Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Imposter

(My first attempt at sci-fi romance, pg-13 friendly- This is an experiment, I'd really appreciate if you'd let me know what you thought ;)

The breeze rustled the leaves on the trees while Talia focused in on every sound, listening for any indication of the return of her husband. Her knights would be stranded on this mercenary planet if they didn't fight their way through the ruins to the portal cave soon. She knew the solar flares would keep the portal inactive for another six weeks.

Talia breathed deep trying to loosen the knot in her throat. Something had gone wrong… she didn't want to abandon him...

A twig snapped underfoot. She turned to find Sir Richard, his concern leaking through his stoic gaze.

"Talia, we are running out of time, are we staying or making an attempt on the gate?" Sir Richard asked.

"We move, Daren knew when we had to leave, we've waited as long as we can." The authority in her voice crackled slightly.

Taking a moment to sweep her hair back up and don her white masked helmet, she waved her men forward and they crept down toward the stone ruins. The grass was slick under their combat boots. Little pieces of grass clung to their armored pants as they made their way forward.

Suddenly a cacophony of battle cries alerted them to their enemy’s presence within the ruins. Talia looked up just in time to see a figure dressed in a black from head to toe climb to the top of a rock wall in the midst of the ruins. He stood brandishing the mercenary flag at her approaching party.

Her husband had worn the mantle of the Black Knight, and here this imposter stood mocking her! Rage welled up within her, deafening her ears and narrowing her focus as she ran off after the scum. She didn’t stop as the enemy poured out from behind the stones attempting to surround her. Her knights, struggling to keep up with her, were already keeping them otherwise engaged. Nothing stood between her and the Black Knight imposter now!

Near the center of the ruins, the grass turned to voice which caked against her boots and spattered the hem of her white skirt. The scowl of disgust for this imposter deepened as the earthy smell of the voice assaulted her nose.

 The sound of a clearing throat caused her to whirl around, her sword held defensively in front of her.
“White Lady,” The man swept his sword free hand in a mock bow.

His mouth angled into an amused smirk and his eyes narrowed under the mask that hid the upper half of his face and hair. She lunged at him, momentarily surprising him with the rage that fueled the strength behind her sword.

“How DARE you take on his mantle you Evian scum!” Talia spat.

“You’ll regret your choice of words!” The black knight called over the sounds of battle before rushing again at her.

A few smooth movements of the wrist and the imposter had managed to disarm her, as only her husband had ever managed to do. She spared a fearful glance in the direction of her sword only to find it buried hilt high in the ground. Even if she made a desperate lunge she wouldn’t be fast enough.

The imposter in black advanced on Talia and within two steps her back met the damp stone wall. The Black Knight held the flat of his blade across her chest as his body moved in closer to pin her to the wall. She turned her chin away from the point of his sword as the warmth of his breath brushed against her cheek.

His free hand forced her face back towards his; his hand feeling like fire to her chilled skin. She glared at him but He leaned in any way to whisper close to her ear. Her mind raced frantically as she looked over his shoulder at the rest of her knights seemingly so far away, all locked in battle. There was no one to help her.

“I believe I warned you that you would regret your words…” The man in black purred his icy threat into her ear.

He backed off her chest slightly, giving her room once more to breathe.

His sword slipped down her chest and in one swift movement he took her face in both of his hands and pressed his mouth to hers forcefully. Talia froze. His sword fell between them and clattered off the top of her armored boots. Her mind whirled as his warmth, force, and the musky scent of his sweat coated armor assaulted her senses. The stubble on his face pricked her cheek snapping her back to her senses.

 Her shock and anger drove renewed adrenalin into her veins giving her the strength to shove back her attacker. She quickly bent to grab the Black Knight’s sword from her feet and thrust the sharpened end in his direction. Her aim faltered though. She had reached up in disgust to wipe his saliva from her mouth but as her fingertips paused at her lips she realized her mistake.
“Daren?” She choked.

The Black Knight smiled with relief as he tore off his masked helmet.

“I was afraid you weren’t going to recognize me,” He replied.

Talia dropped the sword and threw herself into his embrace.

“How’d you?” She stuttered.

“I couldn’t make it back without going through one of the mercenary encampments so I made them believe I was a turncoat who wanted to join their forces- then I got stationed to guard these ruins. I still don’t think they’ve even recognized me yet!”

Talia buried her face into Daren’s armored suit. “I was afraid we were going to have to leave you behind.”

Daren hugged her close one last time and then pulled her out at arm’s length, studying her. “How about we go give our guys a hand?” He suggested.

Talia shot him an impish grin. “These mercenary guards aren’t going to know what hit them!”

Daren retrieved Talia’s sword before they both charged back into the melee.

By the way? Did you find the secret word? 

This week's clue is: Look at the ground at the center of the ruins. Something's not right...

Based on the secret word, do you think you know what the secret phrase is? The secret phrase opens the first door which contains special secret goodies from Stacy Garrett who is currently trying to promote her new book The Door with an indigogo campaign . It truly is an amazing project that deserves to be supported! Gorgeous original photos illustrate this amazing fairytale story! You can find a list of other sites hosting other pieces of this week's secret phrase over on Stacy's facebook page or on "The Door" link on her website!

If you have figured out what this week's secret phrase is... enter it here and don't forget to come back next week for the next hint!:!the-door/tqu6j 

(Ruins photo credit: Baram ancient synagogue via photopin (license)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Patricia's House Guests

Patricia was watching her neighbor's children for a few weeks during the summer. Alice and Jason hadn't had a vacation in a few years, she knew they'd appreciate her help.

"Whats a few weeks?" Patricia thought to herself as Benny, the littlest, proceeded to dig a hole in the middle of her favorite flower bed. "That'll be a bath tonight!" She mumbled to herself.

She picked up Benny and directed him to a clear section of dirt that didn't contain flowers before turning to check on the other two.

"What on earth are you doing?" Patricia asked Dot, the eldest, who was running around in circles with a stick she had found under the old oak tree. 

'If only a stick could solve all MY problems!' Patricia chuckled to herself.

A duck ran through Patricia's legs in a panic closely followed by Toby, the only blond one of the trio. The ducks all quacked frantically and lose feathers fluttered around the yard.

"Come now Toby! Don't scare the ducks so!" Patricia called.

Toby slowed down and turned to grin back at Patricia. Patricia rolled her eyes. It was so hard to stay upset with any of them! A bit of a breeze picked up and pulled at the edge of Patricia's wrap. Benny jumped up in surprise as the sound of distant thunder rolled across the sky. Dot, on the other hand, paid no mind to the approaching storm until the rain started to fall.

"We better go in guys!" Patricia called, throwing her wrap over her head as she ran toward the porch. Toby, Dot, and Benny swiftly ran after her, pausing for just a moment on the porch to shake the rain off of them before they followed patricia inside to dry off. 

Patricia passed around the towels to dry them off before all three curled up beside her on the couch to watch the rain make a mess of the yard. The ducks looked happy enough to have the puddles all to themselves. Toby followed their antics intently while making pictures on the window with his cold nose. Another round of thunder gently shook the house and Benny and Dot snuggled in closer. The rain continued to fall, she knew it wouldn't be long before the three of them would fall asleep... right here, in her lap.

"Maybe it would be nice to have some dogs of my own around here..." Patricia pondered. 

*(photo credit: rain and blue pot via photopin (license)

By the way? Did you find the secret word? 

This week's clue is: "It would be mean to call them dogs!"

Based on the secret word, do you think you know what the secret phrase is? The secret phrase opens the first door which contains special secret goodies from Stacy Garrett who is currently trying to promote her new book The Door with an indigogo campaign . It truly is an amazing project that deserves to be supported! Gorgeous original photos illustrate this amazing fairytale story! You can find a list of other sites hosting other pieces of this week's secret phrase over on Stacy's facebook page or on "The Door" link on her website!

If you have figured out what this week's secret phrase is... enter it here and don't forget to come back next week for the next hint!:!the-door/tqu6j 


This Week's News:  PDMI's Marketing Director called to let me know two days ago that the Hilton Head Island (SC) Barnes and Noble has ordered copies of my book to put on their shelves! I'm super stoked! This is the second Barnes and Noble confirmation I've received!  Just a reminder, I'll be at the Magnolia Mall Barnes and Noble in Florence SC on July 26th for a signing. Rumor has it that Rivi may even show up with me to take pictures with visitors!  

If any of you spot my book "The Alien Mind" out in the wild, please take a picture of it for me! I'd love to see how far it is going!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

My First X-File

I finally have my very own X-File! 

My very own xfile!The day started normal. We were headed out to celebrate both my Husband's and Son's birthday (their birthdays are one day apart). Realizing that I had forgotten to get cake for the party I ran to walmart. There were delays at walmart that put us behind in our party day itinerary but that lateness put us on the highway right behind this guy at just the right time!

I'm going to college for electronics engineering so this unique design of what I could only assume was an antenna intrigued me and I wanted to get a closer look! It's not everyday you see someone riding down the road with a forked antenna tied down with a shoelace!

Once the highway opened up to three lanes I got my chance!

Now I could tell there was something really peculiar about that antenna... there were white shapes that looked like spark plugs at the bottom of every fork. I just had to get a closer look, so I asked my husband to pull into the third lane beside the car.

As he was pulling up beside the car I took one more shot of that antenna before things got weird!

I was aiming for more of a sideways shot so as we pulled up I took one last shot before putting the phone down on a gut instinct. My husband saw the phone show the final image which was a picture of JUST the forked part of the antenna close up and dead center. With my phone in my lap we passed by the driver who was an older graying guy. My son remarked that he turned to look at my kids in the back seat with a weird look as we passed him by. MOMENTS later, the guy passed from the center lane and left the highway at the first exit. 

I turned to my phone to get a closer look at my pictures in my album and suddenly felt CHILLS run up my spine! The picture was BLACK!!! Not blurry, not gone... just HORSESHOE!

I'm wondering HOW the picture ended up blacked out AFTER my husband had seen the successful picture. Why did the guy turn to give a weird look to my kids when there was NO way he could have known we were taking pictures. But the MOST mysterious thing is his immediate departure off the highway and the blackening of my phone's photo (which has never happened before!) I'd bet anything that "Spooky" Mulder would have gone off after that guy! 

And so, dear readers, I submit to you my very first X-File! Rivinaig (my character from The Alien Mind) thinks the guy was trying to secretly hunt for the Aruk that are believed to have already infiltrated the Earth at various levels of government. I told her "the truth is out there," and left it at that!

By the way? Did you find the secret word? 

This week's clue is: "Not blurry, not gone..."

Based on the secret word, do you think you know what the secret phrase is? The secret phrase opens the first door which contains special secret goodies from Stacy Garrett who is currently trying to promote her new book The Door with an indigogo campaign . It truly is an amazing project that deserves to be supported! Gorgeous original photos illustrate this amazing fairytale story! You can find a list of other sites hosting other pieces of this week's secret phrase over on Stacy's facebook page or on "The Door" link on her website!

If you have figured out what this week's secret phrase is... enter it here and don't forget to come back next week for the next hint!:!the-door/tqu6j 

In other news:

I have been invited to do a book signing at Florence SC's Magnolia Mall Barnes and Noble. I'll be there on July 16th from 1-4pm! I'd love to see you there!

I also have a Summer Reading Giveaway I am running if you'd like to join in!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Easy Selfie Challenge #2

Want a free and EASY way to enter into the rafflecopter Summer Reading Giveaway?

Amazon screenshot The Alien Mind

Go to amazon and click "Send A Free Sample" on the e-book page for The Alien Mind!
This will send a sample piece of the book and the cover of The Alien Mind to your kindle or other electronic device (laptop, tablet, cell phone).

Once you have the free sample:

  1. Navigate to the Cover Image for The Alien Mind
  2. Take a selfie with the cover 
  3. (or have a friend take a picture of you with it on your phone)
  4. Post to instagram, twitter, google+, or facebook with #VLJennings
You could also download the Book Cover Images from here and pose for selfies with them! (you can enter your selfie in the rafflecopter once each day!)

That's IT!

There are also other ways to enter in the Rafflecopter to get a chance to win! See the Widget:

While you are at it...please join our thunderclap to spread the word! (which is also a rafflecopter entry option! Remember to mark on the rafflecopter that you completed the thunderclap!)

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Perfect or Imperfect Future?

The future may not be perfect, but we can always keep working to improve it! What would a perfect future look like to you? These are the types of concepts that keep sci-fi writers up at night. These are the concepts that keep us inspired to explore new worlds and new ideas in our writing... Because of this, we tend to get very excited to share new science fiction books with new readers! To us, it is like sharing a science fair project sometimes! *Look, COOL! A new shiny!*

Simon Rose
Which brings me to my guest today!
Simon Rose is the author of science fiction and fantasy novels for children and young adults. Simon’s books include The Alchemist's PortraitThe Sorcerer's Letterbox, The Clone Conspiracy, The Emerald CurseThe Heretic's Tomb, The Doomsday Mask, The Time Camera, The Sphere of Septimus, Flashback, and the recently published Future Imperfect.

Future Imperfect
Simon, would you please tell us about your latest novel?

Future Imperfect is an exciting technology-driven adventure featuring teenage geniuses, corporate espionage, and mysterious messages. In the novel, we’re introduced to Andrew Mitchell, who was one of the leading experts in highly advanced technology in Silicon Valley, until he vanished following a car accident, which also injured his son, Alex. When a mysterious app later appears on Alex’s phone, he and his friend Stephanie embark on a terrifying journey involving secret technology, corporate espionage, kidnapping, and murder in a desperate bid to save the future from the sinister Veronica Castlewood.  This sounds very exciting.

Why do you think kids will enjoy Future Imperfect? 
The story will appeal to all young readers for whom technology plays such a large role in their lives, whether it’s cell phones, laptops, tablets, gaming, or the online world, but it’s also a very compelling adventure story, with lots of cliffhangers, twists, and turns. There might even be a couple of sequels, but we’ll wait and see what the future holds, I guess.

Where can people buy the book?

Future Imperfect is available at local bookstores, online at Amazon Canada, Amazon USAIndigo/ChaptersBarnes and NobleAmazon UK, and other locations, and autographed copies can also be purchased directly from me via my website.

Future Imperfect is very much in keeping with the themes you’ve explored before in science fiction and fantasy, but very different to your last novel.

Yes, my previous novel, Flashback, is a paranormal adventure involving psychic phenomena, ghosts, imaginary friends, mind control experiments, secrets, conspiracies, and time travel with a difference. The story was inspired by numerous ghost stories, books, and movies about psychics and the paranormal, past lives and hypnosis, and the concept of going back into your own life armed with your current knowledge to somehow attempt to change the previous course of events, for better or worse. Flashback has two sequels coming out in 2017, one in the spring and the third installment in the summer.

Is all of your work for young adults?

In addition to the novels, I’ve written more than 80 nonfiction books for children and young adults, but have also written books for adults. These include The Children's Writer's Guide, The Working Writer's Guide, The Social Media Writer's Guide, School and Library Visits for Authors and Illustrators, and Exploring the Fantasy Realm. These titles are all available as ebooks or as paperbacks. I’m also a contributing author to The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction and have written some picture books for younger readers.

What do you do to promote yourself and your books?

I’m in all the usual places online and on social media but I’m also active in the local writing community and conduct book signings at local bookstores on a regular basis. This spring I was at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and connected with readers at schools and libraries in Montreal and Quebec City during Children's Book Week.

What other work do you do?

I work as an instructor for adults at Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary. These classes and courses focus on writing for children and young adults or preparing your work for publication. I also offer coaching and editing services for writers in all genres and conducts online writing courses, such as Writing for Children and Young Adults and Writing Historical Fiction. I write screenplays, articles for magazines, and offer copywriting services for websites, blogs, social media, and businesses.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

You can visit my website at or subscribe to my newsletter, which goes out once a month and has details of my current projects and upcoming events.

Thank you so much for agreeing to stop by and share your work with my readers Simon! I want to wish you luck and congratulations on your new release! Just in time too! Many parents are hunting for some new books for their kids to read this summer!

Readers- If you are looking for a new book- be sure to add Simon's to the list! They are certain to keep you entertained!

Meanwhile be sure to check out:

Simon's Social Media links

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Summer Reading Giveaway

Summer Reading Giveaway!!!
Will Run till August 1st (2016)!
Join in the fun!
Lots of cool stuff to win! Once we reach 100 participants I'll open up the Baby Gift Basket Gift!
Share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+!
Share your book selfies!
Tag them with #VLJennings so I can find them too!
Enter in the Rafflecopter to get a chance to win!

While you are at it...please join our thunderclap to spread the word!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Being A Writer In A World Of Free

Boy Meets Girl Meets Boy Meets World: Waiting for Topanga's Bra to Fall
Speculating among the stars- none too happy about what I see...

I've been an author for, oh, going on 11 years now... I've never seen anything strike me so hard in my gut as what I found out yesterday.

Let me explain, Yesterday I was alerted to a call to arms by a colleague of mine, fellow author, and social media guru Kristen Lamb in her post: A Culture Addicted to FREE—How FREE is Poisoning the Internet & Killing the Creatives.

Apparently a performer, Revolva, was approached by Oprah's team to perform at an event that they are charging up to $999 dollars per ticket. The kicker... Oprah's team wanted this performer to do her work- FOR FREE. Kristen has checked back in with this performer and although Revolva's post has received thousands of hits, nothing was ever said by Oprah's team. Wil Wheaton, a well known actor, was also approached by Huffington post who asked to repost his blog post on their site for free as well! Will commented on twitter: "If you write something that an editor thinks is worth being published, you are worth being paid for it. Period."

 I'd like to point out that it is not only hurting creatives but also the economy at large!

Think about it. Bookstores (who were once willing to host book signings) are now few and far between. So, in order to reach you, my audience, in person I must pay for my exposure. A lot goes in to being an author.

See that price on the back of the book, preferably above the bar code? If you are buying direct from the author- TWO THIRDS of that cost is money that pays for the printing and shipping of the book, as well as paying the illustrators and the editors! The other third (if the author is lucky) is profit. When you buy the book elsewhere a store like Amazon or Barnes and Noble- that third gets cut into a further half (IF the author is lucky).

By the time an author buys bookmarks or business cards and a table space from which to sell their books. That money is gone. Add in the gas and the hotel to come to the event, the author is now in the red.

BUT in this case at least the author is selling some books.

So they CAN make some of their money back.

 Not only that but the author's money is being funneled back into the economy through the event staff who will likely spend it elsewhere too. The author pays the hotel and the eateries so that helps the economy too.

PLUS If the author has been lucky enough to pay for all of this and STILL have money when they get home? Well then the economy benefits even more- someone's tuition gets paid, the light bill gets paid... Or... the author makes enough money to contribute a few bucks toward the jar saving up to get their roof fixed. (Exposure makes the whole family sick when it is 25 degrees outside and raining!) And now the economy thanks you because a general contractor can be paid too!

This is not always the case at events where you see creatives though. 

Free entertainment in trade for 'exposure' has become an epidemic!

Lately it has become commonplace for events to "hire" creatives to speak or perform at their events on the premise of exposure.  I didn't know this till recently but many of these large Sci Fi conventions do this. Consider many of the panels where you get to spend an hour listening to a creative talk about their job and answering your questions, unless the creative has a table where they are selling their stuff, that creative is there working for FREE with very little chance of making even their lunch money back for the day.

By the way, I don't see them charging an extra fee for those who want to participate in the gaming rooms- which is also entertainment!

Which leaves the author inevitably saying:
Indien: Mumbai
"Sure! I'll work for free! I'll just sell my wares out of my purse for the rest of the weekend."
Because THAT looks completely professional right?

Consider this... If I manage to make $4 in profit off of a book...when you already assume $200 in expenses for the cheapest hotel, gas, and food- I'd have to sell 50 copies in a weekend to break even! This is equivalent to spotting a rainbow- it doesn't happen every day! I've already had to turn down a few myself!

 Not all events treat artists like traveling salesmen either. I've been to some events that have just a small table fee for authors/illustrators who each get a 3 foot space. In return they request that you (the creative) speak at their panels which are pulled together for the benefit of their guests. Sure, you are working but you are also being treated as a professional and given the opportunity to make some money.

Consider what happens if your authors and artists realize they can't afford to show up to your event? Then your event will have dwindling amounts of entertainment, in which case your audience will slowly start to dwindle. What happens then? You will slowly die off... which in turn, further hurts the economy! 

On the flip side of that...

 I have also come across libraries holding book expos that PAY their author speakers. Why? Because you are doing that library and that event a service. You are providing their audience for a REASON to show up and hopefully spend money which in turn supports their event and the economy. KUDOS to you Birmingham Author Expo!

 Even if it is something small... 7$ an hour even! It is something!

HECK I can get paid minimum wage to sort through lose electronics wires and bits at my local Technical College under their work study program!

I submit that taking hours putting words to paper, having them professionally edited and illustrated, and then talking to an audience and allowing them to pick my brain for hours is much more emotionally and physically taxing then sorting electrical bits.

If someone small like a library event can afford to pay their speakers something than YOU CAN TOO (here's looking at you- international scifi conventions! )

The Solution:

Time= money... and all I'm saying is (for our bills sake), We creatives would love to be able to earn even just a little for the time we spend being entertaining!

Those of you who are sending your work out there for free (here's looking at you- amazon authors) all you are doing is shooting yourself in the foot and teaching MORE people that your work is worth so little that every creative SHOULD give their work away for free.


-Perhaps offer up a 'sampling', a free chapter or two from the middle of your book to those who sign up for your news letter? (Putting my actions where my mouth is... once I pull the file together I'll be offering this shortly! Stay tuned!)

-Please stop offering to trade your books with others- it doesn't look very professional unless the other person is already a good friend of yours. PLUS- every book that is given away for free eats into the funds required to buy the next shipment of books!

Conventions, events, trade shows..

-Please pause and consider how much your vendor would need to sell in order to make it worth their while - AS WELL AS what you need to be able to afford the space fee, before you set your table fees. (I'm not completely heartless, I know you need money to be able to run the show next year!

-Perhaps consider us paying you a percentage of sales instead?

Consumers- We are consumers too. We know how wary you are to pay top dollar for a performance by an unknown artists, or for a book by an unknown author. But before you give in to the disease that has become the dime store/ free epidemic... please consider asking any of us if we have a small sample that you could try for free before buying. We would be honored that you even asked!

With that in mind... sign up for my newsletter if you'd like a free sample of The Alien Mind! 


"If you enjoyed my writing, but can't buy a book, would you care to buy me a cup of coffee?"

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*Photo credit 1: Boy Meets Girl Meets Boy Meets World: Waiting for Topanga's Bra to Fall via photopin (license)

*Photo credit 2: Indien: Mumbai via photopin (license)