Tag Archives: science fiction

Author Interview: T.S. Valmond

Please welcome Author Shelina Valmond to No Wasted Ink.

I’m T.S. Valmond aka Shelina. I grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and have lived in three countries over the last ten years. I currently live in Alberta, Canada with my husband and our dog Cookie. My fandoms are Star Wars, Star Trek, and Firefly. When I’m not traveling in search of a beach somewhere to read, you can usually find me at a coffee shop or home working on my next book.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was four with an active imagination and a cast of invisible characters I spoke to on a regular basis. My teachers often encouraged me to write in school in order to curb my need to talk.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

First in the fourth grade when my teacher Mrs. Ardnt told me I was a writer. Then again when I finished my first Nanowrimo in 2009.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Ensign: A Starship Hope Prequel

It’s the story of how a young ensign comes to terms with her doubts and her father’s legacy to become the woman who’ll guide a remnant of her people to hope.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had the story idea during a 2015 CampNano. Then Discovery came out and I felt it more necessary than ever to have a black female captain and her story.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes. I’m not sure how to describe it but readers say things like: “Twisty, surprising, couldn’t put it down, etc.”

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It took a long time, to think of the title. I wanted a prequel to a series I’d already written. It made sense to tell the story of the captain’s past as a lead into the series I want to promote later this year.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, no one’s family is perfect, but they’re yours. Your family is either born or found out of life’s circumstances.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

No, not directly, though it could be argued that each of my characters all have pieces of me. However, in this case, I believe Ensign Dana Pinet’s story is her own.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

The authors who have shaped me are the ones that drew me in with their worlds and characters. I’ve always been someone who picks up Nora Roberts and follows it up with Stephen Donaldson. I’m all over the map when it comes to genres, but the authors that have stuck with me are the ones who create the worlds I most like living in.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

There are so many but I think my current writing partner A.K. Duboff is someone I’ve learned a lot from lately and even before I knew her, I’ve tried to emulate her publishing career.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover of Ensign and the entire series was done by Goerz Designs. I chose him because he’s a newer cover design artist and I wanted to get in before he got too busy and too expensive.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes, WRITE. There are plenty of other things people will tell you to do, but if you haven’t finished your book yet and started publishing then make your writing a priority.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’ll keep writing books as long as you keep reading them. If you love them let me know by sharing them with your friends and leaving reviews and you’ll always get more stories from me.

T.S. Valmond
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Ensign ~ A Starship Hope Prequel

Cover Artist:  Goerz Designs

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Author Interview: Adric Laser

If a pen is truly more powerful than a sword then it must be the author that can make that statement come to life. It is Author Adric Laser’s goal to spend what’s left of his life bringing about positive change through publications as he helps people gain a better understanding of themselves through stories. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Locke Dauch and I am a science fiction author that likes to publish work using the pen name “Adric Laser.” I’m also a featured author on several popular blogs and an educator with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Western Washington University and a PGCEi from Nottingham University. After a short career in corporate America, I decided it was time to travel and see the world to expand my horizons. As a result, I’ve spent over ten years living in Asia teaching primary and secondary students Science, Maths, History and English. I currently live in Vientiane, Laos and spend my days writing and raising a small kitten.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I was in my early teens but most of my work remained in notebooks or files that never ended up getting published. I’ve spent the past few years publishing non-fiction books with an aim to help people solve problems in their lives.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

It wasn’t until more recently that I decided I wanted to focus my efforts on fiction writing and storytelling. I regret not having pushed myself harder in the past to begin doing this at an earlier age as I find it immensely enjoyable to create the stories that I’ve had the pleasure of working on over the past two years.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

In the past year I’ve been actively working to produce a science fiction series entitled “Dystopity.” This series is authored using the pen name “Adric Laser,” because, well, I just thought it sounded so much cooler than using my actual name! A book I’ve recently authored and published that I’d like to share with you today is entitled “A Rebel Was Born on Horus.”

This is a short novella that is about a military officer named Annabelle that realizes that she may not be cut out for the type of work required enforcing policies she becomes to see as tyrannical. She is forced to make some very tough decisions throughout the course of the story as rebel terrorists occupy her space station with the intent of taking over full control.

You’ll have to read the story to find out if she ultimately becomes successful in wrestling back control of the station and figuring out what role she actually wants to play based on the events that end up taking place on Horus.

What inspired you to write this book?

There is always a lot to be learned from conflict and I thought creating a story about a female officer’s transformation from model cadet to rebel would be quite interesting in the context of a terrorist invasion. Sometimes we can only figure out who we really are when we are put under pressure. Furthermore we don’t always know who we are working with until a situation arises which gives us an opportunity to see how they react. Annabelle is a character I’ve written in to an upcoming novel and I thought it would be interesting for readers to understand what really makes her tick. This novella gives my readers an opportunity to learn about her in more depth and really understand the underlying motivations that drive her actions in the novel set to be released in late 2020.

Do you have a specific writing style?

For my science fiction titles I’ve developed a writing style in which I often remain in 3rd person while sometimes going into 1st person to give the reader a chance to get into the mindset of the characters I’ve created and better understand them. From a lifetime of reading science fiction titles it seems there is no hard and fast rule to writing styles in the genre so I prefer to focus on making sure I’m immersed in the story so I’m better able to immerse my readers in the story as well.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

This book is set on Horus space station. It is a corporate owned station built into a large asteroid. The story is about a transformation that the main character goes through as a direct result of the conflict she faces aboard the station and her difficult decision to abandon the loyalty she once had in her employer.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I suppose it’s a story that asks readers to reflect upon their own lives in a way and ask themselves if they are doing something that benefits them materially at the expense of others. It may make them think about their own loyalties and ask themselves if they are truly on the right side. If not, perhaps it could motivate them to change sides if they felt there was a way to right a wrong or gain integrity and righteousness by making a difficult pivot in their life.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I’m definitely not a stranger to the concept of self-reflection and the experience of remaking myself into what I believe is a better person. As a young adult I realized that I had been quite selfish growing up and wasn’t nearly as respectful as I should have been to the people who have tried to help me. I regretted that fact and resolved to become a teacher in Asia to try to make up for some of my shortcomings growing up by helping others try to avoid some of the same mistakes and pitfalls that I found myself making during my early and late teen years.

What authors have most influenced your life?  What about them do you find inspiring?

There are definitely too many to name. I remember reading “Of Mice and Men” when I was quite young by John Steinbeck. Something about it mesmerized me. Perhaps because I felt a deep connection and understanding with the crisis, conflict and nature of the characters. The story had a sense of realism to it beyond almost anything I had ever read.

Another book that left a serious impression on me was Fyodor Dostoevsky. I remember how the book just sucked me into the fearful situation of getting caught as if I was the main character trying to evade capture. It’s a rare gift to be able to connect with someone so well in your writing that they can imagine being in your character’s shoes as if they had been transported to some far off land.

In regard to science fiction, two authors that I really look up to are Orson Scott Card and Larry Niven. Their books have been a huge inspiration in deciding to become a science fiction author and pick up in some ways where they have left off.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I actually designed the cover of the book myself. I’ve spent a lot of time working with designers and I just sort of felt that no matter how much guidance I give them it’s hard to get them to create what I envision for a project. Assuming one of my novellas or novels gets significant traction I may decide to hire professional help and update the cover but for now I’ve received a lot of good feedback based on the presentation of my novellas and don’t have any immediate plans to change any of them.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would say, forget about trying to make people happy and write about topics and stories that you find interesting, exciting and passionate about. Passion can be a very powerful tool for creating literary masterpieces, don’t underestimate it!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I would just like to thank them for taking the time to read one or more of my stories. Time is probably the most precious asset we possess and wasting it is truly a cause for regret. I’ll always write with my readers in mind but I’ll do it in a way in which I feel that my time is being used productively and for a good cause. I write not just for myself but in hopes that the stories I bring to life can have a positive impact on that of my readers.

Adric Laser
Seattle, Washington

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A Rebel Was Born on Horus

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Ten Rules of Time Travel by Ian Lehey

So you wish to include time traveling as part of your story? How hard can it be? Have a nutty scientist or brainy professor come up with a credible time machine, or stumble across one if you want to avoid some of the techy mumbo-jumbo, have them jump backwards or forwards to the time requested by the plot, and then, for the perfect Hollywood ending, everyone jumps back to their timeline and enjoys the cool effects of tweaking history.

Problems deriving from time-travel? There’s nothing so terrible about becoming your own father or mother (or both) that can’t be fixed with some counseling and some good parenting. (I think Douglas Adams said that.) It’s just like wiping a page from a history book and writing it again the way you want it to be, right?

Wrong.

The truth is that when it comes to time travel, the territory becomes rather uncertain if not entirely boggled. Here are ten things you should keep in mind when you start playing around with time.

1. If you are about to leap into the past, then it has already happened.

That’s right. The moment you allow your characters to jump back in time, then the alterations they will apply will already have taken place. This results in our first great dilemma: now that history has changed and the problem solved, what will motivate the heroes to jump back? When the solution is so effective that the problem never existed, who will need to think of a solution? One way to solve this is to conceal the fact that the current state of affairs is, in hindsight, a result of that jump, and that another, far worse, scenario would have ensued from not going back. In other words, the travelers’ motivations are not determined by something that will change, but something they have already changed.

2. Your traveler must, in no way, be connected to the facts he or she is trying to change.

As a collateral point to rule number one, any traveler altering events impacting their own timeline will automatically fail. This is because, by altering time, they will inevitably alter their own memory of what happened, and that will ultimately lead to different decisions the next time around.
“Wait what next time?”, you ask. Well that leads us to:

4. It’s a loop. An infinite one.

Get it?

3. It’s a loop. An infinite one.

A successful leap into the past is one that will always have happened. One in which the traveler will, at a certain point, either devise their own way to travel or be thrown back in time by a series of events which must, always, result in the same outcome. Time will not permit an ever-changing number of different outcomes, it will stabilize into a flow where the jump never happens, or where it does, but always follows the same exact script. The effects of this on the characters can be very dark, or also quite funny. Especially for short jumps. Just like this little joke.

5. Time is memory.

In other words, our only sense for the passing of time is our ability to keep a record of past events. As a result, altering time inevitably alters the record. There are only two ways out of this paradox, in my opinion: One way is based on the theory of alternative universes which is so popular nowadays. In this theory, when you travel in time what you really do is jump to a different reality where what you did has changed history, but you come from a universe where nothing was done, so your memory of that history remained the same. This theory has a few flaws, well pointed out by the Rick & Morty series, including meeting infinite yous intent on changing their histories, and infinite other yous content with their lot and suddenly buggered by all the goddamn people turning up at their door.

Another way is to have time change from the old reality to the new rewritten one, but slowly. Slowly enough for the transition itself to be noticed and recorded. This is what I did in my short story “Hero of Stolen Time”. In it, the hero Ratscrap is the only one capable of jumping back two years into the past to stop the beginning of a terrible series of Viking incursions. When he fails to do so, partially because Ratscrap is a self-loathing coward, reality slowly begins to shift to a Viking-ridden village where everyone’s soon-to-be alternative is killed. Knowing this, Ratscrap must jump back to preserve his reality as well as his own miserable life.

6. The Bootstrap Paradox.

This theory was described quite beautifully in a Dr. Who episode and went like this:

Imagine your character is a Beethoven fanatic. He packs his collection of sheet music and jumps back to meet the man himself to discuss all things musical. When he finally sees Ludwig, our hero is horrified to discover the great composer doing nothing but sitting on the sofa and scratching his butt. (I think the Doctor put it more elegantly). Panicking, the time traveler shoves all of Beethoven’s sheet music in the loafing musician’s hands and hurriedly leaps back to the present to discover, to his relief, that the great Ludwig still is the world-renown musical genius.

The paradox is this: who composed the music? Our hero would swear it was Beethoven, but Ludwig would say it was a frantic looking man with a funny German accent who made it and gave it to him. You can’t jump back in time and hand J.K. Rowling a copy of Harry Potter. That’s worse than becoming your own parent.

7. I don’t have time for number 7.

8. Beware the uncanny valley. (Yes, there’s one in time travel too)

People who read sci-fi appreciate the imaginative way authors apply their scientific knowledge. A lack of scientific detail will undermine the credibility of your story. When it comes to time and time travel, science itself becomes rather iffy. To put it in other words, there’s a whole lot of fi in the sci already. Some writers will try to compensate this by adding even more details on exploiting naturally occurring nano-wormholes, strings, membranes and that ever-recurring buzzword, the quantum [insert something here]. The result is that, past a certain threshold, the authors themselves get so garbled as to put off even the most hardened geek. Make it scientzy, but don’t overdo it. Sometimes it’s preferable to simplify too much rather than overexplain it. Ratscrap’s time jumping ability, for instance, came from a simple magic potion.

A magic potion? Jeez, who am I trying to fool here? That’s almost as bad as quantum.

9. Forward jumps are ok. Sometimes.

Making your hero jump forward in time is absolutely doable. Unless you have the nerve to also bring them back. In that case, all of the above rules apply again. Knowledge of future events could potentially lead to attempts aimed at altering that future, but in that case, the original future never existed, so why change it? Headaches anyone? (One of Ratscrap’s side effects of time travel was a massive, sentient headache).

10. Alternatives to time travel.

There are a couple of more approachable alternatives to time travel, to avoid headaches, embarrassing family reunions and all that excessive mucking about with quantum and J.K.Rowling.

One way to travel into the past safely is to “tune in” to a past moment. This can be done by sending back a hidden probe, or waiting for when everyone will have a memory chip installed into their brains and simply playback their experience, or even sync present and past atoms to create a replica via, sigh, quantum entanglement. In all three cases, the past cannot be altered but only experienced as a hologram or virtual reality.
Another alternative to changing the past is even simpler. As stated in rule no. 5, time is memory. Do you really need to send your character back in time to hide the fact that they murdered someone? Wouldn’t it be relatively easier to alter everyone’s memory of the event, so that the murder becomes an accident? In this case, the hero’s memory would remain intact, as well as anyone’s they wish to preserve.

These are just ideas, not to be taken as absolute guidelines. Just make sure your plot holds, maybe catch a glimpse of the future to check how readers will respond and you will have seen – are going to have seen…

Truth be told, the hardest thing about writing time travel are the damn tenses.


Ian Lahey, author, dreamer, and Olympic-level binge-watcher, teaches English Language and Literature in Italy. Apart from writing arguably decent fiction, he also cooks with nearly edible results, tinkers with computer graphics, and does quite a lot of gardening, since he needs to replace all the plants he’s inadvertently killed.
https://ilahey.com

Author Interview: Jon R Osbourne

Author Jon Osbourne could be described as a long time gamer who took up the keyboard to tell the stories my dice wouldn’t. He would not be the first writer to transition from the gaming realm to writing books. Please welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

I’m Jon R. Osborne, a Midwestern nerd who split his childhood between Chicagoland and rural Illinois. I started playing role-playing games when I was 13 and I never lost the passion for the hobby. I was a journalism major in college but did almost no work in the field after graduation. I work in scientific logistics – at least until I reach the point I can turn full-time writer.

When and why did you begin writing?

I first started trying to write fiction in college. I was a journalism major, and I wanted to find a way to share the adventures from my D&D campaigns. My first attempt at a book was a collaboration with two of my players trying to write out our college campaign.

Later, I began writing scenes for the players as ‘behind the scenes’ and between session material, as well as filling out recaps of game sessions to include extra material.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I didn’t consider myself a writer until a publisher accepted and published my first short story. I went to the convention where the book launch party was held and signed copies of the book. It was surreal.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My current book is set in my urban fantasy universe and follows my Milesian Accords trilogy. It focuses on what happens when magic returns to the world, with various characters trying to deal with the fall out.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had hoped that the story would continue after I finished the trilogy, and reader feedback inspired me to keep the story going. The original Milesian Accords was inspired by the Irish legends in Lebor Gabala Erenn – The Book of Invasions, specifically the conflict between the Tuatha De Danann and the Milesians.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t have a singular style, but I tend to use the same style for a given setting. For example, in the Milesian Accords and ensuing books in that setting, I write each chapter from a single character’s point of view.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The current book I’m working on is titled “The House Between Worlds.” The origin becomes obvious if you’ve read the Milesian Accords, but in a nutshell the home of one of the character’s becomes a waystation between the mundane world and the otherworld.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I don’t consciously put messages in my work. I think you can weave in a message if you choose and do it organically without beating the reader over the head. Great examples are Star Trek or the X-Men. The X-Men’s struggle against anti-mutant sentiment was a parallel of the civil rights movement, with Professor X and Magneto as stand-ins for Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The events in my books do not reflect my own experiences. I’ve never had a supernatural delegation turn up on my doorstep (checks door). A few characters in my urban fantasy books may have attributes inspired by people I know, and one minor character is a tribute to a deceased friend, but overall the characters stand on their own. Some of the locations are based on places from my childhood – especially Liam’s farmhouse.

In the military science fiction books, it there are more characters inspired by real people. Some of these are ‘red shirts’ – for some reason mil sci fi fans love to see themselves go out in a blaze of glory. One of the POV characters for my most recent mil sci fi book started in the previous book as a red shirt I never got around to ending, and he filled a role in the next book. I won’t say if he made it to the end of the newer book.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Larry Niven and Robert Heinlein were my major science fiction influences. They made me believe someday mankind would step out into the stars. Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” was one of the first science fiction books I remember reading – I was probably too young (it was my mother’s book) and some of it went over my head, but I was amazed. I stumbled across Heinlein’s books in a store in the mall – one of the first of his I read was “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.”
As for fantasy, early on I read the Thieves’ World series, Stephen Brust’s Vlad Taltos books, and David Eddings’ Belgariad. My first urban fantasy was courtesy of Charles de Lint, and he inspired my urban fantasy writing.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I see a difference between inspiration and mentor. While the aforementioned authors were inspirations, they never provided feedback. If I had to name a mentor, I’d say it was my publisher Chris Kennedy. His guidance and feedback made me a better author. I believe there is a marked difference between Book One and Book Three of the trilogy regarding my writing quality, and I owe a lot of that to Chris.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The covers on the Milesian Accords books are the second ones. When Podium Audiobooks produced the audiobook for ‘A Reluctant Druid” they sent us the cover art by Alexandre Rito that they were going to use and told us we could use it and the art for the other two books. The covers were so awesome I said yes immediately.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Make a habit of writing. I wasn’t published until I was 51 because I lacked the discipline to finish projects. I now use a spreadsheet to track my writing, and I have a time scheduled to write. My first story was published 3 years ago – I now have 6 books and 9 stories published. If you have trouble finishing a book, try short stories. Also, don’t obsess on making your book perfect. My publisher has a saying – “Any story can be fixed in editing except the one that isn’t finished.”

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you. Every time I get a review or e-mail telling me someone enjoyed my work it inspires me to keep writing.

Jon R. Osborne
Indianapolis, IN

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A Reluctant Druid

Cover Artist: Alexandre Rito
Publisher: Chris Kennedy Publishing

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Author Interview: Marjorie King

I had the pleasure of meeting Marjorie as a co-panelist on the Scifi Roundtable Podcast.  She is impressive with her knowledge of science fiction and due to her engineering background, a fine scientist herself.  I’m pleased to introduce her on No Wasted Ink.

Hey everyone! I’m Marjorie King. I grew up on Asimov, Star Wars, and Star Trek. House Ravenclaw (with a little bit of Slytherin). I love reading, making memories with my family, cooking, and hiking the US National Parks.

When and why did you begin writing?

I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer. I actually loved painting and chemistry. I graduated in Chemical Engineering and painted as a side hobby. I thought that would define the rest of my life.

But then I lost my brother to a skiing accident–please, please wear helmets when you ski–and that was a devastating year. After that year was over, I had journeyed through my grief, but there was still something left. Something I couldn’t put into words, but something that needed working out. At that time, this story formed in my mind, and I couldn’t stop picking at it. I kept developing the characters and their adventures. It wouldn’t leave me alone.

So, January 2015 I made a New Year’s resolution: I would write the story. It helped heal me in hard to define ways.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I wrote “The End” on that first story in May of 2015, I was hooked. At that point, I didn’t consider myself a published, polished author. But I was a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Rogue Invasion is book 2 in the Maverick Series. It starts a few months after Maverick Gambit left off. The crew has finished their mission. Brant is starting his new job as a teacher at a school for adapted children. But it isn’t the dream job he’d always hoped. And the hidden assassins the crew fought at the end of their last mission are plotting their revenge.

What inspired you to write this book?

It wasn’t until the book was finished that I realized I had put a teacher on the pedestal of the story. But in hindsight, it made perfect sense. My mom has retired from years of teaching high school math, so I got to see behind the scenes how much teachers sacrifice for their jobs and their students.

I think teacher appreciation is understood a lot more now, with all the remote learning that took place during the quarantine.

Do you have a specific writing style?

The pacing of the sentences and paragraphs has a strong stage dialogue feel. It’s my short time in a theatre showing through.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

A Rogue group of assassins is plotting to Invade the school. Ta-da! Rogue Invasion.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

No one is all good or all bad. You have to treasure the good and cope with the bad (sometimes from a safe, healthy distance).

Are experiences in this book based on someone you or events in your own life?

Well, my mom being a teacher influenced it heavily.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Asimov got me hooked on SciFi. I love Aliette de Bodard’s poetic style. I go to Terry Pratchett when I need a laugh. Murderbot, by Martha Wells, has absolutely won my heart. When I want something slower and more contemplative, I turn to the Three-Body Problem series. The Thrawn series by Timothy Zahn is an old favorite that’s been resurrected.

I also enjoy Mark Twain’s wit, CS Lewis’s insight, JK Rowling’s magic, JRR Tolkien’s worldbuilding… you get the idea.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

May Dawney Designs. I’d lost the cover artist from my first book. He’d changed careers. So I went to the SciFi Roundtable Facebook group and begged for references. Several recommended May Dawney, and when I checked out her website, her art was brilliant and in my price range! She worked hard to match book 2’s cover to the feel of book 1.

But between you and me, I like hers better than the cover for book 1. In a few months, I might hire her to redesign book 1.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing.
Read books on writing.
Test the advice.
Apply what you like.
Toss what you don’t.
Keep writing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you!

Marjorie King
Clute, TX

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Rogue Invasion

cover artist:  May Dawney Designs

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