Readers’ Favorite Review of “The Warehouse Tour”

Today, “The Warehouse Tour” was reviewed by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer, Jamie Michele!

It’s not only the first review for “The Warehouse Tour”, but it is also my first review – ever. This is a huge milestone. I am overjoyed, humbled, elated, and deeply grateful for the honest and revealing review. Thank you, Jamie!

You can read the full review here: https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/the-warehouse-tour

Steampunk Circus

*This flash fiction story was originally published on Endless Press’ website in January 2018 as runner-up for their Realm Makers scholarship contest.*

Late! It seemed as though I’d never get there, every hallway longer than the last. I only needed to travel down nine floors, cross the lobby, and I would be at Realm Makers.

Around the corner, the elevator waited. It arrived a moment after I pressed the button, packed with clowns. Their costumes various combinations of shirts, dresses, and one-piece suits in black and white patterns paired with black vests, trousers, tutus, or bustiers. Some wore top hats. Others sported dark bomber caps.

There was no way I was getting in that elevator. How would I even fit?

The tallest clown stood in the middle. His brightly colored red wig poked out from around the aviator goggles on his head. He reached out and honked his horn at me. “Guess, you’ll have to get the next one.” The door started to close. “Remember, kids; reading is fun.”

After two more elevators full of clown passed, I gave up waiting and squeezed into one. I exited into the lobby. It looked like the backstage of a techno-punk circus. The smell of cotton candy and popcorn saturated the air. Clowns were everywhere.

Spotting a bellhop in a red uniform near the conference hall entrance, I pushed my way through the crowd. “Excuse me, where are the Realm Maker sessions being held?”

“Sorry. We had to move them offsite.” He pointed to a tinted glass door, trimmed in brushed chrome. “Take the side door. Outside, you will find the complimentary transportation we have arranged for you.”

“Thank you.” I exited, unprepared for what awaited me there. A half-dozen clowns surrounded a three-story tall red and yellow stripped cannon.

A female clown approached me, dressed in a black and white striped dress with cap sleeves. Several layers of tulle made the short shirk look like a tutu. Her face was painted white with a cogwheel circling her left eye. She couldn’t have been more than nineteen. “Hiya, hon. You need a boost?”

“A what?”

“You’re looking for a ride to the Realm Makers conference, right?”

“Yes.”

“Great!” She handed me a pair of brown leather aviator goggles. “You’ll need these. Remember, no matter what keep your hands by your side and your body rigid until you hit the net.”

“Wait. What?”

She turned around and spoke to a man dress in a black and white, polka-dotted, one-piece outfit with a vest and a bomber cap, “Moe light the cannon. Let’s get this lady locked and loaded.”

I looked over the cannon again. They must be joking. That couldn’t be the transportation to the conference center. I tapped her on the shoulder. “You don’t really intend to blast me from a cannon into the conference center, do you?” I smiled, sure it was a mistake.

“Oh, no, sug.” She laughed, and I relaxed a little. “We’re gonna blast you into a net hanging off the airship as it goes by. They’ll drop you into the conference center.”

My jaw scrapped the pavement. “You can’t be serious?”

“Don’t worry. It’s a lot of fun. You’ll be begging to do it again.” She turned around again. “Moe is everything a go?”

“Yep.” Looking past me, Moe motioned for someone to come forward. Before I could say another word two more clowns, dressed in the same one piece as Moe, picked me up and carried me up the black metal staircase next to the cannon, feet first

I could feel the blood rushing to my head. I tried to wriggle loose, but they had a tight hold on me. “Put me down! Put me down, now!”

“Sure thing.” They both laughed as they stuffed my body into the cannon. “This won’t hurt a bit. Just keep your arms tucked in and your body rigid.”

They disappeared from view. A moment later, an explosion reverberated inside the barrel. As my body passed through the opening of the cannon, launching into the humid air, the last drop of air rushed out of my lungs. For a moment, my heart stopped beating, sinking deep into my chest. I managed to hold my position, not daring to move a muscle. Faith was my only option. I had to trust that the clowns knew what they were doing.

I shot through a thick cloud that obscured my vision. On the other side, as if materializing out of thin air, the airship appeared. I panicked, breaking formation. A split second later, I dove face first into the bottom of the net, held by more clowns. Great.

There were dozens of other people like me, on the deck. All of us looking towards the helm, to the man holding up his hand. He wore a three-piece suit and top hat. The sun was glowing behind him in hues of red, orange, yellow, and purple.

When the crowd grew quiet, he lowered his hand and spoke, “Ladies and gentleman, I am Captain Grimaldi. We will be arriving at the conference center in a few minutes. I ask that everyone form a single file line behind the gangplank to my right here. Thank you.” He pointed towards a four-foot-long wooden board attached the side of the ship like a diving board.

The clowns secured a yellow tube slide to the plank, inflated it, and motioned for people to step forward. Those who didn’t line up were corralled by the clowns. One by one, we all entered the slide.

At the bottom, a woman dressed in casual business attire waited. “Please follow me, and we’ll get you checked in. I apologize for any inconvenience with the change in venue. The Clown Convention had way more attendees show up than anyone would have guessed. Fortunately, the hotel was able to secure another venue for us, and the clowns offered to transport all of our conference attendees for free.” She smiled at me. “Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.”

“You don’t say.”

Book Review: The Boy from Earth

Scheduled to release on September 18th, Darrell Pitt’s The Boy from Earth is a sci-fi adventure story aimed at ages 8-12.

TheBoyFromEarth_borderIf you love Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ll love The Boy From Earth by Darrell Pitt. It’s a fast-paced, boot-camp-flavored adventure filled with humor, heart, and unforgettable characters.

The tale follows Bobby Baxter, the first person from Earth chosen to join the Galactic Space Academy, as he learns to expect the unexpected. He and his friends investigate a conspiracy they believe is linked to the sabotage of Bobby’s spacecraft. But, in the end, they uncover a far more dangerous plot. Will Bobby find the courage to prevail, even against those working to ensure he fails?

My eleven-year-old son and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s one we could read over and over again.

You can pre-order a copy of The Boy from Earth here.

(I requested a free advanced copy of The Boy from Earth from the publisher to read and review, without any obligation or formal request to do so.)

The Story

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Twelve-year-old Bobby Baxter’s not the bravest kid on Earth. His list of things that scare him is up to number 689, and includes lightning, crowds, spiders, alien abductions, crocodiles, falling from great heights, falling from small heights and… eggs. So when he learns that he’s the first Earthling ever chosen to attend the Galactic Space Academy, light years away from home, he’s terrified―and that’s before he discovers that someone at the academy wants the boy from Earth gone.

Author Bio (from darrellpitt.com)

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I had some positive feedback from a teacher in high school. Rather than becoming the next Stephen King I became a husband and a father instead and I’m fortunate to have such a wonderful family.

I recently signed an 8 book publishing deal with Text Publishing. It will see most of my self-published books re-released with the first, The Firebird Mystery, due out in February 2014.

I lived most of my life in Sydney, Australia before moving to the South Coast of New South Wales for a number of years. I currently call Melbourne my home (it’s a fantastic city – you should visit if you get a chance!)

I enjoy writing young adult novels. I like fast paced action stories populated with interesting characters and I hope my writing reflects this.

My other interests include Star Trek, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games books and chocolate. Always chocolate. I’ve never met a chocolate I didn’t like. One of the big loves of my life is Toastmasters. Have a look at my club’s website:

www.fitzroytoastmasters.org.au

Interview with Laurie Lucking, Author of Common

Friend and fellow ACFW sister Laurie Lucking has graciously stopped by for an interview today, as part of her blog tour. Her debut young adult novel, Common, releases tomorrow – just in time for Valentine’s day! More about Laurie and the details of her upcoming release party (with tons of great prizes) are provided at the end. Be sure to check it out!

First, let’s introduce the story of Common.

Common-cover_smallOnly one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it— the servant girl they banished.

Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.

And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.

But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.

Harbored by an unusual group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.

Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?

Purchase a copy of Common here.

Without further ado, please welcome Laurie Lucking!!!

I’m really glad you’re here, Laurie. Much of the writing journey requires hard work,  patience, and persistence. So tell me about the moment you first found out Common would be published: where were you, what was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate?

I was in the kitchen, glancing at my open laptop as my sons finished lunch. The computer was super old, and I could only see the initial line of the e-mail at first—I was so tense / excited while I waited for it to open! Then there was definitely some screaming and jumping up and down, plus SO MANY tears. After I read the e-mail a few more times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, I called my husband. The poor guy had to cut me off after a few minutes of rambling because he couldn’t understand me well enough to know whether my crying was from being happy or sad :) I had a chance to go out with some friends that evening, which was perfect timing! I couldn’t accept the offer right away because I had some submissions out to other publishers as well, but I had a feeling Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing would be a perfect fit, and that has been confirmed ever since we signed the contract!

Moments like that are such a treasure. I’m so happy for you.

On the road to publication, was there ever a moment you felt utterly discouraged? What quote or scripture inspired you to keep you going?

Ha, more moments than I can count! This writing journey is such a roller-coaster ride. One day you figure out a new angle to your story or get great feedback from a critique partner, and you adore writing and know this is what you’re meant to be doing. Other days, you realize you have to cut the chapter you just wrote or someone else wins the award you were hoping for, and you wonder why you bother and whether it’s worth all this hard work. At least that’s how it goes for me :)

I find music really inspiring, and the lyrics of “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle get me every time when I’m feeling discouraged:

When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You

It’s such a powerful reminder that everyone experiences hurdles and setbacks in their lives, but God is so much bigger than all our problems and we need to trust Him with our dreams and aspirations.

Amen! Such a powerful song.

Tell us about Common. Is there a theme or message you hope resonates with readers?

Common is the story of a shy, hard-working servant girl, Leah, who happened to find the same closet hideout as the prince as a little girl and still maintains a secret friendship with him. At first, her biggest problems are teasing from stable hands and trying not to develop feelings for Prince Raphael since they could never be together. But her life gets much more complicated when she discovers a plot against the royal family and has to try to save the day!

The primary theme that I hope readers take away from Common is that no matter how “common” someone seems, we are each unique and capable of doing extraordinary things. There’s also a message that God is always with us and has a plan for us, even during the hardest parts of our journey.

Beautiful message.

Do you have a favorite line or scene in the book? If so, what is it and why?

That’s a tough one! I think my favorite scene is when Rafe finds Leah crying in their closet and comforts her. We get to see a very sweet side of Rafe in that scene, and it’s one of those timeless interactions almost anyone can relate to. Plus, in friendship-turns-into-romance stories, I love those crucial turning points where the friends start to view each other in a different light, and the crying scene is definitely one of those moments for Leah and Rafe!

I love that their friends first. Friendship is an important aspect of any romantic relationship.

If Common became a movie, who would you want to see cast as Leah, Gretchen, Prince Raphael, and Princess Penelope? Where would be the ideal filming location?

Annalise Basso has a great look for Leah, with that red hair and a certain air of sweetness. Logan Lerman has an earnestness about him that would work well for Prince Raphael. Georgia Simmons seems to be a lot of fun and has great freckles, so she’d be my pick for Gretchen. And Maia Mitchell has the gorgeous dark hair, dark eyes combination I picture for Princess Penelope.

As for location…Dunrobin Castle in Scotland would be a stunning place to film the scenes in Imperia! Glonsel Palace in Trellich is supposed to look more imposing, so I picture that as something like Castelo de Guimaraes in Portugal. In between the two, we’d need some time in the mountains, but there are plenty of areas in Europe that would work for that! I would, of course, need to go along to all of these locations to supervise :)

Great choices! I can already imagine Common on the big screen. Thanks so much for being here today, Laurie.

Thank you so much for inviting me to stop by and share about Common!!

About the Author

Laurie-Lucking-HeadshotAn avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, releases in 2018 from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting www.laurielucking.com.

Connect with Laurie on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Goodreads, or Pinterest.

Celebrate with Laurie!

Don’t forget to join us Thursday, February 15th at 8pm for Common’s Facebook release party! Author Laurie Lucking, along with her co-hosts, Laura A. Grace, Jebraun Clifford, and Michele Israel Harper, will be chatting about all things Common and giving away lots and lots of prizes. RSVP here!

You can view the blog tour schedule for Common here.

In case you missed it, you can pick up a copy of Common here.

Endless Press Runner-Up

My story “Steampunk Circus” was runner-up in the Endless Press Realm Makers Scholarship Contest. The winner, Lisa Godfrees, became a staff member during the contest and graciously passed on the scholarship to me.

I am going to Realm Makers this year! This is an answered prayer!

Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lisa! Thank you, Endless Press! Thank you, Realm Makers and anyone else who made this scholarship possible!

Congrats, Lisa Godfrees, on winning and your new job!

You can read both stories on Endless Press’ website here: http://www.endlesspress.org/realm-makers-scholarship-flash-fiction-contest/

Realm Makers is a Christian conference for speculative fiction writers and artists. Registration for this year’s conference opens on February 1st.