Guest Post: Magic and Science

Today on A Few Words, Becca C. Smith, author of Riser speaks about two things I love: magic and science. Welcome to the blog, Becca!

Magic and Science
by Becca C. Smith

Magic and Science…

Can a book have both? At first I didn’t think so. In my teen fiction book Riser it started out as strictly science fiction, but the more I created the dystopian future, the more I realized that a combination of magic and science was exactly the right formula.

On one hand there’s Age-pro, a drug that stops the aging process. And since Riser takes place in 2320 and Age-pro was invented in 2020, there are people that are over three hundred years old and still look twenty. That’s the science aspect.

Then there’s my main character, Chelsan, who has an innate power to control the dead. She wasn’t born with this gift. It was accidently given to her when her father sacrificed himself to save Chelsan and her mother in a black magic ritual. That’s the magic aspect.

I found that combining science fiction with rituals and magic ended up being the perfect combination. It gave me so much more freedom to play and experiment with ideas and concepts that would have been limited if I had only picked one.

The research alone was as fun as writing the book itself. It wasn’t just the research in science that was exciting. It was actually the research of Vodun and VooDoo that were the most interesting. There are a lot of spells and rituals that people perform today including one to raise the dead.

Magic and science, though they appear to be opposites, actually fit together in a way that made writing Riser an amazing experience. It gave me great material to create an action-packed story in a messed up world.


About the Author

Becca C Smith received her Film degree from Full Sail University and has worked in the Film and Television industry for most of her adult life.

Becca is the author of the teen horror/sci-fi novel, Riser. She is also the co-author of the teen graphic novel Ghost Whisperer: The Haunted and also wrote and illustrated Little Family Secrets, a graphic novel based on the true story of her great aunt who was famous for murdering her husband.

She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and two cats Jack and Duke.

Find Becca C. Smith online at:

Or get your copy of Riser on Amazon!


Guest Post: Yearning Holds the Atoms Together

by Devin O’Branagan

In my urban fantasy, GLORY, the blood of the seventeen-year-old heroine, Glory, contains the cure for a deadly pandemic plague. A witch named Kaia, an angel named Dominic, and a vampire named Zane are assigned to be her bodyguards. In the midst of their quest to save humanity, Glory is overcome by desire for Zane. Then, in her words:

I wondered if he was sharing this intense electromagnetic current with me. At the same time that all of these thoughts and feelings were flooding me, I experienced a dreadful sense of shame that I could have selfish interests at a time of such horror in the world. I glanced across the table and saw Dominic watching me.
“Yearning preceded creation, caused creation, and sustains it,” Dominic said. “It’s what holds the atoms together. Yearning is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Although I am a plot-driven writer, eager to mesmerize my readers with thrilling stories containing unexpected twists and turns and jaw-dropping endings, I found myself focusing a great deal of creative energy on the love stories in The Legend of Glory trilogy.

In PRETTY SACRIFICES, there are three powerful love stories.

The love affair between Glory and her former guardian angel, Dominic, came to life so intensely that it actually made me change the plot of the novel. In my entire writing career, I have never been affected by my characters enough to completely change a previously established and well-developed storyline.

Then there is the ongoing love affair between young witches Kaia and Evan. A psychic predicted their marriage, and the Elders of their respective covens arranged the union even before the couple could meet. Despite her growing affection for Evan, Kaia rebels at the medieval notion of an arranged marriage. This love affair inspired the second time characters have caused me to make a complete plot change midway through writing a novel.

Finally, there is the mysterious love affair between cowboy-vampire Zane and his long-dead wife, Hope. I explored quantum physics and quantum entanglement in order to make the time-travel plot scientifically plausible, and when the novel steps back in time, I think I penned the single most romantic love affair of my career.

As quantum mechanics proves, yearning is what holds the atoms together. Dominic the angel reminded us of that. And I hope my writing reinforces that ultimate truth.

To learn more about PRETTY SACRIFICES, please visit the website:

Copyright © 2012 – Devin O’Branagan


In the post-apocalyptic world following a pandemic, dark angels arrive in Glory’s small hometown to claim the eternal souls of her loved ones. Targeted by evil because of her heroism during the great plague, Glory fights back with the help of gutsy young witch Kaia, inexperienced guardian angel Sasha, and her intrepid demon-fighting dog Hallelujah. Complicating everything, a rift in time reunites Glory with an old flame and forces her to pay a huge price for love. The legend of Glory continues!

The second book in the Legend of Glory trilogy!

Glory was nominated for the 2011 Best Popular Paperback for Young Adults List, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association.


Bestselling author Devin O’Branagan writes novels about uncommon heroes. Her genres include young adult urban fantasy, paranormal thrillers, and comic mysteries. She also writes a humor column for TAILS Magazine, is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America, and many of her writing projects support animal rescue. All of her books are available in both print and eBook formats. Visit her website at

PRETTY SACRIFICES is available in both print and eBook formats. has links to most of the places where PRETTY SACRIFICES may be purchased: And while there, check out photographs of all the characters from the novel and see a very cool book trailer video! (United States)

Smashwords (versions compatible with Apple, iPad, Sony, Kobo, & most every type of eReader)

DevinsBookstore – Autographed copies of the paperback may be purchased directly from the author at her online bookstore.

B& for Nook

Guest Post: Settling on the Initial Ensemble by Stephen Zimmer

For today’s guest post, I’m tickled to have with us author Stephen Zimmer whose Fires in Eden series is a terrific read. One of the things that stood out to me most when I began reading the series was what a diverse group Stephen chose for his adventures and how adeptly they were handled. (I’m still a little torn on who’s my favorite.)

Now I have to confess that when Stephen asked me what topic he should write about for this post, I gave in to my own selfish desires and asked him to talk a little about how he came up with his fantastic cast of characters. To my joy, he’s accepted!

Settling on the Initial Ensemble

by Stephen Zimmer

My Fires in Eden series (epic fantasy) features an ensemble cast all throughout the novels. This assemblage consists of a mixture of inhabitants of the world of Ave, as well as several characters who derive from our own world and time.

It is these latter characters that carry a little more of a burden in terms of the resonance of the series. Not only are they main characters throughout the books, but they are the very first characters that readers meet in book one, Crown of Vengeance.

To a great degree, it is these characters who determine whether a reader is compelled to follow the story as it progresses from the modern day and moves into the world of Ave. As you might guess, they play a very important role in that regard, and the envisioning of this collection of men and women was taken with great care.

Epic fantasy is very conducive to ensembles, and the key to a good ensemble is to make sure that it contains distinctive individuals. Having them come from a range of backgrounds, ages, and life situations makes for a much more engaging situation when they are thrust suddenly into another entire world. These differences help determine the way that they react to the new world, as well as the way that they relate to each other and the inhabitants of Ave that they are eventually introduced to.

I opted to avoid bringing any of the group into Ave entirely alone. Every member of this ensemble has a pre-existing relationship with at least one other person in the group of eleven that find themselves within Ave, after going through the thick mists. I felt that this gave them a little more anchoring, in helping to adjust to the mind-boggling truth that they had left their own world behind, and it also presents some challenges to the group dynamics with the possibilities of factions taking shape as strife and struggle ensue.

Let’s take a brief look at the group itself to demonstrate what I mean about a collection of distinctive individuals.

Lee is the oldest member of the group, an Asian man in his forties who owns and operates a small Chinese restaurant located near a college campus. He happens to be a friend to the youngest in the group, Ryan, a teenager who, while street smart, comes from a pretty unstable home environment and does not have any mentor in his life more significant than Lee.

Then there is Erika, a very grounded, focused college student who is athletic and strong-willed. She happens to be friends with another student who becomes part of the ensemble, Mershad, who is a muslim going through a very difficult time on a personal level at the time of the events in Crown of Vengeance. Most of his extended family still lives in Iraq, and he has endured a very difficult time with the war still going on. There is a significant cultural difference between him and Erika that causes him a little discomfort interacting openly and directly with her, but this is one of the first things to fade once he is in the grip of the new world.

Next is Logan and Antonio, who are good friends with very different personalities and focuses. Antonio does food delivery for a take out place, while Logan works in graphic art and web design. Logan is introspective and restless in many respects, harboring bigger aspirations, while Antonio is not one with any great ambitions. Logan’s outlook has bigger implications for what happens later, as readers are beginning to learn.

Another group includes Janus, Derek, and Kent, who are all good friends in their later twenties. Derek is a soldier who is an Iraq war veteran with active combat experience, while Kent is a bit of a free spirit, whose father owns a lakeside house. Janus, in Crown of Vengeance, is largely in a mental fog due to the unexpected passing of his father. He is a reflective, quieter type of individual. It is to lift Janus’ spirits that sees Derek and Kent take him for a weekend foray at the lake house, where they make a very fateful foray by boat during one mist-shrouded night.

Finally, there is Lynn and Erin, two younger ladies, early twenties, who are largely living for the moment, and are most concerned about what they will be doing with their friends in a social context than they are about anything else. They are very close friends, but there is a sharp personality difference with Erin being much more sharp-tongued and opinionated than Lynn, who tends to “go with the flow” a little easier. These personality differences have a big impact regarding how the two adjust to things when they are in Ave.

As you can see, the ensemble is very diverse in nature. Age-wise there is a nice mix, with four being around college age, five in the twenty-five to thirty-five demographic, one a teenager, and one in his forties. There is a good range of ethnicities too, as Derek is a black male, Mershad is Arabic, Antonio hispanic, Lee Asian, and the rest of them Caucasian.

I feel this ensemble is anything but homogenous. It offers a lot of dimension and different life experience to draw from, and as the story progresses they must all look to each other to help get through the ordeal of adjusting to a foreign world. Each has their own skills and input to bring to the table. Ultimately, after assembling this group, I felt strongly that with the kind of range in the ensemble there is an extremely good chance that readers will find at least one or more characters in the bunch to really bond with, and relate to.

All of the background elements do have influences on the individual character arcs, as none of them remain static from the beginning to the end of the series. They all grow and change in certain ways, some faster than others. Choices are made, new relationships are formed, and challenges are met.

Seeing the potential and range in these characters, from where they start from to where their arcs take them, is what prompted me to settle on this particular collection of characters to be the modern day ensemble that gets taken back into Ave. They drive a great portion of the story, both directly and in terms of their role within the core story of the series.

Three books into the series, the growth of the characters is now well underway, and much more lies ahead! I can say with surety that I am very pleased with this ensemble, and I hope that readers have as much fun getting to know them as I have!

Intrigued? Pick up one of Stephen’s books over at Amazon. His latest book in the Fires in Eden series, Spirit of Fire, is fresh off the press!

Excerpt: Tales of Lust, Hate, and Despair

Today, we bring you an excerpt from the new novel, Tales of Lust, Hate, and Despair by Ian Truman.

A little about the novel: Samuel Lee has known three days of freedom in the last eighteen years. Three days to come out of prison, see his daughter, settle a score with the mother of his child and her dangerous new boyfriend. Finding shelter in the unlikely company of a group of prostitutes, Sam will have to challenge his friends, his family, and ultimately, himself.

Told in the tradition of the best literary noir, Tales of Lust, Hate and Despair is a modern, lowdown and gritty take on the genre. Inspired by the cinema of Akira Kurosawa and Samuel Fuller as well as the music of Tom Waits, Sage Francis, Neurosis and Marilyn Manson, it is a novel that is sure to please anyone who has ever found themselves trapped and cast aside from the world.

PLEASE NOTE: This novel is for mature readers. Excerpt contains language and violence.

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