Spotlight: Chopped Scene from The Trillias Gambit by J. V. Hilliard

Today we welcome back Joe Hilliard, a prolific writer who has previously been showcased here! There’s an interview with Joe here, and a previous chopped scene from The Last Keeper here.

This time I’m sharing a deleted scene from Joe’s newest work in The Warminster Series, The Trillias Gambit. 

“Don’t bite your thumb at the vermilion,
for to survive would be one in a million.”

– The Ballad of Eldwal

IT WAS MIDDAY, and King Godwin had been summoned to the walls by his guards amidst a great fanfare and ringing of bells, as was customary to greet a notable arrival to the city. Godwin saw them first from the battlements of the great castle, approaching at speed across the plains. For a brief instant, he worried that it was a military unit, but the numbers were too small and they flew the white flag of peace, as well as their own colors.

He recognized them immediately. They were flying the crimson banner of the Vermilion elves, a recluse race whose eyes and hair matched the hue of their standards. They were riding their signature horses, powder white stallions that had well-earned reputations as the finest mounts in the whole of Warminster.

Godwin was already in a sour, gruff mood from court the day before, and the sight of the Vermilion banners flying high in the wind threatened to push him over the edge. He paced the battlements for several minutes, his brow furrowed and his footsteps heavy as he retraced the same path backwards and forwards while the horsemen grew ever closer. And then, as though he’d arrived at an important and irreversible decision, he leaned over the battlements and spat on the grass far below. He hustled back inside and rang the bell for his servants before examining his surly visage in a looking glass. His face bore the telltale signs of fatigue, but it still projected the calm, regal authority for which he was known.

There was a sound and some movement from the hallway, and Godwin noted the arrival of Meeks Crowley, his personal butler. Crowley was a skinny human, standing over six feet with brown hair, brown eyes and a closely managed moustache. His bony frame was hidden by his servant’s tunic, thick boots and gloves.

“Sire?” Crowley said.

“Ah, Crowley,” Godwin replied, offhandedly. “Please arrange for a welcoming party to receive the Vermilion contingent at the gates.”

“Of course, sire.”

“Damned Vermilion.” Godwin shook his head, anticipating ill omen from them. “A visit from them is never good.”

“Quite, sire,” Crowley simpered. His eyes were watery, as though he’d just received devastating news, and he seemed to hang on to every word that the king spoke as though it was some sort of holy decree that had to be taken down for the benefit of future generations. “They rarely bother with any race, let alone humans.”

“Remind me,” King Godwin asked, “when was the last time that we had dealings with the Vermilion?”

“It’s been a generation, sire” Meeks replied. “Back when your father was on the throne. “The last time they were seen in this part of the realm, it was to help Sir Hertzog Valkeneer to prepare to defend the Bridge against a great alliance of trollborn tribes.”

“Ah, the Battle of the Bridge,” King Godwin remembered. “You’re correct, of course. The attack was repelled through an alliance between the Valkeneer and the Raven elves. We must make the Vermilion feel welcome. Go, send the welcoming party. And have my wife and the nobles summoned to court.”

“Of course, sire.”

Spotlight: Chopped Scene from The Last Keeper by J. V. Hilliard

A Chopped Scene from The Last Keeper by J. V. Hilliard (interview link here!)

Lucien Blacwin, the Faxerian of Halifax Military Academy, was standing in the courtyard, watching his students practice their swordsmanship against straw-stuffed dummies. As headmaster of the school, the Faxerian was charged with not only training students in the art of war but training them for future battlefields.

There was a movement by his shoulder, and he whirled around with one hand on the hilt of his sword, an old habit from his own training, one that would never die. He found himself face-to-face with a messenger with flushed cheeks, wearing the livery of Castle Thronehelm. He relaxed his grip slightly but continued to rest his hand on his pommel, more from habit than because of any threat.

“Well, what is it?” he asked, eyeing the man. Messengers were rarely sent to dispatch good news. These days, it was more likely to be about another bandit attack than a royal proclamation about a marriage or a holy day.

“General Blacwin?”


“I have orders from King Godwin Thorhauer,” the messenger looked to the scroll in his hand and touched a forelock nervously while shifting from one foot to the other as though he was anxious to be back in the saddle.

“What need does King Godwin have with an old general?”

“He has no need of you, sir,” the messenger replied. “Rather, he sends for the two princes and their cousins, the Maeglens. They’re to return to Thronehelm immediately to address the banditry which plagues the trade routes.”

General Blacwin turned from the messenger, his eyes searching the ground as though he was looking for the logic that he was surely missing.

“The king’s sons?” he questioned. “Chasing bandits?”

“Yes, Faxerian,” the man nodded.

“The princes train for the glories of war and are now asked to leave our halls to sweep for brigands instead, eh?” Blacwin had been schooling the Thorhauers and the Maeglens for a little less than a decade, waiting on the chance to send them into a real battle, a chance that he felt was long overdue. They’d completed many similar sweeps for Halifax, rooting out trollborn tribe and various cryptid creatures from the nearby Ravenwood, but he couldn’t grasp the need for such an order. Then again, he wasn’t the king.

“They’ll be ready for such a challenge,” Blacwin said, more to himself than the messenger. “They’ve been training for it ever since they crossed our threshold. This will bring great honor to the Academy.”

The messenger muttered something, but the general didn’t hear it. His words floated away on the wind and disappeared. “As long as they come back alive.”

Spotlight with Iris Novak, author of An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia

Spotlight with Iris Novak, author of An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia

An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia is the true story of a woman named Iris who was born as a poor and frightened country girl in the ex-Yugoslavia. However she felt that she could achieve what she was determined to and had enormous energy that helped her to follow her many life goals.

Living in a country that was situated between the Western and Eastern Europe in the second half of the twentieth century offered her challenges from both different geopolitical and cultural worlds. Her parents came from two opposite sides: her father from a Communist environment and her mother from a poor Catholic family. They had quite different characters: her father was violent and revengeful while her mother was a happy and optimistic person. When Iris became a teenager, her teacher tried to put her on the list of perspective young Communists but Iris managed to evade. Iris refused invitations to the Communist Party also later when she got employed although she knew that non-members of the Communist Party did not have almost any opportunity to achieve leading positions. She was a rather critical believer but always remained Catholic and also decided for religious education of her children.

Her family and her neighbours found her a rather simple girl but as soon as she entered school she was always at the top of the class. She managed to successfully finish her grammar school, the university and PhD. Her studies helped her find several good jobs in quite different areas and in different institutions: a large company dealing with international business, the Slovenian National and University Library, the largest School of foreign languages and finally open her own business. Iris was successful in in international business, in the library and in the school for foreign languages; she left her privileged position and good salary and established her own firm. She was aware that this meant living in poverty again but still believed that she would one day be successful again.

Iris’s family brought about a number of distinctive situations as well. She was living in poverty and in constant fear till her mother divorced her violent husband. She was a teenager when her family built their own house but it did not make them happy. Iris, her mother and her brother had to leave their house without everything. When she married, she thought that she finally found a man whom she would love till the end of her life. However, she soon discovered that she had to accept her mother-in-law as an essential part of her married life and it was even worse when she had to start a struggle against her own husband to win some respect. On the other hand her mother remained her support till the end of her life and her children were a blessing.

Iris spent so many amazing events in her life: absolute love between a mother and a daughter, always being among the best students, falling in love with a young intellectual and changing in a beauty, finding a husband whom she loved, always getting good jobs and increasing her education, and feeling that death did not break the ties with her beloved ones. She always found it a miracle that she could join three children and a career and that she became a deeply religious person although she was living and working in a Communist country.

It was unusual life in which there was no routine. Iris had to struggle and adapt herself to always new positions and new roles that were placed in front of her. However, she had a lot of energy and a strong will to overcome troubles in her family life, in education and in business. Iris is an energetic character who used all her strength to achieve what she wanted and many women will find her as a model to follow in one or another way.

About the Author

The author writes under the pseudonym Iris Novak. She was born in the second half of the twentieth century in Slovenia, the northern part of the then Yugoslavia. She graduated from English and German, acquired her MA in Management and PhD in Librarianship. She worked in the international business, in librarianship, was director of a school for foreign languages and finally established her own business: employment agency and a college. The author lives in Slovenia, is married and has three children.

Spotlight: Robert Kiltz – Living Your Best Life

“Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow”

We all have moments in life that throw us off course – sometimes, entire years. With the pandemic behind us and springtime optimism ahead – this book is the perfect way to make a comeback, in body, mind, and spirit.

Dr. Robert Kiltz is a board-certified OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist who has earned recognition outside of the fertility world for pioneering the holistic health movement and the keto lifestyle. In his latest book “Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow,” Dr. Kiltz provides guidance to help you to live your best life and bring your mind, body, and smile into balance.


“Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow” will provide the resources necessary to help create the ideal you by focusing not only on the body but on the mind and the soul as well. Dr. Kiltz applies a holistic approach to medicine, working collaboratively on his patients’ physical being as well as their emotional and spiritual selves. In his book, Dr. Kiltz deep dives into various self-help techniques such as the power of mediation, eliminating stress, the benefits of yoga, and listening to your inner voice.  

  • – RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2021
  • – PUBLISHER: Waterside Productions
  • – ISBN-13: 978-1-951805-70-8 (print)
  • – ISBN-13: 978-1-951805-71-5 (ebook)
  • – PURCHASING DETAILS: Available on Amazon


Written by a board-certified, globally renowned physician and holistic medical thought leader, this book offers scientific, research-based insights that meld western medicine with eastern healing practices. Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flowwill provide with the resources necessary to cope with those moments in life that throw you off course or make you feel defeated and will give you the tools needed to come back from such setbacks and help you understand that those challenging moments in life are all par for the course. With daily practice, you will learn to control your thoughts and your instincts and begin to manage your life from a place of love and joy rather than stress and fear.


Dr. Robert Kiltz is a board-certified OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist, and Founder and Director of CNY Fertility, one of the largest and most dynamic fertility centers in the country, featured in the Wall Street Journal, Today Show, and CNBC for helping shape the future of fertility medicine. Dr. Kiltz has earned recognition outside of the fertility world for pioneering the holistic health movement and the keto lifestyle. He is the author of several books including The Fertile Feast and Daily Inspirations, and his latest, Living Your Best Life: How to Think, Eat, and Connect your Way to a Better Flow which released April 2021.  In addition to his own media outlets, Dr. Kiltz appears regularly on numerous popular blogs and has shared his views as a TEDx speaker. For more information, check out Dr. Kiltz’s website, or follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Spotlight with Marc Corwin

A Spotlight with Marc Corwin, author of ‘The Optical Lasso’.

The Optical Lasso is a space opera / science fiction fantasy thriller, and the first in a planned series. One of the primary supporting characters, the Science Officer, is an Aussie! This is my first published piece of any kind, but in early reviews, it has been received well (see postings on Amazon).

My debut novel highlights the following conflicts: religion vs science, trust over torture, romance vs combat, truth over politics, is there alien life out there, as well as food commentary on such important topics as thin vs thick crust pizza, what comprises a good New York style cheesecake, and the true origin of matzo ball soup… are you familiar with the legendary matzo bird that once roamed the Negev desert?

Regarding music, it runs the gambit from one hit wonders Friend & Lover to Herman’s Hermits to Ferrante & Teicher and Gustav Holst.

It scientifically challenges your imagination: How can a planet periodically reverse its rotation? What will you find inside the first wormhole ever discovered? If Einstein was wrong and you can travel faster than the speed of light, all of history would be at your fingertips to view at your choosing. What secrets would it reveal?

It will tug at your heart as a dying young boy, through the love of his mother, emerges as Earth’s greatest leader in a time of dire need.

My personal backstory encompasses a successful CFO / small business owner who recently survived a near fatal car accident and realized life is short. Why am I not doing what I really love to do? Write!

So that’s a short and sweet synopsis of what I bring to the table. Pass me a Tim Tam and perhaps we can find some common ground. My wife and I vacationed in Cairns a few decades ago and found the people of Australia to be amongst the friendliest on the planet. We had planned to visit New Zealand this year to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary and we all know what happened there!

We live in San Diego, CA so I will never complain about the weather. We have 2 wonderful dogs Sweet Pea, a rescue, and Elvis (he ain’t nothing but a hound dog) our basset hound who somehow snuck into my book as a character. Imagine that!

Have you read this novel? The author is currently looking for Amazon reviews, so get on it (Australian Amazon or .com Amazon) !

Spotlight with Opa Hysea Wise

A Spotlight on No Place to Hide by Opa Hysea Wise

Opa Hysea Wise is an American author, born to mixed race parents. Like so many people of color, she came to experience a sense of “otherness,” which fueled her desire to discuss diversity as the woven fabric within the American tapestry. She worked as a Training and Development specialist and manager in Government and Corporate organizations. Often tasked to develop and deliver diversity courses, Opa brought a sense of understanding, compassion and a call to action to her audience, with the firm knowledge that returning to the connection we all have would be but one step to returning to love. As both a Jack Canfield Success Coach and an author, Opa Hysea Wise looks to set a fire within the hearts of both her students and her readers. Her book No Place to Hide releases on Nov. 3 2020. You can find out more about this author from her website.

About the Book

Written by a highly acclaimed motivational speaker and success coach, the book offers profound life lessons, wrapped in an engaging, fictional story that presents an opportunity for the audience to grow alongside the protagonist, without even realizing that it has happened. Whether you want to embark on a personal quest for self discovery or just want to curl up with an action-packed mystery, “No Place to Hide” has something in it for everyone. The story is easily consumable and can be appreciated on many levels. It’s a gripping novel that also has the ability to leave a lasting impression.


Against hope, Smythe Windwalker Daniels anonymity is compromised and a threat has been made against her life. The danger impacts not only her life but the lives of those around her. She reluctantly accepts the FBI’s protection, hoping to testify and bring a promise of justice to a community.

Smythe is a woman with vision in her eyes and fire in her soul. From a young age, Smythe was discriminated against as a mixed race girl in a predominantly white neighborhood. She travels to Hawaii to escape the corporate rat race, only to get entangled in a pesticide poisoning cover-up attempt by a mega corporation. While on the run, she seeks to find meaning in events that now threaten her life. Through a series of misadventures she discovers how all events are all woven together in this tapestry called “life.”

As she uses her past experience to find meaning in her present, she begins to see beauty in the midst of chaos. But the harder she tries to hide, the more difficult it is to survive.

You can find out more about this book from this website.

Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Suspense Thriller, Crime, Self-Help, LGBTQ Fiction, African American Women’s Fiction

No Place to Hide” is available for pre-order on Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble for a grand total of US$14.99.

Spotlight from Roy Schreiber

Spotlight from Roy Schreiber, author of The Optimist and Hollywood – Red, White and Blue

The Optimist is a play. So why did it become an audio book? Two reasons. The first has to do with my education after I became a history professor. With a mother and uncle both fired from their jobs for being Communists, I’d already had a first-hand education in how the world works. Although I didn’t admit it to myself at the time, perhaps I wanted to hide in the educational ivory tower, away from the unpredictable real world. I really, really got that wrong.

The Optimist shows how wrong I got it. Let’s start with the faculty union. Despite years of effort, despite massive evidence that the university administrators often cared more for their own well being than anyone else on campus, the vast majority of the faculty would not join a union. As I think back on it now, perhaps the failure at unionization has something to do with the odd nature of so many of my colleagues. One professor really did believe that in a former life he had been Henry VIII. Inevitably his second wife of many did believe she was a modern version of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.

The Optimist becoming an audio book is the logical end of this story. Since this is most assuredly one of those times when truth is stranger than fiction, doing a factual article for some magazine or journal looked like a sure way to pile up rejection notices. Actually one playhouse turned down The Optimist because an artistic director thought the Henry VIII/Anne Boleyn reappearance was unbelievable. With the help of the professional, talented actors who portray these people, my hope is listeners will find The Optimist both convincing and enjoyable.

(P.S. For those who want to find out more about my family’s Communists, checkout Hollywood – Red, White and Blue as either a paperback or audiobook.)

About Roy

After college (UCLA and University of London) Roy Schreiber spent a good deal of time teaching British History at a branch campus of Indiana University.

Like all the other professors, he wrote academic books, biographies of people only about fifty other academics in the world would recognize. It seemed like a lot of effort for a small audience, so he switched to more popular topics including Captain William Bligh and the U.S. during the Red Scare of the 1950s.

Besides books, he has also published short stories and had plays produced for the stage and for radio/podcast. With The Optimist, he uses his early academic career for his current interest.

Spotlight with RJ Parker

RJ ParkerA Spotlight with RJ Parker to promote his latest novel in the Requiem series.

Russell Parker was born in Bountiful, Utah. As his father was safety manager he had to move around until his senior year of high school, when he came to Cache Valley, Utah to stay. He married the most wonderful woman in the world and they are the parents of four fantastic kids, with one crazy dog. Russell played all kinds of sports and was an outdoorsman until an accident brought him to writing. A writer since high school, encouragement brought his stories to life.

Writing the Requiem series

Requiem came to life by a strong left turn in my life. Who thought a book would come about through the fires of life? My life was typical for a while, good job, good home, family and community. Then it all changed when I crushed my back. With surgeries and procedures being done to me and unable to get out of bed for months, I read everything I could get my hands on. Each one I read, I wished I could change a little. While the last bit of sanity left me because of cabin fever, I started to write. When I finished, I was ecstatic, the story was perfect except for one thing, it stunk. I poured over it again and again, changing it and managing each character. Until it became what it is today.

I wanted to write a story that I wished I could read. I studied the success stories of my favorite authors and what they liked about their stories. I built on them in the wish I could bring fantasy to our reality. I wanted to write a story that people could see happen when they looked out their windows and walked out their doors, or they could see bashing through their doors.

Things I like about dragons

I have to be honest I have never seen a dragon. But I would love to have one. Not a Smaug or a toothless type. I would to have one like Elliot! One who is generally nice but one I can still sic on those people who keep coming to the door selling things. If I had a dragon I would take down the, “no solicitor sign” and give the dragon something to eat. I’m crazy like that.

Spotlight with Brendon Luke

Spotlight with Brendon Luke, author of Just Another Ordinary Boy

About Brendon:

One gay, writing to the world, about the world. One man writing about what he has done, and probably why he has done it. One driven human being, one being, maybe sometimes more, that discovered, that once you decide, to do you, things can be a hell of a lot easier. Welcome to my life, welcome to my story, welcome to everything that is to come.

Life can be a veneer of colours, as in, that a decorative covering can always be applied to the already coarser piece of material that you’re trying to cover up. This Story, this me, is no cover up. You’re invited to every part of my life, i hope you bloody enjoy it.

Why Write?

This book was born for many reasons. The main one was a way to release anger because of the toxic culture I was involved in at my past work place. My feelings spilled onto the pages like word vomit; the tears and sweat I had endured during my time at KRONOS was now being replaced with the wine I was drinking, and the words that were being created into pages, that eventually became the story, Just Another Ordinary Boy.

The anger that had been created was now leaving my body. I was becoming myself again. I had been so lost with the vicious nature that had become entwined in from my toxic work culture. This was a way for me to become myself again, once i had told the KRONOS story on the pages in front of me, the writing bug had infected my body. Those stories of pain and grief allowed me to write about all the good times that came after it, and all the great ones that had come before it. This is a piece of work that became a form of art and love that I would forsake. Though hate started this book, love conquered it in the end. From the seeds of hate, love grew into a huge mother fucking tree that any one would swing on and enjoy the sunset that was in the distance.

Does this novel sound as intriguing to you, as it was to me?

Purchase it now on Amazon!

Spotlight: ‘The Grey Dance of Love’ by George Araman

A Spotlight on The Grey Dance of Love by George Araman

Relationships are grey, and the best ones dance exquisitely between passion and friendship. So George Araman, a relationship entrepreneur, incessant researcher, and incurable romantic, wrote a book to help people like him find love that lasts.

A word from the author

“Discover the missing link that makes all relationships magical for a lifetime!”

The answer has always been here and there but never in one place. For a long time I couldn’t understand why, until I stumbled upon this quote by Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.“ This was my calling!

I was looking for a step by step guide to finding love that lasts; from how to create sparks to how to deepen intimacy & connection and more; I couldn’t find all the answers in one place. I also noticed that most of the relationship books were geared to women and for women, alienating men and/or not explaining relationships from a man’s perspective and furthermore, written from a place of conditional love or from a place of two single people in a relationship.

So I wrote this book for both men and women who want a step by step guide to create and find love that lasts. I created along the way 8 relationship characters (of which you are one) in order to help facilitate your journey and integrated both the science and psychology aspects to make this book a multifaceted and complete one.

Sending you Love & Light,
Your Partner in Unconditional Love,

The Grey Dance of Love, out on October 8, is based on over 200 books and 1200 relationship articles, an in-depth experiment and the author’s personal experience. It’s a combination of intensive research, formulas and relatable stories to give readers an entirely new approaching to finding love, and making it last. 

Inside this new, must-read relationship book you will find:

  • An enchanting love story
  • A magical formula
  • 8 Characters (spoiler alert – we’re all one of them!)
  • Tailored “love potions” to solve the most common relationship problems
  • A step-by-step guide to get you where you need to be