country began as a constitutional monarchy but has devolved to become feudal in structure.
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Astarkand?
It is okay to wipe your mouth on the tablecloth and to eat your ‘trencher’ if you’re a commoner (trenchers are made out of flatbread). Be sure to bring your own cutlery with you whatever your rank, because no one will lend you their personal set, and you might wind up eating with your fingers.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
The rolling hills of Astarkand’s central provinces remind me of places I knew in my childhood; and the tangled scrub forest along the Joompsbette River reminds me of the peaty swamps and bottomland along streams in South Carolina.
Eating with your fingers is an acceptable practice in parts of Asia, just as it is sometimes in Astarkand.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
The ecological cost of deforestation, and the grim realities and abuses inherent in a feudal society where those at the top hold all the power and those at the bottom are powerless and at their mercy.

Author Autobiography:

Krystine Kercher is a former MK (missionary kid) from West Papua, Indonesia, where she grew up having lots of adventures with her friends in the expat and local communities. Now she writes fantasy and science fiction from a Christian perspective while sharing her love of adventure with her readers!

Krystine is also a mother to two children who like to read her books. She loves her tuxedo cat, Shelah, who is by turns naughty and affectionate. She also loves gardening, sewing, and creating artwork using a variety of media.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)? 

Find A Shadow On The Land (book 1) on Amazon,  Smashwords,  Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Inkbok.

Find King’s Ride (book 2) on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble,  iTunes, Kobo, and Inkbok.

Find Eiathan’s Heir (book 3) on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble,  iTunes, Kobo, and Inkbok.

Where can readers connect with you online? 

Check out my author website, and connect with me on Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, and Twitter.

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Astarkand.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the fantasy land of Otherworld, in Realm Explorers Part VII!
-Annie Douglass Lima

Are you an author who would like your world to appear on Realm Explorers?  Click here to download the instructions and interview form, or email me at [email protected] for more information.

Winter in the Soul by Jennifer Novotney

In a world divided by power and greed, seventeen-year-old Lilika harbors an intense desire to return to Winter in the Soul, the place her family left to escape the darkness that was manifesting from a coldness of the soul.
When she meets Talon, their connection is evident right from the start, and together they travel through the Black Kingdom to recover Lilika’s stolen locket. And in search of an answer to the mystery behind Winter in the Soul.
Lilika holds the key to stopping the darkness from spreading. The fate of their world lies in her hands. Will she stop the Black Kingdom before its darkness overtakes them all, or will they succumb to the darkness that is spreading across the land?
Author Bio:
Jennifer Novotney was born in Burbank, California and lived in Los Angeles for most of her life until settling in North Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter. She attended California State University, earning a bachelors degree in journalism, and Northern Arizona University, earning a masters degree in English. After college, she spent several years writing and teaching, including at Pennsylvania State University.
Add to Goodreads:
Anaiah Press:
Interview with the Author

Question: What do you think prepared you or qualifies you to write in your chosen genre?

Answer: I think fiction is one of those genres where writers don’t necessarily need classical preparation in order to succeed. That said, I do have a Master’s Degree in English, which definitely helped. The other preparation really included a lot of hard work and practice. Fiction writing takes a willingness to work at your craft and improve your storytelling.
Question: Tell us a little about your “real” (non-writing) life — family, job, church life. Does it give you inspiration for your writing? Does it get in the way of your writing, or are there times when you get help from people or circumstances?
Answer: In my non-writing life, I’m an English teacher, wife, and mother. Teaching gives me so much inspiration for my writing because I am with young adults all day long. I get to experience the world through their eyes and discover what makes them tick. Life does sometimes get in the way of my writing due to time. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done, but I’m very tenacious and usually manage to hit my writing goals regardless of what life throws at me.
Question: Tell us about things you enjoy — what you do for fun or personal satisfaction besides writing? 
Answer: I’m very active and love exercising. I go swimming with my daughter several times each week and walking with a friend through my development. It’s fun to be social and get exercise at the same time. I read all kinds of books, both fiction and non-fiction. I enjoy spending quality time with my husband and daughter. I also like to cook and bake. There’s usually a fresh batch of banana bread in our house.
Question: Tell us about working with any people who help you create your books — do you use beta readers? Hire an editor or proofreader? How do you get your covers?
Answer: Working with Anaiah Press on my book has been amazing. I went through several levels of editing before the final product was ready for readers. I worked with editors from Anaiah on developmental, content, and line edits before the final read through and I think it shows in the quality of my book, Winter in the Soul. Anaiah also designed the fantastic cover and layout.
Question: Have you done anything writing-related, but besides actually writing your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you?
Answer: I’ve always been good at writing in school. I think that’s why I became an English teacher in the first place. My bachelor’s degree is in Journalism, and I excelled in that style of writing as well, but just didn’t see myself in that career. Academic writing has always been a strong suit of mine and I was constantly encouraged by my teachers and professors to become a teacher myself.
Question: What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?)
Answer: I think the main message of my writing is to inspire readers. I love reading books with an encouraging or inspirational message and I wanted to create fiction that had the same effect on readers. In my own life, I’ve had to motivate myself on many occasions that the path I was taking was the right one or that I would succeed with hard work. I’m largely inspired from within and my writing organically translates that message of inspiration to my readers.
Question: Tell us one place you visited or person you met, that made a big impression on you, and why.
Answer: I got the chance to meet a New York Times number one best selling author. She gave me some great advice. She said that she’s always promoting a book, editing another book, and writing a third book at any one time. That put things into perspective for me of how much work and time becoming a successful writer really takes. I could tell that she really loved it too. She loves her fans, her books, and the whole process. That made a big impression on me because I saw first hand how she made it work.
Question: Share something that’s amazing, touching, or that makes you angry.
Answer: Getting a book published is no easy feat. They romanticize it in the movies for sure. I’d read so many stories of authors being discovered and having their work gain so much success, but it is definitely not an easy road. When Anaiah Press offered me a contract for Winter in the Soul, it was literally a dream come true. I’d wanted to be a published novelist for as long as I can remember and to have that dream realized was like no other feeling in the world.
Question: How many books do you have out?  Are you planning a specific number altogether, either in this series or separately?
Answer: Winter in the Soulis my debut novel. It’s a young adult fantasy and we are planning for it to be a series. I’m working on the sequel, but I don’t have a set number of books I plan to write for this series. I think the possibilities are endless with the characters and their world. I also have other projects in the works and plan on writing for a very long time, so I don’t necessarily have a set number of books I’d like to write. I’ll keep writing as long as the ideas come to me.
Question: What are your future projects?
Answer: I’m working on a few projects now in several different stages. I have a young adult novel that I’ve just completed. I also have an idea for an inspirational nonfiction book I’m going to start next month. I constantly have new ideas and am working on several different writing projects at any one time. Winter in the Soul will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first novel and the work that connected me with Anaiah Press. 




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A Nation Under JudgmentBy Richard Capriola

About the Book:

A Nation Under Judgment defines wisdom as “the ability to see things from God’s point of view.” It reviews our nation’s social polices, including hunger, poverty, the environment, marriage, and homelessness, as well as others, from a Scriptural point of view. It empowers readers to consider if our nation is moving away from being One Nation Under God.


Rick Photo Jpeg
Richard Capriola spent many years as a hospital chaplain. He completed four years of Clinical Pastoral Education in preparation for becoming a chaplain. In addition to his pastoral care experience, he has served as a ministry outreach leader for a Midwestern church and has been a mental health counselor at both a regional crisis center and psychiatric hospital.

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Enter below to enter a $50 amazon gift card, sponsored by author Richard Capriola! a Rafflecopter giveaway This book blast is hosted by Crossreads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book.  

Author’s name:  Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Title of book and/or series:
The Kitsune Talesseries includes so far Kitsune-Tsuki, Kitsune-Mochi, and “The Lonely Frost” (appearing in Specter Spectacular and Weird and Wondrous Work later in 2014). Another novel is quite likely!
Brief summary of the story:
In Kitsune-Tsuki, we meet Tsurugu, an onmyouji who has been hired by the warlord to protect his new bride from a kitsune, or shape-shifting fox spirit, which is rumored to be near. The question is, how does one find a shape-shifter who may not even exist?
Kitsune-Mochifollows Tsurugu-sama and many of the characters into a new threat, as supernatural forces threaten Kaede-dono’s life with the warlord in a wholly new and very real way.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
This is Not-Japan of the Heian-Kamakura transition, roughly AD 1200. I have winked and called it “Not-Japan” because I took a few liberties to make some aspects more accessible for readers or to fudge a couple of historical facets closer together, but it’s fairly close to the historical culture.
Naka no Yoritomo is a daimyou, or warlord, subject to the shogun and fighting quiet battles of influence with other daimyou. Tsurugu Kiyomori is a talented onmyouji, which was actually a court position in the Heian era, a mystic practitioner responsible not only for supernatural protection but divination and calendar-keeping. All the supernatural elements in the story – the shape-shifting kitsune, music-loving tanuki, strong water-dwelling kappa, and more – are authentic Japanese folkloric elements popular for centuries of storytelling.
If we were to visit Naka-dono’s home as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
First of all, be very polite. Manners and accomplishment are everything in this society, and a beautiful girl’s marriage chances or a man’s political career can be spoiled by sloppy handwriting. Poetry is exchanged to settle everything from courtship to politics, and the quality of a poem can make or break one’s career. Speak carefully and with great consideration.
That said, this era produced poetry which has been honored for centuries, so take the time to read some of what’s passed to you. And then go outside to marvel at the military prowess which is being developed at the head of Japan’s shogunate.
What dangers should we avoid?
Well, offending the wrong person might result in such social dishonor or death, and that would certainly be inconvenient during your visit. There’s also the concern of Naka-dono’s shadows, stealthy spies and assassins to take care of that business which shouldn’t be discussed too openly. In future centuries, their descendants will be known as shinobi or ninja, but this is their misty past.
And of course there are thousands of varieties of youkai, or supernatural creatures. Many are harmless, some are friendly and benevolent, many are indifferent, some are mischievous but mostly harmless, and some like the water-dwelling kappa prefer to prey on human flesh. Don’t worry, we’ll help you to avoid the most dangerous!
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served?
Well, sushi and the hibachi haven’t been invented yet! But you’ll be served a lot of rice and vegetables, as Buddhism is making great inroads and has reduced the amount of meat consumed. What meat is eaten may be consumed raw, which will startle your tourist palette, or you may eat cooked fish. All the seaweed you eat will help to grow your hair – ladies of quality in this era had hair which reached to the floor or even trailed several feet behind!
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common?
Tsurugu works mostly in onmyoudou, a way of reading and influencing the contrasting forces of nature, male and female, and the five elements of wood, fire, earth, air, and water. (You may have heard of something like onmyoudou; its counterpart in old China eventually developed into Feng Shui.) You will frequently see him using circles and shikigami, spirit-infused paper servants, or reading a chokubanfor celestial alignments.
The shadows, however, train in taijutsu, the use of the body as a weapon. They are more than competent with other weapons as well, knife and staff, but they know how to use their own weight and strength to advantage when they have nothing else.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel?
Ox-cart is one of the primary methods of travel, for those who can afford it, though foot and palanquin are also seen. Horses, too, are ridden by those worthy and wealthy.
Technology is typically medieval, all muscle and levers, even though Tsurugu’s grasp of astronomy and natural science is daunting.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter that we don’t see today?
Your biggest surprise will be the youkai. This word is frequently translated to English as “demon,” but that’s a pretty poor translation; it means only something that is not human. A better translation for Westerners would be something like “elves,” which also are distinctly not-human and yet are seen in many varieties: Santa’s elves, Tolkien’s elves, elves which abduct children, elves which help shoemakers.
Youkai may be tiny creatures the size of a hummingbird or nightingale, or they may be enormous beings larger than Naka-dono’s spacious house. They may be as friendly as the polite beto-beto-san, who walks invisibly behind you until you gesture him ahead, or as dangerous as the fearsome oni which devours men. In general, it’s best to be cautious and polite.
The kitsune is a fox which can take the shape of a human, possibly even mimicking the appearance of someone you know. A kitsune has between one and nine tails, depending upon age and power, and it may be benevolent or malicious. They are clever and they are known to move among humans, but there are a few clues which might reveal one in disguise.
Sadly, the friendly kawausocannot be seen at all in modern Japan, as this shape-shifting river otter has been driven to extinction in its otter form.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people?
Onmyoudou informed the lives of everyone in this era – it was magic and astronomy and meteorology and the calendar, all in one. An onmyoujiwas responsible for divining an auspicious day for beginning a new project and for deflecting negative energies. The emperor’s court kept official onmyouji, regarded just as any other government official might be.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment.
We’ve mentioned the poetry, which was everywhere as the accepted form of communication. Men and women exchanged poetry in courtship before they met. Social status depended upon one’s graceful handwriting and turn of phrase. A moon-gazing party, in which the participants drank sake, wrote poetry, and read it aloud for prizes, might be a typical overnight indulgence among the elite.
If that seems like a ridiculous pastime, consider the sport of golf today, which is simultaneously a hobby and yet a negotiation field for many businessmen.
Is there a particular religion practiced in this era?
The native religion is Shinto, but Buddhism has been widely adopted and in some cases blended.
What is the political or government structure?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Naka no Yoritomo is a daimyousworn to serve the shogun, but his word is law in his own land (and many other places). He’s aware of his power and tries to use it fairly, though he is also aware of the great potential for betrayal and treachery in this shifting political climate.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
Classism and sexism are inherent and powerful in this society. The elite view the lowest classes as animals, and women are greatly restricted in education, autonomy, and voice. Kaede, Naka-dono’s wife, and Murame, a farmer’s daughter, are two very different examples of how women find power and agency in this world.

Author Autobiography:

Laura was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills, and by the time she matured into a recognizable adult she had become a behavior analyst, an internationally-recognized and award-winning animal trainer, a popular costumer/cosplayer, a chocolate addict, and of course a writer. She speaks at conventions on Japanese Folklore & Mythology and writes books about murder and magic and mystery and hope. Find her at

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  
The Kitsune Talesbooks are available in both ebook and paperback. You can find Kitsune-Tsuki on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, and Kitsune-Mochi on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. “The Lonely Frost” is a short story in the series, in Specter Spectacular, available from World Weaver Press later in 2014.
Other titles and upcoming appearances can be found at Amazonor my website.
Where can readers connect with you online? 
My website and blog is, and I always welcome comments! In addition I love to chat with readers on Facebook and via Twitter (@Laura_VAB). And please do say hello if we happen to be at the same writers’ or geek convention!

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to “Old Japan”.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the fantasy world of Astarkand in Realm Explorers Part VI!
-Annie Douglass Lima

Are you an author who would like your world to appear on Realm Explorers?  Click here to download the instructions and interview form, or email me at [email protected] for more information.

A themed book tour through Prism Book Tours.

A Perfect Secret  (Rogue Hearts, #3)
A Perfect Secret
(Rogue Hearts #3)
by Donna Hatch

Adult Historical Romance
Paperback, 348 Pages
December 14 2013              
Desperate to protect her father from trial and death, Genevieve breaks off her engagement with Christian Amesbury and marries a blackmailer. After a year of marriage, she flees her husband’s violent domination only to have fate bring her back to Christian. Just when she thinks she’s started a new life of safety and solitude, her husband tracks her down, stalks her, and threatens everyone she loves.

Still brokenhearted over Genevieve’s betrayal a year ago, Christian can’t believe she’s come back into his life–and worse, that she’s done it on the anniversary of his brother’s death, a death that haunts him. Though tempted to throw her back into the river where he found her, he can’t leave her at the mercy of the terrifying man she married.

When her husband torments Genevieve and puts his family in danger, Christian will do anything to protect those he loves…anything except give Genevieve another chance to break his heart.

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Donna 2013 (1)About Donna Hatch
My passion for writing began at the tender age of 8 and Iíve been hooked ever since. Of course, I also wanted to be an actress and a ballerina, but one out of three isnít bad, right?

In between caring for six children, (7 counting my husband), my day job, my free lance editing and copy writing, and my many volunteer positions, I manage to carve out time to indulge in my writing obsession. After all, it IS an obsession. My family is more patient and supportive than I deserve.

Website – BlogGoodreadsFacebookAmazon

Excerpt from Chapter 2 

“Of course it’s her concern.” Wickburgh began swinging his walking stick, narrowly missing a flower-filled vase atop a Chippendale side table. “You see my dear, your father was about to find the means by which to settle a debt with me.”
Genevieve narrowed her gaze. “I doubt very much my father owes you a gambling debt since he seldom gambles.”
“Oh, but he did, a wager of the worst kind—with fate.”
Papa said more forcefully, “Genevieve, leave us.”
Genevieve offered an apologetic smile to her father and cast an open glare at Wickburgh. “I assume you have vowels to prove this gambling debt?”
“I do, indeed—a letter that my brother dictated on his deathbed. It only just arrived.” He withdrew a folded paper and waved it in front of them. “I must warn you however; it is much more damming than a mere gambling debt. This letter is very revealing about the part your father played in a mutiny.”
Any other time, she would have been frightened of this stern man who watched her too closely, too hotly, but at the moment, her righteous anger overpowered her fear. Her face flushed in indignation at his horrible lies. “Impossible. Papa would never take part in a mutiny. He served king and country faithfully for many years.”
She folded her arms, wishing she were taller and better able to look Papa’s accuser in the eye to prove he didn’t frighten her. Really, it was difficult to be impressive when one was barely five feet tall. But she made up for it with what she hoped would be a fearsome glare.
With a measured smile, Wickburgh handed her the letter. “Read it for yourself. Quite a diverting tale.”
She snatched the document from his hands and read, the blood draining out of her face. The letter did, indeed, narrate a convincing and condemning story about her father and his crew mutinying when he’d served as second lieutenant. Surely this mutiny story was a lie.
She waved the letter in front of the viscount. “I don’t believe this. It can’t be true.”
Wickburgh gestured to her father. “Ask him.”
“That won’t be necessary. My father is a good man.”
Wickburgh merely watched her with that hungry, possessive stare of his. Genevieve rubbed sweaty palms down her skirts. She glanced at Papa who had sunk into a chair with his head in his hands, his shoulders slumped as if utterly defeated. For the first time, doubt crept in. A knot twisted in her stomach.
Her father lowered his hands, staring at the floor. “It’s true.”
Genevieve’s legs collapsed and she slumped into the nearest settee. This went beyond her imagination, so far outside of her safe and happy world that she couldn’t think of what to do.
Her dear papa—the man who carried her on his back and romped with her in the fields of wildflowers, who taught her to read Latin and speak French and learn mathematics even though it was unpopular for girls to be so educated, who doted on Mama with the care of a nurse—how could he have committed such a terrible crime? There had to be some mistake, some other explanation.

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Bonds of Loyalty
By Jennifer K. Clark, Stephonie K. Williams
YA/Adult Historical Romance
August 2014 by Covenant Communications, Inc.

“It shall be the son, the firstborn in the new monarchy, who shall quiet the fears and unite the nation again.”
The infamous prophecy declaring that the firstborn would be a boy is the last thing Sarah wants to deal with. As if being newly engaged isn’t difficult enough, she’s still coming to terms with the fact that the first eighteen years of her life were a farce. The prophecy—the reason she had been secreted away from her family and her royal heritage to begin with—wasn’t supposed to disrupt her life any more than it previously had. But when unexpected events force her to leave her fiancé, Prince Alexander, Sarah must return to her home country of Kyrnidan to face her destiny. 
Reunited with her royal family, Sarah is thrust into the political turmoil that surrounds her ancestral home. To make things worse, her arrival has upturned the long-held prophecy.
As the voices of distension mount against her, Sarah turns to her bodyguard, Luther, for protection. But Luther’s protection comes with a price. Propelled into a plot that threatens her life and the welfare of the entire kingdom, Sarah must determine where her love and loyalty truly lie. Torn between two men, she will now have to face her fears and undertake a journey of self-discovery that will change the fate of a nation….
Mark of Royalty is the book previous to this. Although Bonds of Loyalty is the continuation of Sarah’s story it is a stand alone book.

Mark of RoyaltyMark of Royalty
by Jennifer K. Clark, Stephonie K. Williams
YA/Adult Historical Romance
January 1st 2011 by Covenant Communications
At a time when royal infants are marked at birth, a royal advisor makes a terrible misstep — and an infant princess must be secreted away to save her life. Named Sarah by Miranda, the woman who agrees to raise the child as her own, the girl is unaware of her royal heritage — even though Miranda has done all she can to pair Sarah with the king’s nephew, Lord Chad. But unexpected events prevent the expected betrothal.
Determined to fulfill her devoted mother’s wishes, Sarah reserves her heart for Chad despite her growing affections for another man. But as plots against the crown unfold, someone accidentally discovers Sarah’s mark of royalty — setting the stage for discoveries that will shake the kingdom to its core.
You can find a music video for Mark of Royalty here and a book trailer here.
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Jennifer K. Clark and Stephonie K. Williams are sisters by chance but became friends by choice when a year of rooming together at college taught them how to get along. Now “play”-at-home moms, separated and living in different parts of the country, they stay in touch and support each other in their individual projects.

Jennifer K. Clark lives in the small rural town of Wellington Utah, as much as her husband wishes it was Wellington New Zealand. After years of entertaining her three children with infamous made-up stories, she decided to put her imagination to good use and became an author. She likes to add a touch of romance to her novels along with a healthy dose of adventure. Fueled by Lindt Chocolate Truffles and Sour Patch Kids, she now spends a copious amount of time with the characters in her head. In her spare time she likes to create science experiments with the ingredients in her potions cupboard, debate which Doctor is her favorite (currently the 10th…or maybe the 11th), and—when she has time—watches the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice.


Stephonie K. Williams makes her home in a quaint farming town in eastern Iowa with her husband, three cats, and a budding ninja. Two of her favorite things in Iowa are the fireflies (aka lightning bugs) and cows, especially the calves. Despite having lived there for 15 years she still misses the majesty and tranquility of the mountains of Utah where she grew up. She has a vast collection of fortune cookie fortunes because she has yet to determine if it is unlucky to throw them away. She also loves to quill, the art of rolled paper, not to be confused with quilting.

Stephonie is passionate about education and enjoys visiting schools to teach classes on creative writing. She has written poetry, short stories, and dissertations, although Mark of Royalty was the first of her work that she was brave enough to submit for publication.

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