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Vacation Reads

Vacation Reads

Vacation Reads–Week 4

As promised, here’s my contribution to the Vacation Reads promotion! These are this weekend’s slate of recommended titles, and again, I encourage you all to go visit the master site for leads on other things you’ll hopefully enjoy reading!


Worlds within worlds await through the Maya Bloodgate….

Dr. Jaid Merritt doesn’t do digs. The last time she ventured into the jungle, someone died. Now she’s content to decipher Maya glyphs from pictures sent to her by her famous archaeologist father. But when he goes missing while trying to perform a ritual based on her translations of an ancient codex, Jaid must put aside her fears and travel to Guatemala to find him.

After misusing the Bloodgates to bring his twin brother back from the afterlife, the Maya priest known as Ruin was cursed by the gods to stand as the guardian for all time. He was unable to stop Dr. Charles Merritt from opening the gates, and now demons roam this world. The last thing he wants to do is hurt the beautiful woman who is somehow infused with his magic, but if she uses the codex to retrieve her father, Ruin must do his duty. And this time, he won’t fail. Even if it kills him. Again.

~ * ~

I’ve always loved the idea of blood sacrifice. From vampires to the symbology of communion, I’m fascinated by the inherent power in this essence of life. Add mythology to the mix, and I’m one happy camper, so of course, the Maya have always been one of my favorites mythologies. Bonus: pyramids!

One of my inspirations for THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN is a demotivator poster (link that shows the famous El Castillo pyramid of Chich’en Itza that says “All we ask here is that you give us your heart.” While there’s no archeological evidence that the Maya sacrificed hundreds or thousands of victims until the pyramid steps ran red with blood as in Mel Gibson’s Apocalytpo, they did practice blood sacrifice. Most of the time, they cut their ears or (men, avert your eyes and cover yourself) penis, caught blood on special paper, and then burned it with incense to honor the gods.

And yes, occasionally people were sacrificed, especially the losers of the famous ballgame or captured kings from other villages. Sometimes people were simply tossed into the cenote—large sinkholes that form over thousands of years in the limestone, often with an extensive network of caves. If they were still alive hours later…or possibly the next day…then they might be rescued to see if they bore any messages from the gods. Sadly, children were often the victims of this type of sacrifice, inspiring a short story that I’m offering for free on my website, Well of Sky, link

Most of the time, it was the willing sacrifice—of his own blood—that imbued so much power into the priest’s prayers and rituals. Ruin, the hero in THE BLOODGATE GUARDIAN, has paid that price numerous times himself. In fact, he’s died many times in service to the Bloodgates. He willingly pays the ultimate price over and over to protect that sacred magic.

When this man falls in love, he falls hard. How many times will he die to keep her alive?

BUT CAN YOU LET HIM GO? by Cindy Lynn Speer

In this collection, Cindy Lynn Speer, author of The Chocolatier’s Wife and editor of StereoOpticon, a collection of re-told fairy tales, gives us several new stories and an interesting look at the classic ‘Cinderella’ as well. Cindy’s stories examine the roles of women, our expectations, and the aftermath of the classic happily ever after in interesting, sometimes disturbing, ways.

Every Word I Speak: Most of us know the fairy tale of the girl who, because of her kindness, was given the gift of gems and flowers that fell from her mouth with every word she spoke, but what happens afterward? Who can she trust and what will they want from her? This version of the story is a dark and troubling tale, and absolutely delicious for those of us who like our fairy tales unmarred by a Disney ending.

What Will I Do When This Dream is Over?: Matilda is a unicorn, calmly cropping the grass in Emmy’s front yard. Hank is her ex-boyfriend, who can’t see her anymore because, she’s afraid, he’s angry with her for not putting out. Emmy’s been preparing for the day Matilda would show up all her life. It’s been like a dream, always there. She’s been called upon to do a job, to save the world, and now it’s time. Emmy’s off on an adventure. She hopes she’ll win, beat the bad guys, save the day, but if she does, what happens after?

The Fortunate Ones: Once upon a time, there lived a people who were always fortunate. And then they discovered that their fortune resided in their women, so they turned them into a commodity to be bought and sold. Annabelle is living the dream with her very successful husband, except he beats her sometimes, when he’s angry, when things don’t go right. She doesn’t like knowing she’s a commodity. She doesn’t like thinking like that. But she has to, and it’s up to her to save herself. If she can. If she can take her fortune back into her own hands.

But Can You Let Him Go?: The fairy godmother who provides Cinderella with her pretty clothes and shoes and the ride to the ball is paying penance for her mistakes. When she’s not passing judgement on foolish and avaricious humans, she’s hunting for Cinderella, the Cinderella in this tale, at this time, and the handsome prince who will give Cinderella her happily ever after. She needs to get it right. She needs to save them both. If she doesn’t, she’ll never see her people again. Her sister, however, is determined to see her fail, and she’ll do all in her power to make that come to pass.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I have way too many…I sew, garden, obsess over home improvement, read constantly…but my primary hobby is learning how to fence the way that they did in the time of Elizabeth I, through the Society for Creative Anachronism. I have a true passion for the blade…I love trying to push myself to become a better fencer.

Deadly Lucidity by Julie Achterhoff

Caught in a tangled web of dreams and nightmares, Marie Reilly is being hunted by a psychopath in the dream world she can’t escape. Her single ally, a Ranger named Murphy, may be her only hope. He must help her reach the Great Fortress, where they’ve been told there is a way back to her reality. Together, they fight their way through the twists and turns of Marie’s mind so she can have her life back. But what of their growing passion for each other? How can Marie leave the man she has come to love behind in this nightmarish world he has called home as far back as he can remember?

Q: What have you learned about being an author since you started writing professionally, Julie?

A: Gosh, I’ve learned so much! I started out reading a couple of books on how to write and taking a women’s literature class at the local community college. That was ten years ago. I started writing professionally three years ago, starting with a novella titled Native Vengeance, which was published on the Demon Minds website for their Halloween edition that year. That experience taught me that I might have what it took to write a full length novel. I started out small because I thought I’d test the waters and see if anyone thought I could write well. I was pleased to get my first acceptance letter, as well as recognition for my writing skills. Learning that someone else enjoys what you’ve written is one of the biggest thrills I’ve ever experienced!

I had some idea because I got an “A” on my class final, which was to write something. I went way overboard and wrote an entire three-act play titled Angel in the House! I wrote that in six weeks, too! So that gave me some validation about my writing. That’s when I also found out there just wasn’t enough time to write anything and homeschool my five children at the same time.

So I waited until most of them were out on their own to start writing my first novel, Quantum Earth. While writing this book, I learned all about the predictions for the year 2012 from the Mayan calendar. I also learned that I could create characters and scenes that would last through to the very end. It took me several months to write Quantum Earth. It takes up a lot of your day to day thinking to write a book. It keeps you up late at night, too.

Then I learned about writing query letters and synopsises to send out to publishers and agents. They have to really hook them from the very start. I learned that different publishers require different things from a potential author. Some want just a query at first, some want a query and a synopsis, and some want these plus some pages from your manuscript. You absolutely have to follow what they want exactly. If you don’t do this part just right, that alone will cause them to say no. I found out that some publishers are very nice, sometimes even giving you advice, but some of them aren’t very nice, and can say some rude things to you.

I had to find sources for publishers. I used Writer’s Market and Duotrope mostly. I learned to keep track of whom I sent out to so I wouldn’t duplicate myefforts. Then I learned the pretty painful feeling of being rejected over and over again. That was very hard for me because I don’t take rejection well! Those were a tough few months of sending out my work very carefully, and getting nothing back but negative replies.

I had already learned that there were people who liked my writing, so I tried not to give up hope. I tried to see every no as one step closer to that magical word, “yes.” Finally, after sending out at least fifty queries, synopsises, and/or pages, I got a very big yes from an e-book publisher. She said Quantum Earth was exactly what she was interested in and loved it from start to finish. But one thing I had learned was that e-books were just sent by email. They are not really a solid book you can hold in your hand. This put me
off a bit, so I contacted one of the publishers who said they wanted more about Quantum Earth and asked them if they were interested in publishing it. They said yes, too! Now I had a decision to make, and not much information about the pros and cons. But I knew I wanted to see my book in print as a real book, so I ended up having to be the one to say no to the first publisher. That was a twist. She was very disappointed, but understood.

So it happened that All Things That Matter Press was the one to publish my first real book. A year later they published my second book, Deadly Lucidity. For this book I learned all about lucid dreaming, among other things. During the time I’ve been with ATTM Press I’ve learned so much from Deb and Phil Harris. They run this small press, and I couldn’t be happier with them. Deb has taught me everything I could possibly want to know about editing, and Phil has taught me all about promoting books and creating a name for yourself. They are experts at what they do. An author has to learn how to sell their own books by doing interviews, blogging, publicity, creating an author platform, and many other ways to get people to buy their books. It’s not an easy process. I work on this almost every day.

I’ve also learned so much from other authors, especially the ones that are also published at ATTM Press. We have a yahoo group where we keep in close touch, sharing ideas and supporting one another. Another source for my education is my friends on facebook who are also writers. I have learned a lot from these and other sources, and continue to learn what it takes to be a writer. Now I’m at the point where I am starting to do some teaching, myself. I recently got an offer to teach at a writer’s retreat next January in Georgia. I’m very excited about that, and hope that I can help others on the path to writing.

As of this writing I am finishing up my next book, Earthwalker, which will be available by Christmas.

Link to video trailer for Deadly Lucidity:

Link to Blog:

Link to buy Deadly Lucidity: or

Link to BookBuzzr preview of Deadly Lucidity: