Labno and Carter – Episode 2

PHANTOM GAMES

Bending to snatch up the feather, I felt the subtle shift of air and knew who I would find before I rose.

“Your timing sucks!” I muttered.

Rahim shrugged, drawing attention to his wings. The feather didn’t belong to him. Rahim’s primaries were the colour of autumn leaves. Pretty close to the shade of my own locks, so I make a point never to stand too close.

Great, now I’m making redhead jokes!

The feather was a baton of sorts. It was my turn to enter the gauntlet.

“How long?” I asked, squinting up at him. Rahim was wearing his signature wraparound shades. He wore them day or night, and he didn’t apologise for it. Not that anyone would challenge him. Warrior angles were highly skilled in combat; they were natural-born soldiers, created to protect the heavens. They were also the only angels with wings.

“Twenty-four hours,” he said, the deep timbre of his voice holding a hint of amusement like he knew I was running on empty with no break on the horizon.

“Shit!”

“Your timing sucks, my man,” Dan pretty much repeated my own words as he stepped out, pulling the door closed.

“You need your own material,” Rahim said, the humour now pulling at his mouth in his version of a smile. “None of us have time for Eris’s games, but here we are.”

Ignoring the jibe, Dan passed me a travel mug. I knew better than to hope he’d filled it with the remnants of my glass. He simply knew I needed to fuel up on the way across town. A little shake confirmed the mug was empty. For now.

When I felt the burn in my other hand, the one holding the feather, I looked down. The stark white was already beginning to fade as the thing morphed into an inky substance that ran down across my palm to my wrist. It settled like a brand into my skin, the feather now a temporary tattoo to remind me of my obligation.

“I hate that part.” Talk about an understatement. The first time Eris’s baton of choice had burned itself into my wrist I’d scrubbed off a layer of skin trying to free myself of the mark. But that’s what happens when you cut a deal with a god who enjoys wreaking havoc. 

I mean, everyone knows you should never make a pact with the devil, but in my experience, gods are the ones you need to steer clear of. To stop a killer, I’d agreed to participate in seven tournaments within the Phantom Games.

On the plus side, I managed to bag myself some cool gadgets, most of which I’ve used on security. People have a tendency to underestimate me, and my bullshit meter is fine-tuned.

“I take it since you’re passing the baton, you won your latest round?” When his brows winged up above the shades, I had my answer. Rahim probably cursed the day he’d joined my team. The delights of interagency working. Had he lost the tournament, he’d owe Eris a marker. Not exactly the deadliest of consequences, unless you accounted for the fact you owed a favour to a god.

“If you’d been in the crowd, you would have witnessed my victory.” There was arrogance in his tone, definitely, but there was also disappointment. We had an informal agreement to attend each other’s games, and I had let him down.

“I’m sorry, Sunny-G, but we’re juggling some pretty big cases right now. I’ll be at the next one, I promise. I’ll even bring pom-poms.”

Rahim looked perplexed, even with shades covering his eyes I knew they would be swimming in confusion.

“She’s saying she’ll be there to cheer you on.” Dan said, losing patience. “And as much as I’d like to stand around celebrating your victory, the clock is ticking and we have somewhere to be.”

“I know. I’ve been assigned to clean up crew, given what was discovered!”

I turned to glare at Dan. “You said she found bodies!”

“Now look what you’ve done, you’ve ruined the surprise!” Dan said to Rahim, who just grinned as he spread his large, beautiful wings, the orange tone shimmering like a flame as he rose into the air. Then Dan turned to me with a cajoling look “I never said what kind of bodies, and I knew you’d want in on the action.”

“Don’t take too long,” Rahim said. “Or I might just steal all the fun. I deserve it after the last five hours.”

In response I turned my back and felt the powerful draft caused by his retreat, the laugh carried close on its heels.

“Change of plans,” I told Dan, slapping my palm on the biometric pad so I could duck inside for the keys. “We’re talking my car.” 

Dan looked towards the lean-to attached to the house and groaned.

My car was like everything else on the property, it had been fitted with security features and didn’t much resemble its original shape. It was an Audi – on steroids.

I didn’t pause for discussion when I stepped back outside. I simply pinned him with a glare. “Start talking.”

“Admit it, if I’d told you the RDU were invited to the party you wouldn’t have been so quick to jump in and it’s our case.”

The Realm Defense Network or RDU were brought in at the beginning of the war, now they were a specialist team.

“It is our case and they’re duty-bound to keep us informed, but you might have let me have a little shut-eye first.”

“No time for that, we have twenty-four hours!”

“Oh, we have twenty-four hours. I didn’t realise you were taking part in the tournament with me.”

I missed his comeback, no doubt a good one, when I climbed into the driver’s seat and contemplated setting off one of my booby traps. Then I watched Dan trying to squeeze his large frame into my passenger seat and decided it was punishment enough.

While I waited, I looked out across the land and tried to find the calm it usually instilled in me. The place had been a steal, a two-storey bungalow sitting squarely in the middle of three acres. People tended to stick to cities, especially after the war, but the small village of Friendly suited me just fine, and I’ve created some pretty inventive ways to keep out the vermin.

A call came through a second after I started the engine so the navigation console lit up to display Gibson, another member of the team, and he didn’t look happy. 

“We’ve lost Mrs Miller,” he said, without preamble.

“How the hell can you lose her?” Dan growled beside me, so pissed the energy in the car turned dangerous.

“We were escorting her to a safe house, and we were ambushed.” As he spoke, his camera panned out so we could see the wreckage behind him. He was lucky to be alive.

“Send me you current location,” I said, shoving the car into drive before turning to Dan. “Do you think you might have missed a few things out. like what the fuck is going on?”

“Stop the car,” Dan ordered, still growling.

I knew what that meant. My partner was done with being confined inside a box, and because I could literally feel his energy pushing against me, I hit the brake.

“Can this day get any worse?” I said, stupidly tempting fate, and watched Dan explode from the car.

__________

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,

Mel

Guest Post: Renee Scattergood, Author of the Shadow Stalker Series

E9 Button

It’s Shadow Stalker time again! This weekend sees the release of episode 9, and to celebrate I have a special guest post from Renee to start us off. Tomorrow I will have a review of the episode, so be sure to come back then.

But first, let me introduce you to Turning Tides; episode 9 of the Shadow Stalker series.

Episode 8 300 dpiMakari has finally come to realize Auren is not the delohi-saqu, and his father, Drevin, Emperor of the Galvadi, has been wrong about her all along. He goes to Zain, Auren’s father, for help to heal Auren’s mind after he had wrongfully broken her. Now Makari vows to protect Auren and help her escape, but she refuses to leave without her father.

Auren and Makari’s love for each other grows, and the connection they share deepens. They have to be careful, however. Spending too much time together is causing the other guides to grow suspicious. Makari’s loyalty is tested, and he is forced to do something he swore he’d never do again.


Using Social Media Effectively

By Renee Scattergood

Promoting a new book is hard, but I have found most of the difficulty stems from misinformation available on the internet, especially the use of social media for advertisement and promotion. Authors are being led to believe that the best way to promote themselves and their work is through social media by bombarding people with ads. Worse, we’re encouraged to play the you-follow-me-I’ll-follow-you game to get more followers.

The truth is, people don’t get onto social media because they want to be bombarded with ads. They get on there to meet new people and socialize. So using social media for marketing purposes has to be done with that in mind. The best part is, it can be done effectively.

Building an author platform is all about making yourself visible and getting to know people, so social media is the best way to get this process started. You can use your blog to share helpful information, free short stories, etc. Then you share those on social media to drive traffic to your blog. Once you get people going to your blog consistently because they like what you’re sharing, they’ll likely even sign up to your newsletter (if you have one, and if you don’t I strongly recommend getting one).

In the meantime, you can be connecting with other authors and the readers you attract. Let them get to know who you are as a person and interact with them. The more they get to know you as a person, the more they’ll care about what you write as an author.

Another thing you’ll want to avoid is following people just to get them to follow back. If you think about it, you’re really only hurting yourself by doing this. You want people to read what you share on social media, but they’re not going to care if all they’re doing is trying to get another follower for themselves. I only follow people I’m interested in (or people I know personally), and I only want people following me who really want to read my stuff. Otherwise, what’s the point? Having ten thousands followers won’t mean a thing if none of them even read what you share.

Using social media as it’s intended can really help you as an author. This means meeting new people and letting them get to know you. It means sharing valuable information and entertaining posts. It also means understanding the number of followers you have is less important than having followers who really want to know you as an author.


Renee ScattergoodRenee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn’t start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing fantasy. She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker series, and she has also published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. Aside from writing, she loves reading (Fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her daughter.


Pro-Week Blitz Tour (#2) – Shadow Stalker: Episode 2

Marketing Kit

It’s the second stop for Renee here at Writing Room 101 on her Pro-Week Blitz Tour. The second episode of Shadow Stalker (The Delohi-Saque’ Fate) will be released on Saturday, and I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy.

Here’s my review of the episode.

Shadow Stalker: Episode 2

First off, the prologue started with a bang! It was the perfect hook and left me wanting more. The ensuing chapters were full of tension, excitement, and mystery. The main focus of episode two is a series of trials. It begins with the resolution of Auren’s earlier plight, highlighting the dangers she must face during her rite of passage.

A few well-guarded secrets were revealed in the episode too, which added to the intrigue and progressed the story forward nicely. It ended on a cliff-hanger, but one I could live with, which added a layer of anticipation.

One of my favourite things about the episode is the transition Auren goes through, especially in terms of her relationship with Kado. He is a complex man and I sensed his pain, his indecision and the fact his loyalties are divided. There’s always one character in a series who frustrates you one minute and then earns your respect the next. Kado is that character for me. I know there’s more to him, that he has Auren’s best interests at heart, but it was easy to get caught in the moment!

For the most part, Auren is completely out of her element and you can’t help empathising with her. There are some emotionally charged scenes, which deal with a number of dilemmas for the central characters. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

I can’t really say any more that that without giving too much away. Oh, but I loved the introduction of the wolf. I’m hoping he makes another ‘guest appearance!’


You can find more details about the book and future episodes by visiting Renee’s site here.

Join us again on Saturday – release day, and the conclusion of the tour.

Thanks for reading

Mel

Pro-Week Blitz Tour (#1) – Shadow Stalker: Episode 2

Marketing Kit

Writing Room 101 is delighted to take part in Renee’s latest tour to promote Shadow Stalker: Episode 2. This will be the first of three posts. Today I will be sharing a special interview and an excerpt from episode 2. On Wednesday I will post a review for you and Saturday will be helping to bring the event to a close.
Interview with Renee Scattergood
When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think it was when I first decided that I wanted to write for a living. I was in my late 20’s. I’ll admit it was a bit difficult calling myself a writer at first. There seems to be this unfounded stigma against calling yourself a writer or author unless you’ve had something published. But someone told me that if I love to write then I’m a writer. Even if I don’t do it professionally.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve actually written a couple of manuscripts before Shadow Stalker, but they weren’t very good. I may or may not try to improve on them and rewrite them later. Shadow Stalker is the first story that I came up with that I absolutely loved from the start. I was inspired to write it after reading The Celestine Prophecy. The two stories have absolutely nothing in common, so it probably seems unlikely, but my character, Kado, was born as a result of reading that book.Do you have a specific writing style?I actually prefer to write a story from one character’s point of view, as if they are the one telling the story. I think it really allows me to get into that character’s head and write as though I am that character. It’s a lot of fun.

  How did you come up with the title?

I wanted to do something related to shamanism. Shadow Walkers are people who are able to walk between worlds. The world of the living and whatever other world is out there that we can’t see. I didn’t want the to be too closely tied in to Native American Shamanism, though, because it’s only loosely based on “real” shamanism. I didn’t want people to get the wrong idea, so I decided to use the word “stalker” in the title instead. Stalking is a shamanic technique (which is a bit difficult to explain), but I liked the way Shadow Stalker sounded.

What books have most influenced you?

Well as I said before, The Celestine Prophecy is what inspired me to create the character, Kado. My love of telling stories was influenced by George Lucas. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and my first real writing experiences was writing for a Star Wars based online simulation role playing game. That is what got me out of my shell and over my fear of sharing what I wrote. It was a great experience for me. My biggest writing influence in recent years has been Terry Goodkind, the author of the Sword of Truth series. And more recently, I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration from Lindsay Buroker, author of The Emperor’s Edge series.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Wow, that’s hard. I think it would have to be George Lucas more for his multi-business experience. He’s definitely a man who has benefited from risk taking. It would be great to learn from him.

What book are you reading now?

I am reading Call of the Herald by Brian Rathbone.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Writing the action can often be really difficult for me. I see the story play out in my head as I’m writing and sometimes it sorta goes too fast for me to keep up. I usually need to do a lot of rewriting to get the action exactly how I want it.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part was when I decided to write it in parts that are similar to a tv series. Learning how to do that effectively has been quite a challenge because from what I can tell, no one has done it before. It’s not the same as publishing a novel one chapter at a time. Each episode has to contain its own story while still being part of a larger story. I also have to end each one with a hook, but without being too annoying about it. It’s quite the balancing act.

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

I just hope you enjoy my stories, and if you do, leave me a review or rate it at the retailer where you purchased it, and/or on Goodreads! That will help me out a lot!

How long does it take you to write a book?

In the past it has taken me about 2 or 3 months to write a full novel, but I’m working on techniques to shorten my writing time. It takes me about 4 to 6 days to write one episode of Shadow Stalker.

Do you have any interesting writing quirks?

The only thing I can think of is that I usually need to multitask when I’m writing. I can’t focus on just one thing at a time, except when I’m editing. Then I have a hard time focusing when there are other distractions. It’s a bit odd when I think about it.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Australia with my husband and daughter. I was born in the U.S. and came out here about 10 years ago to meet my husband in person. We met online and were friends for about a year. When I got out here we decided that we never wanted to be apart again. I’ve been in Australia since and I love it here. And yes, we are still very happily married. 😀

Outside of writing, I don’t really have much time. My daughter is autistic and ADHD, so she takes up a lot of my time, but she is awesome. I wouldn’t change anything about her (except maybe her insomnia issues…I think we could both live without that). We love watching movies and reading together. She also wants to write some children’s stories. She’s a pretty good artist for her age.

Do you use an outline or just write?

Up until now I have always just written. I mean, I would have the story planned out in my head, but I didn’t really write anything down, except little facts that I needed to maintain consistency. I recently read something about how having a loose outline, like maybe a paragraph per chapter, can help increase your daily word count and stay on track with the story. So I’m giving it a try.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by another writer?

Write/publish consistently to keep your reader’s happy, build your mailing list and keep in touch with your readers regularly so they don’t lose interest.

Is there any advice you’d like to share?

Write/publish consistently to keep your reader’s happy, build your mailing list and keep in touch with your readers regularly so they don’t lose interest. 😉


SSE2 Cover 3 JPGI have a special sneak peak available for you, and have conveniently added it to a separate page so as not to overwhelm you with text. Please click here for an excerpt from Shadow Stalker: The Delohi-Saqu’s Fate (Episode 2).