Campaign for damp squid

Ever since seeing that one episode of the IT Crowd where Roy gets the term ‘damp squib’ wrong, I’ve wanted to propose a campaign for the term ‘damp squid’ to replace ‘damp squib’.

‘Squid’ is just so much better. ‘Squib’ is just boring. Of course, I can start using ‘squid’, but more than likely I’ll just get corrected and no one will believe me when I say I said it on purpose.

So, I hereby launch the official Campaign for Damp Squid. Pass the word along.

(We’ll leave ‘pedestal’ where it is. ‘Pedal stool’ is just silly.)

Amazon and Simon & Schuster agree a deal

So amid all the Amazon/Hachette squabbling, it turns out that Amazon has agreed a deal with Simon & Schuster in only three weeks, and well before their previous contract terms expired.  Amazing, huh? Considering how evil the big A is supposed to be.

I’m not going to detail why I think Hachette is behaving worse than Amazon in this. David Gaughran sums that up quite nicely on his website.  Take a look at his take on the S&S agreement while you’re there.

One way or another, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next.

I’m just going to add that  I particularly liked Yahoo Finance’s headline of:  Amazon settles book deal with Simon & Schuster; civilization survives. That just about sums it up, I think.


Fall Into Fantasy – The Heirs of War Series

Fall Into Fantasy banner 1

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 8: The Heirs of War series

Book One: Heirs of War

Book Two: Heirs of War, Crown of Flames


Seventeen year-old Zelene has never believed in magic or been one to trust fate. Prophecies about princesses and long lost families were the stuff of fairy tales and had no place in her life. But then magic-wielding assassins attack claiming she is one of the five Duillaine Ainnir, the next generation of the most powerful women who rule over the worlds. Together, the five girls are prophesized to save the worlds from the war that has been raging for years.

As their enemies strike, the girls are taken back to their world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, but Isauria is completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in.

Zelene views them all, especially the elders, with a distrustful eye, familial bonds or no. When she learns that her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by the rebels, Zelene’s attitude changes. She doesn’t know what she can do when her own magic is still locked within her, but can she trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.

Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.

Buy it from: Amazon  Amazon UK  Barnes & Noble  iTunes  Kobo  GooglePlay

Or add it to Goodreads


Weeks have passed since Ariana and Alec escaped from Kellen’s dungeon, but danger isn’t far behind them. The guilt of his past weighs heavily on Alec’s shoulders, and his secrets only push Ariana further away. As they travel through unknown lands and encounter multiple threats, their biggest challenge might be trusting one another.

The world appears to be going on regardless of the risks Ariana faces. The Duillaine insist that they are doing everything they can to find Ariana, but their actions betray that claim. Despite the danger and the war closing in around them, all of Anscombe seems to be more interested in the upcoming Imbolc festival and Terrena’s betrothal than rescuing Ariana.

Well…not everyone.

Tired of waiting for the Duillaine to help her twin, Zelene starts plotting on her own and finds a surprising ally in Rhaya, even as the Cynewards prepare to make a move of their own. But Zelene’s plans go awry when she finds herself with a new ability, a mysterious new friend, and more enemies within the walls of Anscombe than she thought.

Buy it from: Amazon  Amazon UK  Barnes & Noble  iTunes  Kobo

Or add it to Goodreads


Mara author pic

Mara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books, but she’s more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.

Find Mara Online:

Website  Twitter  Facebook  Google+  Goodreads  Wattpad  Amazon Author

Sign up for Mara’s newsletter so you don’t miss news on new releases and fun contests!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Fall Into Fantasy – The Daath Chronicles

Fall Into Fantasy banner 1

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 7: The Daath Chronicles

Book One: Broken Forest

Book Two: Wicked Path

Broken Forest Ebook Cover

Hopeless he’ll never be more than the boy who didn’t save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables.

And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn.

His shape-shifting brethren feed off the auras of humans, and Jeslyn’s golden hue is exactly what Lucino needs to increase his power. The longer it takes Avikar to reach her, the more entranced she becomes with Lucino’s world, and the harder it will be for Avikar to set her free.

He failed his family once. He won’t fail again.

Buy it from: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Or add it to Goodreads


The wagons surrounded the site in a semi-circle. Sweat pooled in my palms. I had to take out the guards closest to that entrance. If I failed, so did the mission.

Get a grip.

I clenched the arrow in my right hand. Brushfire shifted nervously, sensing my fear. I rubbed her neck. I felt safer with her. She’d been with me since Jimri’s death. At night when the nightmares taunted me, I’d sneak out, riding until dawn forced us home. I’d rescued her from the burning woods, she’d rescued me from despair — today, I prayed both of us would make it out alive.


In Wicked Path: Book Two of the Daath Chronicles brother and sister are forced to opposite sides of Tarrtainya on a fast-paced adventure where the wildlife isn’t the only thing trying to kill them.

Three months have passed since Avikar defeated the Reptilian Prince, and he still can’t remember his battle with Lucino. On the hunt for answers, he returns to the scene of the fight and discovers a strange connection between his family’s dagger and the mysterious kingdom of Daath, and it seems only his distant father can reveal the truth behind it all.

Before Avikar can travel back home, Lucy assaults him in the market and forces him to flee to Nod Mountains—a place few dare to enter, and even less return from. With Raven and her childhood friend by his side, they must survive the treacherous journey through the pass with a vengeful Lucy hunting them. If they don’t, they’ll never see home again.

Jeslyn’s new life in Luna Harbor is the perfect remedy for her confused and broken heart. But when a group of mercenaries kidnap her beloved Grandfather, interrupting her daily routine as his jewelry apprentice, she’s forced to join forces with the one person from her past she tried to forget.

And his assistance comes with a price.

Buy it from: Amazon  Barnes & Noble

Or add it to Goodreads



Author pic 1

Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing.

Her YA stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a hot romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.

Find Eliza online:

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest / Google+


Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?

  • Don’t forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Review – John Rockman and the Trials of Galactar

I don’t usually review books (see post why here). This one is an exception. I kept having to stop and put it down, because I was enjoying it that much.

John rockman

John Rockman and the Trials of Galactar is brought to you by the people behind @AwfulFantasy (follow them if you’re not already), and just like their Awful Fantasy tweets, John Rockman is deliciously dreadful. Unfortunately, I started reading this book because I had a bit of time to kill before an interview. Bad move. I laughed so hard that I cried, and ended up going to it all teary and mascara-smeared. Thanks for that.

I can see why this book wouldn’t be for everyone. It is really, really bad. It is so bad that only an exceptionally good author could have written something so gloriously awful. Another reviewer said they imagined Bruce Campbell as Rockman in a movie version, and… yes! May the gods of Hollywood make this a thing. Please.

Rockman is the manliest hero ever to hero. He is muscular and hairy and oh-so-stern. His medium-length brown hair is permanently rustled by the wind. Love interest Maria (of the weak Femail race) is silly and fluttery and heaving-bosomy. The bad guy is camp and ridiculous. It is chock full full of utterly ridiculous metaphors. (Rockman shot awake like a fast blooming flower in fast forward. But he was restricted, like a bunch of bees were on him, waiting for his pollen to become available. He realized he was tied up again.)

It is just perfect.

Then there’s the writing style. It’s not just the story and the characters which are awful. I suspect the authors have done a lot of critiquing of awful sci-fi. They get bad writing spot on, but in a really good way.

When I was reading it, I kept coming across fantastic lines and thinking: ‘I have to quote that in the review’ (that is when I wasn’t putting my kindle down and quoting at whoever happened to be closest). The problem is that I am tempted to quote the whole damn book. Every line is a gem.

Here are a few of my faves:

Strange spaceships occupied most of the other docking strips. Some were round like a flying saucer, but others were not like that at all.

Rockman’s muscles were indeed hairy, which is just the sort of texture a warrior needs. It provides the perfect amount of wind resistance to stand your ground when the gusts of the Spaceworm’s breath thunder across the pains of Galactar. Also, women find it irresistible.

He took another deep breath to consolidate his feelings into one lump feeling: resolve. He quickly did the math and figured out that he had just lumped about ten feelings into his resolve reserve. That should be more than enough to finish the mission with resolve remaining. His face grew stern with the lack of other feelings. His spacesuit shifted.

And the best of all?

Rockman wished he had his laser pistol about now. Yeah, I know. Not immediately hilarious, other than being a bit of a trope. Read the book. You’ll get it.

If you’re fond of cheesy B movies, bad puns, and daft metaphors, this is the book for you. Now I’m off to buy the next in the John Rockman series…


Fall Into Fantasy – The Ragnarok Prophecies


Fall Into Fantasy banner 1

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 6: The Ragnarök Prophesies

Book One: Fade

Book Two: Fall


What do you do when you realize nothing in your life is what you’ve believed it to be?

When Arionna Jacobs loses her mother in a tragic accident, her world is turned upside down. She’s forced to leave her old life behind and move in with her father. Dace Matthews, a teaching assistant at her new college, is torn in two, unable to communicate with the feral wolf caged inside him.

When they meet, everything they thought they knew about life unravels. Dace has intimate access to Arionna’s mind, and something deep within her fights to rise to the surface. They don’t understand what’s happening to them or why, and they’re running out of time to sort out the strange occurrences around them.

Their meeting sets an ancient Norse prophesy of destruction in motion, and what destiny has in store for them is bigger than either could have ever imagined. Unless they learn to trust themselves and one another, they may never resolve the mystery surrounding who they are to one another, and what that means for the world.

FADE is available from Curiosity Quills Press at Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo.



How do you save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?

Those called to stand guard against the end are broken, and Sköll and Hati run free. Now Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews face a threat unlike any before. Ragnarök is coming and they aren’t strong enough to stop it.

Arionna thought she understood sacrifice, but she never counted on her destiny tearing Dace apart. Ever since she nearly died, he has been consumed with guilt. Now it threatens to turn him into the monster he always feared.

It’s up to Arionna to stop him before it’s too late, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions, and Dace is hurtling toward self destruction. This time, Arionna isn’t sure she can save him from himself. Can she convince him to let the past go, or is her true destiny to sacrifice her heart in exchange for the lives of the people she loves?

You can read the official prologue to FALL here.

FALL – The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can add it to your TBR list on Goodreads here.



A.K. Morgen lives in Little Rock with her husband, three dogs and two cats. She has a graduate degree in Criminal Justice and Law, and plans to save the world someday. When she’s not working or writing, she spends her time teaching her niece and nephews how to cause mischief. You can also find her dancing in the grocery store, building a spork army, and fundraising for nonprofits close to her heart.

You can learn more about Ayden at or by following her on TwitterGoodreads, or Facebook.


Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?

  • Don’t forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A long overdue post on the subject of reviews

I don’t spend a lot of time dithering. I’ve got a pretty analytical mind. Everything has a logical conclusion. If I don’t know what to do next, I just sit down and think about all the possible permutations, and likely consequences, and the way forward usually becomes obvious.

But I have spent a lot of time dithering over reviews in the months since I published The Secret Dead.

Reviews are lifeblood for authors. Good reviews are invaluable. I am tremendously grateful to everyone who has taken the time to write a couple of paragraphs and give The Secret Dead a rating. It makes a real difference, and is hugely appreciated.

Most people in the reading/writing community are aware that there are some serious problems going on with reviews at the moment. The biggest and most obvious are paid-for-positive-reviews. An author can pay as little as £10 or so, and get a bunch of 5 star verified purchase reviews on Amazon. I see these a lot. They’re quite easy to spot. There’ll be a bunch of 5 star reviews, most of which won’t mention the author name, book, or characters in the text, and then a bunch of 1 and 2 stars which will mostly be variations of readers going wtf?

Then there are review swaps where authors agree to review each other’s work. In theory, this could work fine as long as everyone is honest, but not everyone is. I’ve seen plenty of review swap offers on Goodreads where the author promises they’ll only give good reviews. At the very least it opens up a giant can of worms if one author doesn’t like the other’s book.

Readers are getting more and more suspicious of 4 and 5 star reviews, especially those given by authors, and with good reason. The whole review system is becoming compromised. This isn’t limited to indie authors of course, although it is a particular problem for us.

I’ve actually gained some fans (I know! I feel like a proper celebrity!) who have tweeted, shared and otherwise been really enthusiastic about The Secret Dead. When those people are also talented authors with great books, I feel bad about sitting on the sidelines and not being as enthusiastic as I want to be. I want to give good reviews to the great books and authors I know, but I am also aware of the huge ethical issues around authors reviewing each other.

Then there’s the problem that I’ve also met authors whose books I haven’t enjoyed at all, and wouldn’t be able to give a positive review to. This adds yet another layer of social awkwardness, because most of the time the author has been lovely and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Us writers are usually sensitive sorts.

So I’ve thought about it, and I’m still dithering, but for now this is going to be my review policy:

~I am not going to put up any Amazon reviews. Why? Amazon doesn’t like it, and readers get suspicious. I’m going to avoid it like the giant can of worms it is. Maybe I’m being overcautious, but I always have been a nervous type.

~I may review/rate/recommend on Goodreads if I don’t know the author.

~I will tweet/write up on my website or FB page about the books I’ve enjoyed, and will promote authors I think my readers might enjoy, whether I know them or not.

Full disclosure: Just to be absolutely clear, at the time of writing this post, no one who has reviewed or offered to review my book has requested or hinted in any way that they expect a positive return review. Much of this post is just me adding a giant dose of social anxiety into something that other people probably wouldn’t worry about.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, this really isn’t a clear cut issue for me. I’d love to hear what other authors (and readers) think. Do you think it’s fine for authors to review each other, as long as they do so honestly? Or should we leave it just to the readers?