Monday musings: Life inspired writing inspired life

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By Autumn Birt

I love adventure, especially traveling. One of my remaining bucket list trips is cave rafting in New Zealand (seriously).

The only thing that makes a trip more interesting is throwing in some local history and artifacts and I’m pretty much in love. Hiking the Inca Trail in Peru to Machu Picchu was an experience that will live with me and color my writing. How could following an ancient pathway of stones and steps through mountain passes and by a handful of stunning ruins, each unique, to end at one of the wonders of the world not show up in a story somewhere, especially when you are a fantasy writer?

My hobbies of hiking, kayaking, and sailing have lent a realistic air to many of my books. I know what it is like to carry everything you need on your back for days at a time, slogging through mud and crawling over steep ledges. I’ve ridden horses, though prefer motorcycling over long distances. I know the feeling of stepping into a new land and feeling equally lost and fascinated.

Those are the easy details that permeate my writing, often without me realizing it. But it was a conference in Miami in 2010 that not only changed my worldview but inspired an entire series.

The guest speaker was a proponent for an Everglades National Park, but had given up because he didn’t think the Everglades would exist in fifty years. Slide by slide, he unrolled more scientific details on climate change and historic trends in past climate changes than I’d ever seen. He ripped away the idea that the seas would rise slowly and lethally. Instead, he showed the ancient benchmarks where the land dropped feet at a time due to storms. A storm surge would arrive, inundate everything, and never leave.

The future we have crafted due to past actions is not going to be predictable or follow a smooth chart laid out by scientists doing the best they can with predictive modeling. It will be messy, chaotic, and cause havoc we can only guess at. Working as I did in sustainable agriculture for a government agency, my mind whirled with how would governments respond? How many such storms as Katrina in the US would it take for an area to be abandoned? How many would it take to weaken a government to the point it could be overthrown or bought?

Throw in increasing droughts, lack of clean water, and a pandemic or two, and you have a world in chaos.

It took years with those ideas planted in my brain to finally grow into the post-apocalyptic series, Friends of my Enemy. A twisted tale of a dark future rife with conflicted relationships, it is nevertheless one of my favorite things to have written, even though it is so far different from the epic fantasy books I usually prefer. It is my nightmarish dream and imbued with a bit of hope for mankind in our not-so-distant future.

Plus, the unruly roots sprouted out of that conference eventually lead me to quit my job.

I’m not a prepper or survivalist by any means, but when the future looks unstable, the government you work for is not responding to mitigate anything of what might be coming, and you are going to be in your late 60s by then anyway, grasping life and seeing the world while you can still enjoy it feels so much better than saving for retirement because some guy in a suit said you should. Ok, I might be a bit of a rebel at heart too.

And, you know, it doesn’t hurt that I live in a self-contained, all-terrain adventure vehicle. I’m totally prepared for the zombie apocalypse. 😉

Autumn Birt

is a bestselling author in fantasy, epic fantasy, and war – not all on the same series though!

She is the author of the epic fantasy, adventure trilogy on elemental magic, The Rise of the Fifth Order. Her newest series is Games of Fire, an epic continuation of the world and characters begun in The Rise of the Fifth Order. Book 2, Gates of Fire & Earth, is also a Fantasia Reviews 2017 Book of Year nominee and winner of Best Worldbuilding.

She is also the author of Friends of my Enemy, a military dystopian/ dark fantasy tale laced with romance.

Stop by her website and blog to learn more about the worlds of her books at www.AutumnWriting.com. You can also find her on Facebook at Author.Autumn.Birt or more frequently on Twitter @Weifarer. Check out Exclusive Stories page to pick up free short stories.

Learn more about her on her BestSelling Reads author page and Amazon Author Page.

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Life Imitating Fiction: I Married an Alien

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By Raine Thomas

When I found out that our group was tasked with writing posts about something we’ve experienced in our lives that imitated our books, I puzzled and puzzled over it. I’m a fiction writer, after all. I don’t generally write about things that happen in my real life or that I ever think I’ll personally experience. I write about fantasy and sci-fi worlds; in my contemporary fiction, I write about hunky baseball players and rock stars. None of which, I’m afraid to say, is my reality.

If I really stretch this blog concept, however, I can loosely relate my reality with the characters in my award-winning sci-fi romance Ascendant series. Kyr and Ty are aliens who travel great distances to be together. Similarly (although here on Earth), I married a man from another country who then became a permanent resident alien here in the U.S. And trust me, there was a lot of travel required before we ended up married and living together.

(Okay, I said it was a stretch. Work with me, people!)

I met my husband in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. We were both attending with friends and ended up staying in the same place. Rather like when Kyr sees Ty at the beginning of Return of the Ascendant, there was an immediate sense of awareness and familiarity between us when we first saw each other. I simply can’t explain it. I’ve read about moments like that one in romance novels…that instant spark between two people. To have it happen to me felt otherworldly.

So that’s the “life imitating fiction” moment that I decided to share with all of you. I’m happy to say that after that first meeting in New Orleans and a couple of years of long-distance dating, I married that “alien.” We just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary…and we couldn’t be happier!

I thought it would be a fun touch to include the scene from Return of the Ascendant where Kyr (or Kyra when she’s on Earth) first sees Ty. Enjoy!

Kyra wondered how he’d known what she was thinking. She shook her head, figuring he’d just made a lucky guess based on the circumstances.

They walked for several feet before her sanity kicked in. She tried to remove her arm from the man’s grasp, but he just held her tighter. While the action should have alarmed her, it didn’t. It sure as hell annoyed her, though.

Giving him a more careful study, she tried to place his face. What little of it she could see as he studied their surroundings seemed familiar. Had she met him at a party? Was he in one of her classes last year?

That didn’t seem likely. She’d surely have remembered someone as hot as he was.

His gaze moved sharply to hers. She found herself catching her breath as she looked into the most startling silver eyes she’d ever seen. No one could possibly have eyes that color.

“Who are you?” she whispered.

Grab your copy of Return of the Ascendant on any of these platforms:

Raine Thomas

is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream.

Raine is a hopeless romantic with a background in the fields of mental health and wedding planning…two areas that intersect far more than one would think. Her years working with children and young adults with emotional and behavioral challenges inspired her to create protagonists who overcome their own conflicts. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Where to find her

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest  |  Tumblr  |  Instagram  |  YouTube  |  Goodreads  |Linkedin  |  Tsu

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Fact meets fiction: Denial and reality in Double Bind

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Your favorite bestselling authors describe times when the world around them comes to reflect situations from their  books. This week, the author of Double Bind describes a warning for us all.

By Seb Kirby

I’ve seldom thought of my fiction as having any intention to foresee the future. What I mainly write about is the interior landscape of ordinary people facing unprecedented changes in their lives. But in one of my earliest novels, Double Bind, published eight years ago, I did stray into that territory. The book starts out as a doppelgänger fantasy but then quickly takes on a sci-fi direction. I don’t want to reveal the main plot line since this is meant to be one of those secrets that sneaks up on the reader. But suffice it to say that a large element of the story is the understanding that the world we live on exists in a fragile equilibrium that could be overturned at any moment by climate change.

When I wrote this, I was thinking that my imagined dystopia might serve as a warning to my grandchildren or great grandchildren. Since then, increasingly in last few years, it is becoming clear that the meltdown is already taking place in our time and at an escalating rate. So, whether you look at the speed with which ice is melting at the poles or the alarming rate of the increase in the extinction of species or the incidence of wildfires and soaring temperatures in the northern hemisphere or the release of methane from the north Asian tundra, the story is the same. We’ve entered a new geological age – the anthropocene. Meaning that for the first time in the three billion year history of our planet, human activity has become the dominant factor in its future. And the prognosis is not good. We may already have pushed that fragile equilibrium beyond the tipping point.

Here is an extract of what I wrote in Double Bind:

“Tell me about the deniers.” It’s Ingrid and she’s demanding more answers. Now that I’ve leveled with her about who I am.

We’re sitting at one end of the research area. Peterson and Janet are within earshot working the Xilix system, searching for information.

I move close to her and whisper. “Maybe we should talk somewhere more private.”

She whispers back. “No. Trust Peterson. The more he knows, the more he’ll be able to help.”

“You’re right.” I speak up so Peterson can hear. “It’s a long story that goes all the way back when.”

“Back to your home?”

“Yes all the way back there. The deniers. They destroyed the planet.”

I’m trying to keep from her and Peterson the true weight of the disaster. What happened as the planet died. How the life was sucked out of it in a rage of sulphur, bromine and day long darkness. How the sun disappeared and eternal night settled upon us.

“They watched as your planet died?”

“They couldn’t see the disaster that was right there in front of them. They still don’t see it. They don’t see the connection between what they did and what happened.”

“Why not?”

I swallow hard. “Ingrid. They blamed it on an angry god. A god who’d lost faith with them. Not for what they’d done but for what those who’d tried to talk them out of their madness had done.”

“People like you?”

“Yes, people like me. People who could see the big mess for what it is. What you call the tipping point. People who told them that you can’t keep pushing the planet, can’t keep overloading it with the energy that you keep producing and expect it to keep bouncing back.”

It’s an apocalyptic vision that worries me now more than it did back when I penned this just eight years ago.

Ray Bradbury’s abundant imagination strayed into this terrain in the fifties with his remarkable cycle of sequenced stories, brought together as The Martian Chronicles, that tell of the colonisation of Mars. All that remained of the sophisticated inhabitants of the planet were ghosts that represented the dying essences of a civilisation that had come and gone, one that had failed to see that the outcome of their incessant need to squander the natural assets of their world would lead to a new equilibrium on their planet in which they had no place.

We are not yet at that point. But we are close to it. It is still possible that we could commence on the kind of terraforming activities that brought life to our planet in the first place. Yet this would take significant and determined effort beginning right now. It’s by no means clear that we have the collective understanding of the importance of this task or the organisation and resources to carry it out. But one can only hope and do what one can to bring this about and avoid the catastrophe that awaits.

About Double Bind

Life-changing experiences come thick and fast for Raymond Bridges as he attempts to unravel a mystery that goes to the heart of his being.

It’s a thrilling journey that leads him to question so much of what he finds in the world around him – including the loyalty of those he thinks he knows well.

What he uncovers is a conspiracy that shakes the world he knows to its foundations and asks key questions about our responsibility to the planet.

A book that just might invoke deep thoughts about how we live today – or just be appreciated for the wild ride of the imagination that it undoubtedly is.

Get it from Amazonhttp://smarturl.it/dbb 

Seb Kirby

BestSelling author Seb Kirbywas literally raised with books: his grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham, UK and his parents inherited a random selection of the books. Once he discovered a trove of well-used titles from Zane Gray’s Riders of the Purple Sage, HG Wells’ The Invisible Man and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to more obscure stuff, he was hooked.

He’s been an avid reader ever since.

He is author of the James Blake thriller series, Take No More, Regret No More and Forgive No More; the science-fiction thriller, Double BindEach Day I Wake; and Sugar for Sugar. His latest book is another psychological thriller, Here the Truth Lies.

Seb can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page  |   Amazon Author page  |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |    Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website & blog 

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Monday musings: literary goals for 2018

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By Autumn Birt

Wikimedia Commons

2018 began with the release of my thirteenth book as well as a nomination for Best Book of the Year from Fantasia Reviews for my twelfth. There is nothing like that culmination of events to light a new year fire under my keyboard.

Plus, that new release ended my second epic fantasy trilogy, one that was set in the same world as my first. I’m ready for new things. I hope my readers are too—because they are coming!

When I wrapped up A New Goddess, I had no specific books in mind to write. Actually, I was going to write a non-fiction book on writing. But one morning I woke up from a dream where I needed to write a new series to balance what I’d published.

By that night, I’d begun to outline a new trilogy titled Black Throne, Black Blood, complete with two intro novellas. An idea that I’d ferreted away merged over the course of that day with another. Alone, they were interesting. Together, they were dynamic and inspiring!

But I couldn’t jump right into it. See, I have a business partner and we are building something together and the world of that story just might be a fit for something we’ve been planning. So, I need to hold off a couple of months until I know for sure.

Writers have a really hard time putting on brakes.

One of my favorite things about inspiration is it is not a limited resource. Actually, I think creativity is highly expansive and a little explosive. Being inspired to write but trying hard not to continue crafting a world lead to a desperate search for something else to focus on. Which had the end result of birthing another series idea.

I outlined the second series pretty quickly with some brainstorming from my husband. It too has an intro novella and at least four books with it. It is a mad combination of influences from ancient Celtic and Native American myths mixed with the desperation of my near future dystopian series, Friends of my Enemy. And I’ll secretly admit here that a short story I wrote as part of my college honor’s thesis that was probably the original seed. Boy, has it grown into a monster!

I’ve already begun the novella for this dark, urban fantasy series. And while I don’t have the name to the novella as yet, the series will be the Caillte Ré, which translates to “dark time.”

I’m hoping by the time the first novella is finished, I can switch to the first one in Black Throne, Black Blood. I’d like to have both novellas out before mid-year and be working on book 1 of the Caillte Ré along with the second novella in Black Throne, Black Blood.

Yes, I’m planning on writing two series at the same time. I’ve done it in the past. We’ll see how it goes this year!

And though these series are two entirely different worlds and characters, I see a linking theme between them of exploring the role of darkness. Where my current epic fantasy series is noble bright, my new books won’t be so clearly cut. I see them as darker, sexier, more adult, and far more complicated.

I can’t wait to share them with the world!

Autumn Birt

Autumn is a bestselling author in multiple genres. She is the author of two epic fantasy adventure trilogies on elemental magic, The Rise of the Fifth Order and Games of Fire. Games of Fire has received tremendous critical reviews and book 2, Gates of Fire & Earth, is also a Fantasia Reviews 2017 Book of Year nominee and winner of Best Worldbuilding.

She is also the author of Friends of my Enemy, a military dystopian/ dark fantasy tale laced with romance. Friends of my Enemy was released in full in 2015 and is quite the story full of strong characters, tight plots, and lots of action. Meanwhile, despite saying she was taking a short break to write a non-fiction book on writing techniques to go along with the courses she teaches at www.UltimateFantasyWritersGuide.com, a new story is already starting to build.

If she stops goofing off and enjoying hobbies such as traveling, hiking, motorcycling, and kayaking, she may even be able to release a new fantasy story in 2018 too.

Stop by her website and blog to learn more about the worlds of her books at www.AutumnWriting.com. You can also find her on Facebook at Author.Autumn.Birt or more frequently on Twitter @Weifarer. Start with her BestSelling Reads author page.

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Announcing a new BestSeller: Autumn Birt

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BestSelling Reads is proud to announce a new member: Autumn Birt, author of epic fantasies as well as dystopian science-fiction. But we’ll let her introduce herself.

I see stories in my mind.

Even if I didn’t write, I’d be daydreaming snippets of imaginary places and people. I have done so since I was child stuck in the backseat of my parent’s car on epic drives. Actually, we lived in the country (my neighbors were Amish), so anywhere was an epic drive: grocery store, mall, school…

I would look out the window and dream of somewhere else.

At first I tried to draw what I imagined. There was a fifty fifty chanced I’d end up a graphic artist rather than a novelist. But when I discovered that by writing I could explore words so much deeper than a simple passing daydream, that was the point of no return for me. Characters could by my friend for years as I wrote. Worlds I created were real enough I could smell the smoke of campfires and hear the music from celebrations. My artwork is now secondary, but so useful as an author.

And honestly, as a fantasy author and daydreamer, this world is a tragic disappointment. Where are the dragons? Magic spells? Portals to new universes? I have to create my own, so I craft them through books, which have the benefit of allowing readers to leap in as well. In my mind, I was lonely. Through my books, I can share the worlds and characters with so many people!

My first published novel was Born of Water, which was released in 2012 and began my first epic fantasy series The Rise of the Fifth Order. This year marks my sixth as a published author and I just released my thirteenth book which completes my second epic fantasy trilogy and third fully released series. What is crazy is I’m just getting started!

I write fantasy because I was drawn to it from a young age. I remember finding a short story on dragon impression on Pern when I was in Junior High School. Anne McCaffrey’s world changed me from an occasional reader to a book devourer. Mercedes Lackey, Ursula K. Leguin, Margaret Weis, Tracey Hickman, and so many other amazing novelists opened new worlds to me and taught truths that might not have blossomed if handed out in a text book.

I think that is the secret power of fantasy; it can teach very personal lessons while entertaining: friendship, honesty, perseverance, and the drive to change the world. But I don’t like preachy stories written expressly to persuade. No, I want to fall in love with characters, with a world, and be swept up in events that make you rise to your best … or teach you the humbling result if you don’t. Those are the stories I seek out and then ones I write.

All that mental adventure and daydreaming bleeds through to my real life too. I love to travel and experience new cultures and places. If you don’t find me glued to my laptop, you’ll probably find me on my motorcycle on a back road or with my husband and dog in our Landcruiser outfitted for the great unknown. Someday I will convince him to cave raft with me.

Because, secretly, I’m still looking for a portal to another universe. 😉

Learn more about Autumn on her:

And follow her on Twitter @weifarer.

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Thursday teaser: Saving Raine

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Win a free e-book copy of the Drone Wars: Book 1

By Frederick Lee Brooke

The pickup lights cut a path through the darkness as they shared a bag of tortilla chips. All at once, Matt’s eyes picked up a familiar form in the grass by the side of the road. He pulled over fifty yards ahead.

“What’re you doing?” Benjy asked.

Matt got out without answering, and walked back up the road. Benjy followed. They found a small doe sprawled in the ditch, eyes staring.

“Is it dead?” Benjy asked.

“Dead and delicious,” Matt said. “Can you lift her?”

His stepbrother studied the deer, trying to figure how to pick it up. He bent down, then stood again.

“You sure it’s dead?”

Matt prodded the deer with his boot. “Even if she weren’t, they don’t bite.”

Benjy worked his left arm under the animal’s neck. With his right hand he grabbed one of the hind legs, just below the knee. When he stood up, he managed to get about half the deer off the ground before collapsing.

“She’s too heavy. I can’t.”

“Let’s do it together,” Matt said. He picked up the neck and the front legs while Benjy lifted the hindquarters. Matt could’ve thrown the animal in the back of the truck himself, but getting Benjy to help somehow seemed right. Although he was tall for fourteen, Benjy’s arms and legs were thin as twigs.

Off in the distance, another car was coming. They jumped in quickly, and Matt hit the gas. After a brief stretch at high speed, they entered a town and had to slow down. The car tailing them had caught up, an old red Chrysler. The other driver rode him close, his high beam lighting up the truck interior. Matt looked away from his mirror, but the lights blinded him just the same. People shot each other over less.

“Want me to check him out?” Benjy asked.

“You’ve got your own Viper?”

“I brought two Vipers and two Tornados,” Benjy said. He rolled down his window and released a small quadcopter. Then he studied his Jetlink.

“What’s a fourteen-year-old doing with four drones?”

“These are just the ones I decided to bring.”

Matt looked at his stepbrother, unbelieving. Where had Benjy been hiding all these drones? He himself, like most people, owned one all-purpose Viper. “Well, what about those guys back there?”

“Two men. Skinheads. Maybe locals, picking a fight.”

They had reached the end of town, and the speed limit was back up to 50 mph. Matt gradually increased to 40 mph as the Chrysler rode up his tail. The road was deserted.

“Why doesn’t he pass?” Benjy asked.

Matt rolled down his window. “Get ready to take the wheel.”

“What? I can’t drive.”

On the next straightaway, the Chrysler made its move and pulled alongside. Matt met the gaze of the man in the passenger seat, whose shaved head gleamed in the ambient light.

“Pull over to the side. Pull over now.”

Matt had the slingshot ready while Benjy guided the truck with one hand on the wheel. In a split second, he could kill the man, whose impassive face was less than six feet away.

Something made him decide not to shoot. Maybe there’d been enough killing for one night. Maybe it was the fact that the man didn’t show a weapon. Maybe he was just tired. He retook the wheel, braked, signaled, and pulled over.

The skinheads got out and walked back to the truck, two men in black leather. Still no weapons. He got out to meet them.

About Saving Raine

A country torn apart by greed, corruption, and chaos.
A boy sent on a mission that could kill him.
A girl who’s in grave danger…and doesn’t have a clue.

Can Matt beat the odds stacked against him and outrun the drones raining down on his head in time to save his woman–and America?

Praise for SAVING RAINE…

“…skilled, full of action, truth, possibilities, and drama.” (Carol Keen, Amazon Reviewer)

“…an adrenaline-soaked adventure that kept this reader’s attention from beginning to end.” (Long and Short Reviews)

Find it on Amazon.

Win a free e-book

Just leave a comment. The author will choose one lucky winner of an e-book version of Saving Raine.

About the author

Frederick Lee Brooke launched the Drone Wars Series in 2013 with Saving Raine, and the sequel, Inferno, followed in 2014. The third and last book in the series, The Drone Wars, released in June, 2015 wraps up the short, catastrophic period in which Matt Carney first learned he had a twin brother.

A resident of Switzerland since 1991, Frederick Lee Brooke is also the author of the Annie Ogden Mystery Series. He has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He makes frequent trips to the United States to visit friends and family. Visit Fred on Facebook or Twitter.

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