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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

At Horizon's End by Chris Sarantopoulos | Renee's Author Spotlight

Originally posted on Renee's Author Spotlight:

Chris Sarantopoulos studied Geology in Scotland (you may hear him say aye a couple of times), then decided to diversify and did a Masters in Service Management. Alas, words and stories won him. Now he meddles with the lives of fictional characters in genres such as science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopia, cyberpunk, fantasy, high fantasy, dark fantasy, and horror (not the splatter type though). When Chris is not writing, he spends his time crafting new stories and worlds, talks to friends who considered him lost somewhere in an imaginary world, or plays video games. Oh yeah, he likes music too. And books. He lives in Greece, and if you happen to spend time there, contact him. He may be able to arrange a meeting.

His work has appeared on Beyond Imagination, Voluted Tales and Eternal Haunted Summer among others.

You can sign up for his newsletter for updates and news at

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About the Book

Death made a mistake.

The Man Who Fed On Tears always knows whose time it is to pluck from the world of the living. His existence is one of a symbiosis between his need for the tears and woe he causes to those closest to the deceased, and the natural order of life and death to which he is bound. He never questions himself or his actions and has never made a mistake. Until now.

Stella is a four-year-old girl who misses her mommy and wants to see her again. She doesn’t yet understand the concept of loss, so when she sees close family members crying, she tries to stay cheerful and optimistic. After all, Mommy said they’d see each other again when the time comes At Horizon’s End. So if they’ll meet again, why is everyone crying?

Get it today on Amazon!

Keep reading for an interview with the author:

Why did you decide to be a writer?

Unlike most writers, I didn't always want to be one. Occasionally, I felt the urge to write something, but I had a little voice in my head (a very loud one) that dissuaded me every time I tried it. I'm very happy I silenced that voice eventually.

Do you have a "day job"?

I'm on a fixed term contract with the Municipality of the city I live in, and once that's over I'll be unemployed again.

How often do you write?

When I was unemployed I wrote or edited six days a week, for five hours each day. Now that I have a job, I try to write or edit for two hours during week days and another five hours on Saturdays. Sundays are write-free days.

What is the quirkiest thing you've ever done while writing?

Forget to eat. It sucks when it happens. Also, being bilingual and deep into my main character's point of view, I have sometimes answered as that character. In English (remember, I'm Greek, therefore I speak Greek)

What authors have most influenced you?

In no particular order: Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, G.R.R.Martin, R. Scott Bakker, Peter V. Brett, Richard K. Morgan, Stephen King

What are your goals as an author?

I'd like to get a foot into traditional publishing but I keep my options open with self publishing and small presses. Five years from today I'd like to have published not only my two yet-unpublished novels, but perhaps another two. One more at the very least. I'd like to start having a steady readership, and of course I'd like to have learned a thing or two about book promotions and marketing.

What is the best compliment you've ever received as an author?

A couple of weeks ago, a twitter follower complimented my latest short story (At Horizon's End). Why was it so nice? Because I hadn't advertised my work to that follower (or anyone else on twitter for a long time) and he not only spent money on my work, but he also took the time to let his followers know about my story. We had never spoken to each other, didn't know one another, but he did all that for me.

What is the worst writing advice you've ever received?

Write ten books per year. Sorry, that's not how I do things. I can't work like that.

How many books do you have on your "to read" list?

I'm on the third book of The Expanse so the rest are in my "to read" list. Mistborn is there as well, the second trilogy of R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing and so so so many more.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I wanted to learn as much as possible about marketing and promoting my work, preferably before I published my first novel. Which is why I'm publishing my short stories and trying things out.

What is your writing process?

First, extensive planning and outlining. I use a modified version of the Snowflake method for my novels. For my short stories, I use the 7-point system. After outlining, I draft the story. For a book, I usually need three months, maybe less. Once that's done, I put the story away for at least a month. Then I start revising and editing it. I usually go through fifteen to twenty revision and editing rounds. Then it's off to my beta readers. Once I get all their feedback I start revising and editing again, but it's hard to tell how many rounds of edits it takes me.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Drafting takes three months. Revising and editing it takes up to two more years. Planning and outlining takes at least another six months.

Have you ever wanted to put one of your characters together with a character from one of your favorite novels? What characters would you choose and how would their meeting go?

You've caught me off guard. The thought has never crossed my mind, so it's something I have to consider.

What inspired your current work?

The effect modern technology has on us, and even worse, the effect and impact future technology will have on our world.

Do you have anything specific you'd like to say to your readers?

I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you. If you ever come to Greece, let me know. I might be able to arrange a meeting or something.

#WIP Wednesday: #NaNoWriMo Progress | Renee Scattergood

Originally posted  Renee Scattergood:

I’m in week 3 of NaNoWriMo. It’s day 15, which means we’re halfway through. I should be at 25k words, but I’ve fallen a bit behind. Only by a little over 2k words though, so I will be able to catch up fairly easily. I might do some writing over the weekend to catch up.
The story is going well too. I’m really happy with it so far. After the first draft is done, I’m going to have to work out a lot of the world-building details, plus I’ve introduced a few other characters that weren’t originally planned for.
It’s going to be a pretty cool story when it’s done though. I can’t wait for you all to read it now! 

#SciFi & #Fantasy Book Bonanza - 99 Cent #Kindle Books!

Get 99 cent Science Fiction & Fantasy books on Kindle until the 26th of November!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Cassidy by Andrew Gates | Renee's Author Spotlight

Originally posted on Renee's Author Spotlight:

Formerly an on-site educator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, Andrew Gates is now a Virginia-based science-fiction writer and magazine contributor. He is best known as the author of the Color of Water and Sky series.

Gates has always been fascinated by science-fiction and fantasy ever since he was a kid. His writing style has been compared to that of Isaac Asimov, author of the Foundation series. Gates's multiple POV writing style focuses on world-building and large scope politics. Though his stories take place in a fictional world, his characters are realistically portrayed and grounded in reality.

When Andrew Gates is not writing, he enjoys running competitively and watching films.

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About the Book

The world thinks them dead. But they are very much alive. After a deadly attack from an unknown enemy, Captain Sara Gessetti and Lieutenant Damien Saljov are separated from the Cassidy X20 experimental submarine and left to drown in the depths of the Atlantic. Cut off from society, from technology, even from each other, both pilots struggle to survive in this harsh new world, where danger lurks around every corner. But they are not alone. The surface holds many dangers, and some of them come from within...

From the pages of The Color of Water and Sky, this official spinoff story takes place in parallel to books 1-3 in the series.

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Amazon | Smashwords

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Carter opened his eyes and looked himself in the mirror. The suit fit him well. He was not accustomed to seeing himself so dressed up. He made sure his tie was straight, then ran his fingers through his hair.

He took a deep breath. This was it. This was the moment he had been waiting for.

Carter grabbed the holographic projector from the sink top and held it firmly in his sweaty hands.

"Here we go," he said aloud.

The 32-year-old engineer turned and walked out of the men's room. The black hall outside was bustling with well-dressed men and women, quickly making their way through the office complex. Carter tried not to get caught up in the excitement of it all. He held his projector firmly in hand and proceeded to the committee room. It did not take long to get there. He pressed on the thick door and hastily proceeded through.

Some of the elected officials, or EOs, were already present. Their chairs faced him as he entered the room. A massive crimson flag hung above their heads, adding a bit of color to this otherwise dark interior.

A young Navy guard in a white suit approached him.

"Name, sir?" the man asked. He looked about 20, not much older than Carter was when he first enlisted.

"Dr. Carter Brown," he answered. He pulled out his ID. "I am here for the hearing."

"My apologies, Dr. Brown. I did not know it was you. I expected someone..."


The Navy man was silent. He simply motioned to an empty chair behind a desk facing the EOs.

"Please," he said.

Carter followed the guard's order and took a seat behind the desk. A glass of water was already waiting for him. He instinctively took a sip as a few more EOs arrived and took their seats. It was not long before Deborah Otto, Chairwoman of the Oceanic Committee, arrived. Her bright white suit stood out in the world of black.

She took a seat and moved the microphone to her mouth.

"Good morning, everyone," she said. Her voice echoed throughout the room. "Thank you all for coming. I know it is never easy to come back to work after the New Year celebration."

This had been the first day back to work for most of the city following the bicentennial, but not for Carter. He had worked tirelessly over the last few days, making sure everything was right for his presentation.

"I would like to especially welcome our guest today, Dr. Carter Brown," Otto continued.

Carter was not sure how to respond to this introduction. He simply waved back. He felt the EOs glare back at him. He must have been doing it wrong.

"The purpose of this hearing today is to evaluate Dr. Brown's proposal to grant funding for the testing of his new exploratory ocean vessel. We will hear testimony firsthand from Dr. Brown himself and open the floor to questioning from members of this committee."

Otto paused and looked to her colleagues as if waiting for confirmation to proceed.

"Are we all ready?" she asked.

There were nods all around.

"Very well," Otto said, turning back to face the room again. "I see no reason to delay. Dr. Brown, I look forward to hearing what you have to say. The floor is yours."

Here it goes.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday Sneak Peeks: Defender of the Chosen (A God's Deception Book 1) | Renee Scattergood

Originally posted by Renee Scattergood:

Designed by Kathryn Jenkins at Magical Designs

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Saturday Sneak Peek, but that’s probably because I haven’t written much in a while. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I’m on a writing spree…
I’m working on the first book in my A God’s Deception series, so I’m going to give you a little sneak peek of that. Keep in mind, these sneak peeks are totally unedited versions, so it could change in the final version of the book. But at least it gives you a taste of what’s to come!

“I really miss the old executions,” he said. “I was disappointed when the council changed to a more humane method of execution, labeling the old ones archaic and unnecessary. I’ve always believed if someone committed a crime, they deserved whatever punishment they received.”
He’d go on like that for hours, describing every detail of the execution she faced. It wasn’t as simple as being dunked in scalding water. They were going to slowly pour small buckets of boiling water over her until she died. After each bucket was dumped they’d wait for her cries to die down before doing the next.
“Eventually, your skin will seem to just melt off your body, but even then you won’t die right away. The torment can go on for hours or even days before you die. The best part is everyone in the city will be lined up to take their turn in dumping the scalding water over your body.” He ran his hand down her body as he said this.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek. I’m hoping to release the books in this series starting late next year. If you’d like to read some of my other work, Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episode 1 – 6) is a free download. You can also get Shadow Stalker Part 2 (Episodes 7 – 12) by signing up here.

Salvation's Dawn by Joe Jackson

Now a 6-book epic fantasy series!

In another time, another life, Karian Vanador was among the greatest of demonhunters.

Now, resurrected two centuries later, she is left fractured and alone. Her prowess remains undiminished, but does she have the fortitude to face the latest threats from the demons? A civil war brews on a distant island, the work of demons apparent in its progression. Assigned to an unlikely group of young heroes, Kari must draw strength from them even as she provides it, and unravel an underworld plot before Citaria is plunged into worldwide war again.

Can she find her purpose and destiny in this new time and place, and conquer the demons within before she faces the ones without?

Get it Today!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Author Spotlight: Adam's Stepsons by M Thomas Apple | Renee Scattergood

Originally posted by Renee Scattergood:

Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have M Thomas Apple visiting with his science fiction novella, Adam’s Stepsons. He’ll be sharing an excerpt from the book, but first, let’s learn more about the author!
A native of Upstate New York, M. Thomas Apple gave up his high school dreams of becoming the next Carl Sagan and instead studied languages and literature at Bard College and creative writing at the University of Notre Dame du Lac. Even after somehow getting hired to teach intercultural communication at a university in Kyoto, Japan, he is still trying to apply ideas from quantum mechanics to language teaching and research. He lives in a quasi-traditional Japanese house co-designed with his wife and partially decorated by his two daughters, nestled in the foothills of the mountains and surrounded by lots of cedar and cicada.

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About the Book

Dr. Johann Heimann designed the perfect soldiers: superhuman in strength and intelligence, immune to sickness and disease, programmed to lead the United Americas to a quick victory in the Mars Colony War. But Heimann didn’t anticipate the military’s unrealistic demands, or his own emotional responses to his creations. And now Number Six is calling him “Father”! What exactly is going on during the clones’ personality imprinting cycle?
As Heimann starts his investigation, Number Six grows in confidence and self-awareness…and both discover the project hides a secret even Heimann, himself, doesn’t suspect…

Get it Today!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Rockets streaked across the deepening blue Martian sunset. The aircraft shuddered as explosions on either side buffeted it. Gritting his teeth, Six swerved to meet the oncoming attack squad. His Mars warplane shuddered again. Behind his head steam suddenly sprayed from a fractured coolant panel. Holding the throttle steady with his left hand, he rapidly flipped the switches on his right. The steam dissipated, but he still felt a burning sensation on his neck.
“Bogey at 5 o’clock,” he heard from his helmet speaker. Without turning to look, Six yanked the throttle upright and to the left, executing a perfect barrel roll. He fired before checking to see whether the laser guidance system had locked properly.
Strange thoughts came unbidden: First you got Hansen, be damned if you…I’m hit! Systems failing. Uncle…
“Target acquired,” the voice announced, five nanoseconds after the shots ripped a jagged strip into the adversary’s fuselage. For some reason, Six had the impression that he had done this before. A vague memory surfaced, a memory of nearly blacking out from the g-forces. He felt disquieted.
The plane on screen burst into flames and began its downward trajectory to the Martian soil.
“Target destroyed,” Six reported emotionlessly.
“Stand down and prepare to return,” the voice ordered.
Tapping the control panel in front of him, Six plotted a course back to Mars Colony One. Without checking his instruments, he knew the ETA was five point four minutes.
He paused, releasing the controls briefly.
Where had he learned that? The educational machine?
He raised a hand to adjust his helmet. Suddenly an image appeared in his head: upside down, careening across the rust-red rocky landscape, desperately struggling to eject…a stuck canopy…dislocated shoulder…pain…
“Pilot, disengage. Computer, end simulation.”
The same female voice as inside his helmet, only this time from a wall speaker in the outside room.
The clone blinked twice in rapid succession. The image disappeared. So did the Martian panorama. In its place stretched a series of connected flat screens with a raised fist holding a multicolored torch, the logo of the United Americas. The door to the simulator opened, and artificial light streamed in.
Removing his helmet, Six paused to stare at the logo.
The image had been so real.
Had he already been to Mars? Had he been shot down? No, it couldn’t be. They said his training was not yet complete. A video, then? No, none of the training videos from the library were first-person perspective.
Six tilted his head, pondering. It made no sense. He didn’t like things that made no sense.
“Six, log out and report to Doctor Heimann in five minutes.”
“Yes, sir,” the clone mechanically answered, withdrawing a thin filament from the panel in front of him. The filament smoothly retracted into the socket behind his right ear, and the logo on the screens disappeared. In its place, blackness, and the clone’s faint reflection; his light brown face marred only by the number 6 in red on his left cheek.

Special Feature: Songs of Insurrection: A Legend of Tivara Story by JC Kang

On sale for 99c for a limited time.

Only a naïve girl with the perfect voice can rediscover the lost magic of Dragon Songs. Only the Black Lotus Clan can prevent her from unleashing it.
Blessed with a voice that could charm a dragon, Kaiya dreams of a time when music could summon typhoons and rout armies. Maybe then, the imperial court would see the awkward princess as more than a singing fool.
Just as the magic of Dragon Songs sparks inside her, the emperor’s elite spy clan uncovers a brewing insurrection. With the realm teetering on the brink of rebellion, the court hopes to appease the ringleader by offering Kaiya as a bride.
Instead, she’ll confront the depraved rebel lord with the budding power of her voice.
And take a dire risk.
Because singing a Dragon Song can kill you.

Get it Today!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hell Holes 2: Demons on the Dalton by Donald Firesmith

When hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appeared overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, geologist Jack Oswald picked Angele Menendez, his climatologist wife, to determine if the record temperatures due to climate change was the cause. But the holes were not natural. They were unnatural portals for an invading army of demons. Together with Aileen O’Shannon, a 1,400-year-old sorceress demon-hunter, the three survivors of the research team sent to study the holes had only one chance: to flee down the dangerous Dalton Highway towards the relative safety of Fairbanks. However, the advancing horde of devils, imps, hellhounds, and gargoyles will stop at nothing to prevent their prey from escaping. It is a 350-mile race with simple rules. Win and live; lose and die…

Get it Today!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Journey from Skioria by Kandi J Wyatt | Renee's Author Spotlight

Originally posted on Renee's Author Spotlight:

Even as a young girl, Kandi J Wyatt, had a knack for words. She loved to read them, even if it was on a shampoo bottle! By high school, Kandi had learned to put words together on paper to create stories for those she loved. Nowadays, she writes for her kids, whether that's her own five or the hundreds of students she's been lucky to teach. When Kandi's not spinning words to create stories, she's using them to teach students about Spanish, life, and leadership.

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About the Book

Tania is lost, shipwrecked on an unfamiliar shore. With no friends or family, the nine-year-old girl must make her way through the realm of the woodland people to a town she's never heard of. With unexpected allies from the forest, Tania departs on a wild adventure where storms rage and the forces of nature do their very best to end her journey before it has truly begun.

In a land full of forests, oceans, and small people, what will it take for one young girl to make it home alive?

Lord of the Rings meets Narnia in this standalone middle-grade fantasy by author Kandi J Wyatt.

Get it Today!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Inktera

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Incessant chattering reached Tania’s ears, along with bone-chilling cold on her back and great warmth on her face. It took a moment before she realized that the sound contained words.

“Say! What is this? Is it a man? Is he hurt? Say, he’s a she! Look at that beautiful hair! It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before! Wow, what would Fil say about that? Even the Avarians don’t have hair that shade of blond.”

Tania tried to move away from the cold underneath her, but she had no energy. Instead, she opened her eyes.

“I say, are you awake?” A brown, hairy face looked down at her. Deep brown eyes expressed concern.

Tania blinked and struggled to a sitting position. She rubbed a wet hand across her aching forehead. “How could I sleep with all that chatter? And Mom and Dad say I talk too much! I wish they could meet you.”

“Mom and Dad?” The man glanced around the wooded riverbed. “Where are they? Are they near here?”

Memories flooded back. Tania hung her head. “No. I … I don’t think so. I don’t know for sure.”

“You don’t know for sure? Why ever not?”

“I … I … I was on the boat. Mom tried to warn me, but the next thing I knew, I was in the water.” Tania wiped at her eyes but only managed to get her face wet. A shiver ran down her body. She climbed to her feet.

At first, she thought she’d landed in a state park because the only place she’d ever seen such clean woods had been in Honeyman State Park in Oregon. Next, she wondered if she were dreaming. The man beside her stood no taller than any other kid in her fourth-grade class, and yet he didn’t look like a dwarf or a midget.

The man’s forehead wrinkled as he looked down the waterway. “This river surely wouldn’t have gotten that bad. I mean I’ve seen it pretty rough, but even the old-timers have never seen an accident where people turned up on the bank.”

“Oh, this wasn’t on a river. We were enjoying a vacation and went crabbing.”

“You were out on the ocean!” The little man sat back on his heels. “How’d you make it into the river and here?”

“Well, I did have my life jacket on.” Tania tried to adjust the bright orange vest.

“Lifejacket? What’s that?” The man’s bushy eyebrows disappeared behind his hair.

“Don’t you know anything? It’s this here.” Tania unzipped the jacket.

“Oh, I thought it was just your vest to keep warm. Like mine.” He looped his thumb through the armhole of his buckskin-like vest, then adjusted his dark brown shirt at the collar. He smoothed his brown, leather pants.

Tania stared up into the trees. Their boughs obscured the sky but let streams of sunlight through. “Do you have any idea where I am?”

“That, I can answer. Oh, where ever are my manners? Let me introduce myself. I’m Trilicius. You’re just a half-hours’ walk from Skioria, my home. Why don’t you come with me, I can find a place for you for the night, and then we can see about getting you back to your parents.”

#WIP Wednesday: #NaNoWriMo Mania! | Renee Scattergood

Originally posted by Renee Scattergood:

I don’t have a lot to announce today. I’m knee-deep in NaNoWriMo now, and I’ve gotten nearly half of the first book of A God’s Deception written. Of course, it’s going to need a lot of re-writes and editing in the form it’s in right now, but it’s going really well. I love how the story is developing.
BeemGee is definitely an excellent tool for story planning, and I’ll be using it again in the future for my stories! 😀
Oh… I’m at 12,788 words of the 50k I need to write before the end of the month! Wish me luck!

Hell Holes: What Lurks Below by Donald Firesmith

It’s August in Alaska, and geology professor Jack Oswald prepares for the new school year. But when hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appear overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, Jack receives an unexpected phone call. An oil company exec hires Jack to investigate, and he picks his climatologist wife and two of their graduate students as his team. Uncharacteristically, Jack also lets Aileen O’Shannon, a bewitchingly beautiful young photojournalist, talk him into coming along as their photographer. When they arrive in the remote oil town of Deadhorse, the exec and a biologist to protect them from wild animals join the team. Their task: to assess the risk of more holes opening under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the wells and pipelines that feed it. But they discover a far worse danger lurks below. When it emerges, it threatens to shatter Jack’s unshakable faith in science. And destroy us all…

Get it Today!

Amazon | InstaFreebie | Smashwords

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#YouTube Tuesday: PhoenixFire | Minecraft: WynnCraft (<--- My Daughter) | Renee Scattergood

Originally posted by Renee Scattergood:

My daughter wanted me to share one of her videos, so I’m sharing her latest livecast. She was playing with a friend of hers online. My daughter was (ahem) attempting to help her level up…
She’s got 85 subscribers at the moment (and she’s hilarious to watch). Help me get it to 100!
You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter, so like and follow her there as well!

The Color of Water and Sky by Andrew Gates

Year 200, Atlantic Federation Calendar. The surface of the Earth has been destroyed. Humanity now lives beneath the ocean. Life is peaceful in this artificial world, but questions are raised when an experimental submarine is attacked during a routine test mission. There are no leads. For the first time in generations, humanity will have to confront what may lurk above the surface.

Get it today on Smashwords!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Medieval Monday: The Labors of November | Allison D. Reid

Originally posted by Allison D. Reid:

butcheringThe Anglo Saxons referred to November as the “blood month,” because it was time to begin slaughtering those animals which would not be kept through the winter. The traditional time for butchering animals was Martinmas (November 11th), though the butchering and processing of meat could continue through January depending on the weather. While some meat would be eaten fresh, it was important to have a supply of beef, pork, chevon (goat), and mutton (sheep) to last throughout the winter months. The preservation of meat was a laborious task. The flesh would have to be soaked in brine for days before it could be hung to dry and smoked. Meat might also be pickled, dried, or salted. Bacon in particular could be rubbed with spices and honey before it was smoked. Every part of the animal was used for something. The hides were used for making leather and parchment, hooves for gelatin, and bone and horns had a myriad of uses. Offal, blood, and bone marrow had to be eaten right away, and were turned into seasonal treats. Sausage and puddings were fall delicacies, providing a use for blood and organ meats. They were cooked with onions, garlic, and a variety of spices that made them especially tasty.
cookingWhen the fresh meat had run out, it was back to dried, salted meats, which weren’t especially nice to eat. Beef and mutton had to be simmered for a very long time to reduce the salt content enough to make them palatable. Bacon would be added directly to pottage, a thick stew that included vegetables, and grains like barley. Pottage was a staple food, often left cooking in a kettle over the fire for days on end, with the family simply adding water and ingredients to it as needed to keep it going.
Pork was the most popular preserved meat, especially for peasants. Pigs were easy to keep because they could forage for themselves, and after slaughter, their meat absorbed less of the preserving salt, helping it to retain more of its moisture. The leftover fat from slaughtering was used as lard, and also for the making of tallow candles. These would be vital to have for the dark, cold months ahead.
fattening-pigsThose pigs that weren’t being butchered (or at least not yet) were still being fattened in November. Acorns, beechnuts, hawes, hazelnuts, and other foods could still be actively foraged or collected for later feedings. But pigs weren’t the only ones out foraging for the last of nature’s bounty. Wild berries and apples, nuts, plums, and hips were great sources of nutrition—they just had to be collected. Coleworts (kohlrabi, cabbage, turnips) could also be harvested and stored someplace dark and cold. Sometimes they would simply be left in the ground and covered with a thick layer of straw. When needed, they could be uncovered, gathered, and eaten.
collecting-reedsNovember was also a time to collect reeds and osiers. These would be cured to use as thatch for roofs, or turned into baskets and nets for later use. Rushes became candle wicks, and nettles could be used instead of flax to make a durable thread. Bracken could be used as winter bedding for cattle. Firewood had to be collected as well, since much would be needed for heat and other purposes. There were restrictions, however. Dead wood could be gathered from the ground, or pruned from trees. People were not allowed to cut down live trees to use as firewood—this was a way to ensure that forested areas would continue to be a resource for many seasons to come.

Enjoy another Tales from the Green Valley. Fair warning, some may find the images in this episode disturbing as they slaughter, butcher, and prepare one of the farm pigs just as it would have been done hundreds of years ago. 
In this month’s episode: Finishing the cow shed, making wattle and daub walls, pig slaughter, butchering, and cooking. Gathering medlars, scrubbing a table with salt, roof thatching.

Devils A Collection of Devilish Short Fiction by Erik Henry Vick | Renee's Author Spotlight

Originally posted on Renee's Author Spotlight:

Erik Henry Vick is an author who happens to be disabled by an autoimmune disease (also known as his Personal Monster™). He writes to hang on to the few remaining shreds of his sanity. His current favorite genres to write are dark fantasy and horror.

He lives in Western New York with his wife, Supergirl; their son; a Rottweiler named after a god of thunder; and two extremely psychotic cats. He fights his Personal Monster™ daily with humor, pain medicine, and funny T-shirts.

Erik has a B.A. in Psychology, an M.S.C.S., and a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence. He has worked as a criminal investigator for a state agency, a college professor, a C.T.O. for an international software company, and a video game developer.

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About the Book

Come, step inside the dark passageways of Erik Henry Vick’s mind. Come meet his friends, devils, one and all.

Robert is a war hero on his way down. Addicted to cocaine, wallowing in guilt, he meets a beautiful woman with the quirky habit of telling everyone she’s the devil.

Rick Bergen learns the true cost of revenge when he enters the world of the voodoo pantheon and meets the manifestation of vengeance.

Rena is kidnapped by polygamist extremists bent on creating an army for the apocalypse—by any means necessary.

An ancient evil has returned to stalk the shores of Lake Seneca. A colonial New Yorker, with the help of an Onondowaga warrior, must confront beings that can’t be killed or reasoned with.

A man is trapped in Rochester, NY by a massive snowstorm, but if he doesn't make his appointment in Buffalo, his entire bloody itinerary will be in jeopardy.

Mind your step. Don’t attract these devils’ attention.

Get it today on Amazon!

Keep reading for an interview with the author:

Why did you decide to be a writer?

I have always written -- stories, non-fiction, whatever. I started when I was seven, in order to win a contest hosted by my second-grade teacher. I wrote 70 single page stories to win a trip to McDonald's. As an adult, I got distracted by various things (academia, work, etc.), but was disabled about 8 years ago. I focused on writing fiction again as a way to cope with my disability.

Do you have a "day job"?

No, I'm disabled by a chronic illness (rheumatoid arthritis), also known as my Personal Monster (tm). Most recently, I was a professor teaching video game development.

What inspires you to write?

Stephen King and my Personal Monster (tm). Yeah, I know that sounds a bit strange, but it is true. When I was first disabled, I turned to fiction for solace. I read my favorite books again and again. Perhaps my all time favorite series is The Dark Tower, and as I was reading it a few years ago, I began to think about how much fun it would be to write something like it. At the time, computer use was very difficult--even sitting in an office chair for longer than 15 minutes was painful--but the idea wouldn't let go. I found a way--a modified sit-stand swing arm and a recliner, along with a bunch of gadgets to accommodate the variable nature of my disease. I also wanted to raise awareness about the disease, chronic illnesses, and life with an invisible disability. All of those things together became my novel, Errant Gods, which will be released this fall.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

This is actually a very difficult question to answer. Not only are most novels different lengths, but in my experience, each novel has a "personality" (for lack of a better word) of its own. Some just come running, others you have to chase a bit. Then there's the whole first draft vs. finished draft thing, which is a whole other can of worms. I can say that I've written a novel in a month (which was horrible and will never be published), and others have taken years. Then there's the whole Personal Monster (tm) thing. It delights in becoming the largest monkey wrench it can be.

If you could be one of your characters for a day, who would it be and why?

The character Hank Jensen (Errant Gods) is largely based on me, so definitely not him! I'd like to be Meuhlnir for a day (or century), maybe.

What is the most difficult thing you've ever researched?

In my novella, The Devil, the character Lily uses slang from multiple languages, including Mexican, Dominican, Hebrew, Russian, German, and Arabic. Keeping all that straight was tough.

What are your goals as an author?

Still writing and self-publishing.

What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?

Hands down, my disability. There are weeks and even months at a time when I can't be productive. Unproductive time like that can be the death knell of a novel -- the story dies, the characters become something else, the thread gets lost... One of the best tricks I have in my arsenal at the moment is something I stole from Stephen King -- the "next note." When I'm done writing for the day, I add a "next note" to the bottom of the manuscript. I write what happens next, and if I can't get back to it the next day, it's still there when I can. I also use OneNote to track ideas, characters, settings, etc., because I can get to it from any device.

What is the best compliment you've ever received as an author?

A recent reader told me to think of her as "Constant Reader" (which is how Stephen King addresses his readers in his author's notes).

Have you ever had a particularly harsh critique?

Yes, of course. The thing is, all critiques are good. Even if they are bad. The worst critiques are the "vacuous" ones: things like "this sucks" without further comment. I can't do anything with that. I read every review, every critique, and try to learn from them.

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?

Reading, joking around (with everyone), finding the best funny T-shirts.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?

I would have to take 8. The Dark Tower books.

What made you decide to self-publish?

Not to sound like a broken record, but my illness imposes certain restrictions on me. I wrote my non-fiction book right before I was disabled, and meeting deadlines was a problem. With self-publishing, I am the deadline, so they're much easier to meet.

What fears do you have about writing and being an indie author?

Gaining traction with readers, really. I'm proactive about marketing--that's the only solution, I think.

Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?

All of the above. I don't like present tense much, but when it makes sense, I use it.

Are you a pantser or outliner?


Do you write about real life experiences, or does everything come from your imagination?

I write from experience, but as a horror writer, my imagination definitely gets in its licks.

Have you ever wanted to put one of your characters together with a character from one of your favorite novels? What characters would you choose and how would their meeting go?

I think it would be cool to have Hank Jensen meet Roland Deschain. They would argue about firearms most likely.

How do you market/promote your work?

I do social media and have spent the past few months building a mailing list, and from there, a launch team of readers who are very interested in my writing.

Do you have anything specific you'd like to say to your readers?

I am very thankful to have readers. I'd love to hear from you!

On a Roll With #NaNoWriMo | Renee Scattergood

Originally posted by Renee Scattergood:

NaNoWriMo began on the 1st of this month and runs until the 30th. For those who don’t know, I have those thirty days to write 50,000 words. I love participating in the NaNo competitions because I’m not competing with other authors. I’m competing against myself. It’s a great way to connect with and support other authors in their writing goals.
I wasn’t planning to participate this year because I like to plan out my stories before I start writing. I tried the pantser method of writing and it was disastrous for me. I kept going off on tangents and before I knew it I was bored with the story and never finished it. I couldn’t even remember where I was going with it.
So, now I plan. I go in-depth with my planning, but at the same time, I like to leave wiggle room. My stories always seem to take on a life of their own and I like to let that happen. One thing never changes though. I always know how it will end, and I know the basics of how I’m going to get there.
I’ve found this speeds up my writing a great deal, but I fell into the trap of letting myself write too much in each sitting and I burned myself out. So this time around, I’m taking weekends off, and even if I’m on a roll, I stop myself after about 2500 words each day. I let myself go over a little, but only to finish a thought.
I like leaving off on a writing high because it makes it easier to get into writing the next day. So far, this plan is working out great. We’re onto day 6 of NaNoWriMo, and I’m still ready to go. Normally by now, I’d have half the word count completed for the even, but I’d feel completely burned out and I’d find that I no longer cared about the story. Well, I’m right on target where word count is concerned (just over 10k words), and I’m still as excited about the story as I was on the first day.
I think it’s safe to say, this is going to be my preferred method of writing from here on out. It’s a great way to keep things moving forward. I’ll write an average of 12,500 words each week, and I won’t end up in situations where I’m so burned out, I go weeks without writing a word. It will make it easier for me to release things consistently.
I’m feeling so positive again about writing, and between the outlining competition through Pro Writing Aid and BeemGee, and NaNoWriMo this year, it’s getting even better. I feel like I’ve finally worked out my writing groove!
How about you? Do you have a preferred method of writing that just seems to work for you and helps you stay consistently productive? Share it with us!