Anniversary Shenanigans: Author Visit and Giveaway: Tali Spencer

It is an enormous pleasure for us unicorns to welcome the next guest back into the clubhouse. Tali Spencer was our first 2014 AOTM, and boy was Thick as Thieves a fun read. It starts off with a Unicorn horn used in a...well a manner that we've yet to try  was different... and carried on in the same fun vein. Tali's books and visit was definitely one highlight of many of the Unicorns' year. Read on for a fabulous excerpt from a short story and of course a giveaway!

Happy Anniversary, Unicorns! Besides this celebratory post, I’m going to share an excerpt from a short story in an anthology—being released tomorrow—all proceeds from which go to help Eric Arvin. And of course there’s a giveaway. How about a great leather and basilisk eye card case or keychain? Check out the pictures below.

I’m so pumped about this anniversary. Why? Because the Unicorns are proof on the hoof that reviewers are authors’ best friends.

I don’t mean friends in the sense that I know any of the Unicorns in real life or have personal friendships with any of them. They’re lovely readers whose Goodreads reviews I enjoy reading while sipping my morning coffee, and whose recommendations often find their way onto my Books to Buy list. They’re invariably polite on Facebook and Twitter, and they befriend authors liberally and joyously. But that’s not the kind of friends I’m talking about.

I’m talking about how reviewers can and do discover lesser known books. Because, let’s face it, if an author is already popular, readers are already looking for the next book. The rest of us authors are just hoping to find a little love for the one we just wrote. Let me use my own case as an example.

Last year I published Thick as Thieves, a sword and sorcery romp that prominently featured an inappropriately used unicorn horn. I knew high fantasy would not be for every reader, but the story was lots of fun and I hoped readers would enjoy it. I did what all authors do and set up a few review posts and giveaways. The response was good (whew!) and then something amazing happened.

Let’s just say the book got hit by a herd of unicorns.

I think one of my giveaways was how they found it. We never really talked about that. But one of the high points of my experience as an author was the day a message popped up in my mailbox from one of the Unicorns saying they were going to do a group chat about Thick as Thieves.

A group? Of reviewers?

Wow. If I could just be a fly on the wall… what’s that? They were going to publish the log of their chat on the blog? My jaw dropped. I remember thinking this could be really good, or really bad. But I was excited. People were going to talk about my book!

And this is where reviewers being an author’s best friends come in. There are few opportunities—really few, like almost never outside of reviews or conventions—for authors to find out how readers react to our words. Most book discussion takes place among readers and authors only stumble across them if they get lucky. A chat in which readers let fly what they really think about a book is pure writing gold.

After all the process of creation... of envisioning a world, creating characters and trying to bring them and their worlds, their failures and successes, to life… it can be terrifying to toss it out into the world and not really know if the story achieved what the writer set out to do. I can measure publication success in units sold and royalties earned, but what I want more than anything is to know if my story made readers feel the way I felt while writing it.
Did the story make readers laugh where I laughed? Did they appreciate my hero’s quirks? Hate my villain? What about that side character? Did they find the world I’d created interesting?

Reading that chat when it appeared made me laugh, wince, sing, and dance. It was brilliant. Even the Unicorns who didn’t like the book “got” it and I appreciated the insights. Those who loved it “got” it also and their observations (positive and negative) gave me so many warm fuzzies my cup still floweth over.

A book truly lives when it is talked about.

You see, silence is the worst thing that can happen to a book. If no one finds it, no one reads it. No one talks. No one cares. A review, any review, is a gift. It’s a nod from a stranger. It’s a ray of sunlight in the dark. The more people who have a chance to see a book, the greater its chance to be talked about and find readers.

Happy Anniversary, Unicorns!

Thank you so much Tali. *hastily repairs tear-smeared make-up* Reading is one of (if not the) greatest pleasures in life, every book an author writes is a gift to avid readers like us. Not every book works for every reader - but we still appreciate the effort an author puts into writing and producing a book. THANK YOU!

Anyone up for an excerpt and giveaway? The excerpt is from “Among Giants”, a short story featuring Vorgell the barbarian and Madd the witch from Thick as Thieves. It appears in the Kickass! Anthology which is being released tomorrow. All proceeds from sales of the anthology are going to be given to Eric Arvin, a brilliant author who’s kicking the ass of a medical condition that’s left him paralyzed. Plus it’s a great collection of kickass stories!

The Sun Staff and its wrappings had barely met the ground before Vorgell’s lips found Madd’s and he was crushing that hard, much loved body to his. It had been so long. So many days on the road, stealing sleep instead of gold, performing sucks as means of release or magic but not strictly for pleasure—and yet pleasure, the sheer joy of being together, was what they needed most. Brooches, buttons, ties… every fastener met the same fate and yielded, Madd’s tunic falling off his shoulders, Vorgell’s belts and skins dropping to the earth. Naked, his flesh pale and needful, he knelt and with worshipful hands eased Madd’s trousers over slim hips.

His lover’s beauty never failed to render him weak. Wanting. Vorgell wanted Madd more than he wanted to run with the wolves in the afterlife promised by his forefathers. He wanted Madd more than he wanted all the coin in Gurgh, all the gold in the Sun God’s Temple. More than his freedom. More than his life. He had come to Gurgh with nothing, not knowing what his life was worth or where it would take him. Finding Madd and weaving this fiery witchkin thief into his life had unlocked every door he had ever wanted to open.

“This won’t be extinguished,” he murmured between heated kisses. “What we have burns too hot for any man to conquer or the gods to want to end it now.”

“We have no time for poetry. Stop talking. Over here.”

Madd thoughtfully spread Vorgell’s cloak, hood and all, over a large flat boulder smoothed by the ages and the asses of countless travelers. The fabric cushioned the hard surface just enough that Vorgell found it bearable. The moment Madd’s hands cupped his ass there was no place in the world he wanted to be than here beneath the stars, his erection standing as tall as the stones ringed around them.

“You look like a heathen sacrifice spread out this way.” The warm dark tone of Madd’s voice blended with the night.

“I feel like one, awaiting the finish.” He could not be harder. Beads of starlit fluid already flowed from his cock tip to his belly, on lines as fine as spider thread.

He did not have to wait long. Madd knelt between his spread legs and Vorgell lifted his head to watch his lover’s full lips approach his cock. The shiver of anticipation that raced through him raised more droplets to the surface even as Madd’s hair fell in a dark curtain across his belly and the kiss of those lips on his cock made Vorgell praise the gods.

Wow - lookey here at this FANTASTIC giveaway! To enter to win comment below with your favourite memory of the past year! please remember to leave your name and contact details (e-mail, facebook, twitter handle etc). A winner will be drawn Monday 1st December and notified shortly after. Good luck!!

 To celebrate the Unicorn’s anniversary, I’m giving away a Thick as Thieves swag package:
·         A copy of Thick as Thieves—ebook or paperback.
·         One copy each of any other of my books, if the winner would like.
·         A Thick as Thieves notebook.
·         A Thick as Thieves coin purse.
·         A unicorn horn hand soap (with warning about appropriate use).
·         Winner’s choice of handmade leather with basilisk eye card case or keychain. These items are lovely and the leather is scrumptious.
There are no restrictions as far as shipping to the winner goes.

Tali, thank you so much, it's been a real pleasure having you back and we look forward to seeing you again soon. x


  1. Firstly, I agree with the statement of - that reading is one of the greatest pleasure in life! My favourite memory of last year? Easy. When my granddaughter was finally allowed to come home after being released from Intensive Care after deciding that she was bored in her mum's tum and wanted to explore the world herself, but it was far to early! But she fought for her freedom and won and the world is so much brighter for it.

  2. My best memory is my 3 year old getting to fly on a plane for the first time in his memory. He was so excited!

  3. I love Vorgell and Madd and their creator is quite lovely as well! :) My favorite memory of the last year ... getting to meet someone I'd gotten to know on the internet that I never thought I'd get to meet.


    Thank you for the amazing giveaway! I can't wait to read the short and the next book!

  4. "Silence is the worst thing that can happen to a book." Right on point! Definitely! When I read and review for authors as a beta/editor, one of the things I look for to give for overall input is how do I feel about a book? Love it or hate it is far, far better than if I'm left with a feeling of 'This bored me and I have no real opinion of the work'. You have my email, Tali, should I win something but just to make sure I follow the rules: anordwell(at)

    Also, I gotta give some love to the statement: Reading is one of (if not the) greatest pleasures in life, every book an author writes is a gift to avid readers like us. Not every book works for every reader - but we still appreciate the effort an author puts into writing and producing a book.

    I just said that on Goodreads in an ongoing comment series on a 2 star review of one of my novels. As both an avid reader who devours eBooks by the hundreds a year, and an author who knows just how much work goes into each one, I appreciate that attitude from both sides of the fence!

  5. Thanks so much for the awesome giveaway. As for what I'm most thankful for in the past year, well, I have my health, a roof over my head, food in my fridge and job that provides me with the means to pay for it all. Nothing major happened this year, so I have to go with that.

    Kathy C.

    katcleve25 at

  6. Can't wait for the release of that Anthology! And it was just getting good too. Way to make people want it more! Love your writing Tali, good luck with future endeavors. My favorite memory from the last year... not sure. Probably not having to go through more testing at the doctor's to find the unexplainable vertigo I have, that isn't vertigo!?!

  7. Absolutely awesome giveaway! Best memory of the year. . . well, it's not been a great year so I'd have to say when my landlords were forced to apologise for the massive flood after environmental health legally whooped their ass. Not fixed yet but it was nice to see them panicking after all the hassle the company gave me for three months.

  8. Hmm, I'm trying to think. I guess I've enjoyed getting to know so many new people this year. Not a specific memory but a bunch of them!
    OceanAkers @

  9. I think my favorite memory this year just happened today. My father is in a special care facility to ween him off of the ventilator; thankfully he now is. They let us bring his dog Fidget in to see him as he had been having nightmares that she had died. (special room by the entrance) She was all over him and you could see that she missed him as much as he missed her.

  10. Amazing giveaway!!! Thank you so much!!
    My best memory this year? godson told me:"Come back soon!" He's only 4:)

  11. This giveaway is sooooooo cool!!! TY!!!
    My best memory is when my mother told me that she was going to be fine. It took five years but now, she's trying to be better and I couldn't be more happy about it.
    my email address:

  12. Tali is an amazing writer and this giveaway shows us how much she cares about us readers. I've very few good memories but one was when my daughter woke up from 3 months of coma after a very bad ferry accident. It happened 5 months ago. Best day ever. Thank you again. -Tea58

  13. OMG!! I almost fainted reading about this terrific giveaway <3 <3
    My best memory: a couple of my poems got published <3 <3
    Hope my Goodreads account counts:


  14. My best memory of the past year? We did what is probably our last family vacation with our son this year--college, work and girlfriend will take him away. We did 3 different aquariums on a roadtrip through Tennessee and Georgia. They were awesome.

    dmdkindle at gmail dot com

  15. Congratulations Tea58, you are lucky number twelve, our randomly chosen winner - though it sounds like you have had all you could wish for this year! We will be in touch soon.

    Randomly generated list -