#GuestPost : Home (After it Happened Book 9) by Devon C. Ford #Home #AfteritHappened @vulpine_press @DevonFordAuthor

Hello Readers! Today I’m pleased to welcome Devon C Ford on Books Teacup and Reviews to talk about the location inspiration for his new post-apocalyptic/sci-fi book, Home in After it Happened series. Check out the book details and interesting guest post below.

Home (After it Happened Book 9) by Devon C. Ford


Publication Date: March 27th 2020


Publisher: Vulpine Press


Genre: post-apocalyptic / sci-fi

Synopsis:

Safety is an illusion. Security is only a fleeting sense. Peace is a myth. 

Steve and the other survivors in the UK have rebuilt and healed after the brutal end to the reign of Richards. But removing a dictator was only the beginning… 

Years after a mistake of compassion and humanity, an enemy thought long gone returns to bring down a rain of violence and terror the likes of which they have never seen before. 

Their society, a peaceful one of trade and co- operation, has moved on from the bloody aftermath of the collapse, but that evolution blunts their teeth to be able to combat the new threat. 

The call to return to the rainy shores of England is strong for Dan and his fearless accomplices, so they return home to do what they do best: bring justice to a lawless world. 

About Series:

Set in the UK in the immediate aftermath of a mysterious illness which swept the country and left millions dead, After it Happened follows the trials of a reluctant hero, Dan, and the group he forms around him. They must battle the elements, find sufficient supplies and equipment to survive, and protect themselves against the most destructive force on the planet: other people.

Guest Post: Location Inspiration

A lot of fans ask me about the places in my books. Some of them are real, but most of them are figments of my imagination inspired by real places and changed to fit what I need for the story.

Following the mantra of writing what you know makes it easy to describe real places, but what to do when those real places limit your storytelling ability? How do you overcome that limitation to where your imagination wants to go?

In After It Happened, I did just that and based the early stories on places I knew well which allowed me to give that element of realism it so deserved. When the story evolved and moved on I found myself increasingly reliant on the internet to give me the visual backdrop of a canvas where I could paint my brushstrokes for the readers.

What to do when you’ve painted yourself into a corner? Two words.

Road.

Trip.

Minor spoiler alert, the story that starts in the rural centre of England moves south through the continent where pictures needed to be painted for the characters to play out their own story. I had to construct a set in which my imaginary actors could perform, and that required inspiration.

Now I’m not much of a people person – shock horror for a writer, I know – and even more so that I’m nervous of new places and not having a set pan to follow. I’m that person who arrives at the airport five hours early in case I don’t make the flight.

After a month of meticulous planning and creating an itinerary, I set off from home just after midnight to head south for le Chunnel.

From there, after half an hour sitting in my car as the train thundered along beneath the English Channel I emerged in the early hours in northern France with the same bizarre disorientation you get coming out of the cinema in the dark when you’d entered in daylight.

There I began what became an intimate and long-lasting personal relationship with the voice commands of my car’s navigation program. We very nearly split up when she unnecessarily took me on the Paris ring road as part of the return leg where I believe they were filming a new version of Death Race.

The first foreign leg, fraught with the confusion of being on the wrong side of the road, saw me driving from Calais to Bordeaux over about ten hours, with an additional ten percent of that spent stuck on a one-way system that gave me tantalising glimpses of the hotel I was supposed to staying at.

The following morning, setting off bright and early after three too many fresh croissants, saw me taking a stunning drive down the Pyrenees towards the first of my research locations.

That drive will forever be etched into my memory as the challenging, twisting mountain roads left my face aching with repetitive strain injury brought on by continuous grinning.

Due to the many errors made by my navigational companion, which may have been me ignoring her for the sheer enjoyment of driving, I found myself crossing through into Spain accidentally and then back to France before an inspiring tunnel lead me to a wonderfully inexpensive fuel station.

Trying out my (appalling) best French, I was shocked to be answered in Spanish and found out I was, in fact, a visitor of Andorra. That happy accident led to an hour of exploration and the inspiration for the seventh book of the series, even if I didn’t know that yet as I was researching book five.

Reluctantly getting back to my plan, I took to the mountain roads again to race the course of one of the rivers leading to my objective, Villefranche de Conflent. Literally the confluence of two rivers where a medieval walled town sat beneath a high hill crowned by an impenetrable defensive position called Fort Liberia.

These two places became so influential, so crucial to the story that without being there, without climbing the hundreds of steps carved out of the mountain itself and without walking the same ramparts my characters defended, I would never have created the story as it now exists.

Twice more I visited the town, getting by with my best (still appalling) French along with much pointing and smiling, until I’d walked every inch of the town until I could feel the cobblestones under my feet as I slept.

On what became my last visit there I saw a painting in the museum of a watchtower in a place called Sahorre which captured my frivolous attention enough to create yet another vital element to my books.

After a quick google I set off, opting to take the long walk as I had with the steps leading to Fort Liberia, and climbed that steep hill to spend a long time looking out over a cloudy-filled valley offering me line of sight for miles. I soaked in every detail I could, letting it infuse me in a way that sounds far too bohemian even to me, but that’s what I did.

Waking the next day with a number of aches to remind me that climbing two mountains on the same day was ill-advised at my age, I headed south for the sea.

I may not live anywhere near the coast now, but I grew up near it and always felt an affinity for a sea view and can still recall the calming sensation I experienced when I dropped out of the high ground to look down on what would eventually become the place I call Sanctuary.

Looking at the seaside town of Collioure, with the crown jewel of another medieval castle sitting proudly to loom over the entrance, I saw how these places would come together in my mind to create the perfect setting.

Wandering through the town again, earning odd looks from locals, I sat on the sea wall looking inwards to the town to form every wall, every rampart, every building in my mind until I could see it clearly. Even as the sun set there I still sat, drinking it all in until it became, and always will remain, my ultimate happy place.

So my answer to the readers when they ask if the places are real? Yes, they are. Only not in the literal sense.

My advice to other writers? Get out from wherever you sit to write. Chase your story to the places it takes you and don’t be afraid to change the world to make it what you need it to be. You never know what your imagination will create.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/329jlVg

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2SYb6Hi

About the Author:

Devon C Ford is from the UK and lives in the Midlands. His career in public services started in his teens and has provided a wealth of experiences, both good and some very bad, which form the basis of the books ideas that cause regular insomnia.

Facebook: @decvoncfordofficial

Twitter: @DevonFordAuthor

Website: www.devoncford.com

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and post?
Have you read this book already or any book in this series?
Are you going to add it to TBR?

HAPPY READING!!

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#GuestPost #Guestpostseries by Alan Camrose, author of Lost In Plain Sight (Part V) @AlanCamrose

Hello readers! Today I’m pleased to share last Part of guest post series by Alan Camrose, author of Lost In Plain Sight this month. If in case you missed first and second part of this series here is the link – Part I Part IIPart III | Part IV

Over to author…

Firstly, thanks to Yesha for agreeing to me guest-posting on the site. Much appreciated, and I hope that you all enjoy my Blog posts which are a sideways look at my writing and my book. 

The Gallery on my website (www.alancamrose.com), and my Blog generally, is intended to be a place that shows a bit about me as well as stuff about my work. 

I have just published my first novel, “Lost In Plain Sight”, a fantasy-thriller set in Brighton, full of action, magic, humour, where Sam, Pagoda and Meyra are on the case to track a demonic killer and find more than they bargained for. (Since Pagoda is a cat, she’d like to be in the case.) They encounter among other things a goblin fatale, a werewolf with exquisite dentistry and a sat-nav with personality issues. I’d love you to join me by the seaside for some ice cream and mayhem…

***

Part 5 of 5

Pier Pressure – Brighton Beach Backdrop

Pinkie Brown is a psychotic and ruthless underworld figure in Graham Greene’s classic 1938 novel, Brighton Rock (and the classic movie in 1948 (Richard Attenborough), and the re-make in 2010 with among others Helen Mirren – Official Trailer. Pinkie would be an unlikely poster-boy for the Brighton tourist trade. The  brawling tribes of mods and rockers portrayed in Sixties Brighton in the movie Quadrophenia wouldn’t be on their shortlist either. (Official trailer) To give you an idea of the menace that is in this book and the movies, imagine you’re the teddy bear – are you feeling lucky, Teddy?

The city has not otherwise featured to a great degree in literature or movies (Brighton Beach Memoirs doesn’tcount), but does pride itself on its eclectic cultural scene. As an example, I went to see Mark Knopfler play at the Brighton Centre a while ago: magic! It hosts a challenging marathon (which I have witnessed, I confess, as a supporter rather than a participant), and the legendary annual Brighton Naked Bike Ride where riders struggle to stow their gear. Combined with among other things the Palace Pier, the towering Needle observation deck (the British Airways i360) and the barking mad architecture of the Brighton Pavilion, there’s clearly a lot to see.

I have been going to Brighton throughout my life with my parents, often to the pitch & putt on the front when I was a kid, and achieving a keen grasp of ’99’ tasting. Then I went with friends, and now family and friends. The city has changed from a more traditional seaside town of ice cream, sticky rock and fish & chips to the newer, more wide-ranging, place to be.

I found that it was a natural choice for me to use Brighton and its local area as the main backdrop to my new fantasy-thriller, Lost In Plain Sight. I was drawn to it by my familiarity with the place, the excitement that it still gives me to go down there and crunch over the beach and visit the Regency on the seafront for some hake and chips. And an edge to the place, created by the ebb and flow of visitors to the city. Never the same twice.

I think the West Pier is probably my favourite landmark in Brighton. Visit the webpage and you’ll see its allure. It used to be an elegant slice of seaside glamour, then fires and the elements conspired to bring it down before its redevelopment, leaving what now looks like a black rib-cage hovering in and above the sea, no longer a counterpoint to the Palace Pier, more a dwindling marker of past glory. 

I describe it in my book:

The sea and the sky danced on the horizon, impossible to tell apart, the view broken only by the brooding, spidery remains of the burnt-out West Pier, soaking up sparkles from the water with grim determination.  

All those years of my walking along the waterfront, visiting the Palace Pier, then further along to reach the Bandstand and the remains of the West Pier. all eventually coalescing into scenes in my book.

Pinkie would have attacked it with sledgehammers to finish it off, but it sits there now, crumbling into the sea. It’s a symbol of keeping going against all the odds. Like the investigation team in my book. 

And now it looks like the West Pier will rise from those flames and rival its neighbour again. 

That mirrors the way Brighton has changed and re-shaped itself over the years, its history a splendid backdrop for, well, everything.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

***

About Book:

This novel is a contemporary fantasy-thriller set in the UK around Brighton. There’s action, suspense and humour. And useful insights on cats. And magic. And magical cats.

Sam Franklin is a wizard from the real Magic Circle. Pagoda – is his cat familiar (or is it the other way round?). Meyra is a stroppy elf with teenage angst issues even after forty years in her teens. They are drawn into tracking a demonic killer on England’s south coast. The demon is not just at the seaside for the greasy doughnuts: its masters prey on the poor and vulnerable in society with the terrifying prospect of ancient dark magic (or rather Ma gic, the dangerous word with six letters, one invisible and silent) running wild once more.

Sam and Pagoda find themselves dragged into the plight of the local homeless community, Meyra into the vast dangers of drug-fuelled excess, all reach the same place with the clock ticking and cultists chanting, waiting for a terrible conspiracy to come of age.

But all this pales into insignificance before such questions as: can the three oddballs work together to save the day and get home in time for a good grooming? And why does Sam keep having a worrying urge to shred sofas, chase rodents and cough up hairballs? Why is Meyra worried about whether her Moncler Calypsos look good on her during a spot of burglary. And last but absolutely not least, why does Pagoda fret about the handball rule while she curls up in tiny places and tries to get some hard-earned (by cat standards) sleep?

NOTE: IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ AND REVIEW THIS BOOK, PLEASE CONTACT AUTHOR FOR REVIEW COPY.

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and post?
Are you going to add it to TBR?

HAPPY READING!!

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#GuestPost #Guestpostseries by Alan Camrose, author of Lost In Plain Sight (Part IV) @AlanCamrose

Hello readers! Today I’m pleased to share Part IV of guest post series by Alan Camrose, author of Lost In Plain Sight this month. If in case you missed first and second part of this series here is the link – Part I Part II| Part III

Over to author…

Firstly, thanks to Yesha for agreeing to me guest-posting on the site. Much appreciated, and I hope that you all enjoy my Blog posts which are a sideways look at my writing and my book. 

The Gallery on my website (www.alancamrose.com), and my Blog generally, is intended to be a place that shows a bit about me as well as stuff about my work. 

I have just published my first novel, “Lost In Plain Sight”, a fantasy-thriller set in Brighton, full of action, magic, humour, where Sam, Pagoda and Meyra are on the case to track a demonic killer and find more than they bargained for. (Since Pagoda is a cat, she’d like to be in the case.) They encounter among other things a goblin fatale, a werewolf with exquisite dentistry and a sat-nav with personality issues. I’d love you to join me by the seaside for some ice cream and mayhem…

***

Part 4 of 5

Cats as an example of the ties that bind a writer

I holidayed with my family in Myanmar (Burma) in 2012, travelling from Yangon to Bagan, to Lake Inle in central Myanmar, via a couple of bracing air and road trips. The great thing is now we’re able to say that – like Nellie the Elephant – we met one night in the silver light / On the road to Mandalay. No traveling circus to run away from, although we did have our eleven year old twins with us.

In an earlier post, I mentioned the religious dimension of the exquisite reclining Buddhas. Now I’m going to talk about the exquisite Burmese cats there, which delighted and charmed us in equal measure.

Burmese cats in Burma? Who knew? Read on.

We found them at Lake Inle. It’s an almost supernaturally peaceful place of calm water and effortless fishing with nets by wiry boatmen. They work on long skiffs, their practices unchanged over thousands of years, balanced, more like perched, on one leg. Precarious but elegant. Their non-standing leg wraps around a long oar which they use to propel their boats, freeing their hands to manipulate long, thin bamboo poles and silky fishing nets. They look like eerie stick figures in the early morning mist, or complicated semaphore signallers. Magical.

We saw hand-weavers and metalworkers plying their trades in raised bamboo buildings on sturdy poles above the lake. Then we landed at an island jetty revealing the entrance to:

The entrance to a live-action feline wonderland. Do not enter here if you are not a cat-lover, or if you do then be warned (and wear a hat). There are lots of cats. Burmese cats. A silken wave. In fact a heat map of Myanmar would surprise you in terms of hits for Burmese cats, since they died out in Burma in the 1930s. No more Burmese cats in Burma, like no chocolate in a chocolate cake. 

They were re-introduced to their native and spiritual home in 2008/9 from Australia and Britain to re-kindle the flame. Make the world right. Put that smooth, delicious chocolate back where it belongs.

The cats at the Cat Café won our hearts – as well as high ground in the picture opposite. Their now familiar to us complete lack of fear (common sense) of strangers had them cavorting around all of us in no time. 

It was an easy step to acquiring one when we got back to Britain. 

Pagoda.

She even now walks on my shoulders – not so much on my head, maybe – in the same no-nonsense way as her predecessors at, a link to the feisty cat familiar in my new book, Lost In Plain Sight. 

What felt like an inevitable starting point for my writing journey: that cat as one of the protagonists, allowing mere humans a periodic glimpse of what it means to be a cat. 

I was acting on the most consistent advice that I’ve seen, apart from the raucous screaming of the words “SHOW, DON’T TELL!” :”

“Write what you know”. 

Maybe something about law at some stage. I was a lawyer for a long time. However, for my first project I chose to write about a magical cat who naturally believes that her “owner” is her familiar while they hunt down a murderous demon. With the greatest possible respect, that was a lot more fun than writing legal opinions. 

I hope you read it and agree.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

***

About Book:

This novel is a contemporary fantasy-thriller set in the UK around Brighton. There’s action, suspense and humour. And useful insights on cats. And magic. And magical cats.

Sam Franklin is a wizard from the real Magic Circle. Pagoda – is his cat familiar (or is it the other way round?). Meyra is a stroppy elf with teenage angst issues even after forty years in her teens. They are drawn into tracking a demonic killer on England’s south coast. The demon is not just at the seaside for the greasy doughnuts: its masters prey on the poor and vulnerable in society with the terrifying prospect of ancient dark magic (or rather Ma gic, the dangerous word with six letters, one invisible and silent) running wild once more.

Sam and Pagoda find themselves dragged into the plight of the local homeless community, Meyra into the vast dangers of drug-fuelled excess, all reach the same place with the clock ticking and cultists chanting, waiting for a terrible conspiracy to come of age.

But all this pales into insignificance before such questions as: can the three oddballs work together to save the day and get home in time for a good grooming? And why does Sam keep having a worrying urge to shred sofas, chase rodents and cough up hairballs? Why is Meyra worried about whether her Moncler Calypsos look good on her during a spot of burglary. And last but absolutely not least, why does Pagoda fret about the handball rule while she curls up in tiny places and tries to get some hard-earned (by cat standards) sleep?

NOTE: IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ AND REVIEW THIS BOOK, PLEASE CONTACT AUTHOR FOR REVIEW COPY.

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and post?
Are you going to add it to TBR?

HAPPY READING!!

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#GuestPost #Guestpostseries by Alan Camrose, author of Lost In Plain Sight (Part III) @AlanCamrose

Hello readers! Today I’m pleased to share Part III of guest post series by Alan Camrose, author of Lost In Plain Sight this month. If in case you missed first and second part of this series here is the link – Part I | Part II.

Over to author…


Firstly, thanks to Yesha for agreeing to me guest-posting on the site. Much appreciated, and I hope that you all enjoy my Blog posts which are a sideways look at my writing and my book. 

The Gallery on my website (www.alancamrose.com), and my Blog generally, is intended to be a place that shows a bit about me as well as stuff about my work. 

I have just published my first novel, “Lost In Plain Sight”, a fantasy-thriller set in Brighton, full of action, magic, humour, where Sam, Pagoda and Meyra are on the case to track a demonic killer and find more than they bargained for. (Since Pagoda is a cat, she’d like to be in the case.) They encounter among other things a goblin fatale, a werewolf with exquisite dentistry and a sat-nav with personality issues. I’d love you to join me by the seaside for some ice cream and mayhem…

***

Part 3 of 5

Jezebel, the magic campervan 

I wanted to select a vehicle for Sam Franklin to drive. He’s one of the main protagonists in my new book, Lost In Plain Sight, available through Amazon in Kindle format and paperback – search under Alan Camrose.

A campervan came to mind – iconic, different from Inspector Morse’s Jaguar or the Batmobile. A touch of Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo without the floral decorations…

Why did it come to mind?

As a family, we toyed for a while with the idea of owning a campervan, one of the originals, A while ago it was something to get out of our system, try it out, see how it fitted. We rented the beautiful van below from Pembrokeshire Classic Campers –  https://coolcamping.com/campervans/uk/wales/714-pembrokeshire-classic-campers/units/9165-lily – very helpful and accommodating when we dealt with them. Her name’s Lily (not Jezebel) and we all have a soft spot for her in our hearts – not just the damp camping ground on a sloping Pembrokeshire hill-top.

I was designated driver and we wanted to explore Pembrokeshire. The huge steering wheel was a challenge, like trying to steer a fork lift truck, and after the first long bend it was a lot less alarming! As long as the drum brakes – the old school type rather than new-fangled disc brakes – were employed with plenty of time to spare, the journey was a serene way to float through the Welsh countryside in smatterings of sunshine.

We stopped at a campsute for the night and deployed the ‘driveaway awning with the inner bedroom’ which clipped onto the side of the van as an extra bedroom. Cameron (my son) and I were turfed out onto the, er, turf under the awning, while Nicola (my wife) and Rose(my daughter) bagged the beds in the van. Happy memories of sleeping under the stars – until 6:30 am when a corner of the awning detached from its peg and started rhythmically slapping me in the  face with rain-soaked enthusiasm. 

And it’s still a magic memory – as a whole – even now…The freedom, the freshness and the howling wind on that hill-top. Nature’s magic, in fact. 

As writers, we are advised to write what we know, which is tricky when your novel relates to a magical cat, but it is a helpful starting point to let your Muse off its leash. I am grateful to Jezebel for her inspiration…

I’ll look at other images in later posts and see how they came to influence my writing or just me…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

***

About Book:

This novel is a contemporary fantasy-thriller set in the UK around Brighton. There’s action, suspense and humour. And useful insights on cats. And magic. And magical cats.

Sam Franklin is a wizard from the real Magic Circle. Pagoda – is his cat familiar (or is it the other way round?). Meyra is a stroppy elf with teenage angst issues even after forty years in her teens. They are drawn into tracking a demonic killer on England’s south coast. The demon is not just at the seaside for the greasy doughnuts: its masters prey on the poor and vulnerable in society with the terrifying prospect of ancient dark magic (or rather Ma gic, the dangerous word with six letters, one invisible and silent) running wild once more.

Sam and Pagoda find themselves dragged into the plight of the local homeless community, Meyra into the vast dangers of drug-fuelled excess, all reach the same place with the clock ticking and cultists chanting, waiting for a terrible conspiracy to come of age.

But all this pales into insignificance before such questions as: can the three oddballs work together to save the day and get home in time for a good grooming? And why does Sam keep having a worrying urge to shred sofas, chase rodents and cough up hairballs? Why is Meyra worried about whether her Moncler Calypsos look good on her during a spot of burglary. And last but absolutely not least, why does Pagoda fret about the handball rule while she curls up in tiny places and tries to get some hard-earned (by cat standards) sleep?

NOTE: IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO Read and REVIEW THIS BOOK, PLEASE CONTACT AUTHOR FOR REVIEW COPY.

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and post?
Are you going to add it to TBR?

HAPPY READING!!

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#BlogTour #GuestPost : A Noble’s Path: An Enchanted Isles Novel (Enchanted Path Series, Book 2) By I.L. Cruz #ANoblesPath @ILCruzWrites @RPoli3

Hello Readers! I’m pleased to share an excerpt and a guest post from the author as a part of blog tour for a A Noble’s Path: An Enchanted Isles Novel (Enchanted Path Series, Book 2) by I.L. Cruz, organized by Rachel Poli. Check more about this new Fantasy in this post.

A Noble’s Path: An Enchanted Isles Novel (Enchanted Path Series, Book 2) by I.L. Cruz
Publication Date: January 31st 2020
Publisher: Bosky Flame Press
Cover Artist: Jack Baker
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 236
ISBN (Digital): 9781732547131
ISBN (Print): 9781732547148

Synopsis:

Divided loyalties test Inez Garza.

The infamous incident at the Academy of Natural Studies has forced her to work for the King’s Men while continuing to serve the hidden market.

Supporting Birthright furthers the cause of Magical Return, but the cost may be the fall of the royal house and losing Zavier forever.

And the strongest pull of all is her growing and erratic magic, which demands everything and offers only destruction in return.

Inez must decide where her loyalties lie—saving Canto or saving herself.

Guest Post:

Dreaming of Mother Goose

I’ve been a writer for over five years and I thought the question I’d get the most was about inspiration. Surprisingly, most people don’t ask anything at all. Those that do ask questions usually want to know about genre and where to find the books. And it’s a shame because inspiration was the question I’d prepared for the most. My current series came to me while reading Mother Goose. 

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again

Everyone’s seen the picture. A large egg wearing pants teetering on a wall with fantasy medieval knights circling. But did you notice an egg is never mentioned? I saw something else. It was the start of story. I imagined a ridiculous man who falls from a great height and no one knows who or why it happened. It was a mystery and book one in my series. 

Little Bo Peep

Has lost her sheep

And doesn’t know where to find them

Leave them alone

And they’ll come home

Wagging their tails behind them

The first time I heard that nursery rhyme, it was in a big picture book and the illustration was of a shepherdess wearing and a bonnet and petticoats with a crook calling for her sheep. Something about that picture seemed off to me. Bo Peep sounded like a crank to me. At least whoever she was talking to thought that. And somehow that impression stuck with me. 

When it came time to write A Noble’s Path when it was still part of Mother Goose Mysteries (many drafts earlier), the question of where Bo Peep’s sheep had gone. More importantly, why hadn’t they believed that the sheep really had gone missing? A random thought became another book in a series. 

If the question is ever asked, I’ll say inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. Every experience or random thought has the potential to become a story.

Excerpt:

The morning dew had given way to a chill humidity. The songbirds that hadn’t left for warmer climes started tuning up their whistles and calls. Snow would come early this year. After the usual stifling heat of the hidden market, it felt frigid in the open air. I pulled my coat closer, causing a rustle of Áliz’s list of KM. I had little time to memorize it, but keeping it on me was a great danger. The KM were no kinder to traitors than the hidden market was to theirs.

I reached for the list, but stopped myself when I heard a distinctive footfall behind me.

“Hey! What did the Empress want?” asked Jacque, calling the Jabberwocky by his personal nickname for her. He bounced on the balls of his feet, his lithe frame blocking my path.

“How did you know we talked?” I asked.

His near-perfect teeth shone in a mischievous grin. Jacque was one of the best fences I knew, able to reach out to wealthy clients because of his celebrity status as a stunt performer. It helped that he didn’t look like a criminal, with his handsome features. To them his smuggling activities were a sideline, but I knew smuggling was his priority. That acrobatics brought fame, not fortune—not that money was a problem for him anymore. Delaware Humphrey’s fortune looked good on him. Jacque had traded his patched clothes for custom made. Even for his night gig.

“How often does the Jabberwocky close the market? About as often as one of her smugglers get pinched to work for the enemy,” was his reply. “I knew the market going dark had to be about you.” He withdrew a miniature blaze burner from his coat pocket and it flared almost instantly. He didn’t flinch as his callused fingers caressed the flames.

“Are you waiting for applause? Yes, it was about me. Anyway, shouldn’t you be retrieving my egg stash?” I asked.

“Already done. You’ll see a nice little profit from that—not that you need it,” he said. Jacque was one of the few smugglers who knew I was the daughter of the second most powerful noble in Canto, right after the royal family. My mother’s title meant I never had to worry about money like most smugglers, but that didn’t mean I turned my nose up at extra cash. Funding rebels was expensive.

“I could say the same about you. Have you moved yet?” I asked. Jacque had come into a tidy sum after his half-brother, Delaware Humphrey, was killed.

“Not quite and don’t think I haven’t noticed you changed the subject. What did the Empress say?” He continued to fiddle with the mini blaze burner.

“I’m suspended until further notice,” I said, not wanting to tell him about my assignment of spying to redeem myself. The other smugglers at the hidden market had been making themselves scarce when I was around. Working with the KM wasn’t a way to endear myself with a bunch of mercenaries and thieves. Then it occurred to me that Jacque was still hanging around… Why?

I would never have suspected Jacque of spying on me but in that instant it occurred to me. Had he struck some deal with the Jabberwocky? I’d barely begun my covert operations and was already feeling paranoid.

Purchase Link:

https://books2read.com/u/brvGdW

(Central link through Draft2Digital for Barnes & Noble, Rakuten Kobo, Scribd, Apple Books, Tolino, 24 Symbols, Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, Amazon Kindle, and Bibliotheca)

About Author:

I.L. Cruz decided to make writing her full-time career during the economic downturn in 2008. Since then she’s used her BA in International Relations to sow political intrigue in her fantasy worlds and her MA in history to strive for the perfect prologue. When she’s not engaged in this mad profession she indulges her wanderlust as often as possible, watches too much sci-fi and reads until her eyes cross. She lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter and a sun-seeking supermutt named Dipper.

Find her on Twitter @ILCruzWrites

or her blog, Fairytale Feminista at https://fairytalefeminista.wordpress.com

And her website www.booksbyilcruz.com

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