Book Spotlight: A Cut Twice As Deep

Congratulations to Wendy L. Anderson on the release of her Viking adventure, A Cut Twice As Deep! If you enjoy Norse mythology, you will love this!

Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a paperback copy of the book!

A Cut Twice As Deep Final Front CoverA Cut Twice as Deep

Publication Date: October 7th, 2020

Genre: Viking Adventure/ Sisterhood/ Romance

The bond between sisters is one forged in blood and fire. Twin sisters, Liana and Deirdre were inseparable like the two halves of a double-bladed axe, making the pain of having to leave each other a cut twice as deep. Their father, Gorsedd Gunnarson, King of the great country of Svartur Rokk, did not care about twin bonds or his daughter’s preferences and severed the pair with a single blow. Both Liana and Deirdre have been sold to the highest bidders for ships, weapons, and alliances. For Gorsedd Gunnarson these are very profitable and advantageous marriage arrangements, but the twin sisters would be torn from each other lives and sent to lands far apart forever!
Liana is forced to leave her childhood sweetheart and marry a stranger. Sweet, timid Deirdre would be wed to a Viking warlord. One would leave her home on a ship and the other on a horse. Both would travel great distances to new lands. Given no choice but to embrace the lives planned for them, they find that the future holds more than they could ever have suspected. In a land where blood and ice reign, danger and betrayal war with love and hope, as they fight to find happiness in a ruthless world ruled by the sword and axe.

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Excerpt

Liana recalled with great detail, the smoky room, and the flickering torches in iron sconces on the walls. Remembered the smell of sweaty men, oiled leather, damp fur, wood smoke, and roasting meat. Heard the rattle of sword and thump of drinking horns and the pounding of eating knives on the worn, beaten tables. Shadows crouched in the dark corners of the hall. She could see clearly in her mind’s recollection, how her father had suddenly stood after eating and drinking for hours and raised his large drinking horn on high. He smoothed his hand over his long greying blonde beard, straightened the black bear fur cloak on his broad shoulders, and roared for silence. As all eyes trained on King Gorsedd, the conversation and laughter quieted.

“This night!” Gorsedd Gunnarson’s deep voice boomed out and the men stilled to listen. “We celebrate!” The men roared in response and then quieted.

“Raise your mead horns and drink to my daughters!” The men raised their horns and cheered loudly sloshing mead on the tables and over their hands.

This was strange behavior coming from their father and Liana and Deirdre exchanged surprised glances as they moved slowly toward the front of the room. Pulled forward by this uncustomary sentiment, their father had their full attention.

“Tonight!” Gorsedd boomed again, waiting for the men to quiet down and regain everyone’s attention. “We celebrate the betrothal of both my daughters! Drink to our good fortune! SKOL!

All eyes turned to stare, and the men drank to Liana and Deirdre.

“Skol!” they all shouted then quieted as Gorsedd began to speak again.

“For my eldest Liana, I have arranged a marriage contract with Tiernan Lachlan of Lochlannach and Kearn Mac An-Bharain of Noreg for Deirdre.”

He gestured toward strangers in the hall and bellowed.

“Welcome men from Lochlannach to Svartur Rokk my great mead hall where the warriors are more skilled at sword and drinking! These men will be taking Liana across Loch Indaal to marry Tiernan Lachlan!”

Loud cheers rang out and the men raised their drinking horns in salute, sloshed mead into their mouths, and banged their daggers on the tables.

Both Liana and Deirdre stared in wide-eyed shock at their father with their mouths falling open. This was the first time they had heard this news, and both girls stood stunned, disbelieving their ears. They turned and looked at each other, terror written on their identical faces. The men at the tables murmured and some continued to cheer, a few fell to grumbling.

Deirdre staggered in disbelief and her frightened gaze stayed fixed on Liana while she slammed down the pitcher of mead she had been holding onto the nearest table. Her furious gaze flew back and forth between their father and Deirdre.

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Click the link below for a chance to win a paperback copy of the book. This giveaway is open to international entries and will end October 10th!

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About the Author

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Wendy L. Anderson is a Colorado native and mother of two boys.  A devout reader of the classics, fantasy, sci-fi and historical fiction, she has decided it is time to write down the fantasies from her mind.  Writing about everything from fantastical worlds to the stuff of her dreams she takes her stories along interesting paths while portraying worlds she sees in her mind’s eye.  Her goal is to deviate from common themes, write in original directions and transport her reader to the worlds of her creation.

Wendy L. Anderson | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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An author and friend of mine recently released another book that you should check out. It is called The Little Breadwinner: War and Survival in the Salvadoran Heartland by Lucia Mann.

The Little Breadwinner - Front 3D Cover

Synopsis: FROM 1980 TO 1992, A TURBULENT CIVIL WAR ravaged the Central American state of El Salvador, claiming the lives of approximately 75,000 Salvadorans. The Little Breadwinner is a story of tyrannized, frightened families—mostly poor peasants, indigenous peoples, and child farm workers—whose lives signified nothing to the military death squads.

Lucia Mann, who was in El Salvador at the time, recalls this vivid historical portrait of human rights violations during and after the “dirty” war between the military-led government and left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. This brutal conflict was backed politically, economically, and militarily by the United States with CIA involvement.

Throughout these pages, you will experience intense trials of courageous survival with unforgettable characters who yearn for peace, justice, and normalcy. One of the brave women you will meet is Estella Godwin Lozano (a Waorani tribe descendant of the Amazon rain forest), who suffered terribly before her brutal demise in Laredo, Texas in 2019. She was a “little person” who became traumatically affected by the abuse perpetrated by National Guard soldiers outside her pueblo home. She heroically joined the Sandinistas (Cuban-backed guerillas) to seek revenge upon the villains of her country.

Buy the book on Amazon!



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It’s time to talk about all the books I read in September! I only managed to read 8 out of the 10 that I had set out to read but I think that I did pretty well. Let me know in the comments if you have read any of these books and what you thought of them! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Steel Hand, Cold Heart

I’m so excited to announce an amazing giveaway event in honor of Steel Hand, Cold Heart by Rachel Menard! Read on for book details, an excerpt and a link to the event!

STEEL_HAND_COVER_w_AwardSteel Hand, Cold Heart

Publication Date: July 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy/ Adventure/ Vikings

On the island of Helvar, women rule. Sixteen-year-old Carina has trained for most of her life to belong to the coveted Daughters of Hel, the steel-handed Viking warriors who provide souls to the Death Goddess in exchange for the prosperity of their island. Gaining her place hasn’t been easy. She was not borne of the island, but another spoil from another raid, raised by the island Chieftain. There are many who would see her fail, and on her first raid, she does. She doesn’t kill a priestess she should have.

Carina needs to prove her worth or risk losing her place. Before she can, her arch-nemesis drugs her wine and sends her off the isle as a captive of three foreign boys. But what is Carina’s greatest misfortune may turn out to be her greatest gift. The young men are taking her to the jewel of the Southern Isles – Fortis Venitis, a place no other Daughter of Hel can venture. Carina can place Hel’s claims on the Southern isle and return to Helvar with the spoils, a victor.

However there are many obstacles to pass before she reaches her goal. Like her rune stone that everyone keeps trying to steal, the mismatched pirates from a country that no longer exists, and the priest with his poison that melts flesh from bones. But the most dangerous obstacle of all are the odd feelings she’s developing for her victims, especially the knife-thieving captain Nik. That could make it difficult for her to kill him in the end.

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

They called me Carina the Unstoppable. No, the name did not render men to terror like Merciless Merle, nor did it inspire awe like Dagna the Destroyer, or command attention like Odda Ironfist. But the moniker was mine. I earned it for the many times I had been knocked flat on the training grounds or limped on bleeding limbs to finish a fight. It was how I earned my place as one of Hel’s Daughters, the Hand of Death Herself.

I leaned over the rails of our longboat, Jörmungandr, aptly named because the figurehead was carved in the image of the giant sea serpent, wriggling its way through the water east toward Frisia. A strong wind held our mainsail, and we bobbed back and forth on gentle waves. These smooth waters were a blessing from the sea giant, Aegir. He approved of our quest, speeding us along our last raid of the season, the last offering to Hel before the long winter.

This was the Daughters’ last raid of the season but my first. I could hardly contain my excitement. I wanted to be there already, to see the villagers’ faces when we arrived on their shore in droves. When we offered their blood to the Goddess Hel.

I curled my steel fingers into a fist. On the eve of my initiation, Thora warned me attaching my steel hand would hurt. Her exact words were, “It feels like cutting your fingers off one by one and pissing in the wound.” Vidar warmed the steel gauntlet in the coals until it glowed sunset red, and I grit my teeth as he slid the molten metal over my fingers. The steel hand burned through flesh and muscle until the metal touched bone. My eyes had watered. A violent scream had gathered in my chest.

I held it back. I didn’t have the luxury of showing weakness, and once the hand was seared to my fingers, I belonged to Hel. She who bears the steel hand has the Goddess’s blessing to take life. That was three months ago. It took that long for my hand to heal, to become useful again

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Giveaway Details

Goodreads Giveaway Event!

Set sail for adventure, romance and cross-dressing on an epic Viking-inspired journey! 

Enter for a chance to win 1 of 50 digital Kindle copes of STEEL HAND, COLD HEART, Grand Prize Winner of the 7th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-Book Awards! Winners will be selected at random, and their prize will be sent directly to their Kindle device. Giveaway is open from May 15, 2020 through June 14, 2020.

About the Author

Rachel_Menard

Rachel Menard earned her degree in marketing from ASU, during which time her work was featured in the university paper and her own, self-published punk zine, Chelsea. Her short fiction has been featured in the New England Speculative Writers’ Anthology, The Final Summons and on Cast of Wonders. Most recently, her self-published YA fantasy novel won the Grand Prize in the 7th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-Book awards. For more of her writings and ramblings, visit http://www.rachelmenard.com.\

Rachel Menard | Twitter | Instagram 

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Are any of you interested in Harry Potter? I did a tiered ranking of all the characters and would love to hear your thoughts on it! Check out the video below:

Book Highlight: Prowling The Darkness

Take a journey east with Rayden Valkyrie as she undertakes one of her most harrowing adventures yet! Prowling the Darkness is the latest release in the Rayden Valkyrie Tales!

A return to hard-hitting, gritty sword and sorcery with an iconic and inspiring main character, the Rayden Valkyrie Tales are a growing collection of stand-alone novellas that will elate fans of the genre!

The Prowling the Darkness Blog Tour features reviews, interviews, guest posts, video, and top ten lists! As a novella, Prowling the Darkness is a shorter and quicker read for reviewers too!

About the author:  Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

Book Synopsis for Prowling the Darkness:   Dark rumors and whisperings of unholy sorcery bring Rayden Valkyrie to the remote city of Sereth-Naga.

There she finds a populace cowering in fear of the city’s ruthless, mysterious rulers, who remain behind the high walls of their citadel.

An even greater mystery surrounds the city.

Something is prowling the darkness.

Something that has kept the enigmatic rulers for centuries from escaping Sereth-Naga to spread their wickedness to other lands.

Prowling the Darkness is a stand-alone novella that is part of the Rayden Valkyrie Tales.

Author Links:

Website: www.stephenzimmer.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stephenzimmer7
Twitter: @sgzimmer
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7

Guest Post: Building the World of Rayden Valkyrie

 The world of Rayden Valkyrie is an exciting and diverse one, filled with a wide array of lands, cultures, creatures, and characters. More and more of this world is being revealed through the two collections of novellas featuring the Rayden Valkyrie and Ragnar Stormbringer characters.

It is a world that is distinct and different from the world of Ave portrayed in my epic fantasy Fires in Eden Series. I strive to have a more ancient world feel in Rayden’s tales, while also hinting of an even more ancient age, remnants of which make their appearances in the various adventures and tales.

My approach to world building focuses upon creating realistic and well-rounded cultures, some of them historically-inspired, and others original in nature. Each culture has a full history of its own, heroes and leaders, a religion, means of trade (whether barter, or coin-based), a geography that it inhabits (and that geography, hosting certain types of plants, wildlife, terrain, weather patterns, and natural resources, will have a significant influence on the kind of culture that develops within it), and an interrelation with other lands or elements of that world (which can be antagonistic or benevolent in nature).

I think that good world building embraces a comprehensive approach to each culture. The reader may not get to experience all aspects of a land or culture in a given tale, but the author needs to have the foundation in mind so that the dynamics of the culture, behavior of the characters from it, and other elements flow naturally through the course of the narrative and action. I recommend avoiding the urge to “info-dump”, though a little extra info may be useful in certain situations, when soaking in something major in the story like a large new city.

Having a solid understanding of the world and its various lands and cultures provides great fodder for storytelling. The conflicts between cultures/realms can be reflected in the interactions between characters, create dynamic encounters, and much more.

A good understanding of the world in the author’s mind can also be the source of inspiration for new stories. This is precisely how the novella Prowling the Darkness came about. It is a stand-alone tale, but it takes place right after the events in the novella Blood of a Queen. It features a remote city-state called Sereth-Naga ruled over by an enigmatic group of beings called the Sharir-Mord.

The people of Sereth-Naga are inspired by the people of ancient city-states and areas of Persia, while the Sharir-Mord’s inspiration is entirely original in nature.

The culture of the people in the city of Sereth-Naga has been strongly affected by the Sharir-Mord, to the degree that the people are almost like cattle to the Sharir-Mord “Farmer”. The presence of an even more ancient world is reflected in the entities lurking in the darkness in the land around Sereth-Naga, who become a very pivotal part of the story. Like the Sharir-Mord, these entities are derived from an original inspiration.

Rayden Valkyrie goes alone into this world, among the people, the Sharir-Mord, and the legendary entities prowling the landscape around the city. While I do not get to reveal everything about the culture of the people, the things in the darkness, or the Sharir-Mord, their cultures inform everything regarding the actions and decisions of the characters that Rayden meets and encounters.

I am confident that by the end of the story, the reader has a great feel for this part of Rayden’s world, and that Sereth-Naga has an organic and realistic atmosphere about it. Ultimately, I find that I am in a very good position for future tales that involving one of the groups encountered during Prowling the Darkness. All of that is made possible by comprehensive world building.

I invite you to read Prowling the Darkness for yourself and begin your exploration of Rayden’s dynamic and diverse world!


Tour Schedule and Activities

8/7      Armed with a Book    http://www.armedwithabook.com Review

8/7      I Smell Sheep  http://www.ismellsheep.com/        Guest Post

8/7      Fragile Winds http://mariadkins.blogspot.com      Guest Post

8/8      The Most Sublime      http://www.themostsublime.com   Review

8/8      Breakeven Books       https://breakevenbooks.com           Guest Post

8/9      Armed with a Book    http://www.armedwithabook.com Interview      

8/10    Horror Tree    https://www.horrortree.com          Guest Post

8/10    Sheila’s Guests and Reviews http://sheiladeeth.blogspot.com     Guest Post

8/11    Speculative Fiction Spot        http://specfictionspot.blogspot.com/         Guest Post

8/12    Literary Underworld http://www.literaryunderworld.com          Guest Post

8/13    Jazzy Book Reviews    http://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com Video Interview

8/13    The Book Junkie Reads          https://thebookjunkiereadspromos.blogspot.com Guest Post

8/14    Stuart Conover’s Homepage https://www.stuartconover.com     Top Ten’s List

8/14    Bookish Valhalla  https://www.bookishvalhalla.com  Review

Links for Prowling the Darkness

Kindle Version:  https://www.amazon.com/Prowling-Darkness-Rayden-Valkyrie-Tale-ebook/dp/B07R75X26Z/

Barnes and Noble Link for Prowling the Darkness: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/prowling-the-darkness-stephen-zimmer/1131360526?ean=2940161456958

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/prowling-the-darkness

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/prowling-the-darkness/id1463010144


 

July was a busy month for me but I still managed to read 5 books! Check out my wrap up to see what I thought about them!