An Assassin In Time – SciFi Book Review (SA Asthana)

This book leaves you with more internal questions than you began with, and in the best possible way as a reader. Ones that will tease your mind long after you finish reading…

With elements of time travel, history, and science fiction, this short story reaches beyond its minute length. If anything, it leaves your own mind to wonder what happened after it ends and the consequences of altering time. If you modify history, does it mean that humanity will be bettered for it? It begs the question if killing is justified when many other lives are spared… especially if the savior in question has a grudge of her own and one that is shared by many. Is it still morally right to kill?

Slight spoiler alert. This story involves talk of the Holocaust and Hitler, so those triggered by the topic may wish to skip this title. Otherwise, it is a very good short read.

Now if only it were a full length book, S.A. Asthana. You’d have an immediate customer in me if you were to make it a full length novel.

Four stars

About the story:

What if you were tasked with traveling back in time to alter history and save millions of lives?
For Navy Seal Jessica Kravitz, that is precisely the assignment. But will she have what it takes to make history by changing it? How far will she go to save lives? Would she be willing to kill? Read and see. If you like thrilling science fiction, strong female characters, and time travel, this story is for you…”


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Nexus (The Hollow Men #1) Book Review

When I opened this book, I was ambushed with monsters of a human making that demanded I turn the page. From the get go, this book grabbed my attention.

While dystopian, post-apocalyptic YA science fiction is not my usual preferred reading genre, this book stood out with a maturity that makes it apt for all ages. With plot points of AI machines attempting to exterminate the remains humanity, it brings up questions that should be on every mind. What are the consequences of integrating human elements with machine, especially emotions? And what about the interpretation of desires that could rule both our kind and artificial intelligence?  Wrapped up with a message of love conquers all, I enjoyed the story.

The only drawbacks are for those who have nightmares easily and frightening situations leave them unable to sleep, it might not be the book for you. While it is most definitely science fiction, there is an element of horror due to the Hollow Men sequences. It also includes mild LGBT themes for those who might be offended by the POV from a young man.

Overall, it is a very good read and the ending leaves you wondering what will happen next. Five stars, Mr. Joshua Grant.

Here’s more about the novel:

“When the Hollow Men came, humanity fell. Forced to scrape out an existence from the rubble with the rest of the survivors, Jonah Byerly struggles to get by. Hunted by dark murderous things, he yearns for something more—a hope from civilization long past, for love and acceptance. But Jonah isn’t like the others as much as he would like to be. He harbors a secret, a shadow in his soul that could revive humanity…or see it drown in the endless hunger of the Hollow Men…”

Did you enjoy this review? Before you go, make sure to pick up your free bonus E-book from my Destiny in the Shadows series, STILL DEATH.

Who Is Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel? A Heart To Heart With You (Video)

Who is @maggielynnheronheidel? I figured it was time we had a heart to heart about what I stand for, my dear readers. It’s far more than being an author, filmmaker, or comedian. Being here on this planet is so much more… I talk about the content in my novels, such as human trafficking, endangered species, etc. So many of you know me from Whatsit Comedy TV, but you don’t know the real Maggie Lynn.

If you enjoyed this video, make sure to claim your free copy of STILL DEATH before you go!

A Frank Opinion About COVID-19 Coronavirus From A Science Fiction Author

We are not lemmings.

Let me repeat that again. WE ARE NOT LEMMINGS.

I’m sure a few of my readers are looking at this and wondering what the hell what I’m talking about. Remember the myth about the small, furry creatures jumping off a cliff on mass to their deaths, following one after the other in their fear? I think you get my point.

In actuality, when one looks at the documentary that Disney made called White Wilderness in 1958 where this phenomena was documented, one finds a disturbing fact: the filmmakers herded those lemmings toward the jump off point for a dramatic effect. This has become a documented fact. Lemmings don’t usually do it on their own. In actuality, they can be great survivalists and can swim great distances for food.

Either way, the point could be made that while people are deliberately being herded toward panic by their televisions or jumping all on their own to their panic states, things are getting out of hand… and quickly.

As an author who writes dramatic fantasy and science fiction where disasters occur on the regular and dictators rise along with hidden figures who operate the world from behind the scenes, the behavior I’m seeing from people is all too real. It’s exactly as I’ve fictionalized in my novels before, based on research and overall predictive psychology. But this time, it’s no longer just happening in a book. It’s happening now before my very eyes and over much lesser circumstances than I have written about in past.

What people fail to see is that when they allow themselves to fall prey to fear is that it makes their reactions all to predictable. Thinking in fear (or in many cases right now, blatant paranoia) is a sure fire way to make sure nothing gets done. Keeping a calm head and a rational disposition makes all the difference between survival and throwing oneself off the proverbial cliff.

While I am not at all saying that being prepared is bad, I’m seeing stupid decisions being made everywhere. For example, when out in stores over the weekend to get my essentials, everything was ransacked. Aisles were empty. Frozen foods were gone. Bottled water was gone. However, most of the actual essentials were not.

Things like peanut butter and other nut butters that keep for long periods of time were left. Applesauce, which also keeps preserved for long periods, sat untouched. Meanwhile, every food that will spoil within a week or two if it is not refrigerated was gone. Eggs, milk, meats… All hoarded.

The dollar store was likewise ransacked for supplies. They were sold out of toothpaste and hand sanitizer. Meanwhile, things like essential first aid supplies, cheap bags of rice, and of all things, SOAP, were in fine supply. I mean, soap?! The first thing recommended to do is washing your hands to kill this virus! Yet no one is worrying about soap shortages, are they?

There are entirely too many people behaving like this picture…

People are panic buying. Speaking as someone with specific medical needs, food allergies and whatnot, I try to plan ahead. Most all of the things I needed were still on the shelves, despite people scrounging to hoard their buys.

Why? Because I try to think ahead. If I couldn’t get my usual rice foodstuffs since I’m gluten intolerant, I’d see if had some GF oatmeal left. I had a plan (one altogether not really needed since most of the nonperishables I usually buy were still on the shelves).

For goodness sake even, most of the fresh vegetables sat untouched. And despite most people’s concerns, they spoil rather slowly depending on what you buy. An apple can last a week or two, sometimes more. Most folks will blow through a bag of Doritos in an hour. Get my point?

Hoarding items that are not sensible is not going to help anyone. Price gauging has begun in the grocery stores because of it. People who actually need face masks for their medical conditions (such as myself) are unable to get them. I had a man with COPD approached me a week ago to ask where he could get a mask like mine because he couldn’t find any.

All together, all the hype is most likely just that: hype. While there is reason for concern, panic won’t help anyone. In fact, all it does is collectively weaken your immune response which makes you more susceptible to the virus.

My suggestions for you, dear reader? A spirit of fear has descended on our country, if not the whole world, and swiftly. We must not allow it to win out or nothing will be done. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1) PLAN RATIONALLY. Think of essential needs such as nonperishables if you must and for things such as medications. If you take medicines that will soon run out, think ahead. Toilet paper won’t save you if your heart medications run out.

2) MAKE A FAMILY PLAN. Everyone should already have one of these in case of any emergency perchance the worst occurs, no matter what. Even before this happening, you should have had one years ago. Discuss it STAT.

3) ONCE YOU HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER, CHILL OUT. If you’re at home, stop monitoring the television and internet for every ounce of rhetoric or fact that they drop. Remember that these programs have sponsors who make money off of your viewership. They profit off of your panic. Websites will get affiliate funds for serving you ads for pandemic supplies.

4) DO YOUR BEST TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES INSTEAD OF BIG BOX STORES. They will be the hardest hit out of all this. Many people forget that big companies like Walmart have huge government contracts. Your Mom and Pops stores won’t have that to keep feeding their families.

5) When you’ve finally calmed down, keep yourself entertained. There are a great deal of fantastic creators out there who could distract you from your problems. If you’re a television lover, perhaps check out some comedy to keep your spirits high.

If you’re a lover of books, there are plenty of fantastic indie authors in every genre who could use some support through this period as well. They, too, have families to feed. If you particularly miss your local library, see if they have a digital book rental service. Many libraries have Hoopla digital or the like to allow you to keep reading without the germaphobe factor.

*There are plenty of digital children’s books as well via Amazon or otherwise, so if you have a child at home away from school, perhaps reading a digital book to them might be a handy way to keep kids busy!

6) And above all else, help others who can’t help themselves. Your local elderly neighbor is probably in a lot more danger than you are, so see if you can do something to help them out during this difficult period. Maybe pick up their groceries for them if they are more inclined to be in danger from the virus and should not go out. Pray for the people in your community who are at the most risk.

This is our opportunity to show the world we are not mere animals. We care about the people in our communities and need to come together to combat the fear pervading our collective minds.

There is nothing to fear than fear itself is a common thing to remember. Just keep in mind that there are plenty of people who profit from such rampant panic. And you, my dear reader, are likely not one of them.

Thank you for listening to me and if you would please share this article, I would be most grateful. For this world, we need to shake everyone up. Rationality needs to prevail as does calm.

Much love and prayers in this difficult time,

Author Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

(For those who need some distraction, I’m offering a free E-Book this week as a gift for you all to keep you calm. Make sure to download it before it’s gone!)

For a more spiritual view of the virus and the response therein, here’s a very good video from a lovely man I know. Thank you, Marcus.

Q&A With Urban Fantasy & Scifi Author Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

– Oh, this truly is a difficult question for me! As an inquisitive personality type, limiting to just three is a quite the task. Perhaps the first I’d start out with is God himself. That’d answer a great deal of my questions over the years about humanity! As for the next two, I’d have to say Ronald Reagan and Robert Ludlum. Robert Ludlum because the Bourne Identity was one of my favorite books that inspired me as a writer and Ronald Reagan for a great multitude of reasons about our world as it stands in the now.

How do you think your writing style has changed over the years?

For the better, I hope! Humor aside, I firmly believe that the more a person writes over time, the better they become. You start to see patterns or areas where you need to improve, so you become more proficient at story telling. In particular, I myself noticed that I favored certain words too much and lacked a certain sense of urgency at times when I was in my first two years of writing. When it was pointed out to me, I went to work on it and, in turn, improved a great deal.

Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

It takes some time to realize it thereafter, but I feel that my real life makes it into my novels all the time. For example, I realized that one of the scenes in War Machine (science fiction series) was actually a reflection of a serious operation I had. *SPOILER* Sierrenna was strapped to a table, another character preparing to torture her. The descriptions I wrote reflected the way I felt when I myself was going under the knife. But it took me years to realize the connection.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I read all my reviews. Everyone can learn something from their critics, even if it is just that the internet is sometimes a dark place where trolls hang out from time to time. From my reviews, I can see what people enjoy and what they do not. Or at worst, I learn that they do not read very well at all. The only one star review I have ever gotten was a complaint because the piece in question was not a full book, even though the buy page itself read that it was just a short story that they were purchasing and stated directly in the title. Sometimes keeping a sense of humor about yourself and your reviewers truly does help!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Remembering that the thought process in many cases can be entirely different than yours is helpful. A man tends to think about his obstacles differently than a woman and vice versa. Remembering that while plotting is very helpful.

What inspired you to start writing? How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing on and off since I was a toddler, but never truly took it seriously until my late teens. So, in a broad sense, I suppose I could say I have been writing my whole life. On a more professional scale, a little over a decade.

Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

One helpful tip is to remember that your keyboard is not judging you. YOU are judging you. A first draft is most always going to stink, even for professional novelists. “The first draft is to tell yourself the story” is a quote by Terry Pratchett. I agree with it. Every draft thereafter is to tell the story to your reader and to refine the writing itself. There may be many drafts. Or on contrast, there may be a few. The trick is to keep at it, even when your internal critic is being particularly brutal.

How do you feel when people recognize you in public and appreciate your work?

Elated! One of my favorite things to do is discuss their thoughts about the story or character in question. Sometimes they reveal things that I myself missed. One reader insisted that I foreshadowed my own tale in an instance with a particular sentence. After speaking with her, I realized she was indeed right! It did foreshadow another plot point I hadn’t even thought of.

Questions were submitted anonymously by readers. Thanks for reading! If you have a question for me, feel free to comment below.

As a thanks for stopping by, make sure to download your free copy of STILL DEATH before you go! It’s a best seller that usually retails for .99 cents elsewhere, but free here for you and only on my website. Sign up below for your copy to be delivered straight to your inbox!

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Behind the Writers Desk: Deleted Bonus Scene #2 From Slave to War

Hello everyone!

Here’s the second special behind the scenes look at some of the chapters that hit the cutting room floor in Slave to War. These are unedited and raw bits of the story that were cut for the sake flow of the novel.

So without further adieu, here’s the deleted chapter. Yet again it was cut for the speed and continuity. I decided that there was enough scenes between Cain and Sierrenna that it wasn’t necessary when the entire book was finished. But it’s still a cute and funny scene, so take a read.

WARNING | SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T READ WAR MACHINE OR SLAVE TO WAR… CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK…

Right now I sat on the back terrace, still silent after forty five minutes of sitting. Cain had attempted to talk to me, but I had yet to respond. Instead, he had spent the hour calling up all of his buddies, in the service and the associated press alike, and cajoling them into bombarding Rogee junior’s office with phone calls about my status and also to spread the word outside of the base. Surprisingly, most hadn’t needed much prodding at all. There was much congratulating, especially when he informed them he was not only my boyfriend, but we were married. There had also been a great deal of laughter and jeering directed his way. Some thought he had been joking.

He turned to me after the latest one (who had laughed for three minutes straight and proclaimed that hell had frozen over if he was indeed married), seeing me watching him. “Have we come back to earth yet? Come out of shock?”

I decided to be humorous and skirt the issue of my past history. “So you have a lot of friends. Now I know why we get along. They ridicule you just like I do. But your mother is going to love this ‘announcement’, I’m sure.”

He grimaced. “She’ll probably be disappointed I haven’t knocked you up and won’t be getting a grandkid out of this. That’ll be the first question as to why I’ve suddenly gotten hitched and kept it a secret.” He chuckled as I shook my head. “Nah. I’m not bothered with rumors. Right now I’m about ready to jump out of my skin, itching to take Rogee on. But I know better. For tonight, we wait while Argon and the others research how to get that damn kill switch out of you. Then I can focus on bringing him down once you’re out of the crosshairs. And since Michael is spearheading an attempt to free Tanya and the rest from Xorratti’s clutches, I have you all to myself for a bit. Walk with me?”

I nodded and took his hand as he led me out of the back gate. We said nothing to each other as led me to the furthermost corner of the property. I glanced around as he stewed in silence. We were at the edge of the bubble oddly enough. It was also the same entrance that should have gone up in a fiery inferno from a nuclear blast. This was the one that opened directly up into the desert.

I peeked back over and saw him staring at me concernedly, anger diminished. The ‘general’ facade had faded it seemed. I saw the real emotions flitting behind his eyes instead of the hard front he put up normally.

Abruptly he put his arms on the top of the small chain link fence and leaned against them, looking out at the desert. Maybe he was frustrated, but I couldn’t understand why he would be with me. Our situation was screwed up, that I knew. But whatever was on his mind was troubling him. And so I waited. He peeked over at me after a few moments. “You never initiate conversations, do you?”

“I haven’t spoken in months, Cain. I am unused to talking without my hands. I’ll find my voice again, even if it does not sound like mine,” I admitted. “Plus speaking first always gives some power away to the other party. It’s a decade old habit, nothing meant by it. I was confused anyway. You seem perturbed by something, so I thought it would be best not to disturb you.”

“Nah. It’s best never to leave me alone in my own thoughts. It usually results in some crazy ass scheme that nearly gets me killed but works out in the end.”

I looked down with a chuckle. “I must suffer from the same affliction.”

He sat beside me, watching me scan the horizon. The clouds had shifted, creating a red hued sky. God’s vision wavered in my eyes with the strength of the sun. Even more beautiful was the half rainbow stretching over the remaining cloud. I found myself smiling.

“This reminds me of the mountains. I used to climb the peak and watch the sun rise. It was cold, but very worth it.” I got no reply. But after a minute he huffed and muttered something under his breath. “Is something else troubling you?”

“Uh… Yeah. Though I doubt it would be very well received at present.”

“Try me,” I murmured curiously.

“You don’t like it when I put my arms around you I’ve noticed.”

That was completely untrue. “I usually jump because I am not expecting it, nor am I used to it. It’s not a derogatory reaction at all. On the contrary, I prefer it.”

They were around my shoulders immediately and he spoke in my ear. “Good. It is a nice reassurance I haven’t dreamed your return up and you aren’t still M.I.A.”

I returned the affection and leaned my head against his shoulder. “It is for me, too. I would stare out the window and wonder where you were, what foreign place you had traveled to on mission. I doubted you would find me any time soon. And when you did…”

“And when I did?”

The words stuck in my throat. “It would not matter any longer.”

“Are we talking mortality?”

“A lack of interest and feeling was more what I was thinking of, but the death is apt all the same,” I admitted.

“I’m hoping the lack of interest was a reference to me and not you. It wouldn’t do to have me show up and have you hate me again. And as for me, I will never lose interest.” I shivered at the vehement tone in his voice. He meant it for now. Snuggling deeper into his embrace, I watched the sun disappear. But he wasn’t willing to let the subject go. “You don’t believe me, do you? This is the same old story from my summer house again, isn’t it?”

I attempted look away but he tipped my chip up so I had to look at him. “I fail to see how that affects this conversation.”

His eyes widened. “You’ve convinced yourself that I didn’t mean what I said; that I don’t love you. Before I had thought you knew and were uncomfortable with the fact. Now I see that you… You don’t believe. This is why you were so uncomfortable with our discussion that night.”

I closed my eyes, not entirely pleased with the turn our discussion had taken. With everything that was happening, I still wasn’t sure what to do about my relationship with Cain. Between the danger I posed him from Rogee and dealing with the plot Rogee had for the city, I was still uneasy. “Cain, all I did was suggest we give our relationship some time. I never rebuffed your affection, did I?”

That did nothing to satisfy his yen to argue this point. He kept talking as if I hadn’t spoken. “And you said it back to me that day. Unless… You didn’t mean it then, did you?”

The crestfallen way with which he said that had me worried, not to mention how completely untrue it was. “That is not factual in the slightest.”

He growled deep in his chest exasperatedly. “Then what the hell is it you are thinking? You said you loved me, and then you implied you didn’t. I’m not a mind reader! Talk to me!”

Looking up into his eyes, I lost my nerve at the last second and tried to worm out of his grip. He wasn’t having any of it. My eyes bulged out of their sockets as he grabbed the back of my tunic and pulled me back to him. “You know, running away doesn’t work with me like it does Dantenn. He’s content to sit on his ass and let what he wants flaunt itself in front of his face. I’m not into waiting. If I want something, I go and get it. And if you insist on running, I hate to inform you but I play tag very well. There is no telling what I’ll do when I finally catch you.”

That probably should not have sent a thrill down my spine. It certainly didn’t do my nerves any good. Further betraying my disquiet was the fact I spontaneously developed a bad stutter under his eyes. “I – I still say we should give our relationship some time.”

“Time for what?! Is that about proving something to you? Giving you time to get over your fear? I’ve managed to get over mine considering I believed I would never even entertain the thought of keeping a relationship going for more than a few weeks, let alone chasing a woman all around the globe!”

I bit my lip, entirely unsure what to do. “We still barely know each other.”

He groaned. “How is it you’re willing to walk into fire for me and yet won’t tell me how you feel? But I can read the meaning between the lines. You do love me; you just don’t want to admit it.”

To that I said nothing. He chuckled and then sighed. “I’m not worried. I’ll get it out of you eventually. I figure if I never let you go, you’ll have to accept it. ”

I didn’t debate that one.

His hold on my waist tightened. “Just checking. I had to make sure you weren’t planning on bunking with lover boy Michael and using him as a shield again.”

“Not a bad idea,” I teased, chuckling as he grumbled in my ear. “Perhaps Argon would fill in for me. After hearing both of your extracurricular activities, I think you two would make an adorable couple.”

“You are a tease,” he said, trailing his fingertips over the skin right underneath my ear.

I turned my head and came nose to nose with him. “And you aren’t?”

“Nope. I follow through with what I offer. You don’t. I’m still waiting for-” He trailed off absentmindedly, picturing whatever it was. “I believe it was a discussion on desks that I am thinking of.”

We had indeed returned to his less serious state of mind. “And I am still waiting for a return on my prized tomatoes. You never ate them, did you? No?”

“Naw. I was too busy trying to figure out how to flush you out of the tunnel system and then there afterwards consequently having dreams of naked women trying to drown me in a bathtub. That made my irritation with you a bit more pronounced. Dreaming of someone you despise in real life appearing in your dreams and liking it. Come to think of it, I still have dreams like that, minus the dislike.”

“I don’t have to guess what action you were dreaming of I suppose,” I drawled, earning myself an unrepentant squeeze around the waist. “You still owe me dinner.”

“Consider it a date,” he agreed happily.

We sat in silence for a few minutes, watching the moon rise. With our active discussion on how things stood, we had neglected to watch the sun go down. The stars glinted at us, shining bright. But unlike usual, after watching the required amount of moon, I relaxed my neck and leaned back into him. He must have liked that considering the warm reception it got. I turned my head to the side to look up at him. I blushed when I realized he was watching me instead of the view. “You’re not watching the stars.”

“Who says? There’s a mark right under your chin that looks like one,” he said playfully.

I didn’t question it. I remembered how I had gotten it and didn’t want to share. Smiling, I closed my eyes again. They rocketed open again when I felt a tentative kiss pressed to the spot. I quivered under his touch. His icy eyes were warm despite their color. “I’d like to kiss you now, but you don’t seem open to the idea.”

He stopped as I put a finger to his lips. “Don’t speculate. Find out for yourself.”

I was surprised with my uncharacteristic wave of self-assurance, but didn’t question it. I didn’t have time to. He didn’t hesitate now, leaning in to close the deal. But then to both of our intense irritations, the phone rang, making us jump.

“What?!” he snapped into it and then listened. “Fine. Meet you there.”

He tossed the phone down below and I heard a dull thud as it hit the sand. He growled at it irritably. “I swear he has radar for whenever I am trying to romance you. Damn timing he has, Michael has gotten everyone together.”

“That’s great,” I said, trying out my new found confidence. I pulled on his lapels bringing him back to where we had been a second before. His eyes widened. “But whoever said you had to answer the phone the exact second it rang?”

I giggled as he went in for the kill again. And then laughed as the commlink predictably went off, causing his teeth to grind together. “Sergeant stuffy pants, I would get inside. Rogee has instituted a curfew. Get your girlfriend indoors.”

The line went dead and he sighed. “Looks like we need to go.”

I disappointedly rose from the roof and jumped down into the sand. I picked up his cell phone and sauntered towards the truck. A loud thunk and then a grunt of pain caused me to turn around. Turns out Cain had decided to copy me by jumping off. Upon landing however, he had lost balance and fallen back onto the sand but first. I covered my mouth, stifling another laugh.

He stood, collecting his dignity without much success. “At least I am good for a laugh. Just promise me you won’t go back to ignoring me in front of others. Michael will take that as encouragement and I will take it as a challenge. And when I am challenged, there a few lengths I won’t sink to get what I want.”

Clapping my feet together to rid them of excess sand, I turned to him. “Consider it done. We are married after all. It would not be right for me to go off with someone else unless we had enacted a ‘divorce.’”

I knew he liked the fact I had said that just by the way he smiled in response. He took his phone as he passed, heading towards the fence. I eyed something funny as he went.“Oh, and Cain? What should I tell everyone when they ask why you wet your pants?”

As soon as he put his hands to the seat of his slacks, he knew what I was talking about. The sand where his rear had landed had been wet. He looked glumly at his butt and then at me, disapproving of my mirth. “Let’s go. And stop laughing!”

– Copyright 2018 Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

Hope you enjoyed this little peek behind the writers desk! If you loved this, I bet you’ll love STILL DEATH, the prequel to the Destiny in the Shadows series! It’s free for anyone who signs up for my email newsletter. I frequently email freebies out to my readers, so make sure to grab your copy here by signing up!

From Behind the Writers Desk: Slave to War – The Bonus Chapters

Hello everyone!

Today I have a special behind the scenes look at some of the chapters that hit the cutting room floor in Slave to War. These are unedited and raw bits of the story that were cut for the sake flow of the story. I’ll be releasing three bonus chapters, so keep an eye out for chapters two and three!

So without further adieu, here’s the first deleted scene. It was one of my favorites that I wrote for Michael’s character, and is in Rain’s POV, but found it was unnecessary in the end for the final draft of the novel. So it hit the cutting room floor.

WARNING | SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO HASN’T READ WAR MACHINE

OR SLAVE TO WAR

Much to my unease, Michael took me to the garden where his party had been. But this time he took me to an aviary in the way back I hadn’t spotted on my first fateful visit.

Once inside, I looked around with amazement. Long rows of branches held creatures regarding me with keen, shrewd eyes. Vultures, hawks, owls, and one enormous looking condor all regarded us with glittering eyes. These were all military-trained birds. I could see transmitters hanging up in the corners with cameras they fastened on their backs.

I felt myself grin. Master Rascorr had had a pet hawk and excelled in falconry. He allowed me to practice with it every day. I whistled in a low tone following a particular pattern that perhaps they would recognize if the trainer had taught them in the style Master and I had.

I couldn’t hear their calls, but I could see most of their mouths open and a great deal of wings spread as they chorused their calls back at me. Michael jumped and stared around wondrously. Owls were blinking at us, falcons bobbed their heads up and down, and the lone condor spread its enormous wings and screamed at me in defiance. It was unnatural for so many birds of prey to be in one place, so it seemed they had formed their own social hierarchy. The condor reigned supreme, probably by sheer size. It stared me down with a hiss, cocking its head. Its lack of a comb and red eyes told me it was a female.

All the other birds stilled as I stepped towards her. I whistled softly, extending my hand in a friendly gesture. I saw scars lining her head. Seeing an electrical collar around its neck I understood her reluctance though she had been trained. I looked around at all the others. They had collars, too. They were just like me: trapped and forced to obey.

She eyed me with distrust and I whistled again. She lowered her head after a minute and allowed me to scratch her head. I lowered my head next to her and whistled softly in an affectionate tone. She hissed at me again and I stroked the feathers along her back until she jiggled her feathers back and forth. I had hit the spot.

I turned back to Michael to see him nose to nose with an owl that had settled itself on his shoulder. He winced as its talons dug into his shoulder. I saw blood starting and rushed forward. I stuck my hand out and the owl snapped at it.

I looked back at Michael who seemed utterly terrified as it bore its enormous yellow eyes into his and screeched at him. “You don’t have food, do you?

He stuck his hand in his pocket, pulled out a bag of jerky, and stuck it at me. I opened the bag and all yellow, orange, red, and black eyes turned on me. They all returned to their perches as I whistled a command. The owl screamed at me and did the same, leaving his shoulder. I tossed the condor the biggest piece and divided the rest.

I gave a few to Michael and gestured he should give it a try, too, in particular to feed the owl. It was still eyeing him with interest. He tossed the piece at it and it caught it with a snap. It called at him, bobbing its head and twisting it around so it was upside down. Finally he cracked a smile and cooed back at it. The owl screeched at him for more. He jumped back with a start.

For the first time in months, I really laughed. And boy did it hurt. It turned into a coughing fit real fast as the scar where my vocal cords should have been stretched. It really didn’t feel good, but they didn’t rip. That was good. It meant they had healed even if it was badly. I probably sounded like a chain smoker laughing.

I shrugged off Michael’s concerned hand and ventured further into the building realizing it wasn’t just an aviary. It housed a lot more than just birds.

Through another door, I entered a dark room. A red light flicked on for me to see ruby eyes gleaming back at me. A breeze whipped around my hair as wings flapped around me. I stumbled back as a cold nose sniffed along my neck. I came eye to eye with an upside down brown head and enormous black eyes. It was a giant fruit bat. It probably was looking for its food. More eyes from all corners blinked open at me.

The room after the next was the best, though. It was a large enclosure that held a weird assortment. Two wolves, a black leopard, a cheetah, a brown bear, and panda all eyed me. They were in a cluster together except for the panther which paced its end of the cage restlessly. I gathered they had been raised together and had adapted to each other’s presences as the birds of prey had.

I looked at the electrical prod hanging in the corner and ignored it. I sat down on the opposite wall pretending I had no interest in them. The door to my left opened again and Michael stepped through, fighting off what appeared to be one of the giant fruit bats trying to get into his pocket. He threw in what looked like a bag of candies and slammed the door shut.

When he turned to face this room, I think he had a near coronary. He gripped the handle of the room with too much force and slammed his back into the wall. His wild eyes found me on the floor and started saying something out loud. I rolled my eyes, patting the floor. He looked at me as if I had sprouted a third head.

I shrugged. The panda was sauntering toward us, sniffing the air. Behind it was the brown bear. The others watched to see what we would do. “Thank you for bringing me here.”

“Sure,” he signed with sarcasm as the panda came over and plopped in front of him. He waved at it weakly. To his and my intense surprise, it waved its paw back before rolling over on its side. The brown bear growled, already bored, and sat down behind it.

It’s hard to believe Emperor Huang domesticated pandas and used them to defeat Emperor Yan 4000 years ago. They aren’t very intimidating.”

I can believe it,” he signed, sitting beside me. “All I see are rows of razor sharp teeth. I think the army had the same idea. But it got too expensive so my father took on the care of the menagerie. He likes having the bragging rights to his own private zoo.”

He stopped as curiosity got to the others. The Leopard and wolves hung back, but the cheetah came over with a chirrup. I couldn’t hear it, but I remembered the call from the visit to the zoo as a child with Master and Dantenn. I whistled the birdlike call back and it came forward with a purr. It sank down next to my side, rubbing its head against my arm. I stroked its ears as it nipped at my hand playfully.

Michael stayed with his knees curled up to his chest. The other animals ignored us and the leopard went back to pacing at its end of the cage. The wolves watched with pricked ears. I was disgusted to see all of these animals too bore scars and collars.

Michael nodded, venturing to put his hand out for the cheetah to sniff. “I brought you here to talk without prying ears. I wanted to discuss what may happen tonight.”

He looked at me then. Bitter loathing for his father warred with the warmth for me in his eyes. “Sorry he’s attempting to force you to marry me. I’m not sure how he’s going to work this considering you’re still supposedly still hitched to Cain.”

I sighed. “There are worse things than being married to your best friend.

He squeezed my hand. “Yes, but if you were going to marry me I’d want it to be on our terms. I have no aversion to marriage; in fact I rather like the idea of binding oneself to the one you love for eternity.”

His eyes held such warmth and affection that I gulped. I felt like I was cheating on Cain it was so strong a connection. He drew me to him then, like he hadn’t dared do before, resting his head on my shoulder and stroking my hair. We stayed like that for a while. He just held me like there was nothing on the planet he wanted to do more and perhaps that was true. I felt for him, I really did. We were just two broken souls that the world had spat out years ago. But we had saved that world together despite what it had done to us and now it had turned on us once more. But we still had each other.

If I weren’t too young would you consider me being with me?” he asked suddenly, pulling back just far enough so I could see his hand but not far enough so I was out of his embrace. I didn’t reply. “If you had never met Cain, would it be a different answer?”

The questions were getting more difficult. “I don’t think you’d like me very much if I hadn’t. I am a killer, Michael. Never forget that.”

I felt him suck in a breath. “But you wouldn’t be if it weren’t necessary, right?”

I reflected on that for a second. “If there were no more evil in the world, I suppose would find myself without a purpose. There would be no use for my skills to defend those I love-“

But you do love,” he insisted. “That is the difference. Evil is most often defined as a lack of love. I know evil. It is my father. He doesn’t love me. He doesn’t love anybody, which is why he ripped me from my mother’s arms as she died from childbirth. I’m just an heir so he’ll have a legacy when he dies.”

I bowed my head. “I’m sorry about your mother. She must have loved you.”

She did. The doctors told her she wouldn’t survive if she had me. My father tried to stop her and blames me for her death. That’s why he hates me so much. But she insisted to carry me full term. Sometimes I wish she hadn’t. She would still be alive then.”

I gasped at that statement. That rivaled even my way of toxic thinking. He was wishing himself away. “Don’t belittle her sacrifice with those thoughts. Do something with your life. You are valued-“

Am I? If I died, my funeral would be a show for my father to profit off of.

But I would grieve,” my hands said.

He looked down at me with sad eyes. “Yeah, and you would run to Cain for comfort.” He shook his head and glanced at his watch. “We have to go. Father will be looking for us soon. After tonight, I doubt we’ll be spending much time together-” I started to protest – “Alone, that is.

I stood with what I’m sure was a fierce expression. “I’m not leaving without you. Remember that.”

He stood and nodded, still thoroughly unhappy looking. He didn’t release my hand as we went back to reality, leaving our little piece of solitude behind.

– Copyright 2018 Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

Thanks for reading! Make sure to leave a comment on what you thought of this scene! And if you haven’t read Slave to War, make sure to pick up a copy here!

Keep an eye out for bonus chapters two and three in the next few days!

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Slave to War is available now on Amazon in Ebook and Paperback editions. Here’s a little more about the novel:

He took my city. They chained me as a slave. Nothing will stop my revenge.

In aftermath of bitter betrayal, the city of Nacin will tremble to its core under my wrath. Truth will come to light; the underbelly of the city rising from the darkness below as age-old secrets surface from their graves. Death is the only solace to be found and blood will be the currency to pay for their sins. But can Operation Night-Butterfly be stopped once fate is called to action? Or will the city that was once mine become nothing more than a graveyard of what it once was as martial law descends upon the ashes that remain? That is the question…

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The World of Destiny in the Shadows – A Map

Who knew that making a map of a dystopian science fiction world would be so time consuming? Plotting Nacin, Mercaine, and MoiRai on a map was difficult, but I finally got it done for you all!

Make sure to check out Slave to War to continue where War Machine left off in the epic cliffhanger! It’s now available on Amazon here!

Slave to War: Exclusive Snippet #2

Here’s an exclusive excerpt of SLAVE TO WAR:

“This isn’t going to do anything,” Michael said, coming to me as well. “All it will do is create chaos. They’ll seize control again. No one will stand against them except the drug and crime lords. No one will fight-“

“No one?” I replied hollowly.

I let that linger in the room for a moment, letting them realize just what was in store. They hadn’t yet realized what I was planning. If Nacin needed a savior, they were going to get one. But they were also going to get the bad and the ugly with it; that being me.

“No,” Michael said, taking my other hand as Max shook against me. “You can’t. Don’t let them do this to you.“

“I warned you, Michael,” I murmured, brain planning my next step. “You don’t know me as well as you think you do. The city needs exactly what it created; its vigilante assassin has come back to roost. If they want a slave to war, they’re going to get it!”

– Slave to War coming February 5th! You can order it here!

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Snippet copyright ML Heron-Heidel 2019