books

Ask a Demon - New Book Edition by Ryan Hill

 

Today marks the release of Bart of Darkness, Verse 2 in my epic tome, The Book of Bart

 

Darkness chronicles my adventures trying to uncover a powerful cult that's intent on breaking the balance between Heaven and Hell, sending the entire world into chaos. 

Okay, yes, Samantha helped. A little.

And just like I did with making a historical record of The Book of Bart - Verse 1, I used a ghostwriter for Darkness.

Why use a ghostwriter? Simple, really.

I've got better things to do.

I'm not the type to sit down in front of a computer for days on end, stringing together enough words to make a book. Even I'm not that sadistic.

I'm also one of those who likes to get the attention/praise/ego boost without putting the work in. My ghostwriter puts in the elbow grease, I reap the rewards. I don't know how he feels about the arrangement, but it suits me just fine.

Let's turn the Ask a Demon format on its head and ask Ryan!

Q (Bart): How honored do you feel putting pen to paper to tell my story?

A (Ryan): Oh, extremely. You wouldn't believe. It's the most beautiful thing.

Q (Bart): Is that sarcasm?

A (Ryan): I don't know. Is it?

Q (Bart): Would you rather I found someone else to tell my story?

A (Ryan): We both know that nobody else would tell your story as well as I do at the pay you offer.

Q (Bart): True. So what keeps you coming back, Mr. I wish I had a raise but the world just doesn't work that way?

A (Ryan): Same reason you won't write your story. I've got nothing better to do.

Q (Bart): That's ridiculous. There's nothing better you could possibly do with your day than tell my story.

A (Ryan): Says you.

The Q&A gets a little muffled at this point, since I had to teach Ryan a thing or two about gratitude.

A (Ryan): I apologize for my earlier hubris. Telling Bart's story is the honor of a lifetime. A thousand lifetimes, even. -wipes blood from nose-

And there you have it! Ryan loves telling my story (as well he should). 

You can see how amazing my story is yourself over at Amazon

Check it out!

Ask a Demon - Easter Edition by Ryan Hill

 

It goes without saying that a demon* like myself isn't a huge fan of Easter. Nobody associated with Hell likes the holiday, which with Good Friday thrown in, is a THREE DAY HOLIDAY THAT TAKES UP AN ENTIRE WEEKEND EVERY YEAR. It's bad enough having to face Easter Sunday, but Easter weekend? That's like watching the Alvin & the Chipmunks movie, then somehow getting roped into watching its three sequels. 

Pure

Unadulterated

Torture

But to every cloud there is a silver lining, and Easter is no different.

To draw attention away from what Easter really is, a few demons got together and decided to "kill 'em with kindness," which in this case entails bunnies, eggs, and candy.

The Easter Bunny is a symbol people can get behind that isn't, well, you know. Throw in the candy, which is terrible for people and causes cavities, diabetes, noxious gas, weight gain, and the occasional heart attack, and Easter weekend is almost bearable. 

Almost.

For those who look forward to the weekend, try not to O.D. on jelly beans. Or do. I know I'll be drowning myself in them.

 

* So I'm currently an ex-demon. Tomato, Tomahto.

On to the questions... I mean... question.

Danny Danny Danny asks...

You know my mind and desires, where is what I seek?

A fortune cookie kind of question merits a fortune cookie kind of answer: In bed.

Need advice from Bartholomew? Want to know what movie to see this weekend? Send your question to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

Drew Hayes talks villains, FORGING HEPHAESTUS in the Authordome by Ryan Hill

 

Drew Hayes is pretty awesome. His novels are fun as hell, he's wearing a beer can helmet in his author photo, and he's a really nice guy.

Does that sound like a man crush? Nah...

Does it, though?

Just kidding. Drew is a great guy/author/friend, though.

Drew does have a new novel out, Forging Hephaestus, which is all about villains. It's also rated 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon after 68 reviews, which is stupid impressive. For contrast, my novel, The Book of Bart, is rated 4 out of 5 after 77 reviews.

* = Yes, this is a shameless plug

 

That said, Drew has strapped on the armor, chosen his weapon of choice (a bachelorette party straw), and is ready to step into the Authordome for a record FOURTH TIME. 

Will he survive? Absolutely. This is all virtual/not in the real world.

Two authors enter.

Two authors leave.

Welcome back to the Authordome, Drew! This is your fourth time entering the infamous arena. Do you think this time will be more Fury Road or Batman & Robin?

I'd say more Kung Fury than anything else.

You have plenty of experience writing superheroes with your Super Powered series, but Forging Hephaestus is a bit of a new direction for you, focusing on the villains instead of heroes. What made you want to look at the "darker" side of superheroes?

I’d say it was less about wanting out and out darkness, though the nature of the tale does lead to a more violent tone than some of my other works, than it was just wanting to try something really different. Villains get to have more fun, take the pragmatic path over the moral one, and generally get away with things no superhero ever could, which made the idea of writing about them really interesting. Plus, there was no way I’d get away with a superhero named Johnny Three Dicks, that’s solely villain territory.

Ryan note: Johnny Three Dicks is one of the best superhero names EVER

First thing that comes to mind. Favorite superhero movie/TV show. GO!

For movies, it’s either Deadpool or Batman Begins, both were great films overall. TV shows… if we’re being really loose with the term “superhero” then I’d go with the short-lived show Limitless, which was way more charming and fun than it had any right to be. If we’re sticking with classic superhero properties though, then I’d say Justice League Unlimited.

Villains always have the most fun, but they can be difficult main characters because you need something to anchor the story. How did you approach that in Hephaestus? Just make the main character boring? How do you go about writing a story about a villain with other villains there?

I think the book, and the series as a whole, are anchored on the basic idea of survival. That’s why the villains even have a code (the series is titled Villains’ Code after all) and why they enforce it. Because none of them want to die or be sent to jail, they have to do their villainy with intelligence and care, hence why they’re able to function around other villains and not launch stupid schemes every week. Those villains do exist in the world, mind you, and they are another source of potential antagonists for the main character villains. Lots of potential enemies!

Who is your favorite villain? If you say the Joker, you must use 150 words or more to explain why. I'll also laugh and point at your answer as I'm posting it on my site.

Right rogue’s gallery, wrong villain. I think Mr. Freeze (the version from the '90s Batman Animated Series) is one of the best villains ever written for one simple fact: he isn’t even really a villain. Victor Fries is a brilliant scientist trying to save his wife, only to be betrayed and mutated by the head of the company he worked for. Rather than go on a straight-up murder spree, he focuses on robbing people to get enough money to continue research on curing his wife. And what stops him? A billionaire with ultra-tech protecting his wealthy corporate buddies.

Dumb question of the interview: Is Forging Hephaestus set in the same world as Super Powereds?

No, it is not. This story was about playing with the worlds and tropes of classic comic books, which are more reality-removed than the Super Powereds world. Rather than messing with my existing property to fit a new mold, it made more sense to build this world from the ground up and make it exactly the way it needed to be.

What's next for you? Another entry in your awesome Fred the Vampire Accountant series?

If all goes as expected, that should indeed be next on the docket. Fred No. 4 is written and in REUTS hands, so ideally it should be out in summer as usual.

Last but not least, sell us Forging Hephaestus in haiku format.

A guild of villains
Capes, mechs, mutants, and lies
What more do you need?

Thanks again to Drew for being a good sport in the Authordome. You can read more about him and his works at his site, which is chock full o' goodness.

Whole 30 Update No. 1: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly by Ryan Hill

 

The first few days of the Whole 30 program have come and gone, and somehow I'm still doing this thing.

Does it have to do with my fiancee's ultimatum that if I don't complete the 30 day program that I can never complain about gaining weight again for the rest of my life? A little.

Does it have to do with early results? A lot.

Now, I haven't magically dropped all the weight I want to, but I have dropped enough to make me curious what Week 2 will bring.

As for no soda/alcohol/pizza/enjoying life? That part is more out of sight, out of mind. So long as I don't talk about it, I'm okay. The second I start talking about it, I become a puddle of immaturity, kicking my legs in the air and begging my fiancee to let me off the hook. 

Of course, she won't let me off the hook.

I'm still getting used to drinking coffee with this ghetto Whole 30 approved creamer and the soda thing has been - so far - not too terrible, thanks to a supply of La Croix berry flavored soda.

I did try this gingerberry flavored Kombucha. It smelled like antiseptic. Tasted like it too.

Overall, I'd say Whole 30 isn't bad. But I still have the weekend to come, and that's when I like to let loose a bit.

Stay tuned.

Ask a Demon - Halloween Edition by Ryan Hill

 

Can you hear it?

Angels blowing their horns?

No?

That's because it's HALLOWEEN!

The greatest day of the year, or any year. A day when demons can shed their human facade, revealing the true form hiding underneath, and walk around in our birthday suits. Nobody would bat an eye, freak out, or wet their pants. They'd say, "cool costume bruh," or give us first prize in costume contests.

Me? I look way too sexy to drop my human appearance. I don't feel the need to show the world my demon form and not be judged. I'm secure in my exquisite looks like that.

But I digress.

Halloween has shifted a bit over the years, going from the Irish holiday of Samhain, where humans greeted us with food and alcohol in exchange for letting some of their dead relatives hang out for a few hours. Eventually, the bribes stopped, and the holiday became the one day of the year where it was okay to get mad over receiving a pack of raisins over some candy. Scratch that. It's always acceptable to get mad over getting a pack of raisins. They're disgusting. Worst use of grapes ever.

On to the Halloween questions!

Cinnamon from West Virginia asks:

Why are some costumes called slutty? Most of them seem okay to me.

The companies that make Halloween costumes are morons. Aside from selling outfits named "Slutty Nurse," their business model makes zero sense. They only sell their product one month out of the year! Is that an organization that should be passing judgment on what's considered slutty? Methinks not.

Besides, dressing up as a nurse - especially when you aren't one - is pretty much the equivalent of wearing a nurse costume. The only difference between an official outfit and the "slutty" costume version is a couple of inches.

Have a question for me? Send it to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

Jake from Austin asks:

Is it okay to put razorblades in candy?

No. No, man. Don't mess with kids. Ever. The worst parts of Hell are reserved for people who mess with kids: right next to everyone who thought elevator music was a good idea.

Tim from Atlanta asks:

Bartholomew, is there any costume you wish more people wore on Halloween?

That's an easy one. Birthday suit.

Need advice from Bartholomew? Want to know what movie to see this weekend? Send your question to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

Notes from a query reader 2 by Ryan Hill

 

My previous Notes from a query reader post was very much a brain dump, an overview of what I've learned while reading query letters and manuscript excerpts. These excerpts are almost always a novel's first few chapters, and in the last post I stressed the importance of having a James Bond-type opening. Something that grabs the reader (in this case, me) by the throat. 

I can't stress this enough. Get into the meat of the story later. Be sparing with your details. If you're introducing a character at the beginning, do it with actions, not descriptions. 

One item I'm starting to see over and over again is a story starting with the main character getting out of bed, starting their day.

Does that sound exciting? Does that make you want to read more? Gee, this character just got out of bed! What will happen next? Stretch? Yawn? GO BACK TO SLEEP?

Don't do this. I'm begging you.

The only author - off the top of my head - that can get away with starting a novel with their main character waking up is Dan Brown. All of his novels start with Robert Langdon being waken up in the middle of the night by a phone call to help with some situation. That's... okay. Something is happening. 

Look, when you've sold a bajillion books like Brown, you can start a novel that way. Until then, show your main character in action. Make them proactive. 

Maybe a lot of writers start novels this way because it happens a lot in movies. The catch is there's energetic music that can be played, and often the opening credits are also rolling, so a lot of filmmakers keep things simple during that span. Novels don't have the luxury of a booming soundtrack. All they have is words. Make them count.

HOOK THE READER. For someone like me, who only reads queries and maybe the first three chapters, don't save your best for last. Put it front and center so I'll want the higher ups to look at the query. 

GOING ROGUE Author Drew Hayes Returns to THE AUTHORDOME by Ryan Hill

 

Two authors enter.

Two authors leave.

Few know this premise better than Drew Hayes, who's gone toe-to-toe, author-to-author, beta male-to-beta male more than anyone else in the known universe. Why does Drew keep coming back? Is it to shamelessly promote himself and his latest release, Going Rogue out today? An innate desire to see how far he can push himself before breaking? Maybe Drew craves competition. Maybe he knows there's no other place that will test his wits like the Authordome. 

Nah. He just enjoys the Authordome, and the Authordome enjoys having him!

Thanks for stepping into the Authordome. You were a part of these interviews before they became the Authordome? Does it feel any different, knowing you've stepped into a post-apocalyptic world of questions and answers?

I mean, I live in Texas, so we’ve pretty much got the amped-up cars and gun part of the post-apocalypse down pat. The only parts we’re missing is worse weather and less traffic. 

Going Rogue is the third in the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series. Do you have a set number of entries in this series, or will it go on and on until it loses steam, like Seinfeld? In other words, the series is about non-playable characters. How long can you play with non-playable characters?

No set number, I’ve just got a general story in mind, and however long it takes to tell will be the series. I doubt it will go past 10 though, I have a hard time imagining it would be fun and fresh in the double digits. But since I’ve got an endpoint in mind, I’d say it’s more Gravity Falls than Seinfeld. Also, you know Seinfeld went out when it was still on top, right? If you want something that limped across the finish line, maybe start using Spin City or That 70’s Show.

Authordome note: Meh. That last season of Seinfeld was butt. Season Nine wasn't so hot either. The rest? GOLD, JERRY!

A lot of series tend to have "threequelitis," where the second sequel in a series pretty much jumps the shark. There's Veronica Roth's Allegiant, Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave series fell apart at the seams, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest couldn't recapture that Dragon Tattoo magic, and some would say Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay was a far cry from The Hunger Games. Even the Authordome is play on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which suffered from threequelitis. How did you go about avoiding threequelitis, or did Going Rogue succumb to the evil?

I think the key to avoiding that issue is to specifically avoid trying to recapture past magic. Don’t try to grab what you once held, instead focus on making it the best story for the characters as they are now, having grown and changed over two previous books. That was my strategy, anyway. Like all authors, I’m too close to give an objective opinion on if it worked, but all the beta-reader feedback so far has been pretty darn positive, so it’s looking like I may have dodged the threequelitis bullet.

Full disclosure: I haven't read any of the Spells, Swords & Stealth series. Does that make you want to lop my head off with a broadsword?

Nah, everyone who knows you is aware that you have terrible taste. Not surprising that you’d have missed this gem of a series.

Is there anyone in the series that's a badass on the level of Brienne of Tarth? Any badass heroines at all? 

It’s hard to compare direct levels without an actual fight, but I have a heroine who is a barbarian wearing demon-hide armor and swinging around a cursed axe like it’s going out of style. I’d say she’s at least a contender for equal badass grounds.

In thirty seconds or less, tell us why your series is better than Game of Thrones. I won't be timing you, so this is on the honor system. Go!

When I promise dragons, damn it I deliver on them. No long waits required.

Now for every other book in the fantasy genre, because I can't think of another series off the top of my head. Go!

Well, I promise I don’t spend entire chapters describing intricate systems of trade and macroeconomics for the fictional kingdoms. That’s got to put me above 70% of the genre right there.

The Authordome can sometimes feel a bit one-sided. Is there anything you'd like to ask me?

How’d you get someone as big as Drew Hayes on your blog?

Authordome answer: Every dog has its day? The sun even shines on a dog's ass everyone once in a while? Something to do with dogs...

Per Amazon, this is a list of the top fantasy authors. In the known universe.

1. J.K. Rowling
2. Shannon Meyer
3. Bella Forrest
4. Diana Gabaldon
5. George R.R. Martin
98. Drew Hayes

Thoughts?

Holy shit, I’m in the top 100? I was not expecting that. Haven’t even had a release in months. Um, I guess to put my thoughts concisely: Woohoo!

Sticking with this, your name recently popped up on author Christopher Moore's Amazon page in the "Customers also bought items by" list. As of Oct. 7, your name seems to have been replaced with... Christopher Moore. Tell me. How does this make you feel? Happy? Sad? 

Honestly just the fact that it happened at all was pure encouragement. I was not expecting to be sharing an audience with Christopher Moore yet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a career goal and something I’m working toward, but one day I plan to take that spot for good. Still, it’s an uphill battle, and there’s no sense in claiming victory before I’ve earned it.

What about the fact that I'm not even on your author page under the same section? Personally, that one stings.

Aw, don’t worry man. Keep at it, and one day you’ll get there.

In haiku format, tell us why we should read/buy/steal Going Rogue:

Five Adventurers
Hijinks, battle, monsters, and gold
Also there’s a pig

 

Notes from a query reader by Ryan Hill

 

A couple of months ago, I started reading query letters/excerpts for a publishing house. The responsibilities are simple. If a submission is good, I recommend that the higher-ups take a closer look. If a submission stinks, I flush it down the toilet, just like that author's hopes and dreams. 

MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

But I digress.

I'm not here to gloat. I'm here to help.

Query letters are a mixed bag. I don't care if you've had other stuff published. A publishing history in a query gives me hope that the excerpt will be solid, but it's no a guarantee. A query letter needs to sell the manuscript first, yourself second. It doesn't matter if you won third prize in a beauty contest. 

This is what I'm looking to be sold on:

  • Can you write? A poorly written query letter typically spells doom for the excerpt. Just sayin'. One usually begets the other. That query needs to be edited to within an inch of its life. Make it snappy. Give it a voice. A unique voice. I'll talk more about voice later, but you're selling your book. DO THAT TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITIES.
  • Is the story good? Some queries... ugh. Awful, terrible story ideas. Other ideas are solid, but the writing isn't there. The story needs to stand out. Is it a fantasy? Then give a fresh take on the genre. Not just a different world with a hard to pronounce name, a whole new perspective. LIke Deadpool. Heck, even if the story isn't right for the publisher, good is good. I'll pass it on and let the powers that be decide what to do next. 
  • Does the story have a strong voice? This is what can give a story that edge. Push it over the top. Like Samuel L. Jackson says in Pulp Fiction, "personality goes a long way." An editor can work around a strong voice. A so-so story can be tightened up if the voice is there. The argument could almost be made that voice is more important than the story. Anyone can write in a neutral style, but it's the voice that can really set a manuscript apart from the others.
  • SWEET! Good story, strong voice... but can the publisher sell it? This is like the boss level for query submissions. The final battle. A story can be intriguing, the voice is there, but a publisher may not know how to sell it, etc. This has happened to me a few times. It's the way she goes. The story has to be different enough to stand out, but familiar enough to be relatable to a mainstream audience. It's kind of a Catch-22. 

Most of the queries I pass on tend to have the same problems:

  • The author isn't there yet. Keep writing, learning, and improving. You'll get there if you put the work in.
  • The manuscript isn't there yet. Maybe the manuscript is sloppy and needs more editing. Maybe the writing is lackluster and missing a voice, i.e. the author isn't there yet. Regardless, and I can't stress this enough. FIND YOUR VOICE. Mine is sarcastic and silly, with a bit of anxiety thrown in here and there. Hemingway's was terse and soaked in booze. WHAT'S YOURS? Keep writing, learning, and improving until you find your voice. A lot will start falling into place once you discover your voice.
  • The story isn't appealing. It has a been there, done that feel. Probably best to chalk up this submission as experience gained and move on to the next one.
  • The story is appealing, but not what the publisher is looking for. Such is life. If the manuscript is good enough, it'll find a home. Or it can be self-published. 
  • Everything is there. Story, voice, marketability, all of it. The problem? The excerpt is drowning in exposition.

Besides poor writing, too much exposition is the biggest killer of queries. World building is difficult. I know. Basic rule of thumb: only reveal parts of your universe when it's absolutely necessary. If it isn't important, leave it out. More often than not, exposition kills all narrative momentum. In screenwriting, the first ten pages are by far the most important. If a script doesn't don't grab the reader by, that script is going in the trash. Same goes for book submissions. Want to hook a reader?

GIVE YOUR EXCERPT A JAMES BOND MOMENT.

Throw the reader into the middle of the action right away. It's okay to let the reader try to wrap their mind around what's happening. That's called ENGAGING THE READER. Think about Harry Potter. The series begins with Harry as a baby being dropped off at his aunt's house. All the reader knows is Harry's parents were murdered and magic was involved. That's. It. The reader doesn't need to know anything else at that point. J.K. Rowling was so smart with her world-building. She eased the reader into that world, spending TWO WHOLE BOOKS ON SIMPLY ESTABLISHING HOGWARTS AND THE CHARACTERS. It's only in the third entry, Prisoner of Azkaban, that Rowling opens up the world. 

Look, too much exposition at the beginning is something I've been guilty of myself. But think about it. Remember the Star Trek reboot? That opening was AMAZING. The audience didn't have a clue what was going on until it was necessary. The only real exposition (that it was George Kirk's ship, his wife was on board, pregnant with James) comes naturally in the course of action, not because the film stopped to tell the audience about these people.

Ever see The Matrix? The first half of that film is fantastic, featuring one of the best cinematic twists of all-time. What comes after? The exposition. EVERYTHING comes to a stand-still so Keanu can learn about this new world. 

When it comes to exposition, start small. Work your way out. Not every piece of the universe you've created needs to be established right away. Not all of it even needs to be revealed to the reader. If it doesn't advance the plot, it doesn't matter - especially when trying to hook a reader. Exposition, taken as a whole, slows the action down. 

When trying to impress a reader with a query submission, focus on the action. You've got a finite amount of story to impress someone like me. Don't waste it on exposition. Trust me. I WANT TO BE IMPRESSED. I WANT TO MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR THE POWERS THAT BE TO CHOOSE WHICH MANUSCRIPT TO PUBLISH. I MAY HAVE AN EVIL CACKLE, BUT I AM ON YOUR SIDE.

One big item to remember: EVERYTHING IS SUBJECTIVE. One submission I recommended a pass on wound up receiving a publishing offer from the powers that be. Everybody's tastes are different. Just because I'm not in love with a submission, doesn't mean the next person will feel the same way.

Don't lose hope if you get a rejection or two. Keep at it, KEEP GETTING BETTER, and eventually the worm will turn. The sun will shine on a dog's ass. The broken clock will be right. All it takes is one yes. The only failures are those who give up. The rest are still working toward their dreams and goals.

Ask a Demon! by Ryan Hill

 

What makes someone an expert on advice? Experience? Education? Is a former heroin addict more qualified to help a drug addict seeking help than a doctor or psychiatrist? Does the addict's real-life experience make for a better perspective? How about a demon that's existed for thousands upon thousands of years? A demon that's seen and done most everything one could do within the realm of human existence. 

Bash a caveman over the head with a giant bone? Check.

Get crucified? More than once? Check and double check.

Destroy a fragile peace between two warring nations by deflowering a princess betrothed to a prince from another land? Check, check, and check.

In short, don't hate the player. Hate the game.

Have a question for me? Send it to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com with the subject line ASK A DEMON. Otherwise, the nitwit who owns the email address will answer your question. Trust me, you don't want that happening. He's a boob.

Joshua from Charlotte asks:

My boss is a real jerk. He makes us work Saturdays, but he never shows up. He's making our lives miserable. Any ideas on how to get him back?

Hmmmm yeah. Is your boss Bill Lundberg, by any chance? Do you need to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too?

Question. If your boss never shows up to work on Saturday, how will your boss know if you don't? If by some chance your boss can find out if you played hookie, hire a prostitute to seduce your boss, then make a sex tape. Not only will working on Saturdays be a thing of the past, but so will your salary... because methinks a raise is in order.

Jake from Miami asks:

What's Hell like? Are there multiple levels? Is it hot, or is that just an old wives tale? Speaking of old wives, what's the easiest way to dispose of a body? Asking for a friend.

I love Hell. Spent the past million or so years calling that place my home. Hell is also a lot like the Matrix. It can't be described, only seen. Dante got some stuff right in his Inferno, but I can't say what. You'll have to see for yourself!

As for the body, you can do what Walter White did in that one episode of Breaking Bad. If your stomach is too weak to handle melting a human body, find a pig farm. Those porkers will take care of the rest.

Need advice from Bartholomew? Want to know what movie to see this weekend? Send your question to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

 

THE AUTHORDOME with THE SURRENDERED Author Case Maynard! by Ryan Hill

 

Case Maynard spent 20 years working in the legal and medical fields before hanging it all up to pursue writing. With The Surrendered, Case's writing dreams have come to fruition. But that's not important here.

What is important is whether or not she can survive the grinder that is... the AUTHORDOME.

Two authors enter.

Two authors leave.

After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource—the children.

Surrendered at age ten—after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees—Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand—a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.

Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination—or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind.

Now available!

Amazon - iBooks - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - Signed Copies - Goodreads

 

 
 

Hey Case! Thank you for submitting yourself to the endurance challenge known as the AUTHORDOME. Based on your debut novel, THE SURRENDERED, this may be a similar experience for you. Do you think you're prepared?

As prepared as I’ll ever be, Ryan. An added bonus to all of the research I did for The Surrendered and what it would take to survive an end of the world scenario is that now I’m basically a professional survivalist. Hit me with your best shot.

In THE SURRENDERED, children are the nation's most valuable resource? Does it have anything to do with Lionel Richie believing that they are the future? If not, WHY?

Not really. And it has nothing to do with Whitney Houston believing they are the future either. In fact, Whitney begged that the children be taught well and encouraged to lead the way. Unfortunately, the children in The Surrendered are treated as slaves and taught only the skills that are useful to the System and to their local communities: woodworking, medicinal herbs, weaponry, sewing, etc. It’s a sad life. Perhaps these kids will get enough of it and realize they have “Nothing Left to Give” (and that actually is a Lionel Ritchie song).

Ryan note: medicinal herbs sounds like a good skill...

I haven't read THE SURRENDERED, but it seems the children are put into some kind of work camp. Are there not child labor laws in this future you've created? Can just anyone exploit this free labor? I have some chores around the house that need doing...

Actually, it’s the laws of this new future that have turned these children into slaves. The System, in an effort to recoup money that was lost in a financial collapse, has made all of the kids taxable commodities. Parents are forced to pay exorbitant fees for their offspring. And if they don’t pay? The children are surrendered to work in the local mines, mills, and farms to produce the items that the communities now rely on for survival. It’s possible you could strike a deal with the Master or the Overseer and see about getting some help around your house, especially if there is compensation involved. These new leaders will do most anything, as long as it benefits them.

Will THE SURRENDERED be a trilogy of terror? Quadrology? Septology? Some form of biology/zoology?

If I could figure out a way to make The Surrendered a zoology, I would (because that would be totally cool!). But for now, it’s just a trilogy. I’m currently working on the second book, tentatively titled The Underground. While The Surrendered is a tale set in the sleepy south, The Underground moves the characters further north to a steampunky underground world full of awesome new inventions. It’s sort of my version of the “Industrial Revolution.”

THE SURRENDERED, with its plot revolving around kids in peril, brings to mind THE HUNGER GAMES series. Can you tell us the ways in which your novel will make THE HUNGER GAMES bow and surrender (GET IT????? BECAUSE KATNISS USES A BOW AND YOUR BOOK IS CALLED THE SURRENDERED????????) to your far superior work of fiction.

I somehow doubt The Hunger Games will ever bow and surrender to any other work of fiction, even my far superior one. There are obvious similarities between The Hunger Games and The Surrendered: futuristic, totalitarian government-ruled worlds that use oppression to control the populations, however, there are many more differences than there are similarities. I do think that fans of The Hunger Games will find in The Surrendered some of the same elements that made them fans of Collins’ work, but I also believe they will find in it new and unique characters, plots, and an altogether different tone that will make it a favorite for them also.

Aside from the obvious (diapers, clothes, toys, food, alcohol - for the parents), why are children so expensive in THE SURRENDERED? Is it that you don't like kids? It's okay to say yes. This is a safe place.

The children are only expensive because of the new government rule. The Commander, who issued The Tax to begin with, cares only about lining his pockets with the fees received from the families. He’s altogether not a nice guy. Not even a little. And I adore children. At least the bigger ones who can basically fend for themselves.

I see you're a Florida State fan. Did you go to school there? I went to N.C. State. Ever since the '80s ended, the Wolfpack have for some reason been banned from having nice things. What's it like having nice things, like a Top 5 football team?

I was born and raised in Tallahassee, FL, but I didn’t go to school at Florida State. I lived in Atlanta briefly, and this is where I attended school, but I never stopped loving my Noles. Being a Seminole fan is the best; we have the most awesome fans in the world! And we’re top two. Just saying.

Ryan note: No, Florida State does not have the best fans in the world. Try losing for almost 30 years and still having a rabid fan base. Then talk to me about having the "best" fans. Ugh.

Ryan note No. 2: I think you mean Top 12. Bwahahahahaha. Losers.

My little sister went to Georgia for grad school, so they're my de facto SEC team. They're good, but it's not the same. Sigh... (this is where you give me sympathy)

Hmmm. I’d like to offer sympathy, but I’m gonna horse laugh you instead. Georgia barely got by Nicholls last week. ROFL.

This is a question I ask every author. Tell us why we should read/buy THE SURRENDERED. In haiku format and ONLY haiku format.

Wow, really? But The Surrendered already uses up four of my seventeen syllables. Ok, here goes…

Plots of yesterday

Make way for The Surrendered

It’s the bomb AF

Boo-yah J You’re a trip, Ryan. Have seriously enjoyed this. Thanks so much for taking the time to participate in my blog tour. And, dude, you said you haven’t read The Surrendered. What are you waiting for?

Ryan note: I'm waiting for time to slow down, so I can have more of it :)

 

 

ASK A DEMON! by Ryan Hill

 

 

What is it they say? Ask and ye shall receive? "They" always forget the second part of that: Ask and ye shall receive... for a price.

The cost varies, depending on what's being asked. Sometimes, it's slapping your old, angry biology teacher in the face during class. One poor soul wanted a position of power within Henry VII's court, so I pulled some strings and made him Groom of the Stool. What does that entail? Glad you asked!

The Groom of the Stool was considered "one of the most trusted" members of a king's court, or to phrase it for modern times, his entourage. Why? Because the Groom of the Stool was closer to the king than anyone, perhaps even the queen. See, the Groom was charged with helping the king successfully navigate certain... bodily functions. 

Also, yes. That guy gave up his soul for the position. Kind of a crappy trade off, don't you think? Bit of a stinker? I could go on for days.

Audrey the Curious Author asks:

I really want my book to be a bestseller. Like, make me rich beyond my wildest dreams. Should I make a bargain with your boss, aka SATAN, so I can achieve my goals? I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this, the pros and cons of selling my immortal soul.

Thanks!

You're welcome! Though, I haven't given you any advice yet.

Don't make a bargain with Lucifer. He's a dirty old man who will take everything you have, including the pigtails you sported as a five-year-old that swayed to and fro while you skipped down the sidewalk, your mother beaming with love and happiness. You think Lou messes around? Look at the guy!

 
 

On a side note, making a deal with Lucifer robs some poor demon of making commission on your soul. Don't do that. It's selfish.

As for whether you should sell your soul for fame, fortune, success, maybe a bungalow in Maui... OF COURSE YOU SHOULD DO IT! WHO CARES ABOUT A SOUL? IT'S SOME METAPHYSICAL, MYSTICAL THING THAT SUPPOSEDLY LEAVES YOUR PHYSICAL BODY WHEN YOU DIE. WHAT GOOD DOES IT DO? NOBODY KNOWS! YOU WON'T MISS IT!

Souls are dumb. You don't need one.

To play devil's advocate, however...

Christopher Marlowe sold his soul to become a famous playwright. Familiar with him? Famous playwright, murdered before his time? He's remembered these days for writing a play about a guy who sells his soul to the devil

Think about that.

Want your question answered by me? Send them to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com with ASK A DEMON in the subject line. Who knows? You might get lucky and I'll answer your question.

Until next time...

Bartholomew signing off

So my credit card number got stolen by Ryan Hill

Which is awesome. And a great way to start the weekend. Really. Not just saying that.

Someone, I don't know who, but let's call them Asscheeks McGillicutty, tried to charge $140 worth of mess at a Sears in Virginia to my credit card. Fortunately, the card company caught it.

But I still have to go through the hassle of re-entering that info at places where I pay bills, subscribe to things, etc. 

Clearly, if Asscheeks had met me, things would be different. They'd stand in awe of my classically handsome face. They'd laugh at my jokes until they wet themselves. Not much, just a drop or two. Enough to know they needed to get control of themselves.

I imagine Asscheeks has patchy hair on their head, and what is there looks like cobwebs... maybe even has a fly or two stuck in there. They're probably wearing an old, tattered Hulkamania tank-top that was purchased in 1997 at a garage sale. I'm guessing it was found under a pile of moldy towels someone tried to sell for a dollar. I bet Asscheeks, if Asscheeks is a male, has donated blood and whatnot to places all over the country, so... the future has that to look forward to. As for Asscheeks McGillicutty, I hope their future involves an infuriating bout of PokemonGO where all they find are level 12 Rattata that sends them into a rage that lasts so long, they don't notice the steamroller coming at them from a mile away, despite the driver yelling, "Move! I don't want you to get squished!" repeatedly for thirty minutes to no avail. 

Then, as quickly as Asscheeks McGillicutty entered my life, they were gone. Squished. Flattened like a pancake on the road.

Seems like a fair and just fate.

Cover reveal! Case Maynard's The Surrendered by Ryan Hill

 

Happy Cover Reveal day! Blaze Publishing has another gorgeous design to share with the world today. We're revealing the cover to THE SURRENDERED by Case Maynard. This YA dystopian will definitely have your pulse pounding as a tax is placed on the financially devastated country's most valuable resource--the children. Join the Facebook Party tonight from 5-11pm EST, and mark your calendars for release day 9/20!



After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource—the children.

Surrendered at age ten—after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees—Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand—a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.

Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination—or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


With over 20 years’ experience in the legal and medical fields, Case Maynard decided to trade in her briefs and reports to write the stories that have been floating around in her head since childhood. She lives with her two teenagers and husband in South Georgia, while maintaining a long-distance liaison with her oldest daughter and partner in crime in Alaska. When not writing, she enjoys reading as often as possible, binge watching anything good on Netflix, and all things NCAA football (Go Noles!). You can learn more about Case and her stories on her website.

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Do you have a submission you'd like to send us? We'd love to see it! You can find our submissions guidelines on our website.

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Coming soon! Paired with a dark prince in a murderous game of survival, Maia Graystone discovers the only thing more dangerous than the Emperor’s court is her conflicted heart. The YA Sci-fi Apocalyptic SHADOW FALL by Audrey Grey releases in November, but you can sign up for review copies now.



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THE CONCH SHELL OF DOOM Release Day! Random Acts of Silliness! by Ryan Hill

 

It's here It's here IT'S HERE!!!!!!!!! 

The book with quite possibly the most RANDOM and SILLY title in this history of the written word is here!!!!! 

Witness the Awakening. Witness the tomfoolery. Witness the ridiculous that is... THE CONCH SHELL OF DOOM. Buy it here, won't you?

Not only that, but there's a contest going to win free stuff like signed books or a $20 Amazon gift card! Seriously. May 24, 2016, should just be called the gift that keeps on giving at this point. 

Contest ends June 3, 2016

  • One winner will receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of The Conch Shell of Doom by Ryan Hill
  • One winner will receive a signed copy of The Conch Shell of Doom by Ryan Hill
  • One winner will receive a signed copy of The Book of Bart by Ryan Hill
  • One winner will receive a signed copy of Dead New World by Ryan Hill

Time to announce the RANDOM ACTS OF SILLINESS winners!

Now, some of the suggestions I got were a bit much, or borderline iffy/legal. There were also a few ideas that required women's clothing. Regardless, everyone who entered a suggestion gets a FREE CONCH SHELL OF DOOM EBOOK! If you entered via ryanhillwrites.com, please contact me with your email so I can send you the ebook. As for the winners, YOU GET A FREE BOOK! YOU GET A FREE BOOK! AND YOU GET A FREE BOOK! (free signed paperback, that is). If you all could get me your mailing info, I'll get those books out to you as soon as possible.

Thanks to everyone who suggested a Random Act of Silliness!

Rank: 75,000

Act: Write an ode to my fans and leave it on my website. Barbara also suggested a dramatic reading of Magic Mike, but I had to be wearing a tutu. I'm not made of money you all! :)

Winner: barbara.hopkins39@*****.com
 

Rank: 50,000

Act: Do the "Time Warp"

Winner: Danielle from ryanhillwrites.com
 

Rank: 25,000

Act: Dye my hair

Winners: vampyrelady6606@*****.com, calden40@***.com 
 

Rank: 10,000

Act: Dance with a stranger

Winner: mq3377@***.com
 

Rank: 5,000

Act: Paint my body in either the cover or a character

Winner: doveknoll@*****.com
 

Rank: 1,000

Act: Cover myself in oatmeal and yogurt, then run around screaming about my book

Winner: majikalone@******.com
 

Rank: 100

Act: Create a Minecraft-inspired costume and wear it in public for 30 minutes.

Winner: Ginger from ryanhillwrites.com
 

Rank: No. 1 in any sub-category

Act: Dance to "Ring my Bell" in '70s garb, i.e. whatever is left of my Dad's wardrobe from that era ;)

Winner: artemis.lynn1966@*****.com

Fall into Fantasy Week 4: Marsha A. Moore's Enchanted Bookstore Legends by Ryan Hill

 

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

The Enchanted Bookstore Legends
Book One: Seeking a Scribe
Book Two: Heritage Avenged
Book Three: Lost Volumes
Book Four: Staurolite
Book Five: Quintessence
By Marsha A. Moore

Seeking a Scribe: Enchanted Bookstore Legend One by Marsha A. Moore

Lyra McCauley is a writer and loves fantasy novels, but until she opens a selection from bookstore owner Cullen Drake, she has no idea he’s a wizard character who lives a double life inside that volume…or the story’s magic will compel her from the edge of depression to adventure, danger, and love.

His gift to Lyra, the Book of Dragonspeir, was actually her copy, misplaced years ago. Lost in her pain following divorce and death, she fails to recognize him as her childhood playmate from the fantasyland. Friendship builds anew. Attraction sparks. But Lyra doubts whether a wizard is capable of love. She’s torn—should she protect her fragile heart or risk new love?

Opening the book’s cover, she confronts a quest: save Dragonspeir from destruction by the Black Dragon before he utilizes power of August’s red moon to expand his strength and overthrow the opposing Imperial Dragon. Lyra accepts the challenge, fearing Cullen will perish if evil wins. Along with magical animal guides, Cullen helps her through many perils, but ultimately Lyra must use her own power…and time is running out.



Series Description:

The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are about Lyra McCauley, a woman destined to become one of five strong women in her family who possess unique magical abilities and serve as Scribes in Dragonspeir. The Scribes span a long history, dating from 1200 to present day. Each Scribe is expected to journey through Dragonspeir, both the good and evil factions, then draft a written account. Each book contains magic with vast implications.

Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her. 

When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction…Lyra becomes the Scribe.

Purchase Links:

ABOUT MARSHA A. MOORE
Marsha A. Moore loves to write fantasy and fantasy romance. Much of her life feeds the creative flow she uses to weave highly imaginative tales. 

The magic of art and nature often spark life into her writing, as well as watercolor painting and drawing. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and is a registered yoga teacher. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transformed into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Marsha is crazy about cycling. She lives with her husband on a large saltwater lagoon, where taking her kayak out for an hour or more is a real treat. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!


 Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?
  • Don't forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.

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Excerpt from Seeking a Scribe:

Chapter One: Licorice Memories
The smell of anise greeted Lyra as she opened the door to Drake’s bookstore. It took her back to happy childhood memories. Licorice-shoe-string-rewards for following her parents’ requests to stay on the dock while they secured the family’s pleasure boat to its trailer. The aroma brought a fleeting remembrance of times long gone, a treasure now that her folks had recently passed. At ease with the familiar scent, she settled into browsing through rows of antique bookcases.
The shop owner stuck his head around a set of shelves. “Do you like tea?”
“Yes, I do.” Before she could finish speaking, he disappeared. “Is that the wonderful smell?” she called out.
Kitchenware clinked in the back room. Receiving no answer, Lyra followed the noises, scanning collections as she walked. This bookshop appeared established, but surely she would have remembered it from her last visit to the Lake Huron village five years ago. Books were her passion, especially fantasy. She paused in front of that section and studied its titles.
The owner appeared, holding a pewter tray with a teapot, two cups, sugar jar, spoons, and napkins, which he laid on the corner of an old library table. She watched him carefully pour the tea and hand her a cup. He was about her age, mid thirties or a bit older, and handsome. His medium brown hair, peppered with gray at the temples, grazed his shoulders in wavy layers, and his beard was trimmed into a neat goatee. He wore long shorts, a knit golf shirt, and sandals—typical casual attire for this island resort community.
She set down her bag from the drugstore and accepted his offer with a smile. “Thanks. My name’s Lyra.” She blew across the hot surface of the tea to cool it and then inhaled the anise-scented steam. She closed her eyes to fully enjoy the memory. “Ah!”
“Afternoons of boating and licorice with your parents? Right?” he asked.
Her mouth dropped open. How did he know that?

He slurped from his cup. “Go ahead, take a sip. My folks gave me the same reward for taking my kid sister along on bicycle rides.”
Forgetting all about the tea, she asked, “How do you know my childhood memory?”
“Taste it.” His lips curled into a sly grin as he took another gulp.
She cautiously took a tiny sip, just enough to wet her lips and the tip of her tongue.  The flavor flooded her mouth, and her mind swam with wonderful memories. The taste transformed into that of gigantic popcorn balls the sheriff’s wife down the street made for Halloween trick-or-treaters, accompanied by images of Lyra’s costume—a red, fringed gypsy skirt borrowed from Mom. Next came a pumpkin flavor and vision of holding a cold piece of “punky-pie” in her five-year-old hand. Another swallow returned her experience back to anise. “What is this? How did you know?”
“Let me introduce myself.” His grin spread into a smile as his eyes met hers. He took a step closer. “I’m Cullen, Cullen Drake, and I know many things. What I don’t know is what sort of books you like to read.”
His keen interest caused heat to rise in her cheeks. “Well, actually I have several favorites, all fantasy and magical realism. You have a number of authors I like in this section.” She turned to refer to the shelves behind her, but found non-fiction hunting guides instead. “This case held classic fantasy a moment ago!”
Cullen put down his cup. “It moved. It’s over here, and I have just what you want.” He slid an old-fashioned library ladder along its track, set the locking device, and climbed straight up to the top shelf.
Lyra followed, walking between four comfortable leather club chairs grouped on a Persian rug. A portrait of a young girl and a man wearing a cloak caught her attention. Something seemed familiar in the child’s smile.
The noise of books sliding on shelves distracted her. She moved to the base of his ladder and glanced up. The ceiling of embossed tin panels decorated with Victorian teardrop chandeliers and paper Chinese dragons made a unique combination, to be sure.
But Lyra was more curious about the strange happenings in the store and its owner.  He was certainly odd, although not the bookish, geeky sort who usually ran bookshops she frequented. He had an athletic frame and strong legs.
“Can’t find it!” he exclaimed and quickly descended. His brow furrowed, he dusted off his hands on his shorts. “I’ve got to find that volume for you. If you don’t mind me saying, there’s a sadness about you. The book will make you happier than you’ve been since those days of licorice shoe strings.”
“After magical tea and shifting bookcases, I almost believe you.” She laughed to cover her concerns. Even four months after it was final, she worried that the loneliness she felt after her divorce blazed like a beacon on her forehead. But, Cullen knew so much—it startled her…actually, intrigued her. Her ex didn’t ever see inside her, didn’t want to. This man read her as though he knew her. Did he? He seemed so familiar.
“Once I find that book, I promise, you’ll be pleased.” He stroked his goatee. “Hmm. Where did I last see it?” The twinkle in his gray-blue eyes captivated Lyra. “Will you be here for the week? I can look for it and call you later.”
“I’m staying the rest of the summer with my elderly Aunt Jean. She owns a lovely cottage at the end of Walnut overlooking Lake Huron. I thought I’d keep her company and give her time away from her nurse during my teaching break. While I’m here, I plan to write my novel.”
“Great! You’re a writer? What do you teach?”
“Yes, and I teach American Literature at Southern University in Florida. Seems like you already would’ve known that since you jumped into my childhood memories,” she stammered, attempting some humor. Taking a long draught of the tea, her mind filled with memories of her pet dachshund wiggling next to her, displacing a row of dolls. Another part of her past he knew—impossible! Her forehead beaded with sweat.
“No, only thoughts associated with a lot of emotion, like the happiness of snuggling with your dog.”
“How?” she exclaimed, shaking her head. “I don’t understand.” Her mind swam, trying to grasp what happened. She desperately needed some fresh air. With trembling hands she set the cup down.
“I realize it must seem odd, but the book I’m looking for will help explain.” He leaned closer with a smile that somehow reassured her. “This is Saturday. If you can come by next Wednesday morning, I think I should have it for you by then…if you’d like.” He paused and looked into her eyes, waiting for a reply.
“Yes…I’m curious.” In spite of the confusion, she found herself agreeing. “Wednesday will work.”
“Fine. Let me take down your number in case I can’t find it.” He walked to the counter and located a notepad and pen. She dictated her number and full name, which he repeated, “Lyra McCauley, a lovely Celtic name for a pretty lady.”
“I think I need to go now. Thanks for the tea.” With shaking fingers, she collected her shopping bag and headed toward the door.
He escorted her out and offered his hand to shake, the corners of his goatee lifting into an inviting grin. “Enjoy the rest of your weekend.”
Lyra smiled and looked into his eyes, trying to discern his unusual clairvoyant gift. “You too.” The initial touch, of his palm against hers, sent electrical shivers along her arm. She jerked, yet didn’t let go, fascinated by the strong emotions flashing through her mind—attraction, excitement, and acceptance. After an awkwardly long pause, she dropped his hand, half-stumbled over the threshold into the sunshine, and took a long, deep breath.
She ambled to an outdoor café a couple blocks farther down Tenth Street, while her mind buzzed with questions. How did he know those things about her? She dropped onto a seat at an empty table, shaded by an umbrella. He was fascinating and frightening at the same time…and familiar. Her divorce and loss of her parents left her lonely. He intrigued her.
“May I get you something to drink while you look over the menu?” The waitress interrupted with a bright young voice, a college student working a summer job.
Startled back to reality, Lyra murmured, “Just water, please.” Alone in a crowd of lunch goers, her thoughts returned to the bookstore and many unanswered questions.
The waitress placed a glass of water in front of her.

She almost hated to drink and remove the sweet aftertaste of anise from her tongue.