Spotlight & Excerpt: Piper’s Song + Author Interview & Giveaway

Piper's Song

BookCover_pipers song

Piper’s Song
Alpha Academy, #2
by Sara E. Tall
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Billie thinks stopping her fellow students from committing murder and almost getting kicked out of the Realm is as bad as it gets, but she should know better.  Not only are seven of the most powerful students out for her blood, but Sedna —her former enemy turned ally— turns her enemy again when Billie refuses a part in her revenge scheme.  What’s more, Alpha Administration’s refusal to address the injustice in their school is sparking a full-on rebellion, and a lot of innocents are going to be caught in the crosshairs. It isn’t just the school either, the Realm itself is overrun with violence and hatred, which will have deadly consequences. Lucian, her self-imposed magical guru, insists Billie’s extraordinary magic is the key to stopping the flood of violence coming their way.  Billie knows her magic is extraordinary, but she also knows its destructive power. It might do more harm than good.

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Excerpt:

Nothing said, “I’m sorry,” like a scalding hot iron mallet to the face. Especially when you were a Faerie, and allergic to Iron. Saranya and her friends really knew how to make a girl feel special.

At least, we heard they were going to attack me with a mallet, it was hard to keep up with all of Saranya’s schemes to get revenge on me for preventing her from torturing another student. The nerve of me.

I tightened my grip on the empowered soap Iris, my roommate, had given me. It paid to be friends with an Elf, I’d learned, as they possessed the ability to infuse magical properties into a variety of house-hold objects. And all she ever wanted in return was my help getting books down from her top bookshelf.

“Uhh, Billie,” Thea, my other roommate, said. “Perhaps it would be in your best interests to not look so tense? We are supposed to be discussing a class project, after all.”

I loosened my grip on the soap and gave her a quick smile. Thea was terrified of Saranya and the others, but that hadn’t stopped her and Iris from telling me about their plan, or offering to help me thwart it. She had a lot to lose, too. As a Wizard, she had a certain image to keep up, and helping a Misfit against other Wizards would do nothing good for that image.

Author Interview:

Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?

I guess you could say my original concept for the Alpha Academy series was “mean girls with magic.” And I like to think I delivered on that premise. Since Piper’s Song is the second book in the series, it deals with another theme I really wanted to explore, “Deception, Manipulation, and the seduction of revenge.” Billie is heavily plagued by all of these in Piper’s Song.

What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?

I brought in a lot of mythology, so it was incredibly exciting to revisit some of my favorite myths as well as discover some new ones. While I relied a lot on Greek/Roman, I was also able to explore Norse, Celtic, Aztec, Chinese, Persian, and a myriad of other lesser known, but equally fascinating mythologies.

This book also let me really explore first love and heartbreak, which are two things I don’t think anyone fully understands, but that impact us all so much anyway

What surprised you the most in writing it?

There were definitely some characters who I thought had certain arcs or motivations, but they did a 180 on me halfway through the book and became completely different people. Some for the better, some for the worse, but they were all incredibly fascinating discoveries.

My villain also really surprised me. I kept trying to write them as sadistic and cold, but they surprised me with how much pain, passion, and even guilt they weaved into their story. That discovery of who my villain really was has reshaped the entire series.

What does the title mean?

In addition to myths, I like to draw on folklore and fables as inspiration for my magical world. The Pied Piper is pretty familiar story. When a town fails to head their promise to the magical pied piper, he gets his revenge by leading all their children to their watery deaths.

Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?

I wouldn’t say any of them were inspired by real people. I do think I drew on elements of one of my exes for one of them, but in that case, this person does not know.

Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?

I try not to be preachy in my fiction, but I do think we write and read fiction to explore and understand difficult situations or dilemmas. A lot of stories have “happily ever afters” because we want to see these moral dilemmas worked out in a positive way, because it gives us hope as we deal with these problems in the real world. Billie grew a lot as a character throughout the book, and she learned a lot about forgiveness, acceptance, and where true power comes from. I know I learned a lot from her journey, and I hope my readers feel inspired by her story as well.

What is your favorite part of the book?

That’s a hard question, as there were a lot of parts I absolutely loved to write. There’s a chapter near the end called, “The Revelation,” that was probably the most exciting, albeit difficult part to get right. It was worth all the extra revisions though. It’s the chapter where Piper’s Song earns its title.

Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Lucian, Billie’s friend and mentor, has always been a difficult character for me to write, in part because it has taken me a while to really understand him. While my other characters will let me flop around as I figure them out, Lucian likes to be written correctly in the first draft, and he’s not patient with the mistakes I make with him. He’s lucky he’s my favorite or I might not put up with him.

What are your immediate future plans?

The third book of Alpha Academy, Queen’s Fall, will be released this fall. I also have another couple novels in the works, and I will be returning to in Yellowstone National Park this summer. So I would say good things are ahead.

 

Author Informarion:

Sara’s enjoyed creating fantastic stories since she was old enough to hold a play sword, around the time she learned how to walk. Gradually she learned to direct her creative energy into writing, and it’s been a downward spiral ever since then. When she’s not writing she’s probably either dancing or reading batman comics. She also loves running away to the mountains of Utah and Montana. Nothing gets more fantastic that those views.

Sara E. Tall

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

Sara E. Tall will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Book Blitz: Illicit Intent, by Debbie Baldwin

illicit intent

 

Illicit Intent
Bishop Security Series, Book 2
by Debbie Baldwin

Romantic Suspense

Date Published: January 2021

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Calliope Garland’s newsdesk assignment was fairly straightforward—dig up the dirt on the sketchy CEO of a Wall Street hedge fund. But when the man is murdered and valuable data destroyed, a simple investigation turns deadly. Calliope is unwittingly in possession of vital financial information and a priceless work of art; either of which may get her killed. With an ever-growing list of people who want to harm her, Calliope must set aside her reservations and turn to the one man she knows can trust. Miller “Tox” Buchanan is a study in contradictions: kind but lethal, passionate but distant, self-possessed yet hesitant. He knows he should keep his distance, but when Calliope is hurled into danger, Tox will stop at nothing to protect her…

Her first instinct wasn’t to dial 911 but rather to call a certain Navy SEAL. She forced down the antiquated damsel in distress fantasy floating around in her head and rationalized the police would surely ask questions she was unwilling or unable to answer. She brought up her contacts. At the bottom, she touched the entry labeled, Tox, and the call rang through.

A grizzly bear answered. “This better be good.”

Tox?”

Calliope?”

I need your help…”

Be advised: this story contains scenes of violence equivalent to an R-rated movie and explicit sexual situations.

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Other books in the Bishop Security Romantic Suspense Series:

 

False Front

Bishop Security Series, Book 1

Romantic Suspense

Published: April 2020

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

 

a steamy romantic thriller

a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat suspense novel

a timeless romance

Emma Porter is not real. She is an accomplished young woman, living a fulfilling life in New York City, working for an online news agency, and striving toward normalcy. The truth, however, is something else. She was once Emily Webster, a child of privilege, and the twenty-first century Lindbergh Baby. Her high-profile, unexplained abduction and subsequent rescue led to a childhood of paranoia and preparedness, as her kidnapper remained at large and still on the hunt. With her father’s guidance and resources, Emily became Emma Porter, living each day in her new identity, vigilant and unattached. Unattached but for the seemingly unbreakable tether that connects her to the man who, as a young boy, lived next door.

Like Emma, Nathan Bishop is not what he seems. Preparing to helm his family’s defense contracting company, Nathan is better known for his womanizing and reckless behavior than his business acumen. His striking image peppers the pages of society tabloids and police blotters, but beneath the facade of a rake, lurks a warrior. When an arms dealer procures a lethal bioweapon and is rumored to be selling it on U.S. soil, Nathan and his team must use every resource at their disposal to stop the threat.

With danger closing in, fate, once again, puts Emma in Nathan’s path, and the two must determine if the weathered bond between them is enough to find the truth behind their false fronts.

Fans of Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Jayne Ann Krentz will love False Front.

Be advised: this story contains scenes of violence equivalent to an R-rated movie and explicit sexual situations.

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Excerpt

The biggest of the three goons, the one in the painter’s clothing, pointed, and the other two men took off in different directions. Painter goon stood facing the building, hands on his hips. For a solid minute, he didn’t move. Calliope didn’t move either. She suddenly regretted her fuschia yoga tank and hoped it wasn’t visible through the window covering. Painter man moved toward the stairs, and Calliope backed out of sight. She spied her hiding place, a hole in the wall waiting for a panel of drywall, but something else caught her attention. The entire floor, which at one time had been bedrooms, was blown out into a large open space with areas taped off for the new floor plan. Attached to a window at the back of the building was a construction chute, a giant, yellow caterpillar dropping straight into a dumpster below. Calliope wasn’t an idiot. Inside a chute or out, a fall from the third floor would not be healthy. However, as she stepped closer, she saw that the chute was segmented; pieces of debris had caught in the joints. If she could slow her descent, dropping segment by segment, she could escape the building.

I just want to talk to you.” The voice came from the floor below. The boards creaked beneath her feet as she moved to the back of the building.

I’m not here to hurt you.” The sound of a chambering bullet said otherwise.

Yeah, right. Calliope moved toward the window with the chute attached. What was happening? Did they have the wrong person?

Calliope Garland, You have something my employer wants.” Well, that answers that question. “This can be very easy if you let it.”

She didn’t dare turn her back on the staircase that ended at the front of the house on this level. A balding head came into view, moving slowly up the stairs. Then shoulder, then torso. He was looking down, probably texting his goon buddies. She sat on the sill and twisted her lower body so her legs dangled down the chute, and her midsection rested on the sill. She slid a bit more, and she was hanging from the window with her arms and shoulders hooked on the sill. She chanced a glance down the chute and immediately regretted the plan.

As with so many things in Calliope’s life, what she imagined was far from the practical reality. That was a long drop, and those joints she envisioned slowing her descent seemed little more than seams. She started to hoist herself back into the room when she saw the man standing in the middle of the space and staring right at her with a malevolent smile.

Going somewhere?”

Calliope hesitated for only a moment. The last thing she saw was the thug’s shocked face as she let go of the windowsill and disappeared into the chute.

Calliope clawed at the yellow plastic and managed to slow her fall twice as she plummeted almost vertically to the ground. Less than three seconds passed when she hit the top of the pile of trash in the dumpster with a thud. She felt a stabbing pain in her hip and realized she must have scraped her side on the broken lid of a toilet tank.

No time to dwell on it. Painter goon was no doubt barreling down the stairs to cut her off. Calliope vaulted out of the dumpster, ran to the narrow walkway separating the houses, and emerged out onto the street. To her right, the other two men were heading straight for her. Behind her, painter goon appeared in the front doorway of the house. Looks like left.

Calliope started to run when around the corner, moving like a jungle beast, Tox appeared. She ran straight to him and hugged him tight around the waist. He briefly returned the hug, then rotated her around so she was behind him with her arms still ringing his middle. Tox stood calm and still, facing the men who continued to approach but now warily. One man pulled a retractable baton from his coat. The other grabbed his taser. Tox reached into his hoodie and withdrew the Magnum from his holster. He held it at his side, pointed down, but it was impossible to miss.

The three men stopped and kind of stumbled over each other. In an attempt to save face the head thug looked at Tox with a grin. “I’ll see you again soon.”

Tox remained stoic. “Notify your next of kin.”

The crash of a dumpster lid startled the men into action and they bumped and scurried, finally disappearing around a corner.

Tox rotated Calliope around so she was in front of him again. “You okay?”

I really want to know the story of your tattoo.”

Tox tipped his head back and laughed. He pulled her to his side and they started walking.

Happy to share, but I have a few questions of my own first.”

Yeah, okay. I seem to have gotten in over my head.”

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About The Author


Debbie Baldwin is a successful print media and television writer. She is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law. Debbie and her husband live in Saint Louis, Missouri with their puggle, Pebbles. They have three children in college.

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Book Blitz: Queen of the Lycan, by Karina Espinosa

QUEEN OF THE LYCAN CR BANNER

Title: Queen of the Lycan
Author: Karina Espinosa
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Cover Designer: Covers by Christian
Publication Date: Feb. 26th, 2021
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
Long live the Queen … so they say.

With my arrival to Scotland and my coronation right around the corner, I’d never been more nervous than I am now. Known for having enemies, I didn’t realize becoming Queen would garner even more. I’m not the only one after the throne and the battle for the crown might cost me my life.

The Summits on one side and the Council on the other, it’s a fight to stay on top and protect the lunas from a man’s world. But I’ve never been one to back down, especially when it comes to the lunas. The Summits and Council are in for a rude awakening when I shake things up and turn their worlds upside down.

On top of all that, there’s an evil lurking in the forest and it’s after one thing—me. With my mating ceremony coming up, I don’t know how I’m going to survive it all.

The goal is the crown, but can I keep it?

Karina Espinosa is the Urban Fantasy Author of the Mackenzie Grey novels and The Last Valkyrie series. An avid reader throughout her life, the world of Urban Fantasy easily became an obsession that turned into a passion for writing strong leading characters with authentic story arcs. When she isn’t writing badass heroines, you can find this self-proclaimed nomad in her South Florida home binge watching the latest series on Netflix or traveling far and wide for the latest inspiration for her books. Follow her on social media!

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