The Dream Land by Stephen Swartz

I’m taking a short break from the Heart Search Blog Tour posts to bring you something a little special. My good friend and colleague at Myrddin Publishing Group, Stephen Swartz, has just released his latest novel, The Dream Land, book one: Long Distance Voyager, and it’s so cool, I wanted to share it with you.

This great new novel is a genre mash-up. Predominantly Sci-fi, it also has elements of steampunk, psychological thriller, a bit of romance and a little humour. Here’s the blurb:

How far would you go to save the love of your life? Through a doorway to another world?

Sebastian, that quiet tax examiner at the corner desk in the IRS service center, carries a dark secret: once upon a time he and his high school sweetheart Gina found a rip in the universe and stepped through it to a strange world of magical beauty.  

Far from being a Disney-esque playground, the world of Ghoupallesz bursts with cosmopolitan elegance, alien perversions, and political strife. Gina, the adventurous one, falls in love with the adventurous possibilities. Not Sebastian; always practical, he insists they return to Earth. Gina refuses so he goes back alone, vowing never to return. Yet he finds himself drawn back repeatedly–he calls it “research”–and often crosses paths with Gina. Sometimes he saves her, sometimes she saves him, forever soul mates. 
 
Now years later, life on Earth hasn’t gone well for Sebastian. Then the headaches revisit him, with flashes of memories from Ghoupallesz. Gina is in trouble again, he senses, and he must, as always, save her. 

Meanwhile, a pair of too-curious IRS co-workers have accidently overdosed on the Elixir of Love he brought back on his last trip and the antidote exists only on Ghoupallesz. With these co-workers in tow, Sebastian returns through the interdimensional portal, fearing it may be his final adventure. He must gather his old comrades from the war, cross the towering Zet mountains, and free Gina from the Zetin warlord’s castle before her execution. Perhaps then she will stay with him.  
 
But are his adventures to the other side real? Or are they just the dreams of a psychotic killer? That’s what the police want to know when Sebastian returns without his co-workers.

THE DREAM LAND is a genre-mashing epic of interdimensional intrigue, alien romance, and world domination by a pair of nerdy sweethearts, spiced up with some police procedural and psychological thriller, then marbled with twisted humor, steampunk pathos, and time/space conundrums.

Sounds really cool and different, huh? I was really intrigued when I read that and wanted to learn more. I managed to twist Stephen’s arm a little and get him to agree to part with an excerpt for me to share with you and here it is:

“Sebastian had pulled on his adopted name, wore Set-d’Elous with confidence as he stepped out of the bushes and found himself somewhere in Lyas. He remembered Lyas was particularly dry on that spring afternoon when he escorted Gina through the curtain into the municipal park, set between blue Lake Zarmê and green Lake Orosz. The two of them slipped out and in two steps blended with several other couples passing by, admiring the flowers.

Regarding Gina, feeling her hand clasping his, he could not speak.

“What’s the matter with you?” she asked him.

“You’re young! Look at yourself. You’re not the age you were back in my apartment.”

“I’m a First-Class Voyager, I told you.” She laughed. “Someday I’ll teach you that trick. Or maybe not.”

She took his hand and led him through the park. The woman still looked older than him, evidence of her longevity on Ghoupallesz, but she had shed about twenty years during the passage through the tangent. He saw her more like the person he had rescued from the Zetin, the same girl he had kissed in high school. It was still Gina, no matter what appearance she had.

“The first thing I always do, no matter how much of a hurry I’m in,” she told him as they crossed the street to a news bulletin board, “is check the date. Then you’ll know how to act, and what to do.”

He stared at the paper tacked up, realizing the language had faded somewhat in his memory.

“My god! It’s 1472!” he cried.

“Relax.”

“B-b-but the year was 1455 when I returned for Zaura last time. That was seventeen years ago? I lost ten years with her the first time. Now I’ve lost seventeen more years?”

“I said relax.” She linked her arm in his. “You don’t have to stay. You’re just helping me come back, like the Eagle Scout you always were. See me over to my son’s wedding and you’re free to go.”

They walked along the avenue, catching stares from the people they passed, hearing them speaking English.

“But you’re not old now, Gina. Can’t you go by yourself? I don’t want to be here. There are too many bad memories for me.”

She shushed him, gave his hand a playful slap, pulled him along.

“Why don’t you indulge me this one afternoon,” she said. “Look around us. Here is a fine spring day, perfect weather, not a yellow cloud in the whole green sky. Are you looking? The trees are in full bloom, and—look at that stighal over there, the way its long pink petals droop all the way down to the ground. What’s that, about forty feet? You won’t see anything like that back on Earth. You see the beauty here? the harmony? Look at the lugê-feq with the big, orange roso on its branches. See the halêl flying over the roof of that townhouse? Why can’t you just relax and enjoy this day? If you leave here by tomorrow, you won’t have missed more than an hour of your precious Earth.”

He looked around as much as her impatient tugging would allow. She was ushering him quickly down the walk, certain that she would be late for the wedding. Everything was passing by him too quickly, and her words were like breezes, part of the environment.

“Here we are,” she announced, pulling up in front of the red stone House of Union.

A priest in the traditional yellow raelor robe stood outside and welcomed the people who were arriving. The priest seemed to recognize the flustered woman with the younger man on her arm. Inside, Set scanned the group of Ghoupalles—and he presumed they were scanning him, too. He sat beside Gina, the place of honor for the groom’s family. They were the only ones there, he saw. And the bride’s family was no where to be seen.

“Wait here,” she whispered to him. “I’m going to find my son.”

He waited, in that conspicuous seat at the front, closest to the wedding mat. Feeling curious stares sticking to his back, he realized he still wore his Earth clothes.”

This book is definitely on my ‘to-read’ list, not only because of the blurb and this excerpt, but also after reading the review featured on ‘Best In Fantasy’. It’s now available on Kindle – click the cover below to go to the Amazon page where you can read the first seven chapters in this epic tale FREE.

TheDreamLand-frontcover_small

Meet Stephen:

Stephen2006xStephen Swartz grew  up in Kansas City, Missouri where he dreamed of traveling the world. His  writing usually includes exotic locations, foreign characters, and smatterings
of other languages–strangers in strange lands. You get the idea: life imitating art. After studying music and composing a symphony, Stephen planned to be a music teacher before he decided to turn to a career in English and fiction writing. “I write first and foremost to entertain,” says Stephen, “and if readers
are able to escape into a fictional world I create, even for a short time, I smile long into the night!” Stephen now teaches English at a university in Oklahoma and continues to write fiction late at night.

THE DREAM LAND (December 2012) is an epic of interdimensional intrigue and world domination by a pair of well-meaning hedonists, marbled through with twisted humor and steampunk pathos, a patina of psychological thriller, and the quirky conundrums of time and space. Book I: Long Distance Voyager will be available December 2012 and Book II: Dreams of Future’s Past will be available in 2013. Book III: Diaspora is under
construction.

Blog: http://stephenswartz.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @StephenSwartz1

On Editing part 2

On Editing, part II; guest post by Carlie Cullen

For those of you who enjoyed the first part of my guest post for the fabulous Connie J Jasperson, you can now catch up with part 2.

If you want to pick my brains about editing/the editing process, please feel free to leave me a comment with your question in and I’ll be only too happy to answer it for you.

Now click on that link and enjoy!

WOW!!! Launch Day Surprises

Hi Everyone,

Launch Day for Heart Search: Lost was amazing!!! Not only did we have the scheduled posts for the Blog Tour, we had some unexpected ones too. I hope you all managed to catch at least 2 or more of the great posts made and got a chance to enter the Giveaway (you may notice I’ve now got it in my sidebar – click on it to take you to my publisher’s page to enter). If you missed any of the posts from yesterday, here are the links:

Review by Joy Keeney http://wp.me/pZnWx-3X

Excerpt at Maria V A Johnson’s site  http://wp.me/s2wsj4-hurray

Interview by Joan Hazel http://bit.ly/Q8cu3e

Excerpt at Laura Thomas’s site http://bit.ly/Oi3DxD

Guest post at JB Lacaden’s site http://bit.ly/R00oru

Announcement at Myrddin Publishing http://bit.ly/VJwuOm

Surprise post by Connie J Jasperson http://wp.me/p1pa44-lU

There’s plenty more lined up between now and the end of the month so keep checking in (each day’s posts will be advertised on Twitter and my Facebook page)! You can even buy Heart Search: Lost with a click from this site. Check the sidebar under the giveaway!

Thank you to everyone for your fantastic support yesterday and for making the day so special for me. Let’s keep the momentum going right until the last day ends. LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO . . .

carlie m a cullen @ wordpress !

 

YAY!!!! One Today!!!

I made my first post on WordPress exactly one year ago today! I called it ‘Gosh, This Is Scary’. I’d never had a blog before and really didn’t know what I was doing. What’s more, I was a little lacking in confidence that people would want to read anything I might blog about. Proved me wrong on that score, didn’t you? :-)

So today, even though we are so close to the Heart Search launch, I’m taking time out to celebrate and raise a glass of the best bubbly I can afford to each and every one of my followers (most especially to you as you are the people who gave me the confidence to continue and improve my content), to every person who has liked one of my posts, indeed to everyone who has taken the time out to read one of my posts.

Thank you all for making this first year so amazing and here’s to an ever better second year!!

Love Carlie x  <3

Changes

Hi everyone,

Things in my writing life are moving up a gear or three, not only with the launch of Heart Search: Lost and book 2, Heart Search: Found with a provisional launch date of Spring 2013, but also with editing. It’s something I have a skill for and as such, my previous clients have been recommending me so I’m now in demand for editing services as well.

With all this in mind and the fact I want to be able to do alot more with the site, you are going to see some major changes over the next few days.

Firstly, I’m going to convert this blog to a website, which will be carliemacullen.com. As I’m staying with WordPress, I’m reliably informed that all followers etc should automatically migrate to the new website. When the change has been completed, I will put out a test post to make sure you all get it. If you don’t get notification of a test post by the end of this week, then please refollow and I apologise in advance for any inconvenience this causes you.

You will also see a brand new layout.

I hope you’ll like the new additions as they are added to the site. If there is anything you’d particularly like to see, please let me know and I’ll try and accommodate it.

Thank you all for your ongoing support – it means a great deal to me.

Carlie

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

For me!

I’ve just been nominated for this awesome award by my fellow blogger and friend Laura Thomas, and I’m blown away by it – thank you so much, Laura!

If you don’t know Laura you can find her on her blog http://fuonlyknew.wordpress.com . Her blogs are always entertaining and fun!

I understand I’m supposed to nominate 7 bloggers and tell you 7 things about myself. this is going to be the hard part, but I’ll try and give you a chuckle or three.

1. I love watching Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing With The Stars in the US). Being a pro dance teacher, I love picking out faults and arguing with the judges, even though they can’t hear me.

2. When I was pregnant with my daughter I had three main cravings; white chocolate, lemon curd and hot cross buns. Guess what some of my daughter’s favourite things to eat are . . . yep, the three things I craved!

3. I read Tarot cards. I’ve had the ‘gift’ since I was a child, but didn’t realise what it was until my mum explained I come from a line of psychics (my grandmother was particularly strong). It’s only been the last year or so that I’ve properly started using my gift, having received training from my best friend who is a fabulous medium and teacher.

4. I hate ironing with a vengence and do as little as I can get away with. My mum used to iron everything, even underwear and it was a standing joke in our house that if you stood still too long, mum would either iron you, wash you or dust you!

5. I used to be in love with Patrick Swayze and it was my dream to dance with him (especially after I saw Dirty Dancing for the first time). When he died, I actually cried my eyes out. (I know it’s sad!)

6. I hate having grey hair and will go to any lengths to cover them up – not that I have very many but they’re right at the front in my fringe (I think you call them ‘bangs’ in the US) and stick out like the proverbial sore thumb! I don’t look my age and until recently I didn’t feel it so grey hair does NOT fit with the me I am and how I see myself. Usually I hide them subtly by having highlights of light blonde and bright red in my dark blonde hair but as my highlights had grown out and the grey was starting to show again, I decided to get one of these home colouring kits and have now gone a ruby red. This was quite a major step for me as I’ve never had an all-over colour change since I was about eighteen, &*?/^ years ago, but I’m happy to report it came out really well and I actually like it. It took a bit of getting used to though; I kept glancing in the mirror everytime I passed it to make sure it really was me! I’m past the narcissism now! Lol

7. I have quite a weird and wacky sense of humour. I use word-play in my humour, subtle remarks, and sometime sarcasm. I enjoy a good joke and love to laugh. It’s funny though, there are very few ‘comedians’ on the tv which really make me laugh.

Ok, now that I’ve revealed some of my inner self (some of it to my embarrassment) it’s now time for me to pass on the mantle.

My job now is to nominate 7 ladies who, in my opinion are worthy of this award. There are so many great bloggers out there so in some ways this is going to be a dificult choice. However, my first two nominees are easy to choose as their blogs are amazing, informative and entertaining. So without further ado,

My nominees are:

1. Alison DeLuca    http://alisondeluca.blogspot.com

2. Connie J Jasperson    http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

3. Christine Nolfi     http://www.christinenolfi.com/blog/

4. Brianna Lee McKenzie    http://briannaleemckenzie.blogspot.co.uk/

5. Rachel Tsoumbakos   http://racheltsoumbakos.blogspot.co.uk/

6. Kathleen Barker   http://kateinla51.blogspot.co.uk/

7. Danielle Raver     http://danielleraverauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

Good luck, Ladies, and congratulations!

Every Cloud . . .

Sometimes bad things happen to us in our lives and being human, tend to ask “why me?” and “what have I done to deserve this?” And I’m no different. However, it’s how we handle the situation that defines who we really are.

When tragedy of whatever scale strikes, we always think of ourselves first, and then the impact on our immediate family. Our first thought is never “Well, there’s always someone worse off than me!”

As some of you may know, I have a back condition. This is due to two accidents I had in 2005, one of which was a nasty car crash. However, after the initial recovery, I was able to continue with my daily life without it impacting too much. Extreme sports were out, but I wasn’t too bothered – I never fancied bungee- jumping anyway! Every now and again, my back would play up, but after treatment I was able to carry on again and didn’t think much of it . . . until twelve weeks ago.

Now, before you think, ‘aww she’s after sympathy’, let me assure you it’s the farthest thing from my mind. I’m not going to mention how much my back has deteriorated or the amount of pain I’m in – this isn’t what this post is all about. It’s about finding your silver lining in the black cloud that sometimes hovers above our heads.

When I was at school, I met a lovely girl called Theresa. She was a victim of Thalidomide and was born with no arms. I never once saw her without a smile on her face. She taught herself to write and paint with her feet. Her writing was more like calligraphy; it was beautiful and far beyond anything I could achieve even after loads of practice. Her paintings were stunning in their detail and use of colour and looking at them, you would never in a million years think they’d been painted by someone with no hands or arms. She turned her ‘disability’ into a positive – she found her silver lining.

If we look around us, every day we see small miracles where people have turned adversity into something amazing and positive for them and their families. You only have to think of the athletes taking part in the Paralympic Games in two months as prime examples.

So where do I fit into this? Twelve weeks ago, my back went ‘into meltdown’ as I’m calling it. None of my usual treatment was working, the pain began to increase significantly and now complications have set in which is preventing me from going to work and has reduced my mobility.

Not long after these problems began to escalate, I was asked by an author friend of mine, if I would line edit her latest novel. I agreed, but warned her it would take some time as I would need to fit it around the day job and my own writing. She was fine with this and duly sent over the first draft of her manuscript.

I made a start on it (she did warn me it was raw and needed quite a bit of work), but progress was slow. I was struggling to juggle my time between the editing, my writing, running a writing group and keeping up with my social media connections. So fate (or whatever you want to call it) intervened. The doctor signed me as ‘unfit for work’.

It may have been a bit of a double-edged sword, but I found the thread of my silver lining and, like a kite taken up by the wind, I’m not letting go! I now have the time to concentrate on the editing and have time left over for writing and everything else I need to do.

And yes, despite my worsening condition and the pain with goes with it, working on the editing and writing Heart Search 2, helps take my mind off my suffering and I’m coping with a smile on my face.

The old saying ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ is so true – you just need to open your eyes to look for it!