Showing posts with label action/adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label action/adventure. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"Vic: Mystery and Magic" by Jerry Gill

Vic: Mystery & Magic
(The Incredible Adventures of Vic Challenger Book 8)
by Jerry Gill

Vic: Mystery & Magic by Jerry Gill

Vic: Mystery & Magic is the eighth book in The Incredible Adventures of Vic Challenger series by Jerry Gill. The author stops by today to share a special guest post and an excerpt from the book. You can also enter our exclusive giveaway to win a copy of your own.

Learn what it's like to spend Christmas with Vic Challenger, Queen of New Pulp Adventure.
Vic and her friend Lin are invited to spend Christmas in Washington state. Their friend Evelyn is visiting family to help with a haunting. None of them believe in ghosts but something is going on. Also, hairy monsters were seen in the woods. Evelyn thinks Vic might be a big help with that. Things get complicated by the blizzard. The owner of the property Vic visits doesn’t want word to get out that strange beasts are there - hunters will overrun his land. Then there is that big hole in the ground and the unexpected visitor. While Vic deals with all that, Lin Li and Evelyn must read thousands of pages of old correspondence in Chinese to find the answer to the mystery of the ghost. Like all Vic Challenger novels, driven by action, and unpredictable adventure. You’ll never guess all that happens.
This turns out to be the most unusual Christmas Vic may ever have.

Series Video

Excerpt from Chapter 6 Unexpected Encounter
Suddenly there was the sound of snarls, very much like dogs or wolves fighting and what seemed a prolonged screech from a cougar. Howdy commented - Sounds like a zoo out there. Perhaps everyone else thought it was wolves, cougar and elk.  Vic knew better. At the sound, Vic recalled Teona’s story of a creature other than a Sasquatch which attacked her. It was the size of a man but hairy and looked very strong. That description along with the distant snarls gave Vic goose skin, and made the hair stand on her neck. 
Vic jumped up and bolted for the front of the home. She gave no explanation and didn’t stop for a coat. Near the front door there was a wood-box for fire logs, and earlier Vic noticed there was an ax in the box. That was the only point at which Vic even slowed, just to grab the ax. Then she set off full sprint toward the continuing sounds to the north.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Vic Challenger does it again! The suspense started literally 1/3 of the way through the book; and just like typical Vic Challenger novels, the ending leaves you speechless! The adventure is incredible. Jerry Gill is one my favorite authors.” ~ Jamaal Al-Din
“A fantastic adventure novel with cryptozoology themes and a strong emphasis on friendship. Vic’s personality shines in this book, and her daring, loyal, intelligent and compassionate nature are seen clearly as the book progresses. With not one, but two mysteries to solve, Vic and her friends boldly accept these challenges and also manage to overcome a few others along the way! I really enjoyed the way the author has cleverly interwoven other stories throughout the book, which are told through conversation about the history of a family and relatives long gone. If you’re looking for a bold new heroine and non-stop adventure, then Vic Challenger is your girl. This book also works as a stand-alone novel and a wonderful introduction to Vic and her friends, as well as a great addition to the Vic Challenger series.” ~ Rebecca Millar

Guest Post by the Author
Civilized Conversation
A Japanese Santa from 1918.
Know how any dinner gathering can sometimes get a little hostile? Someone badmouths something and someone else retaliates. Like if nephew Timmy loves rap music and aunt Dora dotes on Pavarotti and both vehemently believe their choice of music is best and the other sucks.
Want to avoid that kind of situation and keep Great Uncle Charlie from dominating the conversation with stories of his bees like he did last year and the year before that and…? Then you need to dominate the conversation. Speak up and make everyone think you are the smartest dudette or dude at the table. Don’t use jargon from your high-tech startup. That puts you in the same realm as Great Uncle Charlie. Don’t discuss those perennial no-nos - politics, religion, sex and maybe music. Maybe sports. Talk about something they are all interested in - Christmas!
For example, when that argument over music ensues, break in. What’s your fav Christmas song? Then keep it rolling with your favorite – “Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer”. Some Christmas carols have been around for centuries, but Rudolph is fairly new. Did you know the song came from a story published by the retailer Montgomery Wards in the 1930s? In 1939 the song was written by Johnny Marks. It really became famous in 1949 when it was recorded by the Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry. It was number 1 the week of Christmas and sold WAY over a million copies. That was a lot back then and we are not talking digital downloads. It was 45 rpm pressed vinyl in paper sleeves.
Next fav song? Must be “Frosty the Snowman”. That came out in 1950, again by Gene Autry first but a more popular version was by comedian Jimmy Durante on MGM records.
I’m not sure where the idea of a tree came from (if you know everything, you will come across as a “know-it-all”), but I read the traditional colors derived from what they called the Paradise Tree in Europe in the 11th century. White is for innocence, red is for the apple of knowledge and green for the fir tree. The tradition of a Christmas tree came to the US in the 1880s with German immigrants. It really took off when The Ladies Home Journal had a cover showing Queen Victoria with a tree.
Decorating with glass ornaments seems to also have come to the US from Germany. The earliest account of ornaments on a tree in a home was in Germany in 1605. In the early 1900s, F. W. Woolworth began importing them to sell in his Five and Dime Stores. That tradition has grown but, for decades, people decorated the “old-fashioned” way. Different things were strung together to create garlands for the tress - like popcorn, nuts, fruit, cowbells, and tin can lids. Cookies and cakes were set on the limbs. Presents were also put on the tree. They didn’t get, nor expect, a laundry list of gifts back then. One gift of any kind was cause for celebration. One tradition that is still carried on and promoted in schools is paper ring garlands; colored paper (or any) is cut in small strips which are glued together in rings. Bet you did that!
Lighting trees with electric lights didn’t become popular in the US Until after World War 2. In the 1920s, when Vic Challenger novels take place, most people used candles or didn’t light the tree. Especially outside of cities, many people still didn’t have electricity. Early homes didn’t have wall sockets, either. There was a thing called the light fixture socket. It screwed in before the light bulb and the bulb screwed into it. It was equipped with a plug for electrical equipment. An associate of Thomas Edison is credited with the first electric lighted tree in 1882. The first electric lighted Christmas tree at the White House was in 1895 by President Grover Cleveland. In the early years of the 20th Century, many well-to-do people would have lighting parties. The cost for a lighted tree would run around $300. That was their money. Today it would translate to $2,000 plus. Part of the cost was purchase or rental of a generator and services of a wireman.
A vintage candle clip for the Christmas tree. You can find plenty on eBay.
Many lighted the tree with candles, like in Vic: Mystery & Magic, but it wasn’t as dangerous as it sounds. Most often the tree was fresh and decorated as a family event on Christmas Eve and taken down the next day. Some people did it a little different. Adults would set up the tree behind closed doors. Then, on Christmas Eve, the children were allowed to see it and collect their gift.
Germany gifted us with great Christmas traditions, but we have given, too. In 1917, because of import restrictions here in the US related to The Great War (World War 1), an enterprising man named Louis Szel went to Japan to start the industry there and teach the technique to laborers. Great marketing gave Japan something else. Did you know a favorite Christmas meal in Japan is a bucket of chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken?
Sounds odd, but here is something more unusual. In Greenland, a traditional Christmas treat is Kiviak. First step - Begin six months before Christmas. Step 2 - Kill a bunch of auks (birds). Step three - Sew them into a seal skin, with feathers and all. Step 4 - Wait until Christmas. Step 5 - Open the skin and enjoy the fermented treat!
1902 - This must be Santa getting his wishes.
There is another custom less than cheery in Iceland. They have something like the Bogey Man. It’s the Yule Cat. At Christmas season, he looks for boys and girls who haven’t worked hard enough and eats them.
Of course, there are more happy traditions than not. One I liked was from the Ukraine. They use fake spider webs to decorate trees for good luck. The tale goes that once a very poor family went to bed Christmas Eve, very unhappy, crying and lamenting they were too poor to even decorate the tree. There just so happened to be some kindly spiders in their house who overheard the people. During the night the spiders decorated the tree with webs and in the morning the webs turned to gold and silver thread and the family lived happily - and rich - ever after.
There are many stories of things done by many people which contributed to Santa Claus today. Two of the larger events went like this. In 1822, an Episcopal minister, Clement Clarke Moore wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters titled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas”. His description was pretty much our description today. Santa is a magical, jolly, and rotund elf who magically can get into any chimney. He rides a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer and leaves gifts for deserving children. In 1881, Thomas Nash, cartoonist, drew a cartoon based on Moore’s poem. It appeared in Harper’s Weekly and has stayed with us. By the way, the Montgomery Ward copywriter (ad writer) who wrote “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” used a rhythm pattern like the Reverend Moore (by then his poem was known as “'Twas the Night Before Christmas”).
Now, wouldn’t that make for a happier conversation than politics, religions, sex… or sports, even? Of course, the cherry on top will be wishing people merry Christmas in different languages. Below is a list of how to say Merry Christmas in languages of places visited by Vic Challenger in the first 8 novels or where she will visit soon. These were taken from several different websites and all sites did not agree. My apologies if something is wrong.
African Somali: Kirismas Wacan
Swahili: Noeli Njema
Uganda: Webale Krismasi
Yucatec Maya” Ki'imak "navidad"
Spanish: Feliz Navidad
Vic: Mongol, Book 2:
Chinese Mandarin: Sheng Dan Kuai Le (诞快乐)
Cantonese: Seng Dan Fai Lok (聖誕快樂)
Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka
Japanese: Meri Kurisumasu (or Meri Kuri for short!)
Mongolian: Zul saryn bolon shine ony mend devshuulye Зул сарын мэнд бас шинэ жилийн мэнд
Scotland Scots: Blithe Yule
Gaelic: Nollaig Chridheil
Arizona Dine’ or Navajo Nizhonigo Keshmish
Brazil: Feliz Natal or
Portuguese: Boas Festas
Vic: Fast, Book 5:
Australia I couldn’t find Merry Christmas in any aboriginal languages. Know one? I did attach a video below about how one aboriginal tribe celebrates Christmas. Just 4 minutes and well worth the time. Finland has similar celebrations. Here’s the Oz English version: Happy Christmas, Mate!
Vic: Event, Book 6:
Russian: Schastlivogo Rozhdestva! or rozhdyestvom Hristovym! which means “Congratulations on the birth of Christ!”
Evenki: sévden krɪsməs
Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri: Merry Christmas, neighbor!
Washington State, Vic first language, original language of uprights, aka Sasquatch speak: Oo oo guth wah (with eyes wide, and follow with nods and clacking teeth together)
Some coming:
Malagasy: Tratra ny Noely or Arahaba tratry ny Krismasy
French: Joyeux Noël
Icelandic: Gleðileg Jól
Hindi: Śubh krisamas
Bengali: Shubho bôodin
One more thing. Praise the cook and the meal. No matter what or who. Even that thing you don’t recognize, wrapped in something else you don’t recognize; eat one and if nothing else say with gusto, “Wow! I’ve never tasted anything quite like that!”
I have never known a mom, grandma, or any woman who doesn’t enjoy preparing a special meal for Christmas. They wouldn’t want to do it every day or even every month, but that one very special time, they enjoy it and strive to make it special. Don’t insult them by suggesting instant mashed potatoes or a turkey from a restaurant or dressing made in a sauce pan. I know some who would kick you … where you don’t want to be kicked for even the suggestion.
Don’t downgrade Christmas by subjecting it to neat time management techniques. It isn’t about doing it faster but about savoring the occasion, reflecting, being thankful, sharing. If someone celebrates Christmas differently, don’t knock it. If you are an atheist or other non-Christian, but like Christmas, remember what it is meant to celebrate; when you see a manger scene at a local church don’t think something bad, just remember how much you like Christmas. And people of faith - if atheists or others say or do something you disagree with, ignore it, turn the other cheek and remember what Christmas means to you and live the spirit.
That’s it for this month. Merry Christmas and may you feel a Christmas-like joy every day!
You can find a good place for Santa images here or some neat gifs of old-time stereoscope images here.

About the Author
Jerry Gill
I have written/edited/published for years but it was non-fiction, especially directories. The government decided to do some things that impacted my products, and spent years postponing proposed changes. My customer base was pretty much decimated. Oh well ... life.
Wake up! When I was 10 or 12, I read The Eternal Savage by Edgar Rice Burroughs (in two parts, 1914 and 1917). I immediately went looking for a sequel. There never was one. I re-read the book a few times and in 2013 decided I'd do the sequel myself. I re-wrote the beginning, sequel (#2), then #3, #4 as of February 2015. It will require 4-5 more at least to use the scenes already in my head.
Why Vic instead of a Victor? I have four fantastic hanai nieces. Women have it better now than once upon a time, but still people don't give them deserved credit. I wanted to create a character that wasn't a vampire or super hero, just the girl next door but with a goal and unwilling to let anything stop her. Vic remembers when life was stupendously savage, when actions we might today equate with extreme bravery were just daily life. Vic's motto: You don't need to be brave, you just need to do what needs done.
Obviously, a great influence is Edgar Rice Burroughs. I liked all his work but especially his less celebrated books. I read most Tarzan books but preferred stories like The Eternal Savage, Pellucidar novels, The Moon Trilogy, Beyond Thirty, The Land of Hidden Men, The Oakdale Affair, the Time Forgot books, and so on.
Edgar Rice Burroughs was not my only influence, though. I remember trying to read a Hardy Boys book and never finished one. Tried Nancy Drew and loved it. One part of the formula for Nancy books is inclusion of real facts. For example, I recently re-read TheMystery at the Moss Covered Mansion and it had a fantastic description of visiting the Kennedy Space Center before a launch in the 60s. I try to include real facts without making it a travelogue. And although there is a sci-fi component to the books (and will continue to be) I want Vic to always do things that are possible. Often, they are far from easy, and definitely not recommended as many of her actions are very dangerous - but always possible. On the website under Resource Hub I give all the places where I dug up info for the books.
Nancy Drew and Edgar Rice Burroughs had influential helpers. All those writers who contributed as Kenneth Robeson to Doc Savage and The Avenger were great influences. I read both series. I figure if my writing can bring readers even a tiny fraction of the pleasure I was given by those writers of yesteryear, it's worth anything I put into it.
Lots of information about Vic and the books are on the website. References are listed, non-English vocabulary used in the books, discussion questions for book clubs, reviews, excerpts, trailers and more.
Each novel has its own board on Pinterest. You can follow me and Vic on Twitter if interested. I spend about an hour per day on Twitter. Twice I read through the most recent 100 tweets. I usually retweet several on many topics. It's not just Vic stuff. I follow back 99% of the time. I send thank you tweets to new followers. I send about 5-10 tweets myself. Some are quotes from Vic or others. Some are about coming books. Some are review quotes. Some are none of the above.
A fan set up a Vic fan group on Facebook. It would be great if you joined. No cost, no work. If you ever want to talk about a Vic book or related, you have a place to go. I have nothing to do with the group (I think it would be tacky to join a group for my own character), but I will try to always give advance notice of the next book and such, discounts and that sort of thing. Nothing to lose, maybe something to gain.
Finally, a request to share. I'm told reviews help. Amazon uses them to determine what customers see when they search. When you read a Vic novel, please write a review. Long, short, whatever. Post it on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, Barnes and Noble, your own blog, anywhere! And tell people on social media and face to face. Surprising how many lovers of action/adventure are in the closet. If they are not interested, that's that. If they are ... imagine how happy they will be that you introduced them to Vic Challenger!
I still do some nonfiction, but Vic Challenger is more fun!
Thanks for your interest! Happy reading!

Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of Vic: Mystery & Magic by Jerry Gill (epub format).


Monday, December 3, 2018

"Queen of Black Sails" by P. J. Daniels

Queen of Black Sails
by P. J. Daniels

Queen of Black Sails by P. J. Daniels

Author P. J. Daniels stops by today to share an excerpt from his new novel, Queen of Black Sails.

Sarah Chartimands is a captain in a magic world. Her ship: The Lady Flotsam. Her crew: pirates. After rescuing an old friend and mentor, Sarah sets out for the haul of a lifetime: the King's gold. However, when not all goes according to plan, she finds herself on the run, outnumbered, and questioning her reality; all in a city trying to kill her. This adventure is loaded to the brim with guns, swords and spells. Can Sarah salvage a botched plan? More importantly, will she find a way out, alive?

Chapter One
Visibility was low. It wasn’t just the darkness of night that impeded sight, it was also the fog. A thick blanket wrapped the Hawesford, a large privateer ship with unmarked, white, sails. It was a ship built to intimidate, with a dozen cannons on the sides alone. The crew was well organized and usually reacted well to surprises, considering their line of work. The wind was low, so forward motion was minimal. The waves moved enough to lap loudly against the wood that separated the crew from the sea. They hadn’t been to sea for long before the winds died down and the fog set in. They spent the daylight hours moving slow; trying not to get turned around so close to land, lest they run ashore.
The captain stood behind the helmsman, overseeing the deck below. He was a tall man, with broad shoulders and thick arms. He wore a long black coat that hung over a white shirt that looked too tight for his massive chest muscles. He had pants that matched his coat in colour and in style. His long grey hair was tied in a single strand at the back of his head, which was topped with a black captain's cap. His eyes traveled over the ship, and back out to the fog. He had many eyes watching for danger, but he was not the sort to leave everything to his crew. He preferred to be more involved.
A multitude of oil lamps moved about the ship, guiding the crew at least a little in the low light. The fog was so thick that parts of the ship were not visible to the captain, so he was relying on steady messages passed along from crew further down.
Motion caught the captain’s eye, and he followed it to the sails. Something small and bright had moved near the large central sail, and it only took a moment for him to realize what it was: a flaming arrow. The sail lit up like a bonfire; much to the surprise, and horror, of the crew.
‘The sails were wet!’ Was the first thought the captain had upon seeing his sails catch fire. His second thought was spoken, loudly.
“Detach that sail before the others catch!” He bellowed.
White shirts surged in unison, cutting ropes as fast as they could while others fetched buckets of water to douse the flames.
A third thought spoke inside the captain’s head. ‘Where had the arrow come from?’
He turned to the sea as the fog parted, revealing another ship at spitting distance. It was a small vessel, from what he could see, about half the size of the Hawesford. That wouldn’t make a difference at this range. He’d been taken by surprise. He didn’t have time to load his many cannons. This wasn’t going to be a navel battle. He looked up at the smaller ship's black sails; he was being boarded. He didn’t have time for any complex orders, He needed to defend his ship.
“Pirates!” He shouted.
The crew stopped what they were doing, but any that were close to the side had little time to react to the wave of blades and bodies that made their way onto the ship. Clad in black they flowed over his men below him, not even letting them draw their swords to defend themselves.
The captain and helmsman drew their swords and entered the fray, as the initial surprise wore off. The crew that were below deck rushed up wooden steps toward the attackers. They battled below burning sails. The privateers had the advantage of numbers, regardless of the initial surprise.
The captain’s confidence in his advantage began to wane when the pirates pushed forward, hard. He couldn’t believe it. Despite being outnumbered ten to one, they were pushing forward steadily. The deck was large, so if they kept pushing toward the center, they would end up being surrounded.
‘This tactic is foolish.’ He thought. ‘Or am I missing something?’
The battle slowed to a stop once they were surrounded, about a dozen pirates formed a circle in the center, back to back. The captain had to admit, these were skilled combatants. Only a few of their own had fallen by this point, but many white shirts lay bleeding and motionless. Taking a closer look at them, the captain could see steel and fire in their eyes; not literally, but he imagined it. These were hardened men. These were killers, plain and simple. They had fought for survival at sea for all their lives, doing what was necessary. They had each reached the pivotal point of killing for their own survival, and had become harder because of it. They didn’t enjoy the death they brought, but they saw the necessity. These were men that were broken, but rebuilt as iron statues, with swords in hand; automatons, built for war and death.
‘But who commanded them?’ He thought. ‘Where was their captain?’
From both sides of the ship came gunfire. While they had concentrated on the dozen or so pirates on the deck, the remainder of their crew had climbed along the edge of the ship to take up shooting positions. At the perfect moment, they all rose, and cut the white shirts to pieces with fire and lead from their pistols. They died so fast, they may as well have been lined up for execution. The few moments they had, to decide which target to attack, was wasted. They were too far away to strike at the attackers on the sides of the ship, but they were not currently coordinated enough to strike at the dozen in the center circle. So, they died in their confusion, leaving piles of white and red on the dark wood of the deck. The captain didn’t fair any better than his crew. He took a shot to the chest before he could draw his own pistol. He fell to his knees, shock taking all control of his muscles. Before he closed his eyes for the last time, he noted two things: first, a woman stood on the edge of the ship, pistol in hand, with hair as green as seaweed; second, his sails had burned completely black.

About the Author
P. J. Daniels
Born in Pembroke Ontario, raised in neighbouring city Cobden. I've enjoyed creating written worlds since I could read. My favourite project in school was when we got to write a story. I can spend hours talking about new ideas with like-minded writers.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

"Eden Arcadia Gradation Vol.1" by Benjamin J. Guerrero

Eden Arcadia Gradation Vol.1
by Benjamin J. Guerrero

Eden Arcadia Gradation Vol.1 by Benjamin J. Guerrero

Benjamin J. Guerrero stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt from Eden Arcadia Gradation Vol.1. Also available: Eden Arcadia Gradation: Chronicles and Eden Arcadia Gradation: Guide Works Part I.

Eden Arcadia Gradation: Chronicles by Benjamin J. GuerreroEden Arcadia Gradation: Guide Works Part I by Benjamin J. Guerrero

Eden Arcadia Gradation is about a young man named Crimzon Zerosaber and his adventures through many conflicts and issues throughout his life. He is guided by his love interest (and eventual wife) Cyan Copia and the rest of his team and family members as they battle monsters and villains with the help of guest characters.

Chapter 1
Slow days in Echo Creek were usually tolerable in their wealth of opportunity and pleasant weather, a perfect climate for relaxation under the clouds in the park or simply hanging out with friends and doing nothing of particular note. Slow days were an inevitability of life, but with a friend like Star Butterfly around, slow days were a different kind of day; namely, a day some monster doesn’t try to steal your face or a spell doesn’t turn your couch into tofu.
Unfortunately, this slow day was lacking in the usual luxuries that made them so nice here in Echo Creek. The sun bore down like the angry eye of some cosmic cyclops, the sidewalk hot enough to cook an egg. It wasn’t unheard of for heat waves to roll through the area, but it had been such a pleasant temperature the day before it came through, and in good faith, Star had invited some friends over to spend time with her out on the town today. What better time to have friends over from another dimension?
The sidewalk clicked under the feet of five individuals, but only one of them could claim them all to be good friends with them. Star smiled confidently as she walked between all her friends, humming to herself to mask her discomfort at the heat bearing down on them. Sure, this wasn’t exactly her or Marco’s idea of good weather for wandering about, but this was her friends’ first trip to Earth; they needed to just play it straight and think cool thoughts.
Zerosaber, the one boy among this group of new visitors to Earth, found it odd Star was humming in the manner she was, sweat dripping down her face. Still, it was nice to see the princess again, it’d been a good while since they had all been available to visit her, especially with his transfer to this dimension. His eyes which watched Star closely were hidden behind the visor he wore, armor glinting in the sunlight, though the glare was cut significantly by his wings, which seemed solid enough to block the heat despite seemingly being made of light, a fact quite fortunate to his friends suffering in the sun. Copia, the blonde beside him and behind Marco, walked with a shy smile on her face, her own wings spread to aid Zerosaber in shielding the human and mewman. Zartria, on Zerosaber’s other side, also had her wings spread; she wouldn’t get to have nearly so much fun if her friends had heat-stroke.
The five teens walked in the shadow of the winged members’ wingspans, the shade not offering much respite but conserving their energy just enough that they might soon find something to cool off with before they sweat themselves to exhaustion – at least, before Star, Marco, and the other girls did, Zerosaber seemed to be doing fine. Not much seemed to bother him, though he was more than willing to help out his friends with this problem, especially Star.
The people of Echo Creek, at least those not still inside in an attempt to escape the heat, all stood transfixed in a mixture of awe and fear of the winged people, backing away as Star’s group trailed down the sidewalk. Star took point, looking like an enthusiastic leader if there ever was one, although the sweat dripping from her face made it obvious she was leading simply to stand in the shadow of Zerosaber, which stretched the furthest of the three.
“Ugh, the people here are so boring.” Zartria mumbled, crossing her arms, wings flapping impatiently. “I thought there’d be monsters wherever you got sent, Star.” She looked at the other fellow blonde, pouting as she looked around at the citizens flinching away from her gaze. Must be the wings and the helmet. Magical princesses from another dimension, some can handle, but light-wings and futuristic armor?
“They’re not boring, Zartria!” Star insisted, glancing to Marco and then to the people shying away from her now that she had what appeared to be an entourage of futuristic winged androids. They weren’t entirely wrong, sure, but her friends wouldn’t hurt a fly. Well, a non- dangerous fly. “They’re just...not used to seeing people with wings. And they tend to shy away from monsters-”
“So boring?” Zartria giggled to herself, smiling apologetically when Star squinted at her, pouting.
After nearly half an hour of walking in the blistering heat, it seemed fate had finally smiled on them, Star’s eye’s lighting up as she caught the all-too-familiar glint of an ice cream scoop, clutched in the hands of a vendor who leaned on his cart like the heat didn’t even touch him – being next to a freezer might do that. “ICE CREAM, MARCO.” She gasped, breaking into a sprint toward the cart, only to slow to a trudge now that she was under the sun’s harsh rays. The others caught up with her, offering her a moment to regain her wits.
“Star, are you okay?” Zerosaber asked, a hand on her shoulder, keeping her steady in case she was about to fall over from the exertion she’d put herself through. He frowned at how red Star’s face was, Copia and Zartria looking more than worried for their friend.
“Star, didja fry your brain or something?” Zartria poked Star’s forehead, squeaking when Zero grabbed her arm and pulled it away, staring her down sternly. “Alright, fine, I won’t poke her.” She gave a big huff. “Sorry, Mr. Stick-in-the-Mud.”
Marco frowned hard as she saw Star stare woozily at all of them, still not fully in grasp of her faculties. “Don’t worry, Star, we’ll get you that ice cream and we can all rela-” As he turned to face the ice cream cart, his face paled, eyes going wide, jaw dropping as a stunned sound escaped his throat.
The vendor was no longer standing beside his cart. In fact, he was no longer on the ground at all, now hanging eight feet in the air, legs squirming desperately before he was knocked back into the throat of a monster. Looming over them on its back legs, the monster looked like a giant turtle, its head like a dragon’s, though its eyes narrowed at them atop free-roaming stalks.
Lowering down onto all fours, the turtle cackled, slick tongue running along its lips. “Gigigigiii,” its piercing laugh erupted, “looks like there’s even more snacks to help me cool off!” It took a step toward them, drool dripping onto the pavement only to rapidly evaporate.
“Star, monster!” Zartria was on alert, pulling out what looked like the grip of a sword, a blade made of light shooting out from it, glowing the same color as her wings.
“You have a laser sword!?” Marco gasped, looking at it like he’d just walked into a sci-fi movie. “That is so co-” The turtle’s head whipped out and hit him in the gut, knocking him a few feet away, landing on his back. Star was still in a daze as her friends ran around her to throw themselves at the giant turtle, Copia clutching a staff, Zero swinging his own sword, Marco getting back up and trying to find a means to punch it, though its head kept bobbing out of the way on its rubbery, snake-like neck.
“What..?” Star rubbed her eyes, the world a blur as she saw her friends whirling around her, getting batted away by the monster only to charge again. The beast just snickered and knocked them away without fail, to which end Zero finally darted around it to flank, only to freeze in shock, disgust spreading on his face as he saw the face of the vendor looking back at him.
“Hey.” The vendor’s face mumbled, looking around, adhered to the shell as if he were part of it. “Uhh, you want ice cream?”
“So hot..” Another face on the turtle’s shell groaned, sweating profusely, the drops of sweat dripping into the cracks of the shell, steam puffing out. Zero took a step back, eyes wide when he saw the beast look back at him, cackling like a banshee before its head lunged at the dazed princess.
Almost like lightning, Zerosaber tackled Star out of the way, the monster’s head smashing into the shop window behind where she stood. Holding her close, he sat her down in the shade. “Stay here.” It was an order, not a request. With a pat on her shoulder, he went back to the fight, sword sparking harmlessly against the turtle’s armor-like shell, his strikes calculated to not hit the faces on its back. “Copia, Zartria, there are humans stuck in its back!”
“Ew!” Zartria flew over it when it tried to rush her, smashing into a deli. It rose back to its feet after a moment, head covered in link sausages, which it slurped up without much thought, its back to Zartria, the faces all over it groaning as if they also felt the pain of flying through the window.
“You’ll regret that!” The monster growled before rushing again, Zartria rolling out of the way for it to only hit a streetlamp, bending it out of shape. Snarling, its head whipped out to bite her, catching on her armor, beak-like mouth trying hard to crack through. Thankfully, her armor held firm, straining but not breaking under the pressure. Relieved, Zartria grabbed its head, trying to keep it from pulling away.
“Copia, knock some sense into this guy!”
Copia nodded and ran toward Zatria and the monster, holding her staff overhead. With a cute cry, she swung it down, proceeding to repeatedly strike the turtle over the head with it, a resounding thwack coming each time. The monster seemed displeased at best, thrashing, the faces on its back groaning like they had motion sickness. While they kept the monster busy, Marco glanced over the ice cream cart, then to Star. A lightbulb clicked in his head.
“Hey, Mr. Vendor Guy, I’m gonna take a popsicle!” Marco rushed to the cart, pulling the frozen treat from its freezer. It felt soothing just to hold it, though juice was already dripping from it – boy, it really was hot.
“Don’t sweat it dude, it’s free popsicle day!” The vendor’s face yelled out before groaning again from the monster’s thrashing.
Running to Star, Marco frantically unwrapped the popsicle, biting the inside of his cheek and hoping his plan would work. Hesitantly, he prodded the frozen bar to Star’s lips. She flinched, eyes opening further, looking at the popsicle at her lips. Suddenly, she grabbed it from Marco’s hand and bit half the bar off in one go. For a second, she looked fit as a fiddle. Then, she grasped her head and groaned, shaking lightly.
“Ngh, brainfreeze..”
“C’mon, Star, focus!” Marco shook her, pointing to the turtle still being beaten by Copia, Zerosaber helping Zartria hold its head steady. “We’re gonna need a spell or something, this guy’s tough, and those people have to be sweating to death on his back!”
“You’d think with a shell like that,” Star rubbed her temples, “he’d be dying in this...heat..” She watched the steam coming from the grooves of its shells, evaporating from the sweat of his victims. She blinked, looking at her wand, trying to think up a plan as her brainfreeze cleared. “Marco.” She looked to her friend. “He’s using the people he eats to stay cool by making them sweat on him, right?”
“Gross, but true.” Marco nodded, raising an eyebrow.
“Well, he doesn’t have a face on his belly.” She pointed out, seeing glimpse of his underbelly through his thrashing. Marco looked as well, nodding when he saw what Star was getting at. “If you were to get him upside down, he’d be just as hot as we are.”
“Need help flipping him?” Marco looked ready to throw down with the overgrown turtle again.
“No, Marco,” She brushed off her wand, “I got this one.” Taking a few steps forward, she started to twirl, arms flowing like water as she worked through the steps of a spell in silence, trying not the alert the turtle until she was ready to cast. Finally, she halted, her stance open but grounded so her spell wouldn’t knock her back. “Get back, everybody! People on the shell, hold on!” She ordered, smirking as her friends pulled back, the monster turning to face her, snarling loudly. After a moment, steam billowed from its nostrils, and it rushed at Star, mouth open.
“Get over here, you little sna-”
Star eyes narrowed, wand glowing. “SUMMER SUN PUNCH BLAST!”
A fist made of burning light rocketed from her wand, catching the turtle with an uppercut to the base of its throat that made it lift onto its back legs, front legs scrambling to regain its balance, its efforts all for naught. The giant turtle fell onto its back with a thud, rocking side to side to try and right itself. Nothing was working. Slowly, its scrambling slowed, eyes going half- lidded as the sun bored down on its exposed belly, a pained groan escaping its maw.
“Please, don’t let me cook like this..” It wheezed, looking at Star, eyes pleading for mercy. “I can’t survive in this heat..”
Star frowned, a groan finally coming from her as she pulled her dimensional scissors out of her pocket, pulling open a portal. “You were probably banished from Mewni, weren’t you? Spit those people out and you can go home.”
The monster seemed to be debating it, as if he had room to bargain. Seeing no other option than the roast in the sun, no doubt, he began to cough, snakelike neck bulging before he spat up the ice cream vendor, covered in drool. Slowly, more came, the turtle shrinking with each person he coughed up until he was the size of a large dog. With his new size, he rolled himself onto his feet and scurried into the portal, afraid of further punishment from the princess or the blazing sun above. Hopefully, the weather would be better in Mewni.
Closing the portal with a sigh, Star looked to her friends. Zartria was looking over the scuffs in her armor, frowning and cursing under her breath. Zerosaber and Copia just looked glad she was okay, though Copia was the only one hugging her. Zerosaber came over to Star, smiling lightly, putting his sword way. “Good job with that monster.”
“It was nothing.” Star shrugged, glancing around before leaning in and pecking his cheek. “Thank you for saving me while I was still all loopy.” She giggled quietly, looking at her feet, color flushing into her cheeks, the heart-shaped marks on them beating lightly.
He nodded, his smile just a little wider, stepping aside when Copia ran past to hug Star tight. “Star, you were amazing!” She beamed up at her, green eyes glinting with admiration. It was no secret that Copia looked up to Star, but she looked like she was hugging her hero as she bounced on her feet, wings flapping excitedly. When she let go of Star, she moved right on to Marco, hugging him as tight as she could manage. As she pressed close, Star could see her cheeks flushing, as were Marco’s, who stood in surrender to Copia’s hug, arms limp at his side.
Slowly, the ice cream vendor rose to his feet, the sausage link the turtle had slurped up earlier around him like a necklace. “Uhhh, I think I died, but,” he took the link off him and
gently let it drop into a trashcan, “thanks?” He looked to the ice cream cart. “I’m...honestly, kids, just take what you want.”
Marco gasped and ran to the cart, pulling out whatever treat he could hold, pausing when he looked up at the sun still bearing down on them all. “Great, but how are we going to get these home before they melt?”
“Why go home?” Star smiled, sitting down and grabbing a popsicle from Marco, smiling as the others took a treat of their own after a moment, sitting beside her.
Looking at the ice cream in his hands, Marco sighed and sat beside Copia, smiling as they five friends sat on the curb and ate ice cream while a group of slime-covered citizens dispersed to go home.

Interview With the Author
Benjamin Guerrero joins me today to discuss his new book, Eden Arcadia Gradation Vol.1.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
I would recommend it for people ages 17 and up due to how dark the story gets as you read it.
What sparked the idea for this book?
A friend of mine one day told me I should start my own project, and that was when Eden Arcadia Gradation was conceived slowly.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
I believe the character’s story comes first because there is so much you can do with it before making and publishing a book.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The hardest part was making sure how the chapters were going to turn out after the previous one.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I hope people will like it and become fans of it although I’m quite nervous as to how people might approach me with it.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me a year and a half, though I had help from another friend who is also a writer and has been teaching me and working with me through the process.
What is your writing routine?
I usually have time for it when I have free time or I’m not working.
How did you get your book published?
I published the book through Amazon’s services.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Believe in yourself and hope will come around the corner.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to go places, travel, and have fun.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family are happy and proud of this.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was just a child with problems around me, but I believe my idols were there to comfort me.
Did you like to read when you were a child?
Not really, but my brother encouraged me to read, so it paid off.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I took my brother’s advice.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Yes, in a lot of ways. Most of the story that goes on in my book is based on my childhood and current adulthood.
Do you hear from your readers much?
Not really, but I wish. It would mean a lot to hear something from them.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I am making Vol.2 right now and something else. So, yeah, you’ll be hearing from me soon.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Benjamin. Best of luck with your future projects.