As seen in the June issue of Uncaged Book Reviews

Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about the different series you have going?

At present I’m writing mostly stand-alone novels. But I have two series available. Involving pirates, magic, romance, alternate history, action, adventure…the kitchen sink… 😉

Uncaged: Do you write full-time or part-time?

Whatever I choose! I can write full-time or part-time. I am a lady of leisure.

Uncaged: What do you have coming up next that you can tell us about?

I have two novels I’ve been working on. One involves a middle-aged woman who finds herself in a deserted San Francisco, ten years from now… It’s truly a single woman, on her own for 98% of the novel. Another story is a young woman breaking free from her kidnapper, moving toward revenge and redemption… Hoping to have both out before the end of the year.

Uncaged: You are an attending author at Wild Deadwood Reads this year. What are you looking forward to the most from this convention?

*Snicker… I would like to say drinking with friends… But there is more than that. I’m looking forward to the Saturday night reading, the Friday night meet and greet, and my husband and I have tickets for the haunted walking tour on Friday night. So much to look forward to. And I do love meeting readers!

Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them?

I scan my reviews. I try not to dive too deeply into them, most can be so demoralizing. And I hate that one poor review will stick with me, while a dozen good ones disappear from my memory instantly. I do pay attention to specific critics and adjust what I can.

Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books?

I actually received a hand written fan letter, saying my books brightened her day. Another woman, I met and the NOLA RT, came running up to me, gave me hug, saying I’d written her favorite book and she read it several times a year. The Kraken’s Mirror.

Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite?

I love writing. The story telling aspect entrances me. And making up stuff. 😉 Least favorite? Marketing attempts that fail dismally.

Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?

When I’m not writing I’m making hats. Or sewing. I love making hats. My favorite places on Earth…Took a Caribbean cruise last year, fell in love with St Kitts. Actually, most of the wondrous places I’ve visited in the last decade were from cruises. So…perhaps one of my favorite places is aboard a cruise ship!

Uncaged: What is the hardest part of a book to write? What is the easiest? From start to finish, how long does it take to finish a complete book?

Hardest is knowing when to stop. This is an issue with me, and why my pirate series, Forever a Pirate, is 30 books long. The easiest? Well…world building. I love letting my imagination steer the ship. If I’m on a streak, I can finish a book in 3 weeks. If I’m plodding along, fighting with bad habits, etc… 6 months. Or more.

Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?

I LOVE to hear from fans. Praise, questions, nitpicks…any and all. Share pirate pictures with me on Facebook, or Kraken memes. Love me octopus/kraken memes! If you see me at a conference, please introduce yourself. I am very social and not frightened of readers. I have two pages on Facebook, Maureen O. Betita Author and Maureen O. Betita. The author page isn’t terribly active, simply because of FB policies. I have a newish Instagram account – under my name. Same with Pinterest. Always include the O. when searching, or you might end up following my niece from the Phillipines. A very nice young lady, but not me.

My website has a link to sign up for my newsletter. It’s a great way to be notified when a new book is out.

Maureen lives along the lovely Monterey Bay and finds great inspiration in being so near the Pacific Ocean. She shares her home with Stephen, her high school sweetheart, married for over 30 years and a cat named Isabeau.

She travels miles and miles to attend pirate festivals, renaissance fairs, scifi/fantasy conventions, steampunk cons and writing conferences.

maureenobetita.com

The Changed World
Maureen O. Betita
SciFi/Dystopian

In the Changed World, life is cheap, fertile women are valuable, and children are priceless.
A cosmic disruption in time tore the bonds of history apart, leaving a world of hardship, ruled by the survival of the fittest. After the near genocide of her people, Ivy is captured and brutally assaulted. Her daughter is stolen, and she despairs.
Duran, a fellow mercenary, shows Ivy there is hope beyond rage, love beyond hatred…. But will Ivy’s thirst for vengeance destroy everything they have together? Can she save her daughter without losing herself…or the man she has come to love?

EXCERPT
INTRODUCTION

From The Book Of Cruz

In the days before time shattered, the earth rolled with billions of people. Many colors, many countries. Much conflict. Cities rose to the sky, holding every luxury imaginable. Humankind knew their place, which was standing upon everything else. Even their kin.
As was written by a great author of the before, “It was the best of times, is was the worst of times.”
We, the Cruz, were tolerated. Called aliens, we knew the truth and kept to ourselves, in small communities, and did what we did. We were humans, science supported that fact. Our people came from the same roots, but the Cruz evolved…twisted. Or blessed. It all depended on perspective.
The oldest of us remember how full of noise and distraction the old world was, before it changed. But even their memories grow faint, with the years.
The change swept through the galaxy, a great tide that fed on time. It struck with no warning. One moment, the earth was as it had always been, revolving with simple elegance through the ancient sky. Then the wave intersected that path. Instantly, the planet felt the weight of time. Billions of people aged instantly, then in another second, they were dust. Cities crumbled; the monuments of men were swallowed by nature, speeding by to sweep them away.
Coastlines changed, mountains rose, islands sank and in the span of minutes, the survivors stood, alone. The wave swept past, no doubt moving on to wreck havoc through the cosmos, done with us.
Most of our people were spared. We’d always been few, but our instinct to cluster boded well. In the aftermath, we stood together. The rest of the survivors had to find each other and begin again, in small villages and communities. With perseverance, they learned all over again how to grow crops, hunt animals, take care of themselves. We did what we could to assist.
It didn’t take long for the worst of human nature to rise. A decade? Less? Within a century, misery ruled the land. The visitor had done more than steal history, it left behind altered biology. People aged, but they didn’t die. Not naturally. Swords still worked, and axes, and clubs.
And one more thing. Births slowed. And then, they all but stopped.
The survivors needed someone to blame, someone to point a finger at. We were handy. We were different.
In the Changed World, standing out could get you killed.
Or worse.

PROLOGUE

If only this were a nightmare Ivy could wake from. The ground offered no comfort, unyielding and rough, her skin shrank from the ice particles coating the earth. Voices discussed her capture, and how much he would pay them. Distracted by the throbbing in her head she barely heard them, unable to reply, object or counteroffer.
“Pity, she’s one of the last. Not many of them left,” a gruff male voice spoke. “But her price will see us through the winter.”
“Longer, she’s with child. He’ll pay twice for two,” a hard female added, without mercy. “Pity she hasn’t had it, we could keep it and just sell her.”
“World’s gonna be a plain place when they are all gone.” Regret painted that voice. Ivy felt a wrinkled hand brush the hair from her mouth. “I remember…”
“Stuff it, old woman! Memories won’t keep us fed,” the hard voice cut off the memory. “Bind her arms and legs. Denny, you carry her. This is good luck for us, we have to use it!” The orders were obeyed without further discussion. Rough rope bound her wrists, safely enclosed in a bag. They knew Cruz and their tricks.

Helpless, totally helpless. Weak from five months of running, trying to find enough to eat, avoiding the constant patrols as her belly grew and she cursed the unwanted burden. Shelter after shelter came up deserted, nothing but ashes remaining. He’d been merciless.
Her captors bargained well. Ivy recovered enough to attempt talk, but all that accomplished a gag. Fiona, the older woman, tried to offer comfort. The old woman remembered life before the world had changed.
They haggled well and received a high price, she actually didn’t blame them. Life was hard. But now she sat, back to the familiar cell. At least he’d been absent. She had two nights of peace. Many of his clan came to stare at her, but no one spoke. She was fed, but sparingly. And her hands were kept loosely bound at her back. She could have freed them, but why? They’d only redo the rope, tighter. Instead, she welcomed the small mercy.
He’d finally arrived and stood, staring at her through the bars. A tall man, broad shouldered, sun bleached hair falling down his back, tightly braided. He bore scars on his face, one she could be credited for. She nearly smiled at the tear at his cheek, her knife would have taken an eye if he’d been a second slower.
He signaled archers to stand ready before ordering the jailor to enter and undo her hands. The jailor hesitated and Ursus struck him.
She tried to smile, even comfort the man, whispering, “Won’t hurt you…”
Her arms fell useless to her sides as the binding fell away. She swung them, trying to restore feeling in the long denied muscles. Ursus glared at her, then brusquely spit his demand, “Strip.” Ursus, the leader of the bear clan. The brute. The rapist. The murderer.
She wasn’t wearing much to begin with. Rags and strips of cloth stolen here and there fell at her feet. Survival was at stake, she didn’t challenge him. Sensations slowly returned to her hands, enough to do the job. When she finally stood, naked and defenseless, he gazed at her swollen belly, bearing mute testimony to her state. He’d turned to three of his men. “Call the midwife.”
She’d known humiliation, but this as new. Surrounded by men, they gaped and giggled. The midwife trembled, attempting to be gentle, but too aware of what was at stake. Ursus had looked for an heir many, many years, only to be fruitless, as most were in the Changed World.
The midwife leaned back and turned to him. “Due in two months.”
Ursus stared at the midwife. “She was in my bed a solid month. This baby is mine?”
“It seems likely, sir,” the midwife declared gazing at Ivy with pity. Those gray eyes pierced her soul and sent her to the depths of grief. With a soul-wrenching cry, she rolled to one side and surged to her feet, threw herself at the bars, attempting to see one of the poised arrows take her belly.

Two months, Ursus kept her in that cell. Assigned a young boy to watch her, keep her from harming herself. Young Emmett, a Cruz from the greater jails. One of the few left alive. For months, the big blond man had been systematically disposing of the small group he’d captured, all of them known to Ivy. They were the last of the farmers who resisted his authority. Who took up arms to fight him. The last of her blood family.
Emmett had been frightened, but did his best to help her. If she harmed the baby, Ursus would kill him. In front of her. She did nothing to put the young boy in danger. When the little girl slipped free, she’d refused to look at the infant. “Not mine, his! His!”
Ursus was pleased, and made the mistake of ignoring his two captives, emerged in the care of his daughter. Fiona drugged the guards, took Ivy’s hand and led her from the cell. She’d sheltered Ivy and Emmett for a week, seeing strength returned, and told them of the shift in their fortunes. “Rumor comes of a group of Cruz that sail the seas. They seldom touch on shore, knowing they are a hunted people. Each carries a curse, as you do.” She’d transferred her gaze from Ivy to Emmett, “Yours will come, boy.”
Ivy closed her eyes, the night of her twentieth birthday, her genetic curse had settled on her. And for too long she didn’t see it as a curse. Twenty years later, she knew it as such.
Eternal youth. What a f**king joke.

Uncaged Review

In this dystopian book is an original concept with an original take on the apolcalypse. The world after The Change, has been taken over by warlords and different clans. Ivy was captured, tortured and raped by Ursus – one of the worst of the warlords, and becomes pregnant. After giving birth to a daughter, she manages to escape her prison and works as a mercenary, leaving her daughter to be raised by Ursus. When her daughter is old enough, she seeks Ivy out, as Ivy is a Cruz, and with the Cruz bloodline – there is a curse within the bloodline that will manifest when the person turns 20 years old.

There were some good action sequences and a lot of suspense that keeps the reader on their toes. As good of a concept as this book is, there are some missing parts to it, that kept me wondering most of the way through, and some questions that never seemed to be answered. I wanted more. I wanted more information, how did The Change happen? When did it happen? I wasn’t quite sure where we were in the world in this book, was it part of the U.S. at one time? I kept picturing the west coast, don’t know if I’m right. I also got some bit and pieces of when it all occurred, 1957 maybe? I had no idea how much time had passed since it all happened either. I also didn’t get a clear understanding of all the different clans.

Even with that said, I was drawn to the book once I put it down, and wanted to go back – and the more I read and the deeper I got into the book, the more I liked the characters. I will say the book could use a good editor, there were many typos, and even though they were a bit distracting, I think it’s an easy fix. This book could easily have rated higher, and as a series, this has a ton of potential. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars