Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Blast & Top Ten: Hollownton Homicide by @GretchenSB

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clip_image002Hollownton Homicide

Anthony Hollownton

Book 1

Gretchen S. B.

Genre: Urban Fantasy / Mystery

ISBN: 978-1495499463

ASIN:

Number of pages: 258

Word Count: 82,628

Cover Artist: Talina Perkins

Book Description:

Homicide detective Anthony Hollownton thought he had seen it all until he and his partner, Rick Nelson, are called to a murder scene unlike any Tony has come across. There are no witnesses and none of the neighbors heard a thing.

Once Tony starts to investigate the facts of the case become stranger and stranger.

As the body count rises Tony is drawn into a world he did not know existed.

Starting with a visit from a dead woman from his past.

He must decide whether the paranormal truly exists or if these killing are some kind of delusional gang war.

excerpt

Anthony swung up in bed. What had woken him? Had his alarm gone off? There was a ringing noise. He turned to his left and made a grab for the phone next to his bed.

“Anthony Hollownton.”

That was as polite as they were getting for the middle of the night. If they had a problem with that they could deal with it. He looked at his alarm clock, five am. That meant barely more than two hours of sleep. Why would someone call him at five am?

There was a pause on the other end.

“Hello.” He repeated. He felt himself freeze.

He could hear talking on the other end. He silently pleaded that it wasn’t the same woman from earlier. He was just frustrated enough to trace the call and chew her out. He heard a male voice come on to the other end and Anthony exhaled, forcing his muscles to relax one by one. He had to get sleep; he was jumping to ridiculous conclusions.

“Hey Tony, sorry to call so early man, but I gotta ask you a question.” It was his partner. The tone in the man’s voice sounded serious but genuinely upset about saying whatever it was he was about to say.

Tony felt himself tense again, what if something was wrong with Amanda or the baby? “What is it Rick?” Tony tried to sound neutral.

When he heard his partner sigh he relaxed again feeling more tired than before.

“Look man, I don’t believe it but Amanda asked me to so I’m doing it.”

Tony screamed in his head. He wanted to get back to sleep. “Get to the point Nelson. I want to go back to bed.”

The use of the last name was usually reserved for when they were working. It showed Rick he meant business and told him to get to the point.

“As you know the land line is on Amanda’s side of the bed and she has picked up three phone calls since we went to bed she says it was a woman who laughs and hangs up. After the third time Amanda called *69 and the number is yours, your land line anyway. I wasn't sure at first since you don't really use it. But when I double checked in my cell, the numbers matched. I told her it was crazy, since you never have women over. I told her that outside of her and other cops you don’t even know any women, no offence, but she’s making me call anyway to make sure.”

Tony’s jaw dropped. Now he was wide-awake. He must have been silent too long because his partner’s voice came on with a worried tone.

“Hey Tony, you still there?”

Tony flicked on his bedroom light and scanned the room, empty. “Yeah man, I’m here, just shocked. I don’t have anyone here and I’ve been asleep. You know it could be some prank caller who knows how to reroute numbers or something.”

Tony debated telling his partner about the call at work but quickly dismissed it. With a wife and a four-month-old daughter Rick had enough on his plate.

“Yeah, I figured as much. I was just calling to make sure. Sorry for waking you up man. I hope you can get back to sleep.”

Tony nodded. So did he. “Yeah, good night Rick.”

He heard his partner say something to his wife. “Good night Tony, See you tomorrow, I mean today.”

As he hung up the phone Tony looked about his room. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Against the wall at the foot of his bed was his 42' TV. To the left of the bed was the closet, which was still open from when he put away his work clothes, no one was in there. To the right of the TV was the door out into the rest of the apartment, still closed. Everything on the nightstand was still where he left it. Turning, he looked at the window above the bed, still locked. He turned back reaching into the top drawer of his nightstand and pulled out his gun and got out of bed. If there was anyone in his apartment he was going to find them.

topten

For my top ten list I wanted to do, Movies that have stuck with me since I first saw them. This isn't a list of my favorites, but of movies I just can't shake. So in no particular order… (Side Note: I am excluding Human Centipede because it is horrible and no one should ever speak of it.)

1. The Dark Crystal - I seriously watched the first half (Because I only had a recording of the first half and did not know it was not the whole movie until I was 11) of this movie EVERY DAY, no exaggeration, for about six months when I was four. Then periodically after that. Why has this movie stuck with me...really it hasn't, but my uncle who babysat me at that time was driven nuts having to watch this everyday. He finally found/bought the tape so that he could see the end (about 10 years later) I wasn't even aware I have never seen the ending! To this day he'll grin and me and say "Are you gelfling?" So it sticks with me because it broke my uncle.

2. Ghostbusters (1&2) - I watched this so much it was second only to the Dark Crystal. No matter how many times I did the librarian scared the crap out of me. I remember sitting on the couch alone eating my nerds knowing that part was coming up so I slid off the couch with the white blank over my head and went to the corner of the room, part way up the stairs, facing the wall. Just image how creepy that would have been if my parents had come downstairs. I would do this every time. Waiting until I heard the screaming then I would calming walk back down and watch the rest of the movie. Slimer and Mr. Staypuft were my favorite characters. GB2 was the first movie I ever saw in theaters. My dad took me and when Viggo comes out of the painting I held my breath and grabbed/leaned on my dad's arm. Knowing that if the man came out of the movie screen Daddy would protect me. My addiction to those movies continues today. Yes, I dragged my fiancée to a thirtieth anniversary screening!

3. The Shining - Saw this when I was 11. It was the first horror movie to ever give me nightmares. Quite the feet when you think of the crap my parents had me watch as a kid.

4. What Women Want - Great movie, pre-crazy Mel Gibson cracks me up every time. But what burned this movie into my brain was that I saw it with my little sister, a cousin, and my maternal Grandmother. We all liked the film (I had picked it out) but in the theater parking lot my grandmother teared up because it was filmed in Chicago, where she and my Grandfather lived until their twenties. He had dies less than a year earlier and the places they filmed brought back many memories for her. It wasn't until that moment I realized the real effect movies can have on people. I with I could take back the movie pick.

5. General's Daughter - This movie breaks one of my cardinal movie rules for films that I am okay watching. Yet things are so intricate and the acting to so good that I actually very much like it, but every time I watch it I feel dirty and dark.

6. Stir of Echoes - This movie sticks with me because it continues to scare the crap out of me. I enjoy it but the real reason I bought it is because I couldn't let it get the best of me.

7. Practical Magic - I could put that movie on loop and you would lose me for days. It never gets old for me. I love everything about it, the music, the story, the cinematography. It stuck with me because there is something about it, it creates a world I want to be in. I try to make my books the same way. I still watch it when feeling down or in a creative slump.

8. Newsies - Seriously, this movies has everything! It's Disney happy, there's singing, history from what was my favorite historical period and it is singularly responsible for my mini-obsession with Christian Bale. That is pretty much why it makes the list. This spawned my Christian Bale swooning there much longer than I would like to admit.

9. Brotherhood of the Wolf - This is my favorite movie, even if it is French. The cinematography, direction, and costuming are amazing. Every time I watch it I see something new. It made me want to write like that. To take an idea and grow an intriguing and complicated story from it. I almost always recommend this movie...to people that are not bothered by French nudity. Ironically dad took me to see this one two...I didn't know it was a foreign until it actually started. Which he found hilarious.

10. The Truman Show - While last, this is most definitely not least! The film is the cause of constant paranoia for the rest of my life....Thanks guys 

 

abouttheauthor

clip_image004

Gretchen happily lives in Seattle, Washington where she spends her time creating new characters and situations to put them in. She also enjoys cheering on her local sports teams, even though it sometimes seems they are allergic to winning (Except the Super Bowl!).

She graduated from Central Washington University with a BA in History and a BA in Philosophy. She loves that Washington provides a large range of activities, from Shakespeare in the park to rodeos. At the end of her adventures she unwinds by curling up on the couch, knitting while catching up TV shows via Netflix.

http://www.gretchensb.com/

https://twitter.com/GretchenSB

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7398184.Gretchen_S_B_

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gretchen-S-B/540293959350712

Book Blast & Hot Interview: The Position by @authordahliaS

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clip_image002The Position

Dahlia Salvatore

Genre: Erotica

Publisher: Entice – BookTrope Publishing

Date of Publication: August 27

ISBN: 978-1-62015-484-7

ASIN: B00MW1BRNY

Number of pages: 186

Cover Artist: BookTrope Publishing

Book Description:

Dylan Farrow puts on his pants every morning one leg at a time, just like everyone else at the Kerrigan Advertising Agency. He handles high-pressure projects with a fast turnaround. He’s prized for his keen intellect and admirable performance. But how did he get where he is today—to the level of Junior Executive of Design Production?

Well, that involves how he takes his pants off…

and for whom…

Hoping to break through the glass ceiling under which she’s been trapped for years, Valerie Caplan picks up her life and moves to Seattle. After hearing about the position of Senior Executive of Design Production from an art director at Kerrigan, she decides to apply. When she lands the big interview, she never thinks for a minute that she’ll have any serious competition. She assumes that she has the job in the bag…until she discovers that the only competition has something she doesn’t have—the willingness to go outside the office to impress Danica Stewart, their uptight female boss.

Available at Amazon

Authorcagehot

Welcome to Darkest Cravings, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I'm an author living in Seattle, Washington. When I'm not writing, I'm a homemaker and reader.

Writing adult fiction isn’t for everyone, how did you end up writing for the toughest audience?

I wrote what I like reading the most and people encouraged me to keep going, so I'll be doing that for the foreseeable future! :)

Most of the intimidating parts of being an adult fiction writer is the steamy scenes, how did you overcome the “stage fright”?

I never really had stage fright. Most of my issues come with making sure the scenes are balanced between fantastic and realistic.

Which fictional character would you like to go on a date with? Why?

My main character would be great. Dylan's a catch and mysterious enough to where I'd be asking for more.

Your favorite adult fiction books is-?

The entire Falling series by Jasinda Wilder. Those are some of my favorites.

Do you think adult fiction have reached its full potential yet, or are we still in for a huge surprise?

I think there is always something new to look forward to in the world of literature. There are only a few groundbreakers on the market at a time, but there will always be new writers mixing things up.

We all have a treasured possession, what is yours?

My computer. That's where I do all my writing and planning.

Are your characters based on real people or did you create them from scratch?

I created them from scratch, but I did use visual references. Danica's appearance is based on the actress Monica Bellucci.

Do you think adult fiction helps improves relationships?

I think it should be treated as its own entity. Real relationships should never be modeled off of literary relationships. There's a reason they call it fantasy. Real life relationships are about endurance, understanding and patience. Fantasy relationships are usually about satisfying passionate impulse and coming together. Real life deals with what comes after the initial passionate explosion.

If you have to pitch adult fiction to someone that’s too shy to read it, what would you pitch?

I'd tell them to open up to the possibility that they may discover something about themselves that they weren't previously aware of. Sometimes if you have an unwilling partner or someone who doesn't want to experiment, you can indulge in your fantasies through the characters. That becomes valuable when working out your own feelings and urges.

What is your motto?

I don't really have one. I think every day requires a new mantra. To set sights on one motto might reduce your chances of discovering a new one the next day.

You have a few steamy moments in your novel. Were they created from fantasy or is there real life experience behind it?

There were some instances taken from real life.

Why did you choose a virgin rather than a more experienced woman? (Or vice versa)

Valerie isn't a virgin, but she's not very experienced either. She's been too busy with work to date, and meeting Dylan kind of wakes her sexual side up.

Foreplay, some say it’s just a waste of energy, others feel that it’s a must. You’re opinion?

Foreplay is a must. I'm not much for receiving, but I love giving.

What sexual position is your favorite?

The one where the guy is trussed up like a holiday ham, licking my boot. Hahaha.

Have you ever used your nails and left marks?

I haven't left marks with my nails.

Do you think lingerie is a must for a relationship?

No. Men and women alike are just as sexy completely naked.

Are you a screamer or the bite it down kind of lover?

Screamer

Have you ever participated in BDSM?

Yes.

BDSM have been describe as the ultimate form of trust between two people, do you agree?

Yup

Any favorite toys?

Masks, floggers, whips, cuffs, chastity devices, clips, electro-shock equipment, racks, leashes, clothes pins, inflatable dildos.

Does pain really enhance the sexual experience?

I'm a masochist not a sadist. I enjoy inflicting pain versus feeling pain.

Who is the better Dom? Male or Female?

I read both. In real life I prefer to be in charge.

You’re perfect male Dom would be?

He'd have to be a HELL of a strong male to be able to overpower me effectively. He'd have to have a lot of power and bearing to be able to pull it off. I haven't met one that could do the job yet...

You’re perfect female Dom would be?

The current female main character I'm writing in one of my upcoming novels. ;)

What is you’re perfect game setup?

I'd like to dominate more than one person at a time, possibly an instructional session with another married couple.

 

 

abouttheauthor

Dahlia Salvatore is a thirty-two-year-old female author living in Seattle, Washington with her husband. She comes from Coos Bay, Oregon and moved to Seattle six years ago. She loves the west coast and doesn’t see herself anywhere else.

Her influences include contemporary writers J.K. Rowling, Mary Balogh, Christina Dodd, Stephanie Laurens, Laurell K. Hamilton, Anne Rice, Stephen King, and many many others.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDahliaSalvatore

Twitter: @authordahliaS

Website: http://www.dahliasalvatore.com

Book Blast & Interview: Saving the Hero by @sabrinasumsion

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clip_image002Saving the Hero

Book One

Sabrina Sumsion

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Sanguine Publishing

Date of Publication: 8-8-2014

ISBN: 9781500569693

ASIN: B00LWTO9K0

Number of pages: 248

Word Count: 67,000

Cover Artist: Victorine Lieske

Book Description:

Two and a half weeks. That’s all the time he has left.

When loner vampire hunter Kassy is interrupted by nosy veteran, Mike, he ends up bitten, and infected with the vampire parasite. The warrior becomes her prey as she fights to find him before powerful vamps. A couple kidnappings later, she’s hiding in a cabin with him chained to the floor, and an eight-year-old girl in her care.

Death? Inevitable. When the parasite takes control, he’ll do or say anything to get non-infected blood—including seducing her. But, as they spend time together, she finds her resolve weakening. A kiss won’t fix him, but it might mend a deep hole in her heart.

Kassy is too practical to believe in miracles, but if he survives eighteen days without ingesting human blood, there is a chance he could be the hero she's been looking for.

Odds are he’s a dead man.

excerpt

Chapter 1: Bite, anyone?

“Vampires don’t lose their souls after turning. That folklore is easy to disprove without venturing into religious debate. In the days of medieval medicine, doctors wouldn’t have known how to find or identify the vampiric parasite.”

Journal Entry, Mark McDougal: April 3, 2005

I stalked a woman through side streets and dimly lit alleyways. Her name wasn’t important. I preferred not to know what to call the victims just like I don’t want to know a rabid dog's name. It’s easier to stay unattached that way. Easier to do my job.

Keeping up with the vampire in the making wasn’t hard. She meandered. The problem was the heat wave and the black trench coat I wore. Noticing it, a few people shook their heads as I passed. They probably thought I was a little crazy, but harmless. Without it, people would call the cops when they spotted my gear.

A bead of sweat slid from my hairline behind my ear, tickling my skin and irritating me. I brushed it away, my fingers momentarily tangled in my frizzy locks, the strands I was chewing on yanked out of my mouth. Once again, I considered shaving the mop I called hair. It wasn’t the lovely auburn tresses that men fantasize about. Mom used to call the orange-red jarring. I’d been told that my hair made me too memorable. Maybe that was so, but it took attention away from the scar that ran from my top lip to my temple. Besides, if I hacked it all away, I wouldn’t have anything handy to gnaw on. I snagged a new small curl and pulled it to my mouth. Mom used to bat my hand away. Now, there was no one to stop me.

Half a block behind the woman, she set the meandering pace. Normally, I’d keep more distance between us. I’d be concerned about the still air making me into an olfactory billboard. I could almost hear Uncle Mark’s voice in my head. “Kassy, the new ones can smell you even if they don’t know what they’re smelling. Keep your distance.” Tonight, this woman was blinded by her hunger. I could have hung back farther, but I didn’t see the point.

Around a corner, garbage cans lined the street. Good for hiding behind; bad for breathing. The muggy weather made the smells more pungent. Who was I to complain? The odor would mask my scent.

The sound of a group of people chatting and laughing echoed down the street. We’d passed a club two blocks back with bass so loud my chest vibrated. By the group’s outfits, I guessed they were heading there to dance. The woman I followed turned her head as they strode by. Her right hand reached over and unconsciously rubbed her left shoulder. The shoulder some psycho had bitten three weeks before. It had healed quickly. Miraculously fast according to doctors.

One of the guys stumbled over a trashcan, knocking my prey against the side of a brick building. She inhaled deeply as he apologized. He and his companions watched their step to avoid the trail of refuse he’d strewn. No one noticed her wrapping her arms around herself, her steps following them, or her abrupt turn into the alleyway. No one but me.

Wisps of steam from storm drain vents filled the narrow passage with an eerie aura. The dim lights reflected off the suspended water, creating a halo around the vampire’s head. The irony wasn’t lost on me. One could argue that she retained her innocence – for now.

I slipped behind a commercial dumpster filled with decaying Italian food and spotted a large box farther on that would be my next hiding spot. Before I moved, she stopped in the middle of the alleyway about thirty feet away. She squeezed her head between her hands. I sucked in a quick lung full of rancid air and waited. She paced, kicking bottles, cans and other debris in her path. She walked over to a wall, rested her head against it, and then hit a few times with her palms. I could almost see the cracks forming in her self-control.

She stopped, sniffing the air.

Busted. The billy club strapped to my right thigh reassured me and I brushed my fingers along its length to find the handle. Muscles taut, I waited for her to draw near. I still had the element of surprise and she had no clue what she could do.

How could she? It’s not like someone had handed her a pamphlet that said, “You’ve been infected: 10 ways to survive turning into a monster.” She didn’t know what her cravings were. She didn’t know why the pickle jar lid popped off so easily. She couldn’t understand why she healed quickly. The guy who had bitten her hadn’t whispered in her ear the secrets to avoiding a guard like me.

She stumbled more than walked to a pile of boxes against the wall across the alley. A drunk or homeless person was trying to sleep there. With her attention averted, I crept closer. The timing had to be just right. I couldn’t let her bite her prey, but she needed the chance to resist the siren call of blood coursing through the body in front of her. Uncle Mark insisted. “Kassy Lassy, they’re still human. Just infected. We have to find one who can survive without human blood. It’s humanity’s only hope.” It was his last request, so I honor it.

He would have tried to take this woman in. Tried to save her. How many people had he tried to help over the years he cared for me? Twenty? Fifty? He’d failed every time. The parasite always ravaged the host body without human blood. I couldn’t stand the sight of the emaciated remains. I figured that a quick death was less cruel. I didn’t kill the newly infected right away, just in case the magical immune savior would appear, but mostly I grant them death. An escape from the monster they will become.

The woman dropped to her knees, sobs echoing through the alley. Legs stuck out of an old dishwasher box before her. The odor of piss and alcohol gagged me. Maybe the stench is what helped the woman hesitate.

Maybe, but not for long. The sobs stopped and I moved closer.

No one ever made a sound before their first kill. None of them ever thought to bring a knife the first time either. She knew what she wanted. I could almost see her thought process written out like a thought cloud in a comic book. How do I get a taste? How do I get to the blood?

I pulled the billy club out of its holster. We hovered at the point of no return. My silent steps drew me closer as she lowered herself down. Brown roots showed against her dyed blonde hair. My heart thumped. Another human, lost to the parasite. One quick crack to the skull and I could drag her off somewhere secluded then finish disposing of her body in peace. One breath, then strike.

“Hey!” someone shouted from the end of the alley.

It startled me. Threw off my rhythm. She looked up. Crap. There went my element of surprise. I swung down, but she ducked out of the way. Adrenalin surged through my body. She needed to go down fast. I put too much into the swing, and stumbled off balance. She leapt at me, her face set in a determined grimace. I matched it with one of my own. Did she have any clue what she could do? I raised my billy club and deflected her to the side. She spun and lunged again. She was fast, but that time, I was ready. I smacked her in the head while stepping to the side. She fell hard and didn’t get back up. I hefted the billy club again to crack open her skull.

A body crashed into mine from behind and hammered me to the ground. I tried to counter with ground fighting tactics, but my lungs were screaming for my attention. All I could do was suck air in. For some reason, my body was stuck and refused to exhale. I’d never felt that sensation before. Normally, I’d tell myself to take deep breaths to calm down. That was worthless advice when you can’t breathe out.

A masculine voice shouted in my ear. “Leave her alone!” This guy was a special kind of stupid. Trying to play the hero. Probably saw a pretty blonde and hoped to score her phone number.

I squirmed under his weight and managed to flip myself onto my back and gasp for air. He grabbed both of my hands and held them above my head. That made breathing even harder.

“Police are on their way. Stop fighting me.” His face was close to mine, a hint of alcohol drifting by. Just what I needed, an inebriated do-gooder poking his nose where it didn’t belong.

My wind wouldn’t come back, so I couldn’t yell at him. The air would only go one way. I needed him off. The idiot was in danger, and I was flopping on the sidewalk like a fish – as helpless as when Uncle Mark died. I stared into his black eyes and wished I could communicate telepathically. He wouldn’t like what I would say, but maybe we’d both survive the night.

The blonde’s face came into view over his shoulder. Fear stilled my struggling against the man. I’d had a feeling she wouldn’t be out for long since the vampire parasite caused elevated adrenalin levels. A smile crept up at the corners of her lips. Crap. The look in her eyes. She figured out a little of what she could do. She was committed to biting, and the fool on top of me would be her first meal if I don’t do something.

The guy looked over his shoulder. “I’m glad you’re okay miss. I have her pinned. The police are on their way. Can you go flag them down at the end of the alley?”

There was no fighting him even while his attention was diverted. Sure, he was strong, but it was the effort to breathe that crippled me. He turned back, and I shook my head, eyes wide, trying to choke words out.

The monster behind him put her finger to her lips in a silent gesture for me to be quiet. She tip toed up behind him. I fought the man, trying to get him to pay attention.

“Stop struggling!”

He thought I was the bad guy. If I could have, I would have laughed.

She leapt on his back. Her eyes gleamed in the dim light, face contorted in a wild expression of glee. My stomach churned. Let me go and pay attention to her!

He tried to shrug her off and hold me at the same time. The ineffectual move appeared to delight her.

“What the hell are you doing?” The timbre in his voice belied his wavering confidence. Finally, this guy was getting a clue that the blonde was not all she seemed.

She giggled in reply then bit his shoulder near his neck. He bellowed in agony, but her sucking noises were louder. Now, she had his attention. He let go of me and pried at her head. Her death grip wasn’t loosening, so he punched her in the face. At the third blow, she fell back. Blood sprayed from her mouth onto my jacket and the ground. She crouched, a grin on her face, scarlet rivulets running down her chin. She ran her finger along her cheek and lips, wiping the blood into her mouth. “You are delicious,” she said with a satisfied moan. She had watched too many vampire movies. I hated the ones who thought they had to fit the stereotypes.

I scooted back, finally exhaling. Although my heart raced, I forced myself to take even breaths, changing from desperate gasps to a quick, adrenaline-driven pace. The woman loomed over the man, whose hand was clamped over his wound. I grabbed my billy club, hoping she was too blood-crazed to notice me. The iron scent of the man’s blood filled my nostrils. I’d have to go past him to reach her, but he made a good distraction.

When she lunged again, I aimed my billy club at her forehead. With a satisfying crack, the blow landed. She fell. I was pretty sure she would be out for a while, but I wasn’t taking chances. I smacked her on the top of the head again. It wasn’t a death blow, but if I let her live, she would probably have brain damage.

“What is she on?” The man’s voice shook as much as his hands. After a few deep breaths, he looked as though he might be okay again. Most people would have been on the ground crying. He warranted a second glance.

He was taller than my five-foot, ten-inch frame, muscular and dressed as if to pick up women at a bar. He had almond-shaped eyes, dark hair and a slight yellow hue to his skin. His rugged good looks convinced me he would have been successful picking up a woman had he not seen the altercation and come to investigate. Now, he was infected with the parasite. He was another vampire in the making. I would have to kill him, too.

I pushed my hair from my face, wiping the perspiration away –trying to drag my ugly reality with it. My fingers wrapped around a lock and pulled it to my mouth. The chewing helped me relax. Would gum have the same effect? I wished I had money for a luxury like that. I felt stupid with hair in my mouth in front of him. A glance revealed he wasn’t even paying attention to me. He was staring at the blonde.

What was going through his mind? I don’t remember my thoughts from the first time I’d witnessed a vampire succumb to the blood lust. Probably best I didn’t. I doubted that people stayed sane if they lingered in that moment. I stuffed those memories back and focused on the matter at hand.

Time to get out of here. I grabbed the woman’s arms and start dragging her down the alley.

“Where are you going?” he demanded, following.

Not only does he mess up a clean vamp hunt, he has to ask questions. I ignored him. It was easiest to do what I did when I didn’t talk to them. When I knew a victim, it made it harder to remember that they were turning into vicious killers. The last thing I needed to know was if he had a family or even his name. When they had names, it was harder to put them down. I dragged the woman another ten feet.

“You can’t leave. The police will be here any minute!” He shouted as if the police could fix the situation. Poor fool.

We stood about three quarters of the way down the alley. I knew the guy had been traumatized, but he didn’t know what he walked into. It was better for me to leave with the vampire and let the authorities spin this however they might. The headlines would probably say something like a drug crazed female attacked him. The real story would never come out. The government wouldn’t let that happen.

He grabbed my arm, putting his face in mine. “Stop, now!” My muscles tensed. I forced myself to relax. He was obviously used to being obeyed. His grip was strong, and I could tell through my jacket that his hands weren’t soft and manicured. This guy worked hard and gave orders. Military maybe? Possibly a boss at a construction company?

I had a spark of admiration for him that I immediately tried to stomp out. I couldn’t respect him. He was going to become a killer. I’d be back to stalk him after I finished dealing with her.

Right then, if he made much more noise, there would be more spectators. Ones that weren’t hurt. Ones without alcohol on their breath. The authorities who weren’t in the know could write off this guy as in shock and a poor witness. Any more people telling the same story and I’d have a harder time evading the cops.

I dropped the vampire’s hands and faced him. He had a look in his eyes like he was thinking “finally, she’s come to her senses!” The guy’s shoulder wound was bad. His hand was firmly clasped over it, but the blood seeped past his fingers. When I reached for it, he jerked his shoulder back like I would hurt him more.

“You’re bleeding.”

He sneered. “You think?”

“You need to apply pressure.” I reached into my Sash purse hung underneath my leather jacket and found the medical pads and tape I kept there. He snatched them out of my hand and slapped them on the wound. “You were going to drag her away and not give these to me?”

With a shrug I said, “You look big enough to handle yourself. I didn’t realize you would be an idiot and follow me while bleeding everywhere.”

A glare was his only reply. Maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to kill him after all.

Retrieving the woman’s hands, I dragged her further away from him.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Man, he irritated me. “Walk away. You don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into.” We were almost to the end of the alley. There was a sewer access by my foot, but I couldn’t go there with him watching. He’d rat me out.

He grabbed my arm again. “She attacked me. She needs to be arrested. I don’t know what the heck you were doing in this alley.” He pointed his finger in my face. “But you tried to attack her. You should probably be in jail as well.”

Obviously, he wasn’t good at convincing people to turn themselves in. I stared at his bandages. His efficient wraps told me he probably had field medical training or something. However, blood was still seeping through. I pointed to his shoulder. His glance was the amount of time necessary to catch him flat-footed. I used my billy club to pop him with a brachial stun, and he went down with a groan. The strike had been careful since I wasn’t ready to kill him, yet. He wasn’t unconscious, but I was sure he was seeing stars. Too disoriented to notice where I was going. I only needed a minute to disappear.

I didn’t like to attack people when they were still in control of themselves, but time was running out. Police response wasn’t fast in this neighborhood, but we’d been dallying about 15 minutes. I needed to leave.

I flipped my jacket back and grabbed the pry bar hanging from my belt. A quick jab and tug later, I had my escape route. I shoved the woman’s limb body through the hole. She slid over the lip and crunched onto the cement below. If she wasn’t dead before, she was now. Her body lay in a crumpled mess below. The dry spell in the city helped me with my job. No slogging through cesspool tides and a quick way to end things. One bright side to my dark task.

The next tool I pulled from under my coat was a whiskbroom. Sweeping back and forth, I obscured the drag marks starting ten feet from the manhole and moving towards my escape. I went around the vet. As he struggled to recover, he’d conceal everything beneath him. When I reached the hole, I scrambled half way down the ladder. The lid was heavy and awkward as I dragged it back to the opening while balancing precariously.

I heard the guy moan again. He rolled a bit as though he was trying to regain his feet. Luckily, he rolled away from me. He didn’t see as I nestled the lid back into place.

The thought of returning to pick up his trail caused my stomach to drop. If my life had been normal, maybe we would have gone to the same club. I’d have spotted him and tried to catch his eye. Probably would have danced too close and drunk too much, then woke up at his place in the morning. Now he was another prey to stalk and kill when he succumbed to the parasite.

Authorcage

Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

A: I had no interest in writing for a long time. I wanted to be a veterinarian, a neurosurgeon, a lawyer, a computer programmer, etc. If you ask my English teachers, I’m sure it shocked all of them to learn I started writing.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

A: I worked as a literary publicist and was content to digest as many stories as possible. Unfortunately, there are so many scams in the writing industry that I became concerned for those who didn’t know enough about publishing to avoid scams. That’s when I started writing my first book, Produce, Publish, Publicize. It started as a white paper that eventually evolved into a novel. After that, I wrote Aliens Are Real so I could explore Amazon’s new fangled digital publishing platform. Around that time is when I decided I was a writer –mostly because I wasn’t going to stop!

How long did it take to get your first book published?

A: I spent 2 years evolving Produce, Publish, Publicize. I chose to self publish because I wanted a product to sell in the back of the room when I presented at various conferences. I figured it would be my one book and then I’d be done.

Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?

A: As a ninja, I’m not allowed to discuss that sort of thing. Hee hee hee.

Alright, mostly, I’m a homeschooling mom which is a job in and of itself. I help a gal in a wheel chair twice a week as well. I still do presentations where ever people invite me to teach about publicity, marketing, branding, platform building, etc.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?

A: My latest release is Saving the Hero. In summation: Loner vampire hunter Kassandra is looking for the cure to vampirism. Recently returned veteran Mike might be the key.

Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?

A: I chose to self-publish. Sometimes it’s a nightmare. Sometimes, it’s a delight.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?

A: Right now, I average six months. I’d like to pick up the pace, but I only have about an hour a day to type as furiously as possible.

What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

A: There will be at least a sequel to Saving the Hero. I have 3 more books in the Aliens Are Real Series. I am 1/3 of the way through a fantasy novel. A mystery series is percolating, but I keep pushing that to the back. I tend to write what I have passion for at the moment. I hope to learn better discipline, but right now, it’s fun and a stress reliever. I don’t want to lose the fun.

What genre would you place your books into?

A: So far, I’m mostly under the Science Fiction/ Fantasy umbrella. I didn’t see myself writing in Urban Fantasy, but the idea for Saving the Hero wouldn’t leave me alone.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?

A: The inspiration for Saving the Hero came from reading an article about Jaroslav Flegr, a Czech scientist who is studying the effects of Toxoplasma gondii on humans. His hypothesis is that the parasite affects the way we humans behave. The concept is fascinating and chilling at the same time. How much can a little organism control the actions of the host? Well, that got my old grey matter churning with what-ifs and eventually, I landed on what-if a parasite is the cause of humans acting like vampires. Kick out the whole losing your soul thing in the vampire mythology and a parasite can explain much of what remains.

Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?

A: I like a good, strong man who also has a gentle side. I like Mike from Saving the Hero and I also like Kaipo from my Aliens Are Real Series.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?

A: I find that I write better with music in the background. Right now, I’m listening to a play list on YouTube from Capo Productions. The music has to be instrumental or else I start transcribing the songs I’m listening to. It’s counterproductive. LOL!

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?

A: I do. I’m trying to break myself of that habit simply because the time I take reading the reviews is time I’m not writing.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?

A: I start outlining and eventually the title comes to me. I did change the title of Aliens Are Real once, but that was because the original title didn’t make sense to anyone who hadn’t read the book.

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?

A: I like to steal names from people I know and mish-mash them in most of my writing. They are usually people from my past that I don’t interact with a lot. I’m always curious if I’ll get a message from any of them calling me on it. That way I know if they’ve read my writing. Aren’t I a sneaky little devil?

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?

A: I typically know the characters before I start writing, but sometimes the characters surprise me. One of the topics I bring up in Saving the Hero is PTSD. I didn’t realize it was a component in the story until I was half done writing.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

To read at home, I love paperbacks because I’m not as scared to take them into the bathtub. On the road, I much prefer packing my skinny Kindle than trying to stuff 4-5 books in my bag.

Your favorite Author is?

A: Currently, I’m a Brandon Sanderson addict. I read all of his books. Well, I would. He has one book with one copy in existence. I have to plan a pilgrimage to the BYU library to read it. They won’t let it go on inter-library loan. L

 

 

abouttheauthor

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I’m a ninja disguised as a homeschooling mom, former literary publicist, craft-aholic and all around reading diva. Really, I kick down doors –no, wait, that was my husband when I locked us out of the house . . . Well, I engage in combat on a regular basis –online when I play MMORPGs with my children . . . OK, maybe I’m not a real ninja but my husband says I stole his heart. Does that count? No?

Shoot. Well, I love reading and I love writing. I think imagination is the biggest advantage a child can get in life and I try to allow my children many opportunities to expand theirs every day.

I love teaching authors how to avoid publishing traps and scams as well as how to market themselves and their works. There is nothing better in life than giving someone information that helps them become successful.

I also take a few hours each week and create jewelry, make lotions or paint something. I have little creation stations scattered through the house. My daughter gets into it a lot and scatters things which drives my husband crazy but remember how I mentioned that he says I stole his heart? Yeah. I’m not giving it back. He’s stuck with me forever. Bwah ha ha ha!

www.sabrinasumsion.com

www.twitter.com/sabrinasumsion

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSabrinaSumsion

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4847683.Sabrina_Sumsion

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Blast, Giveaway & Interview: High Moon by @jenharlowbooks

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clip_image002_thumb[1]High Moon

The F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation Series

Book Four

Jennifer Harlow

Genre: Urban Fantasy/PNR/

Paranormal Mystery

Publisher: Devil on the Left Books

Date of Publication: 9/16/14

ISBN: 978-0-9893944-6-8

ASIN:

Number of pages: 296

Word Count: 90,000

Cover Artist: Jennifer Harlow

Book Description:

CLASSIFIED: A F.R.E.A.K.S. LOVE STORY

Telekinetic Special Agent Beatrice Alexander has fought a horde of zombies, psychotic vampires, even a troll. But now she faces her greatest challenge: love.

Fully recovered from her holiday from hell, Bea has returned to the F.R.E.A.K.S. with a mission, to gain the love of her werewolf team mate, Will Price.

Of course nothing is ever easy when it comes to love and war. And when the killing fields of a pack of murderous werewolves is discovered in the wilds of North Carolina, the situation goes from complicated to deadly.

Because though Bea always seems to get her man or beast in the end, this time she does not know if she will survive with her love intact. Or her life…

Available at Amazon

excerpt

Watching the man you love suck face with a gorgeous woman is not the best way to start a birthday. Welcome to my world.

He sits at a back booth, lips and every other body part pressed against that succubus, appearing to love every second and caress, the rat bastard. And how can he not be? The evil slut queen of doom has everything I don’t. Long, straight hay-colored hair, big blue eyes, big breasts, long lean legs, tight body all encased in a skintight black dress clinging to her perfect curves that only a plastic surgeon could ever recreate on me. I’ve envied women like her all my life, and now that succubus has my future husband in her enticing clutches. Literally. An actual succubus is clutching his soft brown hair and kissing him as if her life depended on it. Which I guess it does—as she feeds off sexual energy to live—but still. Does he have to frigging enjoy the whole experience so much?

Howdy. The jealous, insecure, emotional wreck before you is Special Agent Beatrice Alexander of the covert branch of the FBI known to the underworld as the F.R.E.A.K.S. We fight the monsters under your bed: the vampires, the ghosts, and the soon to be decapitated succubi of the world. Those terrors in horror movies? Real. Trolls, zombies, even giant snakes. Killed them all so the citizens of America can go about their normal lives. Why am I so lucky? Because technically I’m one of them. I can move anything with my mind. It’s called tele or psychokinesis. I can carry in groceries or stop hearts without lifting a finger. And let me say doing the latter is mighty tempting right about now.

The man having his tonsils examined by the succubus is my teammate Special Agent Will Price. He’s technically a monster too, at least once a month. He’s a werewolf, not that I hold that against him. After all us freaks can’t help who or what we are. We’re actually a lot like everyone else. Though Will did literally eat my last boyfriend. The psycho was trying to kill me at the time, so I gave Will a pass on that. But this…

Will shifts in his seat to get closer to her. They haven’t broken apart in over forty-seven seconds. Forty-seven! He’s kissed her longer than he’s ever kissed me all three times combined. I don’t care that she’s more or less bewitched him. I don’t care that it’s all for a case. My hands ball into fists, fingers digging so deep in my own flesh it hurts. A cool hand touches mine. I look away from this nauseating PDA toward the hand’s owner. My friend, the delectable Oliver Montrose gazes at me, his gray eyes warning me not to put into action what I’ve been contemplating. Namely storming over there and cold cocking that female dog with the butt of my Glock. Though she so deserves it. In Virginia Beach alone she’s been linked to two deaths. Two young seamen were found naked and dead in their own beds of apparent heart attacks after going home from a club with a hot blonde. Who knows how many others she’s sucked dry over the years?

For those not in the monster killer business, a succubus is a woman who Hoovers up the life-force from her lovers, much like a vampire feeds off blood. Now, I don’t begrudge a life form getting whatever they need to live. I watch Animal Planet. Sometimes it’s kill or be killed. But a succubus doesn’t need to kill anymore than a vampire does. A little can go a long way. Some people are just evil. And right now evil has Will in a lip lock.

“Whatever course of action you are contemplating inside that beautiful head of yours, I suggest you forget it post haste,” my vampire friend warns. His hand remains heavy on mine, a reminder about restraint. We don’t want to blow our cover. While Will plays doctor, Oliver and I sit at the bar, just another couple enjoying the Virginia nightlife. A few stools down, Agents Rushmore and Wolfe, in their chic Ralph Lauren polo shirts and buzz cuts, nurse ginger ales, and keep their eyes locked on the same booth. Chandler is lucky enough to be out in the parking lot waiting for the signal to take her down. Darn you, innocent bystanders. Darn you.

Lord, I hate clubs. They’re loud, crowded, expensive, and filled with hormone crazed men and women with no sense of shame or decorum. I’ve lost count of how many strange crotches have rubbed up against my backside while “dancing.” I’d only been a handful of times before I joined the F.R.E.A.K.S., and now it seems as if I live in one. Why preternaturals feel so at home in these places is beyond me. I guess to them it’s nothing but a smorgasbord. Easy pickings. Everyone’s mind is so filled with sex and booze they forget basics like safety and common sense. And now Will has joined their ranks.

“I wasn’t contemplating anything,” I snap, downing my screwdriver. “I’m not bothered by them. Not a bit. It’s work. We’re working. Another drink, please! Now! Now!”

“That is not a wise idea, my dear.”

“Wise is so overrated,” I mutter.

I glance back at the couple. Still making out, still…oh, no she isn’t! Her graceful hand slides up Will’s thigh, resting on the bulge in his pants. At first she just traces the outline with her fingertip, and then rubs against him with her whole harlot hand. He doesn’t push it away.

Rage boils over. Involuntarily I leap up, every inch of me tense and ready to rip her shining hair out at the roots. Before I’m totally upright, a hand on my shoulder presses me back into my seat. “No.”

“But she—”

“No,” Oliver says as if I’m an ill-behaved dog.

“But he—”

“No.”

Torture. This is nothing more than torture. This is worse than the time I was actually physically tortured. At least that ends. Bones heal. This will be seared into my brain for years to come. I could kill her, just pop a vein in her brain or squeeze her heart until it stops. But I reign in the homicidal part of my nature, instead gazing at my ridiculously handsome friend in an effort to calm me the frak down.

I don’t normally act like this. I’m a good, sane person. Or at least I was until I fell in love with a man who refuses to acknowledge he loves me back. He does. I mean, I’m eighty percent sure he does. The man all but said he did, and his kisses shouted it from the rooftops. He just won’t give in. Won’t let himself admit it because apparently I make him nuts. I cloud his judgment. Of course my worst offense is I give him hope. But to a control freak who watched his wife get eaten by a werewolf, these are apparently bad things. I’m in love with an idiot.

And absence did not make the heart grow fonder, at least in his case. Me, I was watching Beauty and the Beast with my goddaughter and burst into hysterical tears at the end when Belle saves the beast. Will has fared better in the past two months. I had to remain in San Diego longer than expected because of my elbow. I broke it while I ran from a crazed cop hopped up on troll blood. Long story. Ended with previously mentioned psycho ex-boyfriend being eaten by the current object of my affection. I needed surgery to repair the damage, then it healed wrong and I had a month and a half of physical therapy before I was cleared for duty. I got back two weeks ago. So I was stuck in San Diego with nothing to do but watch sappy movies and think about Will.

He returned only one of my ten phone calls, and then just asked after my health and family. I could tell he couldn’t wait to get off the phone. And since I’ve been back, well this is the longest he’s been in the same room with me. I walk in, he walks out. When we’re working, I’m either assigned to a different team or barely acknowledged. If he didn’t blush every time he looked at me, I’d be put off. But I’m no quitter. I love him, and per the songs, that can conquer all, including the neuroses of a bull-headed werewolf. I’m banking my heart on it.

“You must calm yourself,” Oliver orders. “You are acting as wretchedly as he usually does. If you recall, this was your plan.”

“Yeah, but you were supposed to be bait. Or one of the other guys. Not him.”

“A succubus feeds off living energy, which I am lacking and werewolves possess in abundance.”

“Yes, and thank you for pointing that out in the meeting. Why didn’t you just wrap him in a bow for her while you were at it? Whose side are you on, anyway?”

“The victims’,” he says. Fudge. Now I feel like a total jerk. “It is our job to keep predators off the street the quickest and safest way possible. And occasionally that requires sacrifice.” He glances back at Will, and Grin Number Two, with the tips of his fangs, forms. “Though I doubt William minds playing the martyr at this moment.”

I have to look again. Great, not only is she feeling him up, but he’s returning the favor, kneading her breast with his strong hand. Can she feel those rough calluses? Does she even care how he got them? Years of rowing on the Potomac River, that’s how. And yet she gets to second base with him before I do. “This is hell. I am in hell.”

“I do not know why you are distressing yourself over that man. I really do not. He has not showed you the slightest regard since your return. Or prior to that while you convalesced. He made his position abundantly clear.”

“You don’t understand,” I sigh. They pull apart for air, and she says something that makes him smile. He usually never smiles, except for me. She’s even stolen that from me.

“Understand what, Trixie?”

Will caresses her face and dives in for more. “Some things are worth fighting for. They make no rhyme or reason to anyone but you, but you just know. It’s outside logic, it’s outside reason, it’s just something you sense in your very core. And if you don’t listen to it, if you allow it to slip through your fingers, then you spend the rest of your life regretting it. You spend the rest of your life an empty shell. If that’s not worth a whole damn war, let alone a fight or two, I don’t know what is.”

Will moves his lips down the succubus’ neck, and I turn back to Oliver, who studies me with a mix of sadness and anger that takes away only a fraction of his exquisiteness. I can safely say he is the most physically handsome man I’ve ever seen. Pale skin, lush red lips, cleft chin, wavy shoulder length brown hair with blonde highlights, and straight nose all in perfect proportion. The impossible balance of masculine and feminine. The only other man who holds a candle to him in the looks department is the Lord of San Diego, and even Connor doesn’t come close to this level of perfection. Not outside and certainly not inside. No one does. “You are…” he touches my face with his ice cold fingertips, “such a fool.”

character interview

 

Character Name: Special Agent Beatrice Alexander

Character Bio: Beatrice Alexander killed her first man at age eight by squeezing his heart with her mind until it burst. Her mother, shocked by this, killed herself soon after. Bea and her brother Brian then went to live with their grandmother. Life was relatively normal until the day Bea used her telekinesis to save one of her fourth grade students from death. She was then recruited into a covert branch of the FBI, known as the Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals, or F.R.E.A.K.S. where she has been employed for almost a year.

Describe yourself what is your worst and best quality?

My worst quality is I tend to leap before I look. My best is I try to see the best in all people, which can also lead to problems.

What is your biggest secret something no one knows about?

 I have sexy time dreams about my best friend. Though if you saw him, you would too.

What are you most afraid of?

 Letting the people I love down.

What do you want more than anything?

 A normal life.

What is your relationship status?

 It’s…complicated. Way too complicated for my taste.

How would you describe your sense of fashion?

 Boring but I’m getting better. My friend has taken me under his wing. I actually own designer clothes now, not just ones from Tar-get.

How much of a rebel are you?

 I don’t have a rebellious bone in my body. I so wish I did.

What do you considered to be your greatest achievement?

 Does killing over a dozen vampires in the space of a few minutes count?

What is your idea of happiness?

 Lying in bed with my husband and kids as we recount our days. Now I just need the husband and kids, huh?

What is your current state of mind?

Determined.

What is your most treasured possession?

My partner Oliver gave me a compass last Christmas with the inscription, “To always find your way back to me.” Who says vampires are soulless? He may be annoying but he gives good gift.

What is your most marked characteristic?

 Telekinesis unfortunately.

What is it that you most dislike?

 Deliberate cruelty.

What is your greatest regret?

Almost giving my brother a brain aneurysm with my telekinesis. I hope someday he’ll forgive me.

What is the quality you most like in a person?

Sense of humor. If you can’t laugh life is just so dull.

Who is your favorite hero in fiction?

 Jane Eyre. She stayed true to herself and stood up for herself when women weren’t allowed to do that. I’ve read that book a trillion times.

Which living person do you most admire?

My Nana. She took me and my brother in and worked her tail feather off to give us all we need in life. She’s my hero.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

 I would literally sell my soul not to be a telekinetic. It’s given me nothing but problems since I was born. I hate it.

What is your motto?

“With great power comes great responsibility.” –Stan Lee

 

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  abouttheauthor

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Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator.

Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills.

She is the author of the Amazon best-selling F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, Midnight Magic Mystery series, The Galilee Falls Trilogy, and the steampunk romance Verity Hart Vs The Vampyres. For the soundtrack to her books and other goodies visit her at www.jenniferharlowbooks.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/jenharlowbooks

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.harlow.52

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4708453.Jennifer_Harlow

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jenharlowbooks/

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Blast & Giveaway: Serpent on a Cross by @wendygarfinkle

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clip_image002Serpent on a Cross

Book One

Wendy C. Garfinkle

Genre: Medieval Fantasy/ Jewish Fantasy

Publisher: Booktrope Publishing

Date of Publication: September 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62015-507-3

ISBN: 978-1-62015-523-3

Number of pages: 176

Cover Artist: Loretta Matson

Book Description:

Dennah Dubrovnika is a formidable hunter and talented healer. However, she cannot control her own powers, which have suddenly reawakened in the aftermath of her mother’s violent capture by a powerful warlord who destroyed their village in his wake. As she races to free her mother, Dennah is accompanied by Jeth, the man she loves. But she’s increasingly, inexorably drawn to the mysterious Skallon who is allied with her greatest enemy.

Will Dennah be able to gain a measure of control over her magic or will she lose everything and everyone she loves to its raging inferno?

Serpent on a Cross is Book One in a Jewish fantasy adventure series set in Medieval Eastern Europe.

Available at Amazon and BN

excerpt

Stomach churning, a sour taste in her mouth, Dennah hovered above the massacre from her nest in the ash tree she’d climbed at the edge of the forest.

Guilt twisted a knot in her belly as she remembered Mamen’s order to flee, but she couldn’t leave; she might be needed. So she’d climbed the tallest leafiest tree she could quickly find, its branches extending almost to the roof of their cottage. She fastened the leather bracer on her left forearm, finger guards on her drawing hand, in case she was forced to shoot the ash bow. After stringing it, she set it and the bag of arrows in the cradle of two limbs a little above her and out of easy reach so she wouldn’t be tempted to fire down upon the invaders.

From her perch she saw the soldiers enter the shtetl, thundering over the ramparts as if they were fagots; they crushed the golden fields of barley, and wheat, forcing the defenders to give way or be trampled beneath hammering hooves. Seeing the guardsmen attack the horses to unseat the soldiers, her heart raced. Get them! What right have they to attack our home?! Anger boiled just under her skin. Her gaze sharpened and the branch grew warm beneath the grip of her fingers. Though there was no breeze, the limbs of her tree swayed gently.

Almost without thought, as if her hands had a will of their own, she pulled bow and quiver within reach and nocked an arrow. With precise aim, she inhaled, drawing the cord back, hearing the soft familiar creak as it stretched. She released on the exhale. Gracefully, the arrow sped toward its target, a soldier who’d edged up behind Marek and raised his sword. The shaft caught him in the throat, sunk deep and broke through the skin at the back of his neck. He fell with a thud, blood mixing with fertile ground in a muddy pool beneath him. Relieved of its burden, the soldier’s horse veered away from the melee.

Marek, eyes narrowing, seemed to find her hidden in the ash. He nodded slightly and turned to face another foe. A surge of pleasure warmed her at his wordless approval. Then there was no more time for thought; only action. Again and again her arrows flew true; but she was careful to watch for enemy soldiers looking in her direction. Her stomach dropped when she saw first Yuri, then Selwyn, and finally Yakkov surrounded and disarmed. A quick inventory of her quiver yielded only four arrows. Not enough to free the guardsmen. I’m sorry.

 

  giveaway

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  abouttheauthor

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Wendy C. Garfinkle was born and raised in South Florida. She moved to Northwest Texas in her early 20s, but returned to South Florida eight years later. She holds five degrees, including MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She’s a poet, reading addict, and collector of interesting clothing tags, which she recycles into bookmarks.

She has served as a copy editor and reader for Hippocampus Magazine, an online nonfiction lit journal, and as a reader for the James Jones First Novel Fellowship. Wendy is a crime analyst for a local law enforcement agency, and lives with her teenage son.

http://wendycgarfinkle.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wendy-C-Garfinkle/667623273323781

https://twitter.com/wendygarfinkle

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6913803.Wendy_C_Garfinkle

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22911766-serpent-on-a-cross

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Blast: Chandrea: The Return of the Avatar Queen by Marlene Wynn

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clip_image001Chandrea:

The Return of the Avatar Queen

Marlene Wynn

Book Description:

Chandrea Averill thinks she’s just like any other normal young woman. But, on the day of her 23rd birthday, her life changes forever. Surrounded by magical creatures, dangerous sorcery, and insidious political intrigue,

Chandrea desperately wants to return to Earth and the only life she’s ever known. But, the longer she stays, the more she realizes that she may be the only one with the power – both magical and political – to save the people of Lyrunia.

Will she find the courage to remain and fight for her home world?

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excerpt

The morning sky was overcast and cloudy and a stiff southwesterly wind blew the grasses erratically. A bank of heavy, dark grey clouds were visible over the horizon to the south, and it was moving quickly towards her. The constant flashes and murmur of thunder confirmed that she was in for a bad storm, and had nowhere to take shelter. She didn’t know how long it would take for it to reach her, but she wanted to be closer to civilization when it did. And she did not want to get caught in an electrical storm out in the open.

Chandrea started to walk, and after a few minutes began to jog, though it was not easy to do on the uneven ground. Her pulse quickened as her body warmed up to the accustomed exercise, and she made quick work of the first couple of miles. But, you can only push an already weakened body so hard before it starts to reach its limits, and, as she anticipated, she began to labor, her breaths coming in short ragged pants, her throat hot and dry. She slowed to a walk until she got her breath back.

Looking anxiously to her right, she saw that, despite her brief run, the clouds had come much closer, and that the clashing lightning and thunder were almost on top of her. Flutters of fear crawled down her spine and made a home in her belly. This was not good. Chandrea looked around for some place to find protection. Though the grasses seemed to be thinning out and she was seeing small scrubby bushes here and there, there still weren’t any signs of civilization, so she continued to walk tiredly east.

The brisk wind turned into powerful gusts, and she had to lean to avoid being thrown off her feet. Dust and debris were torn from the ground and swirled all around her, and she was forced to raise her hands to shield her eyes. Lightning struck nearby, followed by a powerful blast of thunder that shook the ground. Chandrea cringed and screamed in raw fear.

She felt the first few warm splashes of water on her skin, and looking up, saw that the bulk of the sky had turned a deep heavy looking grey. She began to run again, the flight instinct now in full control of her.

The heavens opened up and rain came sheeting down. The drops were huge at first, but quickly became small and piercing as they pelted her skin. Her clothing soon became saturated, weighing her down.

Lightning flashed all around her, dazzling bursts of light followed closely by violent claps of thunder. The strikes blew chunks of dirt and debris into the wind. The world was shaken by the repeated crack of thunder and her eardrums throbbed in painful harmony from the overwhelming sounds.

Animal instinct took over. Throwing herself to her knees, she clawed at the dirt. Her breath came in terrified, ragged gasps, but she was all but oblivious to it as she dug and tore at the stubborn soil. Every time lightning struck near her, she screamed and ducked, covering her head with her arms in an unconscious effort to protect herself, and then continued digging.

She tore at the web of roots, desperate to dig a hole she could take shelter in, but to no avail. The old grasses had been in the dry plains for a long time, and had grown their roots long and wide to find any available ground water. Without a shovel or a pick, she could make no headway, and only managed to tear her hands to the point of bleeding in the effort.

Gasping, she stopped and looked around with wild, frightened eyes. The world around her had gone mad. Lightning struck rapidly now, all around her, for miles in all directions, and the sharp booming thunder was close on its heels.

A small, sane portion of her mind recognized that she should hunker down and try to make the smallest target of herself possible, but that was akin to taking your eyes off the hungry lion crouched nearby and hoping it wouldn’t notice you. Instead, she knelt and watched with horrified fascination as the prairie took a beating from mother nature. Her entire body shook from the fear that washed through her, and she knew that at any moment lightning would strike and kill her.

Without conscious thought or effort, her magic bloomed to life. She gasped at the suddenness of it, yet welcomed it with a desperate hope. She felt it growing and expanding inside her, filling her completely with an eerie, tingling sensation. What was happening? What would her magic do this time?

Her skin began to glow a soft ethereal white. She held her hands out in front of her, and, despite the dangers surrounding her, wonder filled her at the sight. She’d seen her skin glow before, but never so clearly. The glow rapidly enveloped her until she was encased by a soft white ball of energy that extended a few feet out from her on all sides. The wind and rain no longer affected her, apparently unable to penetrate her protective sphere.

Curious, she poked a finger at the ball. It rippled like water when she touched it. She became bolder and stuck her whole arm out. Once again, the wind, rain, and nearby grass stalks pelted her tender skin. She pulled her arm and hand back inside and the sensations ceased.

She looked around with a newfound sense of security. The storm raged on around her, but in her sheltering bubble, it seemed that none of the elements could touch her. She gasped as a bolt of lightning struck nearby. She could only hope that the bubble would protect her against the lightning strikes as well.

With a frightening intensity, suddenly a new roaring sound filled her senses, causing her to gasp and duck involuntarily. It was followed immediately by anther, and another, each successfully competing in volume and depth with the crashing thunder. But, these new sounds weren’t caused by mother nature.

It was almost as if a whole pride of hungry lions were surrounding her, and roaring in excitement of the hunt and the kill to come.

But, it couldn’t be lions, for, like the thunder, these sounds came from the sky itself.

Some had a deep, throbbing quality to them. Others were shrill and almost metallic. All of them were terrifying.

Chandrea tried to determine what was up there in the deep dark grey of the clouds. It was difficult to see through the soft glow of her bubble. When several lightning bolts struck, causing a strobe effect, she sucked in her breath in disbelieving terror at what she saw.

Silhouetted in brief, white-clad glory, were dozens upon dozens of dragons of various shapes and sizes. Each time the lightning flashed, it would cause a still-life effect of the great beasts circling in the sky with an almost playful air about them. With huge, earth- shaking roars, some shot massive flames from their mouths, causing the heavens and the ground far below to be lit by the intense yellow-red flare.

But what was the most astonishing to Chandrea was when one of the monsters would get hit by a bolt of lightning. It would open its immense, toothy maw in what appeared to be almost a silent scream, then arch its back and long serpentine neck as though in ecstasy.

She watched in awed amazement as one of the airborne dragons was struck by a large bolt of energy. The massive creature’s blue scales briefly burst into glittering brilliance. Small electrical charges snaked and popped across their surface. A large, bright turquoise nimbus shimmered around the rapturous dragon. It temporarily highlighted the dragons surrounding it until the dazzling luminescence died down to a soft glow. Once the strike was finished, the dragon would start to swoop and circle faster, almost daring the lightning to come again.

Chandrea felt her heart would beat its way right out of her chest. She could actually feel her chest vibrating from the intensity of her heartbeat. She panted, feeling cornered and very small. Her protective shield may keep the lightning and elements at bay. But its glow might be noticed by the serpents in the sky. Would a human make a tasty treat during a dragon sky party?

God, she wanted to go home.

The storm went on for what seemed like an eternity. Chandrea felt rather like the little field mouse trapped in the corner of a covey of cats, hoping upon hope that it wouldn’t be noticed, but knowing in its heart that eventually it would be. A part of her couldn’t help but be fascinated by the colorful display of serpentine bodies soaring high above her, at times almost floating in their deadly dances. Death, it seemed, had a very mesmerizing effect on her.

Eventually, the storm started to weaken, the lightning and thunder to come less and less, and the bulk of the dragons began to disperse. Though it was still quite dark around her, she started to breathe a little easier, thinking she might just come out of this alive. Her magical ball, reacting instinctively to the lessening threat, dissipated then vanished completely.

Then one of the dragons swooped down out of the sky and landed right in front of her, folding its wings flat against its back.

It was difficult for Chandrea to see the beast clearly in the gloom of the storm clouds, with only the occasional lightning flash. But, boy, could she smell it. Its body reeked of moldy ash, its hot breath of rotten flesh. Its eyes, as large as her body was tall, glowed a sullen dirty yellow in the grey light of the day. It was immense. Its head and shoulders were about thirty feet over Chandrea’s head, and looked like it was no less than 140 feet from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail. Its legs were as thick as tree trunks, and long, wickedly sharp claws adorned its massive feet. Its scales dully reflected the dim afternoon light in shades of rusty red, while the underside of it was a soft tan color. Copper colored spikes of different sizes ran from its snout, along its spine and down the length of its long tail. At the end of its tail were numerous long, sharp spikes. Nestled atop its massive head was a pair of lengthy horns that pointed straight back.

Lowering its head, it sniffed at the air above her, apparently trying to determine what she was, and if she was edible. Its long, forked tongue licked the air. Chandrea tried not to gag as its foul breath washed over her in hot waves.

Rearing back, the beast then cocked its head to the side, and eyeing Chandrea, it said in a soft, deep voice filled with menace, yet somehow female-sounding, “Ah…what do we have here? A lone, unprotected human out in the grasslands.”

Narrowing her sulfur-colored eyes, the dragon moved a bit closer to her and murmured in satisfaction, “Yes… you’ll make a nice meal for my hatchling.”

Chandrea blinked up at it in stunned surprise. The creature could speak!

Belatedly, the dragon’s words finally registered in her mind. Terror lanced through Chandrea. She was trapped! She could never even hope to out-run this creature even at her top physical best. In her weakened condition, it was a laughable concept at best. She had nowhere to hide, and nowhere to take shelter, surrounded as she was by miles of grass.

Unbidden, her magic rushed to the surface, once again responding to her fight or flight instinct. This time, though, it came much faster, absent one moment, there the next. She could feel it rushing through her, instantly filling her every fiber and pore. Energy snapped around her, and her eyes and skin glowed with a pearlescent sheen. Her breathing deepened as she stood up from the ground and faced the beast before her.

The dragon growled in anticipation. Flame and smoke started to lick out of its snout, and in a rush, it lowered its head, roared, and shot out a huge column of white-hot flame, aimed right at Chandrea!

Feeling as though she were a distant observer of her own body, she watched as she raised her hands in a defensive position and her magic called up a shield.

She had a mental flash of the dream the Dark Fairy had cast on her, where she drew the energy from all the objects around her to fuel her magic, and attempted it again. She siphoned the energy from the dragon’s flames into her body, using the very thing that was threatening her to protect her. She could feel the intense heat pouring into her body, almost burning her from the inside out, and, before they could even reach her, the flames from the dragon sputtered harmlessly out.

Upon seeing this, the dragon narrowed its eyes, lowered its head, and growled menacingly. Her body throbbed in harmony with the deep resonation and the very ground seemed to vibrate beneath her.

Chandrea frantically tried to figure out what she could do to scare this creature away. She was supposed to be the most powerful sorceress in this world, but her magic was untested and very unreliable. However, she didn’t see as she had much choice in the matter. She couldn’t very well use her Taekwondo on this monster! And running was definitely not an option. So, even as the dragon’s growl was echoing off in the distance, she decided to stand and fight as best she could with what she had, and hope that the dragon didn’t eat her before she could conjure anything up. Were dragons like birds? Did they eat their prey and then regurgitate it for their young? She quickly banished that horrifying image from her mind and focused on the task at hand. She would try to use fire again. She would just have to do it better than last time. And quicker.

Chandrea concentrated. She could feel the dragon’s hot energy swirling around inside her, growing ever stronger, mixing with her own fear and panic to create a maelstrom of intense power.

She stopped focusing on the shield in front of her and it simply disappeared, the energy rushing back into her. Her skin suddenly glowed a fiery red. She raised her hands, and, as Adelaide had taught her, with a mighty mental and physical shove, she flung the energy from her own body out at the beast. Chandrea watched as a great ball of flame materialized and was cast out at the dragon. Like before, when she’d tried to create fire, this ball was intensely white hot on the inside and deep yellow and red on the outside. However, this ball didn’t have as far to go as the first time, and instead of plowing through huge swaths of trees, it plowed into the dragon directly in front of her…

…and blew out as it struck, as though nothing had happened at all.

Unable to fathom what had just happened, Chandrea just stood there in stupefaction. Her magic had just dissipated on the scales of the dragon and done nothing at all.

The dragon looked somehow amused by this turn of events. Chandrea would’ve sworn the beast even smiled. Lifting her mighty head, the serpent then carried the motion even further and stood on her hind legs. Clawing at the air in front of her and spreading her massive wings wide, she bellowed out a trumpeting call that echoed up and down the grasslands and throbbed painfully in the tiny earthling’s ears.

Chandrea threw her hands over her ears in a feeble attempt to lessen the sound, but to no avail. Then, the massive reptile lowered its body, jaws open, clearly intending to finish this one-sided battle by devouring her whole.

An answering bellow washed over her from above as a second dragon plummeted from the sky to crash into the first one, knocking it from its feet with a powerful blow. Chandrea screamed and jumped to the side, narrowly missing the powerful swipe of a tail studded with spikes. Chunks of dirt and grass were gouged out of the ground where she’d previously stood, showering her with grit and hard rocks.

This new dragon was unlike any she’d ever imagined or seen in fairy tales. It had scales on its belly, but its back and wings were covered with feathers. Its head and legs were a bright, scarlet red. The feathers on its legs were short and spiky, while the ones surrounding its head were long and stiff, and puffed out, making it look both fierce and dangerous. The beast’s back, body and tail were covered with short, dense feathers in a striking deep indigo color. Its deep and muscular chest narrowed down into a snakelike torso and a tail that was covered in spikes. It had what appeared to be two sets of wings. One was a feathered set, shaped rather like immense eagle wings and were the same indigo color as its body. The second set were over the first, and were covered with ocher-colored scales, the same color of its belly. This second set of wings were much larger than the first, and tipped with razor sharp claws. Where the first dragon was large and muscular, the second one was long and slender. The first dragon was the stronger of the two by far, but what the second one lacked in strength, it made up for in speed and its sinuous body. Its movements were a blur to watch, as it snaked its way around its bigger foe, striking with lightning quick attacks and then slithering out of reach of the larger dragon.

With ear-splitting snarls and growls, the two beasts flipped and rolled across the prairie, savagely tearing at each other.

Chandrea, panting from the fear of the sudden attack, scuttled backwards in the grass, trying to get as far away from the two battling titans as possible.

When no headway could seem to be gained by either one, the two monsters backed warily away from each other. Growling fiercely, they flapped their wings, extended their necks, and slammed their tails on the ground, all in an attempt to show strength, power and dominance over the other.

The larger dragon rushed the smaller one, but in a sudden blur of motion, the blue one slithered its body around its larger opponent. Using its own momentum against it and reminding Chandrea of a javelin toss, the blue one spun the rusty red beast back around and threw it across the field. The dragon landed with an earth-shaking thud that threatened to throw Chandrea from her feet.

Spinning around, the blue dragon jerked its head back and forth until it found Chandrea. It hunched down, then gave a mighty leap, and flapping its massive wings, swooped up then back down, heading directly for Chandrea.

With a scream, Chandrea spun on her heels and tried to run away, but what little speed she could muster was nothing in comparison to the flying monster. To her horror, its sharp claws grabbed her up and before she knew it, they were airborne.

Chandrea clutched at the long talons that held her in their grasp. The grasslands dropped away below and her stomach dropped. The huge wings of the dragon flapped quickly in an effort to get the beast and its prize higher in the air. She could feel the rhythmic motion of its muscles working, and the roaring sound of the wind assaulted her ears.

Craning her head down and around, Chandrea frantically checked on the whereabouts of the red dragon. Her eyes widened as she saw it taking to the air in pursuit of her stolen meal.

Dear God…how did she get into these things?

And how was she going to get out? The claws, even though none of them had actually pierced her skin, were holding her as securely as any jail cell. And, as far up in the air as they were now, even if she could get out, she would fall to her death.

Watching behind her in horrified fascination, she saw the larger dragon was having difficulty keeping up with its prey. But it clearly was not giving up. With a roar, it doubled its efforts, cutting through the misty clouds.

Up the trio soared, higher and higher, until they were engulfed in clouds and Chandrea couldn’t see the ground anymore. Nor could she see the rusty red beast that had been chasing them, which was particularly worrisome to her.

Cool, misty air rushed over her as the blue dragon climbed with powerful thrusts of its wings. Her wet clothes and hair whipped around in the wind, and she found herself wishing for a ponytail holder. A hysterical giggle threatened to burble out of her throat at the thought, but at the last minute she was able to halt it. She knew that if she let it out, she might never stop.

Without warning, they reached the top of the storm clouds, and with a final flap, burst out into bright sunshine. Once above the clouds, the blue dragon settled in and took to soaring, only flapping its wings occasionally to maintain its altitude.

Squinting against the glare, Chandrea couldn’t help but look about her in wonder. Spread out for miles below them was the massive storm, its dark clouds large and menacing. Even heading away from the storm as they were, she could still hear the occasional rumble of thunder and see the clouds light up with the strobes of lightning encased within. Above them, the sky was pristinely blue, the sun a huge golden ball of light. Warm air now gently passed over her as the dragon glided in the stillness of the heavens.

But as beautiful and peaceful as it was, Chandrea could not fully relax and enjoy it. She knew her life would soon be cut short in a horribly violent fashion. Against her better judgment, she pictured the dragon landing amongst its young then standing back in peaceful satisfaction as the babies tore her to bloody pieces with their sharp teeth and claws. She began to tremble violently, her breath coming in short, sharp pants.

However, eventually the gentle peace of the heavens did help to make the mortal fear coursing through her veins a little more bearable. Trying to make herself as comfortable as possible in the hard claws of her cell, she did the only thing she could at that point: she settled back for the ride.

They flew for hours. It was rather like flying in a passenger airplane, but with a much better view. She saw farms, cities, forests, and hills all passing beneath them. People and animals looked like tiny ants scurrying around on the ground. Were they even aware of what was flying up here?

The one thing that she didn’t see, thankfully, was the red dragon. The speed of her captor must have finally worn the bigger dragon down.

As the day wore into evening, the dragon finally started to descend toward a large grassy meadow filled with wildflowers. Large leafy trees surrounded it in an uneven circle, and the sounds of night insects were humming in the air. Off to the side was a small crystalline lake, the sun glistening off its gentle waves.

Fear started to flutter again in her chest, and her breathing hitched. If she’d had anything in her stomach, it would’ve come back up. So this lovely, serene place was where she would die.

She wondered where the beast’s nest was.

She wondered if it would hurt terribly when the hatchling tore her apart.

She wondered how long it would take her to die.

 

abouttheauthor

 

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Marlene Wynn is a Utah native - fondly referred to as "Utonian" by a friend. She transplanted herself in 1992 from the majestic Rocky Mountains to the beachy shores of sunny Virginia Beach, Virginia and has been there ever since. Though she has worked in the benefits field for several years, she finally worked up the courage to chase her dream as an author.

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