Saturday, March 25, 2023

Read an excerpt from Thorns at Sunrise by Janeen Ippolito #Fantasy #Romance #YoungAdult @JaneenIppolito @XpressoTours

Thorns at Sunrise
By Janeen Ippolito

A young queen. Her imaginary friend. A kingdom on the verge of death.

She believes she’s crazy.

Queen Usilea has a secret–and he lives in her mind. Ever since she was six years old, her imaginary friend has been her closest companion, and her arranged marriage has been a great dread. When she learns her betrothed and the royal family have suddenly died, she feels obligated to attend the funeral in the foreign land of Absteph–and perhaps learn more behind their mysterious passing.

He only wants the truth.

Petar endures great pain to protect those he does not remember. His only solace is a shadowy woman who he loves–even though she denies that he exists. When a terrible tragedy occurs in his kingdom, that mysterious woman is his only hope of bringing justice to light. For the cage that imprisons him grows harsher every day, and he is losing the fight.

But there are thorns at sunrise.

Brought together on the barest thread of reality, Usilea and Petar must discover what really happened to the royal family. But Petar’s time is running out. Soon not even a Mender like Usilea will be able to save him.

This YA romance features a gender-swapped Sleeping Beauty in an original fantasy world on the brink of doom.

Publication date: March 23rd 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult 

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“Lea? What is it?” Concern laced Jaric’s tone.

“I am being invited to attend a royal funeral of state.” Her voice faded. Usilea swallowed and breathed deeply. “My betrothed is dead. Along with most of the royal family of Absteph, including the crown prince.”

She waited for a moment, expecting some commentary from her inner friend. There was none. Perhaps he understood the gravity of the news as much as she did.

How could this be? There had been letters, albeit stilted and formal. There had been no news that Prince Cowan or the royal family had been in any danger.

Now, all were deceased due to some tragic illness, save for an uncle who would ascend the throne as the only remaining member of the bloodline. 

How terrible. How … odd …

Jaric broke through her thoughts. “Give me the letter.”

She handed it over, accustomed to his abruptness when he was upset. Her brother scanned through the letter once, then twice. Then once more again. At last, he looked over at her. 

“If you wish, I can attend in your stead.”

“You are no longer my regent,” Usilea said. 

“I know. You must stay here to rule your kingdom. What if this is a trap so that they can entangle a Mender and keep you in Absteph?”

She huffed. “If it is, they will more easily keep a royal advisor than risk absconding with a queen.”

“You have not been publicly crowned.”

“According to our laws, that is a formality.” Her parents had wanted to ensure her brother could never usurp her role, not that Jaric had any desire to do so. “And you have young children who need their father.” 

“You nearly die on sea travel.” 

“You exaggerate.” But her guts roiled at the very idea of boarding a ship and crossing the channels to Absteph. While the country ran down the length of the coast east from Edrin, the capital city of Hicareth was in the far north.

A shiver ran up her spine.

“There is something rotten about this.” Her friend’s voice was sharp and certain. “You must go.”

I know. She let the words settle within her. Though she held little affection for the mysterious Prince Cowan, he and his family had perished unexpectedly. A grievous matter, and one that rang hollow within her.

In addition, this would be an opportunity to establish future relations with the country beyond the marriage alliance. She could bring over additional food stores as well. Usilea had grown used to proving herself. Now she had to do so again.

“I must go, Jaric. I am going as soon as a ship can be made ready.” 

Her brother glared at her for a moment. Usilea only raised her chin, staring back at him. Ultimately, she was his sovereign. It was her decision to make.

“…fine.” His words were a growl. “I will see to your ship in the morning.” 

“Including food for them.”

“Yes, their mysterious drought continues.”

Janeen Ippolito writes about misfits who defy expectations, whether in fairy tale, steampunk fantasy, urban fantasy, humorous paranormal romance, or poetry. She also spreads wordtastic joy in her work as a fearless book strategist, nonfiction author, and coach. In her spare time, she swordfights and posts cute animal memes.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Read my review of Pagan Warrior by MJ Porter #PaganWarrior #TalesOfMercia #TheSeventhCentury #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @coloursofunison @cathiedunn

Pagan Warrior 
By MJ Porter 
Audiobook narrated by Matt Coles

From bestselling author, MJ Porter comes the tale of the mighty pagan king, Penda of Mercia.

Britain. AD632.

Penda, a warrior of immense renown, has much to prove if he is to rule the Mercian kingdom of his dead father and prevent the neighbouring king of Northumbria from claiming it.

Unexpectedly allying with the British kings, Penda races to battle the alliance of the Northumbrian king, unsure if his brother stands with him or against him as they seek battle glory for themselves, and the right to rule gained through bloody conquest.

There will be a victor and a bloody loser, and a king will rise from the ashes of the great and terrible battle of Hædfeld.

Publication Date: 25th May 2015 (new cover from January 2022)
Publisher: MJ Publishing
Page Length: 294
Genre: Historical fiction/Action and adventure

Grab a copy HERE!


There are plenty who would love to see the Northumbrian king dead, and just as many who would love to be the one to kill him. So what happens when kings and military leaders begin to join together, and create an allied force to fight against him? 

Penda is an extraordinary warrior, a man who can command armies, and either create friends or enemies with just a few words. So when Cadwallon, having been defeated by his foster brother, Edwin, King of Northumbria, finds Penda on his side, it finally seems like he will be able to exact some revenge, and remove the crown from Edwin’s hands. But as Cadwallon and Penda begin to find their alliances, Edwin is also desperately trying to find people who do not want him dead enough to be able to trust.

Tensions start to mount as people betray, switch allegiances, and try to claim titles for themselves. Brother stands against brother, kings against kings, and it will take a bloody battle before a victor can be crowned.

There are plenty of characters in this book, making way for the full ins and outs of loyalty and betrayal. A lot of family turned against each other, many of the characters in this book are related in some way or another, and yet, they still wage war on each other, and fight to be the ones to cut off each other’s heads. This book has successfully given off the sense of not knowing who is trustworthy that Edwin must’ve felt, for it is almost impossible to predict who is going to change sides, or whether someone will reveal that they have been a traitor all along. It is easy to get hooked in the social politics of the book, as people try to figure out who they would rather support, depending on how much they want revenge, or what rewards they may be awarded for choosing to show their support to a particular side.

As always, religion plays a big part in the lead-up to this battle. Plenty of the kings and lords have converted from paganism to Christianity, but there are a few who have stayed loyal to their religion, and refuse to convert. People’s religions are used against each other, especially those who are still pagan. The power of the church is definitely shown in this book, for if the priests happen to mention that something is a ‘sign’, they can give change the way the leaders are thinking, make them believe that God will guide and protect them, rather than being too concerned about planning their next moves. 

I knew little going into this book about the battle of Hædfeld, I did not know who was involved, or how the battle came about. I really enjoyed learning what happened to cause so many to unite against king Edwin, and how he managed to alienate so many, including his own sons. I have read up on the history a little after reading this book, and it’s especially interesting how much is still unknown about these people, and what happened in their lives. The author must’ve spent hours upon hours researching, just to find out the smallest details. After all, we are still very much in the dark as to the ins and outs of the Dark Ages. 

This book was written in a very strange way, in my opinion. Almost every chapter shows a different character’s point of view, so we not only see both sides of the battle, we see the opinions of a lot of different people. While this attempts to provide a well-rounded account of the events leading up to the battle of Hædfeld, it did make the book rather difficult to follow. There are many different names, and a backstory for each of the characters, so at times it is incredibly difficult to keep track of who is who, and whose perspective you are reading from. I found it difficult to properly get to know any of the characters, as barely any time was spent with any of them. It is certainly a unique style of writing historical fiction, and one I haven’t come across before, but unfortunately, I did not get on with it. 

If you are a fan of the Dark Ages, especially in the build-up to a big battle, this is certainly the book for you. It was incredibly interesting to read, and I did enjoy learning more about people I didn’t even know had ever existed. I didn’t get on with the different perspectives each chapter, and think I would’ve enjoyed the book a lot more if it was told from just one perspective, perhaps Penda’s, but it was a great read. I would definitely read more books by this author.

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, as well as three twentieth-century mysteries. Being raised in the shadow of a building that was believed to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia, meant that the author's writing destiny was set.

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Narrator, Matt Coles:

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Friday, March 17, 2023

Read my review of The King's Mistress by Clyve Rose #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance @ClyveRose @RABTBookTours

The King's Mistress
By Clyve Rose

Lady Lydia Clifton must escape a brutal forced marriage and she must get out of England however she can, but Valkin Brishen, King of the Romany stands in her way, and he means to unravel why she is on the run, and why she's pretending to be his mistress.


Thrown to the wolves by her father, Lady Lydia Clifton faces a forced marriage and all the brutality that comes with the Earl of Basingstoke. She must flee and has only one way out of England: disguise herself as Martha Dale, mistress to the Romany king.

Lydia knows her brother Wil became estranged from their family and all of English aristocracy because he fell in love with a Romany woman. That makes this white lie more potent, as it offers the kind of protection that just might keep her safe.

Despite her reputation being in tatters, all Lydia needs to do is to make it to France, and into the care of her oldest brother, Roger.

King Valkin Brishen is fully aware lies and subterfuge can and has brought harm to his people, yet when his men find a lovely English maid on the run who claims to be his mistress, anger battles with more than curiosity over exactly why this English rose is fleeing with such haste.

Her flight speaks of courage, but her deceit could put his people in peril.

And more, he wonders if it's worth the risk to his heart if he takes her under his protection.

Genres: Historical Romance
Date Published: January 24,2023
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing

Grab a copy HERE!



Lady Lydia Clifton knew that her father didn’t care for her. A stutter has meant that she has had no suitors, no one who has stepped forward wanting to marry her, but surely that wasn’t so bad? Lydia preferred the company of horses over men anyway. But when she learns that her father has arranged a marriage between herself and the Earl of Basingstoke, a swine who would try to claim her as ‘his’ before news of her impending wedding even reached her, Lydia must try and take matters into her own hands.

The only way Lydia sees to escape her father and the Earl is to flee to her older brother Roger, in France. Travelling under her lady's maid’s name, and claiming to be mistress to the Romany king, in the hopes that the lies will keep her safe, Lydia begins the long journey alone. But she is weary and hurt. Neither she nor her horse is able to get too far. It just so happens that she comes to a stop where the Romany king can come face to face with his so-called ‘mistress’.

King Valkin Brishen is shocked to hear about the English maid claiming to be his mistress, but the woman is in need of refuge. He knows the woman from a house party he attended, but he knows she is not being entirely truthful when it comes to telling him who she is. In the dark as to who he really has hidden in his camp, Valkin is taking a risk keeping the woman hidden, but he doesn’t want to let her go anytime soon. She has awakened something inside of him, feelings he’d never felt before, and somehow he knows that this is the woman he is meant to be with.

I absolutely loved reading this book! I will admit, this book wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I came into this book thinking it was your typical historical romance with a lady running away from an unwanted marriage, and a dark and mysterious man with power and influence swooping in to save her. Granted, this was a part of the story, but it was also so much more. This book is packed full of historical detailing, and both Lydia and Valkin’s emotions come across as so real in the telling in this book that they might as well have been talking to me directly. 

There is an incredibly slow-burning romance within the pages of this book. Lydia has never been made to feel worth anything, she cannot believe that anyone would willingly take her as a bride, let alone love her. She has known Valkin since they were children, for he used to be a friend of her brothers’, and she feels able to trust him, trust that he is safety. On the other hand, Valkin does not recognise Lydia, although knows that the name she has given him is not her real one, and believes that she is hiding from something greater than he knows. He knows what he feels for her, but he is afraid of the consequences of falling for a woman of the ton, and he is even more afraid that she does not feel the same. Their feelings remain a mystery to each other until the very end of the book, but the way they care for each other, not knowing if the feelings are reciprocated or not, is beautiful. They both want to do everything they can to help the other, even though it often results in stilted and awkward conversations. 

I absolutely loved the entirety of Lydia's stay in Valkin’s camp. She is in unknown territory, and yet she is made to feel at home in the welcoming and caring community. I knew little about Romany camps, and their way of life, and I learnt so much while reading this book. It truly sounds like the perfect place for Lydia to have found herself. It is a place of family, love, and healing. After years of abuse, being among Valkin and his sisters gives her the love of a family she has never truly known. The author has done an absolutely fabulous job describing the camp, at times I felt like I was walking among the covo as well, the smells of cooking food in the air, and the gentle noises of chatter and birdsong surrounding me. While there are some very real dangers and a sense of unease throughout the whole book, the setting made it almost peaceful to read. 

I have just learnt that this is technically book 2, and that there is another book with these characters, but focusing on Valkin’s sister, and the man she falls in love with. It is now on my to-buy list, because I have found a new favourite author in Clyve Rose. This is an absolutely wonderful book, and one I highly recommend you read.

Clyve Rose has been writing historical romance fiction for the best part of two decades. She works in the historical romance, fantasy, and speculative fiction genres. She also creates literary novels under an alternative pen name. In between her devotion to fiction writing, Clyve researches various mythologies and historical periods, often basing her characters on actual historical personalities.

When Clyve isn’t writing fiction, she can be found pounding the sand at just about any of the beautiful beaches near her Australian home. She is also addicted to short-haul ocean swims and has a ‘thing’ for Poseidon, ancient Greek god of the Seas. Much of the inspiration in her stories is drawn from the ocean landscapes near her home.

One of her novels was longlisted for a 2010 Hachette Award for Fiction while her paranormal short story The One Below is a Sexy Scribbles award-winning piece. Her novel, Always a Princess is a winner in The BookFest Awards Spring 2022. Its sequel, The King’s Mistress, is her latest novel.

The first piece she ever had published was a fictional biography of an erotica writer who made a living crafting extremely explicit dating profiles for online chat sites. She lives fairly simply these days, sharing her home with a small white demon-dog and a budding Amazon warrior. Clyve Rose believes that love is the highest and strongest force in the world, and that it only manifests when we are our best and truest selves. Anything less, and we diminish our divinity. She believes she will continue writing about love in all its various, glorious forms, and that one day her epitaph will read ‘just one more read-through’.

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Thursday, March 16, 2023

Read an excerpt from Archenemy (Angelbound Xavier Trilogy, #1) by Christina Bauer #Fantasy #YoungAdult @CB_Bauer @XpressoTours

(Angelbound Xavier Trilogy, #1)
By Christina Bauer

Ancient Egyptians. Powerful gods. Lost loves. And one badass warrior with wings.

Welcome to the beautiful land of ancient Egypt… only it may not stay so lovely for long. The chaos god, Set, plans to destroy the human world. Fortunately, the angel Xavier has the perfect plan to imprison Set and fast. Even better, Xavier can enact his scheme alone… which is just the way he likes it. No partners. No complications. No problems.

Suddenly, a gorgeous woman materializes. Calling herself Camilla, she declares she’s from the future. All of which is strange enough, but things soon go from bad to weird when Camilla announces that she and Xavier must work together—it’s the only way to defeat Set.

Wow, does Xavier ever hate that idea.

The warrior angel decides on a strategic retreat. In other words, Xavier works to avoid Camilla at all costs. Turns out, that isn’t so easy. This mystery woman has set Xavier’s blood on fire in a way he’s never felt before. No matter how hard he tries, Xavier simply can’t desert her.

But is Camilla another element of Set’s destructive chaos magic… or is she Xavier’s only chance to save both himself and humanity?

Angelbound Xavier Trilogy
1. Archenemy
2. Archnemesis
3. Archangel


Publication date: March 9th 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult 

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I slap on my best smile. “How about you put the knives down? We can talk.”

“I’ve got the weapons,” says Camilla. “I’m leading the conversation. You’re here because you want to join Horus’ party.”

“What makes you say that?”

“We have records in the future, Xav. Horus only held the same party every night for a few thousand years. Visiting him is a waste of time.”

“What makes you say that?”

Camilla shoots me a deadpan stare. “Seriously? You’re going to make me say it?”

“Say what?” I shouldn’t be enjoying this banter so much, but I do.

“Horus is a pompous, drunken brat. His mommy taught him the spell to imprison Set. Horus did nothing but repeat the incantation.”


“If we want to reinforce the Red Pyramid, then the person we need to see is Isis herself.”

“I made a promise. I’m seeing Horus first.”

“Well, I’m on a tighter timeline.”

“Then, visit Isis yourself.”

“She doesn’t know me. You’re coming along.”

I purse my lips. “I don’t see any reason why we must—” At that moment, the ground rumbles beneath our feet. I raise my pointer finger. “That’s a regular earthquake.”

“False. This part of the world does get earthquakes. That is Set getting loose and making my point that we must work together and fast.”

“Says the woman with the poisoned blades.” I sigh. “Much as I’ve enjoyed seeing you again, I’m off to visit Horus now.” I shoot her another smile. “Are you going to stab me?”

Camilla bobs her head as she considers. “No.” She flicks her wrists, making the blades retract into holsters that must on her forearms. “But I’m not giving up, either. I call for ceremonial combat again.” She pins me with a hungry look. 

Now, I could just cast my spell and head off to see Horus. But that really was an amazing kiss. So, I ask the obvious question. 

“What kind of combat are we talking about?” 

Camilla strolls toward me, pausing when our mouths are a breath apart. I cup her face in my palms and pull her in for another kiss. This one is a slow tasting. Heat pours through my core. 

Camilla slides her hands up my shoulders. Everywhere she touches me, there’s a trail of fire on my skin. She soon moves her fingertips onto the very spot where my wings meet my back. The sensation is beyond erotic. 

Suddenly, a sharp pain zings across my shoulders. Camilla is pinching a particular spot on my wings. I’d felt a slight scratch when Camilla touched my neck before, but nothing like this. My legs turn watery beneath me.

“What magic is this?”

“Nerve pinch. It only works on lower-level angels.”

“What? How?”

“I don’t know how it functions, I only know that it works. You came up with this move during the great Hellscape Rebellion of 1632.”

And with those strange words rattling around my head, the world around me starts to fade. My body goes limp.

I lose consciousness.

Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T.

Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Be the first to know about new releases from Christina by signing up for her newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/CBupdates

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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Read an excerpt from Castelon (The Wraithwood Trilogy, #3) by Alyssa Roat #Fantasy #YoungAdult @alyssawrote @XpressoTours

(The Wraithwood Trilogy, #3)
By Alyssa Roat

Fifteen hundred years of Arthurian legend come to a head in the final installment of The Wraithwood Trilogy.

The sword of legend, ancient magic, and a dead man’s secrets-together they could save Brinnie’s world or end it forever.

Brinnie barely escaped Mordizan with her life. Battered and broken in body and soul, she knows she’s running out of time. And though she has discovered the identity of Mordred’s bane, no one knows where to find the legendary weapon.

To discover the truth, she and Marcus must journey to Castelon and seek the aid of the Council. However, their actions at Mordizan brand them as enemies and war criminals. Between Mordred’s armies engaged in full-scale war and the political machinations of the Council, Brinnie struggles to balance the battlefield and the courtroom while estates fall before Mordred’s wrath.

As magic ravages her own body, threatening her survival, the allure of ancient, forbidden power grows brighter. And only one man holds the knowledge of the weapon that could destroy Mordred once and for all-a man they buried in the gardens of Wraithwood.

Publication date: March 15th 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult 

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Nathan blazed a trail to a pair of carved wood doors and turned the brass handle on the left, pushing the door inward. “After you.”

She stepped inside, the smell of leather and old books wrapping around her. In the center of the room, an ostentatious solid wood desk shone in front of a massive hearth, over which hung a painted portrait of what appeared to be Scott Castelius and family, his children with their spouses and children. Shelves lined the walls, with free-standing bookcases making up a couple of rows on either side, most of the books beautifully bound, many accented with what appeared to be gold leaf.

She spun slowly. “These are beautiful, but they don’t strike me as books about dark magic.”

“Oh, these aren’t.” He strode past her, heading for the wide stone hearth behind the desk. He walked right in, ducking only slightly, turned to the right, and was gone.

Brinnie’s eyebrows shot up. She followed, peeking around the corner of the fireplace. Beyond the initial line of stones, a tunnel led back several feet. 

They emerged from the tunnel into what felt more like an archive than the display library in front. Old books and scrolls were carefully labeled on well-organized shelves.

Nathan headed straight to the back of the room and gestured to one of the bookshelves that housed both scrolls and tomes. “These might help.”

She gathered her skirts to better navigate the narrow rows. She leaned toward the shelf he had suggested, squinting at the labels, all in the ancient language.

She took a deep breath and rubbed her eyes. If magic allowed her to speak and understand the language, it should help her read it as well.

She opened her eyes and squinted at the lettering. Mental translation felt unwieldy, like reading her high school Spanish books, but she could understand enough.

One word stood out—dywledrith. Dark magic.

“Thank you, Nathan. These should be quite helpful.”

The one type of magic even Mordred wouldn’t touch. Which meant he would be powerless against it.

In the end, you were right, Keilrie.

She could almost hear the old woman’s cackle.


Alyssa Roat has worked in a wide variety of roles within the publishing industry as an agent, editor, writer, and publicist. She is the managing editor at Mountain Brook Fire. She has held positions as the publicity manager for publisher Mountain Brook Ink, an associate literary agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, an editor with Sherpa Editing Services, and a freelance writer with hundreds of bylines in local, national, and international publications. She holds a B.S. in Professional Writing from Taylor University. She would love to connect on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as well @alyssawrote.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Read an interview with Lyla Oweds, author of Shadows of Nightshade (The Garden of Eternal Flowers, #1) #Paranormal #YoungAdult @XpressoTours


Shadows of Nightshade
(The Garden of Eternal Flowers, #1)
By Lyla Oweds

I dream of a time where I was warm, safe, and loved.

But my waking reality is starkly different.

Anxiety plagues me and spirits haunt the shadows. No matter how fast I run, I can’t seem to escape my past.

The only solace and steady force in my life is my best friend, Finn.

And now… there’s a ghost haunting me. And I’m not certain if it wants help or if it wants to kill me.

There’s only one person who can understand: Finn’s brother, Damen.

However, in reaching out, I’m betraying Finn and setting things into motion that cannot be undone.

But nobody ever said that doing the right thing was easy.

The Garden of Eternal Flowers is a re-envisioning of my Grimm Cases series. Eternal Flowers has taken my original vision of Bianca’s story and transformed it into something new and beautiful. Some chapters are similar, and some dialogue is the same, as The Grimm Cases, Origins, but overall, about 75% of the book has been entirely revisioned with new plot points, mystery, and interpersonal relationships. Also, unlike Origins (originally a Wattpad release), there is now a clear beginning, climax, and conclusion in each individual novel, which allows them to be read alone or as part of the ongoing series.

I hope that you will enjoy Shadows of Nightshade as much as I enjoyed writing it. Truly, it is an honor to write about Bianca and her boys, and all of these characters are near and dear to my heart.

Trigger Warning: This series deals with the aftermath of severe childhood trauma.

Publication date: March 8th 2023
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult 

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Writing Interview questions.

What inspired you to write this book?

I originally came up with the idea for this series when I was studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and about to enter a master’s acupuncture program. I always wrote short stories to help me understand complex subjects. The foundation stayed stuck in my head for a long time, and I decided to finally expand on the series and publish it.

Can you share something about the book that isn’t covered in the blurb?

This is a series about acceptance and healing. Bianca has a rough background and must deal with sexual trauma before she can move forward and have healthy relationships with the other characters in her life. A lot of the focus in the books is on how someone with an avoidant personality can eventually face their demons.

If you had to describe your protagonist(s), in three words, what would those three words be and why?

Resilient, creative, vindictive.

What was the most challenging part about writing your book?

Switching between POV chapters. There’s only one POV in book one (Bianca), but I have multiple POVs (between the same five characters) later. I spend a lot of time trying to make sure to voice from the correct headspace, and the characters are very different.

Was there anything that you edited out of this book that would have drastically affected the story, should it be left in?

No. This is my second revision of the series, and I made sure to include everything I had planned from the beginning.

What are you currently working on?

Book two!

What would you tell an aspiring author who had some doubts about their writing abilities?

Practice! I only used to be confident in writing scripts. The only way to improve is to actually write, even if it’s not perfect. You can always better it later.

Personal Interview questions.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Writing is not my full-time job. I have two children, a full-time position during the day in a high-level IT field, and I am in school for my master's trying to hit phi kappa phi. But when I have downtime, my husband and I enjoy going out on date nights and watching movies. 

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always alternated between being a doctor, an astronomer, or a marine biologist. I first went to school for pre-medicine and psychology, then got my license in massage therapy and acupressure, before finally switching to anthropology, which is what my bachelor’s is in.

What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating?

We’ll probably order out tonight! I want sushi, but most likely will not be able to have any. ☹ 

What would be a perfect day?

I live in the forest, and I also love the beach. Since it’s been almost a year since my last sighting, a perfect day would be to spend the day at the beach with my husband and kids, then eat dinner at a nice restaurant right on the water.

What is the best part of your day?

Night! I love to sleep.

Either or!

Tea or coffee: Coffee

Hot or cold: Hot

Movie or book: Book

Morning person or Night owl: Morning person (the kids get me up early)

City or country: Country

Social Media or book: Book

Paperback or ebook: eBook (I am particular about storage and style)

Lyla Oweds is a paranormal / urban fantasy author who resides in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania with her husband, children, and animals. While she enjoys all genres of fiction, she has a deep appreciation for fantasy, romance, mystery, crime, and horror. Lyla has a bachelor’s in anthropology and will be completing her master’s in information technology in 2023.

Writing is her moonlighting passion, and she loves having the opportunity to share her perspective as a disabled (profoundly hard of hearing) woman. During the daylight hours, Lyla works as a principal / lead design and development specialist focusing on user experience and accessibility. When not working, Lyla is usually indulging in one of her many hobbies such as amusing her children, gardening, crocheting, interior decorating, baking, cooking, or playing video games.

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Monday, March 13, 2023

Read an excerpt from Run with the Hare, Hunt with the Hound by Paul M. Duffy #HistoricalFiction #IrishFiction #BlogTour #TheCoffeePotBookClub @PDufaigh @cathiedunn

Run with the Hare, Hunt with the Hound
By Paul M. Duffy

On a remote Gaelic farmstead in medieval Ireland, word reaches Alberic of conquering Norman knights arriving from England. Oppressed by the social order that enslaved his Norman father, he yearns for the reckoning he believes the invaders will bring—but his world is about to burn. Captured by the Norman knight Hugo de Lacy and installed at Dublin Castle as a translator, Alberic’s confused loyalties are tested at every turn. When de Lacy marches inland, Alberic is set on a collision course with his former masters amidst rumours of a great Gaelic army rising in the west. Can Alberic navigate safely through revenge, lust and betrayal to find his place amidst the birth of a kingdom in a land of war?

Publication Date: 11th October 2022
Publisher: Cennan imprint of Cynren Press
Page Length: 342 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

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We saw signs of the fall. Of the havoc wrought far from our lands by the Engleis. Dishevelled bands of exiles travelling north on the slíghe. Fires beyond our borders and reports of silhouetted horsemen furtive on the hills. The Tiarna kept vigil, the kelt ever in his fist. Then the poet came and his approach heralded destruction. That itinerant wizard. That unholy satirist. He signalled the reckoning, whether he knew it or not. He signalled the intrusion of the outside world. The small fruit of my existence bursting open, its rind splitting and wasps spilling from galls to crowd the opening and feed on the juice.

Lochru saw him first, late that next day. He came to fetch me from the monastery and bring me back to the Tiarna’s farmstead, the lad Fiachra with him leading a donkey, his eyes full of suspicion. On our return past the low meadow, we stopped to try our hand with the winter geese and saw the poet wandering at the edge of the bog that ran away eastwards from our borders.

‘There’s a crane yonder in the meadowland,’ Lochru said in that archaic way he had of speaking, his dropsied face muffling his words and his snout pointing over the sedge. We lay on our bellies behind a crisping brace of fern. On the flat before us, a riot of geese clamoured and fouled the ground with their black excrement. Slings in our fists, we lay still, watching the birds rooting at the damp earth for whatever it is that gives them sustenance.

‘Crane?’ I whispered and Lochru snorted, letting me know that my youth had betrayed me. That there was no crane. That there was something strange somewhere. Something out of place in the sloping scene before us. I said no more, but studied the foreground where the great tumult of geese jostled. My eyes ranged further, beyond the limits of the river, marked by a line of bulrush rising from the grass. And beyond that, a glistening wet ground, full of the swollen river overspill with willow and elder un-coppiced and growing wild. I saw nothing to remark upon. Lochru waited still, his satisfaction that his old eyes had seen what I could not, competing with his mounting impatience.

Then I saw him, stooping as he moved slowly around the tree roots, navigating the edge of the wide bog. His head covered with a bolt of cloth which fell around his shoulders and beneath, a green cloak skirting his knees. The colour of his cloak announced him as a man of status. A man that should be on the slíghe with a retinue and a horse, not travelling alone, slopping through the turf.

‘Exile?’ I whispered, remembering the Tiarna’s cousin, hounded into the wastes, fleeing from dispute before his eyes were cut from his head.

File’ said Lochru. Poet. A man to traverse boundaries. A man of twelve years’ learning who would know by heart the endless genealogies, the forms of praise and of redress. A man respected and feared who, if the words were with him could raise up a tiarna in noble verse or destroy him with satire, break his power, throw doubt upon his legitimacy. If the skill was with him, his words could raise a blemish or even slander a man to the doors of death.

‘Stay low and watch,’ Lochru said, ‘and tell me all that he does. Do not move or follow until the stranger has gone.’

Lochru surged forward in a swift but awkward movement, letting loose a stone from his sling before landing heavily on his knees, crying out with the effort. The geese erupted, taking flight in competing panic, brewing upwards in such a cacophony that my eyes rose with them, watching their combined bulk empty into the grey sky. When my gaze returned to scan the edge of the bog, I could no longer see the poet. At length, I picked out his stooped form behind a hummock. As the geese cleared, his distant, shaded face searched in our direction looking for the source of the fright. Lochru stood up then with great effort groaning and pressing on his knee to rise in the manner of rheumatic man. He walked down the slope, towards the river, mumbling expressively to himself. Bending, he came up with a gander, shivering in his hand. He made a great show of inspecting the bird before pulling its neck and hooking it under his belt, lustily clapping dirt from his hands. He turned, making his way back uphill towards the eaves of the Tiarna’s wood where Fiachra waited, cutting withies by the donkey.

The poet watched all of this from his hiding place. He watched as Lochru, with his uneven gait, made his way upslope through the furze bushes. Lochru played his part, well, and from where I lay, I watched him re-join Fiachra, holding up the bird in triumph. The poet waited for a time, crouched low, waiting until he was satisfied there was no danger. He stood out from behind the heather and took up his labouring tread into the south. I watched until his slow progress took him from view.

When I reached the treeline, the withies were cut and piled up in great stacks beside where the donkey was tethered, waiting dourly. A fire smouldered under cover of the dark wood and the goose was roasting on a sharpened ash rod with sprigs of smoking plumage sticking from the carelessly plucked skin. The light waned as I settled in beside the fire and the time when our absence would be noted was approaching. Lochru took the bird from the spit, pulling it apart with his broad fingers and he shared it out in three ways according to our status, and we sat back from the fire swallowing hot gobbets of the flesh and gazing up at the small parcels of the dying day through the canopy above, savouring the moment as a breath of freedom.

‘And MacMurchada dead,’ said Lochru, repeating the news that was on all lips. 

Fiachra did not speak and I filled the silence.

‘A tyrant they say, though the Tiarna liked him well enough.’

‘True,’ Lochru said. ‘Raided with him into Osraige in the days of Toirdelach. And MacMurchada never came here seeking vengeance with his foreign mercenaries.’ Fiacra spoke up hotly. 

‘They say his body rotted around him while he still drew breath. A great putrescence coming out of him.’ He looked to me, his dark eyes glinting. ‘A curse, surely, for bringing the foreigner.’

‘But will his foreigner soldiers leave now that the old bear is dead?’ Lochru said, his fingers thick within the gnarl of his beard. 

‘Ask this one,’ Fiacra said, his regard sly and lips glazed with grease as he tossed a bone in my direction, ‘the worst foreigner of them all.’ 

‘They say at the monastery that King Henri is come to Yrlande to lay his hand on MacMurchada’s land.’ I said this to stop Fiacra’s windpipe. ‘And that there is a man with him – de Lacy, to whom Míde has been promised.’ Lochru erupted in a high brash laugh.

‘Haah…now Christendom’s most powerful king comes to claim our lands. Well lads, will I live to see such wrongness?’

‘He will sweep this way surely and who is there to stop him?’ I said.

‘And you and your father will be there to welcome them with arms wide having buried knives in all of our backs,’ Fiacra said with vehemence. ‘But the foreigners have not heard of our own king – Ua Conor and his war dog Ua Ruairc. They will be sent back over the sea with spears in their backs.’

‘So that is our choice – Ua Ruairc of Breifni or the Engleis?’ Lochru said loudly, casting his eyes upwards. Fiacra spat into the leaf litter as Lochru laughed. And that settled the matter. Not a word was spoken of the poet. 

Paul Duffy, author of Run with the Hare, Hunt with the Hound (2022), is one of Ireland’s leading field archaeologists and has directed numerous landmark excavations in Dublin as well as leading projects in Australia, France and the United Kingdom. 

He has published and lectured widely on this work, and his books include From Carrickfergus to Carcassonne—the Epic Deeds of Hugh de Lacy during the Cathar Crusade (2018) and Ireland and the Crusades (2021). He has given many talks and interviews on national and international television and radio (RTÉ, BBC, NPR, EuroNews). 

Paul has also published several works of short fiction (Irish Times, Causeway/Cathsair, Outburst, Birkbeck Writer’s Hub) and in 2015 won the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award. He has been shortlisted for numerous Irish and international writing prizes and was awarded a writing bursary in 2017–2018 by Words Ireland.


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