Spotlight & Excerpt: The Clockmaker’s Tale + Author Interview & Giveaway

TourBanner_The Clockmakers Tale and Other Stories

BookCover_The Clockmakers Tale and other stories

The Clockmaker’s Tale
by Ian Williams
Genre: Science Fiction

In The Clockmaker’s Tale: and other stories, Ian Williams takes us to the near future and beyond. From a moon base where androids conduct experiments on human test subjects, to futuristic tours of the ocean depths that hide a terrible secret; from a society governed by harsh rule of law that is enforced by AI, to a humble clockmaker tempted by the promise of increased productivity through technological augmentation.

Covering issues such as environmental decay, the end of facts and proven truths, our growing waste problem, and humanity’s tendency to divide when we should come together, this collection of six science fiction stories relates as much to our time as it does to the many possible futures.

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Excerpt:

Returning to his briefcase, Alexander produced a card from an outside pocket. “Here,” he said, holding it between two of his fingers.

George took it and looked it over, now realising there was a sales pitch to follow. He’s better at this than I am, he had to admit. At the top of the textured card was the name of a company he was certain he knew but couldn’t quite place. “ACC?”

“Adaptive Cognition and Cybernetics. We specialise in cutting-edge, next-generation, technology. Our latest product was made for people just like you, who need more hours in a day than the good Lord provides.”

I left my work for this? George was less than impressed. “Thank you, but I…”

“Before you say no, how about I show you what I’m talking about?” Alexander picked up his briefcase and walked to the counter, where he placed it down and clicked open the catches. He kept his back turned until he was ready to present his product.

When he turned, George was immediately drawn forward, to inspect the object himself. He was fascinated by the curved design. It had a snowy-white casing, with delicately printed calligraphy underlined by a sweeping blue line, and a tiny, built-in, LED screen. It appeared as well-made as any of his clocks. Such a high degree of engineering, yet it remained a simple-looking thing.

“This,” Alexander said, not quite ready to hand over the device, “is our latest model. It’s called a Work Buddy.”


Author Interview:

  1. Tell us a little about how this story first came to be.

As with many of my stories, it first started as an image in my head. I saw an old man working in his workshop, while behind him, through the window, I saw the future. From that blossomed the collection of stories that comprise The Clockmaker’s Tale: and other stories. But the initial spark came from the juxtaposition of the old clashing with the new. Can a humble clockmaker fit into our idea of the future? What about if he had help, say from some piece of tech? The idea was to make a point, something that each story is aiming to do.

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

In researching this book, I came to understand certain issues we face better than I had before. As these stories are concerned with our future, and how, if not handled correctly, our problems could overwhelm us, I wanted to know all I could about them. And the statistics are quite damning.

3. What surprised you the most in writing it?

What surprised me most in writing this book was just how angry some of these subject matters I’ve written about had made me before I began. I would often complain about the state of things to family and friends until I felt the need to put my feelings to paper. So, I consider this book my therapy of sorts. It certainly made me feel better to write it.

4. What does the title mean?

The title ‘The Clockmaker’s Tale’ is used to signify that this story was the one that I began with. Writing this story ignited my interest in putting my fears into story form, and from this story grew a project I am now immensely proud of.

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

I don’t tend to base my characters on real people. However, I will always take elements of others’ personalities that have intrigued me and add them to my characters. I find this makes my characters a little more real.

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

A moral, yes. Each tale tells of a future where we’ve ignored warning signs and allowed our worst traits to run riot. The message may be buried deep but it is always there. With a little teasing out, it becomes clear.

7. What is your favorite part of the book?

My favourite part of this book is probably the end of Post-Truth Tours. I found this one of the most satisfying endings to write. I won’t give anything away here, but this scene in question makes its point with the most emotive power. I wanted readers to be surprised by it, perhaps even a little shocked too.

8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Again, Post-Truth Tours has the answer here. The main character, Flynn, posed a particular challenge to write. Namely, his views on the world he lives in. Some would call him naïve; others may say ignorant. He sees the world through eyes clouded by others’ lies.

9. What are your immediate future plans?

I am currently deep in the planning stages of my next project. It will be a short story collection exploring the altered timeline of a fictional British town rocked by a mysterious event. I plan to have a completed first draft completed by the end of the year.


Author Info:

Ian Williams is a Science Fiction writer from the UK. He lives in a small town not far from London. Ian had a short career in the UK Court Service but was forced to quit that job when his medical condition worsened. Now, from the comfort of his wheelchair, he writes the stories he has always wanted to read. His writing spans lightyears of space, to near-future Earths; from small changes to society, to entirely new civilisations.

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Giveaway:
Ian Williams will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Book Blitz: Vartan+ Giveaway

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Vartan
by Alana Khan

Series
Galaxy Gladiators Alien Abduction Romance

Genre
Adult
SciFi Romance

Publisher
Temptation of the Horizontal Publishing, LLC

Publication Date
July 25, 2021

Purchase Your Copy Today!
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Born in space. Raised as a pet. I’ve never allowed myself to even dream of love.

Lyra

I’ve never worn clothes, held a fork, or made a decision. When my old master dies, I’m put up for auction and sold to the highest bidder. I expected my life to continue as it had always been—kneeling at my master’s feet. Instead, I’m told I’m now free.

I should feel grateful, but I’m terrified of being alone. Maybe if I’m good enough, my new master will decide to keep me.

When I dig deep and discover the well of my own power, I have a burning desire for something more than freedom–I want Vartan. I’m going to do whatever it takes to seize my new dream.

Vartan

My quest in life is liberating slaves. When I see a human female up for auction, I purchase her in order to set her free. Imagine my surprise when she doesn’t want freedom but requests to stay with me instead.

Through my ignorance, I damage things between us. To make amends, I vow to help her discover herself and unlock her deepest desires.

I ache for this female. How can I let her go when it’s our destiny to share our heart connection?

This standalone in the Galaxy Gladiators series has everything you’ve come to expect from bestselling author Alana Khan—action, fighting, and sensual love scenes.

If you like hot heroic alien males and strong human females who find their purpose, you’ll love Vartan. This book has no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after. Warning: It contains graphic sex and violence.


Excerpt:

As soon as I nod, he stalks to a nearby booth and points to a pendant hanging amidst a sea of others on a wooden rod. He didn’t inspect all of them. There was a particular one that caught his eye. Perhaps he wants it for his mother or sister, it’s feminine. Certainly he doesn’t want it for himself.

I don’t know how he spotted this particular one from so far away, but somehow he picked the prettiest one in the stall. It’s a lovely purple stone that seems to glow from within. The silver setting is almost plain, which is perfect because the stone is so striking.

I know nothing about him, might he have a female or mate waiting for him on the ship or his home planet? My chest squeezes tightly when I wonder if this will be a gift for his female.

Am I jealous? That’s interesting. I’ve never felt this emotion before. Am I interested in Master Vartan like that? I’ve surprised myself. I certainly never felt that way about my old Master. Just having that thought pulls a little giggle from my throat. Master was old and unattractive.

“Try this on,” Master Vartan says, not even asking the shopkeeper how much it is.

Try it on? Me? Maybe he wants to imagine how it will look on his beloved.

Once it’s around my neck, he stares at the pendant itself for the slightest moment, then his gaze flicks from the stone to my face and back. He nods slowly, then faster, then turns to the shaggy blue shopkeeper and asks, “How much?”

The two haggle for a moment, credits are exchanged, Master Vartan puts his arm around my waist, and we run-walk to the hover.

My hand itches to touch the pendant. I wish I’d had the nerve to glance in the small mirror in the shop to see my reflection with the jewel hanging almost between my breasts. I keep running as I allow myself to imagine what it would be like to have a male like me so much he took time out of his busy day just to buy me something to make me happy.

I never had the courage to imagine a life like that before. Well, it wouldn’t have been courageous, it would have been stupid. Pets don’t have suitors or receive presents. Pets are lucky to be fed daily and not get spanked for their misbehavior.

We arrive at the hover, and Master Vartan helps me inside. As soon as I’m belted in, I take the pendant off, give it one last fond look, and hand it to him. I don’t know where I find the courage to speak without being spoken to, but I say, “Whoever you give this to will be a lucky female.”

A strong emotion flies across his face. I have to look hard through his foreign features to discover what it is. Whatever he’s feeling, it isn’t the appreciation I thought he would express at my compliment to his good taste.

“You don’t want my gift?” As soon as the words are out of his mouth, I can identify his feelings. I’ve hurt him.

“This beautiful piece of jewelry is for me? A gift?” I turn the pendant in my hand and take the time to examine it. The surface is iridescent and so shiny I can see a distorted reflection of myself. I stroke it, allowing my finger to skate lovingly over the smooth surface. “A gift,” I whisper to myself, never intending him to hear me. “My first gift,” my tone is filled with awe.

Tears spring to my eyes as I allow my emotions to swirl inside me. I know, even as it’s happening, that I’ll remember this moment for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t have expected this, but there’s something about receiving something I can hold and touch and feel that affirms my existence, my worth as a living, breathing being.

My hands shake as I try to pull the necklace on over my head.

“Let me help you,” he says as he slips the piece out of my trembling grip. I never noticed his voice before, but it’s deep and full of warmth. For the briefest moment, for the first time in my life, I don’t carry the slightest fear of another person.

I knew my old Master cared for me, but I was always aware he could hurt me if I displeased him. Right this moment, though, a peaceful feeling washes over me. The enormity of this experience causes hot tears to fall from my eyes.

He captures my chin in his gentle grip and turns my face up, toward him.

“Your first gift, Lyra?” His finger traces back and forth across my throat. It barely touches my skin, yet leaves a trail of liquid fire along its path.

“Yes,” the word is more breath than sound.

He pulls away to fasten the chain behind my nape, then slides his thumb between it and my skin. Twirly feelings dance in my belly, maybe lower, with just his gentle touch.

“It looks beautiful on you,” he says, but he’s not looking at the necklace, he’s looking at me.

I fight to keep my eyes open and focused on his face. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been taught not to look directly at any other being, especially my Master or Mistress, but I can’t pull my gaze from Vartan.

I inventory his red eyes, his high cheekbones, and his plump lips. His warm breath fans across my skin. It smells fresh and warm like that day master took me to the beach so long ago. The way he’s looking at me with fire in his eyes, I could drown in it. I want to capture this moment and preserve it in my memory until my end of days.

He leans toward me, his lips edging closer to mine. Is he going to kiss me? Fear bolts through me. Pets don’t receive kisses! Pets are for . . . I don’t even know. I’m not on solid ground anymore.

Perhaps he senses my panic, or maybe he changes his mind, because I see his emotions, so plain on his face a moment ago, shutter and close down.

“We should go,” he says, his words crisp and clipped.

Vartan by Alana Khan

Celebration Giveaway

To celebrate the release of VARTAN by Alana Khan, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card!!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by BookMojo on behalf of Alana Khan. BookMojo will distribute the prize to the winner. Giveaway ends 8/31/2021 @ 11:59pm EST. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!


About the Author

I write under a pen name because until recently I was still a practicing psychotherapist and didn’t think my clients would want to be privy to the sexy stories I write for fun. I think my history as a therapist gives me unique insight into people’s thoughts, feelings and motivations and provides my writing the ring of truth and deep emotion.

I’ve specialized in working with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder since the beginning of my career. Maybe this is why most of my characters have some…issues. Don’t we all? Even though many of my characters have been scarred and traumatized, I make them work hard to earn their happily ever after, which is guaranteed in every book––because they deserve it.

I know life is hard and the path to true love is littered with potholes and poor choices. That’s why it’s easy to write books with real themes about real people who encounter real difficulties before the characters find their well-deserved bliss. I guarantee no “too stupid to live” heroines and no ridiculous misunderstandings. My characters’ struggles are real and compelling—just like yours.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: A Mercenary to Love + Giveaway

Mercenary to Love Banner

A Mercenary to Love, by Landra Graf

Book 4 in the Bad Boys of Space series

Word Count: 62,159
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 247

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
EROTIC ROMANCE
FUTURISTIC AND SCIENCE FICTION
SCIENCE FICTION

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Book Description

There’s only one thing she wants to steal—his heart.

When computer genius Sampson Morales’ latest security measures fail to prevent the kidnapping of an Allied Planetary Union Ambassador’s child, he has no choice but to track and save the kid himself…especially if he wants to be paid.

Zasha Gustaf believed fighting with the Humans First movement could redeem her mercenary past, but when they use her intel to kidnap an innocent, she starts to have her doubts. Running into the only man she’s ever loved and who’s on the same trail is a sign. She commits to helping Sampson stop this group from sacrificing another blameless person, but she has another motive.

Sampson and Zasha have been down this road before, except last time it led to betrayal and heartache. He can’t trust her, and her attempts at redemption are met with constant rebuke, but when everyone, even the universe, is in danger, relying on each other is the only way forward.

Is a second chance possible for either of them…or will the past repeat itself?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of child endangerment, child abandonment, violence and murder.

Excerpt

Whenever the planet Saturn had crossed Sampson’s mind, he’d always believed stepping foot on its surface would involve jail time, or at the very least a spot in front of a tribunal. That he was being welcomed with open arms there, the land of the uppers, via official invitation no less, had made sleep near impossible for the last three solar days. Now, here he traveled among sprawling homes with green grass lawns, ponds of clear water…enough splendor to rattle the nerve endings of any man who’d grown up poor, near starving and covered in filth the majority of the time.

“Pull your mouth off the ground, kid. Bugs exist here.” Lee, ex-assassin and weapon expert, whipped her long black ponytail over her shoulder as their holo-vehicle came to a stop in front of Ambassador Al Smith’s house.

“You never told me how beautiful the ambassador planet was.”

She scoffed and re-checked her belt that was normally stacked with knives lining the leather. Now only two remained. “The thing about beauty is that it comes with a price. No sense salivating over something you won’t want to pay for.”

Except, maybe I do.

Sampson had gone his whole life without much. Joining up with Smith’s crew, back when the ambassador was a lowly body collector, Sampson had earned his place. When he’d ditched the Body Collection Service and joined the crew of Gina, he’d found a family. Regardless of the gains, there still existed this gnawing need inside him for more.

“You could have something like this, bet on it. Show these pansy fools your big brain in action.” Lee nudged him on the shoulder before she hopped out of the vehicle. “Enough sitting around talking. Let’s do this.”

Sure, he probably could reach living on Saturn status. Al had. The captain of a death barge was now a parliament ambassador, a fairy-tale story like the ones his mother used to spout over their dinner of broth and stale food cubes. The possibility of living on a wealthy planet in a fancy house tempted, but he wanted another kind of freedom. Living here would only be another prison of servitude. The desire to roam space, go where he wanted when he wanted, to eat what he wanted… All those wants drove him on.

“Welcome to my home,” Al called out from the front door, all fancy robes, ginger beard tamed and his infamous nose ring a thing of the past.

Sampson gave a single nod out of respect and instinctually reached to tug on the edge of the beanie he typically wore on the ship. “Thanks for the invite.”

“Would you like a tour?” The older man’s booming voice carried across the lawn with ease.

Sampson patted down his ginger hair and glanced at Lee, whose raised eyebrow told him everything he needed to know. “Perhaps another time. This is supposed to be a business trip, and I’d like to get to work right away.”

The words rolled off Sampson’s tongue like contaminated waste in a slip drive, foreign and unwelcome. He wanted to throw caution to the wind, take a tour or enjoy a fancy lunch—which was exactly why Lee had come along, to keep him focused.

The invitation from Al had come in a solar week before and Gina, the ship’s artificial intelligence, had been eager to share with Sampson how his expertise was requested along with the possible payday involved.

Enough crinkle to bathe in, according to Gina. Their co-captains, Toni and Emilio, were busy with another gig and had graciously offered up Gina along with the remainder of the crew to escort him. More like babysit. The implication stung a bit but made sense. Gina wasn’t a cheap ship, and she’d been hijacked before. Though if he completed this job, the flash was his for the taking, and maybe…

I’ll have enough to buy Gina.

“Straighten up, kid. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by him. You’re smarter.” Lee casually whispered these words on their walk up.

The encouragement soothed his shaken soul a bit. The last time he’d encountered Al Smith, Sampson had been indentured to Al’s body collection barge with a twenty-year service tag. Al hadn’t been horrible to work for, but he’d still been in charge and not afraid to stow a young boy in a small crappy room in the underbelly of the ship.

Sampson and Lee reached the front entrance, and he took note of the pair of guards posted right inside. Business trip indeed.

“Yes, and once you get inside, we can chat. You don’t mind if the guards search you?” Al asked with a sheepish smile.

Trust doesn’t come easy anywhere in this damn galaxy. They’d been searched three times since they’d gotten off Gina’s shuttle at the landing port. No such thing as a small measure for the planet housing parliament’s ambassadors.

Lee smiled, a wicked fucking grin equal parts ‘screw you’ and ‘sure thing.’ “Do what you have to, but my knives stay. I already put away half of them. The rest is for your protection and Sampson’s. Anything happens to him, and you’ll be answering to your sister personally if I don’t get you first.”

Pride swelled in Sampson’s chest. Family. These people cared about him, though sometimes he wished they would let him run his own missions. Let me take charge. Sure, he’d been told he was in charge on this one by Emilio, but Lee still played the role of big bad sister no matter what.

Al held up his hands. “Sure thing. Just making sure no explosives and whatnot. Loyda would be pissed if I didn’t follow protocol.”

Sampson nodded in agreement, standing up straight and spreading his arms. “Then let’s wrap this and get to it. Time is flash.”

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About the Author

Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

You can visit Landra’s website here, find her Amazon author page here and follow her on Pinterest here.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a First For Romance Gift Card!

Landra Graf A Mercenary to Love Giveaway

LANDRA GRAF IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET AND YOUR FREE LANDRA GRAF ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 3rd August 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.