Spotlight & Excerpt: The Moreva of Astoreth + Giveaway

The Moreva of Astoreth

 

The Moreva of Astoreth
by Roxanne Bland
Science Fiction/Romance

Date Published: January 5, 2021

Publisher: Blackrose Press

Astoreth, the Devi Goddess of Love, demands complete devotion from her morevs because hearts divided cannot serve.

Moreva Tehi’s hearts aren’t divided. They belong to Laerd Teger.

And the price of her love could be her life.

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Book Reviews

 

“Bland may very well be the Alice Walker of science fiction.” The reviewer is Vincent Dublado, Readers’ Favorite.

 

“This is perhaps the most entertaining science fiction novel I have ever read.” Rabia Tanveer, Readers’ Favorite.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

“I could have you executed for this, Moreva Tehi,” Astoreth said. My Devi grandmother, the Goddess of Love, scowled at me from Her golden throne in the massive Great Hall of Her equally massive É. Today, Her long, white hair had been woven into slender braids entwined with multicolored strands of tiny jewels. They sparkled in the candescent light radiating from the ceiling and the undulant, wall-height fixtures. Her golden eyes burned with fury.
Sitting on my heels, I bowed my head, not wanting to see Her anger. I stared at the black and gold polished floor, trying to ignore the trickle of sweat snaking down my spine. My unbound hair, white like Hers, hung over my face. “Yes, Most Holy One,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady.
“You blaspheme by not celebrating Ohra-Namtar, the holiest rite of the Gods. You were well aware that this was not Ohra-Sin, praising My role in creating Peris, but extolling all the deeds of the Great Pantheon in bringing this planet to life. Ohra-Namtar celebrates Our creation of the hakoi, and the worthiest, handpicked by Me and My Brothers and Sisters, celebrated with Us. And Marduc asked Me of your whereabouts. Your absence sorely disappointed Him.”
I shuddered in fear and loathing. Marduc, Lord of the Skies, was Astoreth’s twin Brother, and my grand-uncle. I’d been scared of Him since childhood, and even then made sure I was never alone with Him. I hated the way He’d stare at me when no one was looking, licking His lips as if I was a juicy piece of meat just waiting to be devoured. I had been too young to participate in the last Ohra-Namtar, and knew He would have been only too eager to get His hands on me during this one.
“Moreva Tehi,” Astoreth’s hard tone brought me back to the moment. “You are My acolyte. Your participation was not an option. By your absence, you did not share your body with Us, your brother and sister morevs, and Our worthy hakoi. You sullied the sacredness of Ohra-Namtar. What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I can only offer my most abject apologies, Most Holy One.”
“Your apologies are not accepted.”
“Yes, Most Holy One.”
“Where were you?”
“I was in the laboratory, working on a cure for red fever. Our four-year cycle will end this summer, and thousands of hakoi in the Gods’ cities and towns could die—”
“I know that,” my grandmother snapped. “But why did you miss Ohra-Namtar? Did you not hear the bells?”
“Yes, Most Holy One. I heard them. I was about to lay aside my work when I noticed an anomaly in one of my pareon solutions, so I decided to take a minute to investigate. What I found…I-I just lost track of time.”
“You lost track of time?” She repeated, sounding incredulous. “Do you expect Me to believe that?”
“Yes, Most Holy One. It is the truth.”
My head and hearts began throbbing, my grandmother probing me for signs I had lied. But She wouldn’t find any. Lying to Her was pointless, and Her punishment for lying was harsh. Swaying under the onslaught, I endured the pain without making a sound. After what seemed like forever the throbbing eased, leaving me feeling sick and dizzy.
“Very well. I accept what you say is true. I still do not accept your apology.”
“Yes, Most Holy One,” I said, panting a little.
A minute passed in uncomfortable silence. Uncomfortable for me, anyway. Another minute passed. And another. Is…is She finished with me? I prayed to be dimissed. But I wasn’t.
“What do you have against My hakoi, Moreva?”
I frowned. “I don’t understand, Most Holy One.”
“I have watched you. You give them no respect. You heal them because you must, but you treat them like animals. Why is that?”
The trickle of sweat reached the small of my back and pooled there. “But my work—”
“Your work is a game between you and the red fever. It has nothing to do with My hakoi.”
I didn’t reply. It was true. Discovering the cure was a challenge I’d taken on because no one since the dawn of Peris had been able to find one. It was a war, me assaulting the virus’s defenses, and the virus fending off my attacks. Our war was my obsession, and one I meant to win. And I didn’t care about the hakoi. I despised them. They were docile enough—the Devi’s spawning and breeding program saw to that—but they were slow-witted, not unlike the pirsu the É raised for meat and hide. They stank of makira, the pungent cabbage that was their dietary staple. From what I’d seen traveling through Kherah to Astoreth’s and to the És of other Gods, all the hakoi were stupid and smelly, and I wanted nothing to do with them.
But I wouldn’t—couldn’t—admit She was right. I wracked my brain, trying to think of something that wasn’t an outright lie. Then it came to me. “Most Holy One, I treat Your hakoi the way I do because it is the Hierarchy of Being as the Devi created it. You taught us the Great Pantheon of Twelve is Supreme. The minor Devi are beneath You, the morev are beneath the minor gods, and Your hakoi are beneath the morev. Beneath the hakoi are the plants and animals of Peris. But sometimes Your hakoi forget their place, and must be reminded.”
The Great Hall was silent. I held my breath, praying She wouldn’t probe me again.
“A pretty explanation, Moreva Tehi. But My hakoi know their place. It is you who do not know yours. You are the only morev in Kherah to have more Devi blood in your veins than hakoi, but that does not change your station, nor can you can rise above it. Your privileges—to freely move about Uruk without É authorization, to participate in the Gods’ festivals and games, to travel most anywhere in Kherah—are the same as any other of your brothers and sisters. And it is the morev who attend My hakoi. As a healer, you are not too good to minister to their needs, and you are surely not too good to celebrate Ohra-Namtar with them.”
I swallowed. “Yes, Most Holy One.”
“Look at Me.”
I raised my head. My grandmother’s expression was fierce.
“And that is why you let the time get away from you, as you say. You, Moreva Tehi, My acolyte of Love, are a bigot. I might understand if you were still a child, but you are not. You have done nothing to better yourself since then. Your bigotry is the reason you did not celebrate Ohra-Namtar. You did not want to share your body with Our hakoi.” She glared, as if daring me to contradict her.
I stared into Her golden eyes, wanting to deny Her accusation, but that would be a lie. I kept quiet.
She leaned forward. “I have overlooked many of your transgressions while in My service. I know you use your psi power to harass other morevs for what you perceive as slights. But I cannot overlook your bigotry, or your missing Ohra-Namtar. I will not execute you because you are too dear to My heart. The stewardship for Astoreth-69 in the Syren Perritory ends in two days. You will take the next rotation.”
My hearts froze. This was my punishment? Getting exiled to Syren? Everyone knew the Syren Perritory in Peris’s far northern hemisphere was the worst place in the world to steward a landing beacon. Cold and dark, with dense woods full of wild animals, the Syren was no place for me. My place was in Kherah, a sunny desert south of the planet’s equator, where the fauna was kept in special habitats for learning and entertainment. As for the Syrenese, they were the descendants of one of the Devi’s earliest and failed hakoi spawning and breeding experiments, and were as untamed as the perritory where they lived.
My throat tightened, and a tear formed in the corner of my eye. Eresh…he’s in the Syren Perritory now. I’ll be taking his place. It’s already been a year since I’ve seen him, and I won’t see him again for another year. Two years without my best friend…my only friend. What am I to do?
I managed to get up the gumption to protest, but didn’t. Challenging my grandmother would be disrespectful, and my punishment would be even worse than exile. It would also be futile. Astoreth’s word was law, and it had just come down on my head. “Yes, Most Holy One,” I said, my voice meek.
She leaned back on Her throne. “Mehmed will come to your room after breakfast tomorrow so you can be fitted for your uniform.”
“My uniform, Most Holy One? I will not be taking my clothes?”
“No. As overseer of the landing beacon, you are the liaison between the Mjor village as well as the commander of the garrison. Your subordinate, Kepten Yose, will report to you once a marun and you are to relay the garrison’s needs to Laerd Teger, the Mjoran village chief.”
“Yes, Most Holy One.”
“I will make allowance for your healer’s kit and a portable laboratory, but you are not to take your red fever research. I am sure you have other projects you can work on while you are there.”
“But—”
“No, Moreva Tehi. It is too dangerous.”
“I can take precautions—”
“No. I will not allow you to endanger the Mjorans. That is My final word. ” She gazed at me for a long moment. “You should also know that they, like all Syrenese, are not a forgiving people. They do not take transgressions—of any kind—lightly.”
I swallowed. “I understand, Most Holy One.”
“Good.” Her eyes narrowed. “One more thing. As the garrison’s moreva, you will lead the services in worship of Me, and that includes Ohra-Sin. Go now.”
“Thank you, Most Holy One.” I stood on shaky legs, bowed, and backed out of the Great Hall. Fleeing to my room, I fell on the bed and sobbed. It was bad enough to be exiled to the Syren Perritory and to spend another year without Eresh, but Ohra-Sin with the garrison? Only the hakoi served in Astoreth’s military. I felt dirty already. And not allowing me to work on my red fever project was punishment by itself.
A hand touched my shoulder. “Tehi, what’s wrong?” a worried voice said. It was Moreva Jaleta, one of my friendlier morev sisters.
“I-I’m being sent to the Syren Perritory to steward Astoreth-69,” I wailed.
“But why?”
I sat up. “I missed Ohra-Namtar yesterday and n-now Astoreth is punishing me.”
She gave me an unsympathetic look. “You’re lucky She didn’t have your head. Be thankful you’re Her favorite.”
I sniffed, but said nothing.
Jaleta patted my shoulder. “It won’t be so bad, Tehi. The year will be over before you know it. Come on, it’s time to eat.”

About the Author


Award-winning author Roxanne Bland was born in the shadows of the rubber factory smokestacks in Akron, Ohio but grew up in Washington, D.C. As a child, she spent an inordinate amount of time prowling the museums of the Smithsonian Institution and also spent an inordinate amount of time reading whatever books she could get her hands on, including the dictionary. A self-described “fugitive from reality,” she has always colored outside the lines and in her early years of writing, saw no reason why a story couldn’t be written combining the genres she loved and did so despite being told it wasn’t possible. Today, she writes stories that are mashups of paranormal urban fantasy, romance, and science fiction, as well as other speculative fiction genres.

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Spotlight & Author Interview: The Flyght Series + Giveaway

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The Flyght Series blog tour

This is my stop during the blog tour for The Flyght Series by S.J. Pajonas. The Flyght Series is a fully complete six book scifi romance series.

First FlyghtFirst Flyght (The Flyght Series #1)
By S.J. Pajonas
Genre: Science Fiction Romance/ Reverse Harem
Age category: Adult

Blurb:
Her future is brighter than the stars. But one betrayal will change everything…

Vivian Kawabata can’t wait to claim her privileged destiny. But when the heir to the family agricultural empire finds her bank account empty while shopping for expensive shoes, she’s horrified to discover that her own brother has financially stabbed her in the back. To stand a chance of restoring her rightful place in the universe, the honest and rule-following Vivian may have to break a few intergalactic laws.

After securing an old ship from her aunt, Vivian takes on two new roles: a sexy heiress collecting eligible husbands and a hard-nosed captain rebuilding a lost fortune by any means necessary. Completely out of her depth, she’d be sunk without the help of a relationship broker, a handsome ex-boyfriend, a hacker with a heart of gold, and the other potential partners she meets along the way. With a business that runs the razor’s edge between trade and smuggling, can the former high-society socialite get the money she needs or will her brazen ambition lead to a deadly crash landing?

FIRST FLYGHT is the first book in the Flyght Series of sci-fi reverse harem romance. If you like action-packed space operas and a universe full of twists, then you’ll love S. J. Pajonas’s interstellar adventure.

Note: This is a slow-burn romance series!

Links:
Goodreads
Author website
Amazon
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Check out the whole Flyght Series:

First Flyght (The Flyght Series #1)Broken Flyght (The Flyght Series #2)High Flyght (The Flyght Series #3)Lost Flyght (The Flyght Series #4)Silent Flyght (The Flyght Series #5)Stolen Flyght (The Flyght Series #6)

Get the first 3 books in one handy box set!

The Flyght Series Box Set (The Flyght Series #1-3)
The Flyght Series Box Set (The Flyght Series #1-3)

Author Interview:

How did you come up with the idea for the Flyght Series?

This is always such a hard question to answer! Because a ton of ideas led to the ultimate idea that became the series. First, I wanted to write about a captain, on the run, doing things her way. Kind of like Mal from Firefly. Taking jobs where she could and scraping by. Then I thought it would be cool if she was running errands for people like Uber and Lyft do here on Earth. Then I really liked the idea of a family betrayal that led to having to make money and buy the lost property back. Ultimately, all of these ideas became the Flyght Series. I held onto the ideas for over a year until they finally made sense in my head. Sometimes it takes a lot for a really good idea to make it to the page!

Vivian has such a love for agriculture. What made you choose this passion for her?

Here’s a little secret. I have a black thumb. I’m terrible with plants! But in my dreams, I’m a horticulturalist extraordinaire. I’ve been fascinated with “farming of the future” and how we’ll handle farming once the environment turns on us (it will eventually). So when it came time to choose an occupation for Vivian, I went straight to farming because wish-fulfillment, naturally. Then farming led to the family farm idea which led to LOSING the family farm. The story grew from there, and my own wish to be an awesome farmer. Maybe when I retire I can grow that green thumb?

Why did you choose to use the reverse harem trope in this series?

When I first heard about “reverse harem” I was skeptical that anyone could really pull it off. One woman with a harem/group of men that she’s romantically involved with? It seems a little outrageous, right? But once I started reading them, I saw the appeal. If you love characters and seeing the chemistry between different pairings, like in a love triangle, but don’t want to HAVE to choose, then reverse harem is for you! She doesn’t have to choose! The trick for me was finding the right circumstances for a harem to happen and be normalized. In this case, there was a rampant gene anomaly, invented by the original settlers, that would allow for more men to be born than women. In their eyes, more men meant a bigger workforce for colonization, since androids/robots were outlawed. But the gene mutated and caused problems. Women became the minority but managed to take over the government and military. So “relationship networks” were developed to give more men a chance to be with women and for women to have control over their relationships. Problem solved! Or maybe not…

Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?

Of course, my favorite character of the novels is the heroine, Vivian. I fell in love with her right away. I knew she would be a fun one to write, and she didn’t disappoint me! But I also really loved Jinzo, her main number one mate in the books. I had to come up with the right personality for him, and he continually surprised me with his strength and flexibility.

Let’s talk about how you wrote the Flyght Series. Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?

I originally started with an idea for the first book, and then I knew how I wanted to end the series. Once I had a beginning and an end, I tried to figure out how many books the series would have. I originally thought the series would be 9 books, but eventually, I went with 6, and I think that was the right decision. With that in mind, I came up with a loose adventure for each book, and then discovered the rest along the way! I’m a horrible outliner but I try to do what I can as I write.

Using settlers from the western United States and Brazil was an interesting choice. What made you choose these regions in particular?

When I decided to write the Flyght Series, I chose to use the same universe as both the Nogiku Series and the HIkoboshi Series. In the Nogiku Series, I explain that after a period of wars and then an Environmental Decline, ships from all over the world took off from different countries for different solar systems. They called this the Exodus, and they left behind only a small population on Earth. So my thought was, “What if ships that left from California and Brazil happened to go to two close solar systems and developed a partnership?” And that’s how I came up with the Duo Systems. Two connected systems, the Brazilianos and the Californikus Systems, have a symbiotic relationship that includes trade and culture. For me, choosing these systems was all about the culture and extrapolating it out to a starry diaspora. I gave a lot of thought to who would be on these ships and the culture they would take with them. It was a fun experiment and led to some great creative leaps.

People have this fantasy of what it’s like to be a novelist. But what’s a normal day for you really like?

Normally, my days start with exercising. I’m pretty abnormal in this because so many authors get up and get in their words right away! I am so not a morning person. Getting exercise is a better idea for me in the morning. I exercise almost every day between my Peloton bike, walking, and yoga. Then I get some work admin stuff done, shower, and eat lunch. In the afternoon, I write and run errands. In the evening, I’ll take care of blog writing or maintenance, and then try to enjoy some downtime from 8PM until bed. It’s definitely not very glamorous, but it gets the job done!

Photos of my knitting, writing on my computer, walking my dog Lulu, riding my Peloton bike, my yoga setup, and eating! – S. J. Pajonas

Getting things done is about having daily or weekly habits and practices to keep working on your project. Tell us about your writing rituals!

I only actively write when I’m working on a first draft of a project. I know people who feel like they HAVE to write every day to be an author, but that doesn’t work for me. When I start a new project, I set daily goals for word counts, and I keep going, taking minimal time off, until the book is completed. I try not to stop and go back to edit or re-read unless I’m REALLY stuck. Forward momentum is the most important thing for me! Recently, I’ve found that sprinting has been working out great for me. If I sprint for 20 min, I can usually write 600-700 words. Then I take 10 min off and go again. If I do three of these sessions, I can get in about 2000 words! That’s a good day’s work for me especially since I do so many other things around home for my family and kids.

What’s your definition of success in your writing business?

Success has been hard for me to define! And it has changed many times over the last seven years. At first, my definition relied on sales. Was I selling books? How many? And how much money was I making to offset my initial costs? But that’s an unreliable metric for success because many people would consider publishing the books AT ALL success. Does the number of reviews indicate success? Or how many books I’ve published? It’s hard to define! But over the years my idea of success has become publishing more books that I enjoyed writing. Each book I work on and enjoy, then move towards publication, is another success. The ultimate goal is to have a dedicated audience for my work. Success is more readers who have enjoyed my books, like I have enjoyed writing them.

Tell us about a TV series you loved recently!

There are so many great shows on TV right now, and with a number of streaming services pumping out new content, it’s hard to fit them all in! In the last six months, my husband and I have loved The Mandalorian, Ozark, Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s Convenience, The Crown, Killjoys, The Expanse, and many, many more.

And finally tell us about the last book you read…

Funny enough, I just re-read DUNE, which I haven’t read in at least 15 years. It was one of my favorite books as a teen, and I’m excited for the upcoming movie, which is now delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was great to re-read this classic and enjoy it again.

~~

About the Author:
S.J. PajonasStephanie (S. J.) is a writer, knitter, amateur astrologer, Capricorn, Japanophile, and USA Today Best Selling author. She loves foxes, owls, sushi, yoga pants, Evernote, and black tea. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing or spending time outside, unless it’s winter. She hates winter. Someday she’ll own a house in both hemispheres so she can avoid the season entirely. She’s a mom to two great kids, one feisty dog named Lulu Ninja Assassin, and lives with her husband and family outside NYC. When it comes to her work, she writes about everyday women and uncommon worlds. Find her online at https://www.spajonas.com.

You can find and contact S.J. Pajonas here:
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Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway during the blog tour of The Flyght Series. Two winners will both win a $30 gift card to the ebook store of their choice (Amazon, Nook, Apple Books, Kobo, etc) and a S. J. Pajonas Ebook Starter Library box set delivered via BookFunnel.For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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