It's Never What You Expect

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Entertaining Angels Release Blitz week! Visit the tour sites for Giveaways, Excerpts and Interviews. Did I mention there will be Prizes?

Please join me in celebrating the release of Entertaining Angels. This week there will be excerpts, guest posts, interviews, weird facts, the playlist and a chance to win a $25 gift card from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble, in addition to many chances to win your copy of Entertaining Angels.

See below for entry details and don't forget to visit the sites on the Blitz for more chances to enter.

(Check back for additional sites)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 7, 2014

Arcadia by Hope Christine

Ever since Sky Captain Lemise Holdif was a boy, he’s been faced with the End of Days. For decades an unknown enemy has been systematically wiping out life in the galaxy, starting with the most advanced societies. Now Arcadia, a world built from the trash of an entire galaxy, is the only planet left capable of distant space travel, and the next target. Lemise is desperate to save his home world, but his plans are interrupted when an alien visitor transports onto his ship.
Lead Specialist Paelae Madison is the last of her kind. The only survivor of the First Attack, and bent on revenge for the destruction of her people. In desperation, she teleports onto an Arcadian ship and offers aid in the coming war. Arcadia sees her as a hero, but Lemise is weary to trust a stranger who’s survived over five hundred previous battles.
Together the two fight to defeat an enemy far more advanced, and far more cunning than Arcadia has ever known. But extinction lurks around every corner, and The Enemy isn’t the only one threatening to destroy the world.

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Take a Peek at Arcadian Culture:

Arcadia is a junkyard planet but it collects more than just broken ships. Before it was a recognized planet, it had been a place of refuge for lost voyagers. Eventually it began to collect people like it collected trashed technology. Some were refugees, others were stranded after running out of money for their journey, and some were simply shunned from their own worlds.

With so many different people there’s a lot of borrowed pieces of culture that has been meshed together to form the Arcadian way of life. For example: they love to refurbish or repurpose technology but it is the highest crime of their court systems to help create or aide in the creation of cyborgs: part human, part technology. Don’t improve what man did not make.

The law developed from their belief that a soul cannot find the World Beyond unless the body is whole. It makes navigating the Field of Stars, a type of purgatory, difficult because a partial soul would have to wait for a whole soul to help guide them. This belief was stolen from the Monks on the planet Maldeen who had a very different lifestyle, rarely traveling into space.

Paelae is the outsider on Arcadia, she comes from a more crisp and clean way of traveling space. It’s like taking Captain Picard and putting him on the Serenity. She has a hard time adjusting to their way of life but as you read it from her perspective you begin to pick up on where all those bits and pieces of Arcadian society came from.

Lemise, who is born on Arcadia and has had little contact with other races (since most just fire at them for scavenging the graves of the dead) sees Paelae’s past life on the Imladian ships as very excessive and wasteful. In this way, as well as others, they tend to clash.

As the story progresses you can really see how Paelae’s and Lemise’s culture begin to shape who they become from a young age. 

Read an Excerpt:

Officers stumbled over each other in preparation for the day ahead. As soon as the first rays of purple sunshine peaked over the city, a line had started to form for the bathrooms, and Paelae was thrust back into the world of the living with a jolt. Sweat covered her face, and her breathing was too rapid.
Despite the cramped space, the other women gave her a reasonable berth, some eying her while checking their weapons.
Had she screamed in her sleep? The nights had grown increasingly rare when she didn’t have a nightmare.
“Hey.” Paelae sat up and tugged the clothes out of her trunk. She ran a hand over the purple and black jumpsuit provided for her; it felt wrong, wearing the colors of another people. It was the first time anyone offered her a uniform. She preferred the Imladian one; it was familiar.
“Hey.” This time she looked up, noticing that the one-word sentence had been directed to her.
A woman stood at the end of her bed, arms crossed and legs apart as if at ease. “Name’s Benni. I’m your guard.”
Of course, the woman from the ship. 
Benni was a head shorter than Paelae and bore the markings of a low rank.
“I’m Paelae,” she said and stood to greet Benni with a hard stare. “I’m your…” She searched for an appropriate word.
“Ally,” Benni finished for her. “Sky cap’s waiting outside for you.”
Paelae took the cue and began her attempt to navigate out of the barracks, jumping over beds and weaving around people until she reached the metal door. Outside, the world was tainted purple as the sun filtered through Arcadia’s atmospheric shielding, a product of too many chemical bombs. What had once been a rushed patch job to keep air on the planet had since evolved into a last line of defense worthy of acknowledgment. It was one of few things Arcadians boasted about among the planets—when the planets still existed.
Captain Lemise stood just outside the barrack doors, looking across the miles of asphalt designated for intergalactic travel. Bordering the west side of the airfield and encroaching fast upon the north, were piles of rejected technology and broken spaceships tossed out by hundreds of different races. 
That’s how Arcadia had started, as a junkyard, but then lost voyagers found a home on it, attracting others—from those shunned by their own people to travelers broken down with no funds to continue on their journey. Eventually, it became a home for those who had nowhere else to go, and scavenging became more than an act of survival; it became a trade.
Most of the north and east were surrounded by low-class, brick apartment buildings, meant for the soldiers and their families.
“You’re not in uniform.” Lemise deduced upon seeing her. “If you want on my Chasers, you wear my uniform.”
Paelae shrugged. “Bathroom line was too long to change.”
Lemise began to walk away. “Then wake up earlier.”
Paelae walked close behind with Benni in tow as the sky captain began to explain. “Miss Demitri is our chief innovation and engineering specialist; with a screwdriver and a handful of computer chips, she could change a toaster into an engine. You will work beside her under close supervision. I want a particle shield by the end of the week.”
She almost laughed. Particle shields were difficult with the right materials, but with makeshift metals and roundabout wiring, he would be lucky if it turned on in three weeks.
“In exchange, you will work beside me in the evenings,” he continued.
Lemise didn’t expand any further on her evening expectations, but Paelae suspected they would be dull at best until Lemise began to trust her better.
“Unless there are complications. Then I will jettison you out of an airlock in EWAN territory. Am I understood?”
“Yes, sir,” she said. Centuries of military training had drilled the habit into her.
He led them to a jeep, and another soldier drove them east to a warehouse that stood ten stories tall. Behind it, a mesh, wire gate separated civilian from soldiers. Paelae watched as a group of young boys tossed a ball back and forth to each other, running down a deserted street to throw it in a trash can.
They used to play a similar game on the cityship as trainees. It was one of the few bits and pieces they had smuggled from the Earthen culture, played in secret when the officers had left.
Once, General Amir had caught them midgame when he came to get Paelae for sparring lessons. Anything Earthen was not to be spoken of or remembered in any way, but she had been rebellious as all teenagers were those days. Everyone had frozen in place. The terror coursing through their bodies made them forget to even salute. Trying to run would have been devastating.
Amir had walked between them, assessing the trainees. He had been furious, but his anger hadn’t been displayed in shouting or beating; it had filled the silence that spread between moments in time.
“Madison,” he addressed with a calm, collected demeanor, turning to look at her. “Why do we not register Earth as a planet in our systems?”
She didn’t reply.
“Madison!” This time the words were forceful, bringing her back from the past. Lemise and Benni had already departed from the vehicle and waited for her.
With a sigh, she shook the memory away, letting it dissipate into the morning air and jumped out of the jeep.
Lemise led them through an open garage door. Inside, the warehouse resembled a miniature junkyard. As Paelae looked closer, she could tell that the piles had been organized to some degree. One had wire, another had chips, and a third was weaponry.
“Demitri!” Lemise called. A clatter of metal followed, and the sky captain took that as a cue. They wove in and out of large piles and then climbed over smaller ones until the ground could be seen again. A giant square of cleared floor sat under an open roof, and near the opposite end, a young woman drew up schematics on a metalwork table.
“Demitri,” Lemise called again as they walked up to her.
Demitri glanced up through layers of grease stains and smudges of dirt. Bright red hair fell in a tangled mess past her shoulders, held back by a set of goggles. Deep, blue crescents were visible beneath her eyes, as if the woman had been bruised. 
“Did you sleep here last night?” He didn’t address her as a soldier, nor did she wear a uniform. Instead, brown overalls adorned her skeletal frame, and a belt of odd tools kept it hanging up.
Demitri gave him a confused look. “No. I’ve only just arrived.”
“You were supposed to be in an hour ago,” Lemise said as the military eased back into his speech.
“I was delayed,” she said and threw her arms open. “It’s not like I don’t stay past midnight anyway. Every genius needs sleep. Is this the Imladian?”
Lemise pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. “This is Madison.”
Demitri stepped around the table and snatched Paelae’s arm up, pushing back the black leather sleeve. After a moment, Demitri let out a whistle. “That’s a particle shield all right. I’ll need the big guns for those supplies.”
“One week,” Lemise said.
Demitri laughed before realizing he was serious. “Two weeks, sleep, free meals, and you throw in that glass plating I need to fix the Mirage.”
“One week, no sleep, free breakfast, and you fix the Mirage because it’s your job, not a bargaining chip.”
“Two weeks, no sleep, and lunches.”
“A week and a half, sleep, and no food.”
Demitri was about to throw in another bargain when a little girl ran out from behind a pile of piping. She held up a colored picture with evident pride, tugging on Demitri’s pants and grunting to get her attention.
“A week and a half, no sleep, and forget this happened,” Demitri said as she placed a hand on her daughter’s head. “The daycare was filled, and Pops is working cross-continent. I wouldn’t bring her unless it was my only option, I swear.”
Lemise knelt down to the girl’s level. “Hello, Demi.” He smiled.
Demi held up her picture of colorful stick figures, grunting as she pointed in stunted movements at each one.
“I see.” Lemise took her picture and gave it a further inspection. “It is a beautiful picture. Will you draw me one?”
Paelae watched in mild horror. Demi was broken. On the cityship, they considered it a mercy to chloroform such children at birth, if they made it that far without detection; and it shocked her that all those years she never thought twice about it. Never before had she encountered one on other planets, though she’d heard stories.
Lemise stood, turning back to Demitri. “Will she be okay around new faces?”
“Yeah, she’s better with it now.” Demitri cracked her knuckles in anticipation.
“A week and a half, no sleep, and lunches,” he offered.
They shook on it.
“I’ll leave you to it then,” Lemise said and left, disappearing behind piles of trash.
Demitri pulled a chair up for her daughter to continue drawing, and then lounged back in one of her own.
“You named her after yourself,” Paelae stated when the silence had extended beyond comfort.
“Of course I did. She’s a Devonian.” Demitri fiddled with the lenses on her goggles.
Paelae nodded, though she didn’t know what that meant. “Should we get started, then?”
Demitri tossed her a pencil. “Copy your arm, please.”
She looked at the writing instrument with amusement. Once, this had been the only way to transcribe thoughts, but it had been centuries since she used one. “I don’t know how to use this.”
That caught Demitri’s attention. “You don’t know how to use a pencil?”
“Not anymore, no.”
Demitri laughed. “Aliens, sometimes you get too advanced for your own good. Come here. I’ll do it.” Another pencil was pulled from the depths of her ponytail. “Please tell me you can at least use a welder.”

About the Author:
Hope Christine was born in Arizona and raised in Colorado. Her youth was spent in Narnia and her teenage years in Middle-Earth. Like most, she grew up with reluctance and then attended college for multiple degrees before settling on Linguistics.
Today she studies Middle-Eastern languages and works in retail.
She’s opinionated, blunt, loves to bike, and bares an extreme hate of peaches.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Insomnia!, Halloween and Breakfast cereal

It's 4:47 am and I've been wide awake since 2:45 am, so this post may not make any sense at all.  I'm just laying in bed wishing I could sleep, thinking about books, Halloween, and because of that, Franken Berry cereal. Yum! 

Do any of you remember Nerds cereal? There was a very short stint when I was pre-teen/junior high (this makes me feel really old) where there was the most amazing breakfast cereal ever! Nerds! They came in a split box, just like the candies do and they were soooooo amazingly, sweet tooth satisfyingly good.

I have drooled over the memories of this cereal and lamented that some trends do not last, but we must adapt. So, it is with utter excitement and a tinge of annoyance that I am looking forward to Halloween this year. And you know why? Not because of the candy or the costumes or the adorable little trick-o-treaters.

Oh no! I am excited because this is the time of the year when I can get Franken Berry breakfast cereal. It is as close as I can come to that long ago treat that I dream of. And the tinge of annoyance is that I can only get it for like 2 months of the year! **shakes fist at the universe and sneaky consumerism**.

I think this year I will win the war against the conspiring universe and those nameless, faceless corporations that are out to deprive me of yummy goodness ten months of the year. I am going to buy like twenty or maybe thirty boxes of Franken Berry cereal, so that I may have it all year, any time I want it! Take that!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Doing It the Hard Way

We as people seem to always have to take the hard way. Say you come to this cliff and you need to get to the top, because all your friends and peers are up there having a grand ol time. There is a ladder attached to the side of it that leads all the way to the top. Easy right? But instead some of us can’t accept that getting to the top could possibly be that easy, so we go to the sports equipment store and we buy all the things to climb up the sheer rock face and since we have no idea how to use any of it we take classes and maybe we get a mentor to come along. And dang it, we climb the side of that mountain.
We’re at the top now. But so are all the other people who took the ladder, and they’ve got all the cool camping spots, they’ve been enjoying the view and already have their camp fires going, making s’mores.
Sure we learned something new, and we may even feel a sense of accomplishment, because we took the hard way, but on the other hand, we could have been up here too, all toasty and warm, eating s’mores with all the other people who took the ladder.
I know, that’s a weird example, but it’s what came into my head and it kind of fits for what I’m thinking about. 
I had an epiphany tonight. It’s okay to take the easy way. You get to the same spot in the end, and often times without all the heartache and struggles.
I am a self sabotager. I almost always take the hard way. I don’t trust the easy way, because damn it, it’s easy and nothing good is easy, right?  I want to write for a living. I don’t make anywhere near enough to even consider it, because I have been going about it the hard way.
From what I’ve observed, the formula for success (in the very simplest of terms) is to write a good book, publish and then write another, rinse and repeat and so on and so forth. (Don’t take my word for it though, because again, I’m not making even in the stratosphere of what I would need to write full time.) But is that what I am doing? Yes and no.  In fact, I’ve been sitting on two completed works for over a year. Why you ask?  Because the formula is just too easy. Right?
But writing isn’t easy. Coming up with an idea, sitting down and writing it all out, sticking out the middle that sags, or the writer’s block until you complete it, then going back over it a zillion times to fix all my double spaces at the end of sentences, fixing the word you’re when I typed your and all the other hard things that make it pretty and shiny, like letting someone else read it and tell you every little spot you flubbed it up in one way or another.
Those are all pretty darn hard. So, I’ve resolved to stop beating myself up, banging my head against the wall. I am going to try to take the ladder instead of the other, more difficult way, ‘cause I’ve already got enough on my plate, without having to learn where the straps on that dang harness go.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

I recently read a book that I have to share!

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

(Synopsis from Goodreads)

Ambrose Young was beautiful. He was tall and muscular, with hair that touched his shoulders and eyes that burned right through you. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She'd been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have...until he wasn't beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl's love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior's love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.

Making Faces

If I could give this book more than five stars, I totally would. Goodreads recommended this book based on several of my Bookshelves and I thought, "Wow, Goodreads really wants me to read this book." So I clicked on it and was skeptical of the nearly five star rating. So many rave reviews!? I figured I better check it out. I can't thank Goodreads enough. I LOVED this book. I cried my eyeballs out and I don't cry for much. I can't say enough good things about this book. I also tend to not like the female as much as the males in books.... I fell in love with both Ambrose and Fern.

This book is the type that reminds you of what is important without trying to. It has found a place in my all time favorites. I look forward to reading more by this author and seeing if the rest live up.


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Monica Millard's books on Goodreads
Children of the Gods Children of the Gods (Chosen, #1)
reviews: 34
ratings: 44 (avg rating 3.91)

Chosen - A Children of the Gods Short Story Chosen - A Children of the Gods Short Story
reviews: 4
ratings: 17 (avg rating 3.47)

The Fall The Fall
reviews: 7
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.83)

Monica's bookshelf: read

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Blood and Feathers
The Rithmatist
Forbidden Blood
Last Blood
Out for Blood
Bad Blood
Flesh and Blood
Blood Rights
Girl Parts

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