Outcast by Lauren Hillman

TourBanner_OutcastOutcast by Lauren Hillman

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GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

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BookCover_OutcastBLURB: Merissa is a faerie with no magic, no memory… and no friends. Until a hummingbird arrives with an ominous message: The Queen wants her dead.

With the help of the hummingbird Chippen, Merissa sets out on a dangerous journey to find the one faerie who may know the truth about her past. But they only find more questions when they meet Griff, a gypsy boy with pale grey eyes and one heart-melting dimple and Merissa discovers a strange connection between them. But soon her past will endanger them all.

But she is a faerie. And faeries are protectors. So if anything will help Merissa regain her lost powers it will be to save her friends.

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Excerpt: Hovering no more than a flea’s length from her face was a great green hummingbird. Strands of blue and black hair whipped around her face in the tornado of wind his wings were creating. His long beak was so close she was afraid of being speared onto it.

She froze in fear.

“Greetings fae,” the bird said, his sharp beak flapping too close to her eyes for comfort.
The sound of his voice brought her back to her senses and she fled, adrenaline rushing through her veins. She sped away as fast as she could, sneaking a glance over her shoulder.

The bird was gone! Was he ever even there or am I crazier than I thought?

She shook her head but when she looked up the hummingbird was hovering directly in front of her again. “Stop,” he said and she let out a yelp in surprise.

She barely had time to stop without crashing in to him, but at the last second she managed to turn, bolting to her right. He called after her but she couldn’t make out the words over the dramatic wind.

Terrified, Merissa raced as if her life depended on it. But the bird was beside her again in an instant. He sailed beside her casually, keeping up with her pace and sudden turns with ease.

Flying backwards like it was completely natural he said, “Listen, my name is Chippen. I’m from the Citadel. I only want to talk to you.”

Merissa twisted and turned through the forest frantically, dodging branches and leaves and trying to keep moving to confuse him. “You’ll never be able to lose me, fae, I’m much faster than you. I have a message for you. Why don’t we just rest while we t—,” but he cut off as Merissa finally lost control of her flying and smacked into a leaf that had come rocketing on a gust of wind. She fell through the air, the leaf wrapped tightly around her, restricting her wings. She struggled to pull free of the leaf as she plummeted towards the ground. Too close for comfort, she extracted herself from the leaf and beat her wings, nearly skimming the ground with her knees. However, she was slow to get her bearings and in veering away from the ground she didn’t see the tree root sticking up in front of her until it was too late. She was thrown directly into it. Her stomach wrapped around the root, knocking the air out of her and she slumped to the ground in defeat.

AuthorPhoto_OutcastAUTHOR Bio and Links: Lauren Hillman is an actor, teacher and writer living in Vancouver, BC. Originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario she moved west after university to pursue a career in acting. For the last ten years she has primarily been working as an acting teacher in elementary and middle schools, occasionally writing scripts to be performed on stage. The transition to novelist wasn’t easy but was aided by the knowledge and love of storytelling that the theatre gave her. Her first novel, Outcast, was largely inspired by her students.

Twitter: @LaurenJHillman
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Outcast-by-Lauren-Hillman-445179775881844/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/create_with_lauren/
Buy the book here: http://amzn.to/2ufZfHV
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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION  Lauren Hillman will be awarding a $30 BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $30 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sun day, soup day

Today I set aside the whole day to clean the house and clear out my fridge of old veggies, so I declared it soup day.  Unfortunately for me, it’s also a glorious sunny day – so I have been cleaning and cooking in spurts, and rushing outside to walk Auguste, who wants to stay out and play – but no, today is cooking and cleaning day – I have declared it so, and so it must be! For revenge, Auguste ate something in the grass outside, came back in, and threw up all over the living room including on my rug. Thank you Auguste. I didn’t need an excuse to clean – I’d already decided to…*sigh* Oh well. Out comes the baking soda to clean the rug. Out comes vinegar and salt, and my “alcool ménagère” which is the French housewife’s answer to everything – it smells great (I have vanilla scented) and cleans everything shiny. So off I go scrub-a-dub-dub.  The phone rings and it’s my hubby telling me to quick go fill up the gas tank – France is about to go on strike (thank you, Macron’s labor law – you have made a lot of people angry). So off I go with Auguste to fill up my tank. (Good excuse to get outside again!) Stroll very slowly back home.  Meet the neighbors and chat a while. Go home reluctantly. Clean the bathroom with my salt and vinegar scrub. Dust the whole apartment. Decide to clean the kitchen and fridge, and see what is to be dinner!

Here are today’s leftover veggie recipes: (and my new soup philosophy)

Curried zucchini potato soup: heat olive oil in a pan, cook garlic and curry until wonderfully fragrant but not brown! Add sliced zucchini and sliced potatoes, and cook in the oil until  the scent is divine – Think Good Thoughts about those you love! (This is the secret philosophy for making great soup!) Add water to cover veggies, add a half a bouillon cube for more taste, and cook until everything is very soft and mushy. Let cool, then blend (I blend in my new blender!!) add cream and more curry to taste.

Pepper and Onions in a slow cooker (the name says it all, actually): Slice 4 onions and Five bell peppers into strips, put into slow cooker with 5 or 6 tablespoons of butter and some salt, toss – cook (stirring occasionally!) for 6 hours.  You can put paper towels under the lid halfway done to absorb excess water, but make sure you change the paper towels often, and save them for cleaning up!

The sun is shining. It’s nearly 2 pm, and Auguste & I have to go back outside! I will finish cleaning later! (When it gets dark.) 🙂

 

 

Aiding and abetting an enemy

“It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

There are some seriously sick puppies out there – look at a reply to my comment about Jane Fonda looking fabulous for her age: from a certain Tammatha C. (she’s on Facebook, and she’s rabid, so watch out) September 21 at 1:06pm:

“Jennifer Macaire fact check. I know a shoulder who was there. Who was a prisoner when the cunt betrayed MY country. There is also many clips of her and her fucking meeting. The cunt should have been executed for treason decades ago. I along with many will celebrate when this cunt does**.”

Now, I don’t want to insult any shoulder who bore arms for their country* – and knowing a shoulder personally does give this person insight on Ms Fonda’s actions, I’m sure. However, aiding and abetting the enemy is rather ridiculous, isn’t it? Because face it – last weeks enemy is this week’s trading partner. I believe we fought the Germans not long ago, and today we’re importing a lot of beer and Mercedes cars…

And aiding and abetting enemies is what a good Christian does – for example, I have a letter from my great-great uncle when he fought for the North in the American civil war. He and his troop captured two southerners. Well, instead of shooting them, he wrote in his letter home: “We caught two Crackers. They were pitiful thin and hungry. We gave them some stew, and let them have a good night sleep before sending them on their way” [back to their troop – they had gotten lost]. Now, my great-great uncle obviously aided and abetted an enemy – but you know what? We’re all friends with the south now – why – we even share the same country again. So, as for the crime of aiding and abetting enemies – let’s decriminalize it, shall we? Wouldn’t it be nice if all soldiers’s mothers knew that their sons would be helped by an enemy, if they ever needed it? My wish is this – that every enemy in any war aids and abets his enemy. It’s called being a kind human being, and believe me, it’s better than killing each other. It might even please God more than fighting. Didn’t he say something about thou shalt not kill?

Remember this:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head***. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21, NIV)

*Sorry – couldn’t resist that one. She really did write shoulder. 

** I’m assuming that she meant dies, because otherwise she’s out there celebrating every time Ms Fonda celebrates – which is nice, I admit, but clashes with the tone of her message. 

***This isn’t a bad thing – it can mean that the person is embarrassed and blushes, or, more likely, is conscious of having a good deed done – in ancient times heated coals would be needed for cooking and as a source of heat and light. On very cold nights it could be the difference between life and death. If you had to carry hot coals you would not carry them by hand as the heat would rush onto the hand and arm. For this reason, people carried them safely on the head in a pottery urn. More to the point, a good person gives coals to their neighbor who is lacking to carry home, be they in physical or spiritual need.

The personal trainer in my cereal

I bought my regular package of sugarless fruit and fibre cereal and lo and behold, there was an exercise CD within. I decided it was fate – it’s vacation here and my gym class won’t start for another two weeks. So, I put my gym clothes on, moved the coffee table, and put the CD in my computer. First two little cartoon heads came on – Monique and Dave – and they told me about my new gym program – complete with a healthy diet (consisting mainly of the sugarless cereal, I imagine. I sort of skipped that part.) Then they asked me some questions about my height, weight, age, etc. Being a pathological liar, I put down:

Name – Princess Noodle (now everyone knows what name I use in the gaming sites)

Age – 25 (of course!) (d’oh!)

Height – 175 cm. (a lie, a lie!)

Weight – 55 kilos (an even bigger lie – oh, I’m in for it now.)

I hit enter and waited for Monique and Dave to die laughing. They didn’t. The cartoon talking heads then asked me to peruse their profiles and Choose One of them as my Personal Trainer! (gasp – my own personal trainer from a cereal box!) I chose Dave, only because he was cuter than Monique (who needed something done with her hair) and in his profile the word ‘fun’ appeared more often than the word ‘serious’, which Monique used too much for my comfort. So, I chose Dave and Monique whined something about being disappointed but if I changed my mind, she was always there…which kind of creeped me out for a minute until I remembered they were just cartoons on a CD. OK.

I then got to fill out my schedule with this little calendar I keep on my desktop which will beep or do something annoying to remind me “It’s Time to Exercise with Dave!” (Oh, I wish.) Anyhow, I finish that and then chose the “Exercise Now!” button. Let’s Go!
Dave appears, all buff and holding a whistle and a towel – he looks like a life-guard. He tells me that my training session is divided into three parts, the warm-up, the work-out, and the stretching. I hit warm-up and off we go. Dave says, “Stand up straight. Lift knees as if marching in place.” I wait for him to do it along with me, but he only does it once and stops. Some trainer. I do that for about two minutes and switch to warm up number two. Something about deep knee bends. Then I click, click, click ahead to see what joys await me and see sit-ups, leg-lifts, etc. etc. I’m disappointed. Dave is no fun at all. Where are the aerobics and rock music?

So, I keep Dave on the computer while I load Bon Jovi on my cassette player and off I go. I decide to try to remember my work out from the gym. I start with the easy step-touch. OK – that’s fine. But what does my teacher do next? And what do I do with my arms? I can’t remember. I realize that during gym my brain switches off and I simply copy what the teacher does like a mindless robot. I move my arms up and down (I feel like I’m about to take off) and my daughter comes in, sits down with the dog on her lap, and watches for a few minutes. I put some extra effort into my moves, hoping to impress my daughter with the importance of a good work-out.

“Mom,” she says after about five minutes. “You’re traumatizing the dog.”

Over on the computer screen, Dave watches impassively. I’m starting to like him better than my daughter. “Don’t you have any homework?” I puff, as I step-touch and wave my arms.

After half an hour I’m tired and do my sit-ups with Dave cheering me on, then my stretches, with Dave offering advice (don’t strain yourself. If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.) Oh, well then, I better stop everything! I finish my 40 minute work out and turn Dave off. He waves goodbye and says, ‘See you soon!’

Maybe, Dave. Maybe.

Cartoon kid

My son loved drawing -especially cartoons. Early on, he figured out how to make animations using the flip-book method, and I had little stick figures running around my notebooks, chased by hungry dinosaurs or lawnmowers run a muck. When he was in 6th grade, he started a series of cartoons featuring a wildly violent stick-figure guy who would chop people with an ax instead of saving them from a fire, run them over with his car, chase them with guns…and they were awful and funny, and he would show them to his homeroom teacher, who thought they were rather clever and encouraged him to continue – until one day she called me in for “an urgent meeting”. I went in – intrigued- and she showed me his latest cartoon which featured his cartoon guy pulling out a rifle and killing Bambi.

“Your son obviously has a problem,” his teacher said. “Look at this – he’s killing an innocent deer.”

I said to her, “I think you’re the one with the problem. For months he’s been showing you cartoons of people, even children, getting shot, run over, and chopped up – and you call me in because of an animal? Maybe you want to rethink your priorities.”

It was the last time I got called in. I told my son not to worry – he wasn’t in any way a monster (he’s a policeman now, and worked his way through college as a fireman) and that he could show his drawings to me anytime he  wanted. Unfortunately, soon after,  he grew out of his Cartoon Kid phase and started doing Japanese style ink paintings. They are lovely, and easier to hang on the wall than his cartoons – but every once in a while I’ll get out his flip book with the little man getting eaten by a huge tyrannosaurus – and I’ll laugh.

Musings on violence and love

What is the link between breastfeeding and homosexual couples holding hands in public? Both make people ‘uncomfortable’ and both are expressions of love. In our society, it causes less of a stir to be seen carrying a gun than nursing your infant.
Movies show murders all the time, while movies with sex in them cause a storm in a teacup.
What is it about our society? We can’t show expressions of love, but we are invited to show expressions of violence!
Why is violence accepted and tolerated, while sex, love, and breastfeeding one’s child are not? Isn’t sex more productive (pardon the pun) than murder? Isn’t a baby at one’s breast more inspiring than a gun strapped to one’s shoulder? Why can’t gay couples hold hands? Why should any expression of love be frowned upon?
For those looking for answers in religion; God said (and he was very clear) “Thou shalt not kill.” What part of that does mankind have a problem understanding? Why do so many people get so upset with love and kindness, sex, breasts, and babies, and yet they make sure gun lobbies keep their power and will watch films with their kids in which several people are killed and maimed. (The same people wince when two women kiss.)
I think that we have to re-educate ourselves. Common sense has deserted us. Perhaps it’s overcrowding – nature’s way of keeping the population levels down: war, violence, intolerance. It is certainly easier to shoot a stranger than to kiss one. Personally I prefer the saying ‘Make Love, not War.’ It’s way out of date, conjures images of hippies and psychadelic flowers. But at least it’s an expression of love, not violence. And I’d rather live in a world where expressions of violence are frowned upon, while love rules.

Researching Alexander

(This blog post is from my author friend Tom Williams’s blog, whose books “Burke in the Land of Silver“, and “The White Rajah” I read and highly recommend for historical fiction & adventure lovers!)

From Tom’s blog: Frustratingly, I am in that gap between leaving Accent Press and having my books published by Endeavour. If you live in North America you can buy my stuff through Simon & Schuster – and I’d really appreciate it if you did. If you are in the rest of the world, though, you’re probably going to have to wait another month or two yet. This makes the business of producing a weekly blog a bit strange, but I know that hundreds of you do read it every week (thank you!) and I don’t want to disappoint. So right now I’m throwing my blog open to some other writers who I think have interesting things to say.

This week it’s Jennifer Macaire. I hope you enjoy her post and that, at least until you can buy my books again, you go out and get her Time for Alexander series. It really is good. Continue reading

Dark Genius by H. Peter Alesso

TourBanner_DarkGeniusDark Genius by H. Peter Alesso

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GENRE: Fiction

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BookCover_Dark Genius 05BLURB: To the insatiably curious—science is the greatest adventure. So, when scientists at CERN announced the discovery of the ‘God’ particle in 2012, all the world wondered, “How did they find it?”

A decade later, despite his past academic failures and egregious family circumstance, Andrew Lawrence embarked on a journey of discovery, competing against rival scientists to be the first to solve the greatest unsolved mystery of the universe—dark matter—and win the ultimate prize; the Nobel.

Emma Franklin, a PhD candidate at Harvard, developed software for detecting particle reactions using a quantum computer. To the amazement and excitement of the scientific community, her work revealed two possible bumps in the energy curve that were not predicted by any established theory.

At MIT, Lawrence created a model that predicted the scattering processes of a dark matter supersymmetry particle. Though his early work was disparaged, he improved his theory and found that it predicted the data Emma had discovered. Their professional collaboration deepened into a personal relationship, but when critical data was stolen, Emma found evidence that incriminated Lawrence. Though she withheld the impeaching material from the authorities, she felt she could no longer trust him.

Despite their troubled partnership, and notwithstanding the complexities of nature, Lawrence and Emma persevered against the egos, jealousy, and envy of rivals, on their exhilarating quest to find the ‘Holy Grail’ of physics Continue reading