Sneak Peek Friday: Author Gigi Sedlmayer

This week I’d like to welcome author Gigi Sedlmayer, author of the TALON series.
You can find her books on Amazon along with author updates.


Talon Fly With Me CoverBack in her bedroom, she thought the world was wonderful. And what adventures would she have with Talon? she wondered. In the last seconds before she fell asleep, she murmured, ‘I always thought there must be more to life than to only eat, play, learn, sleep and work … and to grow – or not grow, as it is with me.’

Aikon was listening. ‘Yes, there is,’ he whispered, nodding. ‘You
forgot fun – to have fun as you will have now with Talon. That is life.’

Yes, that is life, and also another story.


Matica describes herself, speaking of her own experience:

My name is Matica and I am a special needs child with a growth disability. I am stuck in the body of a two-year-old, even though I am ten years old when my story begins in the first book of the Talon series, TALON, COME FLY WITH ME. Because of that disability, (I am saying ‘that’ disability, not ‘my’ disability because it’s a thing that happened to me, nothing more and because I am not accepting it as something bad. I can say that now after I learned to cope with it.) I was rejected by the local Indians as they couldn’t understand that that condition is not a sickness and so it can’t be really cured. It’s just a disorder of my body. But I never gave up on life and so I had lots of adventures roaming around the plateau where we live, with my mother’s blessings. But after I made friends with my condors I named Tamo and Tima, everything changed. It changed for the good. I was finally loved. And I am the hero and I embrace my problem. In better words: I had embraced my problem before I made friends with my condors Tamo and Tima. I held onto it and I felt sorry for myself and cried a lot, wanting to run away or something worse. But did it help me? Did it become better? Did I grow taller? No, nothing of that helped me. I didn’t have those questions when I was still in my sorrow, but all these questions came to me later, after I was loved and was cherished. One day I looked up into the sky and saw the majestic condors flying in the air. Here and now, I made up my mind. I wanted to become friends with them. I believed if I could achieve that, all my sorrow and rejection would be over. And true enough, it was over. I was loved. I even became famous. And so, if you are in a situation, with whatever your problem is, find something you could rely on and stick to it, love that and do with that what you were meant to do. And I never run from conflicts.

Other books in the series:

Talon, On the Wing (Book 2)
With near disasters, challenged Matica’s journey and adventure begins. Will she be accepted by the local Indians? Will love come to her too?

Talon, Flight for Life (Book 3)
Walking to a nearby city, disaster strikes with near death experience. Will the condors come and rescue them? Will her love grow?

Talon, Connected (Book 4)
Revelation strikes Matica. Will she be able to cope with these life-changing disclosures? And in the midst of this revelation, the poachers are coming back. They want to kill the condors, Talon.

Talon, Encounter (Book 5)
It is war. The poachers have guns and shoot at the condors. Will they survive? Will the poachers succeed and kill the condors or will the condors and the Indian with Matica succeed?

Author Bio: JGisela (Gigi) Sedlmayer was born on 19 May 1944 in Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin in Germany.
Her family escaped to the West just before the infamous wall went up. They moved around in Germany until finally settling in Munich where Gigi studied architectural drafting and met Albert in 1965, marrying in December 1967. She worked as a civil draftsperson in various private consultancies in Munich.
Since her uncle was a writer, she tried to write short animal stories herself. Nothing further came of it, but she developed a love for the written word and started to consume books.
In May 1975, Gigi and her husband moved to New Zealand. Because of language challenges, she started a handicraft business. As a specialty, she made colourful parrots of which she sold thousands in a few years.

In 1988, they decided to adopt and became adoptive parents of twin girls the year after. They lived in New Zealand for eighteen years and moved to Australia in September 1992.
Two years later Gigi was diagnosed with cancer. After operations and radiation, she withdrew, thinking that she would probably soon be dead, like her friend who died of cancer, but her two little girls gave her the courage to keep going. After a few years, still among the living, her brain started to work again, so she thought, ‘Get a grip on yourself and do something good with your life’.

She remembered the time she wrote short stories and got inspired again, seeing her husband Albert writing the story of their adoption. Her English became increasingly better so she pressed on to develop her creative writing.

Albert taught her how to use a computer and she wrote many short stories. She entered them in competitions and often got very good reports back, which gave her confidence to go on writing. One day the idea for the TALON series came to her and she spent the next several years bringing the story and the characters to life.

She now loves writing and spends most of her time at the computer, developing new story lines. She also loves traveling, 4×4 touring, swimming, gardening, handcrafting, reading, fossicking and enjoys good adventure DVD’s or going to the movies.




Sneak Peek Friday: Author Andrea Lundgren

This week I’d like to welcome author and book coach Andrea Lundgren, who is sharing with us an excerpt from her wonderfully funny book, But Kisses Never Hurt Me: A Retelling of Sleeping Beauty. (I just read this book recently, and can personally recommend it as a summer reading list must-have!)

sleeping-beauty-cover-designWhat if Briar Rose and Aurora were two different people, one the princess, the other her decoy…
And what if the prince loved no one but himself…

In this retelling of the tale of Sleeping Beauty, a kingdom is on the verge of a coup, and it will take a journalist and the son of a con-man to save them from the evil treachery of the princess’ aunt…and to save the princess from the curse of a swift and memorable death.

All they have to do is make sure the real princess never pricks her finger on a spindle…how hard could that be?

The book is currently available for free at Goodreads, Google Books, and Google Play.

Enjoy this excerpt from But Kisses Never Hurt Me:

“How shall I start?” he asked, taking a seat in one of the best chairs in the office—my boss had sent it over especially for him.

“Well, you could start with your name and occupation, and then just state the major events of your life.” I wasn’t sure why this fellow had been sent in. Usually, historical documentation interviewees were older men and women who reminisced their way through their lives…and usually, they were already significant, historically speaking: leaders in industry or agriculture, notable nobles, that sort of thing.

“Right,” Mr. Collier said, leaning back in his chair. He stared out the window at the busy marketplace below us and began. “Let’s see. Well, you know my name already, and my occupation is…well, I’m not sure what you’d call it. I kind of do whatever happens to come my way.”

I looked up in alarm. Her highness had sent a wandering vagabond in for an interview? I cleared my throat. “Well, what makes you different from other people? Where did you grow up? Who were your parents?”

“Oh, my father is actually a very notable citizen. You see, once upon a time…”

“This isn’t a fairy tale, Mr. Collier, this is a historical piece. Could you be a little more specific?”

“I’m sure you can add the pertinent historical details in an appendix or something. I’d have to look up the dates anyways…it would have been about twenty years ago or so? No, longer…the princess is twenty now. Anyways, once upon a time, in our fair kingdom, our king and queen were in need of an heir.”

“Technically, that isn’t true. There is always an heir to the throne.”

“Okay, they were in need of a direct heir to the throne. Better?”

I just sighed and dipped my quill in the ink again…and hoped I had enough patience to make it through this interview.

“Just pretend you are telling the story of your life to a group of children,” my gopher neighbor said, his head popping around the corner this time.

“Thank you, but I believe I have everything under control here,” I said.

Ignoring me, he added, “The beginning is always my trouble, too.”

“Thanks for the tip…”

“Digby, sir. Benjamin Digby.”

“Could we return to the interview?” I asked, wishing I had an office with soundproof walls and a door.

“Sure. Okay…tell it like I’m talking to a group of children.”

I didn’t appreciate the implication to me or to our readers, but he just closed his eyes in thought and said, “Once upon a time, the king and queen had no children. They tried everything to have a child, which is where my father comes in.” I noticed he was still facing Mr. Digby; apparently the sight of paper and quill were too much for him. Fine. As long as we got through this.

Mr. Collier continued. “My father was a brilliant salesman. My mother says he could find a way to sell a broken fence for a profit. Anyway, he saw this as a great opportunity to make some money and help his monarchs. When word got out that the king and queen were looking for means to help them have a child, he threw himself into it wholeheartedly. He researched the matter, working with apothecaries, and he came up with all kinds of potions, lotions, relics and other ‘fertility enhancers.’ However, he knew that if he came in with all of them at once, he’d be expected to recommend one, and if that recommendation produced no results, their majesties wouldn’t buy any more of them—not to mention the possibility of being imprisoned for false advertising. So he came up with an alternative marketing scheme. He would disguise himself, go to the court, persuade the king and queen that his product was infallible, and then sell it to them. If and when that particular product didn’t work, he’d come up with another disguise, go back to court, and extol the virtues of an entirely different product. The system worked beautifully, and, in the end, they both got what they wanted: he made a fortune, and they had a child—a fine, healthy baby girl.”

“You realize that, by your own statement, your father is guilty of extortion and fraud, not to mention operating at least one business under a false name?” I asked.

“No accusations were ever made, and their majesties were pleased with his services to the kingdom. They needed something to believe in, and my father provided it. Besides, this way they ended up supporting a local businessman instead of a bunch of international salesmen with imported products. As I said, everyone got what they wanted.”

“Technically, most royal families don’t want a baby girl, but after not having any children for so long, I’m sure they were happy with anything,” Digby said.

“Exactly. Besides, the king’s much younger sister, Malia the Magnificent…”

“As she styles herself…”

“Right, as she styles herself—I certainly don’t think she’s magnificent—was the next heir, and everyone was delighted to put some distance between her and the throne.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” the head of office inventory said as he walked into my cubicle, his arms full of paper. He plopped a stack on my desk, saying, “Thought you might need some more.”

“Thank you.” I held my quill suspended over the inkstand, waiting for him to leave.
He didn’t. Instead, he sat on the edge of my desk and said, “I remember when Malia was born. At the time, we didn’t know what we’d got, so everyone rejoiced. That was before she tried to poison her brother’s oatmeal at the age of seven. Of course, we never printed that story: we hushed it up as best we could. Did your father get to attend the royal christening ceremony?”

“He did, actually. As one of the guests, he was there when all the nobles came to present their gifts to the princess.”

“Actually, quite a few nobles didn’t come,” I said, hoping to get the man to be more accurate and also remember he was talking to me.

“Yes, but they sent presents in their stead, which, depending on the noble, was sometimes considered a double blessing…”

“Oh, so true,” said the head of inventory.

Mr. Collier continued. “The fairies of the kingdom came, along with the king’s council members, and King Roderigo, the ruler of…where’s he from again?”

“Hobarth?” Digby suggested.

“No, Rentaria.”

“Actually, it’s the Sovereign Nation of Southern Rentaria,” I muttered to myself. Northern Rentaria was a separate nation ever since King Paulo had divided the neighboring country between his two sons three generations back.

“Anyway, rumor has it that this was when he arranged for our new princess to marry his son and heir, young Alfred, and eventually unite the two kingdoms…once King Roderigo and our own king die.”

“What exactly did happened at the palace that day?” the head of inventory asked. “No news journalists were allowed there except for our editor. The king said journalists were as bad as paparazzi and made him nervous.”

Before Mr. Collier could answer him, I asked, “Does this really pertain to our interview? We’re supposed to record the events of your life…and unless I much mistake the matter, you aren’t that much older than the princess…”

“Eight years difference, actually. And, yes, this has to do with my life. It has a lot to do with my life…because it greatly affected the princess’ life.”

At this rate, he could argue that as a subject of the king and queen, everything about them and the Princess Aurora affected his life. “Really, Mr. Collier, I fail to see…”

“Bear with me, Briswold; I’ll come to me eventually.” Turning back to the other fellow, he said, “To answer your question, Mr. …”

“Connors, sir. Just Connors.”

“Alright. To answer your question, Connors, that day each guest came forward and presented the princess with a gift—thankfully, the child slept though the entire ordeal—I mean ceremony. Prince Alfred presented the child with a beautiful gold and jeweled ring, which had apparently been his mother’s. Never mind that the princess couldn’t wear it until recently, even if she wanted to…”

“It was the thought that counted,” Digby volunteered.

“Right. Finally, the fairyhood began to bestow their gifts upon the child. Now at that time, the kingdom had about thirteen resident fairies, but only four of them came. The other nine were unavailable.”

“Three were on a pilgrimage, four were engaged as guest lecturers at Great Fairy College, and the last two were otherwise occupied,” I said.

“I have it on good report that those last two were in the middle of a fairy-style argument,” Mr. Collier said. “And what with their wands and special powers, those can go on for days—and woe to the person who tries to speak to them when they are arguing. So the four fairies, after much deliberation over who should give what, came forward to present their gifts to the princess. The first fairy gave her beauty beyond that of her peers, the next gave her a lovely singing voice, and the third grace in movement and dance. The last one was just about to give her gift when Malia the Magnificent deigned to bestow—I should say inflict—her youthful presence upon the company.”

“And that was when the threat to the kingdom was pronounced,” I said, desperate to get some summarization going. My first quill was starting to crack, and he hadn’t even introduced himself in his story.

Andrea LundgrenI started writing books about eight years ago after failing to find a particular type of story on the shelves of my library—stories with adventure, romance, and humor, with a touch of a classical vocabulary. Since then, I have written historical fiction and science fiction/fantasy novels (I’m just beginning the search for a publisher). But Kisses Never Hurt Me is the first of my eBook novellas and my first published work.

I live in Washington State with my husband and our two sons, and I enjoy discussing all things writing, including its philosophy, creation, and editing, along with reading a good book and gardening. You can connect with me at my website, or through my Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ accounts, or by using the Contact Me page.

Sneak Peek Friday: Author Renee Scattergood

Smashwords is once again holding their annual July Summer/Winter Promotion. So this year Renee Scattergood is listing Demon Hunt, the prequel novella to her Shadow Stalker serial, free for the entire month!

Demon Hunt

Demon Hunt smallAuren longs for adventure and a break from her tedious life on Appolia. It’s the start of summer, and she is looking forward to her yearly camping trip with her foster father, Kado. She believes these trips are for fun, but when they arrive on Luten Isle, Kado informs her that she is a shadow stalker, and she is in training.

One morning, Auren decides to take her training into her own hands. She only means to practice seeing the veil to the shadow world, the world of the shadow people and the source of their power. Instead, she opens the veil releasing a demon, a guardian of the shadow world, into the physical world.

With the deadly beast loose, she and Kado don’t have long to hunt it down and return it to where it belongs, or many innocent people could die.

Download it on Smashwords Free in July!

Now for a Sneak Peek!

“We’re getting closer.” Kado sped up, trusting that Auren would keep up with him. They needed to reach it before it got to the mountains or they might lose it. Though there was an advantage to it heading that way. It wasn’t going toward any of the villages.

The rock face they had run into rose well over two hundred meters, but about fifty meters up, there was a cave.

Kado pointed. “That’s where it’s heading.”

“How do you know?”

First he pointed out the obvious. Recent gouges in the hard rock. “It will seek darkness as well. Being from the shadow world, they are not accustomed to the daylight. It confuses and agitates them.”

“Maybe it will start just traveling at night then?”

“They don’t sleep, Auren. It will keep moving. We’re just lucky they move so slowly. It’s our only advantage.”

“How are we going to get up there? We didn’t bring rope.”

“I had intended on teaching you to free climb during this trip. I also planned to have time to do it properly. We don’t have that luxury now. I will go first. Watch me and go where I go.”


Renee Scattergood's Bio PicRenee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn’t start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy.

She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels, A God’s Deception.

Aside from writing, she loves reading (fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her homeschooled daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6):

Author Pages


Renee’s Author Spotlight: – a blog where I feature indie and small press authors.

Amazon Author Page:

Smashwords Author Page:


BookBub Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:

Renee’s Shadow Stalkers:

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Sneak Peek Friday: Author Janeen Ippolito

This week I’d like to welcome author Janeen Ippolito, author of World-Building From the Inside Out.

Go to the heart of your world and build it well!

worldbuild1Memorable world-building enhances story, attracts readership, and sells books! Find the core of your science fiction or fantasy people and instill your narrative with universal themes and concepts derived from real-world cultures.

  • Explore different religions and governments with concise entries that include ideas for plot and character development -Develop key aspects of your society without getting caught up in unnecessary details
  • Learn how the deeper effects of appearance and location can enhance your narrative

World-Building From the Inside Out challenges you to go deep and build fantastical worlds that truly bring your story to life!

World-Building Workbook

This book has questions. You have the answers!

worldbuildwkbkThe World-Building From the Inside Out Workbook is filled with detailed questions and easy-to-grasp explanations to help you probe more deeply into your created world and fill it with meaning that pushes plot and builds tension.

Use it along with the World-Building From the Inside Out reference book, or individually to jump start your creative process.

Ask questions. Dream big. Build the fantastic!

Here’s a peek at what you’ll find inside Janeen Ippolito’s new book.


World-Building From the Inside Out began because of a mistake.

My mistake.

I’d been world-building for over ten years. I’d studied cultures and anthropology at a college known (and infamous) for its thorough humanities program. I’d taught classes on world-building and coached people through the process individually.

And yet, when it came to incorporating world-building into my own speculative novels, I failed.

Over and over again.

My worlds were well-designed. My races looked cool and had neat clothing and weaponry. And the names! Oh yes, I loved making up all those crazy names.

But I had missed one key factor that I should have remembered from my very first literature class: a story is about plot and characters, working towards a goal, and having disasters thrown at them. It’s about excitement. Adventure. Emotional depth. Pacing.

I had beautifully-formed races with no heart. No soul. No motivation.
No reason to go along with my plot other than because I said so.
For some reason, that made for some pretty shallow cultures!
To use a favorite expression from my college days, I was missing the cultural worldview.

Worldview, the essential collection of beliefs that frame how an individual and a society perceives, interacts with, and makes decisions about the world.

Once I stopped banging my head on my desk, I did what any selfrespecting, hyper-planning teacher would do: I began writing a curriculum for myself. I researched all sorts of different ideas on world-building and tried out character builder profiles with pages and pages of questions.

I sifted my way through cultures and societies, trying to fuse together a comprehensive way of building a culture from the worldview and moving out.

The result is World-Building From the Inside Out.

We start off with religion/philosophy. What are the essential moral and philosophical beliefs of your culture? By deciding what motivates them on a basic level, you can then figure out how your main character interacts with them, and how they in turn are products of that culture. Furthermore, it will be easier to create and manipulate conflicts between different races because you will understand their core needs and desires.

From there, we move on to government. Government is often closely entwined with religion/philosophy, and sometimes it even acts as a replacement for a religious system. After government comes society, including family structure, marital traditions, and gender roles.

For the fun of it, we touch on art, technology, naming, and food. These are often the places where you can have the most creativity.
Next come appearance and location. These categories are often the easiest to change according to what the plot requires. They are also the easiest areas to get lost in minutiae that will do nothing to further your actual plot and get that story on paper.

We end with appendices on health and medicine, military, and education. While these areas aren’t strictly necessary, they can have great relevance to your personal story.

So if you’re the kind of person who wants to go deep and build worlds with cultures that can integrate effectively into your plot, then this is the book for you.

If you prefer building from the outside in, then why not try reading this book back to front? I won’t judge.

Either way, please join me on an exciting journey into the heart of man.
Or elf.
Or half-unicorn.
Or whatever else your brain can come up with!

DSC_0587_HeadAuthor Bio: Janeen Ippolito is an English teacher by day, a sword-fighter by night, and a writer by heart. She’s also the founder of Uncommon Universes Press and the author of World-Building From the Inside Out. She has a B.A. in Cross-Cultural Studies, Writing, and ESL and has a passion for using humor and cultures in speculative fiction. In her spare time she makes brownie batter, reads, and watches speculative television shows. One of her goals in life is to eat a fried tarantula.

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Sneak Peek Friday: Author Renee Scattergood

This week I’d like to welcome author Renee Scattergood who writes the Shadow Stalker series. Renee is a very talented writer with an ever growing following of readers. Once you start these books, it’s really hard to put them down!

Shadow Stalker: Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6)

Shadow Stalker Part 1 SmallAuren learns she is destined to enslave the people of her world, and Drevin, emperor of the Galvadi Empire is determined to end her life before it happens. Her foster father, Kado, has sworn to protect her and trains her as a shadow stalker. But her training is cut short, when their people are overrun by the Galvadi Empire. Now she has to find a way to help her people without succumbing to the prophecy.

“Are you ready?” Kado asked me.

“Ready for what?”

He removed a wooden lid covering the well and took a rope from a hook inside the opening. “You will need to climb down into the hole.”

“And then what?”

“Well, that will be up to you.”

“You’re not making sense again.”

He tilted his head toward the well. “Go on.”

I sighed. This seemed like a silly lesson. I had rappelled down many cliffs and into many caverns with Kado over the years. It was nothing new to me. Maybe he was going to start with the easy stuff. I grabbed the rope and sat on the wall of the well. Then I swung my legs over the side and started my descent.

It looked a lot deeper than it was. It was so dark I couldn’t see the bottom, and the opening became snugger as I lowered myself into the hole. By the time I reached the bottom, the walls touched me on all sides, but not enough to slow my progress. Then it opened up, and I found myself in a cavern of some sort. A little further, and my feet were on the ground.

I waited for my eyes to adjust to the darkness and then looked around the open space. The walls were obscured from view, but I heard the burbling of an underwater spring nearby. I looked up and was almost blinded by the light shining through the shaft I had just descended. I thought Kado might be coming down after me, but I didn’t see him.

“Okay I’m down here. Now what?”

“Let go of the rope.”

I dropped the rope, and watched it disappear through the top of the hole.

“Kado, what are you doing?”

Without a word, he put the lid over the hole and left me in complete darkness.

Get a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6):

Renee Scattergood's Bio PicRenee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn’t start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy.

She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels, A God’s Deception.

Aside from writing, she loves reading (fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her homeschooled daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6):

Author Pages


Renee’s Author Spotlight: – a blog where I feature indie and small press authors.

Amazon Author Page:

Smashwords Author Page:


BookBub Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:

Renee’s Shadow Stalkers:

Social Media

Facebook Page:






Sneak Peek Friday: Author A. J. Bakke

This week I’d like to welcome author A. J. Bakke, author of Caffeine Fatale.

My favorite things to do are writing books and riding horses! It’s interesting saying that out loud because ‘riding’ and ‘writing’ sound similar. I write humorous fantasy adventure for middle grade and young adult.

Caffeine Fatale originated from the simple question: “What would happen if I didn’t get my morning cup of coffee?” And then it turned into an entire novel! It is the second book in my Worlds Akilter Series.

B2DigitalCaffeineFataleNow that she is back on her own world, Deart, Ti decides to return to the home from which she had been unjustly banished. Now she has proof that magic does exist. She has Bree, a mage who accidentally turned herself into a mouse. She also has Nataniel, another lidra, who grew up in a mall on Earth. Perhaps not the ideal proof, but with that, Ti has hope of being able to return to her old life with her family and fellow lidra again.

What she returns to is anything but expected. Something horrible has happened to her people. Now she and her companions have another mission before them.

Her human friend, Amiah, gets roped into it, too. Amiah is unaccustomed to so much adventuring. She had been used to watching it on television or reading about it in books. Now she has her work cut out for her as they desperately strive to save Ti’s people.

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(Amiah is a rotund human gal who was brought from Earth to another world, Deart, by a powerful individual who is monitoring the planets. Chloe is a magical person called a Resonant who lives in a place called the Grove that was build to protect people like her. The lidra are small, golden skinned folk around 6-7 inches in height. Cats are attracted to magic so there are a lot of them in the Grove.)

Amiah had explained to Chloe and Kale how she had ended up on Deart. Neither of them were aware of any impending doom so the fact that she had been brought to help them was worrying. What was happening that they weren’t aware of?

Amiah and Kale wanted to go looking for Ti, Nataniel and Bree, but Chloe kept assuring them that they would be back.

“Anytime now! Anytime now!” The strange lady sang as she wandered around her garden, pulling weeds and checking on the welfare of each plant.

This was probably the one million and eighty seventh time Amiah had insisted that they needed to go search for her friends. She would’ve gone to do so of her own accord but she had discovered that she couldn’t leave the Grove without Chloe’s permission. Walking far enough in one direction brought her entering from the opposite side as if the land wrapped around itself as its own miniature planet within a planet. It was extremely annoying.

Kale was perched on her shoulder, clinging to a lock of her hair. He was in full agreement with her, but nothing they said could convince Chloe to release them.

Chloe pulled an onion from the ground and randomly threw it at Amiah. Amiah caught it on reflex. “What’d you do that for?”

“You’ll need it for your mission. Put it in your pocket,” Chloe instructed her.

Amiah sighed and looked down at the onion. It was small and covered in dirt. She doubted she would need it for anything except, perhaps, teary eyes and a lesson in layers. “Is it a magical onion?”

“No no,” Chloe responded musically. “It’s just an onion. Odd little things, aren’t they? But not as odd as turnips. Those are good for stone soup, though I don’t know why anyone would make such a thing. They’d break their teeth.”

“I’ll tell you what else is odd,” Amiah said as she began brushing dirt off of the onion.

“What?” Chloe inquired mildly as she kindly relocated a worm to a spot where it wasn’t in harms way from her work.

“Me being brought here as if there is this terrible emergency and you not letting me go find anything out about it.”

Chloe straightened and flicked some dirt off of one of her gloves. “I don’t find that odd. I think it’s perfectly reasonable.”

Amiah scowled as Kale spoke up from where he sat on her shoulder. “What if they are in trouble now?”

Chloe waved a hand at them in a dismissive fashion. “Shall we go in for tea?” she offered.

Amiah looked up at the sky. “I’m surprised I don’t have tea coming out my ears by now.”

“If that happens, dear,” said Chloe with concern, “Do let me know. There are treatments for that.”

Amiah sighed and followed the woman towards the house. To Kale, she asked, “Is there tea coming out my ears?” She felt a tickle as he peered curiously at her ear.

“No,” he answered with a quiet chuckle. “This one looks fine. Should I check the other?”

“Naw.” Amiah laughed slightly, but she wasn’t able to feel very cheerful while worrying about the rest of her friends. She put the onion in her jacket pocket. It was a light jacket since the Grove was always a moderate temperature. She liked to wear it because it gave her a sense of security though why she felt that way, she couldn’t explain. It didn’t matter. She wore it anyway.

She was about to enter the house when the cats lounging around abruptly burst into a flurry of activity. They bounded towards one side of the Grove, purring and meowing and making a general caterwauling cacophony.

“What the…?” Amiah turned around, trying to see what all the fuss was about. It was difficult to see through the snow fall of fur coating the air. A tortoise-shell cat came racing into the Grove with little people clinging to her back.

Amiah instantly recognize the white mouse. She was overjoyed. “Bree! Nataniel! Ti! And…” She didn’t know who the other fellow was but Nataniel took care of that as the cat stopped before her.

“Tylev. We found him at Ti’s old Nest,” Nataniel informed her.

“Hi Amiah!” Bree chirped. “Didn’t expect to see you here!”

Ti waved but she didn’t look happy. Amiah waved at them with an uncertain smile.

Chloe held the door open so the cat could go inside. Amiah quickly followed. “Are you guys alright?”

The cat jumped onto the couch where she gently laid down to let her passengers off. Then she bounded away towards the kitchen where the food dishes were laid out. The rest of the cats had calmed down and there were many interested gazes turned on Amiah and company.

Chloe set a first aid kit on the couch and then got down on her knees beside it. “Oh, hold still,” she chided the injured lidra when he began to scoot away from her.

He scowled at her. He was tense and there was mistrust in his eyes.

“This is the first time he’s seen people your size,” Bree explained to the Resonant.

Chloe brandished a pair of small scissors at them, but not in threat. She just happened to have them in her hand. “That’s no reason to be uncooperative. I’m only trying to help.” She began to carefully cut away the bandages.

While she was fussing over Tylev’s injury, Nataniel explained what had happened. “The whole Nest was wiped out by things called spidels.”

“No it wasn’t!” Ti snapped in fervent denial.

“Hey now,” Amiah scooted the coffee table away from the couch so she could sit carefully on the floor. It put her closer to the lidras’ level. “Tell me exactly what happened.”

Nataniel cast wary glances at Ti as he elaborated on the story with the correction that the lidra had been taken, not wiped out. Tylev threw in a detail here and there through grit teeth as Chloe used a q-tip to clean what was left of the wound. It looked like it was healing well, but tender yet.

Amiah raised an eyebrow when he got to the part about how the lidra couldn’t get up in the morning without their kaffey. “Sounds like humans without their coffee,” she remarked.

“Or tea,” Chloe threw in.

“They were too weak to defend themselves,” Kale said softly, figuring it out even though he hadn’t been there.

There were sober nods from the others.

“How does he know English?” Amiah asked, slightly derailing the subject. She had understood what Tylev said, but if he was native to Deart, she couldn’t figure out how he’d learned her language so fast unless Bree had used magic to teach him as she had done with Ti and Kale during their visit to Earth.

“He doesn’t,” Bree responded. “The Grove lets us understand each other no matter what language we speak.”

“Oh…” Amiah’s brows furrowed. It would’ve hurt her head to contemplate how the Grove did that, but there were more important things to think about.

“My family is gone,” Ti sobbed, sitting despondently on a baby blue doily. “They took them. They took everyone!”

“Do you know where?” Amiah asked.

The forlorn lidra shook their heads as Tylev spoke tersely, “No…but we will find them.” His tone of voice implied that the spidels would be in big trouble when they did.

“How?” Amiah asked. “If you don’t know where they went?”

Tylev’s expression hardened. “We will find them.” As if by sheer force of will they would succeed.

“Of course we will,” Amiah assured him. “I was just wondering if maybe you had a general direction?”

Tylev waved a hand. “To the East. That’s where they claimed their city was.”

Amiah frowned. “But if their intents were less than honest, they may have been lying about that too.”

Chloe finished up by wrapping a colorful band-aid around Tylev’s leg. He stared at it, aghast. “I cannot pursue my enemy while wearing this!”

“Oh don’t be ridiculous,” Chloe responded brightly. “You wouldn’t be able to catch up to them, anyway.”

He scowled at her. He seemed to be handling the introduction of the existence of giants well, all things considered. He wasn’t cowering or blubbering in a corner.

Amiah pointed to a strange, crystal stick they had brought with them. “What is that?”

Bree cheerfully grabbed it and held it out to her. Trusting the mouse despite an impish gleam in pink eyes, Amiah took the shiny object.

Ti gave the object a look of disgust. “The leg of a spidel. Tylev insisted we bring it along.”

Amiah started and dropped it. “A leg!” She gave Bree a jaundiced eye.

The mouse grinned and rocked back and forth on her hind legs, fore paws innocently behind her back. “Sorry! Couldn’t help myself! Just wanted to see the look on your face!”

Amiah sighed and picked the leg up to set it gingerly on the coffee table. “Too bad there aren’t any dogs here.”

“Why?” Kale asked.

“If we had a good bloodhound, it might be able to track the scent.”

Nataniel shook his head. “These things live in trees. A bloodhound wouldn’t do us much good.”

“But a cat would!” Chloe sang out, making them all jump.

Nataniel snorted derisively. “Cats don’t track things,” he pointed out. “Cats are essentially use–” It was pretty obvious how he was going to finish that word, but he suddenly realized how many feline gazes were pinned on him. “–ful,” he amended mid-word. “Cats are very useful,” he continued slowly and warily, “In…other aspects.”

The cats were suspicious, but appeased enough to return to whatever they had been doing before he had dared speak against them.


Sneak Peek Friday: Author David Wiley

I think it’s about time to shake up my Sneak Peek Friday posts a little.  In addition to sharing excerpts from my own writing from time to time, I’ll also be featuring other authors.  Maybe among them you’ll find a new favorite.

Words Like Rain

This week I’d like to welcome author David Wiley. Enjoy this exclusive sample from his short story, “Words like Rain,” which was featured in Our Write Side’s literary journal, OWS Ink.  You can subscribe to receive the Spring issue, which includes the entire story along with other great stories, poems, and articles.

The words poured from his mouth like rain. The old man stood in front of the heavy oak doors, arms spread wide to bar their entrance. His deep blue robes marked him as a cleric of the cobalt quill, but they were scorched and covered in soot and ash. Just about everything in this forsaken place was covered in soot and ash by now. The kingdom of Andgiet was being razed beneath the weight of revolution and a new kingdom would rise from the ashes like a phoenix. When the self-titled Lord Emperor van Ludwig had fallen in battle, almost all pockets of resistance within the kingdom had surrendered. Clearly this cleric had not received the memo.

“Please, you must not desecrate this sacred place of learning,” he pleaded. Sweat beaded upon his hairless scalp and trickled around his white eyebrows. His hazel eyes were wide and rimmed with red. His weathered hands whipped forward as he doubled over in a fit of coughing. He regained his composure and stretched his arms back out, gripping the vertical strips of black iron along the edges of the doors, as though he alone could hold them back so long as he stood clutching a part of the door. “Barbarians like you could never comprehend the value of the information contained in these tomes.”

The man standing at the head of the invaders smiled at the deranged old man. Captain Byers was never one to back down from a challenge, much less from an old man, while he had a squad of warriors at his back. Captain Byers found it amusing that he called them barbarians. He was all too aware of the power that words held, especially written words. He had no intention of burning this glorious library to the ground, but the old man would never believe that. Let the rutting fool believe what he wanted about their revolution. Together they would reshape this kingdom and tap into the wasted potential it had squandered for decades. Two of the soldiers moved forward and grabbed the man’s arms, lifting him high off the ground. His feet flailed about in the air like a toddler throwing a tantrum. His crooked back stiffened and his kicking stopped. A milky white flooded his eyes, and the laugh that sprang from his cracked lips caused the men around Captain Byers to take two steps back. But the captain stood firm, his crimson cape billowing in the wind. He pushed the sleeves of his soot-stained doublet up and strode toward the double doors of the building.

The dim light from a thousand candles cast shadows throughout the vast chamber. Columns of books stretched across walls and reached to the ceiling. Captain Byers mused that there were more words contained in this one building than in the rest of the whole world combined. It was a literary treasure trove, but the books were not without company. Men of all ages scurried about and scattered into the shadows. A rainbow of robes disappeared behind shelves and through doors as Captain Byers strode across the black-and-white floor. Tall, mahogany tables stood in the spaces between bookshelves, each one stacked with tomes and scrolls. This was a sacred place to these robed men, a place of learning, and Captain Byers knew it would become the epicenter of power for his new glorious kingdom.

A small, slim figure appeared ten feet away from Captain Byers. His stunted arms and legs were dwarfed by his large head and massive flowing beard. He held his weapon in his arms: a single leather-bound book. The men behind Captain Byers laughed when they realized this dwarf intended to fight without a weapon. But Captain Byers suspected the dwarf had chosen his weapon well.

“Turn back now,” a gravelly voice boomed from the stout man. His eyes flashed red in the candlelight. Captain Byers stood his ground and drew his scimitar from its home. He had to be prepared for anything. The dwarf sighed and opened the book.

Words like rain poured from the yellowed pages, swirling and spiraling as they took shape in the space between them. A knight, three heads taller than Captain Byers, swung an axe through the air as it appeared. Its form was solid yet the flowing letters that shaped the knight were fluid, continually shifting and rearranging in order. The letters ebbed and flowed throughout its massive body like water flowing through a stream. Some of the men behind Captain Byers laughed at the sight. Others drew their weapons. Captain Byers would be certain to remember those men and honor them, whether in memory or in promotion, when the siege of this kingdom was complete. The flowing script turned red, and the knight took a slow step forward. The axe, nearly as large as Captain Byers, whirled in a deadly arc toward the captain.

David Wiley is an author of science fiction and fantasy stories, choosing to write the stories that he would love to read. His short fiction has previously been published in Sci Phi Journal, OWS Ink, Mystic Signals and a King Arthur anthology by Uffda Press. David resides in central Iowa with his wife and their cats and spends his time reading, writing, and playing board games. You can find his blog at