Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Kuumba Publishing
Date of Publication: June 26, 2020
Number of pages: 220
Word Count: 71,524 (appx)
Cover Artist: Ravenborn Covers
Tagline: Revenge Is Best Taken with Claws
Lies. Murder. Vengeance.
For centuries, humans descended on shifters’ lands, killing and claiming. They devoured all in their path–gold, God, and glory their battle cries. From the flames of destruction on the Zafeo continent, two nations emerged–the human territory of Vumaris and the feline nation of Shona.
No more wars.
No more bloodshed.
Eight decades of peace.
For eighteen-year-old Asha, traveling to Vumaris with her parents, lion alphas of the kingdom of Shona, should’ve been a simpla matter. Recommittiong to an eighty-year-old peace treaty between their countries should’ve been easier still. Yet, greed and corruption know no boundaries of time and place. So when a group of mercenaries converges on Sanctum Hotel, hellbent on kidnapping Asha and assissinating her parents, her family trip turns into the bloodies night of her life.
Will Asha lose those closest to her heart–her parents and Ekon, a young bodyguard she loves. If so, will she forgive her enemies or seek divine retribution?
Only time will tell, and it’s running out for Princess Asha of the Kingdom of Shona.
Asha flipped from one television station to the next, her mind more on the way Ekon had made her body feel than on finding a show for them to watch before Mafdet took over the post and sent Ekon to his suite. While Zarina had raised Asha to speak her mind, she had also taught her to do so with forethought and care. Zarina may have a tendency to shock people, but it wasn’t because she hadn’t calculated the impact of her words before uttering them. But her mother had yet to teach her how to curb her thoughts when her body wanted to do the talking for her.
Foregoing the television, she clicked it off and dropped the remote control onto the couch cushion beside her. She ached in places she wanted Ekon to touch. If she were alone in the suite and in her bed, she’d close her eyes, slip her hand inside her panties and—
Knock. Knock. Knock.
Opening eyes that had closed of their own volition and dropping the hem of her dress she hadn’t consciously lifted, Asha sat up—embarrassed and breathless.
The knock came again.
Asha stood. Waited. A Shieldmane would announce himself, even Mafdet who had a key to the suite. Her parents would call, if they required something of her, expecting Asha to come to them, not the other way around.
By the time the third round of knocking sounded, Asha had moved closer to the door, scenting more than the human on the other side.
“Miss. Miss. Are you inside? We have an emergency. We need to evacuate this floor.”
The man knocked again–hard and urgent.
Peering through the peephole, she saw a tall man dressed in the same uniform she’d seen the front desk workers wear. He appeared both anxious and impatient. If there was a fire or gas leak, the man’s emotions were justified. Asha and Ekon needed to get out of there.
She unlocked and opened the door. Mistake. Asha stepped backward, and the human stepped forward, shutting the door behind him.
A gun she hadn’t seen through the peephole pointed at her.
“Don’t scream. Don’t fight. If you follow my directions, you won’t get hurt.”
If he didn’t have a gun leveled at her stomach, Asha could’ve misinterpreted his smile as a sign of kindness.
“You’re making a mistake.”
“No, I’m making the world better for humans.” Gun hand steady, the man who clearly wasn’t a hotel employee, scanned the outer room of the suite. “Is someone in here with you? A guard?” Green eyes tracked up and down her body. “Yeah, as pretty as you are, there has to be a guard nearby. Where? Bedroom? Bathroom?”
Asha wouldn’t tell a lie, only to be caught in one, but she also wouldn’t reward the human’s threat of violence with the truth.
“Fine. I’ll take your silence as a yes.” He drew closer, blond hair pulled back in a shoulder-length ponytail Asha would rip from his scalp if given an opportunity to strike. “We’ll just wait right here for whoever is in that other room to come out.”
They waited. It didn’t take long since Ekon had already been in the ensuite for five minutes. Asha knew why he’d made a quick escape. She hadn’t been toying with him when she’d asked to see him naked. She’d very much wanted to feast upon his body … and with more than her eyes.
The door to the ensuite creaked open.
The human shoved the barrel of the gun against her ribs, his breath smelling of cigarettes when he whispered in her ear. “I knew someone was in here with you. You’re too important to be left alone. But didn’t your parents ever warn you about opening doors to strangers?” His other
hand found one of Asha’s curls and twisted it around his finger. “I told them I could get you to open the door for me. It was the uniform, wasn’t it? No need to answer, little girl. Now, let’s see who came to play.”
Ekon appeared in the living room, having reached them on soundless feet. If not for the creaking door, the human would’ve never known he approached. As it was, though, it was Ekon who was taken by surprise.
Asha saw the moment her gentle boyfriend morphed into her deadly Shieldmane. His eyes darkened, eye teeth lengthened, sharpened, and his fingernails transformed into long, curved claws.
Ekon stalked toward Asha, his focus on the gunman.
In a swift upward movement, the human pointed his handgun at Asha’s head. “Calm down, kitty, or I’ll splatter her brains all over this white carpet.”
“That’s good. Real good. Put those fangs and claws away, friend.”
“I’m not your friend. If you want to make it out of this room alive, you need to get that gun away from her and leave.”
“Yeah, no, that’s not going to happen. She’s why we’re here. Where we go, she goes. You’re the one I don’t need.”
A lion roared, and Asha had never heard a more beautiful sound.
“That would be my father.”
The roar was followed by gunfire, then what sounded like all-out war in the hall.
“Fuck! Fuck! What in the hell are those guys doing?”
“They’re fighting my parents, which means they’re dying. If you give Ekon your gun, you won’t have to die with them.”
About the Author:
N. D. Jones, Ed.D. is a USA Today bestselling author who lives in Maryland with her husband and two children. In her desire to see more novels with positive, sexy, and three-dimensional African American characters as soul mates, friends, and lovers, she took on that challenge herself. Along with the fantasy romance series Forever Yours, and a contemporary romance trilogy, The Styles of Love, she has authored three paranormal romance series: Winged Warriors, Death and Destiny, and Dragon Shifter Romance.
We entered a conference room where a bunch of pictures had been laid out for me to inspect. At least I assumed they were for me, otherwise why else would I be here? I leaned over and started perusing the selections.
“Can I get you anything before we get started? We have a soda machine, water or if you’d prefer I could make you a cup of what serves as coffee around here.”
I smiled, “Tempting offer Detective but seeing as how I come from a generation that has been spoiled by Starbucks I think I’ll have to pass on your imitation coffee. I would, however, accept your offer of a non-alcoholic bubbly.”
He smirked, “And what can I get you?
“What are my options?”
“We carry Coke products.”
I held my hand over my heart with feigned disappointment “You’re killing me! I’m a total Pepsi girl!”
He tried looking contrite. It really didn’t work for him. He was too smolderingly sexy, “I could run out and get you a Pepsi.”
I dropped down into the closet chair and waved my hand in the air, “Nah, Coke’s fine but I think I should warn you Detective that I’m not always this easy.”
He walked over to the door and stopped before leaving. Looking over his shoulder, he gave me the hottest look I’ve ever seen, “I should hope not.”
My eyes rounded in shock as I watched him disappear through the door. If I wasn’t mistaken I would swear the good Detective had just flirted with me. I mean, I know I’m new at this and all but come on – that couldn’t be any more blatant unless he tattooed it across my ass.
The question now becomes, do I flirt back or pretend it didn’t happen?
The good Catholic girl in me says to behave and pretend it didn’t happen, I do have my sweet Larry at home after all. But, the devil on my shoulder says what’s the harm in a little casual flirting? It’s not like I’m going to go home with the good Detective and screw his brains out. Oh, decisions, decisions.
I looked up as the man in question walked back in with soda in hand. He placed it down in front of me, “Let me know if you get hungry and we can break for some food.”
I popped open the soda and took a sip, “Do you always entice the ladies with canned soda, take out and mug shots?” Ok, the flirting won out.
He stared at me across the table with those dark soulful eyes, his lip twitched into a sly smile before he replied, “Always.”
I took another sip before placing the can of soda down on the table, “You might wanna work on your strategy Detective. I’m not sure mug shots are the way to go.”
He nodded thoughtfully and leaned back in his chair, “Got it. Mug shots are out from this point forward but what about the canned soda and take out?”
I smiled, “Depends on the takeout.”
Charlie Daye began writing at the tender age of thirteen. With an obsession for romance, happy endings and the supernatural she delves into your greatest fantasies and worst nightmares. She will have you laughing, crying, falling in love and getting angry. She will always give you a HEA but getting there is the journey worth taking.
Charlie Daye was born in Lynwood, California. Her greatest passions are music and writing. Her first short story was written at the age of thirteen. At the time her entire class was asked to write a short story for Halloween as part of a homework assignment. Most of the kids in the class wrote one to two page stories… Charlie wrote eight. The short story titled The Haunted House went on to win her district wide awards and was published locally. From their she began writing poetry as means of expression.
Since her writing career began she’s has published several titles… The House, The Colonial, The Reservation, The Portrait, The Gypsy’s Dance, Mistaken for a Call Girl, Her Last Request and Breeders. Four of which have been nominated for the RONE Award.
Albion Moon Chronicles
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Date of Publication: March 13, 2020
Number of pages: 200
Word Count: 70, 528
Cover Artist: Michelle Nelson, Graphic & Interactive Design
Tagline: The Fight was only the beginning, now its war!
Evaline and Mason expand their family as an old threat hides in the shadows. As we dive deeper into the backstory of the MaCowans, we see how it’s all connected to Evaline’s story.
When the old danger finally resurfaces, it forces Evaline and company to new shores. Armed with a plan, they soon find out it’s not as simple as they thought. New revelations about family secrets emerge only to send Evaline into a tailspin.
As they finally confront the danger, the family must contend with the prospect that they may not survive unless an unknown ally steps in. Meanwhile, just as the old threat is dealt with, a new, more menacing danger sets its sights on Dunsmuir.
She got her keys out of her jacket pocket then exited the home onto the porch. Before going down the steps, she stopped. A shiver coursed through her body; the same feeling as when one was being watched. She peered down the street and saw nothing amiss. Same thing for across and the other side.
Her gut swirled, telling her to turn around. The tree across the street looked different, but she couldn’t quite figure out why. Its leaves and branches stirred in an unnatural way, seeming to dance on their own against the breeze. Every hair on her body stood up at once. The deep silence bothered her—no crickets chirped, nor owls hooted, and there was no sway of the trees or tall grass; the night was calm. She decided to get the book then go inside. After unlocking the car with her key fob, she opened the car door, stretching her arm over and into the back seat.
“Where are you?” she mumbled.
She didn’t see it moving all around, whatever it was. Given the surrounding movement, undoubtedly it wasn’t just one. The tree trunks seemed to come alive as the tall grass across the street shifted. Silent like shadows, they moved, staying just enough out of sight. Kristy found the book underneath the front seat.
She got out of the car then scanned nearby her. Nothing. Kristy hurriedly closed the car door and turned toward the porch. She peeked over her shoulder. An involuntary gasp escaped her. Shadows darted toward her. She got to the steps and froze. Her eyes widened, and her heart pounded in her chest. The pit of her stomach churned. Not shadows, animals. She could now hear the low growls from the animals around her. But what were they?
She blinked and, just like that, a man stood in front of her. He wasn’t wearing any clothes and had a gleam shimmering in his eyes.
She wanted to scream, but the man caught her attention.
“Uh uh uh,” he said as he put his finger to his lips and then in one breathe, he whispered, “Shhhhhhh.”
His fingernail was long and black with a slight curve at the tip. The man grinned, with glowing eyes and wild should-length hair, but he had a trimmed beard. A voice inside her head was screaming to run as she frantically looked for an escape. Her adrenaline pumped as she saw a chance to get away and tried to take it but before she could do anything, something grabbed her from behind and clenched her tight, it was difficult to breathe. The man neared and stopped, only inches away.
In a harsh, low tone, he said, “If you struggle, it will take less than a second for him to squeeze the life out of you. Don’t.”
About the Author:
Nothing captures the attention of M.L. Mastran more than writing a good story with amazing characters and a history arc that made the history books. This is the Albion Moon Chronicles in every sense.
On the flip side, M.L. can also journey to another world completely and pull the same elements with fantasy and make the reader yearn for more. Her uncanny ability to blend genres makes her unique to the literary world and an absolute reading joy. From the first moment you open the page, curiosity will pull you in and keep you engrossed in the story as you take the voyage with the characters to different places and times; to experience the events as they unfold.
Whether being told from a one character perspective or several points of view, her stories will unfold in your mind like a movie playing in your head. This is what pushes M.L to write her stories. It’s the thrill of the read and the drive to carry readers away that will make this trip to the literary world of imagination all the sweeter.
M. L. was born in Scranton Pennsylvania but was raised in Youngstown, Ohio, which is also where she currently resides with her husband and son. Since a young age, she has always had a passion for storytelling. Anything that was of interest to her she could find a story with however, it was her stories of experiences such as walking in an old cemetery, to riding a roller coaster to walking the lonely isles of an old junk yard that seemed the most precious.
M. L. has an undergraduate degree in Communication but also majored in History, which is what her Master’s Degree is in as well. She also started on her PHD in History. This love of history is very evident in most of M. L.’s stories. While studying for both degrees, she wrote numerous works for the academic audience. Many of which were presented and published for both student and professional audiences, but at home she would continue to dabble with her love of fiction. It was the challenge of creating a new world and characters that would make for some great stories. In fact, she found out very quickly, strong characters drive the story and make it worth the journey.
1 Signed Copy of Bloodlines
Spawn of the Cataclysm
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Adventure
Date of Publication: March 2. 2020
Number of pages: Print 227; Kindle 194
Word Count: 70K
Humans carelessly wielded their power to create new things, a power that far outpaced their understanding. It was only a matter of time until something went terribly wrong. Something did.
Technology has been erased for millenniums, monsters spawned at the end of a world infest the forests and seas, and a new civilization has slowly risen from the long darkness. In sight of the looming ruins of what was once called San Francisco there is an evil growing.
The people of New Gate are about to face their greatest challenge.
Excerpt: Chapter One
“We didn’t create the virus, it lived in the wild. We found it when Howler monkeys began starving to death even though they stripped every local crop in the area. The virus triggered their metabolism to speed up … we were paid by the Defense Department to develop an offensive application, said we could keep exclusive rights to all its commercial uses if we delivered. It could have changed the way we grow food but they pushed us. It wasn’t ready to test, and when the earthquake hit… is out now. The death toll will be on their heads. And ours.”
Translated from the Cataclysm
Rik Arrowen leaned over the gunwale, his gaze following dancing green shafts of sunlight that plunged into the depths. He strained his eyes, thought he saw movement. A huge shadow drifted slowly below the light. He knew the creature they Hunted was down there, a hungry thing that lurked unseen.
“It is here,” he muttered.
A school of silver fish darted upward, their bodies flashed like a thousand mirrors. Rik’s heart jumped in the instant before a sail-sized fin, jagged and scarred, cut slowly into the green twilight before receding back into the murk. He had no time to catch his breath, or shout a warning, when the great misshapen spawn rose fast and straight into the light, its gaping jaws filled with teeth. The thing ignored the weighted haunch of bloody meat they had drawn it in with, and hit the wooden galley on the port side with enough force to knock four Hunters into the bay.
As the hull rocked, the water turned red and raw screams filled the air.
“What a beautiful day to be alive.”
The voice blew away Rik’s memory and brought him back to where he stood, high above the countryside on the windy battlement of Stonehaven’s north wall.
“Oh, forgive me,” the voice continued. “Did I startle you?”
Rik did not bother to turn around.
“No, Jerold,” he replied. “I was watching the bay. It’s been six days since we lost those four Hunters to the spawn. I can’t stop hearing their screams as the thing ate them. Nothing we could do. We hit it with five harpoons and it still swam away. On the way down, it swallowed the bait haunch whole, and would have pulled us under if we hadn’t cut the rope.” He paused for a moment. “I have never seen one that big. I hope it has gone back out to sea.”
“May the Mystery welcome them all,” Jerold said. “I don’t often see anyone else up here this time of day. I like the solitude, the view calms me when the Council is crawling up my back about money.”
Rik scanned the horizon. The morning mist had burned away, and the sea breeze held a hint of pine. To the west rose a low range covered with giant redwoods, some of them hundreds of feet tall. The ridge continued to wind its way from the south, ending in cliffs at the mouth of the bay. The wide channel reflected the blue of the sky, and ripples that ran counter to the waves marked strong currents that carried the tide out to sea. Across the water, the redwoods picked up again and became the great northern forest. Long ago, when the seas were lower, a famed bridge the ancients called Golden Gate stretched above the treacherous waters from shore to shore. Nothing was left of it now but a few worn mounds of concrete piles at each end.
Below the fortress, starting near the base of the hill, the city of New Gate sprouted like a garden. It spread down to the bay, a bright jumble of buildings and spires that tumbled to the busy harbor. There, sailing ships and galleys crowded together, bare masts bobbed within the walls of the breakwater. New Gate was home to almost twenty thousand souls and a passing refuge for a few thousand more at any given time. Now, it was bursting at the seams with wagons and people who could be seen crowding the streets and setting up stalls in the Market Square for the upcoming Equinal Games.
To the east and scattered around the bay were ruins. Most were settled into oddly geometric mounds and small hills covered in green, but in some places, they rose like monstrous patches of black lace from the dense hardwood forests that covered the lowlands around the bay. The largest cluster of these, called Lily’s Bones for reasons nobody could remember, contained broken and crumbling towers so immense that their ragged peaks were sometimes lost in the clouds.
About the Author
Robert Hoppensteadt lied about his age and started working in Reno when he was fourteen, washing dishes on the late shift at a casino restaurant. Since then he has been a grunt in the Forest Service, a carpenter, and, after receiving a degree in Information Systems, a recruiter and senior manager. Now he writes full time. He has lived on both coasts and several places in between but currently resides in Virginia with his wife and two seriously spoiled and obnoxious cats.
Amazon – https://amzn.to/3a5w7Hv
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RHoppensteadtauthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RHoppensteadt
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/989101.Robert_Hoppensteadt
The Dark Awakening
The Chosen Coven
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Fifth Element Publishing
Date of Publication: October 2nd, 2018
Number of pages: 252
Word Count: 69,000
Cover Artist: Redbird Designs
Tagline: Darkness is coming, and she’s their last hope
She’s stalked, hunted, and a villainous vampire desires her blood.
Mercy’s life is anything but ordinary. A stalker lurks in the shadows, and a man rescues her from a life-threatening car accident, but vanishes right before her eyes. But this man who she thought was a hallucination, tracks her down at a nearby cove, and claims they were once in love from another time. Another century.
Mercy has no memory of this world he shares, and instinctively doesn’t trust him. He also reveals to her a life-changing secret—she’s a powerful witch, vampires are real, and she’s destined to destroy them.
Mercy finds herself dragged into a centuries-old battle against the undead, and a sadistic vampire leader has set his sights on her. And he will stop at nothing until he claims Mercy as his own.
She and her coven won’t go down without a fight. She needs to discover the truth about her past, and the power she holds, before it’s too late.
“You’re shaking,” he said with a sideways grin on his face. He ﬁnally let go of my hand.
“I need to go. Thanks for ﬁnding my phone.” I stepped quickly to the side to walk by him, but he moved into my path, blocking me from going any further.
“Mercy, relax. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Everything around me froze in place and my heart stopped in its tracks.
He knows me. How did he know my real name?
I found myself hyperventilating as I took a step back.
“Did you … did you go … go to my school?”
Act like you’re not scared out of your freaking mind, Mercy.
“I don’t understand. How do you know my name?”
“We met a long time ago, but your memory of me no longer exists. I tracked you down tonight and was waiting for you to be alone after that boy left.”
“Did you mess with my car?” I asked. Tears welled up in my eyes and I couldn’t stop the uncontrollable shaking.
He didn’t answer. His intense gaze was ﬁxated on me, as if he had been analyzing every detail of my face.
This time I stepped back, thinking if I ran fast enough, I could run from behind the bench and get to my car before he could stop me. It was as if he could read my thoughts; he moved forward, grabbed my arm in a tight grip and pulled me toward his chest. He looked down at me, brushing the hair away from my eyes and tucking it behind my ears.
“I’ve missed you,” he said softly as he slowly lowered me down to the bench again next to us.
Oh my God, he’s crazy.
The look he gave me—as if I meant something to him—shook me to the core.
“Please don’t hurt me.” I closed my eyes as if I were anticipating a blow. Tears stung my eyes.
“I already told you, I’m not going to hurt you.” I heard a frustrated grunt and sigh come from him. “Open your eyes, Mercy, and look at me.”
My eyes shot open.
“You’re in danger and it’s not from me. Someone has been following you. I’m here to protect you.” He slowly released his grip and gave us some space.
“I don’t want your help. I don’t know you.” My voice cracked.
Oh God, Riley. Please come back.
He let out another frustrated grunt. “Mercy, you really need to relax and trust me. I know it’s hard, but I am the only one you can trust right now.” I couldn’t believe what he was saying. He was a stalker and I had to get away from him. He must have seen me eyeing my car, because he gripped my wrist again, keeping me from moving.
“Now, we can chat out here, or we can drive over to the other side of the cove and talk over coﬀee. I say coﬀee.”
“I … I …”
“Look, I knew if I approached you with Lily or your friends around, there’d be more questions than answers I’m willing to give them. This is the ﬁrst time I’ve been able to get you alone. Now, let’s get in my car and drive to the other side where the bar is. You can come willingly, or I can make you.”
Screw this guy.
I bent down quickly, grabbed a long, thick branch, and brought it hard against his head. He fell to the ground, so I bolted toward the forest.
I didn’t get far before I felt my body lunge forward and my legs kick back. His grip on my ankle caused me to wince.
“Mercy, stop running, dammit. I can explain everything if you just stop freaking the hell out.”
I kicked him in the face with my other leg until he let go and I got back to my feet, now sprinting deeper into the forest.
Where am I going to go?
All I knew was this guy was not someone I wanted to be alone with. I may not have seen anyone else out there, but I hoped someone would hear me and help me.
“Help!” I screamed as loud as I could. I just needed to lock myself in the truck and call the police.
When I turned around, he was nowhere to be seen. A heavy sigh escaped as I eyed Lily’s truck about a hundred feet ahead. I looked around one more time and then sprinted to the truck. Once inside, I locked it and pulled my phone out of my pocket. My phone had been turned oﬀ.
This is going to take too long.
He would reach me before my phone powered on. I powered it on anyway and put my hands back on the keys which were still in the ignition. I tried again. The car didn’t make a sound.
Please turn on, please turn on.
I gripped the keys so tightly that the house key was digging into my palm. “Turn on!” The feeling of electricity sparked in my hand, followed by a green light from my ﬁngertips. I quickly removed my hand and the car started up.
What the hell?
The shock of what had just happened stunned me.
I couldn’t move or think straight.
I sensed movement ahead coming out of the forest and I looked up. He was standing there. His sleeves were now pulled up to his elbows, revealing his muscular arms. My eyes narrowed down to his wrist, revealing a red ﬂame tattoo that reached from his wrist to his elbow. My stomach churned and I felt like throwing up. It was him; it was the man who had pulled me from my car after the accident.
About the Author:
D.L. Blade grew up in southern California, but relocated to Colorado with her family in 2014. l
She always loved writing, concentrating on poetry rather than prose when she was younger. That changed however, when she had a dream one night and decided to create a story about it.
In her spare time, D.L. enjoys a wide variety of hobbies, including reading, attending rock concerts and volunteering at local animal shelters where she can indulge in her passion for all forms of life.
In the future, D.L. hopes that she can continue to write exciting novels that will captivate her readers and bring them into the worlds that she creates using her imagination.
$50 Amazon Gift Card
Stalking the Moon
Angel Leigh McCoy
Genre: Supernatural Suspense
Publisher: Wily Writers
Date of Publication: April 24, 2020
Number of pages: 290
Word Count: 88,868
Cover Artist: DIStudios.pl
Tagline: A New Mythology for the 21st Century
Normal life is complicated enough. Add magick to the mix, and suddenly all hell breaks loose!
Viviane doesn’t have time for voices in her head or monsters in her bed! Her family relies on her. She’s in charge of a mentally ill mother, a sneaky grandfather, and a sexy (but delusional) fiancé. And yet, the whispers in her mind are barging into Reality—with claws and teeth and murderous intent.
When her fiancé goes missing, she’ll do anything to find him. If that means magical, mythical creatures hunt her down, then so be it. This could be the end of her life as she’s known it, but well… Consequences be damned.
Excerpt from STALKING THE MOON:
The staff entrance was on the women’s wing, near the employee parking lot. Out of habit, I entered there. Nurses, orderlies, and doctors all greeted me as I made my way to Richard’s office.
Richard was seated at his desk. “Hey, Vivi. Come on in.” He rebuttoned the collar of his white, custom-fitted dress shirt.
“Howdy.” I shut the door behind me and went to the leather couch. It was overstuffed with a high back and deep seat. I felt small on it, but that was part of Richard’s evil plot. Plus, it would have been impossible to fall off it while under hypnosis. It cradled me.
“What part of my psyche are we going to poke today?”
Richard folded his arms on the desk, a pen flapping in one hand as he looked me over. “I want to revisit your early days,” he said. “I’ve been going through the transcripts of our sessions, compiling them, and there are a couple things I’d like to revisit.”
“Let’s get to it then.”
The first time I met Richard, back in the early days, he was finishing his last year as a graduate student in the Psychology Department at the University of Illinois. He was in Peoria doing an internship at the counseling center, and Abram had dragged me there to get my head fixed—at the junior high principal’s request.
Back then, Richard had a long ponytail and was every teenage girl’s dream of the older college boy. I was only thirteen, and he was taller than me, though that changed when I had my growth spurt a few years later.
Thirteen-year-old Me had gone into his office with a chip on my shoulder, hating Abram, hating my illness, and hating Dr. Richard Reuter before I’d even met him.
He’d appeared in the waiting room and asked, “Viviane? Right? Would you come with me?”
“I don’t got a choice.”
Abram hissed, “Hey,” at me, and said “Be nice.”
I walked into the office and went straight to a chair, flopped there, and crossed my arms on my chest. The first thing I noticed that interested me was the plate of cookies on the coffee table. They were chocolate chip and appeared homemade. I pretended not to see them. I didn’t want him to think I was going to stay all that long, and besides, my stomach didn’t feel too good.
Richard sat in the chair opposite me and watched me for a full minute. Finally, he asked, “How old are you?”
“Fifteen.” It was a bold-faced lie.
“I know you’re lying.”
I asked, “How old are you?”
“Are you gay?” I said with vehemence, calculating his possible reactions.
He didn’t even flinch. “Viviane, do you know why your grandfather brought you here?”
“Because he’s a sociopath afraid of being noticed. I draw attention to him, and he wants me to stop.”
He smiled at that, and for the first time, but not the last, I thought how handsome he was.
In that first session, he didn’t hypnotize me, though later, it became a regular part of our therapy sessions. Richard felt it was the best way to track down the source of my hallucinations. He would take me back to the time before my first hallucination, and we’d go over the events of a day or two in each session, gradually working forward through my memories. It was my own personal reality-TV show.
One time, I had what can only be described as a past-life memory, or maybe a dream. Both Richard and I waved it off as an aberration, though I never forgot it. The dream had been wonderful, about a place with emerald hills, crystal streams, and a palace that felt like home. Whenever I thought about it, I could still imagine the smell of honeysuckle on the breeze.
Twenty years later, I was thirty-three, and our regressions were catching up to the conscious flow of time. In the hypnosis sessions, he recorded my soul in bits and pieces, saved forever as audio recordings, transcribed to digital documents, and printed out on paper. He kept the files in his cabinets.
I’d often wondered what would happen when we finally caught up to the present moment. Maybe I’d die. Maybe he’d die. Maybe the entire world would end as the Ouroboros swallowed its own tail.
“All right.” Richard got up from his desk. “I’m ready, if you are.” He sat in the chair opposite me and leaned forward to turn on the metronome.
I said, “Take me to a happy day.”
“You know the drill. Close your eyes, relax, and remember.”
Not every tick and tock of the metronome sounded the same. The differences were subtle, but they were there if I listened for them. It was a song without rhyme or reason.
It started small and distant: tick.
The cuckoo clock on the wall at Abram’s house had to be wound. I loved pulling the chains that raised the heavy, metal pinecones. Tock. It had been my job, every morning, when I was a kid. My body rocked to the beat: tick tock. Time ebbed, and space flowed. My spine relaxed. Tick. Gravity released me. Tock. The metronome sang its song in my belly. Tick tock. I was energy, and I radiated.
“We’re going to continue our journey back in time,” Richard said. The waves of his voice rippled through me, and the present faded into the background.
I followed the metronome down into a trance. We had a signal. I raised a finger to indicate that I was ready to begin.
“Go back,” Richard suggested, “to the moment when you first met Simon, when you were thirteen.”
The scene formed around me, inside me, throughout me.
“Describe it to me.”
I’m home, and I’m taking a shower. There’s blood running down my leg. It’s swirling in the water and spinning down the drain. I know what it is. Lettie’s had hers since last year, and she took me to buy the stuff I’d need. I’m really glad I didn’t have to do that with my grandpa.
Lettie and me, we read the little instruction book that came in the box and made fun of the pictures. She warned me how it would be, the cramps and mess, but it’s worse when it’s actually happening. It’s scary and weird. I keep thinking that my blood is supposed to stay in my body.
So, I’m standing there in the shower, watching my blood drain away, and I’m trying not to cry, wondering if I’m going to die, and that’s when I hear a man. He sounds like James Bond. “You’re probably not going to die.”
I scream and cover my private parts with my hands, but no one’s there.
The voice says, “What I mean is, you are going to be just fine.” But nobody’s there. I’m freaking out. I jump out of the shower and run through the house. I’m screaming.
The voice is following me. “Oh, lass, it’s okay.”
I streak into the kitchen, and my grandpa is there, trying to calm me down.
I’m crying, naked and wet, shaking all over, blood staining my leg, and Grandpa thinks I’m upset because of my period, but that isn’t it. It’s the man talking to me right next to my ear, when there’s nobody there.
He says his name is Simon.
The metronome sang. Tick. Tock.
About the Author
Angel Leigh McCoy wears author, game designer, and audiobook narrator hats—sometimes simultaneously. She is the creative force behind the Wyrdwood series of novels and the Dire Multiverse audio drama. She was a senior writer on the award-winning video games CONTROL and GUILD WARS 2.
Her work on the White Wolf World of Darkness series included books for Mage, Vampire, Changeling, and several others. She was also the first female game designer on the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS team at Wizards of the Coast. These days, she works from home and is intent on building her own epic worlds, including Wyrdwood and the Dire Multiverse. Her cats approve.
Entitles you to partake of the Audible Originals titles offered free each month to members. (all-told, a $45 value) If you’ve ever wanted to try audiobooks, this is the time.
5 – Wyrdwood Welcome Swag Bags
Each swag bag includes:
-Free ebook copy of JUMPING THE MOON, Wyrdwood Welcome Book #2, due for release on May 15, 2020.
-A “Proud to be Wyrd” pin
-A Wyrdwood magnet
-Invitation to the private and exclusive Wyrdwood Facebook group
-Treats from the “Wyrdwood Candiporium”
-A surprise toy!
Date of Publication: December 9, 2019
Number of pages: 378
Word Count: 99, 281
Cover Artist: Debbie Taylor
Tagline: The Angel of Death is no angel, but a world in ruins needs her guns more than wings.
In a post-apocalypse world besieged by monsters, Colonel Xavier, a military man with a deadly temper, deliberately challenges Maat Ferris, a fierce, werewolf hunter. When Xavier meets Maat, he can’t decide whether to shoot her or kiss her. There is no uncertainty in her. She promptly stabs him. His hot then cold attitude makes her crazy, and his tendency to protect her is even worse.
Unfortunately, the combative pair must join forces on a treacherous journey, across the bleak, barren country. Pursued by a dictator president and the vampire who holds him in thrall, they carry precious cargo that will give democracy seeking rebels a chance to remain free.
Maat and Xavier, true to their aggressive, passionate natures, must also battle their way through a most unusual courtship. Can their love grow amidst the destruction and rebuilding of a society under siege? Or will they kill each other first?
May 18, 2085 A.D
Avalon Agricultural Commune
Christopher worked his way down toward paradise. His tongue flicked in my navel and his fingers had already reached the gate. The lantern’s golden light played across our warm, flushed skin. I twisted my own fingers in his thick red hair, urging him on to the heart of gratification. He stopped, raised his head, and stared at me.
“What?” I didn’t expect him to answer. Christopher never spoke. One of the other members here at the AG Commune told me he could speak but wouldn’t because he was a Prime Oracle. His prophecies always came true—and he hated it.
To my dismay, Christopher rose from the bed, grabbed his robe, and drew it over his head. A frantic knock sounded at the door. The knock came again, this time accompanied by the voice of Julia, our leader Anolia’s young assistant.
“Maat? Maat, are you there?”
I glanced at Christopher, but his face remained impassive. The dark night terrified Julia. What was she doing at my door?
Each word came with a higher and more desperate note. Christopher gave me one of his sweet smiles. Yes, I knew I had to answer.
“I’m coming, Julia.” I rose, grabbed my own robe, tossed it on, and went to the door. Julia jammed herself inside before it completely opened. She stood gasping, eyes wide, and pale hands clenched tight around her lantern handle. She shivered, even though summer had almost arrived, and it wasn’t cold outside.
“What is it, Julia?” I touched her arm. She jerked.
She closed her eyes and whispered a broken version of the serenity prayer. She didn’t seem any calmer when she finished. “Anolia wants you in the chapel dining room right now.” Julia blurted out the sentence like a single, multisyllable word.
“Why?” Anolia often sent Julia on errands, but she wasn’t cruel. What caused her to send the girl into the darkness she so feared? Julia shook her head, unable to continue. She glanced over her shoulder toward the door. “I have to go.”
I wouldn’t get anything else from her.
“Tell Anolia I’ll be there soon.”
Julia nodded. I opened the door and watched her lantern sway as she hurried up the path and over the hill. After I closed the door, I turned to Christopher.
“Something’s wrong. I better go see what she wants.”
Christopher seized my shoulders with hands made strong by his work at the forge. His fingers squeezed in a savage grip, and his striking face twisted in anguish.
“Take your guns, Maat. Take your guns.”
He spoke with a gravity that stunned me. He gave me a sweet kiss, and he too hurried out into the night. Seconds passed while I recovered from the shock of hearing him speak for the first time in over a year. Then I took his advice. I dragged my old suitcase from under the bed and threw it open.
The scent of gun oil and saddle soap filled the room. All my weapons lay there as they had for the past two years while I’d lived in peace here at the commune. Regularly cleaned, they patiently waited for the once familiar killing urge to strike their mistress again. I pulled on well-worn, black denim pants and a knit shirt, both softened with age. The supple boots that allowed me to tread softly across most terrain still fit comfortably.
I’m tall, lean, and have a moderately androgynous face. I’m not beautiful. Beauty is a blessing for women who need it to survive in this dangerous post-war, post disease world. I’ve never envied them, those lovely things with their smiles and sparkling eyes. All I needed was a gun, a blade, and a little luck. I may even run out of luck, but I kept my blade sharp, and my well-oiled guns didn’t age. The bullets retained their devastating punch.
I pinned my mass of unruly and not so lovely brown curls at the nape of my neck and wedged a small sheathed knife into the knot. The .44 Magnum Rudra, loaded with high impact silvers, the only ammunition I used, went into the unwieldy and uncomfortable holster at the small of my back. A more accessible shoulder holster carried a .45 caliber Aries under my left arm. I strapped a leather knife sheath to my left forearm, so I could grab the hilt with my right hand. I’d seen sheaths that buckled to the thigh, but I preferred my legs free, so I could run better. Knowing when to run had saved me more than once.
About the Author:
After twenty years in public service, Lee Roland retired to become a full-time paranormal romance and urban fantasy writer. Her first three published novels, the Earth Witches, series tells the stories of strong men and women who battle the evil hiding under the surface of the modern world. Lee hasn’t always been a writer, but has always been a daydreamer, constantly making up stories and noted for rewriting her school day into happy endings when telling her mother. Winner of numerous literary contests and a Golden Heart nominee, she currently lives and writes with her beloved dogs and cats in North Central Florida.
Letters to God
Date of Publication: March 13, 2020
Number of pages: 120
Word Count: 37,413
Cover Artist: Krystal Doolittle
Tagline: What if God looked like you and me?
She stood and hurried toward the hall and I saw her slip into the bathroom. After a moment, I heard the sink turn on with a rush of water. Soon, it was turned back off and she reappeared with a damp rag.
“Here,” she said as she draped it over my face. “Lean back and relax for a moment.”
I did as I was told, resting my head on the back of the couch and closed my eyes. She positioned it so that the bulk of it was on my swollen eyelids. It was cold, but it felt good against my skin.
“Your clothes are fine, so you don’t need to change. But where could we go?” she said as if she were speaking to herself. Plus, I had to admit that it felt nice to have someone taking care of me at the moment. Even if she was trying to force me out into the world.
“We can go nowhere,” I pointed out. “That would be a win in my book.”
“You need to get out of your rut,” Lila said, sounding unperturbed by my stubbornness. “That means we need to do something you’ve never done before,” she mused.
“I’ve never stayed home and eaten a whole pizza by myself,” I said as I lifted the washcloth from one eye so I could look at her.
“You aren’t winning,” she said raising an eyebrow at me. “So get over it.”
“Ugh,” I said as I dropped the washcloth back. “Why am I friends with you again?”
I could hear the smile in her voice when she responded. “Because I’m the only one that can put up with that stubborn streak you have. I know how to get you to open up and see what a wonderful world awaits you. There’s a big, bright world out there waiting for you, Rowan. I’m the one that can convince you to do things that you don’t want to do but are actually good for you.”
“Uh-huh,” I said, not convinced. “You’re doing a bang-up job at that, you know?”
“Oh hush,” she said. Finally, I felt as if my face had cooled and my eyes weren’t as puffy, so I pulled the washcloth off and tossed it on the glass coffee table.
“Look, I don’t really have the money to go out anyway,” I said shaking my head.
“Oh, I got it!” she said loudly as she clapped her hands. “I know the perfect place.” I looked at her, waiting for her to tell me what it was but she kept talking. “It must be luck that I drove by and saw the place. But it’s absolutely perfect. I wanted to go anyway, I just didn’t know who else to take.”
“Earth to Lila. What are you talking about?” I asked as I waved my hands in front of her.
“Sorry,” she said as she turned to me. “I saw this place that must have recently opened. It’s a psychic reading shop. They had a sign out front that said two readings for $100.”
“I definitely don’t have that kind of money right now,” I sighed. “I’m a single woman now with bills to pay.”
“Don’t worry, I do,” she said waving her hand at me. “It’s perfect. You can get a reading to find out what exactly is going on in your life and how you can change things up!”
“I don’t know. That’s a lot of money for someone to tell you a bunch of vague words and silly predictions,” I said shaking my head.
“Oh, come on. Live a little, Row. Let’s go have some fun and see what’s in store for your future.” She wiggled her fingers at me and I laughed.
“If I do this with you, does that mean I’m off the hook for the next nail salon trip?” I asked. Lila was always convincing me to go with her so she had someone to talk to. I, on the other hand, hated having my nails done.
“Yes,” she said with a nod before grinning so wide I thought her face would split.
“Fine, I’ll go then,” I said. “As long as you’re paying.”
“Definitely,” she said with a nod. “Oh my gosh, Rowan! I’m so excited.” She couldn’t seem to hold still which for me, wasn’t comforting.
“Well, that makes one of us,” I said grumpily. “Let me get my shoes.”
Genre: action-adventure thriller, political thriller, suspense thriller
Publisher: Randall Krzak Books
Date of Publication: March 30, 2020 (Kindle)
Number of pages: 330
Word Count: 82,039
Cover Artist: Matt at http://www.darngoodcovers.com
Tagline: Colombian Betrayal exposes the death and violence behind the entangled interactions between governments, revolutionaries, terrorists, and drug lords.
Colombian Betrayal tears the cover off the drug trade and exposes the death, and violence behind the twisted connections between governments, revolutionaries, terrorists, and drug lords.
Watch as an unholy alliance is formed when the profits of a Colombian drug lord Olivia Moreno, begin disappearing and deadly new international competitors appear on the horizon.
Moreno, head of the Barranquilla Cartel, strikes a deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Little does she know she is signing her own death warrant! FARC has a group wanting a foothold in South America—the Islamic State, and she is in the way.
On the run, Moreno is captured by a CIA team. She spins a tale to use her money and manpower to destroy ISIS in an effort to save herself. Laws and rules of engagement are meaningless to Moreno, her life and her family are her only concern. Will the CIA leader fall for her offer?
Will team leader AJ Bruce strike a deal to turn the tables on Islamic State? Can she stop them from launching an attack on the United States? Or will she be too late?
Is it worth trading control of Afghanistan’s poppy fields with Moreno as a reward for her cooperation? Or is Bruce playing her in an attempt to double-cross her and kill two birds with one stone?
Get your copy today, and watch this high stakes game of kill or be killed.
With a title like Colombian Betrayal, I knew there was bound to be some subterfuge and underhanded shenanigans. I did not expect to be thrown into a story where it was impossible to know who to trust. The cast of characters all had ulterior motives which was probably one of the most compelling reasons to keep reading. It was hard to get a good reading on the book, there were elements that I have encountered in other books that I really enjoy, but it was almost like everything was a bit watered down.
First off, I will say the plot itself was interesting and I thought the chain of events was well thought out. The problem I found with the story is that there was a LOT going on. There is cartel business, family drama, a terrorist plot, intelligence and military maneuvers, a pseudo-romance subplot, treason… It is just too much for such a short (relatively speaking) novel. I believe the story would have been better served had it been longer or even had the various subplots been divided up and expanded into their own novel or novella. By over squeezing all of these elements into one story, the overall product lacked the power it should have had.
With the rushed nature of the story, it is hard to become emotionally invested in the characters. I really wanted to know more about AJ and Javier and see the development of their relationship. I did love the snakes and AJ’s team. I felt the camaraderie and the dynamic of the groups were better fleshed out than other character interactions. With the Morenos and their ilk, it was really hard to like them. Olivia was a bit of a hard ass but then she kinda shifts to a complete mess, unable to show her strength. There was nothing really likable about her and although I know she is a bad person, it is a shame she wasn’t painted a little more sympathetic.
With the language, I found things were a bit inconsistent. Technical, military speak helps lend realism when dealing with scenes involving military personnel or members of three letter agencies, and the author started off using the lingo but then it tapered off and nearly disappeared which changed the feel of prose. If the technical speak had remained consistent throughout the story, it would have given more of the realism I was looking for.
Overall, I did like the book, I just feel it could have been so much more. I hope that with this being the beginning of a series, the author gives the audience more in the subsequent novels.
A Bruce and Smith Thriller
Genre: action-adventure thriller, political thriller, suspense thriller
Publisher: Randall Krzak Books
Date of Publication: March 30, 2020 (Kindle)
Dawn broke with birds twittering outside Olivia’s country estate. She opened blue-green eyes and focused on the view through the open window. Tinges of red and orange stretched across the horizon, seeking the deep blue heavens. More songbirds joined in, their melodious voices adding to the morning’s chorus. Nearby, a rare Colombian screech owl hooted. Other birds shrieked, their wings beating the air as they scattered.
Olivia yawned and crawled out of bed. Twinges cascaded through her aching muscles caused by overexertion in yesterday’s intense personal security training. Time for some fresh air while it’s quiet. She slipped a purple velvet robe over her slender athletic body and pulled on matching slippers. Padding toward the balcony, she opened the doors and stepped outside. She gazed at the tranquil countryside and smiled.
Bullets ricocheted off the stonework, missing her head by inches. She dropped to the floor amid a hail of flying rubble and dust. Hunched like a hermit crab, Olivia crawled inside and slammed the doors.
“Madre de Dios!”
Stomach lurching, chest heaving, she rolled across the floor to the bedside table. Her hands shaking, she grabbed the handle, opened the drawer, and removed her FN Five-SeveN handgun. She fumbled for a second magazine and stuffed it into a pocket on her robe. Keeping out of view, she crept back to the side of the balcony and slid down the wall.
She peered through a small opening, looking for signs of intruders.
Nothing. All seems normal.
Pushing through the doors, she dashed around the corner, squatted, and fired three times without aiming. An incoming round smashed into the wall in front of her. She leaned into the stone for cover as rough-edged shards whirled toward her face. Startled by the fast-approaching slivers, Olivia ducked and dropped the pistol. Blood trickled from a cut above her right eye. She sucked in her breath and wiped it away as anger replaced fear.
“Alto.” A man of medium height climbed over the railing from the patio. Piercing dark eyes shone beneath a mop of black hair as he plopped into a chair at the small bistro table, and helped himself to a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice.
“Diablo.” Olivia spat the word as the man with the physique of a bodybuilder stood and helped her into the other chair. “Ramon, one day you’ll cause my death. The training becomes more intense every day.” She grabbed his goblet. “Salud.” She drained the glass.
“Doña Olivia, you hired me to provide protection. When I’m not here, you must do this for yourself and your family. Your enemies will give you no warning, which is why the lessons must become more realistic.”
Olivia nodded. “Si, you are correct. I want to live a long time and enjoy my fortune—unlike my father, brother, and first husband, who died before their time.”
Ramon Cristobal Alvarez and Olivia Perfecta Moreno gazed at each other.
* * *
The following morning, Olivia woke again to the hoot of the owl. She rushed to the balcony to find the bird’s hiding place. Two shots rang out. Following her training, she crashed to the floor and squirmed back into the bedroom.
She grunted and laughed, thinking Ramon had upped the training. A moment later, a loud thump resounded against the door as Ramon forced his way inside, gun drawn.
“Olivia, this isn’t training—it’s real.”
Ramon pushed aside a balcony door. He crawled outside, peeked between ornate pillars, and scanned the area for would-be assassins. After completing his sweep from the balcony, he returned inside.
“They’re gone.” He twirled his right index finger in the air several times. “Stay here. The guards will scour the full perimeter for those seeking to harm you, while I check on Pedro, Alonzo, and the girls.”
Olivia nodded. Shaking, she wrapped her arms around herself.
Ramon walked to the door. Before he opened it—
A gunshot echoed in the corridor.
“Madre de Dios!” Ramon leaped toward Olivia, shoving her to the floor with one hand, a weapon in the other.
A high-pitched scream pierced the air, followed by a second.
Randall Krzak is a U.S. Army veteran and retired senior civil servant, spending thirty years in Europe, Africa, Central America, and the Middle East. His residency abroad qualifies him to build rich worlds in his action-adventure novels and short stories. Familiar with customs, laws, and social norms, he promotes these to create authentic characters and scenery.
His first novel, The Kurdish Connection, was published in 2017, and the sequel, Dangerous Alliance, was released in November 2018. Both placed in the 2018 Global Thriller Book Awards sponsored by Chanticleer International Book Awards, with The Kurdish Connection finishing as a semi-finalist and Dangerous Alliance being selected as one of seven first in category winners. The third novel in the series, Carnage in Singapore, was released in August 2019, and is currently a semi-finalist in the 2019 Chanticleer International Book Awards. He also penned “A Dangerous Occupation,” a winning entry in the August 2016Wild Sound Writing and Film Festival Review short story category.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and a general Master in Business Administration (MBA) and a MBA with an emphasis in Strategic Focus, both from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. He currently resides with his wife, Sylvia, and six cats in Dunfermline, Scotland. He’s originally from Michigan, while Sylvia is a proud Scot. In addition to writing, he enjoys hiking, reading, candle making, pyrography, and sightseeing.