books, guest post, historical romance, romance, Uncategorized

A Free eBook Lovefest – Guest Post and Book Promo by, Xina Uhl…

Time for some loooooooooove.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Ah, February. You are the month where spring flowers start budding and love is in the air. Most of us think of Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday, but what about all the other kinds of love – for our friends, children, pets, nature, the flawed, but beautiful world around us? That’s love, too.

Still, romance is pretty dang nice. And usually includes smoochies.

Which is why you will be interested to find out that there’s a romance ebook promotion going on right now at Art of the Arcane and through February 15th. Lots of fantabulous reads are FREE when you sign up at Instafreebie, including my Antarctic romance Whiter Pastures:

Love and Lunacy in turn-of-the-century Antarctica!

There are a number of Amazon gift card promotions you can enter at the above link as well. Now who can resist that?

Click away, lovebirds!



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books, freelance, guest post, Uncategorized, writing

Meet Guest Author, Xina Marie Uhl…

Look, everyone! I wrote something! About … writing. These are some of my best tips and tricks for getting the words down.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

As someone who writes nonfiction for kids for a job, I find myself confronted with an obstacle that primarily affects me when I work on my personal fiction. Which is, I don’t want to do it. After all, for my nonfiction I have an editor and a deadline and most importantly, I get actual money from it to pay my bills. Those things get me typing away. And while I’m working on making more of a profit with my fiction, I don’t have the same motivation in terms of structure and incentives that I do with my nonfiction. So here are some things that have helped me get my words down despite the financial incentives.

Major. These actions have had the most effect on my productivity.

  1. Goals and Deadlines. I always have one project or another in the works so for me there is no shortage of things…

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guest post, Uncategorized

Pariah Missouri Book 2 : The Promised Land

Please welcome my friend Andy, who has created a guest post for us:

book 2 kickstarter profile pic 3-stafff pick-web

My name is Andres Salazar.  I’m a storyteller.  Whether it be film, plays, short stories or children’s books, I love telling stories with engaging characters.  My first love is comic books, and that’s where I’ve seen the most success.   I’ve been hunkered down working on the second graphic novel in the series, Pariah Missouri.  Part Huckleberry Finn part Twin Peaks it’s a mash-up of some of my favorite stories and ideas all set in Antebellum 1857 Missouri.  It’s Steampunk without the punk, but a good dose of religion, folk magic, bounty-hunters, slaves and demons.  It’s the A-team with Hiram Buchanan an undercover Pinkerton, Nellie a feisty courtesan, Jean Lafitte a practitioner of vodoo from New Orleans and Toro a Mexican/Comanche bounty-hunter as they ferret out evil.panel hy

Book Two introduces two new characters, Elijah Harris and Jasper Whitmer, both preachers on different sides of the Great Awakening.  Both there to save souls, or are they?

Book One was a Kickstarter last year.  We did very well and I started hitting the convention circuit.  I attended 14 comic book conventions in the last 12 months (That’s a whole another post I can write about those experiences).   I sold over 1,000 copies of Book panel - eliOne and it was selected as the Staff Pick for July’s Preview in Diamond (the national distributor of comic books).  Now we are at it again with a Kickstarter for Book Two.  The book is already 96.3% done.  I am putting some finishing touches on a couple of pages (out of the +100 page story) and re-working a few lines of dialog.  It’s interesting how I wrote the script back in September of 2013 and now re-reading it as I letter in InDesign, there’s some things I want to change and add.  The Kickstarter was selected as a Staff Pick by Kickstarter, so that must mean something, right?

I work with an amazing artist/penciler, JL Pescador, and I color every page of Pariah Missouri in watercolors.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do since the beginning.  I wanted that old-timey feel and keep the color palette down to a minimum.  Even made a Deluxe Hardcover complete with writer-commentary throughout the story, on every page as well as extra pages with additional epilogue, behind-the-scenes art, production sketches and reference pictures.  It’s the blu-ray of the book.  Because of the costs to make the deluxe hardcover, I will not be selling them at stores or through Diamond, it will be strictly a Kickstarter thing (or face to face).panel toro

I just finished the rough script for Book Three.  It should be ready for print in July 2015.  The goal is to finish the story by Book Five, which will be the end for our little town of Pariah, and the beginning of the American Civil War.

FB ad #2I got some new Stretch Goals which will include a radio drama and a card game.  It will be an exciting story for the next 30 days to see how we progress through the campaign.  I will be posting videos and updates often so backers really get a sense of the behind the scenes of what it takes to make a comic book.  Please become a part of our team!

To see the Pariah, Missouri Kickstarter campaign to go:

If you go check it out, you can download a preview copy of Book One and Two to see if it’s your poison.

guest post

A Travel Guide for Order of the Dimensions

At one point the tagline for this blog was: Travel, both real and imagined. This is the imagined part. Today, author Irene Helenowski provides us with a brief intro to her exciting novel Order of the Dimensions. What’s it about?

Cover art for Order of the Dimensions by Irene Helenowski When Jane Kremowski first began her graduate studies in physics at Madison State University in Wisconsin, little did she know where her work would take her. Now, she is embroiled in a multitude of dimensions all leading to different outcomes. She and her colleagues therefore must act wisely in order to take and keep away the Order of Dimension from falling into the wrong hands for the sake of her loved ones.

Irene Helenowski, the author of “Order of the Dimensions”, is a biostatistician an academic medical center in Chicago and recently received her doctorate in biostatistics. She also enjoys going to movies and concerts in her spare time. Order of the Dimensions is available as an ebook from and iTunes, and as a paperback from

Take it away, Irene!



In Order of The Dimensions, I tried to create several worlds, each giving the reader a glimpse of how the characters’ lives would evolve in that place.  For instance, I attempted to re-create what Jane would experience as she cut through the park at the Smithsonian to visit her love, Randy.

She could still make the Green line Temple Hills even after a quick trip to the museum, after all.  She walked quickly past the mall, threading her way through the crowds of tourists, soon finding herself at the steps of the Natural History Museum.  She ran up the stairs and entered the museum, looking around until she spotted the entrance to the gift.  Smiling widely, she hurried to the entrance where she saw who she was looking for, a tall medium-built young man with curly, blonde hair.

Or how tempting it might be for her to stay in paradise in the realm where she  married to the dark and mysterious Anton Zelov.

Thank you.” Jane slowly made her way to the sunroom, which had a glass door opening to a garden.  Gigantic palm trees, the greenest bushes she had ever seen, and flowers of all types and colors lured her out, leading her to a cobblestone terrace.  A beautiful fountain featuring an ivory swan could be seen in the back of the garden, with Dr. Zelov just in front of it.  He was sitting down at a round, white table, replete with an assortment of fruit, slices of ham, toast, and a dish of what appeared to be scrambled eggs.  He put down the tea when he saw Jane approach.

I also hope that the reader can experience how it is to walk the medieval streets of Krakow.

“What the …” Lauren began following Jane from the laboratory and into a majestic hall with gothic-type arches. 

“Where are we?” Petra tailed behind. 

“Just follow me.  We need to lose those men!”

“What!  Jane, you have really become nuts, you know that?”   

Jane paused, looking around at the magnificent medieval architecture flanking them.  She now knew where they were, remembering the buildings from a history book she had in school.  They were at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. 

Or spend a blistery day in the Oxford countryside …

Jane and Grace went outdoors, entering a spacious yard sprawling for acres, enclosed only near the bank of the river.  The sun peered out through the clouds and a small, cool breeze  blew through the air. The scenery matched those in the paintings Jane had seen earlier in the study.  She looked around and saw Amy a few feet in front of her, petting a white pony, Anton resting on one knee beside her.  Close to the entrance, was a young Asian girl holding Richie on her lap. 

Or holiday in the streets of New Orleans,

New Orleans was indeed a magical town. Jane, Randy, and their children were enchanted by the historic mansions, the vast, colorful gardens, the clicking of the horses’ hooves on the cobblestone, all as if they were straight from a fairy tale.   Colorful masks and works from the street artists lit their path around the French Quarter during a leisurely carriage ride. They made their way down to the riverfront, watching the gigantic steamboats float by with their grand whistles bellowing through the surrounding riverbanks.  Randy was planning a trip on the mammoth river vessel …

By making such scenes as vivid as possible, I would like the reader to feel how he or she might connect to each world and connect to what the heroine is going through and perhaps choose a world that they might like to be in had they their own Multiverser. 

Intrigued? Check out the ebook from or iTunes, or the paperback from

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Travel Guide to Seirenia

A Flight of Marewings Book Tour

Welcome to Journey Taker’s first guest post – and first book tour post, a very inventive travel guide created by Kristen S. Walker, author of A Flight of Marewingsin which Korinna’s life gets turned upside down when the ghost of her father suddenly appears. Her father was duke of Kyratia City and he wanted Korinna to marry his warlord, the foreign mercenary Galenos, and inherit his title–but the city’s Council has other plans. When the Council denies Korinna’s right to rule, she decides to join Galenos’s mercenary company and tame a wild marewing in order to take the city by force. But people whisper that the late duke’s untimely death was murder, an induced madness that forced him to dance himself to death–and now that madness is spreading. Can Korinna become a marewing rider and conquer Kyratia in time to save everyone?

Learn more about A Flight of Marewings at Goodreads. See below to enter a giveaway for a free copy of the novel, and to find purchase links.

Oh, and enjoy!



Cover art for A Flight of Marewings

This is a post about a fantasy world that I created for my epic fantasy novel, A Flight of Marewings. Some parts of it trace back to stories that I wrote when I was thirteen. Over the years, I’ve expanded and change many things to make it fit what I wanted for the story and to incorporate things that I learned about the real world, like anthropology, ecology, and sociology. I’m going to concentrate on the fun parts—the kinds of things that you would need to know if you were planning on visiting the area.

Mediterranean Peninsula

Seirenia is a long, narrow peninsula at the southern edge of the larger continent of Orn. There’s also Xynalia Island off the east coast and an archipelago of several more islands to the west, which are considered part of the same region. A mountain range fills most of the middle, running north to south. Because of the temperate weather, most of the mountains are too low altitude to get any snow. Only the largest Mount Deyos, at the northern end of the range, freezes annually, while the rest of the peaks get only the occasional dusting during cold spells.

The rest of Seirenia enjoys mild seasons throughout the year. The sixteen-month year is divided into two seasons: the hot Dry and the cool Rains. Most plant growth occurs during the rainy months, so farmers plant their fields at the beginning of the Rains and harvest at the beginning of the Dry. During the hot months, wildfires are a constant threat. Also, much of the peninsula is rocky and arid, so most of the human populations are concentrated along the coast, where more rain comes off the ocean and fishing is plentiful. Because the mountains are difficult to travel and the roads can be attacked by roving monsters, sailing is the best way to visit Seirenia: by going up and down the coasts, you can see most of the major cities in a safe and easy trip.

Independent City States

Once, Seirenia was part of the Kaldonian Empire, and some of the imperial infrastructure still survives today in some of the major city developments and the straight, strong roads that form a network all over the peninsula. But the Kaldonians were driven away by the sudden arrival of Wyld Magic, abandoning the native people to the dangerous monsters that now roam the land. In their struggle to survive, Seirenians banded together into small cities, defending small patches of farm land outside their walls, and there was no unified government.

A thousand years later, many of the original city-states still keep their independence, especially in the north. Alliances are shaky and mostly rely on pressure from the main temple of the Allfather, since they share the religion of Deyonismos. Some cities have conquered others, forming larger regions. In the south is the largest, where the flat plains have most of farmland. Not surprisingly, an agricultural-based religion called the Idarnian Mysteries grew popular among the three cities here, creating the Holy Empire of Damia. Religions and customs vary depending on where you go, so it’s important to be respectful of these differences when traveling.

Maritime Trade

Much of Seirenia’s prosperity actually comes from its centralized location in the ocean. While they have a limited number of goods to export, they’re a connection for trade routes from four major continents (Orn, Itteki, Arkia, and Eiry), so most coastal cities rely on their mercantile ships for income. And of course, traders and immigrants from other lands come to settle in Seirenia as well, so many ports are a diverse blend of many languages, cultures, and creeds. A visit to the markets can give you a taste of many foreign cultures all in one place, so be sure to make this a part of your trip!

While Seirenia does not have a lot of raw goods to export, their vibrant trade has given them the money to invest in education and the arts. Many cities have their own university, and artists such as painters, writers, musicians, and actors are supported through local guilds. Visitors can take a tour of architectural marvels such as the elaborate temples and palaces of most cities, enjoy art galleries, take in a play or concert in the local theaters, learn about the latest astronomical discoveries in an observatory, or see advancements in magic at the colleges. Be sure to ask the locals for tips to find the best of what their city has to offer.

Local Culture

The major language of most Seirenians in Meresto, and while there are some regional dialects, the constant travel between cities and relatively small size of the peninsula keeps the language recognizable throughout. The only exception is the nation of Syannata Ilnaota in the central eastern region: the area was settled by missionaries from Arkia, so the ruling priestess caste speaks Arqan, while most of the farming caste still speaks Meresto. Also, in the major cities which rely on trade, it’s common to hear other languages, and any educated citizen can speak at least three tongues fluently. It can be helpful to learn some common phrases in Meresto, but if you stick to the ports, you’ll be able to find a translator for any major language easily.

If you’re in a Deyonist area, religious festivals are common throughout the year, especially during the Dry. Celebrations can spread throughout the entire city and everyone is welcome to join in. Feasts dedicated to the many deities happen on a monthly basis, so check the local temple district to see which shrines are busy. In the Idarnian Mysteries, most festivals are not open to non-initiates, but there are a few public annual holidays. And don’t ever ask to see a temple of the Sisterhood of Syannata—they’re strictly for priestesses only!

Cuisine also varies depending on the local crops. In the north, expect lightly-seasoned foods that highlight local fruits and vegetables, like artichokes, olives, and lamb. Syannata Ilnaota keeps a strict vegetarian diet and is the major grower of rice. Seafood is popular along the coast and in the islands. In the south, watch out for the heat—they love spicy peppers! Ask for suma, a fruit-flavored yogurt drink, to cool your tongue if you get burned.

Come Visit Soon!

I hope that I’ve piqued your interest in Seirenia, because it has a lot to offer. Don’t let the rumors of monsters or roving mercenaries drive you away—city walls keep out everything but the rare dragon attack, and mercenary companies are regulated by strict laws in most areas. As long as you travel with a little knowledge and caution, your trip can be both rewarding and safe!

Giveaway and Purchase Links

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway, or purchase the title at your favorite online outlet: SmashwordsAmazoniBooks, or Barnes & Noble.

Photo of fantasy author Kristen S. Walker

Author Bio

Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a pirate mermaid who can talk to sharks, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. Her new novel, A Flight of Marewings, tells the adventure of a duke’s illegitimate daughter who must stop her father’s murderers–by taming a dangerous monster. A Flight of Marewings is now available in print from Amazon and digitally from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. To read a sample chapter or check out Kristen’s pirate pictures, please visit You can talk good books, cats, or medieval cooking with Kristen anytime on Twitter (@KristenSWalker) or Facebook.