New Book!

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I would buy this book based on the cover alone! Check out The Orchid Farmer’s Sacrifice by Fred Yu!

The Orchid Farmer’s Sacrifice (The Red Crest Series #1)

Expected Publication Date: October 5th, 2021

Genre: Asian Fantasy/ Epic Fantasy

He was born of prophecy. If he can’t embrace his destiny in time, his country is doomed.

Ancient China. Spoiled and overconfident, eighteen-year-old Mu Feng relishes life as the son of an honored general. But when his sister is abducted and his friends slaughtered, he flees home. He soon discovers the mystical birthmark on his body has attracted an enormous price on his head.

Pursued across the Middle Kingdom, Feng finds allies in two fierce warriors and a beautiful assassin. When he learns his ultimate enemy plans an incursion with advanced weaponry, he must call on his friends and his own budding military genius to defend his country. His plan is desperate, and the enemy outnumbers him twenty-five to one…

Can Feng fulfill a duty he didn’t know he had and unite the empire against a terrifying force?

Coming Soon!

Chapter One

Mu Feng woke to the call of a rooster, unsure where he was. He was staring into an empty flask flipped over and wedged against a stack of plates.

He pulled his silk robes tighter around his body. This was not his bed. His body lay bent and twisted against the hard edge of a wooden table, and his face was soaked from sleeping in a puddle of spilled liquor all night. He supported himself on one elbow to stretch his sore hip.

His three friends were still asleep, two of them snoring on the floor and another sprawled on a narrow bench, his arms and legs dangling.

Vague memories of the night before brought a smile to Feng’s lips—drinking, eating, and playing dice deep into the night. Empty flasks were scattered everywhere. Two large buckets of water remained half full.

Feng flinched against the dull pain at the base of his skull. He rubbed his oversized forehead and reached for a bowl. He hadn’t drunk enough water, and now the headache would nag him all day.

He sat back and gulped down the water, one bowl after another, and then paused to take a deep breath. He remembered coming to the Rider’s Inn with three of his best friends last night. The first floor of the little inn was packed. There were no rooms left upstairs, and the innkeeper was going to ask one of his customers to find somewhere else to stay because the general’s son, Mu Feng, needed a place to sleep.

Feng assured the innkeeper he would be drinking all night and didn’t need a room.

He remembered the innkeeper bringing him the very best drink they had to offer, a liquor made from sorghum buried in the ground for thirty years. It was something so exquisite only a Tiger General’s son could afford it. Feng remembered sipping the liquor and commenting that the taste resembled an onrush of invading cavalry, the sound of a thousand war drums approaching until it became thunder, then breezed by to leave an exhaustive state of calm. One of his friends laughed and told him to get drunk.

Feng needed to hurry home. The ride back would not be long—only a trip through a small forest. But he was to train his father’s pike unit that morning, and it wouldn’t look good for the instructor to arrive late.

The front door had been left open, and a little boy, his face filthy and his clothes in tatters, stood outside.

The boy’s a beggar and wants something to eat, Feng thought. He took a piece of copper from his pocket and stumbled to the door. The boy inched back, leaning away as if preparing himself to run.

Feng placed the coin on the table closest to the entrance. “Here, kid. Get yourself some food.”

Ding, facedown on a bench only a moment ago, was already on his feet.

“We need to go,” Feng said. “I can send a servant later to pay the innkeeper.”

“You must have paid him four times already,” Ding said. He planted a sharp kick into one of his friends on the floor and squatted down to scream in his ear. “Get up, Wen!”

He proceeded to the next drunk, curled under a table and still snoring, and kicked him in the ribs. “Get up, Little Chu. Feng needs to go home.”

Little Chu groaned. He lifted his head, his eyes still closed. “I don’t want any breakfast.”

“You’re not getting any,” Feng said with a laugh. “But there’s plenty of water in that bucket.”

Ding headed for the door, his long sword dangling by his side. “I’ll get the horses ready.” He stopped by the table near the entrance. “Who left the coin here?”

“It’s for the kid,” Feng said, turning and pointing outside. The boy was no longer there. Feng walked to the door and pulled it wide open for another look. “He was just here.”

Wen lumbered to his feet, towering over the others. “What boy?” he asked, his voice booming across the room. He hoisted a heavy bucket to his lips for a gulp or two, then poured the rest of the water over his head.

“A young beggar,” Feng said. “So many of those little things around here.”

Wen’s laughter thundered across the room. “See? Even a beggar knows he can’t take money from a dead man. You drank so much last night the boy thought you were a hungry ghost.”

“Shut your mouth,” Chu shouted, clapping Wen’s back with the hilt of his sword. Wen laughed even harder.

Ding returned, pulling the horses with one hand and carrying all four saddles with the other.

Feng stepped into the morning sun and took a deep breath. He reached for the harness of a gigantic warhorse, a gift from Uncle Shu this year for his eighteenth birthday. He stroked the nose of the charger, then the mane, and took the saddle. The horse reminded him every day that he was an adult, despite his boyish features and lanky arms, and he was commander of the best pike men in the world.

Little Chu turned back to the mess they were leaving behind—the empty bowls, the plates, and the overturned liquor flasks. “Too bad Du didn’t want to come last night. Since when did we ever go drinking without him?”

“He wanted to,” Ding said, “but he was vomiting and couldn’t get up. Must have been something he ate at the whorehouse.”

“He ate at a brothel?” Wen asked. “What kind of meat do they serve there?”

Ding turned to his friend with a smirk. “Why don’t you ever go to the whorehouse, Feng?”

Feng finished saddling his horse and leaped onto his charger. “Let’s go.”

“Feng’s father is a Tiger General,” Little Chu said. “He can get any girl he wants.” He guided his horse toward the road and squeezed its belly with his stirrups. The horse lurched forward.

“But then he’ll have to marry her!” Wen shouted from behind, hurrying after his friends. “I’d rather pay some money to amuse myself than be stuck with a wretch in my house.”

In a moment they were on the main road, riding at a comfortable pace. After a while the path bent into a forest and narrowed. The four friends merged behind one another, proceeding in single file. The dirt trail was an easy ride, well maintained and free of overhanging branches and intruding vegetation.

It was still early in the morning, and the ride home would be short. Feng relaxed a little, but not entirely. His father would be furious if he found out his son was too drunk to come home last night and couldn’t return in time to train his pike unit. He might even forbid Feng from leading his men again, a position Feng had to beg for over the years.

General Mu, Feng’s father and one of four Tiger Generals in the empire, was known as the General of the Uighur Border. He guarded the westernmost fortress in the empire. The portion of the Great Wall that he protected and the North Gate, which opened into the City of Stones, faced the land of the Uighur. It was the final stop on the Silk Road before entering the Middle Kingdom.

General Mu’s city was one of few fortresses built in a valley along the northern mountain chains. It was low enough to lose the advantage of elevation, which so much of the Great Wall depended on, but flat enough for travelers and barbarian traders to meet in this border city. Over the years General Mu had imposed heavy punishments on anyone harassing or discriminating against the foreigners, and despite countless skirmishes at the Great Wall, the City of Stones was never attacked in earnest. Commerce thrived at a time of heightened tensions between the Middle Kingdom and the barbarian nations. Chinese and Uighur, Khitans and Mongols assembled in the same bustling marketplace in the center of town and bartered. The city seemed oblivious to the politics of the Asian kingdoms.

The general placed his only son, Mu Feng, in command of the pike unit, but he was never permitted to confront the barbarians. The archers, the cavalry, and the anti-siege personnel were all deployed during border skirmishes with the Uighur.

Feng’s pike units were never battle-tested, and he never understood why. In military matters his father always sought his advice and often adopted his strategies. For years he studied The Art of War and every other military classic his father could access. In simulated battle, Feng had proven again and again he was capable. Yet, his father never trusted him in a real war.

Feng and his friends breezed along the narrow forest trail with Ding in front, Feng following from a short distance, and the other two in the rear.

Moments later, Feng noticed two rows of armed men standing in a line, motionless, blocking the road.

“Slow,” Feng said, loud enough only for his friends to hear. “Bandits.”

The foliage around them was dense with thick trees and low branches reaching into every empty space. It would be impossible to penetrate the forest and ride around the blockade.

Ding reined in his horse and slowed to a walk. “Small-time bandits trying to rob the general’s son. Wait till they find out who you are.”

Wen sent his horse lurching forward and stopped in front of the outlaws, so close he could have easily barreled into them. “Why are you blocking the road?”

None of them answered. They simply stared.

“If you don’t step aside, we’re going to run you over!” Wen said, his booming voice echoing through the forest.

 The armed thugs remained silent, motionless. Wen reached for his sword. Feng held out his hand, fingers outstretched, and motioned for him to stop.

“There’s only ten of them,” Little Chu said in a low voice. “And they’re on foot.”

“Get out of my way,” Feng said to the bandits, his voice loud and firm. “We’re military officials. We have important business in the City of Stones.”

A short bandit with a gray topknot broke into a smile. “Military officials,” he said, speaking slowly as if to pronounce every syllable. “Exactly what we’re waiting for.”

Feng stiffened. Soldiers earned modest salaries. They were well trained and armed, and very few of them traveled this road. For a small team of robbers to block the road, waiting for soldiers to rob, didn’t make any sense.

“One of our women was raped last night,” the short one continued.

Ding moved forward to Feng, his hand on his weapon, and whispered, “There’s more of them in the forest on both sides. Maybe a hundred.”

Feng nodded and turned back to the short bandit. “You’re not listening. Civilian crimes should be reported to the magistrate, not the army.”

“The criminal was a military official!” the thug shouted over Feng’s voice.

“I see,” Feng replied, fighting to remain calm. His heart was pounding.

His hand crept into his pocket to touch a bronze plate half the size of his palm, a token he always carried with himself. He still remembered the day so many years ago when he was afraid to climb onto a horse for the first time. He went to bed that night feeling disgraced and useless. His father came to his bedside and gave him this little bronze plate embossed with an image of a fierce tiger. His father told him if he carried it in his pocket, he would be able to do anything he set his mind to because the tiger held the powers of the Tiger General, powers meant for the strong and courageous. Much later he realized it was a standard pass the Tiger Generals’ messengers used.

He kept this one particular plate on himself every day.

The situation in front of him required much more than strength and courage. A hundred bandits had gathered to surround a few soldiers when very little money could be made.

Something was very wrong.

“Bring your evidence to the magistrate, and he’ll assign officers to investigate,” Feng said. “But blocking the road and randomly harassing any soldier is plain stupid. Harm the wrong soldier, and you’re all going to be killed.”

Chu pulled up behind Feng. “They’re behind us as well. We’re surrounded.”

“The criminal may be you!” the bandit continued, pointing the butt of his saber at Feng. “Why don’t you come with us to the magistrate, and we’ll talk about it in front of him?”

So, they didn’t intend to rob. They were looking to abduct, and they were waiting for the right moment to strike. The group of friends was in grave danger. Feng drew his horse back, opening up the space in front so he could see everything around him. How could this be happening?

Feng’s heart raced faster than he could withstand. They were on horses, and the bandits were not. That extra speed was their only advantage. He didn’t notice anyone on the road earlier, so they couldn’t have installed too many traps or ambushes behind them. Turning around, charging through the bandits in the rear, and riding the main road back toward the Rider’s Inn seemed like the sole course of action.

“After all, you look like a sleazy rapist to me!” the bandit shouted for all to hear. There was a roar of laughter.

“How dare you!” Wen shouted, drawing his sword. “Do you know who he is?”

Feng reached out in alarm, trying to grab Wen’s attention. He was too far away. Wen’s loud voice pierced through the thundering laughter.

“He’s General Mu’s son! Do you all want to die?”

The bandits fell silent, but only for a second. With a roar the men from both sides of the forest charged. Feng drew his sword, spun his horse around, and shouted, “Retreat! Back to the Rider’s Inn!”

His friends reacted, turned, and broke into a hard gallop. The bandits swarmed in like floodwater. Feng had never encountered a real battle before, but if they were out to kidnap for ransom, then he—not his friends—would be the prized possession. He needed to lead the bandits away from his friends if they were to have any chance of escaping.

Feng turned around and attacked the short bandit with the topknot, flying past him and slashing him across the face, almost cutting his skull open. The thug died instantly. Feng stabbed left and right, kicking his horse’s belly to urge it forward, struggling to break through the ring of hostiles.

Then he heard Wen shouting from behind. “Feng’s stuck back there! Feng’s stuck back there!”

“No!” Feng screamed as loud as he could. “Back to the inn!”

He knew they heard him, but in the distance he saw them approaching as fast as they could.

“No!” he shouted again. A spear flew across the air and struck Wen in the belly. He bowled over and fell from his horse. The bandits surrounded him and stabbed him over and over again.

Feng stared in disbelief. “Wen!” he shouted. They weren’t out to kidnap. They intended to murder. He kicked his warhorse and pummeled into the dense rows of bandits, slashing and stabbing as hard as he could, hoping to get to his other two friends before it was too late.

Chu’s horse screamed, lurching back and dismounting its rider.

They were attacking the horses. Without horses there would be no hope of getting out alive. Feng leaped off his mount and sent his horse away, wielding his sword with both hands like a battle ax and carving a path to Little Chu.

It was already too late. Chu was surrounded and stabbed from all directions at once, multiple spears and swords buried in his body. Dark blood poured from his mouth, and with his last breath, he screamed, “Run, Feng!”

Feng stabbed a bandit in the rib cage, pushed his sword all the way in until the hilt slammed against his chest. With a roar he shoved the writhing body into a crowd of enemies. He grabbed someone’s saber and swung and thrashed behind himself, fighting off those attacking his back while shielding his front with the dying bandit. He planted his feet on the hard ground, sensed Ding’s location, and pushed his way through.

Ding had already fallen off his horse, but he was hiding behind two trees standing very close together in front of a narrow gap only one person could penetrate at once, allowing him to hold back his attackers.

Feng forced his way to the two trees and dumped the dead bandit from his own sword and into the gap to seal it. He then circled around the smaller tree. “My horse is still alive,” he said. “Let’s go!”

He whistled for his horse and grabbed another saber from a dead bandit, and with a weapon in each hand, he leaped out from behind the trees and slashed at his nearest enemy.

The bandits were hardly skilled swordsmen. They were poorly coordinated and clearly had never trained to fight together.

But there were so many of them.

Feng created an opening when his warhorse broke through from behind. The massive charger was kicking and stomping the enemy, pressing them back, throwing them into disarray.

Ding stood right beside him, covered in blood—perhaps some of his own blood. “Go!” Feng shouted. He slashed another bandit in the neck, lodging his blade in the man’s collarbone.

“Careful!” Ding shouted from behind. Out of the corner of his eye, Feng noticed a spear flying toward him. Ding leaped in, crossing in front of Feng and blocking the spear with his body. He collapsed, the warhead plunged in his abdomen.

“No!” Feng wrenched his weapon free, hacked down another enemy, and leaped onto his horse. He grabbed Ding and dragged him onto the saddle, smacking the horse with the side of his saber. The charger surged forward. They were on a warhorse, one of the best in the army, and the bandits originally sealing off the road were out of position. Many were killed. Others couldn’t climb over the dead bodies littered across the narrow path. Feng’s warhorse met little resistance.

Ding yanked the spear out of his belly, and with a shout he threw it into the closest bandit. A stream of dark blood flew from Ding’s mouth.

Slowly he leaned his full weight against Feng’s back, fading out of consciousness. Feng threw away his saber and reached back with one hand to clutch his friend’s belt, preventing him from falling over. He urged the horse on, and the powerful stallion responded, charging forward at breakneck speed. The shouts and insults from behind were fading. In a moment, Feng found himself riding in silence.

His back was soaked with Ding’s blood. Ding’s breathing was becoming shorter and quicker.

“Ding! Wake up, Ding!”

How could this be happening? To think a few hundred untrained ruffians would dare confront a Tiger General’s army for mere ransom was hard to believe. Besides, they could have captured Wen and Little Chu when they fell off their horses. But they rushed in to kill without hesitating a step, as if taking them alive was never considered.

Feng felt a squeezing pain in his chest at the thought of Wen and Chu. They were gone. They were drinking and laughing and bickering only last night, and now they were gone.

A little side path branched off from the main road, and a small house hid behind a row of trees. He pulled his horse’s reins toward the house. It looked like the home of a local peasant, with coarse mud walls and an old wooden door once painted red. Feng had never spoken to a peasant before, much less asked one for help. He was the son of a Tiger General, high above the rest. Normally the peasants would be kneeling in front of his father’s mansion.

With Ding dying behind him, it didn’t matter if he had to bow to a beggar.

Feng reached the front door of the hut, dismounted, and dragged his friend’s unconscious body with him.

He took a deep breath and pounded the door with his fist.

An old woman with a wide gap between her oversized front teeth opened the door. She looked at Feng from head to toe, then at Ding. “Come on in,” she said. “I was afraid you wouldn’t knock. He’s bleeding to death, you know.”

Feng was more thankful than surprised. He lifted his friend as gently as he could and dragged him into the little hut. There was nothing inside except for a small bed, a table, and a brick cooking stove in the corner.

“We were attacked by bandits. There were four of us, and—”

The old woman sneered. “Stop barking like a neutered dog. You lost a fight, and you want to hide here. Put him in the bed. I’ll boil some towels to clean his wounds.”

Feng ignored her insolence, dragged his friend to the bed, placed him on his back, and tucked a coarse pillow under his head. Blood dripped everywhere. He yanked open Ding’s shirt and sucked in his breath. “No,” he whispered. “No.”

Ding looked up with a blank, lifeless stare.

The old woman brought a bucket of water and with one glance turned around to leave. “You should’ve told me earlier. I wouldn’t have brought the towels if I knew he was almost dead.”

Feng climbed onto the bed with trembling hands, lifted his friend’s head, and wrapped his body in his arms. “How do you feel, Ding?”

“I’m cold.”

“I-I’ll find you a blanket. I’ll—”

“No. Don’t leave.”

Feng held his friend tighter. “I’m here. I’m here.”

“What happened, Feng?”

Feng’s entire torso shook. His quivering lips were barely able to speak. “I don’t know.”

“Wen and Chu. They’re gone?”

Feng nodded.

A sob escaped Ding’s lips, and a trickle of tears rolled down his face. “I’ll . . . I’ll see them soon.”

“No!” Feng said. “Stay with me, Ding. Stay with me.”

“I’m sorry, Feng. You and Du are left behind. It’s still better than drinking alone. Tell him to stop eating at the whorehouse.” Ding tried to laugh at his own joke but only managed a choked sob. “How could there be so many bandits here?”

Feng shook his head, unable to respond.

“I’ve never heard of . . . of so many bandits . . .” Ding’s voice trailed off, and then the room was silent. Even his light gasps for air faded.

“How did we fail the people?” Feng whispered, struggling to speak so Ding could hear him. “Why did so many turn to crime?”

Ding took his last breath, his cold, limp body sinking into Feng’s arms. For a moment, the tears wouldn’t flow.

“Why are the people discontent?” Feng’s broken voice managed to say. He held his friend’s body closer. He felt ill and dizzy, as if he might vomit and faint all at once. He squeezed his eyes so tightly together that his tears couldn’t flow.

He threw his head back to scream.

“He had a gaping hole in his chest,” the old woman shouted from across the room. “Did you expect him to live?”

Feng collapsed on his friend’s body and wept. He shook with every sob, his clenched fists pounding the bed with every convulsion.

The door flew open so hard the old iron hinges rattled. A group of peasants carrying thick bamboo poles charged in, all of them young and strong. They moved in lock step with perfect discipline. They formed an arc around the door, each facing a different direction with their bodies poised to react. Feng recognized them.

“How dare you break my door!” the old woman shouted. “Get out of my house! I’ll report you to the magistrate!”

One peasant drew a sword halfway out of his bamboo pole, and the old woman fell silent.

A tall man with thick eyebrows and a short beard stepped in. He acknowledged the old woman once, then turned to Ding’s body.

“I’m sorry.”

“Uncle Shu,” Feng said, his voice trembling. His father’s brother was here, a powerful man of great skill and military prowess. At least he was safe now. “Wen, Chu, and now Ding. They’re all gone.”

Uncle Shu came to the side of the bed.

“How did you find me?” Feng asked. “How did you know?”

His uncle pulled a ragged sheet over Ding’s face so the horrid look of death would not stare back at them. The little hut was silent while he took Feng’s hand and led him to the table on the other side of the room. “Sit. I need you to calm down and tell me what happened.”

“I . . . we . . .” Feng couldn’t find words. He was so relieved to see his uncle and even more relieved to see the army’s elite, personally trained by his uncle, gathered around him. Strange, they were dressed in the coarse gray fabric of peasants, and their weapons were concealed in bamboo poles. Why would his uncle need to travel under disguise?

“You’re safe now, Feng,” Uncle Shu said. “Tell me what happened.”

Feng’s hands were still shaking.

Uncle Shu motioned for one of his men. “Bring the young master some liquor.”

Just the night before, they were drinking the finest liquor the little inn had to offer, laughing and playing dice late into the night. Feng remembered debating Mongol military tactics. Little Chu’s words echoed in his head. The Mongols may have the strongest cavalry in the world, but horses can’t climb walls. I can drink a bucket of liquor and still defend the country.

One of the soldiers placed a flask of liquor in front of Feng.

“I let my friends die,” Feng whispered. He didn’t wait for his uncle to respond. He grabbed the flask and emptied it in his mouth, guzzling the hard alcohol without taking a breath. He planted the flask on the table and tried to shake his head clear as his vision already began to blur.

“You shouldn’t be drinking like that, young man,” he heard the old woman say behind him. “Here, drink some water before you vomit all over my table. Not that I don’t have to spend all day cleaning up your friend’s blood.”

Feng grabbed the bowl of water placed before him and drank everything in one gulp.

“Take her outside,” Uncle Shu said to one of his men. “Give her some money for her troubles and ask her to leave us alone.”

Feng felt dizzy, incredibly drunk for a single flask of liquor. Maybe that was what his uncle wanted for him, something to numb his senses and help him forget. “Where is my father?” he asked.

He lowered his head onto his arms, leaned against the table, and closed his eyes. He had slept in the same position on a similar table the night before. His friends were alive then.

Nothing made sense anyway. His uncle was here, and very soon he would be taken home. His father would summon the army, they would round up all the bandits, and soon after he would find out why his friends were slaughtered in broad daylight, why even a Tiger General’s son could be attacked on his own land.

But in that moment he was dizzy and intoxicated, and he wanted to let everything go.

Very quickly the effects of the alcohol disappeared. He didn’t want it to leave his head, didn’t want his escape to be over so soon. He remained still, head in his arms, resting on the table with his eyes squeezed shut. Maybe if he tried not to move, he would eventually fall asleep and have sweet dreams.

“Sir, the young master is unconscious,” one of the soldiers said.

“Bring him to the carriage,” Uncle Shu replied.

“Do we need to secure him? In case he wakes up before we get there?”

“No need. He won’t wake up for another day.”

Feng’s heart beat so hard he thought his ribs would crack. He waited. Two men lifted him off his seat, wrapped his arms around their shoulders, and dragged him outside. Feng was determined to find out where they were taking him and whatever Uncle Shu wanted to do to him. He kept his eyes closed, his arms limp, his head hanging.

They lifted him into an enclosed carriage, settled him on his back, and walked away. Outside, at least a hundred men and numerous horses and carriages shuffled around. Feng heard his uncle giving orders to depart.

“You stay with the young master,” Uncle Shu said.

The operation was well planned and rehearsed. No one asked a single question after that.

Someone climbed into the carriage with Feng. The soldier placed his sword on the floor and shouted, “Go!”

The driver cracked his whip. They eased forward, then pulled into a steady speed. Feng waited. The road became smoother, and the horses picked up the pace. The heavy pounding of warhorses shifted to the front of the carriage, leaving only a few soldiers to protect the rear. The attack units had moved, and it was time.

Feng grabbed the sword lying on the floor of the carriage, drew the weapon, and pinned the blade against the soldier’s throat before he had time to react.

“Where are you taking me?” Feng asked in a quiet voice.

The soldier shook his head. “You—you were supposed to be unconscious . . .”

Feng pressed the tip of the sword harder into the base of his throat, piercing the skin. Blood trickled at the tip. The soldier froze.

“Answer me!”

“We’re going to the City of Eternal Peace.”

Feng’s eyebrows knit together. “General Wu’s fortress?”

The soldier nodded. “Young master, we didn’t mean to—”

“Why is my uncle doing this?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why am I being escorted to another Tiger General’s city? Where’s my father?”

“I’m just a soldier, young master. You know we only receive our orders.”

Feng took a deep breath. “I’m going to kill you if you don’t tell me.”

The soldier’s face was blank, his lips pressed together.

“I’m the general’s son. I can kill you for entertainment, and no one would do a thing.”

“We’re the general’s soldiers, young master. But we’re also your soldiers.”

Feng paused, lowering his sword. “You’re the people’s soldiers. You fight to defend the people, not my father or me. Don’t ever forget.”

“I won’t, young master.”

Feng spun his sword around and hammered the soldier’s head with the handle. The soldier collapsed.

Feng reached for his peasant clothing, about to strip him, and hesitated. He had never worn the coarse fabric of a common man, much less the filthy rags of a peasant. He could almost smell the soil stains on the straw sandals.

His own clothing reeked of dried blood, so changing into dirty canvas would not be so bad.

Feng cursed himself for worrying about the quality of his clothes at a time like this. He stripped the soldier and dressed him in his own bloody robes, then lifted the unconscious body with one hand and the sword with his other and kicked the carriage door open. He threw the soldier halfway out, facedown, and released a long, tortured cry.

“Young master!” one of the riders in the rear called. The soldier hurried forward, closing the distance between himself and Feng’s carriage. Feng threw his sword out the partially opened door. The soldier outside evaded the flying sword and was barely recovering when Feng leaped out, slammed into him, and sent him toppling off his horse. Feng recovered his own position on the speeding mount, grabbed the reins, planted his feet in the stirrups, and squeezed the horse’s belly. The other guards were charging up behind him. A side road appeared ahead. Feng saw his opportunity and brought his horse thundering down the little path.

The guards followed. Feng reached for the sword hanging from the saddle, spun around, and charged into his pursuers.

“Young master!” one guard shouted. They recognized him and pulled back. No one wanted to fight the general’s son.

He tried not to think of how his friends had died that morning, how hundreds of bandits waited for him in ambush, how Ding died in his arms. The little beggar at the inn that morning, who watched them from outside and didn’t bother to collect the coins Feng left for him, must have been there to report when they began their ride home. The ambush was prepared for them and only them.

His uncle could have encountered the slaughter in the forest and traced his tracks and Ding’s blood to the peasant woman’s house. There was no way to understand why his uncle was out there looking for him, his elite unit dressed as peasants, or why he drugged his own nephew.

Feng kicked his horse and rode as hard as he could, heading south for Major Pass toward the City of Stones. Major Pass, the main artery running across the north of the empire and parallel to the Great Wall, connected the city fortresses of all four Tiger Generals. It used to be named something else, but the people called it Major Pass because it was the widest, most well paved road north of the capital. Armies and their supply wagons could efficiently move on this road.

As far back as Feng could remember, the empire was at peace within its borders.  Aside from skirmishes with the barbarians in the north and short wars with the island nations in the south, people lived well in China.

He remembered the quick briefing he received from two officers right before he left for the Rider’s Inn. They had told him the Venom Sect was recently active in this area, but no one knew why. Feng recalled asking the local government to involve themselves, saying that the military shouldn’t interfere with civilian criminals.

The Venom Sect was a powerful group of poison users rumored to be four hundred members strong and headed by a ruthless leader named Red Cobra. The officers told him yesterday that Red Cobra was also spotted in the area. Feng laughed and asked how much snake venom it would take to poison an army.

Then they informed him that the Silencer had killed Tiger General Lo. They had expected this news ever since he was ordered to invade Mongolia and capture the undefeated barbarian king known as the Silencer. General Lo walked into Mongolia with only two hundred men in an apparent act of suicide. As of yesterday they still hadn’t found his body. All his men were dead, and the Silencer took no prisoners. Some even said the Silencer was spotted killing off the Chinese soldiers by himself. General Lo guarded the easternmost fortress in the empire facing the Khitans. For the emperor to order him to march away from the barbarian nation he was guarding against to attack an undefeated Mongol king made no sense at all.

None of these events should have had anything to do with what happened that morning. The bandits were clearly not members of the Venom Sect. They were thugs carrying steel weapons they didn’t know how to use, fighting in plain view instead of killing from the shadows.

It was almost noon by now, and Feng was rapidly approaching the City of Stones.

Available October 5th!

About the Author

 As a lifelong student of martial arts, and growing up watching martial arts flicks in the 80s and 90s, Yu decided early on that he would write in this genre. Inspired by George RR Martin’s work, he decided he would write a series in English in this centuries-old Asian genre. Yu has written three previous novels, The Legend of Snow WolfHaute Tea Cuisine and Yin Yang Blades. Yu has aBFA Film and Television from NYU Tisch School of Arts. He was born inGuangzhou, China, but presently lives in New York City.

Fred Yu  

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The Perfect Murder by Kat Martin International Giveaway: $20 Amazon e-gift card & a digital copy of The Ultimate Betrayal

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is back with her most thrilling novel yet in the Maximum Security series—The Perfect Murder.

The eldest of the three wealthy Garrett brothers, Reese Garrett is in the middle of a major purchase for his multimillion-dollar oil and gas company, Garrett Resources. The Poseidon offshore drilling platform venture will greatly enhance the company’s value.

But when Reese is on a trip out to see the rig, his helicopter crashes, leaving him hospitalized and two men dead. It’s discovered the chopper was sabotaged, and Reese is determined to find out who’s behind the crash—and whether he was the intended target. Then, when his lover, Kenzie, is accused of her ex-husband’s murder—a man with a vested interest in the Poseidon deal—clues start pointing to a connection that puts Reese, Kenzie and her young son in the sights of a killer.

From the Texas heat to the Louisiana bayous, Reese and his brothers must track down the truth before the body count gets any higher

About the Author

Kat Martin head shot (high res)

New York Times Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film. 

Kat Martin | FacebookTwitter | BookBub

Come Midnight: Book Blitz!

Congratulations to author Kat Martin on the release of her latest novella, Come Midnight! 

Come Midnight

Publication Date: June 1st, 2021 (Today 🎉)

Genre: Suspense/ Thriller

Length: 84 Pages

A routine flight turns into a suspenseful race through the remote jungles of Honduras
 
When strangers Breanna Winters and Derek Stiles met on a flight to Colombia, they never imagined they would need to rely on each other for survival. Taken hostage by a group of radical environmental vigilantes, Bree worries her secret identity has been discovered—and her fears are confirmed when she learns a ransom request has been sent to her father. Though she’s the daughter of a prominent tech mogul, Bree’s wealth can’t guarantee her safety, so former Navy fighter pilot Derek pretends to be her fiancé in order to accompany her on a dangerous jungle trek led by the radicals. With chemistry building between the pair, a romance isn’t hard to fake, though they can’t let their attraction distract them. If Bree and Derek ever want to see civilization again, they’ll have to work together and rely on their wits to escape their captors.

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Available on Amazon

About the Author

New York Times Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film. 

Kat Martin | FacebookTwitter | BookBub

Twitter Tags: @katmartinauthor @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #ComeMidnight #PublicationDay

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Winning Streak: Book Blitz!

If you enjoy trivia and board games, then this book is for you! We’re also launching a Kickstarter for Winning Streak today, so have a look!

Psst! This one is also available for review! Just contact R&R Book Tours if you’re interested!

Winning Streak

Expected Publication Date: Coming Soon!

Genre: Games/ Trivia/ Non-Fiction

Did you ever wonder:

♞ What makes Clue the best movie based on a game franchise?
♝ What does the doubling cube in backgammon do?
♜ How trains are even supposed to operate in Ticket to Ride: Antarctica?
♛ How the designer of the board game Pandemic feels now that he’s lived through an actual global pandemic?
♚ Whatever happened to the Monopoly game show from the 90s?

Based on Ranker’s poll of almost 400,000 votes, these games define us. From multiple-award winning masterpieces of the past decade, to indestructible classics still going strong after 5,000 years of play, these are the games you must play before you die. Well, except for Sorry!. That game is a blight upon this list and mankind as a whole.

Excuse me. What I’m trying to say is that I wrote this book about games, and I thought you might like it

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Winning Streak Kickstarter

About the Author

Over the past decade, John-Michael Gariepy played and reviewed over four hundred board games for three podcasts. He produces the movie/media conversation show, Popcorn Roulette, edited Stephen Albair’s jewelry and tableau photography art book/memoir called Spectacles, and directs and produces the medical audio drama Say Hello to Black Jack.  He has a wide range of interests, a tremendous love of learning, and a goofy sense of humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JM_Gariepy or Instagram @johnmichaelgariepy, or check out his blog at JMGariepy.com.

Twitter Tags: @JM_Gariepy @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books

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The Demon of Yodok: Book Blitz!

To celebrate the release of the latest novel in the Juche series, The Storm of Storms, we’re going back to the book that started it all! The Demon of Yodok! Read on for more details and a chance to win a signed hardcover edition of the novel!

The Demon of Yodok (Juche 1)

Genre: YA Dystopian

A highly addictive Young Adult Dystopian Survival series that will keep you glued to the pages.

JUCHE [dʒuːtʃe]

Just when Areum, daughter of a privileged family in the totalitarian state of Choson, thought she was free from her personal prison, her world collapses around her as her family are taken away in the middle of the night to a hell-like camp in the mountains where people who have strayed from the righteous path are brutally re-educated through blood, sweat, tears and starvation.

There she has to fight for survival together with the family she hates and is forced to re-evaluate every aspect of her life until then – her deep resentment toward her twin sister; her view of her father in face of the mounting evidence he is a traitor with the blood of millions of fellow countrymen on his hands; and even her love and affection for the Great General – the eternal savior and protector of Choson, whom she had always considered her true father.

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Excerpt

Cranes sang songs of joy from the mountain tops.

Double rainbows appeared in the sky.

The aggressors from the west were defeated. The invaders from the east were expunged. The traitors from the south were put at bay.

The people of Choson were finally free to create their own destiny, and so a hermit kingdom of people’s rule rose from the ashes, and the doors to the enemies of the outside world were closed, never to be opened again.

The world around them moved on. Years passed. Decades passed. Peace and prosperity spread throughout the world, and nothing was heard from the secluded hermit paradise.

Then one day, people started emerging from its closed borders. The stories they brought with them were, however, not of a paradise on earth. Instead, what they depicted were horrors so vile and cruel that they almost exceeded human comprehension.

Little had the people of the kingdom known when they closed its doors to the outside world, that the vilest beast of all was still lurking among their midst, and as soon as the curtains had been drawn, the beast unleashed its reign of terror upon the people, not stopping until it had crushed and enslaved every soul within its reach.

The beast now rules the kingdom from a throne of human misery and agony.

No one alive has ever encountered this beast, but everybody knows its name.

JUCHE 

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Adria Carmichael is a writer of Young Adult Dystopian fiction with a twist. When she is not devouring dystopian and post-apocalyptic content in any format – books, movies, TV-series and PlayStation games – she is crafting the epic and highly-addictive Juche saga, her 2020 debut novel series that takes place in the brutal, totalitarian nation of Choson. When the limit of doom and gloom is reached, a 10K run on a sunny day or binging a silly sitcom on a rainy day is her go-to way to unwind.

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Twitter Tags: @AdriaCarmichael @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #TheDemonofYodok

IG Tags: @adria_carmichael @shannon_rrbooktours #rrbooktours #thedemonofyodok #juche #yadystopian #yabooks #yabookstagam #ireadya

Giveaway: a signed hardcover edition of The Demon of Yodok (Open to Everyone)

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The Search: Book Blitz!

Welcome to the tour for The Search: A Dust Bowl Romance by Tiffani Velez! Check this brand new Historial Romance and enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-Gift Card!

The Search

Publication Date: March 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction/ 20th Century/ Romance

The Great Depression and Dust Bowl have destroyed Melinda’s home, her community, and her family, leaving her alone in a world of aimless refugees. Just when she thinks there’s nothing else left in life to fight for, a stranger seeks shelter in her schoolhouse on the most violent storm of the decade. Jake is running from the memories of another life, using his assignment with the National Relief Administration to keep him distracted from the realities of anti-Semitism in 1930s America. As he documents the life of migrants on the road to a better life in California, and makes Melinda his focus, the horizon brightens. Together, Melinda and Jake start to piece their lives back together. But when they push against the odds, betrayal and trauma threaten to separate them forever. Will they find each other again, or are they lost to the violence of migrant camps and their own desperation? From the author of All This Time, comes the debut historical romance, The Search: A Dust Bowl Love Story. Velez weaves a romantic thriller into a classic American tale about love, loss, and redemption.

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Available on Amazon

About the Author

Tiffani Velez has been a freelance writer since 1996. Her work has appeared in The Feminine Collective, Toe Good Poetry, Yahoo! News, and many more places. Her novels have been featured in the Annual Conference of Jewish Librarians, The New York Book Festival, and The Big Thrill Magazine and all have been bestsellers in their Amazon categories. The Search is her fifth book and fourth novel. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family.

Tiffani Velez

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Twitter Tags: @tiffanibvelez @RRBookTours1 #TheSearch #RRBookTours

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She’s The One Who Gets In Fights: New Book!!

Happy publication day to S.R. Cronin! Check out this brand new Historical Fantasy, She’s the One Who Gets in Fights and enter for a chance to win a $30 Amazon gift card!

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She’s the One Who Gets in Fights (The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters Books)

Publication Date: May 14th, 2021 🎉

Genre: Historical Fantasy

It’s the 1200’s, and the small realm of Ilari has had peace and prosperity for generations. That doesn’t mean every citizen is happy, however.
Sulphur, the third of seven sisters, is glad the older two have been slow to wed. It’s given her the freedom to train as a fighter, in hopes of fulfilling her lifelong dream of joining Ilari’s army. Then, within a matter of days, both sisters announce plans and now Sulphur is expected to find a man to marry.
Is it Sulphur’s good fortune her homeland is gripped by fear of a pending Mongol invasion? And the army is going door to door encouraging recruits? Sulphur thinks it is. But once she’s forced to kill in a small skirmish, she’s ready to rethink her career decision.
Too bad it’s too late. The invasion is coming, and Ilari needs every good soldier it has.
Once Sulphur learns Ilari’s army has made the strategic decision to not defend certain parts of the realm, including the one where her family lives, she has to re-evaluate her loyalty. Is it with the military she’s always admired? Or is it with her sisters, who are hatching a plan to defend their homeland with magic?
Everywhere she turns, someone is counting on her to fight for what’s right. But what is?

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Excerpt

In early spring, after the last of the snow melted and the mud dried, I told my parents I wished to visit friends I’d made while studying. Then I rode to Pilk to learn more about joining the Svadlu. I knew they had a booth at the largest market there, often staffed by Svadlu officers who’d answer questions. I had a lot of them.

They accepted women, but what were the standards? Were they the same as for the men? Being a Svadlu provided status and a fair amount of pay, so they never wanted for recruits. How many people who tried to join were accepted?

The next day I found the booth. Officers wore cloaks of saffron yellow, but this man boasted a scarlet cape covered in regalia, identifying him as a Mozdol. My nervousness surprised me as I approached him.

“Hello, lass,” he greeted me with warmth. “Let me guess. You’ve got a younger brother who wants to join us but he’s too nervous to come talk to me himself. Am I right?” He seemed pleased. With what? That he induced nervousness in potential recruits?

“Uh, no. Sir. I was hoping to get some information on me joining.”

“You?”

He looked at me more closely. Of course I wore a dress, not my fighting clothes, so I didn’t much look the part, but he squinted at me anyway.

“You’re tall. Well-muscled for a woman and you look to be in good shape. Have you ever held a sword?”

“I’ve been sparring since I was a child.”

That impressed him.

“And I’ll do whatever you need to me to. Answer questions about weapons, engage in fights, perform tests of strength, whatever you need.” I spoke too fast in my eagerness.

“Slow down,” he chuckled. “All that’s good, but actually, none of it matters compared to what I’m going to tell you next.”

He hesitated as if he wasn’t sure how to explain this vital fact to someone as ignorant as me.

“You’re a farmgirl, right?” He looked at my clothes again.

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, the Svadlu are more of a city operation. We do things differently than on the farm.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean being a member of the Svadlu is a pretty good deal. Lots of young people want in.”

“I know. That’s why I’ve worked so hard.”

“And that’s good, but most successful recruits get in because they have a sponsor. You know, someone already in the Svadlu who vouches for them. Um, especially if you’re, well, you know, a woman. Then it helps a great deal if one of us says you’re up to it.”

“But I can prove I’m up to it!”

“I suspect you can.” The look he gave me held respect, but he stayed firm. “A sponsor makes the difference. Why don’t you ask around? Surely your family knows someone who can help you.”

He looked up. Several people stood behind me now, all hoping to talk to him. “If you’ll excuse me …”

I rode back to Vinx dejected. I already knew my family had no contacts in the Svadlu and I had no idea of who I could turn to find some. Why did I have to know someone in order to get in? What stupid kind of way was that to run an army?

Available on Amazon

Will be available through Kobo, Apple, and Barnes & Nobel later this month!

About the Author

Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.

She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels.  She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how eccentric she is.

All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.

SR Cronin | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram 

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International Giveaway: Win a $30 Amazon Gift! Giveaway will run from today until May 17th!

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Born in Salt: Book Blitz!

I’m thrilled to share this brand new Dystopian Thriller, Born in Salt by T.C. Weber with you all today! Read on for more details and a chance to win a digital copy of the book, in your format of choice!

PSSSST! It’s also available for review! Contact R&R Book Tours for more info!

Born in Salt

Publication Date: May 1st, 2021

Genre: Alternate History/ Dystopian

Fifty years after a coup replaced President Franklin D. Roosevelt with a fascist dictatorship, America is a land of hopelessness. Ben Adamson, a 19-year-old farm boy in southern Illinois, wants only to spend his time fishing and hunting. But when his dead brother demands justice for his suspicious fate in a colonial war, Ben and Rachel, his brother’s fiancée, are drawn into an underground revolutionary movement.

After staging a rally against the war, Ben and Rachel are arrested by the Internal Security Service, who have perfected the science of breaking people. Ben is given a choice: betray the rebels, including his best friend from childhood, or Rachel will be lobotomized.

Although traumatized and addicted to a powerful drug, Ben refuses to doom anyone he cares about. Can he find a third option? Can he free Rachel and strike back at the dictatorship, while dodging the suspicions of police and rebels alike?

Excerpt

The New Bethany Town Square was a small grassy space in front of the county courthouse. Main Street split into two here, running to either side of the square and the courthouse before recombining. To the south of the square, it ran past most of the stores. To the north, it passed the city and county police stations, then a stretch of newer buildings and houses.

The year after I was born, 1965, was the twentieth anniversary of retaking the Philippines from the Japanese, forcing them into an armistice. Every town got a statue. In New Bethany, the government erected a marble Marine in the middle of the town square, rifle held high in triumph. It wasn’t an ideal spot to call for an end to war, but it was the only public space in town.

Rachel lived only a few blocks from the square, but I insisted on picking her up. The police would have seen the flyers by now, and might want to arrest her before we even started.

I was late again. Rachel stood on her front porch, wearing her funeral dress and tapping a foot. She carried a paper shopping bag in one hand, and scowled at me.

“Sorry I’m late.” At Rachel’s insistence, I’d put on my suit, and it took me forever to get the damn tie right. “Are you sure you want to do this? Talking to people one on one is a lot safer.”

Her face tightened even more. “It’s a little late to back out now. Besides, God blesses the righteous and Jake will be with us.”

I led Rachel to the truck and opened the passenger door for her. “Let’s get it over with, then.”

I parked on Lincoln Street, just off Main, and we hopped out into chilly gloom. Dark clouds gathered in the west, threatening rain. I focused on the task—swung down the tailgate and pulled out the mike and amp I’d borrowed from Jesse, the band’s bassist. He’d kill me if they got wet.

The amp had a power inverter so you could run it off a car battery. Together they weighed at least a hundred pounds, so I’d strapped them to a stand-up dolly. No mike stand, but I had enough to carry as it was. I handed Rachel the black microphone case and cables and she slipped them in her bag.

A couple dozen people were in the square, wearing coats over Sunday suits or dresses, the women’s hats sprouting feathers of near-extinct birds. I recognized Alyce and maybe half the others.

Rachel’s face fell. “I was expecting a lot more.”

“Maybe they’re afraid,” I said. “Or it’s the weather.”

“Or they don’t care. The weather is fine.” She straightened. “We’re early. More will come.”

My stomach seized. Figures squatted or lay on rooftops around the square, pointing guns and cameras.

Atop the three-story law office building, a suited man held a long-lensed camera. Next to him, a man in black body armor braced a high-powered rifle on a tripod while another peered through binoculars. Opposite the courthouse, on the First Consolidated Bank roof, more of the same. On the east side of the square, city police aimed guns out the second-floor windows of the column-fronted City Hall.

The courthouse itself had a peaked roof. After the coup, the government had added a wooden bell tower on top, from which, I supposed, you could see the whole town. Beneath the purely decorative bell, half hidden by white columns, a dark-suited man stared at us through binoculars. A sheriff’s deputy pointed a rifle with a fancy scope.

I’d never seen anything like it. Security for visiting politicians, sure, but nothing like this.

The clock on the bottom of the tower read 12:18. We had twelve minutes to prep or escape.

“Do you see the snipers?” I whispered to Rachel.

“Yes.” Her voice quivered. “But we’re not doing anything wrong. They’re just trying to intimidate us.”

She was probably right. They wouldn’t actually shoot us. Or would they? We were easy targets, standing still in the open. They could take their time and go for a head shot.

Past the bank, I spotted Paul standing outside the New Bethany Diner, sipping soda or something from a jumbo-sized paper cup. No sign of the others. Not surprising, since the group hadn’t approved our rally. And it was better Sarah wasn’t here—that would just add to my worries.

Rachel hugged Alyce and other people she recognized, then reached in her bag and pulled out my brother’s portrait, the one that had been propped on his casket at the funeral. She leaned it against the base of the soldier statue.

Behind the picture glass, Jake smiled at me. I plugged the mike into the amp and clipped the amp to the car battery. I flipped a switch and the power light turned green. I tapped the mike, and the speaker thumped.

I wanted to hurry this up and waved Rachel over. I handed her the mike. “You’re on.” The battery would last at least an hour, but I doubted we would have that long.

Rachel examined her filigreed watch. “Let’s let the crowd grow.”

I glanced at mine. 12:30.

More people arrived. But half were cops—city police, county police, state police, and eight men wearing silver long-sleeved shirts, black pants, and matching ties. Their caps bore a perched eagle clutching a saber and whip. Internal Security.

New Bethany’s gray-haired police chief paced back and forth, carrying a megaphone. The Internal Security troops stared at us, long batons and compact submachine guns fastened to their belts.

My knees shook. “Rachel, I’ve got a bad feeling. Really bad. We should go, right now.”

Available

Amazon | Kindle | Nook | Kobo | Smashwords

About Author

Ted Weber has pursued writing since childhood, and learned filmmaking and screenwriting in college, along with a little bit of physics. Trapped at home during the “Snowmageddon” of 2010, he transformed those interests into novel writing. His first published novel, a near-future cyberpunk thriller titled Sleep State Interrupt, was a finalist for the 2017 Compton Crook award for best first science fiction, fantasy, or horror novel. The two sequels, The Wrath of Leviathan and Zero-Day Rising, are also available. His latest release, Born in Salt, pits an Illinois farm boy against a ruthless fascist government that took power in a coup. Mr. Weber is a member of Poets & Writers and the Maryland Writers Association, and has run numerous writing workshops. By day, Mr. Weber works as an ecologist, and has had a number of scientific papers and book chapters published. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife Karen. He enjoys traveling and has visited all seven continents.

For book samples, short stories, and more, visit https://www.tcweber.com/

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Book Blitz!: The 48 Laws of Happiness

During times like these finding ways to be happy seems like a no brainer! Check out The 48 Laws of Happiness by Dr. Rob Carpenter! Psst… There’s also a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card (International)

The 48 Laws of Happiness: Secrets Revealed for Becoming the Happiest You

Expected Publication Date: April 27th, 2021

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Self-Improvement

UNLOCK THE SECRETS TO HAPPINESS

  • Do you want to discover the untold secrets of happiness in a fun and uplifting read that could change your life?
  • Have you ever been told you should choose to be happy but then not taught how to be happy?
  • Is becoming the happiest possible version of yourself something you would like to achieve right now?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have looked in the right place! In The 48 Laws of Happiness, Dr. Rob Carpenter will teach you how to be happier in every area of your life. Using practical, “how-to” approaches, easily digestible mini-chapters, cutting edge research, and inspirational stories of people from around the world, Dr. Rob will show you the secrets to happiness and what you can do to overcome the common traps preventing you from being the happiest and most confident, version of yourself.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Dr. Rob Carpenter—known simply as Dr. Rob— miraculously survived a tragic accident and vowed to not only rebuild his life, but to help other people rebuild their lives too. He has become a transformational author, filmmaker, and CEO who now advises professional athletes, celebrities, business titans, and everyday people so they can become the best version of themselves.

Dr. Rob has been featured in the New York Times, Business Insider, and People Magazine, has been a former professor and filmmaker at the 2x Emmy Award Winning USC Media Institute for Social Change, and is host of The Dr. Rob show. He founded The School of Happiness and has countless resources available on his website DrRob.TV to help uplift humanity.

Dr. Rob is the first in his family to graduate from college.

Rob Carpenter

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Book Tour! Murder: It’s All in Your Head

Welcome to the book tour for supernatural thriller, Murder: It’s All in Your Head by Cynthia Hilston!

Murder: It’s All in Your Head

Publication Date: December 5, 2020

Genre: Supernatural Thriller/ Horror

Someone has been getting away with murder for over 100 years in the small town of Hurston, Ohio. But the wrong person has been convicted of those murders every time. In 2018, Cassie Meadows is on her way to school when a bright flash comes out of nowhere, and she wakes in millionaire Randy Davis’s body with blood on her hands…the blood of Randy’s wife, who lies in a pool of crimson in the bathtub with her throat slit. Meanwhile, an old man everyone calls Jimmy Williams raves that he’s the real Randy Davis as he lives out his days in a ward for the criminally insane. In 1914, young Helen Hawkins is unloved and repetitively abused by her father, who is also the town’s pastor. Her only escape is in her dreams, where she wakes in others’ bodies, living other lives, but when her dreams turn out to be reality, the tables are turned on her father. In a story where no one is who they seem, how can Cassie, the latest victim accused of a murder she didn’t commit, end the cycle?

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Excerpt

Cassie pedaled her bike faster to school as thoughts of staying home alone on senior prom night plagued her. A flash of light blinded her. She shielded her eyes. Horns blared and tires squealed, and the whole bike shook to a stop.

When she opened her eyes, a wall of old books stared back. She rubbed her eyes and blinked rapidly, taking in her surroundings. Gone was the familiar tree-lined street with rows of 40-year-old ranches and split-levels. Sunlight filtered in through parted drapes. Unlike her house, where dust danced in light beams, this room sat still.

Her sweaty hands clenched into fists at her sides, her nails digging into her palms. A chill jolted up her spine and extended down her arms, freezing her in place. She gazed across the room. Marble pillars flanked an archway to another room across the vast library.

A faint noise came from another part of the building. Curiosity claimed her caution as she took a step. Realizing her fingers were wet, she glanced down and nearly fell over. Blood covered her large hands all the way to her thick fingertips!

Cassie gasped. She reached for her throat. A sharp intake of breath.

“What?” she croaked in a foreign voice.blo

A dream. This must be a dream. Her voice rang through her mind, but when she opened her mouth to speak again…

“This can’t be happening.”

Cassie’s hands grasped her throat, in a failed attempt to excise the vocal cords responsible for this new voice. When her fingers grazed whiskers, she raked them over the jaw and cheeks.

“No. N-no.” What the hell?

She closed her eyes and forced herself to take a long, slow breath. Okay, okay. Calm down.

When her eyes opened yet again to this new reality, Cassie gave a shuddering gasp. She felt like she was doused with ice water, the burn throbbing through her body. She tried to step again, but she wavered in this oversized body that wore like a linebacker’s uniform. The large feet lumbered with a clumsiness contrary to her agile body. For a girl who had taken gymnastics since she could walk, the dragging, teetering movement of this form almost stopped her efforts. But Cassie willed herself to move. One step at a time.

Just do the best you can. Her mom’s words echoed through her mind.

Her steps were short-lived as her dad’s advice died. She halted. A trail of red on the spotless marble floor led to an archway. Her nerves fired in overtime, and her head spun. She followed the path and exited the elaborate room into a hallway.

The sound was louder now. The unmistakable sound of running water.

“What’s going on?” Cassie whispered. She tried to ignore the voice. Really tried.

Something moved out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head to the right and landed on her reflection, only it wasn’t her face. A tall man of about thirty stared back. She ran her hands through the trim brown beard that contoured the strong jawline, confirming what she felt earlier. Liquid brown eyes under thick, wavy hair and a deep brow held confusion, panic. A sleek black business suit covered her well-built frame—fit for an executive who dined on caviar and champagne and rode in chauffeured limos. But against the black of her suit the blood extended, weaving an unknown horror story.

She shook her head. “This is impossible.” Yet the voice told a different story.

Her body trembled, and her whole being felt different. Cassie’s eyes fell on a picture frame below the mirror. Her fingers fumbled to pick it up. A younger version of the man in the mirror gazed out of the photo. He smiled, his face next to a gorgeous auburn-haired woman. The woman’s hazel eyes crinkled around the edges, her freckles standing out against her fair skin in the sunshine. It was a happy couple’s wedding photo.

Cassie returned the picture to its place, the frame now coated in blood. A drop of crimson marked the floor every few inches. This body must have come from the opposite direction through the house, for how else could she explain the blood everywhere? She rested a hand on the railing at the base of the stairway and gazed up the twisting steps. The running water came from upstairs. She took the first step and steadied herself. Something drew her toward the source of that sound.

Cassie reached the landing and glanced behind her. Her mark was on the railing, another path of blood. The tell-tale trail continued, decorating the floor in a macabre design, as she went down the hallway toward the sound. Her knees wobbled as a dizzy spell overtook her. She steadied herself with a hand to the wall and blanched at the red print she left.

Call the cops.

I don’t know what the hell’s going on.

She pushed herself from the wall and arrived at the bathroom. Water leaked under the door.

The knob slid under her slick hand. She used the end of her sleeve to grip it and pushed the door open enough to peek inside. Pink water flooded the marble floor. Her gaze traveled to the bathtub. Water spilled over the tub’s edge. A woman lay sprawled in the tub, her vacant eyes staring at the ceiling, her mouth open in a scream. Her head lay at an odd angle, her neck nearly cut in two. Blood ran from the gaping gash into the water.

Cassie tried to scream, but her stomach tightened. Bile rose and she vomited into the pooling water and blood. She slammed the door and collapsed against the outside, pulling her knees to her chest. Water soaked her pants, making the fabric stick to her clammy skin. The tall frame of the man’s body convulsed with the sobs of a teenage girl as she cried into her hands. Hands that weren’t hers.

“I want my mom.”

She couldn’t get the dead woman’s face out of her mind. As the scene replayed through her head, Cassie realized where she’d seen the woman before. In the photo. She had been this man’s wife.

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About the Author

Cynthia Hilston is a stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married, and lives in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Supernatural and Outlander, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, drinks wine or coffee with good friends, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

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