Posted in Book Release, excerpt, Fantasy, Giveaway, Urban, Young Adult on June 12, 2017

Title: Scythe of Darkness

Author: Dawn Husted

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Release Day: June 13, 2017

Synopsis

For Mia Hieskety, surviving high school meant focusing on exams and attending the occasional party. After breaking up with her boyfriend, who she didn’t even like, dating was off the agenda. That is, until Thanatos came along.

Mia finds herself lured by the mysterious new student with two-toned eyes. Determined to find out who Thanatos is, what he is, and why he seems so interested in her, she accompanies him to his home where a sinister world awaits.

Discovering the truth, a supernatural connection that intertwines with her past, Mia’s life is at risk—and she doesn’t know who to trust.

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Excerpt

The compulsion to find him made me slightly crazy.

My knees shook, vibrating my full-size bed; my headboard tapped the wall like Morse code. Restlessness overtook my feet. I wished my parents would leave already.

The same moment I tossed another knife, a knock jolted the door. “Mia, we’re going. Sure you don’t want to come? Fresh air,” my mom urged in her counselor voice, an unfortunate result from all the years as adviser at my little brother’s school.

I flung my third knife, whipping it next to the others. Knife throwing calmed my nerves, and mine were buzzing like phones during study hall. Adding to my angst, the anniversary of my kidnapping loomed around the corner.

I slid off the bed, and breathed in a steady breath before opening the door. She flashed a toothy grin, trying to hide the meaning behind her inquiry. I knew what she wasn’t saying: not accompanying them to the county fair was out of character. “Are you feeling okay? Is this about Trip?”

Trip and I broke up last week, but I wasn’t thinking about him in the slightest.

“Mom, really. I’ve a ton of homework … a chemistry test, never mind the essay.” Only eight months left of my junior year. I’d filled out Berkeley’s mandatory questionnaire last week, but the essay portion remained unfinished.

I avoided her eyes. She was good at telling when I was lying. I needed to move, not look her in the face. I stepped from view and plucked the scarlet handles out of the bullseye, one by one. I didn’t want her to think I was up to something. My unusual talent had left a few painted-over scars in the door.

Mom slipped her face further around the side, and squinted as if trying to read my thoughts. Thick dark-brown strands of hair slid over her bronze shoulder. My hair was cursed with no thickness whatsoever, but had instead acquired my dad’s double cowlick. “All right. Love you, Mia,” she replied, then gave me a kiss on the forehead, probably hoping I would change my mind, and left.

I heaved a sigh of relief.

If I went with my family to the fair and ran into him again, my mom would surely be watching over my shoulder, making the interaction doubly weird. She had this uncanny ability to wiggle herself into my measly social life whenever possible.

A little voice in the back of my head—not an actual voice, but something—like a mental itch I couldn’t scratch—compelled me to find Eye Guy. And what better place than at the fair, the same place I first ran into him two days ago? The day I’d smashed a basket of nachos all over his shirt by accident. Did I know him somehow?

Eye Guy wasn’t from my school; I would’ve seen him in the halls. Who was he? He had two different-colored eyes—heterochromia iridium—which was why I dubbed him, Eye Guy.

I snatched my backpack off the round chair in the corner of my room, stuffed my chem book inside, plus the binoculars and the camera Uncle Shawn had given me.

My eyes slid shut and I listened for the sound of the front door closing.

Wham.

Scurrying over to my window, I watched the three of them walk toward the street. My eight-year-old brother, Bennie, yanked back-and-forth on my parents’ hands toward a waiting car. They were catching a ride with neighbors.

With a lightness in my chest, my pulse raced. It was now or never.

I rushed down the stairs two at a time. The aroma of popcorn wafted past my nose, as I swung off the mahogany banister and darted into the kitchen for a little to-go snack, and then out into the garage to grab my bike.

Old boxes of memories lined the edges of the bay, allowing just enough space for our only vehicle. I inched in between the hood of the old van, squishing a box with my butt, me popping out the other end. The bike was important; I needed a faster mode of transportation so I could hustle home before my parents returned.

I glided down Ponderosa, the uneven pavement vibrating from my seat all the way up to my neck, and turned left onto Birmingham—a roundabout way to bypass my parents. Beneath an old bridge, homeless huddled in the dark corners; a few stragglers glared at the lights and sounds singing in the distance, blocks away.

The top of the water tower dotted the sky, beyond the overgrown trees and shingled roofs. The sun clung to life in the clouds, streams of lavender highlighting the horizon.

I peddled faster.

Ten minutes later, I arrived at the water tower. A white sign with red letters warned KEEP OUT along the fence. I looped my fingers through the chain-links and whipped my head side-to-side. People weren’t allowed on government property. But being that I was only seventeen, obtaining a mark on my record for breaking and entering wasn’t as big of a deal.

The weight of my bike became heavier the higher I lifted; the aluminum frame fumbled from my grasp, slamming the wheels to the ground on the other side.

Now it was my turn.

Plop.

I stood at the bottom, gazing up. A shoulder-width ladder looped from the concrete to a narrow balcony that rounded the center of the bulbous top. The water tower looked like an upside-down ear syringe. The red bold letters painted around the tank had begun to fade, but I could still make out the city name: Gaige, Texas.

I halted mid-step. The feeling of a hundred butterflies fluttering down my chest gathered in the pit of my stomach. I lurched forward, gripping the metal ladder for support. The butterflies metamorphosed into thundering dragonflies, their wings beating against my insides.

I squeezed the ladder, my nails digging into my palms. Why had the sudden pain erupted? I wanted it to stop!

The little voice in the back of my head told me to climb. Logically, it didn’t make sense, but somehow, I knew Eye Guy couldn’t be too far away. The right side of my brain advised me of the odds of spotting some random stranger in the chaotic mass of the fair. But I had to try.

I climbed through the pain, finding it hard to breathe.

At the top, I fell over onto the balcony.

The dragonflies in my stomach fluttered away. What was happening?

Breathing in, I shucked off my backpack and grabbed the binoculars. Immediately, I began searching the enormous, far-off crowd. Drums thundered from the streets filled with thousands, and voices clamored into the distance. Triangular tangelo flags waved. Flashes of blue lights glimmered sporadically above the sea of heads. A band’s music boomed from the stage, and the whine of guitars faded in the background.

I reached for the popcorn, remaining fixated on the hordes of people. I stuffed a handful in my mouth without looking away.

A magnetic-like pull, stronger than before, honed my focus to the outer edge of the fair.

Ten heartbeats later, I spotted him; for the first time luck was on my side.

Near the outside, behind the Pig Race tent and in front of the Mirror of Mazes, Eye Guy walked slowly through a group of girls sporting short shorts and spaghetti strap shirts. I watched him in reverence as he squeezed through. He wore a long-sleeve plaid shirt and black gloves, just like two days ago.

Why would he dress so warmly? It was September.

But, I had to admit, he pulled it off. My eyes locked on his back as he meandered through the mass. I tossed another handful of popcorn in my mouth then dropped the binoculars and snapped a few photos. My hands shook, making it hard for the camera to focus. Calm down Mia.

I grabbed the binoculars again and zeroed in. The range of vision was as if I was standing right next to him.

He halted mid-step to chat with a tall blond in a red leathery outfit, a girl as unique and pretty as him but with a body much curvier than mine. Her heels matched her flashy wardrobe, and the dark eyeliner that mapped the outside of her eyes resembled that of a rabid raccoon. My toes wiggled against my rubbery flip-flops.

It was apparent Eye Guy and she knew one another by the way they stood inches apart—he with his arms crossed. I narrowed my eyes. The girl’s hand remained poised on her hip as she scanned the crowd; her serious expression left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Then his eyes narrowed in midst of their conversation. He unfolded his arms as a group of scrawny kids my brother’s age bounced into a trashcan, toppling it over, spilling rotten contents out next to his boots.

His attention turned back to the girl. Her lips moved too fast for me to make a measly attempt at trying to read them—especially since I lacked skills in that department. But the manner in which his lips pressed together as his square chin jutted downward, one word stood out: Mia.

Unless he said ‘me’ and not ‘Mia.’

The binoculars thudded against my chest, and I froze. Had I seen that correctly? Did he really say my name?

“Of course not.” Many words could appear to look like my name: many, milli, mile, melon if the -lon was left off. Maybe they were simply discussing dinner plans, or whatever other hundred things that I hadn’t thought about. I bet he didn’t have a clue who I was. How would he?

I raised the binoculars back up slowly.

The second I found him again, his face snapped upward—up into the shadows where I was hiding; I jerked back, my hands lost grip and the binoculars slipped from my grasp, whacking the railing.

Was I seeing things?

I grabbed the binoculars and looked again, but he was gone. The girl too. I swam over every head, every face, but he was gone.

And just like that, the magnetic pull faded.

About the Author

Dawn Husted is the author of Scythe of Darkness, a YA urban fantasy novel. She graduated with a BS from Texas A&M University. When not writing, she’s either camping or dreaming about camping. She’s a member of SCBWI, and lives in southern Texas with her husband and two kids.

Her romanticism of the supernatural is well-crafted in Scythe of Darkness. This gripping YA weaves fate and destiny in a new unsuspecting way.

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Spotlight, Urban on January 29, 2017

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

Several miles later, and unsure if he could take much more, the current slowed and he leaned back in exhaustion. The boat glided into a wide cavern with a high-arched ceiling. A narrow ray of natural light streamed from a sizeable crevice overhead. The striations across the rock walls took Ian’s breath away and he yearned for better light to view them in all their splendor. The wall depicting the planet’s evolutionary story, displaying various crust layers rising high above his head.

Bump! One of the paddles slipped out of Ian’s hand and he scrambled to retrieve it before it floated away. He slid the handle back into the iron ring that rose from the side of the boat and breathed a sigh of relief. Droplets, either from sweat or from his wet hair, plopped onto his cheek, and he used his forearm to swipe his forehead. Bump!

The rowboat swished sideways in the water. It hadn’t been diverted by an underwater rock. The motion felt more like a nudge.

A water creature swam beneath him. Was it playing with him, or was the gesture a warning?

In order to conjure a core blast, Ian would have to let go of one of the oars. If he pulled it into the boat, he’d be unable to steer.

The creature’s back broke the surface on the port side. It was about seven feet long and covered in thick scales, each one the size of Ian’s hand. Phosphorescent algae grew between the curved scales, outlining them in an emerald glow. Ian leaned over the side of the boat as the creature dove beneath and disappeared into the murky depths. He had no idea how deep the water was in the cavern, but from what he could tell, it was enough deep for this creature to have grown to the size of a small car.

He searched for a ledge, anything he could paddle over to so he could be better prepared if the creature returned. Nothing but sheer rock walls surrounded him.

The sounds of the gentle lapping water kept his breaths company, yet were unable to sooth his pulse.

When the creature didn’t return after a couple of minutes, Ian dipped the oars into the water with the merest of sound and pulled back with gentle force, headed for the mouth of the cave several yards ahead. Ian passed under a stream of natural light, and was blinded for a few seconds.

He cocked his ear at a change in the surface of the water from behind. The creature was on a direct path toward him. Ian pulled the oar in his left hand with everything he had but it wasn’t enough to skirt the oncoming blitz. The creature lifted the back end of the boat out of the water and sent Ian lunging to the side.

He face-planted on the surface, and then was pulled under the water.

 

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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Catch up on the series by reading Fade to BlackMasks and Mirrors and Sleight of Hand!

Love Audiobooks? You can also listen to Fade to Black through Audible.

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Horror, paranormal, Spotlight, Thriller, Urban on July 11, 2016

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Raven's Peak

 

Title: Raven’s Peak
Author: Lincoln Cole
Publisher: Kindle Press
Pages: 276
Genre: Horror/Paranormal Thriller/Urban Fantasy

Synopsis

A quiet little mountain town is hiding a big problem. When the townsfolk of Raven’s Peak start acting crazy, Abigail Dressler is called upon to discover the root of the evil affecting people. She uncovers a demonic threat unlike any she’s ever faced and finds herself in a fight just to stay alive.

Abigail rescues Haatim Arison from a terrifying fate and discovers that he has a family legacy in the supernatural that he knows nothing about. Now she’s forced to protect him, which is easy, but also to trust him if she wants to save the townsfolk of Raven’s Peak. Trust, however, is something hard to have for someone who grew up living on the knife’s edge of danger.

Can they discover the cause of the town’s insanity and put a stop to it before it is too late?

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Excerpt

“Reverend, you have a visitor.”

He couldn’t remember when he fell in love with the pain. When agony first turned to pleasure, and then to joy. Of course, it hadn’t always been like this. He remembered screaming all those years ago when first they put him in this cell; those memories were vague, though, like reflections in a dusty mirror.

“Open D4.”

A buzz as the door slid open, inconsequential. The aching need was what drove him in this moment, and nothing else mattered. It was a primal desire: a longing for the tingly rush of adrenaline each time the lash licked his flesh. The blood dripping down his parched skin fulfilled him like biting into a juicy strawberry on a warm summer’s day.

“Some woman. Says she needs to speak with you immediately. She says her name is Frieda.”

A pause, the lash hovering in the air like a poised snake. The Reverend remembered that name, found it dancing in the recesses of his mind. He tried to pull himself back from the ritual, back to reality, but it was an uphill slog through knee-deep mud to reclaim those memories.

It was always difficult to focus when he was in the midst of his cleansing. All he managed to cling to was the name. Frieda. It was the name of an angel, he knew. . . or perhaps a devil.

One and the same when all was said and done.

She belonged to a past life, only the whispers of which he could recall. The ritual reclaimed him, embraced him with its fiery need. His memories were nothing compared to the whip in his hand, its nine tails gracing his flesh.

The lash struck down on his left shoulder blade, scattering droplets of blood against the wall behind him. Those droplets would stain the granite for months, he knew, before finally fading away. He clenched his teeth in a feral grin as the whip landed with a sickening, wet slapping sound.

“Jesus,” a new voice whispered from the doorway. “Does he always do that?”

“Every morning.”

“You’ll cuff him?”

“Why? Are you scared?”

The Reverend raised the lash into the air, poised for another strike.

“Just…man, you said he was crazy…but this…”

The lash came down, lapping at his back and the tender muscles hidden there. He let out a groan of mixed agony and pleasure.

These men were meaningless, their voices only echoes amid the rest, an endless drone. He wanted them to leave him alone with his ritual. They weren’t worth his time.

“I think we can spare the handcuffs this time; the last guy who tried spent a month in the hospital.”

“Regulation says we have to.”

“Then you do it.”

The guards fell silent. The cat-o’-nine-tails, his friend, his love, became the only sound in the roughhewn cell, echoing off the granite walls. He took a rasping breath, blew it out, and cracked the lash again. More blood. More agony. More pleasure.

“I don’t think we need to cuff him,” the second guard decided.

“Good idea. Besides, the Reverend isn’t going to cause us any trouble. He only hurts himself. Right, Reverend?”

The air tasted of copper, sickly sweet. He wished he could see his back and the scars, but there were no mirrors in his cell. They removed the only one he had when he broke shards off to slice into his arms and legs. They were afraid he would kill himself.

How ironic was that?

“Right, Reverend?”

Mirrors were dangerous things, he remembered from that past life. They called the other side, the darker side. An imperfect reflection stared back, threatening to steal pieces of the soul away forever.

“Reverend? Can you hear me?”

The guard reached out to tap the Reverend on the shoulder. Just a tap, no danger at all, but his hand never even came close. Honed reflexes reacted before anyone could possibly understand what was happening.

Suddenly the Reverend was standing. He hovered above the guard who was down on his knees. The man let out a sharp cry, his left shoulder twisted up at an uncomfortable angle by the Reverend’s iron grip.

The lash hung in the air, ready to strike at its new prey.

The Reverend looked curiously at the man, seeing him for the first time. He recognized him as one of the first guardsmen he’d ever spoken with when placed in this cell. A nice European chap with a wife and two young children. A little overweight and balding, but well-intentioned.

Most of him didn’t want to hurt this man, but there was a part—a hungry, needful part—that did. That part wanted to hurt this man in ways neither of them could even imagine. One twist would snap his arm. Two would shatter the bone; the sound as it snapped would be . . .

A symphony rivaling Tchaikovsky.

The second guard—the younger one that smelled of fear—stumbled back, struggling to draw his gun.

“No! No, don’t!”

That from the first, on his knees as if praying. The Reverend wondered if he prayed at night with his family before heading to bed. Doubtless, he prayed that he would make it home safely from work and that one of the inmates wouldn’t rip his throat out or gouge out his eyes. Right now, he was waving his free hand at his partner to get his attention, to stop him.

The younger guard finally worked the gun free and pointed it at the Reverend. His hands were shaking as he said, “Let him go!”

“Don’t shoot, Ed!”

“Let him go!”

The older guard, pleading this time: “Don’t piss him off!”

The look that crossed his young partner’s face in that moment was precious: primal fear. It was an expression the Reverend had seen many times in his life, and he understood the thoughts going through the man’s mind: he couldn’t imagine how he might die in this cell, but he believed he could. That belief stemmed from something deeper than what his eyes could see. A terror so profound it beggared reality.

An immutable silence hung in the air. Both guards twitched and shifted, one in pain and the other in terror. The Reverend was immovable, a statue in his sanctuary, eyes boring into the man’s soul.

“Don’t shoot,” the guard on his knees murmured. “You’ll miss, and we’ll be dead.”

“I have a clear shot. I can’t miss.”

This time, the response was weaker. “We’ll still be dead.”

A hesitation. The guard lowered his gun in confused fear, pointing it at the floor. The Reverend curled his lips and released, freeing the kneeling guard.

The man rubbed his shoulder and climbed shakily to his feet. He backed away from the Reverend and stood beside the other, red-faced and panting.

“I heard you,” the Reverend said. The words were hard to come by; he’d rarely spoken these last five years.

“I’m sorry, Reverend,” the guard replied meekly. “My mistake.”

“Bring me to Frieda,” he whispered.

“You don’t—” the younger guard began. A sharp look from his companion silenced him.

“Right away, sir.”

“Steve, we should cuff…”

Steve ignored him, turning and stepping outside the cell. The Reverend looked longingly at the lash in his hand before dropping it onto his hard bed. His cultivated pain had faded to a dull ache. He would need to begin anew when he returned, restart the cleansing.

There was always more to cleanse.

They traveled through the black-site prison deep below the earth’s surface, past neglected cells and through rough cut stone. A few of the rusty cages held prisoners, but most stood empty and silent. These prisoners were relics of a forgotten time, most of whom couldn’t even remember the misdeed that had brought them here.

The Reverend remembered his misdeeds. Every day he thought of the pain and terror he had inflicted, and every day he prayed it would wash away.

They were deep within the earth, but not enough to benefit from the world’s core heat. It was kept unnaturally cold as well to keep the prisoners docile. That meant there were only a few lights and frigid temperatures. Last winter he thought he might lose a finger to frostbite. He’d cherished the idea, but it wasn’t to be. He had looked forward to cutting it off.

There were only a handful of guards in this section of the prison, maybe one every twenty meters. The actual security system relied on a single exit shaft as the only means of escape. Sure, he could fight his way free, but locking the elevator meant he would never reach the surface.

And pumping out the oxygen meant the situation would be contained.

The Council didn’t want to bring civilians in on the secretive depths of their hellhole prison. The fewer guards they needed to hire, the fewer people knew of their existence, and any guards who were brought in were fed half-truths and lies about their true purpose. How many such men and women, he’d always wondered, knew who he was or why he was here?

Probably none. That was for the best. If they knew, they never would have been able to do their jobs.

As they walked, the Reverend felt the ritual wash away and he became himself once more. Just a man getting on in years: broken, pathetic, and alone as he paid for his mistakes.

Finally, they arrived at the entrance of the prison: an enclosed set of rooms cut into the stone walls backing up to a shaft. A solitary elevator bridged the prison to the world above, guarded by six men, but that wasn’t where they took him.

They guided him to one of the side rooms, opening the door but waiting outside. Inside were a plain brown table and one-way mirror, similar to a police station, but nothing else.

A woman sat at the table facing away from the door. She had brown hair and a white business suit with matching heels. Very pristine; Frieda was always so well-dressed.

“Here we are,” the guard said. The Reverend didn’t acknowledge the man, but he did walk into the chamber. He strode past the table and sat in the chair facing Frieda.

He studied her: she had deep blue eyes and a mole on her left cheek. She looked older, and he couldn’t remember the last time she’d come to visit him.

Probably not since the day she helped lock him in that cell.

“Close the door,” Frieda said to the guards while still facing the Reverend.

“But ma’am, we are supposed to—”

“Close the door,” she reiterated. Her tone was exactly the same, but an undercurrent was there. Hers was a powerful presence, the type normal people obeyed instinctually. She was always in charge, no matter the situation.

“We will be right out here,” Steve replied finally, pulling the heavy metal door closed.

Silence enveloped the room, a humming emptiness.

He stared at her, and she stared at him. Seconds slipped past.

He wondered how she saw him. What must he look like today? His hair and beard must be shaggy and unkempt with strands of gray mixed into the black. He imagined his face, but with eyes that were sunken, skin that was pale and leathery. Doubtless, he looked thinner, almost emaciated.

He was also covered in blood, the smell of which would be overpowering. It disgusted him; he hated how his daily ritual left him, battering his body to maintain control, yet he answered its call without question.

“Do you remember what you told me the first time we met?” the Reverend asked finally, facing Frieda again.

“We need your help,” Frieda said, ignoring his question. “You’ve been here for a long time, and things have been getting worse.”

“You quoted Nietzsche, that first meeting. I thought it was pessimistic and rhetorical,” he continued.

“Crime is getting worse. The world is getting darker and…”

“I thought you were talking about something that might happen to someone else but never to me. I had no idea just how spot on you were: that you were prophesizing my future,” he spoke. “Do you remember your exact words?”

“We need your help,” Frieda finished. Then she added softer: “need your help.”

He didn’t respond. Instead, he said: “Do you remember?”

She sighed. “I do.”

“Repeat it for me.”

She frowned. “When we first met, I said to you: ‘Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.’”

He nodded. “You were right. Now I am a monster.”

“You aren’t a monster,” she whispered.

“No,” he said. “I am your monster.”

“Reverend…”

Rage exploded through his body, and he felt every muscle tense. “That is not my name!” he roared, slamming his fist on the table. It made a loud crashing sound, shredding the silence, and the wood nearly folded beneath the impact.

Frieda slid her chair back in an instant, falling into a fighting stance. One hand gripped the cross hanging around her neck, and the other slid into her vest pocket. She wore an expression he could barely recognize, something he’d never seen on her face before.

Fear.

She was afraid of him. The realization stung, and more than a little bit.

The Reverend didn’t move from his seat, but he could still feel heat coursing through his veins. He forced his pulse to slow, his emotions to subside. He loved the feeling of rage but was terrified of what would happen if he gave into it; if he embraced it.

He glanced at the hand in her pocket and realized what weapon she had chosen to defend herself. A pang shot through his chest.

“Would it work?” he asked.

She didn’t answer, but a minute trace of shame crossed her face. He stood slowly and walked around the table, reaching a hand toward her. To her credit, she barely flinched as he touched her. He gently pulled her fist out of the pocket and opened it. In her grip was a small vial filled with water.

Will it work?” he asked.

“Arthur…” she breathed.

The name brought a flood of memories, furrowing his brow. A little girl playing in a field, picking blueberries and laughing. A wife with auburn hair who watched him with love and longing as he played with their daughter. He quashed them; he feared the pain the memories would bring.

That was a pain he did not cherish.

“I need to know,” he whispered.

He slid the vial from her hand and popped the top off. She watched in resignation as he held up his right arm and poured a few droplets onto his exposed skin. It tingled where it touched, little more than a tickle, and he felt his skin turn hot.

But it didn’t burn.

He let out the shuddering breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.

“Thank God,” Frieda whispered.

“I’m not sure She deserves it,” Arthur replied.

“We need your help,” Frieda said again. When he looked at her face once more, he saw moisture in her eyes. He couldn’t tell if it was from relief that the blessed water didn’t work, or sadness that it almost had.

“How can I possibly help?” he asked, gesturing at his body helplessly with his arms. “You see what I am. What I’ve become.”

“I know what you were.”

“What I am no longer,” he corrected. “I was ignorant and foolish. I can never be that man again.”

“Three girls are missing,” she said.

“Three girls are always missing,” he said, “and countless more.”

“But not like these,” she said. “These are ours.”

He was quiet for a moment. “Rescues?”

She nodded. “Two showed potential. All three were being fostered by the Greathouse family.”

He remembered Charles Greathouse, an old and idealistic man who just wanted to help. “Of course, you went to Charles,” Arthur said. “He took care of your little witches until they were ready to become soldiers.”

“He volunteered.”

“And now he’s dead,” Arthur said. Frieda didn’t correct him. “Who took the girls?”

“We don’t know. But there’s more. It killed three of ours.”

“Hunters?”

“Yes.”

“Who?”

“Michael and Rachael Felton.”

“And the third?”

“Abigail.”

He cursed. “You know she wasn’t ready. Not for this.”

“You’ve been here for five years,” Frieda said. “She grew up.”

“She’s still a child.”

“She wasn’t anymore.”

“She’s my child.”

Frieda hesitated, frowning. He knew as well as she did what had happened to put him in this prison and what part Abigail had played in it. If Abigail hadn’t stopped him…

“We didn’t expect . . .” Frieda said finally, sliding away from the minefield in the conversation.

“You never do.”

“I’m sorry,” Frieda said. “I know you were close.”

The Reverend—Arthur—had trained Abigail. Raised her from a child after rescuing her from a cult many years earlier. It was after his own child had been murdered, and he had needed a reason to go on with his life. His faith was wavering, and she had become his salvation. They were more than close. They were family.

And now she was dead.

“What took them? Was it the Ninth Circle?”

“I don’t think so,” she said. “Our informants haven’t heard anything.”

“A demon?”

“Probably several.”

“Where did it take them?” he asked.

“We don’t know.”

“What is it going to do with them?”

This time, she didn’t answer. She didn’t need to.

“So you want me to clean up your mess?”

“It killed three of our best,” Frieda said. “I don’t…I don’t know what else to do.”

“What does the Council want you to do?”

“Wait and see.”

“And you disagree?”

“I’m afraid that it’ll be too late by the time the Council decides to act.”

“You have others you could send.”

“Not that can handle something like this,” she said.

“You mean none that you could send without the Council finding out and reprimanding you?”

“You were always the best, Arthur.”

“Now I am in prison.”

“You are here voluntarily,” she said. “I’ve taken care of everything. There is a car waiting topside and a jet idling. So, will you help?”

He was silent for a moment, thinking. “I’m not that man anymore.”

“I trust you.”

“You shouldn’t.”

“I do.”

“What happens if I say ‘no’?”

“I don’t know,” Frieda said, shaking her head. “You are my last hope.”

“What happens,” he began, a lump in his throat, “when I don’t come back? What happens when I become the new threat and you have no one else to send?”

Frieda wouldn’t even look him in the eyes.

“When that day comes,” she said softly, staring at the table, “I’ll have an answer to a question I’ve wondered about for a long time.”

“What question is that?”

She looked up at him. “What is my faith worth?”

About the Author

Lincoln Cole is a Columbus-based author who enjoys traveling and has visited many different parts of the world, including Australia and Cambodia, but always returns home to his pugamonster and wife. His love for writing was kindled at an early age through the works of Isaac Asimov and Stephen King and he enjoys telling stories to anyone who will listen.

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Spotlight, Urban, Young Adult on February 27, 2016

rampart guards cover

Synopsis

After his mom disappears, Jason Lex and his family move to a small town where he has no friends, no fun, no life. Things get worse when he’s chased by weird flying creatures that only he can see—Jason thinks he’s losing it.

But when Jason discovers new information about his family, he’s stunned to learn that creatures like Skyfish, Kappa, and the Mongolian Death Worm aren’t just stories on the Internet—they’re real and they live unseen alongside the human race. Many of these creatures naturally emit energy capable of incinerating humans. An invisible shield keeps these creatures hidden and protects the human race from their threatening
force, but someone, or some thing , is trying to destroy it.

Unsure who he can trust, Jason is drawn into the fight to save the people closest to him, and he finds help in surprising places. Confronted with loss, uncertainty, and a devastating betrayal, Jason must make a gut-wrenching decision: Who lives, and who dies.

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Excerpt

An odd sensation ignited at the base of Jason’s neck and crawled down his spine. It burned like a flame held close. He reached around, touched his neck. A shock zapped from his hand and he jerked.

What the…?

Noise crackled in his ears, in his head. He scanned for thunderclouds. But the sky was clear blue. He refocused his gaze on the path. And he saw them. Shiny, golden things, dozens of them, of different lengths, fluttered like dark-eyed ribbons on the wind.

They flew at Jason.

Targeting him.

They waved, or flapped their wings, or flapped their…fins? Jason didn’t know what he saw. But they were coming straight at him and they were coming fast. The crackling got louder.

He smashed his brakes and put his foot down to balance the skid as he U-turned. Unexpected power shot into his legs. He stood on the pedals and pumped, moving faster than ever.

He glanced back—only a few feet away.

How are they so close?

He jolted around. The bike pitched beneath him. He shifted his hips, regained his balance. So many. Right there. Fast.

He begged his legs to pedal harder. The creatures accelerated and closed in. They packed around him, above him, next to him.

Jason punched. Swatted.

Their fins and wings twitched and dodged. A longer creature swooped toward his face. He swung. It dove. Missed.

An instant later he reached the bridge. At the last millisecond he hit the brakes, put his food down, cranked the wheel.

Too fast.

Praise for The Rampart Guards

“A delightful novel that delivers a tightly plotted, character driven story. This paranormal fantasy is not only wildly entertaining, but also undeniably unique. The cast of authentic and endearing characters is one of the novel’s many strengths, along with the brisk pacing, action packed narrative and creation of the novel’s fascinating creatures. Both adult and YA audiences should find this book appealing.” Starred Review from Kirkus Reviews

“ Terrien has created an intriguing world that seamlessly integrates the fantastic with the realistic and is supported by a relatable cast of characters. This appealing novel is sure to find an appreciative audience.” A
Five Star Review from Foreword Clarion Reviews

” An intriguing introduction to what promises to be an expansive series. The Rampart Guards introduces engaging characters, a unique concept and the potential for developing both more fully in future novels.” Blue Ink Review

About the Author

Wendy TerrienWendy Terrien has been writing stories since she was in grade school. Her debut novel T he Rampart Guards (February 26, 2016) is the first in her intriguing urban fantasy series.  Inspired by an episode of B ones that suspected a killer to be a fabled chupacabra, Wendy was fascinated and dove into research about cryptozoology – the study of animals that may or may not exist, or cryptids. Pouring over stories, videos and photographs of creatures others had seen all over the world, Wendy developed her own story to share with middle grade, young adult and grown-up readers.

Raised in Salt Lake City, Wendy graduated from the University of Utah and soon transplanted to Colorado where she completed her MBA at the University of Denver.  Having applied her marketing expertise to the financial and network security industries, it wasn’t until a career coach stepped in that she fully immersed herself in her passion for writing. Wendy began attending writers conferences, workshops and retreats.
She regularly participates in two critique groups and i s the Secretary of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and a member of Pikes Peak Writers and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In 2014, she was a finalist in the S an Francisco Writer’s Contest and in March, will release a novella in the anthology Tick Tock: Seven Tales of Time.

Wendy lives in Colorado with her husband Kevin and their three dogs: Maggie, Shea and Boon. All three of her dogs are rescues and Wendy is passionate about promoting shelter adoptions. If you’re ever in Colorado, you may even be able to spot her by her “Adopt a Shelter Pet” license plates.

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Spotlight, Urban on February 22, 2016

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00002]Buy it now on Amazon!

Blurb:

Evil never rests.

Jordan hoped her life would change after the fiery death of the devious sorcerer, Asa Trebane. She was wrong. The Black Order of the Cult is gearing up to select a new Supreme Leader, and Lucifer will be judge and jury.

Seeley, Jordan’s mother, is possessed with a curse, and even the priests can’t find a solution to defeat the evil devouring her. Jordan must dig deeper into the Satanic realm and joins forces with a wicked witch to save her family from the clutches of Hell.

However, when things go awry with her guardian angel, Markus, Jordan is shrouded in her own longing as she faces the darkness without his light.

There’s trouble in paradise and souls are at stake as Jordan fights to hold onto a normal teenage life ~ the angel she loves ~ and a family that hangs in peril.

artistically painted fiery wings on a black background.

Snippet 1:

Every so often, Jordan’s gaze strayed to the finely built human angel. His jersey spread over his muscled pecs, running the length of his narrowing torso. Her eyes dawdled on the exposed skin where his shirt had ridden up past the waistline of his jeans. Curious, she wondered if he bore a scar from the knife wound inflicted by Asa Trebane a month before. She’d always bear the burden of being a pawn in her angel’s intended demise.

Snippet 2:

While turning, Em’s hand dipped into the pocket of her chenille robe. Out poured a chain of beads, a rosary. She’d looked done in. The proof was in the slope of her shoulders as she hobbled down the hallway, fingering the beads.

Jordan was more than certain that Em hadn’t been fooled. Her grandmother had seen and heard plenty through the years. Also, she was convinced her grandmother was a true warrior in her own right. Her fight consisted of harnessing Satan with a beaded chain of prayers.

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Snippet 3:

Breathing shallow, she scanned the thicket. Five yards ahead, she envisaged transparent waves, like shimmering heat on a blacktopped road. Within the airwaves, an image appeared, an exact replica of Father James kneeling, his spirit-like figure fading in and out.

His lips moved. “Join. Spiritually. Time. Running out.”

The words pitched in and out of her ears as if he was speaking through a

dysfunctional megaphone. “Weaken enchantments . . .”

Snippet 4:

With his back to Seeley, Mortimer called over his shoulder, “Asa’s procrastination in annihilating you, body and soul, has made you stronger.” He made a sweeping turn. “Heavenly powers guard the Chase women like hawks. Nevertheless, Jordan’s blood, and may I add, yours—” His red-rimmed eyes locked on her. “—will eventually be ours.”

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

Sleight of Hand

Synopsis

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.

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Excerpt

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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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, excerpt, Fantasy, Giveaway, Review, Spotlight, Urban on December 23, 2015

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Caelum by Mandie Stevens

Series: Olde City Angels #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Publication Date: July 13, 2015

Synopsis

Eva doesn’t claim to be a good guardian angel, but she tries. After she loses two charges, the Powers That Be begin to doubt her abilities. To redeem herself, Eva sets out to rescue Elsie, granddaughter of the former king of the Fae. A demon has kidnapped Elsie to complete an ancient ritual that will allow him to slip through the veil between Earth and Hell during the Sturgeon moon.
Thomas, an angel liaison, finally lands his first mission. But when he’s paired with the angel responsible for his uncle’s death, he has to put aside their differences to get the job done.
With unlikely friends in tow, Eva and Thomas are in a race against time. Save Elsie, save the world—oh, and save Eva’s job.

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Excerpt

I reached for the knife in my waistband and gripped it. Shops and hotels lined the bay front. The sun was setting fast, and St. Augustine was the Supernatural center of the western world. Getting stuck in an alley with vampire wasn’t my idea of a good time when I had more important things to do, like find my liaison and charge. What a joke. Different races of supernaturals were trying to live together. If humans couldn’t manage it, how were the other-kind going to do it?

One thing I’d learned from my former liaison was that I could learn about anything in a bar. I headed down the cobblestone path to find one. Several humans stepped out of a restaurant. To their left was a brick building that was heavily warded; the humans would have thought it was an extension of the restaurant, never knowing it was a supernatural hot spot. The bar was called Spellbound. Original much?

I stepped out onto the road, and my heart dropped, I second-guessed my senses. A familiar though unexpected energy called to me. I hadn’t seen Phenex since he’d left, but I always knew when family was near. But why wouldn’t he be here? If he were to fit in anywhere, this would be the place.
caelumteaser

Review

If you like paranormal books you will like this book. There are plenty of angels, werewolves, gargoyles, elves and other mystical creatures/beings.

The story was enjoyable but there were lots of characters to keep track of and what their purpose was to the story. I liked the premise of the story, that an angel has a human counterpart in tracking down harmful magical beings.

I’m not huge into paranormal, it just depends on the book and how it grabs me. I’d give this 3 1/2 paws, it was good and I think the series has potential.

pawprintpawprintpawprinthalfpaw

About the Author

mandi stevensMandie Stevens has always been accused of living in her own world so she decided to put it to paper. When she isn’t writing you can catch her lounging on the beach reading. Mandie has penned both nonfiction and urban fantasy.

She has ridiculously little feet and would be happy eating seafood every day.

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Posted in Fantasy, Spotlight, Urban on October 15, 2015
Doll Making 101

Synopsis

Reneé Edward has a lot on her plate. She took over as President of the Reneé-Gal company from her father a few months ago. Just in time for a merger with a new parent company. As if that timing was not bad enough she finds out several Junior Executives have been ruining the merger from within.

Just as she is scrambling to pick up the pieces, Ruben Blackthorne strolls into her life. He is sexy, tall and clearly into her. Though she is excited about this new development in her love life Reneé finds it a little hard to juggle the new addition. As everything in her life finally seems to fall into place for the first time in almost a year Reneé finds herself confused as Ruben begins to pull away. Had she imagined their connection? Were things moving too fast? Lost and confused, at least she has her family and her fellow Deltas to get her through.

That is until everything takes another unexpected turn.

Get into the Delta

Excerpt

“Okay, sip and spill. What kept you away for the better part of a week?” Naomi asked before tipping her cup to her mouth.

Sighing Reneé unwrapped her sandwich. “You remember how Uncle James and I couldn’t figure out why there were all these hang ups with the negotiations right?”

Naomi’s eyes grew cautious and narrowed as she nodded over her mug.

“Well as it turns out three of our junior board members were sending emails sabotaging the merger. They claimed I was holding on to information to sweeten the deal for our side. They also said that they could, with help, oust me and make a more agreeable deal.”

Naomi’s eyes widened as she set down her mug. “Wait, what? Isn’t that illegal or something? Are you going to sue them? Can you save the deal? How did you find out?”

The shocked disbelieve from her friend made Reneé feel better. It made her feel like she wasn’t losing her mind to have someone as upset as she was. Uncle James had seemed more downtrodden than upset.

“One of their assistants got wind of what was going on and clued in Debbie. You know how she gets about finding information. She found the email correspondence between these guys and our soon to be parent company. When Debbie showed the emails to Uncle James and I we fired them. As for suing, I don’t know. Our lawyers are handling it.

We think the deal may be salvageable but they are sending in one of their acquisitions and negotiations guys to do the rest in person. That way there can be no mistakes. Uncle James is all for this. He says the guy they are sending is the same one that approached him and Dad years ago. That he is a trustworthy guy. I still don’t know. While I appreciate that they still want to negotiate it almost feels like I am being chastised for not having a better handle on the board.” Some of the stress crept back in as Reneé finished.

Smiling sympathetically, Naomi reached across the counter to squeeze her hand. “I’m sorry you have to deal with all this. But it is going to get easier right? I mean once this thing goes though your load will be lighter. There are maybe six months left, yes a hard six months but there is light at the end of the tunnel.” She gave another squeeze before letting go and grabbing her cup again. “Now eat your sandwich!”

Rolling her eyes Reneé complied, knowing full well Naomi wouldn’t let her talk again until at least half the sandwich was gone.

They sat in a companionable silence for several minutes when the bell above the door rang several times. When one particular time Reneé saw Naomi’s face light up she turned to see who entered. Then it was like she stopped breathing.

He was tall, maybe six-three and gorgeous. He had shaggy light brown hair, a sharp nose and jaw. As well as the palest blue eyes Reneé had ever seen. The mystery guy had one of those lithe builds that suited the jeans and t-shirt he wore as well as the guitar case strapped to his back.

Reneé made herself start breathing again as he came to stand next to her, beaming at Naomi.

 

Meet The Doll Maker
Indie Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance author

Gretchen is a Seattleite who loves her home. She has a day job as a Program Coordinator at a local university. She is a struggling Indie Author, struggling as in she is trying to make her living writing books. She loves to read, write and create characters. As well as knit and binge watch Netflix. She is also on a sporadic book blog and internet radio show with some of her college friends. She currently lives with her husband and their mischievous Rotti mix, who always seems to find something new she shouldn’t be chewing on.

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Posted in excerpt, paranormal, Spotlight, Urban, Young Adult on July 1, 2015

RARlarge

 

Synopsis

After her foster mother’s unexplained death six months ago, fourteen-year-old Isla Timearth just wants things to go back to normal for her and her twin brother, Monty. But “normal” can only go so far for a closed-off girl with abandonment issues and an anxious boy that gets frequent nosebleeds. Still, the troubled redheads give it a shot by returning to the summer camp they’ve been going to for years.

Aside from her crush showing up unexpectedly, the summer starts out as Isla expected: she participates in multiple activities with her friends, while her brother shies away from doing anything with anyone. But camp traditions get rained on when their biological mother shows up unannounced and, as far as Isla’s concerned, unwelcome.

Knowing that Mother Nature is the mother of all mood swings, Isla isn’t all that surprised to find out that her temperamental biological mother is the terrestrial goddess. What does surprise her is that Monty, the favorite twin, already knew but never told her. Despite being annoyed that such a huge secret was kept from her, Isla has always questioned the loyalty of her own flesh and blood. But once more family secrets start to unravel around her fellow campers, Isla finds out whether blood really is thicker than water.

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Excerpt

That doesn’t answer my question,” I said. “But don’t worry. I used to care, but I got over it.” I’d grown sick of Mona playing favorites between Monty and me, and it was amazing how much better I felt once I stopped trying to compete for her time.

“It’s not as straightforward as you think, Violetta.”

“Oh I’d say it’s pretty straightforward, Mona.”

“Well maybe you’ll change your mind after you see this,” Mona said as she pressed together her middle finger and green-tinted thumb. As soon as she snapped those two fingers, the downpour stopped cold turkey. “You see? I’m not just your birth mother, Violetta, I’m Mother Earth as well. And there’s nothing straightforward about being a child of Mother Earth.” Well, that explained why Mona told us when we were younger that she didn’t have a stable home or income that would support us full time. Not that it really made a difference anyway; the fact that Mona chose the weather over her biological children was inexcusable in my book. “Isn’t that right, Montrose?”

“Wait, you knew about this?” I asked my brother.

“I thought we weren’t gonna tell her,” Monty said to Mona. He looked just as shocked as I was, but obviously not for the same reason.

About the Author

The first story J.B. Kantt ever wrote was for a creative writing class application during her college days. Little did she know that a step towards fulfilling her undergraduate language arts requirement would also be a step towards fulfilling a passion for writing she never knew she had. Now, despite her dreams of becoming a developmental pediatrician, not a day goes by that J.B. doesn’t think about becoming an author as well. When she’s not hitting the books, she’s working on her next book (in between volunteering and practicing taekwondo).

Her debut novel, Roses Are Red, is the first of the Blood, Sweat, and Tears Series. J.B. hopes that her journey to publication helps other writers realize that through hard work and dedication, anything is possible, no matter how old you are or how long you’ve been writing.

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Posted in paranormal, Spotlight, Urban, Young Adult on June 27, 2015

Between-Dreams

Synopsis

Sidney Sinclair was living the dream of any eighteen year-old girl…

A handsome rock star boyfriend, a closet full of designer clothes, a limousine service at her beck and call, and a mansion in the hills of Los Angeles.

Even with all that glamour and excitement at her fingertips, she still feels as if she’s been missing something in her life so she decides to leave.

While trying her best to put her dysfunctional romantic relationship aside and tend to her beloved Granny, Sidney unexpectedly stumbles upon an intriguing emerald pendant boxed away in her grandmother’s closet.

Soon she learns it once belonged to her long-lost mother who committed suicide when she was just a baby. Suddenly feeling emotionally connected to the woman who had birthed her, Sidney begins to wear the necklace.

This sends her on a whirlwind journey that alternates between fantasy and reality…

Almost immediately, she starts having dreams linked to the mysterious pendant. As danger begins to seep into her life, Sidney refuses to remove the necklace and instead documents each dream to help her further understand them. However, she soon begins to wonder if they are dreams meant to bond her to a mother whom she never knew?

Or a subconscious warning that threatens her very life?

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Excerpt

I pushed open the mahogany doors and entered our suite. Ray was sitting on the bed wearing a black button down shirt with matching slacks.
“Happy birthday, babe…surprise!”  I announced throwing up my hands in the air.
He sat as still as a statue staring at me in disbelief as I rushed over to him jumping in his lap laying a kiss on his perfectly full lips. He didn’t respond to my touch and instead took my hands and gently scooted out from underneath me.
“Sid. What are you doing here?”  He said in a hushed tone. Climbing to his feet, he nervously glanced toward the closet doors.
As my brain began to slowly process the fact that Ray was not happy to see me, I heard the door to our closet open and out walked a strikingly sexy young woman. She had vivid red hair, the color of a fine burgundy wine, full of fire and exotic danger. Her hair perfectly complemented her catlike green eyes which were deep set inside of her perfectly oval face, reminiscent of a delicate porcelain doll. She was breathtakingly beautiful.
She was my worst nightmare.
I was mesmerized; I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was wearing an expensive black gown with a neckline cut seductively low, which perfectly accented her full breasts and flowed downward to reveal a sensual hint of her long, toned legs. Her dress was sprinkled with Swarovski crystals woven into the fabric to make it truly stunning, not to mention memorable.
I suddenly recoiled in horror…
She was wearing my dress!
I resented the fact that she looked so good in it.
Her cat green eyes were focused on me. She was appraising me and silently saying, “We both know I look sexier in this dress than you ever could.”
I looked at her and then back at Ray still trying to understand why this woman was in our room with my boyfriend and wearing my dress. My boyfriend was sitting daftly on the bed trying to comprehend the feminine connection between me and this goddess who had turned my entire romantic life upside down.

About the Author

Cynthia Austin lives in Northern California with her husband, two boys, and Olde English Bulldogge named Count Dogula. They love all things horror, gothic, and Victorian which prompts her friends to dub them as “The Adams Family.”
She is an avid reader who may be slightly obsessed with music. She hears music in a way that she believes the artist intended it to be heard: visually, with a storyline that follows. Listening to the songs by her favorite artists, she was inspired to write her first series titled “The Pendant.”
Cynthia has been published twice in The Writer’s Monthly Magazine as well as the online news site, Yahoo! Voices. She currently attends Diablo Valley College, in Pleasant Hill, California, where she is working to achieve her degree in English.
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