Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, paranormal, Spotlight, Urban on February 17, 2016

Sleight of Hand


The epic Weir Chronicles continues.

The rebels poison Ian and it’s up to Rayne and Patrick to find a cure before their friend succumbs and Earth’s fate is left in the hands of adversaries intent on taking control of the planet. To obtain answers, Rayne must travel to an alternate world where few survive as Patrick unearths the secrets of the rebels and discovers a truth that shatters his beliefs about the Weir and the future of Earth.



Desperation transforms us into something unrecognizable—willing to do the unthinkable

The forecast had promised a cloudless, bluebird sky for the ceremony. The threatening thunder and gray frosting overhead was anything but. Hordes of parents, carrying the weight of college loans on their backs, arrived in waves eager to see their offspring walk across a stage and receive the coveted piece of paper, its value equal to a decent-sized home. Their grumbles and curses floated down from the stands, blaming local weathermen for their failure to bring an umbrella.

Rayne knew better. The clueless humans couldn’t predict the weather any more than the Pur Syndrion would know when their arch enemy, the Duach, would strike again, or where planet Earth’s next calamity would appear.

Many of the seated crowd fixed their gazes on the heavens. Rayne kept her attention riveted on the surrounding college stadium, scanning for a hint of green from the recesses of a dark corner, any place Ian could shyft to the stadium and still remain hidden from the crowd. He promised he’d be there, but as the battle to protect the planet raged on, Ian’s promises came and went as often as the tides.

Her cell phone chirped and Rayne glanced at the screen. Any sign of him?

Not yet, she texted back to Patrick.

Milo made jambalaya and cornbread.

Rayne scanned the sea of bodies searching for Patrick and Tara. The promise of her favorite meal and a celebration back at Ian’s mansion barely made a dent in the emptiness she’d carried around for the past few weeks. The only graduation present she wanted was for Ian to share in her special moment.

It was at times like this she longed for her mother and imagined her seated among the other proud parents. Knowledge of the bigger battle to protect Earth from the Duach, the darker sect of the Weir, had Rayne second-guessing the worth of finishing her degree. But it was a goal she swore she’d see to the end. She ran her fingers across her sash. Pursuit of the summa cum laude ranking contributed to many a sleepless night during finals. She didn’t mind; anything to fill the perpetual void.

Where are you sitting? she texted.

North side, mid-section, three rows up from the field.

Rayne twisted in her seat and swiped the swinging tassel out of her line of vision. She found them in the crowd thanks to Tara’s snowy hair and early-twenties figure that stood out amongst the parents and grandparents. From this distance, Patrick’s short-cropped, chocolate hair and not-so-lean torso blended with the bodies in the crowd. Rayne waved and her gown’s sleeve swept back and forth like a flag caught in the wind. Tara nudged Patrick and pointed at Rayne. Tara stood and clapped. Patrick cupped his hands around his mouth and gave a resounding hoot, loud enough for Rayne to hear above the buzz of a couple thousand voices.

The ground beneath her chair shook. Rayne grabbed the seat back. A few standing graduates stumbled and fell into nearby seated classmates. The quake came to a halt as suddenly as it reared its head. Rayne looked to her friends in the stands. Tara had her cell phone out, no doubt checking her app to get an accurate reading. Ian’s core fluctuations told him how serious each tremor was without the need to refer to a spiking graph. He often predicted the tremor’s arrival a heartbeat before everyone else felt it.

Rayne’s cell chimed. Hold on! Patrick’s text message screamed on Rayne’s screen. Something BIG is coming.

The ground beneath Rayne’s feet gave a violent shake. A deafening roar came from beyond the plywood stage. High above the stands, the stadium’s press booth shook from side to side as if suspended by rubber bands. CRACK! A corner of the booth crumbled and concrete crumbs rained toward the seats below. Rayne strained to see through the rising dust cloud.

Shrieks and screams filled the stadium as the undulating stands jolted people to their feet. The narrow rows swelled with families scrambling to escape. A large man fell into Patrick and he in turn stumbled into Tara as the row of people made to flee. Rayne shook her head in disbelief as Patrick’s arms bobbed up and down in a futile attempt to calm the pressing crowd. Tara grasped Patrick’s arm and jerked him to sit as the throng of people fought their way into the already packed staircase leading up and out of the stadium.

A tremor snaked up a lamppost and with a POP, the massive spotlight dislodged and swung downward from its thick cable like a wrecking ball. Sparks burst into the air and sizzled in a cascading waterfall as it slammed into the empty uppermost row of seats.

A collective shout came from the front of the stadium. An earthen wave raced toward them and uprooted the makeshift stage, splitting it in two. Squawking professors, their colorful gowns flapping like birds, took flight and landed in piles on the grassy field.

The wave reached the graduates and upended one row of chairs after another on a beeline course toward Rayne. Graduates piled up around her like a wall. Trapped!

A blinding emerald burst came from one row ahead. Ian appeared shielding his face with his arms. The closest graduates clamored over each other in retreat as chairs toppled amidst shrieks. Ian fell to one knee and raised a fist high above his head, then drove it against the ground. His power met Earth’s wave head-on and with a thunderclap, they cancelled each other out.

Ian slowly rose to his feet but wobbled for a second from the tremendous energy drain. He looked haggard and gaunt. Thick stubble covered his face and the dark circles surrounding his eyes were enhanced by his ebony, disheveled hair. “Sorry I’m late,” he said

Rayne strained to hear him over the shouts. “You made it,” she said and gave him a smile that would have been wider if not for the near-brush with calamity.

“I can’t stay,” he said in a voice dripping with regret. The tremors had stopped but no one stood still long enough to notice. “There was a quake about fifty miles off the coast. I need to check on tidal wave threats along the—”

“Go,” Rayne said, but her heart said stay.

“Don’t let Patrick eat it all.” Ian crouched low, between the piles of upturned chairs. A green burst, and he was gone.

Rayne stood still staring at the spot, committing his image to memory.

Q&A with Sue Duff

We’re now on the third book in the Weir Chronicles. Can you tell us where you got your inspiration for the series?

I was in search of a new kind of superhero and I drew upon my love of science in a deliberate avoidance of all things alien, vampire, werewolf, or typical wizardry. From that basic premise, Ian’s character and the world of the Weir gradually took shape.

Since there may be some readers that haven’t yet seen Fade to Black and Masks and Mirrors , can you catch readers up who are just now joining in on the adventure?

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.

What has been one of your favorite experiences as an author?

I’m not sure I can pinpoint a single accomplishment, but I have to admit that having a young fan come up to me at the 2015 Denver ComicCon and tell me that she wrote a book report on Fade to Black for school will stick with me forever!

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!

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.

About the Author

sue duffSue 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 couple years later, her first urban fantasy novel, Fade to Black , was one of five finalists in the RMFW Colorado Gold Writing Contest and in 2015, Duff’s writing earned her the PEN Award.

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.

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