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:
Ian Vroon
Title of book and/or series:
Book 1 of The Flames Chronicles
Brief summary of the story:
They woke up seven years ago with no memory. They found themselves in a land of glowing flowers, mushroom houses and psychedelic spores. They have only dreams, flashbacks—fragments of thoughts they can’t explain.

But now the land is withering. Mushrooms are crumbling to ash, trees turning to mush—and no one knows why.

Enter the aiethepa spore. This fungus grows fast and thick throughout Ayphae. No one knows what it does, and no one can open it. Some blame it for the withering—others think it will breathe life into the land.

Paths cross, and an alliance is born: the three with lost memories, a field scientist, a ranger-turned-speaker and a pragmatic politician. But can they find the problem—before it’s too late?

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
Ayphae is a world of mushrooms that think using your brain. So for instance, sparkler mushrooms will send out sparkles that arrange themselves in pretty patterns—using your brain to determine what defines “pretty.” Murmuring mushrooms will use your subconscious to bring out thoughts that are comforting to you, which you will hear as a sort of “murmur.” Memory mushrooms will search the recesses of your mind for lost memories and restore them to you (or make you forget things). Mirror mushrooms will alter your visual center so they look like an exact duplicate of you. All these mushrooms think using your brain—provided you’re in their neural net.
Mushrooms with a neural net are known as “net mushrooms.” Apart from you, they have will, but no brain to exercise that will. You grant them that intelligence by wandering into their net. However, you are not aware of them thinking using your brain. It does not affect you in any way, shape or form.
If we were to visit Ayphae as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Visit the Obo Mushroom in Obo City (the capital). It’s a giant mushroom the size of several cities—and its cap is so wide, it spans the entire horizon. This mushroom sits at the very center of Ayphae, and people live inside it. The Marden (Ayphae’s ruler) also has his office there.
Though no one knows why, the sun will always rise from behind the Obo Mushroom. No matter where you’re standing, it will always seem like the sun’s rising from behind it and setting behind you. And the Obo Mushroom itself is a net mushroom—it’s sustained by the emotional energy of Ayphae’s inhabitants. Its roots stretch across the whole land.
What dangers should we avoid in Ayphae?
Beat mushrooms (called “drums”). These dangerous mushrooms are taller than you, have large legs to stomp the ground and are fiercely territorial. If you come across one, it will demand that you match its beat. After stomping out a rhythm, it will expect you to stomp the same rhythm in return. If you don’t, it will attack you. There are five colors of drums in the wild, and they like to travel in herds with the same color. If different colors meet, they will challenge each other for the land by stomping out beats or outright brawling.
Yeast marshes—glowing ponds of ultraviolet muck—should also be avoided, as they are nearly impossible to get out of. You’ll have to be rescued by a pathfinder (Ayphae’s equivalent of a ranger, but more extensive).
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Ayphae?
Like everything else, the food in Ayphae is quite unique. Marvel mushrooms are usually the main ingredient. These fungi are net mushrooms, and they can change their molecular structure to taste like anything. The caterer programs them to have a specific taste when making the dish, and the best caterers can even invent their own flavors (and combine them). Soups are most prevalent as the main course, as the most nutritious mushrooms (felrusii) can only be eaten cooked. (I actually have a real mushroom soup recipe in the back of my book.)
Scent spores can be programmed to smell like anything, so they help the dish further.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Ayphae?
Slingshots are the most common weapon. These can fire frost puffers—fungi that explode and freeze whatever they land on—as well as firebuds. Firebuds are mushrooms that burst into flame when you bop their cap. Firing them is more about intimidation than anything else, as they won’t inflict any serious burns before their flame peters out. In fact, firebuds are usually dropped into jugs of water to make them boil quickly. The frost puffers are better weapons. (Some people use tar as well, though this is less common.)
The martial arts style used is unique to Ayphae, and mostly focuses on agility and defense. Ayphae doesn’t have much crime, so the police usually don’t have to bother.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or through Ayphae?
Spincars • These cars use spinning mushrooms for wheels. Spinning mushrooms will spin by themselves (they go faster when injected with alter spores), so they can propel wooden carts. Since the carts are covered, you would most likely view them as a wooden car. Spincars can come in many sizes and be convertible, but they all share a few common features. Rearview mirrors, brake stems (flowers growing in the spincar’s wood whose roots grip the spinners to keep them from moving—as otherwise you wouldn’t be able to park the car!), a shroomshift to change speed or go in reverse (they just change the level and type of alter spores being injected into the spinners), and so forth. Now and then you need to replace the spinners, as they do wear out.
Pravel • To keep the roads in good condition, a type of pavement called pravel is used. It’s actually an intelligent yeast that repairs itself as you walk or drive over it. It compensates based on pressure, so areas where more people walk will still be in pristine condition. Essentially, the roads you walk on in Ayphae’s cities are one unicellular creature that adapts to your footsteps.
Jellibs • Transparent pink eggs with the consistency of Jell-O that grow on the ground like watermelons. They open up so you can hop in (size varies—some carry only two people, while others can house an entire dance troupe), and you float along the stream. They can also travel through the roots of obosas (giant mushrooms people live in) at about 60mph. This allows swift transportation, and it’s the standard means of getting around outside the big city. Spincars would be used in the villages, but dirt roads can’t handle them very well. Since pravel is in limited supply, only the cities use spincars.
Aerophytes • these glider-like spores appear to have leaves for wings. They can fly you along any air current, but they nest inside aerophytus flowers to rest. Like other net flora, they read your mind.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Ayphae that we don’t see on Earth?
Dancing Mushrooms • They usually travel in “troupes.” If you come across some in the wild, they’ll want you to dance with them. They’re especially impressed by good dancers—so if you perform well enough, you’ll get a reputation across Ayphae. Pretty soon, any dance troupe will be able to recognize you and demand your performance.
Mirror Mushrooms • When you look at a mirror mushroom, all you’ll see is yourself. And your reflection might be doing something different—so it’s not quite like staring into a mirror. Instead, these fungi read your mind and alter your visual center so you always see what they want you to see when you look at them. They’re quite mischievous, and their laughing sounds like birds chirping. But they really value athletic feats, and they’ll shower you with applause (a sound like rustling leaves) when you do backflips and other tricks. They’re classified as prankster mushrooms because they like to mess with you.
Flying Mushrooms • These unruly mushrooms fly across the sky. When they land, they usually nestle in groupings. Frills likes feather dusters spread out from beneath their caps, which are very sensitive to movement. Their most common predators are birds.
These are just a couple examples, but you can find others in this questionnaire. Most of the transportation uses wildlife (aerophytes, spinners, etc.), for instance. In fact, pretty much everything in Ayphae relies upon mushrooms of some sort. Clocks, houses, cars, medicine, you name it. Everything is a fungus or flower of some kind, from the pavement to the lamps.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Ayphae?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Ayphae has a plant-like Sage who protects it (his name is L’Hwon). However, he can only protect it from outside dangers. Currently, there is a barrier protecting the land of Ayphae and isolating it from the outside world. No one can come in or out, and no one knows how the barrier got there. Otherwise, magic has no impact upon Ayphaeans.
These are the only magical elements in Ayphae. Some limited magic will be involved in future books, but I’m more of a sci-fi-in-a-fantasy-setting kind of guy. I want rational explanations, imaginative functions and things that will make people wonder. None of the same-old dwarves and elves kind of thing.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Ayphae?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
Earphones • Have you ever seen a picture of a fungus that looks like an ear? Imagine one growing on a tree—then imagine you can speak into it and someone will answer. These are Ayphae’s equivalent of telephones. An operator sits at a central earphone and patches people into other earphones (they’re net fungi, so they read the operator’s mind). This allows information to travel much more quickly across Ayphae. It also allows for tunes to become popular, along with talkshows.
Running mushrooms • these small mushrooms can run very quickly. No human can keep up with them, so there used to relay messages. A note is tied to them, the sender concentrates on the destination in their mind—and the runner reads your mind and sprints to that location. This can also be used to deliver small packages, although jellibs are preferred for larger products. Running mushrooms are used to steer cargo jellibs, so no one has to make the trip from town to town.
Malady mushrooms and bevel lichen • These net mushrooms (and lichen) can be programmed to combat any disease—viral, bacterial, fungal or protistal. As a result, disease has been virtually eradicated in Ayphae, along with allergies and other nuisances. The malady mushrooms tend to be better at combating more advanced diseases…but they have a nasty sense of humor. Sometimes their spores will make you sicker instead of curing you. For that reason, they’re usually kept in reserve and only used if the bevel won’t work.
Bubble-scopes • a special tree resin creates a bubblelike film over these microscopes, allowing scientists to see on a microscopic level. This has given them an atomic-era level understanding of chemistry, so they are beginning to understand fission (though they lack the tools to split the atom or do anything remotely close). They do have laser tulips—special plants that emit a laser from their piston—but that only helps them so much. Their ability to conduct advanced chemistry has allowed them to create mixes from all sorts of different mushrooms in Ayphae. These mixes can do crazy things, like make you sweat mist that glows in colors that represent the emotion you’re feeling.
Shroomlamps • In lieu of electricity, which has not been developed, people light their houses with shining mushrooms that act as lamps. With their caps reversed, the smaller lamps can be used as flashlights. Glowing mushrooms are also a thing. They are planted near the front walkway and light up when anyone comes near. They act as porch lights.
There’s so much more. For instance, trumpet mushrooms project your voice, like speaker boxes on a stage. I don’t want to detail everything here, though. You’ll find out more when you read Ayphae.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Ayphae.
Parties are the main feature in Ayphae. People gather around to hear singers, speakers and debaters—not to mention watching dances, eating food and whatever other special events are present.
The dances are quite unique. Dancers can ingest special mixes to make them glow. In addition, they can camouflage themselves, sweat glowing mist and so forth—all depending on the fungal mix they ingest. They often dance on a field of glowing flowers that makes ripples of light with each step—like waves from a pebble tossed into a still pond. Many other tricks are used involving mirror mushrooms (you’ll see what those are), but I don’t want to spoil it for you. (I’ve got over 40,000 words’ worth of notes on Ayphae, so there’s a lot to tell. It’s quite a world, and I’m only showing you a little in this questionnaire.)
As for sports, it’s mostly about hopperball. Hoppers are mushrooms with stems coiled like a spring, which propel you if you jump on them—much like a trampoline. In hopperball, one of the few rules is that you cannot touch a hopper while holding the ball. You must toss it into the air—then in your next jump so you will catch it before it lands. You can also pass to a teammate. Opposing players try to intercept the ball whenever you toss it, so there is a constant give-and-take. Four timed quarters are played.
People also like to play with melody mushrooms (melodies). If you eat them, melodies can give you perfect pitch or make you sing off tune—but either way, they’ll make it so you sound perfect to yourself. You might be singing horribly, but you’ll sound fine to your own ears. People like to eat them, sing to their friends—and based off their friends’ reaction, guess whether they got the positive or negative effect. It’s really more a game about reading people than anything else.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Ayphae as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
Days of the week, months, etc. are the same. One peculiarity is the complete absence of holidays. Ayphae has no real concept of special days—other than days when certain events are going on, such as an election or party. People are usually more laid back about things like time.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Ayphae?  Please describe what it involves.
Informally, yes. There is a general belief in a set of moral systems set into effect by something, but no real concept of an afterlife or specific deity to go with it. It’s more cultural than anything else.
Truth be told, I wanted the emphasis to be on this society’s real deity: entertainment. I do mention a church somewhere in there, but Christianity or whatever is not present. I made this choice because I wanted to focus more on core issues of philosophy and morality rather than centralizing on a specific system of beliefs. I also wanted to avoid making an allegory. Another fantasy world that does this kind of thing is J.R.R. Tolkien’s middle earth. However, I hope to foster critical thinking about deep issues significantly more than he did as the series unfolds.
What is the political or government structure in Ayphae?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Democratic Monarchy. That is to say, the people elect a king. So he’s not really a king so much as a president with almost absolute power. He must abide by the sacred rules: a seven-year term, after which you can reelect him or elect a new ruler; no executions (that’s for the court of law); no silencing the press…and if he’s smart, he’ll hold a vote and let the people decide on major issues. This makes the people feel listened to. His official title is the Marden.
The current Marden is Joven Marshalltoe. He’s quite a character, and in Ayphae he feels like everyone is getting on his case for the withering land. They’re blaming him for just about everything. He’s done what he can policy-wise, but it’s clearly not enough—the land is going downhill, the crops are failing, everything’s going wrong. He doesn’t want to let the people down—but something has to be done.
And no, he’s not supposed to represent Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton or any other president. He’s his own character, and should be treated as such. I really like his pragmatism, as it sells his polite but no-nonsense demeanor.
Are there any other unique cultural practices that we should be aware of if we visit Ayphae?
Everyone gets up early. This is because the houses they live in—obosas—are giant mushrooms that feed off the neuroelectric energy they emit. Specifically, they feed off your emotions. They do this the way you would absorb heat from a campfire—they don’t drain you or anything. So it’s a mutualistic relationship between the humans and their mushroom houses.
This is important because humans put out less emotional energy while asleep (obviously). The obosas need them to be awake for a good part of the day, so they have musical cords running through them called tonal cords. The obosas twang these cords to wake up their inhabitants. Think harp strings, but longer.
This means if you sleep in, your obosa must not be working properly. People will express concern immediately. Getting to bed earlier is an excellent way to compensate.
Otherwise, the culture is remarkably similar to ours. Out in the small towns, people are touchy about private business—but in the big city, they may be straightforward to the point of rudeness. Nothing too unexpected. (Their colloquialisms may throw you off, however. They’re all fungi-related expressions.)
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
I love studying science, so whenever I come across new and interesting fungi, they get featured. I also love geology, which will be featured in an upcoming book. Basically, whatever inspires me in creation gets a slot in my books.
The idea of giant mushrooms is just natural. You see something strange and weird, and you want to enlarge it to make it even stranger and weirder. One should think the dancing mushrooms would be credited to a certain Disney movie…but surprisingly, Fantasia had nothing to do with it. I just thought it would be fun if the mushrooms danced. That’s how most of my ideas work. They just happen. (I give credit to God for my creativity.) 🙂
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
Most people would like to blame their problems on one political party or the other. In Ayphae, everyone is pointing the finger at the politicians. The question I raise is whether people should look in the mirror. Politicians can’t change your heart—only reflect what you value. Rather than blaming this political party or that party for everything, why don’t we look at ourselves as the potential problem?
I don’t take a conservative or liberal approach. I dismiss politics altogether and foist the responsibility to produce change on us. If we don’t fix things, no one will.
But I don’t like preaching at my audience. So I bring in some counter arguments as well. Government can surely do a few things right—some problems can only be fixed by them. I admit that. But again, I’m as politically neutral as possible. I really want to emphasize individual responsibility. Honestly, it feels like an appropriate message for our time. Everyone wants to play the blame game.
I’ve also taken safeguards to prevent any of my characters from being mouthpieces. I’ve ensured that each protagonist disagrees with me on at least one major thing (different for each character)—and to prevent villains from being reversed mouthpieces, I’ve ensured that each of them agrees with me on at least one major thing. I want my readers to think and question rather than being spoonfed my morality. I believe critical thinking is the best tool we have, as without it we can never improve.
Author Autobiography:
Everything I write puts a new spin on fantasy as you know it. And when I’m not writing, I’m imagining my next book.

I love science and incorporate it heavily into my fantasy worlds. I also love philosophy—and since I hate going with the crowd, I resolve to take the reader on a journey of questioning and suspense, watching my characters struggle with interpreting and reacting to unfolding events.

As I live near the foothills of Colorado, I enjoy exploring the outdoors with my wife—soaking in the sights, sounds and smells of creation. But we are most passionate about our strategy games, usually spending hours or even days nerding out on one game alone.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  Please include links.
Enjoy! You can also subscribe to my newsletter on my blog and get a free copy of part 1. That way you can sample it. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (Since I’m still looking for more reviewers, you could be one of them.) 😊
Where can readers connect with you online?  Connect with me at https://ianvroon.blog/
I love interacting with my readers!
I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Ayphae.  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 another world in next week’s edition of Realm Explorers!
Are you an author of a sci-fi or fantasy novel that takes place in another world? Click here to find out about having it featured on Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima
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:
Larry Paris
Title of book and/or series:
The Darkened Land ,Book One of the Seven Towers Series
Brief summary of the story:
Separated from the world of darkness by a bottomless chasm lie the stones of light. The King has built a bridge from that world to His kingdom across the chasm to give people access once again to the stones. He has established seven cities of light and seven towers as beacons to The Darkened Land.

Lachlaniel’s world is a world of complete darkness, but across the Godwin River there are stones of light. When he sees the light for the first time and beholds the wonder of the stones, Lachlaniel sets out for the Godwin accompanied by Ewald, the woodsman. But creatures of darkness, who hate the light and the stones, pursue them. Guided by Kesniel and protected by Velius they reach the Great City Agapay and the Bridge. The stones lie just beyond, but the quest has aroused The Great Evil.  Nameless and powerful he bends his might to crush the city and put an end to the light in his dominion. The city is now in peril.

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
A world of complete darkness except for the light from the King’s stones. The great cities form a ring in the north and are approximately 1500 miles apart. There are no ice caps so one can conceivably cross the north pole to cities on the other side of the world.
If we were to visit Pipto as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Visit the Bridge and one of the Great Cities especially one with a Great Stone in the tower’s turret.
Also check out the one of the Kin’s orchards (the fruits are indescribable).
What dangers should we avoid in Pipto?
Wolves, Hashimorts, Solveig, Aiden (dragons Aidan – singular) And don’t go in the Black Tower
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Pipto?
Sword and shield, ax, arrows – typical medieval weapons
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Pipto?
Horses, carts, and walking.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Pipto that we don’t see on Earth?
Giant snakes (over 300 feet long as adults); Solveig – bat-like creatures with poisonous fangs whose bites cause blindness and death; Hashimorts – A giant flying scorpion of sorts; Aiden – speaking, flying, fire-breathing dragons whose armor as adults is quite impenetrable,  except for the belly where it is weaker, but a normal man could not penetrate it in his own strength even there; the great evils who can take any form and are huge; the Chuchoteur – thought whisperers; and lesser evils posing as men.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Pipto?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
The supernatural is generally associated with the King; however, the evils also have abilities that humans don’t possess.
The stones of the King give light and reveal light as in the light of a fire. They stay with an owner (although the term ‘owner’ isn’t quite correct) and when removed from his presence will disappear and reappear beside the ‘owner’. Once you’ve crossed the Bridge and obtained a stone you are given the King’s armor which is tailor made for only you. You also gain access to your closet which is always near at hand though not visible. People without stones can see the light from them but most prefer the darkness and many are aggressive to those that have the stones or are seeking them. Many others have never seen the light and know nothing of the stones (as in the case of Lachlaniel, the first character you meet).
The evils generally inhabit animals and on rare occasion people. They are visible as a black mist that rises from the corpse once the animal is dead. They can also assume other forms including human.
Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Pipto?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.
Not technology to our way of thinking, but the stones and the swords of the King can bring understanding of things past, present, and future. The stones also serve as a food source and give water. Both are very restorative and life-giving. They also give oil that heals. The Great Stones, of which there are seven corresponding to the Seven Towers and Seven Great Cities, have other properties which will not be described here. The closets have already been mentioned and bring direct access to the King.
Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Pipto as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
They are the same. There is Passage Day, which is the day that the Bridge was completed.
What is the political or government structure in Pipto?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Government other than the Great Cities is not mentioned. The Great Cities are governed by a King-Steward and have a council that rules in the absence of the King-Steward.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
Most of the People places and things are allegorical to things in the Bible. There is a glossary at the back that gives the meanings of the names and their pronunciation.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
The means of Salvation, which is a hot button for many.
Author Autobiography:
I was born in Dallas Texas and raised in a small town near there. I attended Dallas Baptist University starting in 1975 and graduated in 2010 (yes it took me that long to get through). My degree is in Christian Ministries. I was on the Dean’s List and was Greek Honor Student (sorry I don’t remember what year). I started writing at the end of High School. I began the Darkened Land in the mid 90’s though 2/3 of it was written in six weeks in 2017 (God is good. He helped a lot.) Presently I am writing the second in the series titled The Basaners along with a series of short stories entitled The Physician and an end times novel (first of a series) with the working title Jack Russell and the Repository.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?
You can find both print and Kindle versions by clicking here.
ebook copies are available through Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and others by clicking the Books2Read link here.
Where can readers connect with you online? 
Presently I am on Facebook and I have just joined MeWe. Visit my webpage at larryparisbooks.com or email me at mailto:[email protected].
I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Pipto.  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 another world in next week’s edition of Realm Explorers!
Are you an author of a sci-fi or fantasy novel that takes place in another world? Click here to find out about having it featured on Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for

Reunited with the Cowboy
By Claire McEwen
We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you’ll find snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:
Launch – Note from the Author

This story was a joy and a challenge to write. It’s a big emotional mix of wildlife and ranching and what happens when the two intersect. It’s also a story of forgiveness and healing and, of course, love, in all its forms. I hope you enjoy the excerpts and reviews, and the chance to meet the characters, human and otherwise, who live in the Northern California ranching town of Shelter Creek. . .

Thoughts of a Blonde – Excerpt

Except lately the mountain lions in this area had been attacking livestock on local ranches. And people definitely noticed that.

That was why Maya was here, in the coastal hills surrounding her hometown of Shelter Creek, on a two-month assignment for the Department of Wildlife. She was going to try to find pumas. Photograph them. Count and classify them. Assess the population’s overall health and figure out why they were eating so many sheep.

Britt Reads Fiction – Review

Reunited with the Cowboy was a really good story. . . . The author did a great job of weaving in the mountain lion and ranching details to create a very interesting setting. . . . I really enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more books in this series.”

Rockin’ Book Reviews – Review

“This is a, somewhat predictable drama, but very well-written, with a couple of interesting “twists”. The reader is sure to “fall in love” with the characters. The background scenes are also portrayed in a way it is easy to visualize.”

Paulette’s Papers – Excerpt

Clawing her way out of the confining straps, Maya jumped to her feet, groped for her safety whistle and blew hard. The shrill sound sliced open the night.

Pepper spray. It was in her belt. Wrenching it from the holster, Maya held out the can and slowly backed away from the dark shadow emerging from the bushes.

“Hang on! It’s okay!”

The unexpected voice stopped her in an instant. It wasn’t a mountain lion. It was a man.

Hallie Reads – Review

Reunited With the Cowboy is definitely a heartwarming story. As I have come to expect from Harlequin Heartwarming books, it balances great humor with all the emotion that must come with tragedy and dealing with the past. Add in a delightful cast of characters (human and animal alike), and it’s a story that fans of contemporary romance should not skip. I really enjoyed it and look forward to McEwan’s next story.”

Andi’s Book Reviews – Review

“This is a story of love and forgiveness that left me choked up at times and also was a feel-good kind of story as everyone comes together to make positive changes in their lives and in the community. I especially love the Book Biddies and can only hope to aspire to be like them one day. I really enjoyed watching all of the characters grow. . . . This was my first Claire McEwen book, and it definitely will not be my last. I am looking forward to the next installment in the series.”

It’s All About the Romance – Excerpt

The man stepped slowly onto the trail from some low bushes, where he must have been hiding. In the dim moonlight he was a dark shadow. Maya could see the outline of his cowboy hat, but not much else about him. Except in one hand, he held…a rifle.

Maya froze—the gun changing everything.

“It’s okay.” The man’s voice was low and steady, like he was trying to be reassuring. “I’m sorry if I scared you.”

Two Points of Interest – Review

“I thought the novel was a nice cozy read. I love the Old Biddies and felt that they were the best part of the book. I like the themes of redemption and how Maya used a bad experience to become a better person. She used all the “bad energy” to do something with her life.”

E-Romance News – Excerpt

She couldn’t move the light. Didn’t know if she’d ever move anything again, because now she could see his face, and it was Caleb. Caleb Dunne.

A metallic taste coated her tongue, and she swallowed hard. Both of her knees were shaking now, and the flashlight beam quivered with her trembling hand as if her entire body was rebelling at the sight of him. Rebelling against this homecoming, which was already turning into the disaster she’d always assumed it would be.

She had to lower the light. It was wrong to keep blinding him. But if she lowered it, he’d realize who she was. And Maya already knew what his reaction would be. Rage. Disgust. Horror. Because she was the last person Caleb would want to meet on this trail, or anywhere else.

Babs Book Bistro – Review

“[I] enjoyed the story and characters. It was nice to see both of them come to terms with what happened and try to work together to make the right things happen. A clean romance that will keep you on the edge of your seat.”

Reading Is My SuperPower – Review

Reunited With the Cowboy is both entertaining and emotional with vivid and likable characters (both the 2-legged and 4-legged varieties). The perspective of respect for ranchers protecting their animals as well as for the predators trying to survive is thoughtfully presented and educational (without distracting too much from the plot). Additionally, a host of intriguing secondary characters with potential stories has me eagerly looking forward to the rest of the series!”

Jorie Loves A Story – Review

“”McEwen has put a lot of growth into the novel – from the perspective of her leading characters but also from the supporting cast. . . . I appreciated how McEwen wrote this story – as she’s taken a lot of realistic real world situations and beautifully crafted them into the background of the series she’s written with such a heart of purpose that you can’t wait to read the next installment!”

Library Lady’s Kid Lit – Review

“I love the redemption in this story. . . . Throughout Reunited with the Cowboy Maya and Caleb learn to get past the demons that haunt them but will they rekindle the love they once had?

Claire McEwen has written an emotional novel but she has also included what appears to be accurate scientific information about pumas/mountain lions. I love it when I can learn something in a novel.”

The Magic Of Wor(l)ds – Excerpt

For a split second Caleb wondered if Maya was actually real. Still as prey, with moonlight painting shadows around her eyes, she was almost ghostlike. Fitting, since she’d haunted him for all these years.

His hands had become fists, and he carefully unclenched them, trying to fathom her presence on this trail. “Why are you here?” It came out in a hoarse whisper.

The Power of Words – Review

“Sometimes you start reading a series romance – expecting it to be good in the ordinary way – only to discover that you hold a gem in your hands. Reunited with the Cowboy by Claire McEwen is a romance with emotion, complexity, and rich characterization. I was caught up from the very first page and enjoyed this engaging story.”

splashesofjoy – Excerpt

He caught the edge of frustration in her voice. He was being a jerk, but maybe that was okay if it would help keep her from coming out to his property. He didn’t want time with her. Didn’t want to face everything he’d lost when he’d told her to leave. “We shouldn’t even be around each other.”

“Trust me—I was hoping to avoid you. But here we are.” She gestured around them, at the trail, at the night, in a sort of helpless way. Like their meeting was a fate she didn’t want but had already accepted.

Locks, Hooks and Books – Review

“Looks like Miss McEwen has earned herself a new fan. I would love to read her other books and I can not wait to find out what happens in the next installment from the Heroes of Shelter Creek series. I recommend this book for readers who love to read clean and heartwarming Cowboy romances.”

Red Headed Book Lady – Review

“A sweet love story that will leave you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next.

This is a great read with forgiveness and a light (hope) at the end of all the hurt and anger that our two favorite characters are going through. . . . This is a wonderful tale about 2nd chances.”

Colorimetry – Excerpt

Dex always said that Caleb lived in the past, and maybe that was true. So far the present hadn’t shown him much to get excited about.

Except now Maya was back. Though that wasn’t exciting. It was so many feelings, he didn’t even have words for them all. The combination was irritating, like a horsefly that kept buzzing around his head no matter how many times he slapped it away.

Remembrancy – Review

“In Reunited with the Cowboy, Claire McEwen crafts a story of grief, growth, and forgiveness. . . . McEwen combines a swoon-worthy romance with some humor . . . I’m looking at you Jace and Trisha. Here’s hoping another trip to Shelter Creek is coming soon.”

Wishful Endings – Excerpt

A green pickup was parked alongside the barn, and Caleb tried to steady his thoughts. He had to keep his cool with her. He’d show her the permit he’d shoved in his jacket pocket before he left the house just now. She’d lecture. He’d pretend to listen. Then she’d be gone, out of his life again. It was all pretty simple, as long as he kept his mouth shut and nodded a bunch.

A small squeak behind him had him turning to see Hobo trotting up, his green eyes meeting Caleb’s in cat-concern. The cat trailed after Caleb most of the time. He’d even taken to riding on Caleb’s shoulder while Caleb worked around the barn. Which was kind of cute, though it had Caleb worrying that he was turning into the male equivalent of a lonely cat lady. But mostly he was just glad to have the company.

EmpowerMoms – Spotlight

Pause for Tales – Review

“This was another page turner in the Heartwarming line dealing with heavier topics and there was a little more language. Overall I liked this story and watching the growth of Caleb and Maya and their reconciliation was sweet to witness. I look forward to more of author McEwen stories.”

Janice’s Book Reviews – Review

“I loved her grandmother. She and some other ladies have a book club. They called it the Book Biddies. Those ladies bought so much to the story.”

Peaceful Pastime – Review

“Overall, I loved Reunited with the Cowboy, the story moves a perfect pace, the characters are compelling and Ms. McEwen is a skillful storyteller. I look forward to reading more of her work.”

Harlie’s Books – Excerpt & Review

“Why don’t you just tell me what to do? Don’t you have some literature or something you can give me?” He didn’t want to spend more time with her. Didn’t want to see the way the growing sunlight lit up strands of gold in her hair. Didn’t want to think about how no other woman had caught his attention for long, since her.

Except part of him, that boy he’d been when he’d loved her, did want her here. It was ridiculous. Some ancient fantasy of happily-ever-after that his brain was revisiting.

“This book is about redemption and forgiveness. Maya is looking for redemption and forgiveness for something that she really didn’t do and Caleb is looking for redemption in his treatment of Maya all those years ago. And maybe some forgiveness, too. These two had a lot to do go through before they could even see eye to eye about their relationship. I loved that Ms. McEwen didn’t make it easy for either one of them.

I really enjoyed Maya and Caleb and I hope to see them again. I really go into Maya’s research on them and I would like an update on the center in later books. Again, give this line a chance. You won’t be disappointed.”

Baroness’ Book Trove – Review

Reunited with the Cowboy by Claire McEwen is an excellent book, and I loved the characters, the quirky sides, the setting, and all the information packed into it about the mountain lions. I’m giving it a five-star review. I’m also recommending it to all the Romance readers out there.”

underneath the covers – Excerpt

She backed a few steps away from him and swiped at her wet cheeks with her sleeve. “I’m not shying away from the blame. Believe me, I carry more guilt and regret than you can ever imagine, every single day of my life. But maybe it’s time you were honest about your part in it. And about Julie’s part. Her actions helped cause that car accident.”

“Go.” It came out like a growl from somewhere deep and raw in Caleb’s chest. She was hacking at bone with her words, excavating pain he’d buried deep for a reason. “This isn’t going to work, you and me. It could never work. You want to leave me something to read about managing wildlife? Fine. But don’t come back here, trying to tell me how to run my ranch. Or how to remember my sister.”

Teatime and Books – Excerpt

“Hello, Mrs. Burton.”

“You always called me Lillian, so please don’t get all formal on me now.”

One side of Caleb’s mouth curled in a half smile that took Maya by surprise. She’d only seen him looking stern, hungover and miserable. That piece of a smile was a shimmering reminder of all the times he’d smiled at her. Except he’d been smiling at Grandma, and it was gone now, as he turned to his aunt. “You told me you wanted to meet for dinner. Then you talked me into this meeting instead. How about you and I go get that food now?”

Kathryn Cooper Writes – Review

“Reading Reunited with the Cowboy by Clause McEwen felt like watching a romance TV series. I loved seeing all of the different stories pulling together, especially the romance. It was filled with life’s hard times, community love, and sweet romance.”

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post, if you haven’t already…

Reunited with the Cowboy

(Heroes of Shelter Creek #1)
By Claire McEwen
Adult Contemporary Romance
Mass Market Paperback & ebook, 368 Pages
July 1st 2019 by Harlequin Heartwarming

She can save his ranch…

But can he forgive her?

Maya Burton knows she’s the last person rancher Caleb Dunne wants to see. After all, she survived the crash that killed his sister, and then left town. Now she has to convince the stubborn cowboy that she can help him save his ranch. But once she earns his trust—and his heart—will she be able to walk away?


About the Author

Claire McEwen writes stories about strong heroes and heroines who take big, emotional journeys to find their happily-ever-after. She lives by the ocean in Northern California with her family and a scruffy, mischievous terrier. When she’s not writing, Claire enjoys gardening, reading and discovering flea-market treasures. She loves to hear from readers! You can find her on most social media and at www.clairemcewen.com.

Tour Giveaway

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Open internationally
Ends July 24, 2019
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Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Blackbriar Cove
By Jennifer Silverwood

Coming in 2020…

(Borderlands Saga #2)

Contemporary Fantasy, Magical Realism
Paperback & ebook
2020 by SilverWoodSketches

In a single night of madness, Amie won the battle, and lost the two people she loved most. As she struggles to be the queen her people need, her family band together against the hidden threat at their borders.

Haunted by the ghosts of her past, Amie strikes a pact with an ancient being called The Storyteller. In order to see Emrys again, they must put aside their blood feud, and cross the veil to a place of spirits and monsters.

Blackbriar Cove is a land where superstition and chaos reign, and spirits plague dreams. A dark curse has twisted the Unseelie who once lived in the home the Blackbriar twins vowed never to return. But death is not the end in Silver Hollow, and the war for the Borderlands has only begun.

Other Books in the Series

Silver Hollow
(Borderlands Saga #1)

By Jennifer Silverwood
Contemporary Fantasy, Magical Realism
Paperback & ebook, 429 Pages
May 31st 2018 by SilverWoodSketches

Amie Wentworth trusts books more than people. After her parents’ deaths ten years before, she writes fiction to escape reality. A timely invitation from her long-lost uncle arrives, but she’s used to ignoring the mysterious surrounding her life.

Until she is stabbed in an alley and brought back to life by a handsome stranger. Soon Amie is dragged into the very sort of tale she is used to selling. To make matters worse, the man who saved her life keeps turning up and her would-be-murderer is still at large.

After crossing the Atlantic to her father’s homeland, she discovers a world beyond imagining. Silver Hollow is a place of ancient traditions and supernatural dangers, where everything is the opposite of what it seems and few escape sane. Faced with an impossible choice, Amie is forced to confront a deadly family legacy while remembering a life she soon wishes to forget.

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository
About the Author

Jennifer Silverwood was raised deep in the heart of Texas and has been spinning yarns a mile high since childhood. In her spare time, she reads and writes and tries to sustain her wanderlust, whether it’s the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, the highlands of Ecuador, or a road trip to the next town. Always on the lookout for her next adventure, in print or reality, she dreams of one day proving to the masses that everything really is better in Texas. She is the author of three series–Heaven’s Edge, Wylder Tales and the Borderlands Saga–and the stand-alone titles Stay and She Walks in Moonlight. She recently released her first serialized Urban Fantasy, Angel Blue in August 2018.


Cover Reveal Giveaway

1 winner will receive a $30 Amazon Gift Card plus a digital copy of Silver Hollow (open internationally)
– 1 winner will receive a signed hard copy of Silver Hollow plus swag (US only)
 Ends July 19, 2019

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By day Yosyph appears nothing more than a mute tavern-hand. By night he is the shadowy leader of a growing revolution.
When he learns that thousands of his people will be sent as slaves to the mines, he must choose—fight the royal army with an ill-prepared rebellion or journey to the land of his ancestors through the deadly King’s Trial, where he hopes to win the help of his kin.
His journey grows complicated when he rescues a maiden and enrages a prince, but if he doesn’t return with help in time, the people he’s loved and secretly served will be gone.
Click here to download The King’s Trial. It will be free on July 16th and 17th!
Annie’s Thoughts:

I just finished reading The King’s Trial this morning. I wholeheartedly recommend this clean fantasy adventure! All the main characters went through their own journeys (literal or metaphorical) of growth, and I like that I would not have predicted where some of those would lead. There was an element of romance, but it wasn’t entirely predictable either (predictability is what bothers me about most romance novels). A twist near the end caught me by surprise, which was also fun. But my favorite thing about The King’s Trial was the part of the story where Yosyph must travel through a maze of rock formations using a series of clever riddles/clues to tell him where to go. In one scene, he had to sing a particular song, walking at a pace where his feet kept rhythm with the tune, and then turn each time the word “left” or “right” came up in the song lyrics. I thought that was quite clever! 

Though the main conflict does get resolved and there’s no cliffhanger, a few loose ends in the story make me look forward to the sequel. If you enjoy fantasy or adventure stories, why not download your copy of The King’s Trial now?

Short and long excerpts from The King’s Trial
Short Snippets:
Nightmares usually end with the coming of day, but this one bled into the morning hours. Sunlight filtered through a vine-smothered window. – Yosyph
I slid from the horse’s back. “Glue for you.” I half-hoped he would wander off while I was in the Thirsty Stallion. I’d rather walk than get back on him. I pushed my way into the inn. Ugh. And I thought the clothes I’d taken smelled bad. Vomit, sweat, ale, beer, and all the other smells of the barracks were packed into one room. I thought the soldiers were gross, but this—no wonder Mother called the people dirty, miserable animals. – Halavant
We stepped off the hill’s crest and climbed down into the first reaches of the desert. The dry morning air burned with each breath. By the time we’d reached the bottom, it seemed we’d entered an oven. A hot wind whipped up to meet us, casting gritty sand in our eyes and mouths. The desert had swallowed us whole, and the other world of grass and trees no longer existed. – Yosyph
I learned something over the four days of travel: Galliard was wrongly named. He wasn’t Galliard the Wanderer but Galliard the Obstinate. I’d never had to endure a more mulish man, and there were plenty of them that sat in council with my mother. When I became king, I’d place him as the lead donkey in our luggage train, and he could put his talents to use.  – Halavant
The wind crashed against me on both sides of the bridge, like waves breaking on sea cliffs, pouring over me with such force it ripped away my breath. – Yosyph
The middle of the night was toe-stubbing dark. I bit my lip to stop crying out as my little toe bent sideways around the leg of a chair. – Halavant
Longer Excerpt 1: Yosyph
I turned around to see the prince stomping down a garden path, whacking at bushes with a stick. Sun reflected off his white ringlets. Was he bleaching his hair now, or wearing a wig? He used to have wheat-yellow hair. His skin showed he spent hours outside each day, somehow turning it gold instead of ruddy or brown. His face had the round softness of luxury. It was little wonder the women compared him to a god.
“Prince Halavant,” the steward called out, “Hadron, the vintner, has sent a special gift of wine for your bride.”
He turned toward us, his brows furrowed and lips tight. “It won’t do any good. It would have been perfect for our picnic, but she’d rather go riding without me. I imagine she’s climbing our oak or skipping stones on our pond, without me!”
He was an angry, spoiled godling, not yet full grown. But at least he told me where to find her.
I turned to leave as he continued his rant.
“I’d like to thrash someone. But everyone even the least bit capable is on duty. Not one can spar. Nothing is going right today.” He turned. “You, what is your name and service?”
Why did he, of all people, notice me? I motioned to my throat.
“He is mute, sire,” the steward explained. “The son of the vintner.”
The prince studied me closer, then nodded, “You stand with the ease of a swordsman.”
I dropped to a slouch.
“Though too tall and lean to be much of a match. Still, I see no better options. You may have the privilege of sparing with your prince and future king.”
I slouched to the sparring yard. Perhaps he would rethink fighting me if I looked incapable.
The prince grumbled, “Pointless, worthless day. Left to spar with a mute commoner. Could it get any worse?”
I could think of a hundred ways.
He grabbed one of the dull metal practice swords and tossed another toward me. I leaped to the side, letting it clatter to the ground. I fumbled as I picked it up.
“He has no more skill than a practice dummy. I could take off his head.”
I rethought my strategy. He stood shorter than me, but heavier built and held himself with the balance of a dancer. I shifted my weight to my toes and gripped the sword, point down. Defend myself or not? Run? Wait. Watch. Three long breaths.
He sneered, then lunged, driving his sword toward my chest.
I threw myself to the side, barely keeping to my feet. The prince’s sword slid by my arm as he stumbled past.
I turned to face him. He roared and swung his sword downward. Metal screamed as I tried to deflect the blow. It was like trying to stop a falling cask with a metal rod. I pushed myself off the weight of the swords and spun aside with a slight stumble. It was getting harder to pretend clumsiness while avoiding blows.
He was like a bear. If I wasn’t careful, he’d break my arm or crack my skull. I ducked to avoid the latter.
“Stop dodging and fight, coward!” He whirled around with another crushing swing.
I didn’t like taking orders from him, but fighting instead of dodging seemed sound advice if I didn’t want to be crippled. So much for my half-wit mask. I leaned away from his swing while flicking my sword under his blow, striking him lightly across the ribs.
His Royal Rageness drew back and blinked. Had I injured his pride? I could end up in prison for scratching his pampered flesh. I tensed my legs, ready to dash through the open porter’s gate.
“Unexpected.” He adjusted his sword grip from a fist to a fencer’s hold. He rose to his toes. A hint of a smile creased his green eyes.
Longer Excerpt 2: Yosyph
At the water’s edge, a young woman stood beside a white horse. She flipped a stone into the pond and it skipped twelve times. If the prince liked novelty, she fit it. Hair the color of an autumn maple trailed down her back in tight curls. Paprika freckles dusted her cream skin. She burned brightly in a land of brown and flaxen tresses.
“She says I’m not fit to be a queen.” Katrin flung another stone. It skipped once, hit a lily pad, and sank. “Too ungainly, too brash, too forward. She’s nothing of grace herself, all dominance and force.”
I stepped from the trees.
She continued to rant. “I shall not be frightened away by her threats. I shall not! She tells me she shall make my life miserable if I don’t refuse to marry her son! Oh, how could she be Mother’s best friend and such a beast to me?”
I stepped closer. Still, she didn’t see me. Sometimes, not being noticed was bothersome. I cleared my throat. She whirled, a thin dagger appearing in her hand. Good, so she wasn’t oblivious to the danger.
Longer Excerpt 3: Yosyph
Katrin bent over the map, the end of her turban trailing down beside her face. “The map won’t change, no matter how much you glare at it.”
She was right.
I rolled up the map, slipped it inside a waterproof pouch, and tucked it back inside my robe. The recently purchased desert robes hung loosely from my shoulders to my feet. I considered taking them off and wearing my regular clothing, something easier to mount with. Yet the map had warned to wear desert robes to keep the body from losing too much water. How that worked was beyond me. They seemed to add to the heat of the day. I hooked one foot in the stirrup and swung my other leg over Flax’s back. My leg tangled in the robe and stopped halfway, leaving me sprawled across the saddle.
“You’ve never ridden in robes before?” Katrin’s eyes crinkled with amusement.
I shook my head as I slid to the ground. The robes fell back straight around me, as if they hadn’t had the perverse amusement of stopping me mid-mount.
Katrin looked at me as if waiting for my full attention. She stepped into the stirrup and in one fluid motion, flew into her saddle, her robes flowing out and settling around her. She nodded. “The robes are not all that different from my riding dress.”
“Which I’ve never had the pleasure of wearing,” I muttered.
Her eyes danced with laughter. “So you do have a sense of humor.” She watched as I semi-successfully mounted Flax. “Does that mean we are going?”
About the Author
As a youth, I made up stories to help my little sisters go to sleep. It backfired. We stayed up for hours continuing the tale. The King’s Trial was born in those late, whispered nights.
Ever since I climbed up to the rafters of our barn at age four, I’ve lived high adventure: scuba diving, mud football with my brothers, rappelling, and even riding a retired racehorse at full gallop—bareback. I love the thrill and joy.
Stories give me a similar thrill and joy. I love living through the eyes and heart of a hero who faces his internal demons and the heroine who fights her way free instead of waiting to be saved. I read fiction and true-story adventure. I write both, though I’m starting with publishing the fiction—fact will come later.
I create high fantasy, fairy tale retellings, and poetry. I live a joyful adventure with my husband and six children. I am a Christian and I love my Savior.
– M. L. Farb
  10 Fun, Random Facts about the Author
1.   As a child, I couldn’t walk across a room. I danced, spun, skipped, ran, or otherwise moved, but I couldn’t just walk.
2.   I took calculus at a community college at age 14. I planned to go to MIT and become an astronaut. Plans changed—in wonderful ways.
3.   I love reading to my children. We’ve enjoyed books from Dr. Seuss to Les Misérables. Maniac Magee is one of our favorites.
4.   I lived in St Petersburg, Russia for half-a-year teaching English to kindergartners. I learned to wash my clothes in a bathtub, filter and boil my drinking water, and love my sweet, crayon-eating, kids.
5.   I have slight dyslexia. ‘b’ and ‘p’ sometimes flip flop on me. But it also means I can read a book upside-down.
6.   I love climbing, rappelling, and horseback riding. But I hate roller coasters and bungee jumping.
7.   I’ve journaled almost every day since I turned seventeen. I capture conversations, descriptions, happenings, and quotes. I explore ideas. Through the years I’ve written well over a million words. It prepared me to become an author.
8.   Plumbing Repair is my nemesis. I’m grateful I don’t have to battle it very often. In the end, I always win, but I feel like I’ve fought an arch-villain who pulled every dirty trick in the book, including Chinese water torture in claustrophobic conditions.
9.   I live with a vivid imagination. I dream in 3-D, technicolor, and occasionally with my eyes open. This is a bane when it comes to nightmares. I will not watch horror movies.
10.  The King’s Trial started as a bedtime tale I told my little sisters twenty years ago. Don’t worry. I wrote the second book, The King’s Shadow, in six months, and it will come out this autumn.    
Plus an extra: I have an accent. People often ask me where I’m from. Maybe it’s my reader accent. I’ve read out loud enough different books in character, that perhaps it stuck.

Author Social Media Links

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: Annie Douglass Lima
Title of book and/or series: King of Malorn (Book 5 in the Annals of Alasia)
Brief summary of the story:
Life as the king’s younger sister should be exciting.
Not for Princess Kalendria. She’s sick of the dissent and of constantly having her family undermined by those who think they could rule Malorn better than King Korram.
Hoping to lighten the mood in the palace, Kalendria plans a ball to celebrate her seventeenth birthday. It doesn’t hurt that their handsome Alasian ally King Jaymin has promised to attend, and she’s been waiting for him to notice her for as long as she can remember.
But unfriendly forces have their own party plans. When Kalendria, Korram, and Jaymin barely survive an assassination attempt, their only recourse is to flee into the wilderness. Tracked by unknown assassins, they must figure out whom they can trust and who is behind the plot. Can Kalendria help her brother reclaim his throne – oh, and catch Jaymin’s attention while she’s at it – before they are all killed and war destroys both kingdoms?
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:

The first half of King of Malorn takes place mostly in the kingdom of Malorn. I’m choosing not to focus on that setting in this post, since I featured Malorn in a previous edition of Realm Explorers after Prince of Malorn was published. The second half of the book is set partly in Malorn and partly in the bordering kingdom of Alasia, which I also featured previously in Realm Explorers, when I focused on Prince of Alasia and again for The Nameless Soldier.

This post will focus on a new and relatively tiny nation known as Karvasi Territory, which our heroes must pass through on their journey to safety from Malorn to Alasia. Formerly known as the Western Wilderness, this area was part of Malorn until just before the beginning of King of Malorn. Long inhabited by bandits who attacked and robbed travelers and the few settlers who lived there, the Western Wilderness (sometimes called Bandit Territory) has always been dangerous. Malorn’s government finally decided it wasn’t worth the expense and manpower to protect it, and they gave the land to the bandits, requiring all Malornian residents to leave. (King Korram was furious about this decision, but his High Council outvoted him. Since Malorn is a constitutional monarchy, the king does not have the power to make decisions that the rest of the government disagrees with.)
See the triangular area to the west, between the two rivers and the mountains (enlarged in the image below)? That’s where the Karvasi live.
If we were to visit Karvasi Territory as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
Stay away! Karvasi Territory is no place for tourists. The bandits (or Karvasi, as their race calls themselves) do not welcome outsiders. You may find yourself stopped and forced to pay a “toll” before you go on. Furthermore, the land is dry and rocky, full of thornbushes and coarse brush, and only a few crops can even grow there. You may be lucky enough to find a stream for water, but in general, the land itself isn’t even friendly.
However, if you find yourself forced to travel through Karvasi Territory, there are a few sights worth seeing. One of the streams there winds through a ravine of reddish rock, in which you can see a scenic waterfall. (The scene depicted on the book cover actually takes place in that ravine.) However, there aren’t many safe paths into or out of the ravine. If, like Kalendria and her companions, you find yourself trapped in there and in a hurry to get away, beware! The waterfall is located at a dead end. Unless you can climb straight up the cliff, your enemies will likely catch you.
What dangers should we avoid in Karvasi Territory?
The Karvasi, of course! Apart from robbing travelers, if they think you mean them harm, they will likely kill you, especially if you are Malornian. However, they do have a cordial trading relationship with the Alasians, so if you can convince them you’re Alasian, they’ll be more likely to let you live. If you must travel through their territory, I recommend bringing a gift of food, tools, or other supplies for them. If you ask nicely and they can see you don’t pose a threat, they might even be convinced to give you something in return. But they know that the Malornian government has ceded the land to them, and that no one is supposed to pass through without their permission now, so they don’t take kindly to the sight of anyone else in their territory. Unfortunately for them, the Malornian government recently sent a large number of soldiers through their land to guard the Telleck River against the Alasians army (after all, the Alasians have reason to believe the Malornians recently assassinated their king). So, the Karvasi have been grumpy about that and inclined to resent anyone they see.

You’ll want to avoid those Malornian soldiers, too. Nothing much has happened since they set up camp by the river, and many of them are bored and looking for trouble.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Karvasi Territory?
Once Malorn’s government ceded the land to them, the Karvasi built a village and planted gardens, but those haven’t started producing yet. At this point, most of their food comes from birds or rabbits that they hunt or whatever they can trade from the Alasians. However, since so many Malornian soldiers are camped out by the Telleck River, trade has been difficult lately, and the Karvasi have been tightening their belts.

If they have enough to spare and decide that they like you, you may be served a type of round, flat bread folded around slices of cooked meat (rabbit is most common), seasoned with a variety of herbs. They may also include sprigs of raw green onion or other vegetables and leftover fried eggs.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Karvasi Territory?
The Karvasi fight with short, curved scimitars. Some (like the burly Blenniel, one of the men our characters encounter) are experts in unarmed combat, and many are proficient with the longbow. They make a particular type of poison that they often smear on their blades and arrowheads, so even if they don’t strike a killing blow, a scratch that merely breaks the skin will leave their victim dead in minutes. So I recommend avoiding fighting with them if at all possible – unless you dare to challenge one of them to unarmed combat, as King Jaymin’s bodyguard Erik does.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Karvasi Territory?
The Karvasi travel on foot. Others who pass through their territory might use horses, carts, or wagons. Boats are common on the two rivers that form part of their border.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Karvasi Territory.
At this point, the Karvasi have to put a lot of energy into trying to survive and avoid their enemies. They don’t have a lot of time for games or fun activities. However, they do enjoy contests of strength and skill, such as the one in which Erik pits himself against their best warrior. Of course, the stakes are extremely high, so I suggest enjoying such activities as a spectator, not a participant, unless you’re quite confident in your own abilities.

What is the political or government structure in Karvasi Territory?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
The Karvasi are ruled by a chief named Raddiek. He is in charge not only of the residents of the hidden village our heroes stumble into, but of thousands more Karvasi waiting back in the mountains to the west. When he sends word that it’s safe, the rest will come and join the first wave back in their ancestral homeland.

Author Autobiography:
Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and Bible verse coloring and activity books. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books? 

King of Malorn is available in both paperback and Kindle formats here.

You can see the rest of the Annals of Alasia here.

Or, take a look at all my books on Amazon here.

Where can readers connect with you online? 

email: [email protected]

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnieDouglassLimaAuthor

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/annie-douglass-lima

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Karvasi Territory.  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 another world in next week’s edition of Realm Explorers!
Are you an author of a sci-fi or fantasy novel that takes place in another world? Click here to find out about having it featured on Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for

Sweet Home Alaska
By Beth Carpenter

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you’ll find snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch – Note from the Author
Welcome to the tour for SWEET HOME ALASKA. If you read AN ALASKA PROPOSAL, you might remember Volta, Leith’s sister. This is her story. Although part of the Northern Lights series, all the books are stand-alone, so feel free to jump in anywhere. . .
“I loved this book. A sweet, clean read at it’s best!! . . . I truly enjoyed this author’s story and her writing is wonderful!! I love trying out new authors and this wasn’t disappointing. . . . I strongly recommend this book for people who want a sweet and clean read. . .”
Volta headed toward the exam room, but before she reached the door, another voice drifted out, reassuring and calm. “Good job, Lori. Not much longer now. Try to relax for a minute. Slow, easy breaths.”

Volta stopped in her tracks. She knew that voice, deep and smooth, with just a bit of drawl. But it couldn’t be. The owner of the voice she knew was working on the other side of the world. No doubt this was some other baritone-voiced doctor from Texas. The voice continued, “You’re at a ten. Doing great. Next contraction, you’ll be able to push.”
“In Sweet Home Alaska, Beth Carpenter delivers another wonderfully entertaining clean romance in the Northern Lights series. . . . Sweet Home Alaska is the complete package – a sweet romance filled with rich characters and depth. I enjoyed the chemistry between Scott and Volta, and learned a lot about the needs of people in rural Alaska. Here’s hoping for more stories in this engaging series!”
A surgical mask covered most of the doctor’s face, but he stared at Volta, his eyes wide in shock. Familiar brown eyes. It had been eleven years, but she remembered every detail. She knew if she got closer, she would be able to distinguish the little flecks of green sprinkled through the brown. What in the world was Scott Willingham doing in Sparks, Alaska?

From somewhere far away, Daniel’s voice made itself heard. “Dr. Willingham, Volta Morgan, flight paramedic.” Scott tugged the surgical mask from his face. “Volta?”
He’d tried to forget her. After all, Scott was the one who broke it off. Few marriages survived the sort of life he’d chosen, and with his background, he was a particularly bad risk. Just like his father, Scott was the sort of man who focused on a job and forgot to eat and sleep and spend time with his family. Volta deserved so much better than that. Once he realized their relationship was beginning to feel serious, he’d pulled the plug, and he’d never seen Volta again.

Scott’s life had turned out exactly the way he’d planned. He’d been with DEMA for ten years now, one of only a handful of full-time doctors ready to go wherever and whenever he was needed. Most of their medical staff consisted of volunteers who took a week or two off from their regular practices to volunteer with DEMA, but Scott worked year-round delivering babies and performing surgeries. And yet, even after all this time, Volta still appeared in his dreams.
Sweet Home Alaska by Beth Carpenter was a delightful read. . . . The story takes place in Alaska which is like a different world for me, a Texas girl. I don’t like snow, but reading about the unique beauty of Alaska and the adventures makes me want to travel there. . . . It’s a clean romance with heart pumping moments. Enjoy reading Sweet Home Alaska.”
E-Romance News – Excerpt
“Yeah, she had a mommy and a daddy and a horse. They’re a real family.”

That nagging sense of inadequacy pricked at Volta. “Real families come in all shapes and sizes, Emma. Just because your daddy died doesn’t mean we’re not a real family.”

“Well.” Emma peeked up from beneath her eyelashes. “If I can’t have a daddy, I should at least get a horse.”
“Such a fun story with Emma, who is Volta daughter. I would have never thought of horseback riding in Alaska.”
Hallie Reads – Review
“I love to fictionally visit Alaska, and Beth Carpenter bring the state to life with her stories—when I pick up one of her books, it’s a trip I know I’ll enjoy taking. . . . A sweet, sweet story dealing with family drama, forgiveness, and the challenges of life in Alaska, Sweet Home Alaska is a treat. I enjoyed it, and if you like contemporary (Alaskan) romance, I think you will, too.”
Sweet Home Alaska will leave you with a warm heart and a smile on your face … and maybe travel plans to the gorgeous setting. Scott, Volta, and Emma are smartly-drawn characters with gentle but strong spirits who will quickly take up residence in your heart. You’ll feel the emotions of the story along with them, and you’ll cheer them on from that surprise reunion in the delivery room to the satisfying conclusion. (You may want to purse whomp Scott on occasion but stick with him. I promise.) If you love a gorgeous setting, great characters, and a little bit of adventure mixed in with your romance, this series – and Sweet Home Alaska – is for you!”
EmpowerMoms – Review
“I loved reading this sweet, heartwarming love story! . . . Clean romance, great characters, and interesting story line. Easy and fun to read-highly recommend!”
Hearts & Scribbles – Excerpt
Emma skipped away. Her grandmother looked at Scott and then at Volta. When neither of them answered her unspoken question, she said, “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Scott. I’m going to go watch Emma and give you and Volta a minute to talk about…whatever it is you’re here to talk about. Excuse me, please.” 

“Nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Jordan,” Scott said quickly. 

As soon as she’d stepped away, Volta grabbed Scott’s elbow and dragged him to the far corner of the barn, away from everyone. “Once again. Why are you here?” 
“I definitely will be seeking out the rest of this Northern Lights series as I liked the pacing and the presentation of how Carpenter implores us to want to know more about this world she’s created for us to find! She hugs us so close to the hearts of her characters, it is easy to feel what they’re feeling and live a period of time in their shoes rather than our own. In essence, I love that this is another small towne series focused on family, hearth, home an a wicked dollop of romance! Best of all, she gave me a new reason to venture back to Alaska and that was the icing on the cake!”
Harlie’s Books – Excerpt & Review
“Why was he dropping you off?” 

“I left my keys— It doesn’t matter. The point is, I’m eleven years older now, and I hope wiser. Scott is doing important work with this study and I can contribute. He doesn’t know Alaska, and I do. After I introduced Scott, the people we interviewed yesterday opened up and gave him valuable information.” 

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” 

“I think I’m mature enough to work alongside a man without falling in love with him. Besides, it’s only for a couple of weeks.” Volta laughed. “What could go wrong?”
“If I had to give out my best book of the year award right now, it would be this book. It is that good. This isn’t my first book by Ms. Carpent[e]r and she never disappoints. . . . This is a great second chance romance from the heart. . . . Peeps, you really need to read Ms. Carpentar and this series. She brings emotional depth, humor, great characters, and a setting to die for. I recommend Ms. Carpentar to anyone that will listen to me. And yes, this is a series but each book stands alone.”
“Beth Carpenter has such a gentle way of building a story. Her books are easy to fall into and I always feel like I’m on a journey that will take me somewhere satisfying. . . . it was a good journey and I really enjoyed it. I could see this book becoming a TV series or a Hallmark movie.”
Splashesofjoy – Review
Sweet Home Alaska is a sweet heartwarming read. I didn’t read the first book in this series, but I think this one is fine as a stand alone. Author Beth Carpenter does a wonderful job of writing detailed scenes of Alaska throughout the story, and even though I’ve never been there, I felt as though I was in the middle of this story. . . . All in all, this is a wonderful, sweet and clean romance that will give you hours of enjoyment.”
“I would give Sweet Home Alaska one hundred stars if I could. I highly recommend this book for readers who love a sweet, clean, and heartwarming story of second chances, forgiveness and redemption. I have got to read the other books in this series.”
“This is a fun tale of a man looking for the love he walked away from so many years ago, in hope he could somehow rekindle that love.
It was somewhat predictable, but with a couple of “twists” and was so well-written. . .”
Remembrancy – Review
“Carpenter takes readers to these places, sharing the majesty and beauty of Alaska while highlighting a few of the difficulties involved with living in these remote areas, specifically prenatal care. Oh, but the author doesn’t stop there. There’s a second chance romance you can’t help but root for, a sweet little horse-loving girl, and a bit of family drama.
In fact, there was so much to love about this book, I can’t pinpoint what I enjoyed the most.”
Sweet Home Alaska is a wonderful book about two people getting a second chance at love. I really appreciated the fact that Volta and Scott already knew each other and had been in love before, so the romance that builds between them again doesn’t feel forced or rushed. . . . All of these characters really deliver and make this such an enjoyable book to read.
Of course, I love the Alaskan setting, and the story is fantastic. But I’ll leave it up to you to read this and find out just how great Sweet Home Alaska really is! Enjoy!”
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post, if you haven’t already…

Sweet Home Alaska
(Northern Lights #5)

By Beth Carpenter
Contemporary Romance

Mass Market Paperback & ebook, 368 Pages
July 1st 2019 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Some sparks last forever.

But once burned…

World traveler Dr. Scott Willingham is known for being calm and levelheaded—except where Volta Morgan is concerned. In the ten years since they parted, Scott still can’t forget her. Now he’s come to Alaska to find Volta and finally let her go, only to find their attraction is stronger than ever. Can Scott leave her behind one last time…or has he truly found a place to call home?


Other Books in the Series

About the Author

Once upon a time …

when Beth Carpenter was a little girl, she read everything she could get her hands on, and entertained herself on the school bus by making up stories in her head. Not a lot has changed. She’s still consuming books like M&Ms, and spends her days creating happily-ever-afters for her imaginary friends.
She lives in Alaska and Arizona with her husband and an aggressively affectionate fifty-pound lap dog. She loves to hear from readers.


Tour Giveaway

1 winner will receive:
– A neoprene pansy-print lunch tote
– A $20 Amazon gift card

Please note: International entries welcome, but if the winner has no US mailing address, the substitute prize will be AN ALASKAN PROPOSAL and ALASKAN HIDEAWAY ebooks, plus a $20 Amazon gift card.

Ends July 17, 2019

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Thanks for stopping by! Take a look at my brand-new fantasy adventure story with a hint of romance. 
You can download a copy of the ebook for free between July 9th and 11th!

Book Description:
    Life as the king’s younger sister should be exciting.

   Not for Princess Kalendria. She’s sick of the dissent and of constantly having her family undermined by those who think they could rule Malorn better than King Korram.
   Hoping to lighten the mood in the palace, Kalendria plans a ball to celebrate her seventeenth birthday. It doesn’t hurt that their handsome Alasian ally King Jaymin has promised to attend, and she’s been waiting for him to notice her for as long as she can remember.
   But unfriendly forces have their own party plans. When Kalendria, Korram, and Jaymin barely survive an assassination attempt, their only recourse is to flee into the wilderness. Tracked by unknown assassins, they must figure out whom they can trust and who is behind the plot. Can Kalendria help her brother reclaim his throne – oh, and catch Jaymin’s attention while she’s at it – before they are all killed and war destroys both kingdoms?

Click here to download your copy of King of Malorn on Amazon now! 

Click here to see King of Malorn on Goodreads.

Series Information:

King of Malorn is book 5 in the Annalsof Alasia. But don’t worry if you haven’t read the others; it will still make sense on its own. 

Each of the first four books can stand on its own as well (and three of them are temporarily discounted to 99 cents at the moment!). They each deal with events surrounding the same major political incident: the invasion of the kingdom of Alasia by the neighboring kingdom of Malorn. 

Prince of Alasia begins on the night of the Invasion and describes what happens to twelve-year-old Prince Jaymin after he is forced to flee for his life. 
In the Enemy’s Servicefeatures a girl as the protagonist and tells the story of those who were not able to escape from the Alasian palace when the enemy invaded. 
Prince of Malorn begins several months earlier and focuses on the Malornian perspective of the events leading up to the Invasion. 
The Nameless Soldier shows how a young Alasian soldier lives through the Invasion but then has to survive and make a name for himself in enemy-occupied Alasia. 

In each of the books, main characters from the others make brief appearances and interact with each other at the point where the timeframes and settings overlap. 

I also have a short ebook of “interviews” that I conducted with the characters in the other three books. Annals of Alasia: The Collected Interviews is not available on Amazon, but I send a free copy to anyone who signs up for my mailing list(to receive updates when I release new books or occasionally offer them for free).

Author Biography:

Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and Bible verse coloring and activity books. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.

Author Contact Info:

Blog: http://anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/anniedouglasslima

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: Shard & Shield (The Shard of Elan, 1)
Brief summary of the story:
He can save her life—if he sacrifices himself and those he swore to protect.
King’s bastard Shianan Becknam buries himself in his military career to avoid the family that never wanted him and the dangers of drawing political attention. When the artifact intended to end an interdimensional war is damaged, the mage Ariana is trapped on the other side of the rift with her servant—only the cheery young boy is really one of the monstrous enemy, disguised as a human. Shianan is desperate to rescue Ariana, one of his few friends, but to do so requires committing treason and betraying his duty, leaving his people open to attack.
State mage Ariana struggles to survive as a prisoner of war in a world of deadly magic and unfamiliar customs. Her only ally is her former servant, now a renowned warrior caught up in political machinations. To survive, he’ll have to once again take up the fight against Ariana’s world.
As their people’s wasted armies prepare for fresh battle that will devastate both sides, bastard, mage, and monster must set aside prejudices and rivalries to find an end to centuries of conflict, before they die as traitors.
Book 1 in a new epic fantasy series.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
This was really fun, because I got to create twoworlds!
Chrenada is a land in the human world, surrounded by countries and states such as Vandoga, Tyrg, and the trading empire of the Wakari Coast (settled originally by pirates but no one talks about that now). Chrenada is most similar to, but not exactly like, southern Europe during our Renaissance, if Greco-Roman culture had persisted a bit longer.
But there’s also the Ryuven world, and its inhabitants can magically intrude into the human world, wreaking devastating raids like interdimensional Vikings. When Ariana finds herself there, she discovers cities of wide avenues and tall buildings, where glittering nets shield private areas from other winged citizens.
Bridging the culture gap, especially in a generations-long war, is a part of the story.
And now, I’m going to turn you over to Captain Torg, a career soldier who is going to take you around and answer your questions. Have a good trip!
Hello, your lordships and ladyships. As the scribe said, I’m Captain Torg. Mind your step as we go around.
If we were to visit Chrenada as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
There’s an annual festival in the capital city of Alham which is usually enjoyable, even though it’s a lot of work for us officers. The military gives a big parade, and then there are duel tournaments to watch, featuring the best fighters like Shianan Becknam. This is important because it’s the soldiers who protect the people from the marauding Ryuven.
What dangers should we avoid in Chrenada?
Well, the usual. Bandits come in human form as well as the raiding Ryuven. Or you could be caught by an unscrupulous slaver and sold, as slavery is such a large part of the economy. And of course the big danger is the Ryuven, but they tend to strike agricultural targets more than cities, so just stay inside Alham. No worries about the beasts, all the worst ones tend to stay in the mountains these days.
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Chrenada?
You know, it’s funny you should ask, because we have just the usual vegetables, grains, meats like chicken and mutton and pork, all the regular staples. There’s always the worry that the Ryuven will take it and supplies will be short, but fortunately we have plenty of plains for growing and grazing and a good trade network. But some other of you Realm Explorers visitors have asked for strange meats, like—what was it called—beef? From a really large goat? What did they call them… Something like cats, except obviously cats are small and not good eating… Oh, cattle! That’s the word. I’ve never heard of any domestic animal so large as what they describe, to be honest! Except for a horse, of course, but no one would eat a horse; it would be like eating gold.
The oddest part was a lady tourist asked once, if we had no cattle and with horses so rare, how did we use our wagons and plows? ‘Soats, I have to say I don’t understand you Realm Explorer folk sometimes. We were walking right through a slave market.
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Chrenada?
We’ve got all kinds of fighting, plenty of opportunity to develop it and adapt it to fending off the Ryuven. You’ve got to fight a fast, aerial enemy differently than a human army. Our armor is specialized to provide extra defense from above, and we have arrowheads that are harder to pull out so that the Ryuven can’t heal so quickly.
The good news is, while they can fly and they’ve got magic, they’re pretty fragile things. Break like birds if you can hit them. You’ve just got to finish the job before they can heal.
Oh, and I guess I ought to mention the mages. We’ve got mages for defense, too, grey mages for all the common work and then the Great Circle for strategy and magical defense. But take my word as a captain that it’s the soldiers who do most of the real fighting.
Oh, look, there’s the Great White Mage himself, Ewan Hazelrig! Yes, we certainly do owe a lot to the Great Circle for keeping us all protected!
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Chrenada?
Here in Chrenada, we mostly walk, or we’ll use wagons for loads or if someone can’t walk well or far. Over on the Wakari Coast they use litters, too, with bearers, but you don’t see that as much here.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Chrenada that we don’t see on Earth?
Well, you should hope you don’t, really. The most likely is the Ryuven, and that means you’re caught in a raid. They’re tall and lean, like youths that haven’t really filled out yet, with big skin wings coming out their torsos. A little delicate, almost, because their bones are hollow. Like birds. But they’re dangerous.
There are some of the old monsters still around, but mostly in the mountains now, as I said. Leucrocutas and the occasional catoblepas. But you’re not likely to see them unless you go into the passes at the wrong time of year.
Is there a particular religion practiced in Chrenada?  Please describe what it involves.
We’ve got one primary religion, though to be honest it’s not the important beyond a cultural tradition. I guess I mean a lot of people don’t use it that much beyond swearing by it. But some people take it pretty seriously.
There’s a scattering of other beliefs around, too. There’s even some sort of war cult with little strongholds spread all over the kingdom. Mostly rituals about preparing for the war of wars, or something. I don’t understand it, except I know Commander Becknam had to offer them his townhouse as a new property to get the Shard of Elan from them. Weird folk. Don’t see any of them volunteering to fight the Ryuven, don’t think they know much about real fighting.
What is the political or government structure in Chrenada?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
We’re a kingdom, so we’ve got a king. He’s good enough, as kings go, mostly makes decent policy and listens to his council for the most part.
What’s that? Yes, two sons, the prince-heir Soren and the younger prince Alasdair.
Well, yes, there is another son, the bastard Shianan Becknam. How is he with the third son? Well, I don’t know that it’s my place to comment, and I certainly wouldn’t have any insight to that, not as a captain, would I? By the way, how’s the weather where you folks are from? No need to rush out, it’s been lovely to have you, but that’s enough here and I have work to do. I hope you have a great trip back home! Take care!
Thanks everyone, this is Laura again! I hope Captain Torg gave you an informative tour.
Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
It wouldn’t be fair to call this an East-versus-West book, as the cultures are not that defined, but of course I drew on aspects and influences from our own world. There’s a lot of historic Italy, north and south, represented in Chrenada and the Wakari Coast, Alham and Chrenada are named from my time living in southern Spain, and I drew on historic Asian cultures for some Ryuven practices.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
There are some messed-up relationships in this book, no question, which have created some broken people. There are themes of abuse, and I would alert readers that if this were a film, it would likely carry the MPAA rating of PG-13. However, the story is written from a positive worldview and the intent is not to wallow in the dark but to provide hope, so please look for the light!
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?  
Shard & Shield is available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook. You can find it at many of your favorite outlets at https://books2read.com/ShardandShield, or ask at your favorite local bookstore or library.
Where can readers connect with you online?  
My website is www.LauraVAB.com and all my social media links can be found there as well. Please be sure to sign up for the newsletter—it goes out only occasionally and you get free stories! 😊
I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Chrenada.  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 another world in next week’s edition of Realm Explorers!
Are you an author of a sci-fi or fantasy novel that takes place in another world? Click here to find out about having it featured on Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima

On Tour with Prism Book Tours
Book Tour Grand Finale for
Refuge at Pine Lake
By Rose Chandler Johnson
We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you’ll find snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:
Launch – Note from the Author

. . . Refuge at Pine Lake also celebrates family, faith, friendship, and community. Another important focus is the milieu, so I create my Southern setting in minute loving detail. I don’t think you’ll feel like you’ve already read this story a hundred times, and you just might want your own refuge at Pine Lake. There’s a sweet satisfying ending, too. Enjoy!

Thanks again. I appreciate you so much.


Janice’s Book Reviews – Review

“I enjoyed the interaction with the children her sister had. Also, there was a dog in the book that adds a lot to the story. Also loved the character Mr. Charlie that goes fish with Matt.”

Colorimetry – Excerpt

He dropped onto the bed, intent on crawling back under the covers, when a bump at the door stopped him. Audible sniffing, a benign throaty growl, then the swish-swish-swish of rapid pawing on the door. Sharp barks followed in quick succession, building to an impossible-to-ignore crescendo.

“Ooh, good grief,” he groaned, scrubbing his hands over his face. “She left the dog.”

He squeezed his eyes shut tight, pulled a pillow over his head, and would have ignored the incessant noises had it been possible. Instead, he was drawn into an analysis of the range of emotions he heard in the animal’s barks and moans. They had taken on a decidedly forlorn appeal.

Christian Fiction and More – Review

Refuge at Pine Lake is a great summer vacation or staycation read. While including all of the charm found in small towns in the south, the author tackles some big themes like grief and planning for the future while still listening to God’s direction.”

Hearts & Scribbles – Excerpt

Nervous energy buzzed in his bones. He pulled out his laptop and plugged it in. But how could he relax with a woman flitting around downstairs?

Matt threw open the drapes to an astounding rush of sky, trees, and water. The blue-green water bordered by tall pines sparkled in the afternoon sun, the environment pristine and bright. The sky was the same blue as the woman’s eyes. And what was that look on her face when he’d told her not to bother with supper? He probably should have thought to curtail the annoyance in his voice.

“Argh,” he grumbled. “I’m not up for this.”

Two Points of Interest – Review

“As the novel progressed, I did warm up a bit more to the characters and was hoping that they get their own happy ending.”

A Modern Day Fairy Tale – Review

“If you love a good romance, this one is fantastic. It’s a fairly quick read and the perfect one to throw into your purse for your own lakeside relaxation. I loved it, and would certainly recommend it to all.”

Meagan Davenport – Excerpt

Robin sat in her studio drawing cattails in a pond when Callie started barking excitedly. Her subsequent dance by the door let Robin know they had company. Emmy had arrived. She glanced at the time. Just after noon. She began tidying the drafting table, gathering her pencils and returning them to the proper glass canisters, and putting her drawings out of the reach of inquisitive little fingers. After brushing her hands on her apron, she pulled it off, hung it on a hook, and headed downstairs.

The characteristic glee of children playing brought a smile to her face.

Peaceful Pastime – Review

“Overall, I loved this wonderfully crafted story with likeable characters and thought it flowed at a nice pace. I genuinely like the authors writing and will read more of her work and for those reasons, I recommend this book.”

Savings in Seconds – Review

“I loved the setting of this story! Refuge at Pine Lake characters visited a local pizzeria, there’s a fish fry, and — of course — scenes around the lake. It’s like summer on paper!”

Paulette’s Papers – Excerpt

Three picnic tables stood under the trees at the back edge of the clearing. Robin sat on a bench and watched Callie play. As her mood adjusted to the rhythm of the place, thoughts of Caleb filled her imagination. In only a few more days, she would see him again. His handsome face came to mind. He’d promised to call her as soon as he returned from the fishing tournament.

Butterflies filled her stomach, and sweet anticipation rose within her. Summer vacation had begun.

Oh, wow, she thought with a smile. My future starts now.

Locks, Hooks and Books – Review

“This heartwarming tale is a story of hope, grace healing, faith, overcoming and inspiration. . . . I highly recommend Refuge at Pine Lake for all readers. I believe so many would find it to relatable. I would love to give it one hundred stars if I could.”

The Barefoot Reader – Excerpt

The cool breeze carried a hint of pine and the sweet wistful scent of honeysuckle. As he neared the water, ripples lapped against the shore. The boat tied there swayed and bumped ever so slightly against the dock. He stopped and watched the almost imperceptible movement. Then he followed the path Robin had taken.

As if he had checked his past at some invisible door and walked into a mystical place, he looked at the lake and the sky and became an element in the environment. His thoughts, if he had any, were wordless impressions. When he came to a clearing around the peninsula, he sat on a weathered picnic table facing the water and propped his feet on the wooden bench. All around him was the vast expanse of sky and water.

Splashesofjoy – Review

“I really enjoyed this story. The beautiful Southern setting makes a peaceful place to call home. . . . Author Rose Chandler Johnson created wonderful realistic characters that drew me into the story and made me feel like part of the family. . . . I am looking for more books by Rose Chandler Johnson in the future. In the meantime, check out My Fathers House and God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea, also by this same author. I give this book a 5 star rating.”

Moments – Review

“I really enjoyed this book, and am looking forward to what comes next in this series. Each of the characters became so alive and easy to relate to as well as working their ways into my heart. Once I started reading this book, I did not want to have to stop reading. I highly recommend this book!”

Teatime and Books – Excerpt

At four thirty, Caleb rapped on the apartment door, and as soon as he stepped inside, his smile vanquished all her fears. He had that easy grace that came from being an athlete, and a glow from good health and lots of sunshine. His eyes twinkled as he held a bouquet of pink Gerber daisies tied with a wide gingham ribbon.

“Oh, Caleb, they’re beautiful!” Robin reached for the flowers and he reached for her. “How did I get so lucky?” she murmured as he covered her mouth with his.

“That’s my line,” he whispered against her cheek.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post, if you haven’t already…

Refuge at Pine Lake
By Rose Chandler Johnson
Christian Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 Pages
March 6th 2019 by Chanson Books

Robin Lancaster, a twenty-six-year-old former kindergarten teacher, has her summer and her life all figured out. She’s ready to be on her own, writing and illustrating her children’s stories at her family’s beloved lake house. Once there, she intends to rekindle a romance with Caleb Jackson, the area’s top hunting and fishing guide, and bag him for herself.

Complications arise from the start when Robin finds out her mother has rented the lake house to a man they know nothing about.

Matthew McLaughlin, forty-year-old widowed university professor and author from California, shows up at Pine Lake in crisis. A sabbatical might be his only hope to save much more than his career. He needs a place of refuge. Sharing the lake house with a lighthearted young woman and her dog is the last thing on his mind.

Caleb Jackson has his own plans. He’s used to things going his way, but a man staying in Robin’s house presents unforeseen challenges. When paths unavoidably tangle for these three, hearts are on the line.


About the Author

Rose Chandler Johnson is known for her heartwarming, inspirational writing. In addition to works of sweet contemporary fiction, her devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments won the Georgia Author of the Year Finalist Award in 2014.

In her novels, Rose brings to life fascinating characters with compelling relationships embracing family, community, and faith. In distinctive southern settings, Rose creates memorable stories that will stir your heart. Readers often say her writing warms the soul as it reaffirms belief in love and wholesome goodness. Don’t be surprised if you sigh with pleasure as you savor the final pages of her stories.

Rose has lived in a suburb of Augusta, GA for thirty plus years. Before retiring from Georgia’s school system, she taught English, French, and ESOL. Currently, she is an English instructor at a community college. In addition to reading and writing, Rose enjoys cooking, sewing, gardening, and spending time with her six children and her beautiful grandchildren.


Tour Giveaway

– One winner will receive a signed print copy of Refuge at Pine Lake plus a $20 Amazon gift card
– One winner will receive a signed print copy of Refuge at Pine Lake
– US only
– Ends July 10, 2019
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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