Review: Armored Hearts

Armored Hearts

It is the story of an orphaned boy who cannot walk, but discovers he can fly, and a whole new world is opened up before his eyes complete with a love he never thought possible and a danger he never saw coming.

Gareth Smyth is a cripple living with his grandfather in a world on the verge of steam powered automatons but many still cling to their traditions, superstitions, and prejudices, thus they look down upon someone like Gareth, so to protect himself, he despises everything but his little aunt who sees past his wheelchair and loves him for who he is. Then he discovers he can fly by saving a girl’s life.

The story world felt like it was set in an alternative history flavored with steampunk and fairies who sound a bit Scottish. The slight use of the Scottish dialect was done well enough to flavor the language, but not make it difficult to understand what is being said.

Gareth’s sour attitude could be somewhat off putting but I was so intrigued with the story that I had to find out what happens and how he would change. If you’ve read Winter Fae, a short story about his mom and him when he was two years old, it really helps to set the stage of the possibilities to come. Which, I loved Winter Fae so much and wanted to know more about his mother’s story, so I wasn’t sure how I would like his story, but I was not disappointed.

But I have two complaints. One, the story felt rushed and in that some things felt too easy to me, but that’s coming from someone who loves long, epic stories, ha! The second complaint, it was too short! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the story will unfold.

By the way, for those of you who are waiting for the paperback book, its coming soon! The ebook is on sale at Amazon for $.99 for the month of May. It’s also available for Nook for $2.99 at Barnes and Noble. Check it out and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card at AltWit Press.

Interview: Creeden & Lee

Armored Hearts

What do you get when you cross a paranormal romance author with horror? Armored Hearts. Melissa Turner Lee, author of Difference Between Night and Day, The Earth Painter, & The Man Painter, teamed up with Pauline Creeden, whose short stories have been called creepy, mysterious, and suspenseful, labeled as horror, gothic, steampunk, just to name a few.

Well, I invited them here today to share a little bit about themselves, their writing process, and their new release, Armored Hearts.

Welcome Melissa and Pauline! Please tell us a little about yourselves. What makes you tick? Favorite hobbies, T.V. shows, foods, drinks? Do you have any pets? Kids?

Pauline: Thanks for bringing us on, Jennette. I think that our combination keeps us both in balance. She’s the yin, and I’m the yang. Together, we have a better chance of keeping things moderated. In life we’re quite opposite, too. My house is quieter as far as kids are concerned, since I have only one 12 year old son, but we also have a menagerie – 16 horses, 4 cats, 2 dogs, 2 chickens, 3 goldfish, and a lizard, so I guess the pets are my hobby. And TV wise, I don’t watch much, but I Netflix shows that I like – Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, and the Walking Dead, for example.

Melissa: Yes, we are different. She’s a dog person. I would be a cat person if I wanted to have a pet. But there is no room at my house for one more living thing with 3 boys and a husband and a tiny house. I think more fairy tale and Pauline thinks more creepy horror and somehow it works. I watch a little TV. Doctor Who, Beauty and the Beast, Orphan Black. That’s about it for spare time here.

Who are your favorite authors, books, style, genre?

M: I’m a fan of Paranormal Romance. Stephenie Meyer got me started but I don’t think I write like her. She’s a lot more wordy. I really enjoyed Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

P: I read a lot of fantasy/suspense/thrillers – I love CS Lewis, and anyone who visits my fan page on Facebook will know my favorite modern author is Neil Gaiman.

How did the two of you get together and decide to write a steampunk fantasy?

P: I’ll let Melissa answer this one as it was her idea.

M: I had a character come to visit me in my head. He was in a wheelchair and was from Edwardian England. Then I got to know the woman in his life. She was American and gadgety. It was steampunk so I knew I needed help and Pauline happens to be a very talented steampunk writer. I asked her and she agreed.

So, who had the idea? Where did Armored Hearts come from? Tell us a bit about this story.

M: My stories always start with characters. They show up uninvited and I ask them who they are and what is going on. I’m nosy when it comes to people taking up residence in my head. There was this Englishman in a wheelchair who had abilities that could not be explained and a girl who made gadgets and an assassin.

Can you share with us a little bit about the writing process and how the two of you worked together?

P: We had a lot of brainstorming sessions, and then Melissa wrote the first draft. Then we brainstormed some more, and then I took it and added a bit. Then we discussed what needed fixing, and Melissa did the third draft. We went back and forth on this project. But Melissa did the most work, as it was her idea. I have a Contemporary Romantic/Suspense novel I’ll be taking the reins on that we’ve done some brainstorming sessions with and will be working on it later this year as well as AH2.

M: We also made a board on Pinterest so we had the same faces, places and such in mind as we wrote.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing Armored Hearts? What was the best part of writing it?

M: Opening up to new ideas is hard but Pauline came up with great stuff. Places we needed to go back and add action or a death that I would never think of doing on my own. I think it made it stronger and not too frilly nor too dark.

P: The challenge of collaboration is that there is compromise. Sometimes I had an idea that Melissa would shoot down, and I’m sure that I shot down one or two of hers as well. But I think the end result was better than either of us would have had happen on our own and with only our own ideas involved. The best part was the research. I started watching Downton Abbey in order to immerse myself in the sort of culture that surrounds Armored Hearts (at Melissa’s suggestion). And the period is beautiful and romantic.

Who is your favorite character and why?

P: Jessamine – she’s so strong, confident, and clever. I wanna be her when I grow up.

M: Tabitha—I wish I were sweet like her and liked math.

What do you hope people walk away with after they finish reading the book?

M: This may not fit the tastes of those who are already into steampunk, but I think it will answer the question, ‘”What is steampunk?” for those who read more mainstream.

P: So much of steampunk is all about the mechanizations and political atmosphere. I know that our goal in this book is to introduce the ultra cool world to the romance and fantasy crowd in a way that is much more palatable than I’ve ever seen it done.  

And just for fun, if you could go back to experience any place in history, where and when would it be, and why?

P: Much of my writing is to my former self. If I could go back in time and smack the 18 year old me and tell her to grow up and get serious, I think I would. Just like horseback riding for me is not “for fun” but I want to get something done in the process, I’d choose to visit myself and see if I could get her more serious about God…and seeing my Daddy again would just be a bonus.

M: Maybe the 90s. It’s when I grew up, fell in love, got married. It was a time of lots of firsts. Life wasn’t so foreign to me then. Maybe that’s why I’m writing a book set in the 90s called Forever Layla. It will be for those more into romance than who read for adventure. Fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife might like it. Nicholas Sparks meets Sci-Fi minus the depressing ending.

Thank you Melissa and Pauline for joining us today!  

Would you like to connect?

Melissa Turner Lee

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Pauline Creeden

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Have a great week everyone!

Release: Armored Hearts

Today, we’re celebrating the release of Armored Hearts by Melissa Turner Lee and Pauline Creeden. AltWit Press is celebrating with a giveaway, check it out for some cool prizes like a $100 gift card to Amazon!

Armored Hearts

When a crippled young lord rescues a girl falling from a tree, it reveals a secret about himself and his mother’s side of the family that could put him at the center of a war with beings he thought only existed in fairytales.

Tristan Gareth Smyth lived his entire life stuck at home at Waverly Park, left behind while his Grandfather makes trips to London, all because of his blasted wheelchair.

Then an American heiress falls in his lap, literally, and he must find a way to keep her at a distance to protect not only his secret, but everyone around him from an assassin sent to kill him.

Cover art by Marcy Rachel Designs

Model Photographer: WinterWolf Studios

Review: The Wishing Well Curse

The Wishing Well Curse

This month AltWit Press has been celebrating the release of Lynn Donovan’s debut novel with a Kindle giveaway, and the ebook is on sale for $.99 until the remainder of this month. Paperback will be available soon!

Ms. Donovan has a heart of gold and lots of laughs to share. Earlier, I posted a little intro and how we met at the beginning of the month. You can find it here. And now for my thoughts on the book:

This is a story of a young man who has hit some hard times. He’s lost his job, his girlfriend, his apartment and had to drop out of college. Then he received a letter that could change his life. His great uncle died and has left him with a grand inheritance, but he has to fulfill certain conditions first that involve an old well, a curse, and two ghosts.

I love the characters in this story: Zeke, Clifford, Twyla, biker-pastor James. Zeke’s a hoot, but he goes from a chaotic, out of control downward spiral to trying to solve a mystery interwoven with folklore tales, old curses, the consequences of his ancestor’s actions, and the Jabez Prayer to where he realizes he can’t break the curse on his own, and then he meets Jesus. Throughout all this he discovers his destiny, something his mother and great uncle have been planning, preparing and praying for ever since he was in the womb.

It’s a fun story, with fun characters as Zeke tries to figure everything out. But I have a slight issue with one of the ghosts. Due to the nature of the story being set in our modern world, it’s easy to forget that this is a fiction work, and we would like it to line up with our theological beliefs, but that isn’t always so, and I’m sure the author has her reasons for why she wrote it the way she did. Other than that, I enjoyed the story and look forward to seeing what else this author has in store for us.

Reading Update

so many books, so little time...

so many books, so little time…

My to-read list keeps growing and growing, and I know I am not alone. Although my goal for this year was twelve, I think I will be bypassing that one. Ha! So far this year, I’ve read:

Bid The Gods Arise by Robert Mullin

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

Difference Between Night and Day by Melissa Turner Lee

Daughter of Light by Morgan L. Busse

Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

The Earth Painter by Melissa Turner Lee

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California by Keli Gwyn

The Wishing Well Curse by Lynn Donovan

Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

And an advanced reader copy (ARC) of Armored Hearts by Pauline Creeden & Melissa Turner Lee coming out this May.

And I beta read this awesome hopefully coming soon, but I don’t think I’m at liberty to name the title, but I can tell you that it’s the next book in Rebecca P. Minor’s The Windrider Saga, and I think it’s her best yet.

On my short list of books I want to read:

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

Plot verses Characters by Jeff Gerke

The DawnSinger by Janalyn Voigt

A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz

Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul

Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet

To Darkness Fled by Jilly Williamson

Eternity Falls by Kirk Outerbridge

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr

Son of Truth by Morgan L. Busse

The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

Crosswinds by Steve Rzasa

Judge by R. J. Larson

Informationalist by Tayler Stevens

Something by Brandon Sanderson, Diana Wynne Jones (aside from her Tough Guide to Fantasyland), and Terry Pratchett

And of course I have to read Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth this summer, since I’ve devoured the previous books in the series.

And the list goes on and on… So many awesome sounding books so little time. What’s on your to-read list? What books have you read this year? Have you read any of the above?

Bad Boy Characters

Today I have the special privilege of welcoming Morgan L. Busse, fantasy author of Daughter of Light and Son of Truth. Please welcome her as she shares a little bit about:

Bad Boy Characters

I never set out to write a “bad boy” character. In real life, I was not interested in them. I had been taught at an early age to stay away from that kind of guy and diligently did so. They were trouble, and I didn’t want trouble.

Daughter of Light Cover--Adjusted

So how did an assassin not only sneak into my book, but also become one of the focal characters? I’m still not sure.

As I wrote Rowen’s story, there was another character standing in the shadows. The first time I met Caleb, he had just murdered a man. Really, Morgan? This was not the kind of book I had set out to write. But Caleb would not leave.

This man intrigued me. Here he was, a cold-hearted murderer, driven into this profession by his thirst for gold and women. He was ambitious, focused, and prided himself in always getting the job done.

But I came to realize Caleb had one fear, a fear no one else knew about because it lived deep inside him: he knew someday he would pay for the lives he took. It came to him at night, when his subconscious would speak to him. He dreamed of his victims killing him.

At first, he found ways to suppress those dreams. He filled his life with everything he desired. He used people, money, and power to distract himself. But when Caleb was shipped up north, the dreams came back tenfold. And this time he couldn’t hide from them.

New SoT cover

When I realized Caleb’s fear, I knew I had to write him. How could I not explore this complex and dark man? I had to know what would happen to him next. And so Caleb stepped out of the shadows and entered my first book, Daughter of Light.

I am now finished with Son of Truth, the second book in the Follower of the Word series. It’s been fascinating to watch his story unfold more and his interactions with the other characters introduced in Daughter of Light. I never set out to write a bad boy character, but here Caleb is. And he’s here to stay.

How about you? Do you enjoy books or write books with a “bad boy” character? How would you define a “bad boy?” And why do you think readers are enamored with this kind of character? 



WhonPhoto_MBusse_003 MFinalDarker

Morgan L. Busse writes speculative fiction for the adult market. She is the author of Daughter of Light and Son of Truth, the first two books in a series from Marcher Lord Press. Morgan lives in the Midwest with her husband and four children. You can find out more about Morgan at




Twitter: (@MorganLBusse)

Release: The Wishing Well Curse

Today we’re celebrating the release of The Wishing Well Curse by Lynn Donovan. Heck, we’re celebrating this whole month if you want to check in at AltWit Press as they are running some awesome giveaways this month. So be sure and check them out!

 The Wishing Well Curse

When I first met Lynn it was through an exchange of critiques on TWWC and my own novel, and I just fell in love with how she pours so much personality into her characters. And if you think Zeke has personality now, you should have seen him in the draft I saw him. Ha! But I digress. You want to hear about the book!

– This is Christian Paranormal/Gothic Fiction – 

Blurb: Zeke Clay is down on his luck. He’s lost everything—an apartment, an education, a girlfriend, his job…

When a mysterious letter comes from a law firm in Colorado, he decides things just might be looking up. Now he stands to inherit a fortune, but it comes with a price. He must break a family curse and restore true love. What does he know about breaking a curse? And who is this Great Uncle Luther Clayton, who claims Zeke is the one? Can he piece together the clues left by his dearly departed? 

Who can he trust? The Apache Indian attorney? Her great nephew? The leather-clad, Harley riding Pastor? Least of all, himself? 
What about the Ghosts? 

…And why does his three-year-old tattoo bleed every time he gets near the wishing well?

What a way to start the week! Happy Monday Ya’ll!