Extract from Terms & Conditions Apply, a sci-fi romance short story by Pippa Jay

Terms and Conditions Apply“Welcome to Venus Ascendant, a Public Grade space station in the Andromedan Sector. With our open-to-all policy, any being in the universe can find their perfect R & R, romantic getaway or dangerous liaison at our purpose built resort. The on-board empathic AI Ganesa ensures that anyone coming to Venus Ascendant will find their heart’s desire, with suites that transform from luxurious boudoirs to sunset-lit beaches to dark BDSM dungeons. So come to Venus Ascendant and find exactly what you’re looking for!”

It was meant to be a romantic getaway for Marie and the love of her life Jaisen; a chance for him to get to know her better after months of her denying him more than a few stolen kisses. Instead, Marie finds herself dumped and alone on Venus Ascendant with no credit for a transmat and the next starship home not due for another hour.

But the all-seeing AI isn’t going to leave anyone aboard the space station with their dreams unfulfilled. Marie’s boyfriend might not have made it to the station, but there are others willing and able to take on the role – even if they aren’t entirely human.

A 2013 Gulf Coast RWA Chapter Silken Sands Self-Published Star Award Finalist


Marie jerked her gaze up to meet that of the man before her, then reassessed her first thought. This was no normal man. Although the impossibly deep, almost indigo blue of his eyes held her, she noted the silvery sheen of his skintight one-piece with the logo VASA at the shoulder that marked him as one of Venus Ascendant’s subsidiary avatars. Her distress at Jaisen’s message had no doubt sparked the AI into an immediate response—that kind of emotional hit on its empathic sensors wouldn’t have been missed, although it was probably equivalent to no more than a poke in the eye. For Marie, it was like someone carving out her heart with a blunt instrument. Continue reading

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10 Simple Writing Tips

1. If you aren’t enjoying writing something, stop!

2. Avoid clichés like the plague.

3. Make sure your characters are realistic.

4. Write what you know or be prepared to spend hours doing research.

5. Make sure you have a good grasp of the language you’re writing in – or an editor who does. Preferably both.

6. Make sure your story has an overall theme and that it’s engaging.

7. Hook the reader from the start.

8. Don’t use a vague word when a more specific word will work.

9. Visualise what you’re writing.

10. Once a piece is complete, edit, edit, edit!

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Earn Extra Income as an Affiliate Marketer

If you aren’t already enrolled in the Smashwords’ affiliate marketing programme, you’re missing out on an easy and fun way of earning some extra money. It’s a win-win situation: authors whose books you promote gain free exposure and sales they wouldn’t otherwise have made, and bloggers can earn some extra income for doing what they enjoy.

Smashwords’ affiliates earn a minimum of 11%, but can make as much as 80.5% of the net sales price of each book purchased. Anyone over 18 can enrol, and the programme is ideal for bloggers, authors, publishers, website owners, book enthusiasts, professional affiliate marketers and online communities.

I’m happy for anyone to promote my work – of course – but would like to take this opportunity to specifically encourage my readers to become affiliate marketers at Smashwords. I offer generous commissions of 50% on all my fantasy books and 40% on all my other books. Continue reading

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Extract from Dragon Kin and other fantasy stories: Whisperer

Dragon Kin and other fantasy storiesExtract from Dragon Kin and other fantasy stories: Whisperer

Iliseanor’s whispered words brought Jayla back to reality. She addressed the humans. “We’re helping you to escape. You must follow us and be quiet. We’re near discovery.”

Jayla took a step back as her friend opened the first cage – for all they knew, the humans could turn on them. The red-haired human crawled out and stood, then its legs crumpled and it steadied itself against the cage to remain upright.

Jayla drew a sharp breath. They wouldn’t be able to walk. Not as weak as they were. “Iliseanor…”

Her friend had already opened the second cage, where a human with long, untidy blonde hair sat clutching its stomach.

Iliseanor turned to Jayla. “What’s wrong?”

“How are they supposed to walk out of here when they can’t even stand without support?”

Iliseanor froze, uncertainty evident in her eyes. “Blokhin can carry one…”

“He might be strong, but they’re an awkward shape for him to carry… and I’m not sure they’d allow it.”

“Then Abelard can do it.”

“And the other six?”

Iliseanor’s shoulders tensed. “Curses! I knew they’d been starved and would be weak, but I thought they’d be able to walk, at least… or run.” Tears sparkled in her clear green eyes.

Jayla’s heart broke at the situation and her friend’s unshed tears. “Let the rest out. See if any of them can walk and support the others. I’ll see if the Secret Keeper can do anything.” She sent a telepathic warning as she walked away. If any of them go for you, kill them.

Download Dragon Kin and other fantasy stories – only $2.99 at Smashwords!

Read the first 10% of this anthology for free.


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Orion & the Ancient City of Teotihuacán

Teotihuacan Pyramid of the Moon_blogThe ancient city of Teotihuacán – Place of the Gods or ‘Place Where Gods Were Born’ – once home to over 150, 000 people, now lies in ruins north-east of Mexico City. Its original name is unknown, but its mysterious inhabitants believed it to be the place where today’s world was created, and evidence suggests that the monuments at the site, specifically a temple and two pyramids, were built to line up with the three stars in Orion’s Belt. In fact, the entire city seems to be astronomically aligned, pointing to the culture having advanced knowledge of astronomy. Other areas in which they seemed advanced were mathematics, architecture and even urban planning. Teotihuacán’s pyramids have secret chambers, tunnels and doors, and the city boasts an intricate drainage system of carved rock pipes. Continue reading

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REVIEW: Tortuous Shadows

Last year, I read Avalon Valley, Book 1: Tortuous Shadows and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I’m glad to finally have the chance to showcase it on my blog.

Let’s start off with my review, which I wrote in June last year:

IMG_0295Although I’m not generally a lover of romance books, the fantasy part got my attention, along with the striking book cover, so I decided to take a chance on Tortuous Shadows. I’m glad I did! The story was entertaining and the descriptions vivid, enabling me to easily visualise and feel what the character was experiencing.

The entire novel is written in first person, present tense – not everyone’s favourite tense and one that’s difficult to write a full book in, but I’ve always enjoyed books written this way, provided the author does it well, which Parr does. For this story, I think the tense and POV work perfectly.

The balance between mystery, fantasy and romance was well done too, and fantasy romance lovers should definitely read Tortuous Shadows for a real treat!

synopsisTitles in the Avalon Valley trilogy:

trilogy titles-correctPurchase links:

Barnes & Noble

About the author:

author profile picJENNIFER PARR is personally devoted to keeping Starbucks, movie theaters, and YA novelists afloat. When she’s not working on her own novels, she can usually be found doing one of the aforementioned things. After getting the idea for Tortuous Shadows, Jennifer went straight to work, completing the Avalon Valley trilogy in a little over a year. She plans to release book two, Better Shade, in the near future. In addition, Jennifer has another series underway, with hopes of branching out to the NA market. Her favorite author is Maggie Stiefvater, who she recently got to meet at a book signing.

Jennifer currently lives in Utah with her husband of fifteen years, their four children, and an English bulldog named Zen.

Connect with Jennifer online:

Facebook: Tortuous Shadows
Goodreads: Jennifer Parr
Instagram: @author_jenniferparr

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Sorcery & Subterfuge – Extracts

Sorcery & SubterfugeA magical sceptre that holds the power of the gods, an invisible prince, an elf with ogre genes and the ability to bend others’ minds to his will, a peasant girl turned queen, a tortured phoenix in human form, mystical fogs, dwarf pirates and majestic ryokin – sentient winged sabre tooth cats with magic flowing through their veins…

If sorcery and subterfuge get you through the night, this short story anthology is sure to spin you into a whirlwind adventure to realms beyond the imagination. Fans of the sci-fi fantasy series, Legends of Origin, will be pleased to note the inclusion of two stories featuring the series’ ryokin, along with a sneak peek at some of the series’ future characters.

Two of the stories in this anthology are The Enemy Crown and Ryokin Master. I hope you enjoy the extracts below.

Extract from The Enemy Crown

Dark, angry clouds loomed above the coronation parade, threatening to spill their fury onto the crowd gathered in the palace gardens. Thirteen-year-old Lassandra half believed the land knew the betrayal it was about to face. Back straight, chin up and head high, as she’d been instructed over the last two days, she waved and smiled regally at the Kingdom of Graell’s people, making eye contact every now and then as a white horse carried her along the main garden path to the palace. Her swept-up black hair and the diamond-encrusted crown weighed as heavy on her head as her task. She couldn’t wait to get out of her uncomfortable attire – a cumbersome red velvet dress, with black lace trimmings and flowing sleeves, and a blood-red cloak trimmed in gold. Continue reading

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All my anthologies will soon be only 99c!

To celebrate my birthday on 30 August, as of 29 August, all my short story anthologies will be only 99c – permanently.

In the meantime, if you have 99c to spare and are looking for some entertaining reading, browse my anthologies and see if anything catches your eye.

Click the covers below to read a free sample or to purchase.

Sorcery & Subterfuge Dragon Kin and other fantasy stories Futurescape Horrotica Terrorscape

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Found-Footage: A New Literary Genre?

Guest post by author Scott Bonasso

My latest book, The Tree of Knowledge, is technically a science fiction story. However, in writing TOK, my goal was to create a science fiction story that wasn’t ‘science fiction-y’. And not just in the sense that there wouldn’t be the typical whiz-bang spaceships or aliens or sentient computers. Every author who writes sci-fi strives for plausibility, but I wanted to go further. I wanted to create a manuscript that readers might actually believe was real.

I’m not the only storyteller currently seeking methods in which to blur the line between fantasy and reality in their work. One need only look at the wave of ‘found-footage’ films that have been produced since The Blair Witch Project turned the indie film industry on its ear fifteen years ago. There is a particular kind of thrill that comes with watching a movie that you either think is real, or are willing to suspend your disbelief for in this particular way. The approach to making the movie is different than that of a traditional film narrative. The filmmaker crafts the movie in such a way to honor the fiction-as-nonfiction contract with their audience. It’s sort of a role-playing exercise: the traditional third wall between storyteller and audience is intentionally taken down and both parties agree to treat the narrative as nonfiction.

The literary equivalent of a found-footage film would be a book written in epistolary format: a narrative that is presented as a collection of letters, notes, etc. Max Brooks created a brilliant twist on the epistolary format with his 2006 book, World War Z, which was actually presented as a series of transcribed interviews with various witnesses to the zombie apocalypse that the book documents. The brilliance of this book is found in both the micro and the macro – micro: the reader is treated to an eclectic variety of vignettes and smaller scenes, told by an eclectic variety of characters; macro: taken as a whole, these vignettes create an epic and fascinatingly realistic vision of the zombie apocalypse. Continue reading

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Extract: Dragon Kin and other fantasy stories

Dragon Kin and other fantasy storiesThe Dragon Kin anthology is a collection of six fantasy stories with plenty of twists that will keep you turning the page for more.

In this anthology, a young man’s incredible past is uncovered when he saves a young woman from conjured, fire-breathing dragons. A novice wizard’s resolve is tested when he is chased by rabid dogs for accusing a king’s beloved queen of murder. A mother prepares to brave danger by taking on a gluttonous black dragon with an overzealous penchant for livestock in the next valley that threatens, if left unchecked, to see her children going hungry during the looming winter. A cunning assassin sneaks into the castle dungeons to silence a prisoner before his testimony can reveal startling revelations about the queen. A desperate man does the unthinkable when he tries to kill a seven-year-old girl for the bounty placed on her head. An elf risks exposing the world’s best-kept secret – her secret – by embarking on a rescue mission to retrieve captured humans and kidnapped phoenix eggs.

One of the stories in this anthology is Dragon Kin. I hope you enjoy the extract below.

Extract from Dragon Kin

Only an hour remained before dawn. Karas had spent the remainder of the night chopping wood to repair his cabin. He kept his bow and quiver close at hand, just in case another dragon came. None had, and he doubted Sasha’s conviction that any would. The woman still sat in the sand talking Karas half deaf. He’d considered physically removing her, but, since he had no front door left to keep her out and nowhere to remove her to, he had blocked her voice out and focussed on the act of chopping wood, a menial task that always relaxed him.

He almost had enough wood to repair his cabin now, and planned to spend the day sawing it into planks. The coming day would also have to be used to get rid of the dragon corpse before it attracted flies. Sasha’s droning was replaced by a shriek as a large shadow passed overhead and something big and unfriendly snarled.

Karas looked up just as the silver-grey killer spewed a jet of flame at his cabin. The thatched roof caught fire immediately, the flames quickly spreading down the walls and to the interior. Karas’ heart sank. He was going to need a lot more wood. Continue reading

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