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BESTSELLING AUTHOR RELEASES LATEST INSTALLMENT IN HER URBAN FANTASY SERIES
Stack a Deck explores the tough questions of a world gone wrong
DENVER, CO — What if the Earth’s ozone layer decayed? What if asteroids weren’t destroyed by outer atmosphere and impacted us on on a regular basis? And what if the Earth’s core slowed its rotation, leaving our planet completely out of sync with the gravitational pull of the moon? Bestselling author Sue Duff explores these terrifying questions in her latest installment of her urban fantasy series, Stack a Deck (Book Four in The Weir Chronicles).
As the epic story continues, Duff’s main protagonist Ian Black learns how dangerous tyrannical ruler Aeros has become, and sees for himself the narcissist’s impact on an entire planet. Ian is forced to turn his back on the Pur Weir and align himself with the rebels to rescue Rayne. But when he travels to Earth’s alternate universe, he finds himself powerless and struggles to survive. Though, it is here that he, along with eager readers of the series, finally discover the true history of the Weir and his connection to Earth’s imminent destruction.
“Stack A Deck was so challenging because I had to consider the worst future for Earth and ask the tough ‘what if’ questions,” said Duff.
Stack a Deck is the fourth of five books in the Weir Chronicles, so fans of Duff’s novels can anticipate an exciting close in the final chapter in 2018.
Out of hundreds of submissions, Duff’s novel Fade to Black placed as a finalist in the Colorado Gold Writing Contest in 2011 and in 2015, her writing earned her the PEN Award from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Masks and Mirrors nabbed Duff a nomination for the 2015-2016 Independent Writer of the Year from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Sleight of Hand landed on the Denver Post Bestseller list in 2016.
Additionally, Duff has completed a short story entitled Duo’vr for the anthology TICK TOCK: Seven Tales of Time, which received the gold medal for Best Book Cover and silver medal for Best Anthology for the 2016 Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards. The anthology also was nominated for Best Anthology at the 2016 UTOPIA Con. A second anthology is on its way in 2017 and, in addition to the seven Wicked Ink authors short stories, it will feature two short-stories hand-selected from over 45 submissions received from writers all over the world.
Sue Duff has dreamed of dragons and spaceships before she could even read, so it’s only natural that she now combines both fantasy and science fiction as her favorite genre. Having written since high school, Duff never took it seriously until a skiing accident laid her up for an entire summer and she turned on the word processor to combat the boredom.
A few years later, her first urban fantasy novel, Fade to Black, was one of five finalists in the RMFW Colorado Gold Writing Contest. Duff’s writing has also earned her a PEN Award, a nomination for 2015-2016 RMFW Independent Writer of the Year, three consecutive years as a featured panelist at Denver ComicCon and a coveted spot on the Denver Post Bestseller list.
She is the second oldest of six girls with an avid reader mom and her dad, the family’s single drop of testosterone in a sea of estrogen.
By day, Duff is a dedicated speech-language therapist at an inner city school district, a career she pursued much in part to her aunt who got her hooked on stories of the profession when Duff was younger. She is passionate about the work she does and regularly works to help those students that need it the most.
Sue is a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and The Pikes Peak Writers. She calls Colorado home and when not saving the world one page at a time, she can be found walking her great dane, getting her hands dirty in her garden, or creating something delicious in her kitchen.
Check out her blog, A Cook’s Guide to Writing and other musings on her website.
Stack A Deck
Book #4 in The Weir Chronicles
On Amazon: 978-0-9970156-6-9
February 1, 2017
Ian’s alliance with the rebels brings the wrath of the Pur army crashing down on them, but he is forced to abandon his new allies and travels to Earth’s alternate universe to rescue Rayne. As Ian combs the strange, desolate planet in search for her, he discovers the true story of the Weir and his connection to Earth’s imminent destruction.
Pre-order now through Amazon!
Love Audiobooks? You can also listen to Fade to Black through Audible.
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Praise for the Series
“A stunning debut with a thrilling mix of sci-fi and fantasy. Duff has a real hit on her hands.”
- Roxanne Kade, blogger at Therian
“I recommend this to anyone who loves a good Sci-fi esque, fantasy, dystopian, secret-war-going-on-behind-the-human’s-backs-and-right-under-their-noses sort of book.”
— Jaay V, blogger at Reckless Indulgence
“This is one series that I recommend to readers of fantasy and paranormal romances. It just keeps getting better and better. Just when you think you might know what’s going on, there are new twists that get added in.”
– Jessica Bronder, blogger at J Bronder Book Reviews
What Readers Are Saying
“What an explosive adventure! I am definitely hooked!”
“A riveting adventure from start to finish. I can’t wait to read the next books in the series.”
“You may lose sleep. The action is fast paced and it’s refreshing to see a book in this genre with a male protagonist! I truly enjoyed his journey to self-discovery.”
“I love that Sue Duff does not dumb down her writing to make everything repetitious each time – she let’s you figure out the rules yourself while you read. Her style of writing really suits the smart world-building, and I also fell so in love with the characters.”
“A magical tale filled with likeable characters.”
Q&A with Sue Duff
We’re now on book four in the Weir Chronicles. Can you tell us where readers will find Ian Black in Stack a Deck?
Ian has been forced to turn his back on the Pur Weir and align himself with the rebels to rescue Rayne. When he travels to Earth’s alternate universe, he finds himself powerless and struggles to survive the dangerous planet while staying one step ahead of Aeros.
Since there may be some readers that haven’t yet read Fade to Black, Masks and Mirrors and Sleight of Hand, can you catch them up on what they’ve missed?
In Fade to Black, the main protagonist and “superhero” is Ian Black. Born the last of the Weir, all hope rests on him to save the planet, but he doesn’t inherit the powers as predicted. Tortured in a last ditch effort to bring his supposed powers to the surface, he escapes and hides among the humans as an illusionist – until a nosy college reporter uncovers his secret. Together, they discover a malevolent Weir who is sucking Earth’s energy and depleting its resources at an alarming rate.
The Weir are a race of magical beings who have served as caretakers of Earth for thousands of years and it is their connection to the planet that keeps what roams above in harmony with the energies that churn below. Unfortunately, they are becoming extinct and as a result, there is an intense rise of natural disasters across the globe. Desperate to save the earth and prevent the end of their race, the Weir turn to modern science to perpetuate themselves. But this philosophy separates their kind into two warring factions – the Pur and the Duach. To keep them from killing each other, and all but guaranteeing their extinction, a Curse is created by the Ancient counsel as a means of keeping them apart. Of course, as you could predict, the Weir soon discover it’s not wise to mess with Mother Nature!
A band of rebels, committed to stopping their mutual enemy, come on the scene in Masks and Mirrors, and give Ian reason to be suspicious as he struggles to uncover what ulterior motive they have for saving Earth.
In the third book, Sleight of Hand, Ian pursues answers in order to stop Earth’s natural disasters and eminent self-destruction, but the rebels have their own agenda and poison him. Patrick and Rayne search for a cure and in so doing, Rayne ends up on Thrae, Earth’s alternate universe, while Patrick confronts the rebel leaders and learns the truth about the Weir.
What are your initial thoughts when thinking about your book(s)?
I write the way I like to read – short chapters that end with a cliffhanger so you can’t help but turn the page and read just ‘one more chapter.’ I’ve received feedback from individuals, who don’t typically read my genre, but end up loving my books. Others that aren’t big readers have finished my novels in one, two or three sittings!
What kind of research did you have to do for your book / series?
The fourth book was the most challenging of all, because I had to consider the worst future for Earth and ask the “what if” questions. What if the ozone layer decayed? What if asteroids weren’t destroyed by the outer atmosphere and impacted the early regularly? What if the Earth’s core slowed its rotation and what affect that would have on the planet and to the gravitational pull on the moon? These facts are the basis for how Aeros affected Thrae, and since it ‘used to be’ the mirror image of Earth, I had to apply those results in this novel.
Do any pieces of the book come from personal experience?
When I was a teenager, we took a road trip up the California Coast and spent time in the redwood forests. I thought it was the most breathtaking place on Earth, which is why I have Ian living there in my stories.
What do you hope readers most get out of your book (or the series as a whole)?
Regardless of the naysayers, believe in yourself and follow your own strengths and path in the world. Ian didn’t develop his powers as the prophecy predicted, and Rayne wasn’t the firstborn male Sar that her father desired. The fact that Ian turned to illusions in order to do what he couldn’t naturally (lack of powers in a magical world) is key to his character. Tortured for what he had no control over, he discovered and nurtured something that he could control.
I also hope that my readers can accept that science can’t explain everything and embrace the wonders and mysteries in the universe. My favorite line from the first book is, “There will always be magic in the world, as long as we believe in what we don’t understand.”
You also released TICK TOCK, an anthology with six other Colorado authors this past year. How did that come together, and do you have anything planned for 2017?
Our first anthology, TICK TOCK: Seven Tales of Time, was nominated as Best Anthology of 2016 by UTOPIA Con in June, and we also won the silver medal for Best Anthology of 2016 and the gold medal for Best Book Cover through Colorado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards in August! Our next anthology is based on short stories inspired by our favorite song. In addition, we opened the second book up to submissions and received more than 45 from all over the world! After the marathon readings and critiques, we chose two that stood out above the rest and we’re excited to include them in the second anthology, releasing this spring.
So after working both solo and in tandem with other authors on a project, do you have a favorite method of writing?
There are pros to doing both! I love my Wicked Ink team and we do so much to support each other. It can be daunting to self-publish a novel, but with having a team, the burden can be shared by all – which makes it easier. But…I also love writing on my own, because the final decisions and content are solely mine and I don’t feel so stressed by deadlines – albeit the ones I put on myself. But truly, I have the best of both worlds!
The Pen and Muse Interview
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I was born in Chicago, IL, but my family moved to Phoenix, AZ when I was four years old. I grew up there until I went to Flagstaff, AZ and attended Northern Arizona University, majoring in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. I soon moved to Denver, CO to earn my master degree at the University of Denver in Speech-Language Pathology. I worked at Porter-Littleton Hospital for ten years, then worked at Denver Public Schools where I am currently servicing elementary school children.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
I had a skiing accident and after my surgery, I was laid up for an entire summer. I was going stir crazy and decided to turn on the word processor to revisit some of my love of writing stories. It didn’t take long for me to develop an idea and found myself plotting out a story that took on a life of its own. By the time I finished the first draft, I was hooked, took a creative writing course, and everything exploded from there!
How do you create your characters?
That’s hard to answer because I like to think that they develop themselves. I get an idea, or take a piece of my own personality, give them a rocky backstory (we all have one) and before I know it, they take on a life of their own. I’m sure I use pieces of people I’ve known over the years, or people that intrigue me, but I honestly don’t use anyone I’ve actually known, verbatim (wink).
What inspires and what got you started in writing?
Boredom, a need to distract myself. I had a lot happen to me over about a decade and for the first time in my life, I felt I wasn’t in control of anything. Writing, creating worlds and characters, etc. helped me to feel in control. It was better than therapy!
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
Absolute quiet! I am easily distracted by sounds like music. I do love my Diet Pepsi, probably because of the caffeine but I’m trying to drink more water, too. I used to go for hours without eating while I was writing, but the older I get, that’s not the case and I have to have some kind of snack. I’m big on fruit, but it’s not unusual that I have unhealthy tidbits within reach.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
LOL, this is a running joke among my writer friends. I get most of them when I sleep. I rarely remember my dreams, never have, but when I’m in the “writer zone” I actually wake up knowing how a difficult scene from the night before is going to work, or have a delightful character show up on my pages!
What do you like to read?
I am still partial to mysteries, detective novels, science fiction and always fantasy. About the only genre I’ve never gotten into is romance. I’ve read some, but they feel too formulaic for me and after a few, I’m just not intrigued by them anymore.
What would your advice be for authors or aspiring authors in regards to writing?
- Write what you love! It will show in your world building, characters and story-line. If you don’t love it, it will come across in your world building, characters and story-line.
- Find a critique group that will be supportive, but honest with you. They are out there, and if you aren’t comfortable with one, keep looking, they are all over metropolitan areas and hundreds are online, too.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Be supportive of anyone who is writing! It is a scary thing to bare your ideas, thoughts and soul into a story. They need encouragement. Every successful author started the same way.